“Grace and Forgiveness”

“Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness or else forgiving another”

SIN. What an ugly word. We all do it. However, we all do it in different ways. Some are more serious than others but to God, a sin is a sin. He forgives no matter what. Sometimes it’s hard though to really believe that your sins have truly been forgiven. The bible says “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 and Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Those words are God’s gift to us. To help transform us with His grace. We all fall from grace so to speak. Some harder than others. It’s how we pick ourselves up that matters.

CONVICTION. The proper definition is the act of convicting (proving guilt). God’s conviction is very specific. He makes it known to us (sometimes in a very uncomfortable way) that we have done something wrong and because of such, we must right that wrong. He will usually show you the way toward that. It can come as a subtle hint or a gut-wrenching feeling that just won’t go away. Once you accept this and do what is necessary to correct it, your heart and mind can be at ease. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

FORGIVENESS. Big word! Forgiving and being forgiven can sometimes be the most freeing thing that a person can do for themselves. Forgiving someone for their mistakes, no matter how hurtful, takes a huge heart, a heart that is shaped by none other than God himself and makes us more like the One who forgives us…of all of our wrong doings. Asking for forgiveness is huge too. Pride has to fall by the wayside. You are admitting you are wrong and sometimes acknowledging a sin. There is nothing more humbling than that. But the peace that comes with it is absolutely worth it. Free of guilt and shame.

I have dealt with all three of these things in my life and one or two this week alone. Each of these with the right outcome will lead to opportunities for growth and a better understanding of ourselves and our daily walk with God. God uses conviction and forgiveness to purge us of those things that are still weighing us down and holding us back from the person He is trying to mold us into. What you have done in your past does not define you. (Whew…thank goodness!) The thing to remember is that what our Savior has done within us and for us makes us who we truly are.

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“A Heart For God”

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure – Philippians 2:13

Compassion, forgiveness, respect, courtesy, patience…do you practice these on a daily basis? If we are to have a true heart for God, then these are the things He asks of us. Throughout the last few months, God has been working in me and through me. There is still so much I need to work on but I try, throughout my days and weeks to use those things that He would have me to use when I am out and about. Your conscience will speak to you during a particular moment when you know what you should say, do, or not say and not do. This is God speaking to you. There are so many times in the course of a day that you can put these things to work. Think about this when:

  • You get angry with the slow cashier at the supermarket/department store or the waitress at the restaurant. Maybe he/she is doing the best they can. Maybe it’s their first day or week. Maybe their burden is so heavy that they can’t concentrate on the task at hand. Be patient.
  • You get upset with a spouse/significant other/family member. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to figure out why they may have said what they said or did what they did. Imagine yourself in the same situation. Be forgiving.
  • You see an elderly person ahead of you in the check-out line struggling with a credit card machine or in slow-mode going down the highway. Life can be so fast-paced for people who have lived most of their life during a time when the days were simpler and life wasn’t so complicated and technology-driven. Don’t be rude. Be respectful.
  • You spot that person by the road asking for a handout. It seems easy to judge them. You might ask “why don’t they just get a job?” But do you know their circumstances? Are there mental health issues? Are they illiterate? Disabled? Maybe they have a job but it’s not enough to make ends meet. Obviously, there are those who ask for handouts and use them in less than appropriate ways (alcohol, drugs) but what if that person on the street is God’s way of allowing you to show compassion? Be compassionate.
  • Someone starts a conversation with you in the store aisle. This happened to me a couple weeks ago. I was trying to get a few things and get out as quickly as I could. I was rushed and this elderly man started a conversation with me. He was very kind and I tried to be kind in return, despite my rush. When I left the parking lot, he drove by me, honked, waved and smiled. Yes I was in a hurry but I took the time to speak with him. Maybe I was the only person he would speak to that day. Maybe he had no one else. If that conversation made him smile then it was worth it. Maybe God put me in his path that day. You just never know. Be courteous.
  • You feel the need to gossip. Ask yourself what you are gaining by passing on information (that may or may not be true) about someone else’s struggles or issues. Is it for the reaction that you will get from the person you are telling it to? Is it to make you feel better by speaking about someone else’s problems? If it is hurtful, it shouldn’t be said or repeated. We are all guilty, even me from time to time but I am really working on that.

