The Joy Of A Forgiven Heart

12th May

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”

Psalm 32:1-2

Every human has a desire and longing to be loved. Many try to satisfy that longing with drugs, drinking, womanising, and the like. Yet there is no greater joy than knowing you have been forgiven and accepted by your Creator; knowing that you have a purpose, a destiny and that God has a plan for your personally.

In 1678, John Bunyan released one of the most famous pieces of English Christian literature, the Pilgrim Progress. In his book, we follow the story of a man name Christian, who makes his perilous journey to Celestial city (Heaven). However, he carries on his back a huge bag like burden, which represent his sins. His is finally relieved of his burdens when he reaches the ‘place of deliverance’, a representation of calvary’s cross. Although this story may be mostly allegorical, the truth remains that we are all on a journey. In life’s journey we may face dangers and temptations, yet the most liberating and life giving stage of our journey is when Jesus Christ sets us free from our sins. It truly is like a burden being lifted from our backs.

In today’s psalm, David also speaks of this joy, freedom and liberty that await a forgiven soul. Sin can so easily hold us down and feel like a huge weight on our lives. Yet when we are set free by the power of Jesus’ love, those chains are broken and we can walk upright in the power of His might and in the purpose and plan He has ordained for our life.

What joy awaits a forgiven soul, and those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt!!

Forgiveness: Don’t And You Won’t

9th May

..and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us…. If you forgive those who sin against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6:12, 14

In the whole of Jesus’ ‘model prayer’, the theme of forgiveness is the only point He expands upon. In fact so strong are Jesus’ words, then we can’t help but analyse our lives to see if they are in check with God’s mirror (His word!). Jesus highlighted an important truth in His prayer. If we are forgiven then we too should forgive others with the same forgiveness we have received. It is a clear, strong and direct message that cannot and should not be missed.

Yes Jesus in His loving, kind and unconditional love poured Himself out to be the forgiveness of our sins. And yes we freely accept God’s grace through Jesus’ actions to be the payment for our sins so we can stand as forgiven sons and daughters of God. Yet if we do not show the same love, kindness and grace to others who do wrong to us, then we are like hypocrites, and in Jesus’ words, ‘your Father will not forgive your sins’. These are strong words, yet the reality of what Jesus was trying to say was and is so plain. Simply put, forgive others as you have been forgiven, don’t and you won’t either…

Forgiving others is a humbling experience and something that is not always as straight forward as just saying words. Forgiveness can sometimes be a process. However, if we fully understand how much we are forgiven, and view our hurts and pain through that perspective, then we can only release ourselves and our debtors through forgiveness. Un-forgiveness not only damages our intimacy with God but also spreads in our hearts like a cancerous disease, eating away at our joy and peace.

May we all search our hearts to forgive ourselves and others of any hurts that we might be carrying. May we understand the depth of how much we have been forgiven and forgive others with that same forgiveness.

A Stake In The Ground: No More Bitterness

5th January

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

On paper, it can seem so easy to forgive. We can almost work it out like an equation. This person did this wrong to me + desire to forgive and forget = forgiveness.. Yet somehow it is not that easy. Mixed into this equation is emotion, hurt, and bitterness. Sometimes we believe that it is our right to hold onto the bitterness and hurt. It is almost comforting. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Holding onto to hurt and bitterness only causes more pain. It only causes us to become depressed and carry heavy burdens on our shoulders. Bitterness spreads like a cancerous disease in our hearts, slowly eating away at all that is good in us.

When we look at our own lives in relationship with Christ, we can see so many times that we have sinned against God, yet time and time again, He has forgiven us by the blood of Son Jesus Christ and the grace and mercy of Almighty God. There are probably so many times that God has every right to not forgive, yet if we ask Him, He always does. It is this example that we should live our lives by. Christ has set the bar for what our attitudes should be like. Forgive as we have been forgiven. If Christ forgave us, then we too should forgive others. Lets us put a stake in the ground, making a conscious decision to FORGIVE WITH THE SAME MEASURE WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM JESUS. Let us lean on Christ’s strength to help us forgive and trust He will make right what has been wronged.

