Forgiveness

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There are attributes in many believers that seem unnatural to the people around them. Some people have a joy that shines out of them, some the patience that lasts forever. While all seem unnatural in this dark world, they are beautiful when they show their light to the darkness. One of the blessings given to me is my ability to forgive. I took an introspective moment to consider how to explain something so unnatural to those around me. I would like to credit the Holy Spirit. The part of me that thought of vengeance or vindication has become so quiet, its whisper has disappeared.

         Like many of the gifts the Spirit gives to believers, the beauty of them can’t be fully described to people who don’t walk in them. We all know that the Word of God calls us to forgive. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15) This passage means so much more to a forgiving heart. I see Jesus giving an instruction for us to do unto others as our Father has done for us in providing His Son. Even more, I see an amazing Father teaching His children to do something that is good for them even though it isn’t pleasant by nature. Like a parent telling a child to bathe regularly; the child can’t appreciate the lessons in hygiene given to them until they are older and matured. Similarly we begin to appreciate the Word of God as our faith grows and our spirit matures.

               When we refuse to forgive those who offend or harm us we change who we are. We affect the way we see others in terms of trust and kindness. The hurt we hold onto in being unforgiving causes damage and inevitably reveals itself in a way we don’t recognize, in a completely unrelated situation. I think of people who hurt others as fallen and sinful, which applies to us all. In that way we are all consistently falling short of the Glory of God. The nature of people is like gravity. We are always sinful just as gravity always pulls. When we fall do we lash out against gravity or accept what it is?

         Lacking forgiveness is like refusing to accept the nature of sin and man. Refusing to work within God’s design just makes us uncomfortable as the world continues to dwell in darkness. Forgiveness is a light to a world content with its fallenness. Show this world forgiveness with a humility that humbles a hardened heart.

         Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, (Luke 17:3) We are told here to pay attention to ourselves. That makes sense seeing that forgiveness is for our well-being over the well-being of the offender. I feel that forgiveness given, even when there has been no repentance, calms the heart of the offended and warms the heart of our Father. Christ was crucified so that we would have the choice to be forgiven. He died for those who have shown no repentance so that the option of salvation is theirs. Forgive unconditionally, break the cycle of pride so that the love of Christ can be felt through you.

But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. (Psalm 130:4)

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. (Psalm 32:1)

The Seeds Are Your Job

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                When a believer finds the joy and abundance of a life filled with the Holy Spirit, they can’t help but share that with everyone. They have good hearts but that doesn’t always mean the best method. Their passion is beautiful but pushes them beyond what they are called by God to do. I wanted to share a small metaphor to help those filled with the wonderful joy and passion that fills us to overflowing so that we might share, in the right way.

                Although each situation varies and should be led by the Holy Spirit acting through the believer, I want to share a thought that requires patience and faith, both of which the Lord gives to any who ask. We must recognize that we are meant to plant the seeds of the Lord. All too many time we try and give a lost soul or a new believer fruit from our orchard. We want them to see the blessings and abundance of God, but they won’t understand. In fact they may be put off by an idea that only the Holy Spirit can fully communicate. We could stand by and load them with the fruits of God, but those fruits will spoil and fail to glorify God the way He desires. We must focus on sowing the seeds of God so that the Holy Spirit can grow an orchard in the hearts of the new believer. The Spirit can grow the fruits that person is designed to grow in and glorify with. The good fruit grown in the spirit will never spoil because it will be located in the orchard of the believer’s heart, that they will know how to care for, and allow the Spirit to multiply that fruit.

                The worst thing a believer can do is push past their role and try to grow fruit. God’s provision is always better than ours, so His fruit must be also. We must make sure that our love for those around us spurs us to patience, faith and trust. Not allowing God to work in another’s heart will have the opposite effect and drive them away in fear of the unimaginable and infinite God. Remember back when you were saved. If all of the knowledge and joy found in God would have been poured upon you, it would not have found a place to grow. The Lord looks to grow you in His way and His time. Just the way He designed you.

World’s View of The Spirit

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As I sat in a group discussing the spiritual gifts that existed between us, I had a tug at my heart. I saw men light up as they described the gifts God had bestowed upon them and how they put those gifts into practice in their kingdom service. I realized how easy it is to talk about God moving in the presence of other believers, while on the other hand the same conversation with non-believers is met with confusion or skepticism. I then realized that every spiritual gift comes with a worldly stigma that faces criticism from those who cannot recognize God’s work in a person. A few examples:

The gift of Knowledge can be seen as arrogance to someone who is offended by the revelation found in that gift. The humility to be lead is a sign of wisdom and a trait of God.

The gift of Teaching can seem over bearing when the subject matter becomes eternal and spiritual. The believer is looked at as a ‘know it all’ and the words fall on deaf ears.

The gift of Encouragement makes people feel like their problem isn’t taken seriously because they don’t share the same confidence as the believer. They want a reaction that mirrors their own such as anger or fear.

The gift of Giving offends people who are too proud to receive that kind of love.

The gift of Prophecy makes people withdraw as they sit in denial about a truth that becomes clear far later than need be. They fight truth that they are not ready to receive.

The gift of Evangelism rubs anybody wrong who refuses to submit to The Creator and insists on a self-reliance that never succeeds. Just the name of God causes the sinful heart to withdraw.

Finally, the gift of Faith which looks like indifference when the world won’t approve of the lack of reaction found in Christ. They don’t find peace in reliance on a God they deny.

