Forgive them? Forgive them not?

Let’s be honest. Forgiving people is hard! There are times in all of our lives when someone says something to us or does behind our backs, that demeans our character or, betrays us in some manner; in some way.

Our blood starts boiling at this point. Words might be said, or actions taken, that once escaped can’t be taken back. I have experienced this many times in my life and I hate to say it I have been too, the one who must humble myself to ask for forgiveness.

When people forgive me I feel great because I can work on regaining the trust of the person that I wronged. So if we know how great it is for us to be forgiven, why is it so hard for us to forgive others? Why would we deny this great feeling of being forgiven to one of our brothers or sisters?

The answer is simple. When we’re in pain we tend to focus on it. Kind of like when we’re hungry and all we can do is remember the avocado toast we packed for lunch. When our needs aren’t getting met it’s very difficult to think about anything else, so it makes sense, then, that it can be extra difficult after a betrayal for us to recall when we ourselves were forgiven and how grateful we felt.

So should we try to forgive at all? And if so, how?

In the word of God in the Our Father prayer in the book of Matthew 6:9-13 verse 12 tells us to ask our Father in heaven to,

“forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

In verse 14-15 of the same chapter Jesus tells the disciples,

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. If you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive you.”

This gives us something important to think about. Our heavenly Father will not forgive us unless we forgive others.

This should make it easier but friends as you know it doesn’t. But it does make it perfectly clear that if we seek forgiveness we must first make certain that we have forgiven everyone else and there is no bitterness in our hearts.

In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times, Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven.”

490 times is a lot to imagine especially if we find it so difficult to forgive any one thing once. But Jesus makes it perfectly clear that we are to keep on forgiving, but take note He doesn’t add forgetting. Yet often it’s our remembering that makes it that much harder to forgive.

When I look at this verse it seems impossible until I began to think about it differently. It is doubtful someone could sin against us that many times although it may feel even once or twice is already too much. But what if that four hundred and ninety times is how much WE have to keep forgiving the person? Now we can add in all the times we remember the hurt, the pain, and the betrayal and we can ask God to help us continually to forgive the person who hurt us… again, again, and again.

In the following verses Jesus tells a story about a king who forgives a debtor for not being able to repay his debt. In the end lets take a look at what Jesus says about the Kingdom of God:

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

In verse 35 Jesus tells the disciples,

“This is what my Father in heaven will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

Tough. So our forgiveness or lack thereof comes with a large price. It may take time and work but this work is not our own. If we commit even our lack of forgiveness to the Lord He is faithful to help us with it and to use it for His glory.

In Genesis 50: 15-21 long after Josephs brothers had kidnapped him and sold him into slavery Joseph’s brothers were worried that Joseph would take revenge on them after their Fathers death.

“Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” 16 So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17 ‘Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.”

Joseph said first of all that He isn’t God to place judgment on them and today this is something I rely on God to help me to do as well. Joseph also makes it clear that God had meant all of it for His good so that Joseph’s and his brothers lineage could carry on and they could become the 12 tribes of Israel.

So when you wonder whether you should forgive someone, first think of how much our Father in heaven has forgiven you. Second, remember that forgiveness comes with a price and that we are told to forgive freely as we have been forgiven by our Father in heaven. Lastly remember that God is a good God who always works things out for our good and that judgment is His alone to give. Also keep in mind that He is faithful to help us by the power of His Holy Spirit when we find it difficult to let go of the pain and resentment we feel.

“Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin!” (Hebrews 4:15)

When it comes to forgiveness don’t go it alone. Take it up with God and let Him work forgiveness in your heart. When it comes to resenting a person for what they have done don’t just throw your hands up and stop trying. Bring it to God. You will find the help and rest that you need when you lay it all down at His feet and ask Him to take it up.

Father we ask that you help us to forgive those who have hurt us. The pain is in our hearts Lord but in your word you tell us to forgive our brothers and sisters as you have been merciful to forgive us. Lord I know this is going to take some time to get over but I am trusting in you to help us when it gets hard to let it go. Help us to let it go even if we have to come to you 490 times. Be patient with us. Help us to heal Lord. Restore our relationships and help us to forgive with all of our hearts freely as you have forgiven us. We thank you Lord for your mercy and grace. In Jesus name. Amen.

