The Faith To Forgive

Luke 17:5 “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.”

It is very interesting to note that the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith after He spoke of forgiveness. They observed all of the wonderful miracles Jesus performed and yet that never inspired them to ask for greater faith. Truly, walking in love and forgiveness with each other takes as much faith as any miracle we will ever believe for.

The basis of forgiveness is the love and mercy of God. It is only because God first loved and forgave us that we can love and forgive others. If we aren’t walking in the forgiveness of God, we won’t minister it to others. He forgave us before we repented or asked for forgiveness.

The scriptures admonish us to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. God offered His forgiveness towards us while we were yet sinners. Therefore, forgiveness was offered to all unconditionally. But only those who receive the offered forgiveness through repentance and faith are received as sons of God.

Likewise, we are to forgive others their trespasses, just as God has forgiven us our trespasses. We forgive whether or not the other person repents or wants our forgiveness. But we cannot restore such a person to complete relationship until there is repentance on his part. Failure to distinguish between forgiveness and restoration with their different conditions, has caused some people to make themselves vulnerable to unscrupulous people and suffer tragic results. In marriage, we should forgive our mate for anything, even adultery. But If there is no true repentance on our mate’s part, it would be foolish to trust him or her in a sexually tempting situation. We should forgive a business partner for stealing from us whether or not he repents, but that doesn’t mean we ought to put ourselves in a position to let him do it again. Complete restoration is dependent on repentance. Walk in forgiveness today.

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Vengeance Is Gods

Luke 17:2 “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”

God takes the persecution of His children personally. In Acts 9:4 when Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus and spoke to him about his persecution of the saints, Jesus said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Saul was not directly persecuting Jesus but he was persecuting His saints. Yet Jesus said, “Why are you persecuting me?” Judgment against those who persecute God’s children will not always come in time to prevent their harm but as this warning makes very clear, God will avenge His own … Romans 12:19.

Letting God be the one who defends us is a matter of faith. If there is no God who will bring men into account for their actions, then turning the other cheek would be the worst thing we could do. But if there is a God who promises that vengeance is His, and He will repay, then taking matters into our own hands shows a lack of faith in God and His integrity.

We are not to take matters into our own hands and defend ourselves.

“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (from Deuteronomy 32:35-36; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). Striving to vindicate self actually shows a lack of faith in God keeping this promise. It also indicates spiritual “nearsightedness” which is only looking at the present moment instead of seeing things in view of eternity.

Even as Christ did not come to condemn the world and is not holding men’s sins against them, even so, we have been given the same ministry of reconciliation. For those who do not receive the love we extend to them but rather take advantage of us because of our “turning the other cheek,” God will repay.

Negatives Become Positive

 Luke 15:18 “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.”

This is a good example of true repentance. This son did not claim any goodness of his own or try to justify his actions, but he humbled himself and appealed to the mercy of his father. Likewise, we cannot approach God in self-righteousness, but we have to humble ourselves, put all of our faith in a Savior, and turn from our wicked ways…2 Chronicles 7:14. That is true repentance.

Repentance is a necessary part of salvation. Repentance may include godly sorrow, but sorrow does not always include repentance. Repentance is simply a change of mind accompanied by corresponding actions.

There is a godly type of sorrow and an ungodly type of sorrow. Godly sorrow leads to repentance. Ungodly sorrow, or the sorrow of this world, just kills.

Our culture has rejected all “negative” emotions. But God gave us the capacity for these negative emotions and there is a proper use of them.

People should feel bad about sin. There should be sorrow over our failures. However, this sorrow should lead to repentance, then when forgiveness is received, our sorrow should be cast upon the Lord…Isaiah 53:4.

The sorrow experienced by those who do not turn to God produces only death.

They grieve over their situation because they don’t turn to God (that’s repentance). Christians should only have sorrow until they repent. Once repentance has come, we need to appropriate the forgiveness and cleansing that are already ours through Christ… 1 John 1:9. The positive change that our sorrows led us to, changes our attitude towards the things that caused us sorrow. Negatives become positives through Jesus.

Hard Knocks Or God’s Word

Luke 15:17 “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!”

God’s Word makes it clear that the wages of sin is death… Romans 6:23. Romans 1:18-20 reveals that even those who don’t know God’s Word have an intuitive knowledge of right and wrong and God’s judgment against sin.

Therefore, for anyone to live in sin, as depicted by this prodigal son, they have to be deceived. This is exactly what the Bible says is the case in 2 Corinthians 4:4. When Jesus said, “he came to himself,” He was referring to the deception being removed and the son’s spiritual eyes being opened.

Like this story of the prodigal, tragedy often brings people out of deception and back to their senses. It’s not that God sends the tragedy. God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, “Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee”… Jeremiah 4:18. However, tragic situations do clearly illustrate that “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps”… Jeremiah 10:23, and they cause us to look somewhere else for help. Although turning to God is always beneficial, regardless of what provides the motivation, “hard knocks” are not the best teacher.

Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” God’s Word was given for reproof and correction and if we will submit to it, we can “be perfect, thoroughly furnished” without having to experience tragedy first.

God’s Great Love For Us

John 10:25 “Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.”

There were many ways in which Jesus already revealed who He was. His miraculous works certainly revealed who He was. Jesus had also clearly revealed that He was the Christ, both in the synagogue at His hometown of Nazareth, and when speaking to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.

Jesus, in His pre-existent state, was in the form of God. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” …John 1:1.

