What do Doctors, mechanics, and pastors all have in common? Answer: they all benefit from someone else’s problems. Doctors repair physical ailments, mechanics repair mechanical breakdowns, and pastors repair spiritual problems that manifest themselves in marriage problems, financial dilemmas, and moral problems, in other words, the results of sin.
Because of my own failures in past relationships, one of my primary callings is to help heal broken lives and marriages. I’m not always successful because some people are too stubborn and set in their dysfunctional ways. But I have seen some major breakthroughs. I remember counseling with one couple who was referred to me who did not attend our church. There had been an affair and deep bitterness on both sides. I first had to let them both express themselves and that added to the stress of the meeting, because they were both angry.
My next step was to point out where they had gone wrong and set each other up for this failure. In other words, you’re not bad people, just bad management. I encouraged them that they were both normal.
Finally, I explained how the only hope they had was to forgive each other, and start over. I made them ask each other for forgiveness for their own shortcomings. Then I made each of them speak out the acceptance of the forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift that releases spiritual bondage. As they did that tears flowed freely. They were going to start over with a fresh start, never bringing up the past again.
Is there someone you need to forgive? Are you harboring resentment from past hurts? Release yourself by giving them over to God. He is the healer, but we must partner with Him in the healing by releasing them. Turn them over to Satan and release your anger.
Tags: forgiveness, marriage
William Cowper once wrote a powerful hymn that still moves my heart. Verse one says:
There is a fountain filled with blood Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath the flood, Lose all their guilty stains:
Lose all their guilty stains, Lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.
When Jesus died on the cross, He literally paid the price, the debt, for our sin. How amazing is that? In our society we don’t like to talk about blood, but your salvation is dependent upon Jesus shedding His lifeblood for you. This is why we consider His blood Precious. It is more valuable to us that all the good works we could accomplish or all the money we could ever give.
The next time you connect with God in worship or Bible study, remember His precious blood that cleanses all your sin.
Tags: blood, forgiveness
Today our three adult children were all together for the day, along with our grandchildren. We all went to a professional photographer for family photos. The photographer did a good job getting us all artistically arranged so it all looked nice. With twelve of us present, four of them children, it was not an easy task to capture all of us with eyes open, smiling, staring into the camera, at the same time.
He took a lot of photos, and afterwards, he took us through them one at a time. In nearly every picture someone was looking aside, blinking, or just looking unnatural. But we did agree on three poses that look as good as it gets. We determined children will always be children, and decided to not be so picky with them.
Having family photos taken is valuable because it freezes a moment in time. Some die, all change, and some grow up, but that photo locks that image for eternity.
I have an image of my great-grandmother as a 16-year old beauty, frozen on a tin-type forever. Having died in 1939, eight years before my birth, I never knew her. Yet that photo speaks loudly about her beauty and grace, clothing and hair styles of the mid 1800s.
I believe our every action is frozen in time for God to see on judgment day. Our only hope is that Jesus has died for that sin and redeemed us of it. Only when sin is paid for can it be forgiven. Has Jesus paid for your offenses? How do you know?
Tags: forgiveness, time
Ever been angry at God? Did you get over it? Here’s a key:
I told God I was angry;
I thought He’d be surprised.
I thought I’d kept hostility
quite cleverly disguised.
I told the Lord I hate Him;
I told Him that I hurt.
I told Him that He isn’t fair,
He treated me like dirt.
I told God I was angry,
but I’m the one surprised.
“What I’ve known all along,” He said,
“you’ve finally realized.
“At last you have admitted
what’s really in your heart;
Dishonesty, not anger,
was keeping us apart.
“Even when you hate Me,
I don’t stop loving you.
Before you can receive that love,
you must confess what’s true.
“In telling Me the anger
you genuinely feel,
it loses power over you
permitting you to heal.”
I told God I was sorry,
and He’s forgiven me.
The truth that I was angry
had finally set me free.
Tags: anger, forgiveness, poetry
Its amazing what a coat of paint will do to cover up blemishes. I just finished redoing our bedroom. We patched the holes and gouges of 18 years of wear, repainted a new color, and spray painted the white cold air return on the wall to a soft almond color. All the blemishes are still there, but they’re buried beneath to new paint.
That’s kind of like the sin in our lives. When Jesus washed my sins away with His shed blood, He covered it completely. It doesn’t mean I’m not a sinner by nature, but that He doesn’t condemn me for that past sin…He doesn’t see it anymore. But He didn’t give me amnesia. I still remember. The memory of my past failings is what makes me appreciate what Jesus did for. While I was still iun my sin, Christ died for me.
What greater motivation to want to change my life and not repeat the past errors. God help me to pass this on to others.
Love covers a multitude of sins.
Tags: cover, forgiveness, grace, paint
I preached the Thursday church service at Betz’s Nursing Home this week. Afterwards, I always work my way through the crowd, shaking hands with as many residents as possible before I leave. Although many of these people are a little weak in the memory department, I always treat them with the utmost respect because I think they’ve earned that. Some of them have made this world a better place for the rest of us in days gone by.
This past week a lady was waiting to see me. She used to attend church here and I have befriended her over the years. She was noticeably agitated and worried. She said to me, “I used to be a Christian.” I replied, “Used to be?”
She said, “But I began to swear. I cussed and swore.” And she began to sob.
Not many people believe that swearing will keep a person out of heaven, but she was distraught thinking that her bad language had cause her to lose her salvation. I knew that she was speaking from emotions rather than her head, so logic wasn’t going to change her feelings of condemnation.
So I reminded her of what Jesus did on the cross for her. I asked if she wanted to be forgiven and she immediately grabbed my hand and bowed her head. I led her in a prayer asking the Lord to forgive her bad language and help her to feel forgiven and whole in His presence.
After I said amen, she immediately got a smile on her face and the anxiety left her. Satan had stolen her peace, but God restored it. We can all expect Satan to attempt to steal our peace, but Jesus is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).
Tags: condemnation, forgiveness, sin
Most of you know I am passionate about genealogy. I was spending some time Monday reconstructing an early family from Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. One early census recorded this man, Abraham Zug (pronounced Zook), as a ‘Preacher’. So I went on through the census records to learn more and he was always listed as a Farmer.
Later in life I found him living with an adult son, who was listed as a ‘Minister of the Gospel’. So I went deeper yet, studying the Lebanon County History and found they were both part of the Church of the Brethren branch known as the Dunkers. The Dunkers, of course, believed in water baptism by immersion, thus the moniker. They were also apparently pretty legalistic.
It seems the Dunker church in Lebanon County was founded by two men, Abraham Zug and one other. It seems the other man fell into sin, whatever that was. At first he confessed to the sin, but then denied it. Since he denied the sin, the church refused to allow him to attend. He was excommunicated and it rocked that local church to the core. I wonder if there was more to the story than meets the eye. A little politics in the old church?
How difficult we sometimes make it for sinners to come to Christ and find grace for their lives. Are you making it simple or difficult for those on the journey?
Tags: forgiveness, sin