The News that Keeps On Getting Better

So often we hear about the Good News of the Bible but I know that there are some out there who need to hear it today or need to hear it again. Maybe you never heard it before in your life or maybe you need a definite reminder of who Jesus Christ is and the price that He paid.

So who is this Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the Savior of our souls. He is God Himself who came down from heaven and was born through the Holy Spirit to a virgin named Mary and in the form of man He was crucified and died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins so that we can enter once again for all time into relationship with God our Father in heaven.

Jesus has come to help us in our time of need. He brings healing from our brokenness, restoration in our times of weakness, and He brings transformation in our lives and helps us to do the works that God has planned for us before we were born, and through Him alone can we find forgiveness for our disobedience to God which causes us to be separated from Him again.

God came to Earth in the form of this man Jesus who lived on Earth for some time bringing healing and miracles to all people until He was killed by those who rejected His message of salvation to those who believed in Him. The people killed Jesus out of their sin of unbelief, arrogance, jealousy, and the hardening of their hearts to God’s love.

Jesus was hung on a cross by the nails that were pierced into His hands and flesh. He received the worse death ever and was hung there in shame having committed no crime. But on the third day Jesus rose again defeating death forever so that all those who believed on Him would receive forgiveness of their sins and reunion with God the Father forever.

Why did Christ have to die?

In the beginning when God created man and woman things were good. We lived in close fellowship with God until sin entered the world through the temptation of the devil who is God’s enemy and ours and we were separated from God, death was born when we once had the hope of living in close relationship with God forever, and we were banished from God’s kingdom forever until the death and resurrection of Jesus on the cross.

If you read my testimony “From Frightened to Freedom” you will know some of my story already and why I believe this message of Jesus’ salvation from sin. If you haven’t read it yet don’t worry because I’m about to go into it a little more.

I have gone through a lot in my life and I praise God for my troubles today. Before I found Jesus I was bitter at times and angry that I had gone through so much. But today I have found healing and peace, and the greatest thing of all is knowing that my testimony can help someone grow in their own walk with the Lord.

As a child I was emotionally and physically abused by my mother, and my father passed away when I was 3 years old. The earliest memory of my life is putting a red rose on my father’s gravestone and coming home to cry for fear of my own death and for his passing. I don’t remember my father but I have always known I have the best parent of all time; my Father in heaven who in time has freed me from fear and my worries about death.

God gives us a new hope and a new future in that when we believe in Him and in the one who was sent that is Jesus Christ who is God Himself become man, we know we will have eternal life today and in the future. This hope and promise has brought me to life!

In the Bible we learn that ” for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)

Sin is all of the evil things that we do and think and if we try to fix them on our own we will find ourselves doing them again and again.

Even if we are good people who treat others well, who think good thoughts, who feed the poor, and obey all of God’s laws we will still be sinners because even one bad thought or wrong done to someone else even a lie we only consider a small one makes us fall short of God’s glory. The good news is that we can be restored to relationship with God by our faith in Jesus Christ alone.

In my life I have done things I now regret and lived in fear over faith in God. Today I still have temptations as we all do and yet God has freed me from my addictions, my anger, and impurities, and is slowly freeing me from my fear. I will always be a sinner in need of a savior but I now with the gift of Jesus Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit which was left here with me and all of His people when He ascended into heaven I can “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16)

This is a great thing to know that God has not left us alone. He knew how difficult it would be for you and me to follow His curriculum for a life without sin so not only did He send Christ to die for us but He also sent us a helper in His Holy Spirit who is a person (not a ghost as I once thought). He is a person who has feelings, thoughts, who can be grieved when we deny and go against God’s will, and who will help us every step of the way and convict us when we sin so that we can come to God and ask for His faithfulness which He is faithful to give to those who believe in Him.

This is great news to me!

