Forgive—And Set Yourself Free

Featured

‘Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.’ Ephesians 4:32 NKJV

Years after her harrowing experience in a Nazi concentration camp, Corrie ten Boom was speaking in a church when she found herself standing face-to-face with a man who had been one of the cruelest guards she had ever met in the camps. This man had humiliated and degraded both her and her sister, jeering at them and visually ‘raping’ them as they stood in the delousing shower. Now he stood before her with an outstretched hand, asking, ‘Will you forgive me?’

Corrie said, ‘I stood there with coldness clutching at my heart, but I knew that the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. I prayed, “Jesus, help me!” Woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me, and when I did I experienced an incredible thing. The current started in my shoulder, raced down into my arm, and sprang into our clutched hands. Then this warm reconciliation seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. “I forgive you, brother,” I cried with my whole heart. For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I have never known the love of God as intensely as I did in that moment.’

The Bible says, ‘Be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you.’ (Ephesians 4:32 NAS) Who are you struggling to forgive today? Rise above your feelings and do it! When you do, you will set yourself free and be able to walk in the peace and joy of the Lord.

Today God Is With You

Featured

‘Although they saw Him, they didn’t recognize Him.’ Luke 24:16 GWT

When you face a crisis it’s easy to lose perspective. It happened to two of Christ’s disciples on the Emmaus Road. Discouraged about His death, they were ‘talking with each other about everything that had happened… Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him.’ (Luke 24:14–16 NIV) When you take your eyes off Jesus, you start to feel helpless about your situation.

Dr Michael Youssef says: ‘Facing a major crisis, I tend to be the kind of person whose vision becomes blurred. My perceptions are shot. My contemplations are one-sided. I often shut out the very people who can deliver me, just like those two disciples… Their vision was blurred about the person who was walking with them and talking to them. The one whose death they were mourning was alive… but they didn’t realize it because their focus was on the wrong thing.’

But everything changed the minute they recognized Jesus. ‘Within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There…the two…told…how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along…and how they had recognized Him as He was breaking the bread.’ (Luke 24:33–35 NLT) Note the words ‘within the hour’. In an instant they went from fear to courage, pain to joy, and despair to hope. Paul wrote, ‘I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.’ (Ephesians 1:18 NIV) When you stop focusing on the problem and fix your eyes on Jesus, you get 20/20 vision and you’re filled with hope.

‘Precious Blood—Precious You!’

Featured

‘It was the precious blood of Christ.’ 1 Peter 1:19 NLT

The Bible says, ‘God paid a ransom… it was not paid with mere gold or silver… it was the precious blood of Christ.’ (1 Peter 1:18–19 NLT) You must come to a place in your life where you are secure in who you are ‘in Christ’; where you don’t allow your sense of worth to be based on the opinions or actions of others. Stop trying to find your worth in how you look, or in what you do for a living, or in how people treat you. Your worth in God’s eyes is incalculable because Jesus shed His blood for you.

‘Precious blood, precious you!’ Yes, you have faults. Yes, there are things about you that need to be changed, but God is working on you just as He is on everybody else. Don’t let somebody else dump their issues on you. You’re a blood-bought child of God! Don’t allow them to make you feel worthless or useless because they don’t know how to treat you right, or love you as you deserve to be loved. Don’t spend your life trying to win their acceptance or approval. You’ve already been accepted and approved by God, so make sure your validation and sense of worth come from Him.

You’re redeemed by Christ’s blood, covered by Christ’s blood, and accepted through Christ’s blood. And since His blood is ‘precious’, that makes you precious too!

Satan, who’s called ‘the accuser’, would like you to forget that and see yourself only in the light of your flaws and failures. Instead, get up every morning, look in the mirror, and announce, ‘I am precious, because I have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus!’

The Beauty of the Breastplate (3)

Featured

‘Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious.’ 1 Peter 2:7 NKJV

We learn from looking at the breastplate worn by Israel’s high priest that:

(a) we are precious to God; (b) we are close to His heart;

(b) we are close to His heart;

(c) He will never turn His back on us.

