Tag Archives: forgiveness

Saturday in the Second Week of Lent

Amazing Grace

How do we respond to God’s amazing grace? Scripture tells us that we have all fallen short of the glory of God. We are all in desperate need of his grace. Yet, the Pharisees had great difficulty with the fact that Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. Such thinking suggests that there should be limits on God’s grace.

We are familiar with parable of The Prodigal Son. He wasted his inheritance on riotous living. When the Father accepted his return that was one thing. But when the Father had a great celebration for him and killed the fatted calf, then that was quite another thing for the Father’s eldest son:

“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.   (Luke 15:26-29)

Where was the fairness? Do we become jealous of those of whom God has chosen to bless? None of us are worthy of his blessing. If Gos has forgiven us, are we to keep score on others?

One of the greatest blessings we have received from the Lord is the freedom to allow others to be blessed by God. Or are we to instruct God on how he should dispense his amazing grace?

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Monday in the Second Week of Lent

Forgive Us As We Have Forgiven Others

Daniel, the great prophet and prayer warrior, has set an example for us in how to pray and intercede for a nation.

“Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.   (Daniel:9:4-6)

Daniel was a holy man by the standards of his day. Yet Daniel identified with those Israelites who rebelled against God. He did not hold himself apart. The psalmist pleaded for Israel as well, appealing to God’s mercy, but he did not overlook his sin or that of the nation.

Remember not our past sins;
let your compassion be swift to meet us;
for we have been brought very low.

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your Name;
deliver us and forgive us our sins, for your Name’s sake.   (Psalm 79:8-9)

How do we pray? Do we judge ourselves more highly than others? Jesus warned against this:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”   (Luke 6:37-38)

God does not need our lecture prayers, telling him what he must do. He is looking for a broken and contrite heart. If we want to intercede for others as well as ourselves, then we must stop judging others. All judgment belongs to God. The way to stop judging people is to forgive them. Jesus tells us that we must forgive even our enemies:

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.   (Luke 6:27–28)

 

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Tuesday in the First Week of Lent

Effective Prayer

Jesus cautioned us not to pray like the heathens:

Jesus said, “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.   (Matthew 6:7–8)

Do we often order God around in our prayers as if He needs our explanations and directions? Rather, should we not use God’s word in place of our words? His word accomplishes great things:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.   (Isaiah 55:10–11)

Should we not ask the Holy Spirit to direct our prayers? In that way our purpose becomes God’s purpose. Our prayers will be in agreement with the prayers of our Lord Jesus, who intercedes for us at the right hand of God:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.   (Romans 8:26)

In order to pray with discernment, however, our hearts must be prepared for prayer. We cannot pray effectively if we have unforgiveness in our hearts. Jesus has given us a guideline for prayer. In any prayer, we must begin with a humble and forgiving heart. Jesus said:

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.   (Matthew 6:14-15)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective..   (James 5:16)

We must humble ourselves before God with repentant hearts, rather then approaching him with a haughty spirit. If so, we have access to the very throne of grace, because Jesus has paid the price for our sins. It is not that we have to get behind the veil. The veil was torn apart the moment Jesus dies on the cross.

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Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany

Do Not Fret Yourself

We live in an evil world. Sometimes we get overwhelmed. We get frustrated with all the evildoers who seemed to be getting away with their crimes and lies. Perhaps the appointed psalm has a word for us from God:

Do not fret yourself because of evildoers;
do not be jealous of those who do wrong.

For they shall soon wither like the grass,
and like the green grass fade away.

Put your trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and feed on its riches.

Take delight in the Lord,
and he shall give you your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him,
and he will bring it to pass.   (Psalm 37:1-5)

Joseph lived in an evil world. His brothers tried to kill him. They ended up selling him into slavery. Joseph was carried to Egypt and there he experienced many hardships, eventually being cast into prison.

Today, as we pick up the story of Joseph from the Old Testament, we see Joseph in a whole new place. He is now a ruler under Pharaoh of all of Egypt. His brothers who tried to kill him are now standing before him. They are terrified when they discover who Joseph is. But Joseph responds to them in love:

God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.   (Genesis 45:7-11)

How could Joseph forgive his brothers for what they did? It was a matter of seeing things from God’s perspective and not his own. God’s perspective is greater than ours. We read from the Prophet Isaiah:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

If we fail to understand what God is doing we will always be frustrated and disappointed. This will lead us into judging others. We will become bitter. The Book of Hebrews offers this advice:

Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled. See to it that no one becomes like Esau, an immoral and godless person, who sold his birthright for a single meal.   (Hebrews 12:14-16)

From today’s Gospel reading, Jesus taught:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”   (Luke 6:37-38)

God is not calling us to be Esau’s. He is calling us to be Joseph’s. Continuing with today’s psalm:

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him.

Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers,
the one who succeeds in evil schemes.

Refrain from anger, leave rage alone;
do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.

For evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait upon the Lord shall possess the land.

In a little while the wicked shall be no more;
you shall search out their place, but they will not be there.

But the lowly shall possess the land;
they will delight in abundance of peace.   (Psalm 37:7-12)

Let us climb down off our high horses and be a part of the lowly who possess the land. God has given us the victory just as he did for Joseph. Our task is to wait patiently on him and place our full trust in his plan for our lives. He speaks to us, from Jeremiah:

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.   (Jeremiah 29:11)

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