Now you may be thinking that these Christians are crazy. I get it because I thought so too, that is until I began to experience it for myself and trust in the Lord Jesus to take over my life.

I didn’t experience transformation right away and some people do and that’s great. So I thought there was something wrong with me or I was “doing” the Christan life wrong. But there was the mistake.

We are not meant to “do” at all in fact another bit of Great News is that Jesus calls us to rest. That is to rest completely in Him and to spend time with Him in conversation letting Him know our struggles and to ask Him to help us and to thank Him for His help when He gives it to us.

Jesus says in Matthew 11: 28-30,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

It had at one time looked phony to me when people spoke about change and joy in the Lord until I experienced it for myself. Today I see change in my life and I know it is only through God and my belief in His son Jesus Christ that could affect such a change.

Sometimes I have to admit the walk can be hard. Sometimes the world calls and I want to answer, sometimes the old Crystal calls and I listen to her and feel the separation of my Spirit from God’s. The beauty and miracle is however, that when I call on the Lord He is faithful to never cast me out.”

All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out (I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me)” John 6:37AMP

If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ into your life I invite you to. I am not going to give you a prayer to say or to follow rather I am going to invite you to talk to God. Tell him that you want to know Him. Tell Him that you have done things you know are wrong in his sight or if you don’t know what your sins are ask him to show them to you, to forgive you, and to help you to give them up, and turn away from them all. Tell Him that you believe Jesus died on the cross for once and for all for forgiveness of your sins, and if you’re not there yet let Him know that you want to get there but don’t know how. “I believe please help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24). If you do this He will be faithful to answer you and you will experience His peace which surpasses all understanding. Take it from me a woman who also didn’t believe until she experienced it for herself. But most of all take this free gift today if you haven’t already done so and experience it yourself.

If you do believe in Christ but you have wandered or you need help explaining to others who Jesus Christ is and what the Good news is really all about, I hope this message has inspired you to draw near to God again or has brought words to your lips to help others experience for themselves the gift of salvation that you believe.

All of you out there remember this if nothing else. No matter who you are, what you do or have done, no matter how far removed you feel from God, no matter what you don’t believe or don’t understand God loves you, He is waiting for you, and He will guide you all the way to His home where you can live with Him forever in this life and the next to come which is heaven.

The celebration of Jesus’ birth is in a few days on December 25th and I pray you all enjoy it, know, and recall, the name of Jesus Christ that is the greatest gift of all. God bless all of you. In Jesus name. Amen.

God’s Amazing Grace

In 1772 there was a man name John Newton who wrote a song we are all familiar with I’m sure. The name of that song is Amazing Grace. John Newton wrote that song about the grace of God that saved him on March 21, 1947 on a boat heading to Ireland where my mom’s parents are from.

John was a man who had often mocked God and was bitter towards Him because he had often failed to find God in his heart. He believed in Christianity because his mom had told him often about Jesus when he was a little boy but he his heart had failed to be transformed. But on that day in 1947 he thought about all of the sins he had ever committed and how God had saved him by His grace many times through many of his darkest days and he realized he couldn’t save himself and he began to study God’s word and by the time they reach Ireland John Newton was saved.

It took him years before he wrote this song but I am happy that he did because it helps me to share God’s grace to me with you and it’s lyrics still speak to so many today.

“Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found

T’was blind but now I see

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear

And Grace, my fears relieved

How precious did that grace appearThe hour I first believed

Through many dangers, toils and snaresWe have already come.

T’was grace that brought us safe thus farAnd grace will lead us home,

And grace will lead us home

Amazing grace,

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found

T’was blind but now I see

Was blind, but now I see.”

This is a beautiful song not because the lyrics are good which they are and it’s not a great song because of the melody which also is good. It’s a beautiful song because of the author of grace which is God.

The meaning of wretch is a person without hope who has done awful, sinful things and I am so grateful tonight that I too was a wretch who has been saved by God’s grace.

I am thankful that God’s grace is always available to us for every problem that we have and every need. God’s grace frees us from slavery to sin, guilt, and shame and it allows us to pursue His good works He planned for us to do.