                Growth in Christ (spirit) is viewed as a flaw to the world (flesh). Every gift come with a perceived flaw when the lost don’t understand the true power of the Holy Spirit in a believer. Part of the deceiver’s work is to create a skewed view of God and His faithful by turning the lost away from the power of God as it works through the gifted. We should all take the time to examine our hearts and the gifts God has placed in them. That realization helps you see where God desires to use you in His kingdom. The difficult part is the perseverance we face in the light of those gifts. Ask God to give you strength and know that God has blessed you with those gifts and will continue to do so as you allow His Spirit to move through you with His gifts.

Don’t miss God’s plan

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Old Testament Laws are like guiding lights/ bread crumbs/ a map/ a GPS. They were originally intended to bring the focus of the Israelites to God and at the same time serve as a guide to show His power in their lives to the rest of the world. Knowing that sin kept all people from fulfilling the laws God became man and a sinless sacrifice so that love could succeed where the law had failed. Mercy could succeed where judgement fails. Many people miss the point of Jesus and continue attempting to please God in obedience to law. They use the law as a tool to learn about God and try and grow in Him. They miss the opportunity to be filled with His spirit in complete intimacy as a conduit of His power. Focusing on the law will cause you to miss God’s desire which is to live in your heart and allow you to shine His light to this dark world. Keeping your eyes on the Map/ GPS God gave people in the Old Testament will cause you to miss the destination God gave us through Christ, His Spirit!

Life without Law

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In a genuine walk with Christ it is inevitable that we will come across those who take a legalistic view of God. They focus on the rules that must be followed to be in relation with/ accepted by God. The Old Testament consisted of rules that were meant to keep God’s people focused on Him as well as show the generations to come how impossible a perfect adherence to the law was. In God’s wisdom He fulfilled the law by becoming a perfect/ sinless human and allowing Himself to be offered as a sacrificial lamb for the sins of all who are willing to accept the sacrifice. Not only was the law fulfilled by Jesus Christ but the Ten Commandments given to Moses/ laws of the Prophets were covered in the Two Commandments of Jesus (Matthew 22:37-40). Living in a manner commanded by the Savior leaves a believer in a redeemed state where the focus isn’t law but grace. In the Holy Spirit and its fruit there is no law (Galatians 5:23). A person redeemed through Jesus has the law written on their heart, the fulfilment of law through love is in their new nature. Don’t lose sight of the redemptive work of Jesus. Allowing OT law to rule your life and take your focus away from Christ isn’t God’s desire. If we are meant to fulfill OT laws then Jesus died for nothing, His forgiveness isn’t the only way to redemption, and He was lying in (John 14:6).

Walking in the truth of God will make clear that Jesus is our way, He fulfilled the law, and was truthful in being the way to true reconciliation. I refuse to make my savior and God’s plan obsolete by looking past Jesus to a law that created a need for my Savior. Know God, know Jesus, and know that a heart that belongs to God does not require written laws!

The Trinity (GOD 3 in 1)

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Godhead/Trinity/Triune God

People tend to get caught up in understanding the Trinity of the Christian God. It confuses people that a singular God is known as three entities. As with most misunderstandings stemming from the complexity of an infinite God, we have to step out of our limited understanding and into the vastness of God. We serve a God who wants His people to know Him and to understand Him. He must reduce His complexity to fit the fallen and limited minds of His people. How better to do that than as a Father. This was first given to us by God describing the heart of David in (Psalm 89:26) ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ (2 Samuel 7:14) “I will be to him [David and his eternal lineage thru Jesus] a father, and he shall be to me a son.” The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Malachi reiterate God as Father before moving into the New Testament era. We can all relate to a father figure and what that title entails. God relates to His people as the Father God and then comes to earth to relate to us in our own form, as The Son: Jesus. Jesus is our example of God walking the earth. He was the Holiness and perfection of God in the flesh. In order to show us how to relate to our Heavenly Father He became the Son and subsequently our brother. He then, through that perfect life, became the required sacrifice for the sins of man. The price of sin has always been death, ever since the fall. God as The Son received our penalty so that we may be reconciled to Him. He sacrificed Himself for His children. As the perfect Father would. After His earthly presence was persecuted and killed He defied death and the deceiver and was resurrected to eternal life, again as an example to us of faith and love for the Father. Then to further increase our understanding for his glory He indwelled, in His faithful, His presence. His presence is so vast that we could never fully comprehend it. He represents Himself in the believers as The Holy Spirit to guide them through a fallen world and to His sacrifice of Himself, ultimately to His glory.

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Imagine for a moment that you had children that would not pay attention to you or listen to your guidance. Through that defiance they put themselves in mortal danger. With their unwillingness to listen you were forced to sacrifice yourself to save them in the hope that your willingness to take their place in death would reconcile them to you. With your physical presence gone you left instructions for your children to learn from the wisdom they had previously ignored. That sounds like an amazing father, one I’d turn toward and seek to know. That father exists and His instructions are here for us. The father is God. He sacrificed Himself for us in the form of Jesus Christ, The Son. His instructions were left written on our hearts as The Holy Spirit. (Jeremiah 31:33) “I will put my law [guidance] within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Galatians 4:6) And because you are sons [brothers of Jesus], God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts.

Fruits of the Spirit (Peace)

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Peace

As we walk hand in hand with the Holy Spirit we can find an inner peace that is independent of the turmoil of our fallen environment. We can find peace as we seek to see the world from the eyes of God. This is the definition of wisdom. God holds this world in His hands and His sovereignty puts all things in motion for His greater purpose. We may not always recognize His purpose but we must also realize that the Lord reveals to His children what He wants us to know. We are not meant to comprehend all things, our fragile minds could not bear the burden. He created us to live in peace always available in His light. (John 14:27) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (Isaiah 26:3) You keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because He trusts in you.

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