Sunday, August 23, 2009

Forgotten but not forgiven...

Yes, I know I got the popular phrase backwards, but this way makes more sense in my battle over forgiveness. I either forgive and forget, or I forget to forgive. I simply ignore any talk or thoughts about the situation/offender so I do not HAVE to forgive, or I promise to make it a matter for a later time. This only breeds bitterness and hinders my walk with the Lord. And until I get it taken care of, it is a big stumbling block.

Can I justify myself in not forgiving? Are there certain acts that are unforgivable among men? The answer is no. But what if they said...? No! But what if the hurt caused...? No! You mean I have to forgive for every offense? YES!!!

We have all been hurt and some extreme cases are life altering. But God's Word does not make any exceptions when we are called to forgive. There is no limit on how many times we are to forgive, or for what offenses we are to forgive.

Mat 18:21-22
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Mar 11:25-26
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

This does not just apply to brothers and sisters in Christ, this applies to everyone. Christ died that we ALL might be forgiven. And no matter how great the offense against us, it is nothing compared to the debt we owe God. If we don't look at forgiveness from God's perspective, we are limiting the great work done for us by His Son, Jesus Christ.

I have seen parents of murdered children forgive those responsible. I have 5 children and I have a very hard time thinking about this. But if we are truly becoming like Christ, this is the kind of forgiveness we ought to have. Even the situations we might think are unforgivable, still don't compare to the forgiveness of our Heavenly Father. No forgiveness is greater then His for us.

By His grace and mercy, not only are we able to be forgiven our debts, but we are also able to forgive those who deal wrongly with us. No matter how hard we think it is to forgive, we MUST forgive. Ask the Lord for the strength, compassion and heart to forgive. I know it is hard for us at times, but by God's grace, we can do it.

Praise God for His mercy and forgiveness!

Jud 1:21
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Friday, August 21, 2009

False Christ?

Romans 10:9 - That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

This scripture was the cause of some confusion in a recent conversation I had with some friends. Looking at this verse can cause some doubt when trying to witness to those who claim Romans 10:19, yet belong to certain cults or do not understand Christ Himself. Defining who Christ is, has been battled over for years. And this is a very important issue. We are talking about the very nature of our Savior. So much rides on this very doctrine.

During the early Church, there was a divide over the deity of Christ between Athanasius and Arius. Arius was teaching that there was a time when Christ was not. A time before Christ existed. That Christ is not of the same “being” that God is. (sound like any followings of today?) Athanasius would fight this during his ministry including several exiles from Alexandria.

This was an important issue then and it is an important issue now. There is only one way to the Father and that is by believing in the TRUE Jesus Christ. Too often there are antichrist being followed in many belief systems. I pray that God would give us the strength, knowledge and faith to fight this battle for His glory.

1 John 2:18 - Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

For a good book on some of those who fought for the cause of Christ, check out John Piper’s Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen

Saturday, August 1, 2009

If you make it past...

As my wife and I celebrated our 13th year of marriage last week, I looked back at the years of highs and lows. Some very good times and some very tough times. And neither of us coming from a good "marriage model" from our parents. Not to worry, everybody we met would offer "help." From day one, we have had others offering us advice and tips on making our marriage last.

"If you make it past the first year, everything will be fine."

This was the first line given to us. Were we to set a goal of 12 months? And how do you explain all the marriages that fall apart after that first year?

After our first two years, things were still high and low in our lives. One daughter, a new house, and my job in the Army keeping me from home.

"If you make it past the five year mark, everything will be fine."

Hmm. Makes sense? The first year getting used to each other, then the next four making our marriage work? Again, how do you explain the marriages that fall apart after five years?

We made it five years together. Now with three children and having just reenlisted in the Army for an assignment in Japan. It would be great, right? Made it past the five year mark, get to take my family to Japan with me. Everything will be fine...

The highs and lows seemed to be mostly lows. Especially after 9/11 when my job "needed" me more than my family. At least in my mind it did. There were a few months when it was all but finalized that our marriage was over. But we made it past the five year mark?

"If you make it past the 10 year mark, everything will be fine."

We were able to work through the hard times and returned to the States after my Army enlistment. Now with the addition of twins to our family. Starting over with a new career and new challenges a family of seven faces. Highs and lows, ups and downs. Daily struggles, failures and victories.

We obviously made it past the "mile marker" of 10 years, and now three more past that. And as well intended as the advice was, there is only one reason we are able to say, "Happy 13th Anniversary" to each other.

That first year as we were living together in our small apartment, fighting and yelling over anything and everything newly weds can argue over, we received a visit. This visit would change our lives for ever. That was the night we were given spiritual life and forgiveness of our sins. The night we believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior and only way to keep us from an eternity separated from God.

I had always enjoyed reading the Old Testament and KNEW God wanted marriage to be special. Genesis 2:24 was my model to follow in the absence of living examples. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." One flesh means forever. It means faithful. It means respectful. It means ONE flesh, united forever.

After receiving the Holy Spirit, the whole Bible opened up to us. Being led by God to live for God made all the difference. And no magic time line will ever save a marriage. There is no anniversary that determines when your struggles are over and "everything will be fine." Only by living for God and treating marriage as a gift from God, will we make it through the low times and be able to praise him in both the highs and lows. We were able to make it through the real low times ONLY by God's grace and our desire to honor our marriage for God, and we must continue in this way.

Honor the Lord by honoring your marriage.

1Peter 3:7 "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."