It’s through God’s grace that we can be all He needs us to be and always has meant for us to be in this life.

My hope is that as we learn here together we will have a newer and fuller understanding of how amazing God’s grace truly is.

Doing some research on the Greek and Hebrew words behind God’s grace I found that in the Old Testament the Greek word that is used to describe God’s grace is “chered”.

This word covers God’s grace in His deliverance from our enemies, afflictions or adversity.

The grace of God through use of this word also means the guidance we get from God on a daily basis, His forgiveness, and His preservation of us for Himself.

The New Testament word used is “Charis” which focuses on the provision of salvation.

Grace is the love of God given to the unlovely and unclean. It is the peace of God given to the anxious and restless and God’s umerited favor to His sinful children who without His grace cannot save themselves.

I want to make a distinction between grace and mercy which many of us confuse. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve, and not getting what we do deserve and getting heaven instead. Praise God! Whereas mercy is our forgiveness from God when we disobey Him when we should receive His punishment instead and when we deserve hell.

In Romans 3:22-24 we learn, “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”

As we can see from this verse God and His grace freely makes us right in His sight. That is another wonderful thing about God’s Amazing Grace. He gives it to us freely without a price. It is not based on anything that we do or that we can do, rather it is based on God’s love alone.

In Ephesians 1:7 we see God’s grace as a synonym for His kindness and the richness of it.   

“he is so rich in kindness and Grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his son and forgave our sins.”

In Ephesians 2: 8-10 we learn that God’s grace is a gift that has nothing to do with us and that we can’t boast about it. He has given us all things to run this race of faith and be victorious.
 

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

In John 1:15-17 we see that God’s grace provides us with blessing after blessing. The Lord our God gave up His one and only Son for us so that we are no longer dead under the law but saved by His grace.

“John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, this is the one I was talking about when I said, someone is coming after me but far greater than I am, for he existed long before me. From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given to Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:17 tells us that Gods grace is greater than sin and gives us victory through Christ even over death!”For the sin of this one man, Adam caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.”

Christianity teaches us that we deserve death because of our sin without the hope of a resurrection. If we were left there life would be hopeless indeed, but God’s grace is our gift. However this gift to us, is not about us at all, rather it shows us who God is by being a dramatic and full example of His limitless love for you and for me. Through His grace God holds nothing back but gives us all of Himself. God’s grace is seen in Jesus Christ: the full  payment for our sins.

As Christians we live everyday by the grace of God. We receive forgiveness by God’s grace.

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. (Titus 2: 11)

In Philippians 1:6 we see that spiritual growth is a process that will take place within us until it is perfected at the second coming of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. It is by God’s grace that we are transformed into the image of Christ and God’s grace helps to transform our thoughts, our behavior, and our motivation.  

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Jesus Christ returns.” (Philippians 1:6)

This work is based entirely on God and His grace to us. He started the work and by His grace He will finish it!As we shall soon see in the Christian life God’s grace empowers everything that we do.

I found these aspects on Christianity.com about how we are empowered in our walk with God by God’s grace and am including here some Bible verses I find best solidify the idea in our minds.

1 Corinthians 1: 10 says that God’s grace empowers our Christian Identity:   

“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by The authority (grace) of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”

God’s grace empowers our standing before God, 

“Because of our faith (which is empowered by God’s grace), Christ has brought us into his place of undeserved (grace) privelege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” (Romans 5:2)

God’s grace empowers our behavior to be in line with God’s will for our lives,   

“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” (Ephesians 5:8)

God’s grace empowers our living,   “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age…” (Titus 2:11-12)

God’s grace empowers us to be holy,”So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lost your own secure footing. Rather you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3: 17-18)

God’s grace empowers our strength for living,   

“Timothy dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.” (Hebrews 13:8-9)

God’s grace empowers our way of speaking, 

“Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)

God’s grace empowers our serving, 

“For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me (grace) – and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.” (1 Corinthians 15: 9-10)

God’s grace empowers us to see His sufficiency:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

God’s grace empowers our response to difficulty and suffering,

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16)

God’s grace empowers us in our participation in God’s mission,

“Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”(John 20:21)

God’s grace empowers our future,

“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.” (1 Peter 1:13)

And,

God’s grace empowers our hope beyond death,

“So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)

Everyone needs to hear this message of God’s grace. From every page of the Bible we learn of God’s grace and in every word we are pointed to the living word of God’s grace revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord. Give thanks to the Lord for His grace, for His salvation, and for empowering us to be victorious in the race of faith. Learn, Love, and Live by the grace of our God and may the Lords grace and peace follow you on your walk in Christ, this day onward to eternity. Amen. 