Jesus was God, manifest in the flesh…1 Timothy 3:16. However, Jesus did not demand or cling to His rights as God, but laid aside His Divine rights and privileges in order to take the form of a servant and be made in the likeness of men. He further humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the Father, even to the point of death.

This was the supreme sacrifice that identified Jesus totally with humanity and enabled God to redeem mankind. By dying a criminal’s death upon the cross, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy in Deuteronomy 21:23 and bore our curse in His own body. This redeemed us from that curse and opened wide God’s blessing of justification through faith in Christ and the promise of His Holy Spirit… Galatians 3:13-14.

Jesus left His state of being recognized and worshipped by all the hosts of heaven as the Supreme God to become a man who was despised and rejected. The Creator became the creation; the Lord became the servant; the Highest became the lowest. All of this was done because of God’s great love for us.

Avoid Strife

Luke 12:58 “When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.”

Jesus had just spoken about relationships before He gave this parable of delivering ourselves from the judge. The warning is clear that we should do everything within our power to avoid strife… Romans 12:18. However, the consequences of failing to settle the differences are more than just physical prison or punishment.

Strife can produce spiritual and emotional prisons. James 3:16 says, “Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Depressions, fears, loneliness, bitterness, sicknesses, financial problems, and many other things can become prisons from which we will not be delivered until we reconcile.

The dictionary states that to reconcile means “to re-establish friendship between; to settle or resolve, as a dispute” (American Heritage). The key to reconciliation is effectively dealing with the enmity, ill will, hatred, or hostility that has caused the dispute. There are several approaches to reconciliation that may be applied. For instance, If we’ve offended someone by an unkind word that we’ve spoken, we can apologize. If we owe money to someone, we can pay the debt. If we’ve done something to someone we can make the necessary restitution. But in every case, reconciliation lies in dealing effectively with the root cause of the enmity.

The enmity between man and God was sin. God took the initiative to remove this barrier through the means and agency of Jesus Christ, thus leaving Him and man as friends once again. Thank God for His great love!

The Goodness Of God

 Luke 12:5 “But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”

Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” First John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” These scriptures may look like they are contradictions to Jesus’ statement here; however, they are not.

There are two kinds of fear. The American Heritage Dictionary defines fear as “a feeling of alarm or disquiet caused by the expectation of danger, pain, disaster, or the like; terror; dread; apprehension.” It also defines fear as “extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power.”

It is this reverence or awe that God’s Word teaches saints to have towards God. Hebrews 12:28 says that there is a godly fear with which we are supposed to serve God and thereby implies that there is an ungodly fear that is not acceptable in serving God.

Satan has always used this ungodly dread or terror to torment godly people. Those who have been born again should have no dread or terror of God unless they are planning to renounce their faith in Jesus as their Savior. We have a covenant that guarantees us acceptance with God… Ephesians 1:6, as long as we hold fast to our profession of faith in the atoning blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

For an unbeliever, the fear of the Lord is a great deterrent from sin. However, for those of us who have received the grace of God, it is His goodness that causes us to fear him and depart from sin. His goodness is awesome!

Hypocrisy Is…

Hypocrisy Is…

 Luke 12:1 “In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

This is the biblical definition of a hypocrite, “someone whose words and heart (actions) don’t agree.” A hypocrite may act the part of a Christian or talk like Christ, but he or she won’t do both. Hypocrisy is defined by the dictionary as, “The feigning of beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; insincerity” (American Heritage Dictionary). In the Greek, the word is “hupokrisis” and means “the playing of a part on the stage.”

Hypocrisy is often said to be doing something even though you don’t want to or feel like doing it. It is true that God demands that our motive and reason for doing things be right, but this does not mean that we always want to, or delight in, doing something. To do what God wants you to do, or to do unto others what you would want them to do unto you, is not hypocrisy (Matthew 7:12)- even if you don’t feel like doing it. It is hypocrisy only when your motive for doing it is wrong and you’re not genuinely seeking the welfare and benefit of others. Remember, Jesus didn’t feel like going to the cross, but He went anyway to seek the welfare and benefit of the world.

Agape love is described as the, “Love (that) can be known only from the actions it prompts.” This is not the love of complacency or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its objects… Romans 5:8.

Christian love (agape), whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward others generally, is not an impulse from the feelings. It does not always run with the natural inclinations. It (Agape) seeks the welfare of all… Romans 15:2 and works no ill to any… Romans 13:8-10. “(Agape) seeks opportunity to do good to all men. . .” Let God’s love flow through you today.

Our Loving Father

Luke 11:11 “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?”

The most loving Father in the world cannot compare to our heavenly Father and the love He has for us. And yet, many times, we find it easier to believe in the willingness of a father or mother or mate to help us than in the willingness of God to use His power on our behalf. Relatively few people really doubt God’s ability, but rather, it is our doubt of His willingness to use His ability on our behalf that causes most people to do without. Jesus is assuring us that God’s love, and His willingness to demonstrate that love, is far greater than we can ever experience in any human relationship.

The Lord didn’t just save us out of pity or a sense of obligation as our Creator. He saved us because He loved us… John 3:16. It was the “good pleasure of his will” for us to become adopted sons… Ephesians1:5. We are wanted and accepted by our Father! What a wonderful thing this is! It would have been more than any of us deserve to be forgiven by God. Then to be given certain rights and privileges would have been more than we could have expected. But the Lord went further than that. He has actually accepted us.

The dictionary defines “accept” as “1. to receive gladly; 2. to receive into a place or a group” (New American Heritage Dictionary). The Lord does not just tolerate us; He actually loves us. He even likes us. He rejoices over us with joy… Zephaniah 3:17.