Category Archives: Forgiveness

You Are

You are holy,
we are not.
You are perfect,
we make mistakes.
You are love,
we are anything but that.
You are strong,
we are weak.
You are right,
we are wrong.

We have good intentions,
but Your plans always succeed.
We think we’re in control,
but You sit on the throne.
We try to take control,
but You rule over all.
We look to our knowledge,
but You have all wisdom.
We plot out our course,
but You are the Way.

Oh God,

We fall short.
We hurt one another.
We go astray.
We forget about You

On our own we are lost…

[Father God, in Jesus name, forgive us]
[My child, you are forgiven]

Oh God,

YOU are…

AWESOME!

The Pastor -|—

Understanding Repentance Rightly

I am working through a devotional series in my YouVersion Bible app called Acts of Repentance. The first two days were great, but day three really bothered me and thus I wrote a correction for them.

Day 1 focused on Psalm 51 where David is writing following his affair with Bathsheba and subsequently being called out on it. The devotion gave a list of four things we should do: (1) Acknowledge our sin, (2) Ask for forgiveness, (3) Ask for renewal, and finally, (4) Ask God for help to use your sin to teach those who are engaged in sin and are in need of repentance. I thought that list was helpful.

Day 2 focused on Luke 13:1-8…
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.

The take away from this devotion was: (1) What fruit are you bearing in your life currently? (2) What sins do you need to repent of in order to start bearing the kind of fruit God desires. Once again, helpful.

But now, day 3…

From 1 John 1:5-10
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Here’s the beginning of the devotion that followed this text:
Repentance results in forgiveness. We repent and God forgives. Repentance and forgiveness are not difficult concepts. Repentance is our action and forgiveness is God’s reaction to us out of His perfect love for us.

NO, NO, NO!!!

What this is saying is that forgiveness is dependent on our action. True, we need to make a confession of our sin but repentance is not something we do in order to curry favor with God so that we can be forgiven, but rather repentance is something we do BECAUSE we are forgiven. Repentance is something we do to honor God because God is worthy. When we make repentance a work, then God’s grace is taken out of the picture. Remember the woman caught in adultery? The Pharisees wanted to stone her for her offense but after Jesus silenced the crowd he turned to the woman and said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” The forgiveness came first and the call to repent came next. True, there was no confession on the woman’s part (at least nothing that was recorded) but the point is that Jesus didn’t wait for her to clean up her life first.

God acts first. We respond.

Thus the devotional should have read:
Forgiveness results in repentance. We repent because God forgives. Repentance and forgiveness are not difficult concepts. Forgiveness is God’s action and repentance is our reaction to God because of His perfect love for us through Jesus Christ.

There, that works. I wonder of the author of this devotion will humbly accept my correction 🙂

The Pastor -|— 

The Redo

I don’t know who is reading this but I am writing this anyway. Maybe this is more therapeutic than anything else but hopefully the beginning of something. I was reading my devotions this morning and could feel something stirring in me; a stirring to explore and write. I am not sure where this is going so we’ll see what God is up to.

So why am I writing this morning?

Today got off to a bad start. First, I over-slept, which is something I rarely do with two young children. One of them is usually up early. Second, I got so caught up with being on time that I didn’t see the needs of my family. I was rushing to get myself ready while trying to get the kids fed and ready for preschool. I got flustered and impatient when I should have been more composed and compassionate. It was no one’s fault but my own that I over-slept (my Fitbit alarm has now been set for tomorrow, hopefully that problem solved).

After a moment of conviction I had a little heart to heart chat with my son; seeking forgiveness for being impatient and not there for him. I received a big forgiving hug and a smile from him. I was then ready to go, but still unsettled. I dropped the kiddos off at preschool and made my way to the office. Once settled in I turned to my Bible reading plan. What I read first got my attention and thus the motivation to write this morning. From Psalm 145:1-13…

1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The underlined parts grabbed me and convicted me. This is our awesome God but doesn’t it also point to how a father ought to relate to his children? Granted, this psalmist probably wasn’t thinking of parenting when he wrote this, but it still works. I mean, think about it. A parent ought to…

~ Commend God’s mighty works and deeds to his children…every day.
~ Be gracious
~ Be merciful
~ Slow to anger
~ Abound in steadfast love
~ Be good to all

That right there is the call for ALL Christian parents and thus I am going to be reflecting on this more and, God willing, be writing more about these actions. Once again, I am not sure where this is leading. Maybe it is more of an outlet for my own thinking and exploring. Who knows (well…God does), so we’ll see. For now, I am anxious to get home and have a redo with my children; to do better. I am anticipating some hardcore playing in the backyard. Hopefully my bad back will hold up 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Beneath

image

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I am humbled by your love.
It’s for sinners that you died;
through grace coming from above.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I’m convicted of my sin.
But sacrificed as the lamb;
My Savior was slain for me.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I am captured by your grace.
Undeserving as I am
but life’s given by your hand.

Beneath the cross of Jesus;
reflecting on Your mercy,
Your precious Son died for me
to heal me forever more.

The Pastor -|—

Now what? (Psalm 119:14-16)

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. [Psalm 119:14-16]

Last night I made my appeal to God for forgiveness; something we all need to do on a daily basis and then some. I appealed to God’s mercy through faith in Jesus Christ and then threw myself at his feet. And then in the words of Romans 5:10-11 I heard that I am reconciled to God through faith in Jesus.

Praise be to God, but now what?

After we have made our confession; after we have appealed to God’s mercy through faith in Jesus; after we have thrown ourselves at God’s feet, what next? Of course we will hear a word of forgiveness, but after THAT; after the absolution of our sins? We certainly shouldn’t go away unchanged or unfazed. There must be something next.