Blessed Be The Morning. Blessed Be The Lord.

“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

There are many reasons to praise the Lord and sometimes it can be difficult for us to find reasons for praise.

When I am going through a hard time or just wake up in a bad mood it’s easier for me to focus on problems I face rather than see anything worthy of praise.

Today I invite you to focus on praise rather than problems. Sure someone could have cut you off while you were driving, a coworker might have already out you in a bad mood, or the children might have already caused you to pull out a chunk of your hair (let’s hope not). Whatever it is I understand and the good Lord does too but He doesn’t want us to stay in that mood and He wants us to find a reason to praise Him in the midst of our troubles.

I’m sure this sounds counter productive but I assure you it’s not. When we praise the Lord (and I speak from experience as a stubborn lady who only trusts in her own experience) our mood actually shifts and as we focus on His goodness we actually begin to feel good inside even if everything around us is still bleak and unsatisfying.

This particular verse from Lamentations always gives me a good starting point for praise.

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

First we see the love of the Lord never ends. So if you think the world is against you and even if it might be we can praise God because His love for us is eternal as He is eternal.

Praise God.

Then we see that His mercies never cease. His mercy is always there. So if we looked cross or we are crying in the restroom feeling weak God’s mercies are there and He is faithful to forgive us and to be kind to us throughout our day into forever.

Praise God.

Great is His faithfulness. We can praise God because He is faithful to His word and He keeps His promises so if someone has hurt you today or last night and broken your trust remember God is faithful; He is there for you, He will see you through, no matter what you are going through and the very promise of this verse is a reason for praise to the one we know speaks the truth.

In that same verse we see our focus for today,

“His mercies begin afresh each morning.”

So if anything has got you discouraged or feeling guilty and like you can’t go on. Run towards His light and not away. Face the day and know this, His mercies are renewed for you this morning and you can rest knowing they will be there for you tomorrow. And as you rest in His mercy. As you rest in His love. As you rest in His kindness and patience.

Praise God.

Now say,

The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

Let the gratitude that overflows your heart bring you a blessed morning. For you my friend are within the mercy of Him, who renews them every morning.

Peace be with you as you go about your day. May the joy of the Lord be your refuge and your strength. In Jesus name. Amen.

1 Corinthians 13: Love Is The Greatest

In the original Greek, the word agape is used throughout 1 Corinthians 13. This is translated into English as “charity” and is specifically, the love between God and humanity, His good will for us, and kindly feelings . This is the love God has for all of us. For you. For me for everyone.

In this chapter we learn what true love is to God and man: a caring, compassionate, and generous disposition of mind towards our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ growing out of sincere and earnest devotion to God.

We as Christians are often taught that faith is everything but in 1st Corinthians 13:1-3 Paul says that if you speak in the tongues of men and angels we only make empty sound if we have not love in our hearts and if you have the gift of prophecy and all knowledge of God we would be nothing without love because without love in our hearts why would we ever come to share what we know?

If we didn’t love others we also might seek to glorify ourselves and do harm to those the prophecy was made to help. If we have Faith remember the greatest thing we are taught to have but have not love, Paul says we have nothing. Faith is a gift we have that enables us to be victorious so that we can glorify and honor God and also encourage and bless our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’m reminded of this verse in James 2: 14-17 faith without good works (Good deeds) is dead). James says,       

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not show it by your actions? Can that kind of Faith save anyone? suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing? And you say, “goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well” – then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see faith itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”

So you see faith by itself again is nothing for without the love of our hearts to go out of our way and care for someone in need we haven’t really helped them or met their need for warmth and hunger according to this verse by James and our words are empty because they did not serve the person that God loves and that we are meant to love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19). 