You say, ‘If God will never turn His back on us, does that mean we can live any way we please?’ No, and here’s why. As a redeemed child of God, not only are you precious in His eyes, He is also precious in your eyes. So you will value your relationship with Him above all else and protect it from anything that threatens it. Question: When you realize how valuable and precious you are in God’s eyes, does that make you want to go out and sin, or continue living in sin? Of course not! On the contrary, your thoughts will run more along the lines of: ‘This is not how a believer who is precious to the Lord behaves.’ A precious diamond doesn’t belong in the mud, grime, and filth of sin. Its rightful place is close to the heart of God where it sparkles and shines. Knowing your true, righteous, and precious-to-God identity in Christ elevates you above the desire to give in to sin. It makes you want to walk and live as a child of the King. Indeed, holy living is the result of seeing yourself as God sees you—‘in Christ’. Instead of giving in to temptation, you’ll ask yourself, ‘What would Jesus do in this situation?’ Then you’ll draw on His strength and do the right thing. A true understanding of God’s grace doesn’t prevent holiness, it produces it.

The Beauty of the Breastplate (2)

Featured

‘We have a great High Priest… Jesus the Son of God.’ Hebrews 4:14 NLT

Notice two more things about the breastplate worn by Israel’s high priest:

(1) It was close to his heart. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, he went into the ‘Holiest of Holies’ where God’s presence was, in order to obtain forgiveness for the people’s sins. And he wore different things, each signifying different truths. But of all the garments he donned, the breastplate was the closest to his heart. This speaks of how much God loves and values you, and His desire to be close to you. Today He’s saying to you: ‘I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]’ (Hebrews 13:5 AMPC) What a wonderful promise!

(2) The name of each tribe was not merely written on the breastplate, but engraved on it (see Exodus 39:14). When something is written, it can be erased or accidentally blotted out, but not when it’s ‘engraved’. There are two ways you can sin. First by deliberately choosing to, and second by stumbling through weakness. And God will chastise and correct you in order to get you back onto the right path, but He will never turn His back on you or throw you away. No, you’re too precious to Him.

He remembers the price He paid for you and He says, ‘I will not blot out [your] name from the Book of Life.’ (Revelation 3:5 NKJV) As long as you are trusting in Christ, you can be sure of God’s love and acceptance.

The Beauty of the Breastplate (1)

Featured

‘Twelve stones… engraved… according to the twelve tribes.’ Exodus 39:14 NKJV

As you look at the breastplate worn by Israel’s high priest, you see how precious you are in God’s eyes as His redeemed child. The Bible gives us very detailed information about what the high priest wore, and there are no insignificant details in God’s Word.

As we examine this breastplate we see something wonderful about the way the Lord sees us. There were twelve stones on it, each with the name of one of the twelve tribes. And since Jesus is our great High Priest, let’s look at this breastplate and see what we can learn. These were precious stones. God didn’t use common rocks and pebbles found in abundance in Israel; He chose the most costly, rare and precious gems such as sapphire, topaz, emerald, amethyst, diamond, onyx and jasper to represent us. Note the word precious. The Bible says you are ‘precious’ in God’s sight (see Isaiah 43:4). It also says that you were redeemed with the ‘precious’ blood of Jesus (see 1 Peter 1:19).

How do you establish the value of something? By the price someone is willing to pay for it. So here’s a truth you must keep in mind when you have blown it and Satan is condemning you because of your sins and shortcomings. With full knowledge of all your sins—past, present, and future—God loves you so much that He sent His Son to redeem you by shedding His precious blood. And as long as you are trusting in Christ, your value in God’s eyes never diminishes. Why does God think you are precious? Because at all times He sees you ‘in Christ’.

Use Words Befitting A Christian

Featured

‘The lips of the righteous know what is fitting.’ Proverbs 10:32 NIV

When George HW Bush was running for president of the United States in 1988, he admitted he’d made an inappropriate remark about American journalist Dan Rather and White House correspondent Lesley Stahl after an on-air confrontation.

Bush referred to Rather in an unprintable term, and also took God’s name in vain in speaking about the Columbia Broadcasting System. When confronted, he said, ‘If I’d known the microphone was on, I wouldn’t have taken the Lord’s name in vain, and I apologize for that.’ The fact is, he shouldn’t have said it whether the recorder was on or not.

