Forgiveness in light of what in Christ I have been forgiven.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness Is Not Always Easy

Sometimes forgiveness does not come easy for me. I am prone to think that I have a right to be angry and hold on to my anger. I may also expect someone to ask for my forgiveness, which may not happen, before I am willing to forgive. Yet, Christ instructs me to forgive.

When I take a moment to fully contemplate and comprehend the forgiveness that I have been given, it helps me to be able to forgive. I would be lost if it were not for the forgiveness of my sins. I have missed the mark because I am not able to love God with all my heart, soul, and strength nor am I able to love my neighbor as myself. Christ came to earth to do just that and to ultimately pay the price for my sin. This makes all the difference in the world for I am a poor and miserable sinner in need of a savior. Jesus paid it all.

When I fail to remember this, then I have trouble forgiving and I am prone to resentment and self righteousness.

This is exactly what Jesus addresses in Matthew 18: 21-35 in the parable of the unforgiving servant. The master had forgiven the servant of a rather large debt. Yet, when someone who owed him a lesser amount came to him, he was unwilling to forgive the debt owed. The unforgiving servant was not grateful for nor did he fully comprehend what he had been forgiven. Therefore, the master sent the unforgiving servant to jail till he could pay his debt.

Gratitude is Crucial

Stopping first to think of what I have been forgiven and being grateful will make forgiving easier. I am often forgetful that I have been forgiven a great debt. With the Lord’s help, I aim to do better. I shall be forever grateful for my forgiveness.

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Experience is Key to Knowing God’s Goodness

Experience is Vital

Experience is Vital in Telling.

We often throw the word “good” around to just about anything we like. For instance, “That was a good movie!” or “That was really good food.” Advertising uses it well, i.e. “Milk, it does the body good.” Therefore, when we as Christians use it in the phrase, “God is good,” what are we really saying? Do we have the experience to back it up?

Jesus did not like being called “good,” hence He rebuked those who said he was good by saying that God alone is good (Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). The Greek word for good used here is agathos. This word describes that which, being “good” in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect; it is used in a moral sense here. God is essentially and consummately “good” Thus God alone is the ultimate good.

Therefore, to really be able to say, truthfully and meaningfully, that “God is good,” I truly believe that one has to have experienced God’s goodness by coming through some truly tough times. Experience is the key. I have heard in many a testimony to this fact. God is the ultimate good and is capable of great things. Anyone who has experienced near death experiences or a miraculous recovery can tell you.

In conclusion, I know from my own life experiences I can truly say that God is indeed good. I do hope that the next time you want to say that God is good that you can say it from experience. If not, don’t feel bad if you are not able to say. Ask the next person you here say it how God has showed His goodness to them. Don’t hesitate to ask God to reveal to you His ultimate goodness apart from the death and resurrection of Jesus.

 

Share Your Experience

Please feel free to leave me a comment about your own experience of God’s goodness.

 

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Tell of The Goodness of the Lord!

Tell, Remember, Declare, Ascribe

Tell, Remember, Declare, and Ascribe!

I started reading 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 today. King David sang a song of thanks in which he gives many directions to give God glory. First instruction, I read is to tell of all His wondrous works! Second, remember the wondrous works that He has done. Third and fourth, I am reminded to tell of His salvation from day to day and declare His glory among the nations. The fifth is to ascribe to the Lord glory due His name. Last but not least is to give Him thanks.

So here, I will tell of the wondrous works of the Lord. And why not? For the Lord is good and worthy to be praised. God has restored broken relationships in my life. He gives me strength when I am weak and grace when I need it. He gives me wisdom when I ask. I will declare His glory to the world.

In remembering, I find hope when times are rough. When I remember the times that God has carried me through many hardships, I know that He is faithful to see me through another one. When I am in need I remember the times that God supplied all my needs and He will do so again. Take time to remember what God has done in your life.

I am instructed to tell of His salvation from day to day! Oops, I have dropped the ball on this one. I had better get back to telling of His salvation. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Furthermore, I am to ascribe. Ascribe? What does this mean? To ascribe means to credit or assign, as to a cause or source; attribute; impute. Therefore, I am to credit or assign glory to God. I cannot ascribe it to myself.

Finally, I give thanks to God for He is good and His steadfast love endure forever!

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Encouragement: What does it mean?

Words of Encouragement

We often hear the word encouragement several times from our Pastors and teachers of the Bible. So what does it mean? Encouragement is the act of inspiring courage, spirit, or confidence. The apostle Paul was a great example of an encourager. In the book of Philemon, for example, Paul inspired courage in Philemon to receive Onesimus as he would Paul.