Our doing good to others will do nothing to draw us near to God or His people if it’s not well done in a spirit of devotion and charity, love to God, and good-will to His people.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Paul says this,

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
   

I know for myself this can be very difficult for me to pull off in my own strength. How many people find it hard to love in this way?Sometimes people can be annoying, get under our skin, hurt us, seem to have it better than us, or sometimes we can feel that we are better than they are. So it can be hard to be patient and kind and not jealous, boastful, proud or rude but Paul is saying these are the things that are not love. If someone treated you this way would you say they were loving you in that moment?

You might give them a break and say they are having a bad day but you still wouldn’t say in that moment they were showing you love. So if this love is so hard for us to do naturally how do we accomplish it? The answer is not found in our natural selves. Rather it is found supernaturally and the answer is found in God’s word.
 

In Galatians 5:22-23 we are told “But the Holy Spirit.” Let me say that again. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love.” 

Let me say that one more time. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love.” 
So you see we don’t produce the fruit of love but it is a gift from God through the power of His Holy Spirit. 

We also see in these verses that the Holy Spirit also produces, “peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. To which there is no law against these things.”
Now all of these fruits are the fruit of love for even faithfulness as we saw without love is dead and how can you have faith in God without first loving Him?

So now we come to our next verses in 1 John.

In 1 John 4:7-8 we are told,

“dear friends let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. But anyone who does not love does not know God for God is love.”

In 1 John 4: 16-17 we are learn,

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.”

So you see brothers and sisters our God is love and His love is perfect. Therefore living in Him produces this perfect love Paul is speaking about in 1 Corinthians 13. We cannot do it on our own because mans love is always imperfect.

You might recall in Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus is talking about how in the law of Moses the people were taught to love their neighbors but hate their enemies but Jesus said to love everyone including our enemies. For we are to be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect. I have often scratched my head in defeat wondering what that meant and how I was to be perfect as God until I had a “Eureka!” moment.

My love is to be perfect as Gods love is perfect and the only way I can do that is by abiding in God and in His love which is perfect. Not by operating in my own imperfect strength which can never produce God’s perfect love.

To further this point in Romans 5:5 we learn “For we know how dearly God loves us because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.”

Why was the Holy Spirit given to us?

If you said to help us you’re right.

So when you find yourself discouraged by not being in the right mood for loving call on Him to help you and call on Him to fill your ❤️ with His love.

For love like this is also found in Romans 12:10 which says,
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

When we operate in this way to our brothers and sisters we will, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…”

(Philippians 2:3)

Where the fire of love is kept in, the flames of wrath and anger will not easily start, or be kept burning for long. Charity will never be angry without a reason and will look to continue it’s anger only within limits. Being careful and watchful that their anger doesn’t get out of control and last past the night.

Anger cannot rest where love is. It is hard to be angry with those we love, but very easy for us to drop our resentments and angry feelings and to draw near again to the person or people who we genuinely love.

In 1 Corinthians 13: 8-10 Paul tells us that,   “Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.”    

Why would Paul say that prophecy and speaking in unknown languages will become useless? But love will last forever?

Because in heaven we will all speak the same language of heavenly praise to the Lord. Prophecy is only necessary in this life so we know what is going to happen here.

In heaven when we reign with the Lord the prophecy will have already come true and there will no longer be any more reason for prophecy and prophets.

In heaven our love will be perfect 100% as we are with the Lord whose love is eternal.

So love which is always in Him will be our eternal life forever. Here on Earth we can only see part of the whole but when Jesus comes again we will finally understand it all.

This is why Paul continues in verses 11-12:
“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

Today we are like children drinking in the word of God and coming to Him with our worries, our cares, our concerns, our cries, and our petitions because we don’t see His greater plan and His hand over our lives. We do see things imperfectly as if we were looking into a mirror.

