Forgetting What God Forgets

February 24, 2015

For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:34)

When we sin, we need to look up and believe the first fact of the Gospel, which is the Good News that God forgives our sins because Jesus died for our sins. Then we need to look around, forgive those who have sinned against us and seek forgiveness of those against whom we’ve sinned.  We also need to look in and forgive ourselves.

When we place our trust in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we need to forget what God forgets and remember what God remembers.  In the New Testament we are promised that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (I John 1:9)

However, God remembers that we are sinners.  We forget we are sinners. (That is one reason we fall into sin again & again.)  After we confess our sins, we show our faith in God’s promise is flawed when we remember our sins as guilt baggage long after God has forgiven and forgotten our sins.

A Catholic Monsignor in Paris was told about a nun who talked to Jesus every night. When the nun was summoned to meet the Monsignor, he asked her, “The next time you talk with Jesus, ask Him this question:  What sins did the Monsignor commit in Paris before he became a priest?”  He instructed the nun to report back after she asked Jesus his question.

Several days later when the nun requested an appointment with the Monsignor, he asked her, “Did you speak with Jesus again, my child?”  She replied, “Yes, your Reverence.” He then asked, “Did you ask Jesus my question?”  The nun said that she had indeed asked Jesus his question. “And what did Jesus say?”  The nun replied, “Jesus told me to tell you He doesn’t remember.”

If we believe what the Bible teaches about the forgiveness of our sins, that is the answer we should expect to hear.

As we receive by faith the inner healing of salvation, we simply must discipline ourselves to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, from In Step with Eternal Values


Some Truth about Truth

May 14, 2013

“Am I therefore become your enemy,  because I tell you the truth?”  (Galatians 4:16)

We can be a philosopher and love truth.  We can be a sincere seeker after truth and never find the truth we seek.  According to Jesus when we come to know the truth by relationship, He himself will make us free (John 8: 30-36).

Jesus said in a prayer to His Father: “Thy Word is truth.” (John 17: 17)  This means we should read the Bible as a lover and seeker of truth.  Jesus made the claim that His teaching is the truth of God (John 7: 17).  He even told us how we can prove that claim.  The doing leads to the knowing. If we will personally do what He teaches we will know that His teaching cannot be the teaching of a man.  It has to be the teaching of God.

There are times when we can devastate people with the truth.  There are also times when the truth can cut through the denial of people and set them free from problems that are isolating them from reality and destroying them.  It is then that we must speak the truth in love and ask if we have become their enemy for doing so.

When we are facing those kinds of challenges we must pray that: “God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves” (2 Timothy 2: 25).  To repent means to think again and have a change of mind will and direction.

May your search for truth not only end but begin with the One who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except through me.”    (John 14:6).

 

 


Wrestling with God

May 10, 2013

“And He said, ‘ Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have  prevailed.”   (Genesis 32:28)

When we read in the Bible about the great men of God we find that they all seem to have deep experiences with God.  The details of their experiences vary greatly but the results are very similar.

Jacob wrestled all night with an angel.  The angel forced Jacob to look up and wrestle his way through to God.Then the angel forced Jacob to look in and confess that he was a rascal who lived up to his name.  The name “Jacob” meant “Grabber.” He was a mover, shaker, doer kind of man who was always running and would not stand still long enough for God to place a blessing upon him.

God could not get Jacob to wait on his Lord.  He had to cripple him so He might crown him with His blessing.  We might call it: “The cripple crown blessing of God.”  When a man is crippled what else can he do but wait?

When God won the wrestling match He pronounced a blessing upon this man –  the one quoted above from the book of Genesis.  By changing his name to “Israel” God declared that Jacob was a fighter.  He had fought his way through to his God and confessed to what he saw when he looked in.  He was then ready to look around and fight through his relationships with people.

Are you a spiritual fighter?  Have you fought all the way through your up look to God?  Have you won the battle when you look in?  Are you winning the battle when you look around and work out all your relationships?


Loving Affliction

May 4, 2013

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word….  It is good for me that I have been afflicted…I know, O Lord, that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” (Psalm 119: 67, 71, 75)

Many believers like me can resonate with these words written above.  Although this is not always the explanation when God’s people are afflicted, it very often is.  I have been living with a chronic illness since 1978 and I have been paralyzed since 1984.  It was my affliction that moved me to do the life’s work God was calling me to do for Him.