When Paul appealed to Philemon, Paul spoke to him as a beloved friend and told Philemon that Philmon’s love and faith toward Jesus and others warmed his heart. I hope that I am thought of this way by others who know me. I want to be able to recognize these qualities in others. Paul also had great faith in Philemon that he would do the right thing when it came to accepting Onesimus’ return. Onesimus had a great friend in Paul.

Another thing, Paul was tactful in his approach to Philemon. He was not demanding of Philemon to release Onesimus. He inspired courage in Philemon to rise above the cultural norms. After all, there were others in the area that would see how Philemon treated a fellow believer who was once his slave.  Paul was also hoping to visit with him once he was freed.

Moreover, what I have learned from reading Philemon is that I am to be one that will speak words of encouragement to anyone in need. I am also to speak tactfully when speaking on the behalf of someone. Kind and thoughtful words will go further than harsh and demanding ones. Before I speak, I hope that I would stop and pray asking the Lord for the right words.

I thank my God for you when I remember you in my prayers because I hear of your love and of the faith you have towards the Lord Jesus and for all the saints. Philemon 4-5

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Simple Statements Are Often Best

Keep it Simple!

Sometimes, it is best to keep things simple. For example, my husband’s anniversary card stated his thoughts and feelings in five uncomplicated words. Yet, it was quite touching. It read, “God Knew I needed you.”

The message of the cross is that simple, too. All one needs to do to receive eternal life is to look to the cross of Christ. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life,” John 3:14-15. I learned in Bible Study Fellowship that eternal life means a changed life now and spend eternity with Jesus in the next. It is just that simple as to look to the cross. However, people make things more complicated by putting in their rules and expectations.

The straightforward act of believing in Jesus does many things. Believing in Him,

  • You have eternal life, will not come into judgment but have passed from death to life. John 5:24
  • Though you were dead, yet you shall live. John 11:25
  • You may not remain in darkness. John 12:46
  • You may have life through His name. John 20:31
  • You receive forgiveness through His name. Acts 10:43
  • You are freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Acts 13:39
  • You will not be put to shame. Romans 9:33
  • Will make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15
  • You are born of God. 1 John 5:1

Therefore, something so simple has great rewards. How amazing is that? This is what is confusing to the world because the world believes that the simple is stupid. God uses the simple to shame the wise. Won’t you make the effortless action of looking to Jesus?

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Conversation Between Jesus & Samaritan Woman

Conversation

Let’s Explore One Conversation Jesus Had.

Let’s explore the conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4. But first let’s take a look at history between Samaria and Judea at the time of Christ. It is important to understand the conflict between the two groups of people.

Samaritans were a blend of Israelites left behind when Israel was exiled by the King of Assyria circa 722 B.C. and Assyrians that the King sent into the area. (2 kings 17). They believed in the God of Israel, acknowledged Moses as His prophet, and accepted the Pentateuch as scripture. They, however, did not accept the any Old Testament writings beyond the Pentateuch as canonical. The Samaritans considered the Judeans to be apostates following the sanctuary leaving Shechem. They worshiped God on Mount Gerizim and not in Jerusalem. They, too, were looking for a Messiah to come.

Similarly, the Judeans considered the Samaritans to be apostates. They opposed the Samaritans because of the intermarriage with the Assyrians. The Judeans considered them to be idolaters because intermarriage merged idol worship with the worship of Yahweh. The Samaritans had also caused trouble when the Jews were seeking to reestablish themselves and their temple (Ezra 4).  Therefore, there was a great deal of tension between Judea and Samaria even in the time of Jesus’ ministry.

The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Being that Samaria was to the south of Galilee and north of Judea, Jesus had to go through Samaria to get to Jerusalem. Typically, Jews avoided going through Samaria when traveling between Galilee and Judea. Yet, Jesus did not. He purposefully traveled to Samaria. He stopped at a well about the noon hour and waited.

As a woman came to the well to draw water, Jesus intentionally drew her into a conversation with Him by asking her for a drink. He was well aware of the fact that Jews did not associate with Samaritans yet alone a woman. This is where Jesus first got my attention. He set aside social norms to reach out to her and those living in Samaria. For the custom was that a Jew was considered unclean if he used a drinking vessel handled by a Samaritan. Still Jesus asked her for a drink.

In addition, Jesus continues His conversation with her in spite of all the social customs. He tells her of living water yet one can tell that she is focused on the physical whereas Jesus is speaking spiritually. She questions his ability to draw water and if He is greater than Jacob. The woman is obviously without a clue as to whom she is conversing with.

Therefore, Jesus takes it one step further by revealing to her sin. He does not do it blatantly. He asks her to call her husband and thus she points it out that she does not have a husband. Then Jesus gently makes her see that He knows everything about her. This is what broke through to her heart. It was being known by Him. Therefore, she went to draw others to Him.