Now in Paul’s time mirrors weren’t as clear as they are today and then you would only see yourself as a hazy outline. But even today with a mirror you may get a clear image of yourself or the room behind you depending on how large the mirror is but even that image is limited because you still won’t be able to see the entire house. But when we are in heaven with God all things will be perfectly clear and we will be spiritually mature basking in the love of the Lord.

I want to leave you with this last reference in the word of God from Mark 12: 28-31.

“One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “of all the commandments which is the most important?”  “Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this:

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

So the question remains,

“WHO IS YOUR NEIGHBOR?”

The answer to this question is found in the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.  “Jesus replied with a story: “a Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.  By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.  

Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothes his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ 

Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. 
The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes now go and do the same.”

The first two men in the story were Jewish men and religious men at that. The third man was a Samaritan who was hated by the Jewish people because the Samaritans had intermarried and practiced foreign customs. And yet it was the Samaritan that ended up helping the Jewish man beaten on the road. 

When you go out and during your day today, I want you to ask yourself, “who is my neighbor?”

Practice showing them the mercy of the good Samaritan and the love Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13 keeping in mind Paul’s last words in verse 13: 

“Three things will last forever- faith, hope, and love- and the greatest of these is love.” 

Peace be with all of you. Amen.
                       

Keep Right On Going

I pray that everyone here had a great Thanksgiving. I haven’t written in a few days and I want to apologise for that. It isn’t that I didn’t want to be here. It isn’t that my heart wasn’t with you all. To be honest I was feeling discouraged and like not going on with this blog and this journey with you. But in the midst of it all sitting by the window watching the rain drops fall I heard these words from God: “Keep going on.” So let us keep holding on together.

You may be wondering or not, it’s cool if you don’t care why but I’m going to share my reason for discouragement anyway because it might help somebody. You are welcome to move on or stay with me but if it can help you either now or later I invite you to stay awhile.

For the past few days I have been feeling downcast because of my lack of viewers, likes, comments, and also material. I have been comparing myself to others and believing the lies of the enemy, hearing voices of shame and worthlessness from my childhood speaking in my ears and saturating in my veins. It’s been a hard few days and yet I have been thankful and still praising God by His leading that I ever had the courage through Him to start a blog at all.

This afternoon as I was getting ready to face the day and decide if I want to delete His account, it hit me. It’s not my account. It’s His. So the quantity doesn’t matter. Even the quality doesn’t really matter all that much because He provides all things. What matters is if even one person is encouraged and finds their way to God or back to relationship with their Father in heaven.

Now my praise is different. Instead of thanking God that I even had begun doing something to His glory I am now praising Him for telling me to continue and giving me the strength to persevere no matter what the stats indicate.

In Him I am more than passing, through Him I am more than able, and even if one person finds Him the multidues of heaven will rejoice even if there are zero comments and likes for His blog on this side of the Earth.

When I heard God telling me to keep going I was reading the book of Matthew in chapter 15 verses 21-28 where Jesus and the disciples come in contact with a Canaanite woman. The scripture reads in the NLT version like so,

“Then Jesus left Galilee and went North to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”

But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep – the people of Israel.”

But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord help me!”

Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their master’s table.”

“Dear woman”, Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.”

Jesus’ ministry at this time was to go first to preach to the Israelites and yet He still found Himself among the gentiles and so He wouldn’t have been surprised to find the woman living in Tyre and Sidon.

When I read this verse today God led me to see that it was the disciples not Jesus who wanted to have nothing to do with the woman but Jesus got the last say.

He didn’t turn the woman away but He almost seems to with his cold reply to her need. We can often turn someone away and Jesus was showing the disciples this by likening the woman to a dog and not one of the Israelites He came to save.

But unlike the Israelites who refused the ministry of Jesus as the Messiah the Old Testament prophesied, this Gentile woman kept pressing out of her need for her daughter to be healed and her belief that Jesus brings healing. She kept right on going. She kept right on seeking Him and her faith made her daughter well.