And there is…

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
Take delight in learning God’s ways.
Take delight in knowing what God desires.
Take delight in following God in all things.

Take delight in God’s law, for in God’s law we see a holy wisdom that is far above anything of human understanding. God’s ways and thoughts are indeed above our ways and thoughts, so desire God more than all the riches ever known in the world and will ever be known.

I will meditate on your precepts
Don’t just read and study God’s law, but meditate on them. Think about them. Ponder them. Reflect on them. May they not be a passing thought. May reading God’s law never be cursory. May God’s law sink in and take up residence in your heart.

and fix my eyes on your ways.
And as you are walking with God; as you are meditating on God’s ways; fix your eyes on the object of your desire. When I take my wife out to eat, I am not staring and gawking at other women. That would be rude and unfaithful. My desire is for my wife and so I fix my eyes and attention on her. In the same way and much more, fix your eyes on God and His ways. Don’t be unfaithful.

I will delight in your statutes;
Delighting in God’s statues will only come through diligent study and appreciation of who God is through faith Jesus Christ. If your faith and trust is not in God through Jesus, then you are never going to truly delight in God’s ways. It’s only through understanding what God has done for you that you can appreciate what God is up to and wants for you and desires for you and commands you to do.

I will not forget your word.
Make your meditation of God and His ways a daily habit that you will not forget. Even one day off can cause our simple and weak minds to go astray. You may think you are smart and have a good memory, but when it comes to God we have the attention span of a flea. Mediate often and seek God continually.

But what if I fail?

You will fail.
You will fall short.
You will turn away from God.

Just don’t accept this sin condition of yours but rather keep running to God, for God’s mercy is great. His faithfulness is endless. His love is all encompassing. His grace is amazing.

Keep running to God and appealing to his mercy through faith in Jesus Christ, and start all over again; desiring to truly learn and desire God’s ways more than anything. Don’t take advantage of God’s faithfulness but desire God’s faithfulness with all your heart and being.

May God be praised in your learning and meditation of His holy Law.

The Pastor -|—

The Appeal (Psalm 51:1-12)

I appeal to Your mercy, oh God, through Jesus Christ…

[1] Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

I am a sinner, oh God, I am a sinner but I appeal to your mercy through Jesus Christ: Forgive me.

[2] Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! [3] For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. [4] Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

I deserve the full force of your wrath for I have sinned against Your holy law and commands but I appeal to Your mercy through Jesus Christ: Wash me clean.

[5] Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

I am a sinner through and through, even from my birth.

[6] Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Through You and You alone can I know the way of true Life. Teach me, oh God, that I may know true wisdom. Teach me that I may stay on the narrow path and not stray from You.

[7] Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. [8] Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Restore me, cleanse me, wipe my slate clean. Oh God, grant me a second chance.

[9] Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

I appeal to Your mercy through Jesus Christ: Forgive me.

[10] Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. [11] Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. [12] Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Place a new heart in me, oh Sovereign God as I appeal to Your mercy through Jesus Christ: Forgive me and grant me a joyful heart once again.

This is my confession; this is my appeal; this is my plea to you, oh God. I echo these words from the psalmist and seek to be placed back into a right relationship with you. So I lay it before you and wait…

[10] For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. [11] More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:10-11 ESV)

Through faith in Jesus Christ I am forgiven?

PRAISE BE TO GOD!
ALLELUIA!
AMEN!

The Pastor -|—

Much Sin. Much Love

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” [Luke 7:47]

Your love of God is proportional to the sin that has been forgiven you.

If you believe your sins are not that bad or that someone else is a worse sinner; if you believe you are doing fine, then your love of God will be reflected in your faulty view of reality.

Very little love.

You will not obey as you should and you will not worship as you should. And it makes sense, if you think you’re not that bad then why would you need Jesus. Your thankfulness will be empty and your praise will be shallow and your worship will be silent.

But if you believe you have been forgiven much; that your sins are many; that you deserve the worse place in hell (if there is such a thing) then your love of God will be reflected as such.

Very much love

You will then be driven to obey and worship God. You will be driven to glorify God’s name and honor it. You will be driven to proclaim the name of Jesus through your words and actions. Which makes sense. If you believe you have received the best gift of all time, then there is no way you are going to keep it quiet AND there’s no way you’re going to turn your back on the giver.

But we do.

We turn our backs on God.
We don’t worship as we ought.
We don’t obey as we should.
We don’t proclaim the name of Jesus loud enough.
We don’t love much.

Miserable sinners that we are.

Oh God, forgive me.

Our sin is ever before us, our condemnation is just but God’s mercy and grace and compassion is endless.

Praise be to God!

We are in the midst of Lent; a season of reflection and self-examination. A season of remembering and contemplating our sinfulness. A season of repentance and drawing closer to God. So I urge you, brothers and sisters, to reflect on your sinfulness and the fact that you deserve hell. Reflect on your mortality and the fact that your bodies are decaying until death.

from dust you came and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19)

Remember your sin and then contemplate the cross; that Jesus died there and then rose from the grave that your sins would be forgiven. Accept the fact that you have sinned much but through faith in Jesus you have been forgiven much. Try to wrap your brain and heart around that and then worship and praise this awesome God of ours.

You are a sinner, but God our Father is our redeemer through Jesus Christ. Turn to Him and love much and praise much and worship much.

What an awesome God!

May you see your sin as filthy and therefore your sentence of death. May you see Jesus as your Savior. May your love overflow for the God of creation.

Have a great day worshiping God in every second of your life.

The Pastor -|—