Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

Release Regret to Grasp Grace

December 28, 2010

Suggested Reading:

Matthew 26:69-75

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience… (Hebrews 10:22  NIV)

…And you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:5 NIV)

Sandy shared her experience of praying one morning and sensing a need to caution a neighbor to closely watch her infant throughout the day. Sandy dismissed the thought after her husband said sharing this message would cause the neighbor to think she was “loony.” Later that day, the infant died from SIDS. Sandy regretted not following through to caution her neighbor. That remorse wasn’t easy to dismiss.

The disciple Peter battled regret. Despite Peter’s claim of loyalty, Christ told Peter he would deny Him three times. When the rooster crowed a third time, Peter wept bitterly at his failure.

Peter released his regret by recognizing Christ’s love remained in spite of his denial. He knew Christ went to the cross to secure his forgiveness. A forgiveness that ignited a boldness in Peter that death threats could not silence.

 Like Peter, Sandy is releasing regret as she grasps God’s grace. In understanding God’s love she is learning to trust God’s voice and obey His instructions over the voice of others.

Prayer

Father, help us release our regret to live in your forgiveness. 

Thought for the Day

Choose today whether to live in regret in the forgiveness of God’s grace.

Prayer Focus

Receiving God’s forgiveness.

Cleansing Dirty Hands

June 17, 2010

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

 Although forgiveness and cleansing of sins are foundational to the Christian faith, I still struggle to understand how I can be completely cleansed because of what somebody else did. Face it, I still flub up and realize my hands and heart are dirty. I get that Christ forgives, but how does His action cleanse my hands and heart? 

Jesus’ cleansing may be challenging for me to understand because of my works mentality. The thinking that says, “Be responsible, you broke it, you fix it.” But, I can’t clean up with dirty hands. No one cleans anything with grimy hands. Responsible behavior says anyone with sin stained hands should have them pierced and be hung on a cross.

God agreed, and because He didn’t want to condemn us, but couldn’t compromise when it came to sin and ignore dirty hands, He sent his pure white-handed son Jesus, the sin cleaner.  Jesus said instead of piercing humanity’s dirty hands, take my clean hands and let me pay the penalty of sin (painful abuse of Calvary) along with the redemption price of dirty handed humanity (death).

Love and justice united on Calvary providing cleansing and redemption. The dirtiness of sin was punished and Christ’s death was my redemption payment restoring me to His family.

Now, every time I reach out my hand to take communion, I’m reminded that God sees Christ’s nail pierced hands reaching out which cleansed me and reunited me with Him.

Although I don’t live in a constant state of sinless perfection, the Perfect One lives in me. This makes cleansing available every moment. I’m learning to live my life in constant communion recognizing that since Christ is in me, cleansing is continually available. At the same time, I’m allowing the power of His presence to overcome the dirtiness of my sin.

Personal Response

  • Do you recognize any “works mentality thoughts” that compete with Christ’s cleansing?
  • How can you live in constant communion recognizing cleaning is continually available?

Recognizing Unhealthy Guilt

June 14, 2010

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21

The dictionary defines regret as a feeling of sorrow or remorse. Regret is experienced when one carries a sense of loss for a fault or act.

We are in danger when we get stuck in guilt carrying it as a form of penitence. Now I’m not dismissing the need to recognize our failures (sins). God recognized them. That’s why He sent Jesus, to deal with them.

Guilt becomes unhealthy when it becomes a method we use to punish ourselves for our past. This positions us as a judge, jury, prosecutor, and accuser at our own trial. Without knowing it, we’re attempting to hold a place in the trinity. As far as I can tell, all three positions are covered now and throughout eternity. The danger is this makes us responsible for cleansing ourselves of sin, which only Jesus can do. This is a form of idolatry because it is self focused. We become the source of forgiveness and cleansing which we earn through our actions. This makes us a competitor to and substitute for Calvary.  The Apostle Paul gave stern warnings against this false religion. He said this belief was a pollutant that spread disease.

Healthy guilt (brought about by the Holy Spirit, not ourselves), convicts us of sin with the intention of leading us to repentance and into forgiveness. God doesn’t want us living in guilt, He wants us living in grace.

Remember, God reveals in order to heal. Revealing is a first step of the healing process. As salvation occurs instantaneously, we should move immediately from the guilt of sin into repentance and grace. The only thing delaying us from moving out of guilt into grace is ourselves, and that’s idolatry.

Personal Response

  • Do you have any healthy guilt? Immediately repent and receive Christ’s forgiveness.
  • Do you have any unhealthy guilt that you are carrying as a penitence for your sin? Immediately stop, turn away from your idolatry, and turn to Jesus in repentance. Immediately receive His forgiveness, cleansing, and grace.

Release Failure for Forgiveness

June 11, 2010

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

 I have a friend who could easily live her life in regret. One day she sensed God telling her to warn her neighbor to watch her infant closely. Upon sharing her plan to caution her neighbor, her husband told her the neighbor would think she was loony. Fear held her back and the next day she discovered the neighbor’s child died from SIDS.

Christ came to earth not because of our obedience but because of our disobedience. Peter and Judas both experienced failure, Peter denied Christ and Judas betrayed Him. It’s encouraging that their failure didn’t surprise Christ, He announced his knowledge of their actions before they occurred.

My friend’s disobedience was no surprise to God. Children who fall while learning to walk are not punished by a parent. They are lifted up again and placed back on their feet and encouraged to try again. Unlike Judas, who allowed failure to drive him to suicide, my friend is embracing forgiveness like Peter. As forgiveness ignited an unstoppable boldness in Peter that death threats couldn’t silence, my friend is learning to trust God’s voice and obey His instructions over the voice of others.

Failure is never final when forgiveness is available. Although available, we must choose whether we live in regret over our failures or live in Christ’s forgiveness.

Personal Response

Present your failures to God. Allow the actions that hindered your fellowship with Him to draw you back to Him. Remember Christ came to earth because of your need, not your success. Exchange your failures for his forgiveness. Like Peter, let Christ’s forgiveness empower you to live boldly for Him.

Release the Past

June 10, 2010

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13

 Let’s face it, we’ve all suffered the consequences resulting from the actions and choices of others. Words spoken in anger, physical and emotional attacks that wound. Hurts whose stinging pain penetrates the heart.  While we’ve all been the victim, we’ve all afflicted pain on others. The memory of our actions easily entraps us in regret and the endless cycle of “if only.”

It’s Paul’s life experience that makes his words so powerful. If anyone could have been plagued by regret, it would have been Paul. In his religious zeal he persecuted the church and martyred Christians.  He was the headmaster at Stephen’s stoning, where he watched a follower of Christ courageously die while praying for his accusers.

Like Paul, we can experience the transforming power of Jesus which exceeds the power of our past. We are not to deny our past (sins we’ve committed or sins committed against us), yet we are not to be trapped by them. When painful reminders of the wounds caused by others come, we need to remember that God has the ability to heal us from past hurts. Any pain he allows, he has a plan to use and heal. He paid the full price for our redemption and healing on Calvary.

 Let your woundedness draw you to the healer. Let Christ take your pain and make you sensitive to hurting people. Allow the regret of the afflictions you have caused to  inspire you to live a transformed life. Release the bondage of the past along with the regret. Paul, Stephen’s murder, chose to embrace grace, not guilt. This empowered Paul to live and die in a way that honored God.

Don’t allow the mistakes of your past to disqualify you from the future. Let your learning inspire you to live differently. God transforming truth is always more powerful than your past.

  • What pain do you need to release and ask God to heal and use?
  • What regret do you need to release and exchange for a transformed life?