I want to have a heart for God. A heart that will make Him proud. Think about the true “contents” of your heart. Does it contain things to be proud of? If not, consider making changes so that everything that comes from your mouth and every step you make comes from that place inside you where God wants to live and longs to stay.

“My Book”

God has written every page of your life in His book ~ Psalm 139:16

I was thinking about this verse last week. Then a couple of nights ago, Greg and I were talking to Callie about how she doesn’t need to try to mold herself into someone she’s not just to fit in with girls in her class. We told her that God made her special for a reason and there is no one else like her. (Of course, she argued with us that there must be a freckle-faced eleven year old named Callie who loves riding horses and has the same haircut that she does somewhere in this world….ah the tween years!) Anyway, we tried. I explained to her that her purpose and life were already planned out by God and that He had a book written just about her. She was surprised to hear that God had a whole book all about her. She seemed to think He didn’t consider her special enough. I tried to get my point across, as best I could , that she was indeed very special. I think it may have sunk in, just a little. At least I hope.

It is hard to imagine, even for adults at times, that God has already laid out the blueprint of our lives and it is unfolding daily. The story in my book may not always go as I have planned but I have to trust in the Author. There are chapters I would love to rip out and just forget that they existed. The ones that had pain and frustration written all over them. In those times I have to wonder why God wrote those into my book. But when I look back, as I turned each page, and the days passed, better things came along to ease the pain. A new chapter began.

There are pages I wish I could go back to and copy and paste into new pages. I had a couple of those over the weekend. Lazy, relaxing, fun days filled with love. Those moments are the ones I cherish and bookmark in my life. I “dog-ear” those pages so that I don’t forget how I felt and can turn back to them whenever I need to be reminded of the beauty that God scripted for that day.

Then there are the chapters that I wish Icould do over because of the mistakes I made. Those pages are where I took a bright red pen and crossed through God’s plan and obedience and penciled in how I thought the story should go. What a disaster those pages are. I regret them but they taught me a lesson. The best news is that all I have to do is ask and God will delete those messy pages, wipe them clean and I am forgiven.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful ~ Psalm 139:13-14 

“Be Merciful”

We all have families who aren’t so perfect. We sometimes agree, disagree or just agree to disagree. We have family members who make mistakes and who sometimes let us down. But the thing to remember is this: they are still your family. Seek first God’s will in our family and the other things will come as He desires…..Matt. 6:33

Do you turn your back on them or do you continue to support them?

I spent some time with someone recently who has made some mistakes, has paid for them and is now starting a new life. He is a gentle soul. I can see that through all that he has done, even though I have known him for only a short amount of time. Live in harmony with one another; love, be sympathetic, compassionate and humble…bless one another so that you may inherit a blessing…..1 Peter 3:8-9

He speaks softly and honestly about how his demons took control of his life. He is someone’s family. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven you…..Ephesians 4:32. He deserves to be forgiven, treated with respect and given love in the way that God forgives each one of us for our sins and thankfully he is being shown that by his family. Two are better than one. If one falls down, the other can help him up. A cord of three strands is not easily broken…Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12b.

I have witnessed these demons take hold of someone in my own family. I admit I have become frustrated at times, wondering what possesses someone to do this. Show mercy to others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives…Jude 23
 I have tried to be more understanding and helpful. I am not the person to be judging anyone. That is God’s responsibility. All I can do is reach out to someone who needs it and hope that even something small I say or do, can make a difference. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful….Luke 6:36. I encourage everyone to do the same. Look beyond that person’s wrong doings and see that they are still a child of God, in need of love and compassion.

In this week before Easter, forgiveness and mercy are big words to bear in mind. As Jesus said, even as he was to be crucified,

Father forgive them for they know not what they do…Luke 23:34.

Have a forgiving attitude today and show mercy on those who need it and you too will be blessed.