God tells us in His Word that He chastens those He loves (Revelation 3:19).  Although the goodness of God can lead us to repentance, for most of us it is the chastening of our Lord, knocking on the door of our life that moves us to open the door and invite Him into the practical areas of our life.  Like Jonah, it is only through divine intervention that our “I will not” is converted to “I will.”

As a “Type A” obsessive-compulsive, workaholic pastor I left before I got there and people could not keep up with my fast walk.  For someone like me to be slammed down in one place, unable to move anything from the neck down, it was an overwhelming intervention.

It took two years to even begin moving toward accepting my limits. When the acceptance came it was a supernatural miracle of inner healing.  It took twenty years, but I eventually reached the point where I could tell the Lord I loved Him for cutting me back and improving the quality and quantity of what He wanted me to do for Him.

Can you resonate with the perspective of this ancient hymn writer?


That Means Me!

May 1, 2013

“I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins.  Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains…”  (Isaiah 44: 22, 23)

When one of the greatest men of God who ever lived committed the sins of adultery and murder, filled with remorse and contrition (which means exceedingly sorry for sin), he prayed a great model prayer for forgiveness.  If you have sinned and you don’t know how to confess your sin read Psalm 51.  Make it your own prayer and you will do a great job of confessing your sin.

In the original Hebrew David actually asked God to un-sin his sin.  Any devout believer who has really sinned will resonate with this prayer petition of David.  The spirit of the prayer petition is: “Oh God! If You could only make it as if it had never happened!”

That introduces us to one of the most beautiful words in the Bible: “justified.” This word means “just as if I’d never sinned” and it means “to be declared righteous.” David uses this word in his prayer of repentance.

Sunday school children are taught a song that summarizes these Scripture verses:  “God has blotted them out, I’m happy as I can be. God has blotted them out, I’ll turn to Isaiah and see. Chapter forty-four, twenty-two and three.  He’s blotted them out and I can just shout! For that means me!”

They may be merely singing words when they’re children but when they grow up and become people who sin they may shout with tears when they read these verses and remember that song.

When you sin can you shout, “That means me?


What is Faith?

March 2, 2013

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27: 13).  

As we ponder the definition of faith we hear it said that believing is seeing.  “When I see it I’ll believe it” is the way some would put it.  In the verse quoted above David clearly writes that we believe first and then our believing leads us to the seeing of what we believe.

Biblical faith always has an unseen object.  According to other Scriptures there will always be evidence that the unseen object of our faith exists, but when our faith is biblical faith the object of that faith will be unseen (Hebrews 11:6).  Seeing does not lead to believing because we already have the object of our faith when we see, but believing does lead to seeing according to David and other authors of the Bible.

A rural pastor told his people that when they invited him home for dinner after church he was always hoping they would have southern fried chicken.  If he had no reason to believe that would be the menu he could only hope there would be chicken for dinner.  But when he came into their home if he smelled chicken and if he saw from the living room chicken gravy on the dining room table, those things were the evidence of the object he could not see.  He could now believe there was chicken in the kitchen and he would have it for dinner.

David tells us that after the believing that leads to seeing, all we have to do is wait on the Lord until we see the object of our faith.  Are you believing God for something you cannot yet see?


A Kingdom Benediction

January 15, 2013

“Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the glory forever, Amen.”   (Matthew 6: 13)

Jesus taught us to begin our prayers with a providential or God-first perspective.  He also taught us to end our prayers with the same kind of Kingdom benediction.  In this prayer/prescription after we get our priorities straight we are to close our prayers in a way that is consistent with the way we begin our prayers.

In essence, we are to end our prayers by telling God that since the power to answer our prayers will always come from Him the glory will always go to Him and the result will always belong to Him.  That is what “Your’s is the Kingdom” is really all about.

When you pray are you taking God into your plans or are you asking Him to take you into His plans?  I have had the privilege of being involved in the founding of two churches.  After many years serving those churches I then had to drop out and let others pastor them.  That was when I learned what it means to pray: “Your’s is the Kingdom.”

Jesus taught me to pray that since the power to answer my prayers over many years as the pastor of those churches had come from Him the glory should now go to Him and the result (the churches) should belong to Him.

James tells us we ask and do not receive because we ask amiss (James 4:3).  A teenager asked me if James was telling us we can pray a hit as well as a miss.  If you want to pray a hit every time allow Jesus to show you how to begin and end your prayers.