Daughters of Promise

Forgiveness Is Not Forgetting

August 7, 2018

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Isaiah 43:25

2. Forgiveness is not ~ Forgetting

How much do you feel pressure to be Jesus? It can be overwhelming if there is a legalistic bone in my body. Satan also suggests that God will only love me if I’m making progress. Never is there any more pressure felt than for the saint who tried to be like God to (as we call it) ‘forgive and forget.’ Of the many myths surrounding forgiveness, this is one of the most destructive.

I can believe that if I’ve really forgiven someone, I won’t think about what they’ve done. And if I do, I won’t feel any pain. I fear that if that event goes through my mind every so often, this is somehow sinful. All of this hinges for us on words like these from Isaiah about God casting all our sins behind His back. It’s necessary to understand what’s behind the words.

The concept is that when I repent and ask for mercy, God takes the sins that separated me from Him and puts them behind His back, out of sight. He will never bring them out again, hold them up to my face and say, “Remember what you did!?” They are forgiven, out of sight, and no longer an issue between us.

It’s an interesting question, putting this aside, as to whether or not God could forget something anyway. And I contend that aside from a medical issue, how can I? Remembering the offense in order to feed my bitterness is different than remembering an offense for the sake of the pursuit of wisdom. The forgiveness process includes God walking me through the offense, and my response to it, piece by piece. The Holy Spirit uses ‘remembrance of details’ to teach me about my offenders and to also reveal my own heart to me. Such golden wisdom is learned when I look to the Spirit, and to His counsel in scripture, for revelation. The wisdom gained is what scripture refers to as the ‘treasures of the darkness.’

If I consider my worst hurt and what was done against me, and if I track the instruction given by the Holy Spirit, I find that my own soul and spirit are rich enough to write a book. If you have forgiven others after something horrendous, you are also rich in wisdom and could give lengthy instruction to others in the area of your pain. That’s be ‘We remember and our scars make us wise.’

Never am I more teachable than when I’m hurting. Maximize this opportunity, Lord. Amen

Forgiveness Is Not ~

August 6, 2018

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. Ephesians 5:11

1. Forgiveness is not ~ Toleration Of The Offense.

As helpful as it was to learn what forgiveness was, I found it even more helpful to learn what it was not. There are many myths surrounding the topic. One of them is that if I choose to forgive, I’m communicating that what was done to me was no big deal. Perhaps I fear it will convey that I’m tolerating it by extending forgiveness. That is simply not true.

A son or daughter of God is like their Father. He feels strongly about sin and so do we. He took it so seriously that it required the life of His Son to make us holy again. I must take sin and the sacrifice of God’s Son so seriously that I also do something outrageous ~ I choose to forgive the worst offenders because I’ve been forgiven.

Forgiveness doesn’t reduce the gravity of sin. It is possible to forgive and still impose boundaries. I can forgive and still initiate consequences. Forgiveness does not even exclude involving the law and civil authorities. Restraining orders, arrests for assault, these are often necessary but they are not the antithesis of forgiveness.

God forgave King David and gave him a fresh page on the canvas of his life by bringing forth the birth of Solomon, yet included in his future were also the consequences of his sin. It started with the death of the child he and Bathsheba conceived outside of marriage.

Joseph forgave his brothers but he didn’t excuse their sin. He still set up a test for them to prove their heart had changed. He still called a spade a spade by informing them of this ~ “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20 In forgiving, he did not tell them their sin was okay and not to worry about it because God had worked everything out.

I am called to forgive because that’s what my Father did for me. I forgive small things and I forgive horrific things. I am not exempt from any offense because of its severity. God rules over large and small matters and I can trust him to recognize what is so very egregious and to deal with it on my behalf.

Help me finally get it. You know the insidiousness of sin better than I do. You’ve got it all covered. Amen

Forgiveness Is Allowing God To Be King

August 3, 2018

3. Forgiveness is ~ Allowing God To Be King.

I know that I am not a citizen of earth, but, of heaven. I know that God is my ultimate authority. I know that life here is flawed and the kingdom of heaven runs perfectly. So why do I look for the affairs of earth to go fairly? Why do I fear God has failed me if a court case doesn’t go my way, or if I’m passed over for a promotion, or if betrayal has become a familiar bedfellow? I should know better than to be rocked by earth’s imperfections. I should know better than to blame God. I live with hope deferred ~ realizing that while sometimes God intervenes and causes justice to prevail here, much of the time, it doesn’t. I am to live yearning for my future home where nothing is corrupted.

When life is unfair, I remember that God is my King. Authorities here are not always going to see things from God’s perspective. Did Jesus have to battle the discrepancies between earth and heaven? Yes. Peter revealed how he handled it.

Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while they hurled insults at Him, He did not insult in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to His Father who judges righteously. I Peter 2:1-23

I’m struck by the verb tense in the last sentence. Jesus kept entrusting Himself to His Father. Since He was tempted in every way as you and I are tempted, He experienced similar thoughts of taking revenge and exacting some kind of immediate justice. But being sinless, He stopped, restrained Himself, and left ruling the universe to His Father. He did this at every moment of pain and injustice. Peter enumerates them. If He had to make this his kind of lifestyle, so do I. He didn’t just decide to forgive at age twelve and then never struggle with it again. When his family called him crazy, he had to stop and entrust Himself to His father. When Judas betrayed Him, He had to stop and entrust Himself to His father again. At every turn, the same decision was made over and over.

Allowing God to be King of my life is a moment by moment choice. I decide to lay down my rights to take revenge. I abdicate my rights to decide when someone deserves to be forgiven, or when they’re sorry enough.

Jesus, who knew God’s redemptive plan, didn’t believe He was exempt from suffering. He anticipated it and needed grace, as I do, to withstand the trials that come with living here on a broken planet, with broken people.

Father, just as You infused Your Son with supernatural power to forgive others, even when on the cross, I count on that today in my many disappointments. Amen

Forgiveness Is A Gift I Give To God

August 2, 2018

2. Forgiveness is ~ A Gift I Give To God.

When I choose to forgive someone, it is as though I am gift wrapping a package in the most exquisite paper and ribbons and then placing it in God’s hands. “Here, this is for you, Lord.” Why would I want to give God a gift that feels so expensive to give? (Forgiving some people is excruciating.) I want to give in response to how deeply He has forgiven me.

Jesus was once a guest at the home of a wealthy man named Simon. Simon and his wife probably had an expectation of how the evening would go since they were the hosts but they couldn’t foresee that a woman would arrive who would do something outrageous. She came to the table where everyone was reclining and began to pour expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. She emptied the jar. The cost to her amounted to a full year’s salary. Simon, the host, thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is —that she is a sinner.” Jesus began to tell a parable about who loves more….someone who has been forgiven a small debt or another who has been forgiven a huge debt. Jesus said to Simon, “You did not give me any water for my feet when I arrived. You did not kiss me. You did not put oil on my head but she has wet my feet with her tears, has not stopped kissing my feet, and has poured perfume on them. Her many sins have been forgiven for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7

According to Jesus, there is a mathematical equation in play. The amount to which I’m willing to forgive others is directly related to how much I have internalized Jesus’ forgiveness of me. If I consider myself a good person in comparison to others, I believe that I don’t need as much in the way of a pardon. I do not see that the ground at Calvary is level. We all come as beggars, condemned, unless we acknowledge our need of a Savior who paid death’s penalty for our sin. If I believe I’m better than most, I will be stingy when it comes time to forgive. I will extend a fist rather than an open hand.

If you feel that there is no way you can forgive a certain person, and you’re just stuck, ask God to show you how much it cost Jesus to save you. I did that and I mourned my sin. Nothing was more beneficial to my heart than that.

If I had lived less than a year, ‘infant Christine’ would have still needed a Savior. God, I know that. I’m a sinner, saved by grace, to forgive others recklessly. But only by the power of Your Spirit am I able. Thank you. Amen

Forgiveness Is A Gift I Give Myself

August 1, 2018

Forgiveness is ~ 1.  A Gift I Give Myself.

It’s easy for me to believe that if I choose to forgive someone, I am giving them the gift. While that may be true, God wants me to also understand that the first person who benefits from forgiving others is me. If I withhold it, I will suffer long-term. If I extend it, I will benefit long-term. Look at Isaiah’s testimony.

It was good for me to suffer this anguish for you have rescued me from the pit of nothingness and have forgiven all my sins. I will sing His praises with instruments every day of my life in the temple of the Lord. Is:38:16-18

Isaiah describes the existence of one who does not know he is forgiven nor does he extend it. It’s called ‘the pit of nothingness’. It’s that place we tend to go to when we’ve been hurt too badly. We swear that no one will be able to wound us that severely again. We take precautions by shutting our heart away. Thick veneers of cynicism guard us and distrust relegates us to a lonely place. In that pit of nothingness, there is no creativity, no artistry. Before I was able to forgive, the piano lid remained closed and my flutes stayed in the closet. Everything I tried to write sounded hollow in my ears. Praise and worship were absent. That’s because praise and bitterness cannot coexist.