My friend Jesus told me to keep going as she had and today He is calling you to do the same. Jesus taught me a lesson that He always gets the last say and He in no way will casts out those who seek Him as we are told in John 6:37,

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

So my friend if you find yourself discouraged, or depressed, or your spirit is low and you are down in the dumps, be encouraged to keep right on going knowing Jesus will never cast you away.

He has lifted me up this day and He is there right now to do the same and even greater, today for you. Trust in Him with all you have and you will see His light shining through your darkness.

Let us pray,

Faithful Father we sometimes feel discouraged and hopeless even while knowing that you are here for us and that you care. Sometimes we don’t feel like you do care but then you bring your light to our spirits and encourage us by your word and we thank you for your kindness and your patience with us. Lord please help us to keep right on going as the Canaanite woman did and to not lose heart and hope but help us to press forward and keep right on seeking your face. Help us to receive, accept and live in your promise that as we come to you, we will never be shunned by you, and you will never turn your back on us. We love you Lord and we ask in the name of Jesus that you will continue to strengthen us for trust in your faithfulness that with you walking beside us this day, your child can keep right on going. Thank you Father for your love. Amen.

The Tax Collectors Testimony

The testimony of Matthew has always struck me as an amazing affirmation of God’s grace and also a powerful demonstration of why Jesus came and a look into the heart of God’s people.

Here is the verse from Matthew 9:9-13

“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his

disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

What first stands out to me is that Matthew is a tax collector. In those days tax collectors collected money for and payed a set amount to the Romans while keeping the rest of the collection for themselves.

They cheated the people and often took more than was necessary to have more for themselves and they were despised for this but their choice to work for the Romans who had put their people under bondage to them made them that more loathed by the Jewish people.

Matthews booth was in the public. His sin wasn’t hidden and so he wouldn’t have been said to be a humble man, but a man proud with his own intelligence and self interests. Considering that Matthews booth was in the public we can be sure that he had seen the miracles Jesus had performed and heard him speak. But Matthews heart was hardened to the point that nothing could dissuade him from his first love: money. That is until Jesus stood before him.

When Jesus called Matthew answered. This is a shock. What was it about Jesus that softened Matthews heart and where are we in this process? Are our hearts readily softened by the one who died to save them?

Jesus’ call was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit which gave it divine and sovereign power as it still does today. God’s grace is so strong that it can soften even the most hardest of hearts so that they come to believe and to receive it.

The next thing Matthew does we see is he invites Jesus IN for a meal. We have to be willing to invite Jesus in to every part of our lives and be willing to share every moment with Him.

Are we willing?

Meanwhile the Pharisees those hypocritical know it all’s are outside looking in and judging Jesus for hanging out with the ones everyone looked down on. But Jesus answers them with love and yet, tells them to go and learn the meaning of scripture which was an insult to them because they thought they knew it all.

He tells them to learn about mercy. Are we merciful friends? Are we sharing and showing God’s love or are we judging one another without love and the grace of God? Let us remember that Jesus eats with sinners. He accepts us as sinners because if He didn’t we wouldn’t need Him. Jesus calls us to love one another and yet not change our spirits to mirror the sins of others as He didn’t because it’s grace, truth, and love that conquers all.

Jesus called Matthew and Jesus called you and me because we were sick. In many ways I am still sick but in Christ I am on a path to being a better me. I will never be perfect until I stand with Him in glory in Heaven. Forever I am in need of His salvation.

It was only by God’s grace that I was saved. As you know for a long time I knew the Father but not Jesus and the Holy Spirit. My life was wild and in turmoil and you couldn’t have told me that I would choose to ever sit down and read the word of God for 2 minutes let alone for an hour or more. But now with the Holy Spirit living in me what I would have called a boring life before is now a life I wouldn’t give up for the world.

So if you’re struggling to know God don’t worry, God will pick you up and He will find you. If you think you’re beyond saving you’re not. Matthew wasn’t and neither was I.

If you know God praise God, and love. And may we all remember no matter where we stand Jesus’ words: “For I have not come to call the righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Peace be with you my friend. May we live and respond today with grace and truth. May we respond to God’s call and love above all. In Jesus name. Amen.