Remember, God’s recorder is always on! The Bible says, ‘A man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths.’ (Proverbs 5:21 NIV) Centuries ago Jesus declared: ‘There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.’ (Luke 12:2–3 NIV)

Take a moment and consider these two Scriptures:

‘The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.’ (Proverbs 15:28 NIV)

‘The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.’ (Proverbs 10:32 NIV)

The first Scripture tells you that a wise person will think before he or she speaks, because they realize every word has a consequence. The second Scripture tells you that a righteous person automatically knows what’s acceptable, and keeps in mind the fact that God hears every word.

‘To Thine Own Self Be True’

Featured

‘A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor.’ Proverbs 21:6 NIV

It’s easier to maintain your integrity than to regain it. It may cost you to do the right thing, but it will cost you more to abandon your principles. ‘Like a bird hatching an egg it did not lay, so are… people who get rich by cheating. When their lives are half finished, they will lose their riches. At the end… it will be clear they were fools. ’ (Jeremiah 17:11 NCV)

In 1994 golfer Davis Love called a one-stroke penalty on himself during the second round of the Western Open. He moved his marker out of the path of another player’s putting line; then later he couldn’t remember if he’d moved his ball back to its original spot. Since he wasn’t certain, he gave himself an extra stroke. And that one stroke caused him to be eliminated from the tournament.

At year’s end Love was $590 short in winnings to automatically qualify for the Masters, and needed to win a tournament to get into one of golf’s most coveted events. Fortunately, the story ends well. The week before the big event he qualified by winning a tournament in New Orleans, and went on to earn $237,600 by finishing second in the 1995 Masters.

Later, when asked how he’d have felt if he’d missed the Masters because of calling a penalty on himself, Love replied, ‘The question is how I’d have felt if I’d won and spent the rest of my life wondering if I’d cheated.’

In the words of Shakespeare: ‘To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.’

Let Go Of Your Past

Featured

‘Do not call to mind the…past. Behold, I will do something new.’ Isaiah 43:18–19 NIV

Comedian Jerry Lewis joked that his best wedding gift was a film of the ceremony—because when things got really bad in his marriage he could go into a room by himself, run the film backwards, and walk out a free man! We smile, but you can’t go back and rewrite history any more than you can unscramble an egg. When you dwell on the past it’s always at the expense of the future, but when you learn from the past it has the potential to make your future better.

Whenever you find yourself saying, ‘If I knew then what I know now,’ remind yourself that unless you grow you’ll be saying the same thing ten or twenty years from now. You say, ‘If only I’d been willing to forgive my spouse instead of doling out punishment, maybe I could have kept my marriage together and built a great relationship.’ Maybe you struggle with the memory of an abortion, wondering about the child who might have been and the joy he or she might have brought. Perhaps you’re a good person who did a bad thing and ended up with a criminal record; now you’re saying, ‘If only…’

Well, here’s what God says:

(1) ‘Your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.’ (1 John 2:12 NLT)

(2) ‘I… will blot out your sins for My own sake and will never think of them again.’ (Isaiah 43:25 NLT)

(3) ‘Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth…’ The word for you today is: let go of your past.

Anger Management (5)

Featured

‘Those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.’ Proverbs 11:13 NLT

If you’re serious about managing your anger, here are two things to keep in mind:

(1) Don’t hang out your dirty laundry in public. Keep it in the laundry room. When you’re hurt and angry, spreading gossip about your offender comes naturally. Don’t do it. The Bible says, ‘A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.’ Dirty laundry generally gets aired in two ways:

(a) Embarrassment: you say things when you know others will hear them.

(b) Subtlety: you make jokes about their appearance, their friends and family, their personal hang-ups and habits in order to belittle them. This results in embarrassment for the other person, widens the gap between you, and makes reconciliation virtually impossible. The Bible says, ‘Love covers all sins.’ (Proverbs 10:12 NKJV)

(2) Don’t act in an un-Christlike way. For example, don’t say, ‘He brought it on himself, so let him get over it.’ That may be true, but as a follower of Christ, don’t walk away and leave wounds to fester and become infected. ‘Forgive… just as God forgave you.’ (Ephesians 4:32 CEV) How did Christ forgive you? Was it after you’d acknowledged, confessed, repented, and earned grace? No.

Paul says, ‘When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.’ (Romans 5:10 NKJV) Just as God took the initiative, you are called to extend grace to other people before they ask for forgiveness. And even if they choose to remain your enemy, you must forgive them anyhow. Only then will you have peace, your wounds will be healed, and you will be able to put it behind you.