It’s hard to evaluate ourselves and our level of abundant life when we are the ones holding on to bitterness. It feels good and it feels justified. So – let’s look outside ourselves. Can you name 2-3 people who live angry and who rehearse other’s offenses from years back? You probably dread being around them. They infect the environment spiritually. Over the years, their faces became twisted. Frown lines froze in place and now dominate their countenance. I often wonder if all the people they rail against are even aware that they have offended them. Let me ask you, ‘Who is being hurt most by the bitterness?’ The ones who hold on to it, right? If they forgave, imagine the spiritual oppression that would leave them.

God wired us to trust Him to rule wisely over our friends and enemies. The problem comes when faith is required to trust a God we can’t see, who has a plan we don’t understand, and whose timetable is much more relaxed than ours. But peace is promised for the just who will choose to walk by faith.

Jesus, delayed gratification is so difficult when it comes to matters of justice. You waited well and are still waiting for end times. Wait with me. Amen

Long Live The King

July 31, 2018

I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” Ecclesiastes 3:17

Old CrossBy assuming my place on the throne, I set myself up to be king of my world. It didn’t work out well because that’s not how I was wired by God to be at peace. I was meant to be a child in His kingdom, not the pretend-King who failed to bow to the real King of the Universe. God’s message in scripture became very clear ~ Give God back His rightful place, put the fate of those who have wronged me into His hands, trust Him to rule over them, and then live by faith that He will do so with holiness. Daily, I remind myself that my posture and mantra is, ‘Long Live The King!’

What trips up most every child of God is that God can appear inactive and and we wrongly assume that He is also uncaring. He doesn’t appear to love as well as we love our own children. When they hurt, we come running. When they are wronged, we rise to defend. When they cry that something is unfair, we listen and mediate if necessary. Yet, God tells us that He loves us purely and perfectly. He tells us that all His intentions for us are good. He tells us that anyone who messes with us – touches the apple of His eye. How do I believe that when my heart is aching with injustice?

I go immediately to the parallel of Jesus’ life on earth and my life on earth. That’s where I find so many of my answers. He was hunted down by Herod’s henchmen. That was unfair. His ministry was fraught with dangers I can’t begin to understand and God didn’t deliver Him from everyone. Some, yes. Others, no. His suffering was part of God’s redemptive narrative. What was absolutely so stunning about it all was Jesus’ absolute trust in His Father. His love and confidence in His Father never fractured while suffering. He never doubted His Father’s love and favor.

A little further in our study, we will see that Jesus had to trust God to rule righteously when relationships with people, and Satan, got dicey. He had to make the choice to live by faith and He learned this, scripture says, through obedience. His way, His path, is also my way, and my path.

You will make all things right in glory. Yet mercifully, You also do some of that now. When You don’t, I will trust You. Amen

Let Me Show You What You’ve Done

July 30, 2018

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“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” Matt. 6:14

Forgiveness. After hearing many sermons over the years and after reading many books on the topic, I believe it should be clear what forgiveness is. The mandate, however, is to just do it. “Forgive and forget.” But having lived through multiple messy betrayals in my life, I discovered that it’s not as cut and dry as often portrayed. Nor is it instantaneous if the hurt is deep and the relationships are ongoing.

God took me on a 5 month journey of forgiveness and it was mostly new territory. I learned what forgiveness is, what it isn’t, and why it’s so hard to do. There were many roadblocks and I found little help in working through them. (Oh, but the Holy Spirit led me safely through uncharted territory.) This series will give me the opportunity to share my own journey through anger, injustice, and then trust and active submission to the sovereignty of God. I can promise you that the devotionals to follow will not contain well worn cliches. I offer nothing that I have not first tried for myself.

There was a day in early May, 1997, that God made it clear through an older woman speaking into my life, that I had not forgiven someone who deeply hurt me over a period of 22 years. I was devastated and went to God about it. I believe I heard Him speak to me deep in my spirit. “Let me show you what you’ve done, Christine. You’ve climbed the steps to the throne, looked right at me and said ~ ‘I want your seat please.’ You put my crown on your head and declared yourself qualified and capable to play judge and jury over the people who hurt you. You will decide when they’re sorry. You will decide when they deserve your pardon. You will decide how long to make them pay. But know this ~ I want my seat back. I made you to be a much loved daughter in my kingdom, not a judge. That’s my job. Put the people who hurt you into my hands and leave them there. I rule righteously and you can trust me.”

That was the beginning of my many discoveries about myself and about my King. I learned that forgiving is not letting someone off the hook. It’s taking them off my hook and putting them on God’s hook. Because He is holy, is not that the best place for them to be? Ah yes. And here’s the thing. No child is meant to wear a crown.

Lord, I pray for each person who is reading this. So many are eaten up with the sense of injustice. Lead each of them safely through these next many days. Give them freedom. Help them trust you enough to give You your rightful seat back. Amen