The Act Of Forgiveness

4th November 

 “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”

Proverbs 17:9

There is a reason why the Bible encourages us to forgive quickly and to not let the sun go down on our wrath. Hurt, pain and anger only await those who hold on to bitterness. Un-forgiveness separates us from God, separates us from our own rational thinking and even separates us from our most loved ones. Anger does nothing but cause friction and bitterness.

However, the opposite is true when love prevails. A simple sorry can completely diffuse a situation, can heal wounds and release tensions. As this wise proverb states, ‘love prospers when a fault is forgiven’. There is nothing more liberating than knowing that we are forgiven, loved and accepted by Jesus and with that same love, forgiveness and acceptance, loving others too.

It is no easy task to forgive a fault, particularly when the wound is deep and greatly hurts. Indeed, in our strength we cannot. We can make a decision to forgive, however, true forgiveness is something only God can help us put into practice. May we today know the power of a ‘fault forgiven’, the danger of holding onto hurt and the joy of releasing the debt of bitterness. Furthermore, may our Lord Jesus, daily reveal just how much we have been forgiven and help us, with that same love, to love and forgive others. Let us rejoice in forgiven faults and restored friendships.

Jesus’ Resurrection – FREEDOM!!!

8th April

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

Romans 8:1-2 

We are free. Free to live without condemnation. Free to fall down (although we strive to live holy lives before our holy God), but free to approach the mercy seat of God with no shame, fear or guilt!

Jesus again in His encounter with Nicodemus in John chapter 3, tells him in verse 17 that He didn’t come to condemn the world but that through His sacrificial love, we will be saved. The writer of Romans echoes these words in today’s verse. There is no condemnation at all. If we can say with surety that we belong to Christ Jesus, if we have accepted His love, repented of our sins, acknowledge Him at King of our lives… then there is good news…YOU ARE NOT CONDEMNED.

Yes we will sin, yes we fall short of God’s holy standards but we are freed from the power of sin by Jesus’ resurrection power. We no longer live a life that leads to death but live a free life that leads to a fully alive LIFE.

This doesn’t give us a free licence to do whatever we want and never face the consequence of our bad choices, but rather when we feel like we cant pray, go to church, fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ because of sin, we can identify that as a lie from the devil and know that Jesus welcomes us into His loving arms no matter what we have done. It was while we were still sinners that He died for us. The only thing that changed is that God doesn’t look at our sin but looks at what Jesus did on the cross. He paid our price so we wouldn’t have to. THAT IS LOVE AND GRACE!!

 

He Is Alive

4th & 5th April

Weekend Edition

“If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

John 20:23 

Jesus’ death and resurrection was a great example to all of humanity in what love really looks like. He came and was nailed to a cross, the ultimate sign of shame and rejection, murdered by the very people He formed with His breath. Yet all that exuded from Jesus was love.

In today’s passage we find the resurrected Jesus, in His resurrected body, greeting the disciples and showing His wounds to them as a sign that it really was Him. Jesus really did rise from the dead. Yet the words He passed on to the disciples in verse 23 stands as a landmark and an ultimate commission for the disciples then but also for us now, “forgive and they will be forgiven.” Jesus doesn’t give permission to His disciples to now take the place of the Father and forgive sins but rather encourages them that if someone wronged them, they should not hold onto that bitterness. To release someone from that wrong towards us, not only liberates the other person but also ourselves. Forgiveness is an exchange of love from the wronged to the wrong doer.

Yet why did Jesus choose at that time to talk about forgiveness? He has just breathed on them and given them the Holy Spirit, isn’t that enough? If we look at what Jesus had just gone through and some of His last words on the cross, we can get our answer. In Luke 23:34 Jesus cries out and says “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” talking of His accusers and murderers. Even on the cross, in His dying breath He pleads for mercy for those who inflicted death on Him.

Jesus was so full of love, that there was no room for un-forgiveness or bitterness. He knew the power that love had to overcome all un-forgiveness. He could only go through what He went through with complete peace and love in His heart. We can have all the gifts of this world, rejoice in the resurrection of Christ and even be filled with the Holy Spirit. But without love and forgiveness we will fail in our commission to show Christ to a dying and lost world. Forgiveness is an important key this Easter, in unlocking the hearts of the broken. Forgive as Jesus did and see the breakthrough in your life and others. Happy Easter. Jesus is ALIVE.