What I Have Learned from this Conversation

Jesus was not held sway by social norms. He reached across them to bring His message of salvation. I need to think like Jesus and not be held to the customs of this world. Jesus wants me to think outside the box. Like the woman at the well, I, too, can get focused on the wrong thing and not see with the eyes of Jesus. I want to draw others to Jesus who knows me better than I know myself.

I pray: Dear Lord Jesus, help me to see the world as You do. Cause me to brave the social barriers and reach out to bring the good news to others that need You. Amen.

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Let’s Feast on God’s Word

God’s Word Can Be a Feast!

The sermon at yesterday’s ordination of our new pastor was in regards to looking to God alone for all things. The scripture for the sermon was Psalm 62:1-2 and the title was  “Be Strong in the Lord.” Sure, I am blessed and probably a little privileged yet it is to God alone that I can find true rest for my soul. So, I elected to feast on God’s word alone today.

I set aside my desires for food and looked to God and His word for sustenance. This morning, I began meditating on Psalm 62. I focused on keywords such as alone and only in verses 1,2,5, & 6. It is in God alone that my soul waits not in my husband, family or friends. God only is my salvation, my rock, and my defense not my accomplishments or my possessions. I am to wait only upon God not in food or in the approval of men. My hope and expectations are in the Lord. I shall not be moved for God alone is my defense and my fortress. Therefore, I will look to God alone for rest for my soul and for my salvation. I will not be moved.

Reading further, I see that I am to trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times. Yet, I have not done this. I have mistakenly put my hope and trust in my relationship with my husband. Though he is a kind and caring man, he is human and therefore not perfect. I am wrong to look to him to satisfy my soul the only way God can.

Breakfast  & Lunch Meditations

By 9 a.m, I turned my meditation to feast on Psalm 139. From the first 6 verses, God revealed to me that He knows everything about me. There is nothing that He does not know; not even my thoughts are secret. His hand is upon me and He is all around me. His knowledges is too infinite to comprehend. I take comfort in knowing that I am known by God. Therefore, when I feel that no one understands me, I need only to remember that God know everything about me.

As I sat down to lunch, I again focused on the above Psalm with verses 7-13. I reflected on the fact that there is nowhere I can go to escape God’s spirit. Whether I go to the mountaintop or to lowest valley God is there. Whether I fly to great heights or go to the bottom of the ocean God is there. Even the darkness cannot hide me from God. Consequently, I am never alone for God is always with me. When I feel lonely, I only need to remember that God is with me wherever I go.

In addition, I added music to my time with God. I listened to and sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and “Be Thou My Vision” at lunch time. As I continued with my readings for snack, I worshipped the Lord in song with “How Great Is Our God” and “Here I am to Worship.”

Final Thoughts

To conclude, God is good and He alone is all I need. How great is our God. There is no one like Him in all the earth. His Word does satisfy the soul. I will take comfort in Him knowing that He knows me and loves me just the same. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

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Abiding Faith

What does it mean to have abiding faith?

This past weekend I attended the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Texas District Convention in Lubbock. Our keynote speaker, Cindy Steinbeck of Steinbeck Vineyards & Winery, spoke to us about abiding faith. Our theme for the convention was based on John 15:5, I am the vine, you are the branches. Cindy gave us the definition for the word abide and talked to us about the significance of the root of the grapevine.

Abiding faith comes from being rooted in Jesus. He is like the root of the grapevine which is drought and disease resistance. Jesus is holy and therefore we are holy because we are grafted into Jesus. The root nourishes the grapevine and so Jesus provides nourishment for your spirit.

Hence, God is the vine-dresser. He directs the growth of the vine thus seeing what needs to be pruned. Together both God and Jesus helps us to grow. Yet, we are to abide (continue in relationship) with Him. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing just as a branch when cut away will die. When God wants me to grow, He makes me uncomfortable.

In order for me to bear fruit (such as gentleness, kindness, patience, and self-control), I must be abiding in Him. I am to stay rooted in Jesus through His word and prayer. He alone can provide me the strength I need, the wisdom and discernment in the various positions that He has placed me.

I interjected Cindy Steinbeck’s definitions into the following passage where the word abide is found.

Abiding in Him according to John 15:1-10

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

Abiding in Jesus.

Dwell in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, neither can you, unless you continue in relationship with me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in relationship with me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you dwell in me, and my words dwell in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

God is glorified.

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Stay in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will reside in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and continued in His love.

My question for you. Where or in whom are you abiding?

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Word Pictures For Spiritual Adornment

Word pictures

 Biblical Word Pictures

There are a number of beautiful word pictures in the Bible. Today, let’s look at those address spiritual adornment. I have found a couple in Proverbs and one in Isaiah that I will explore first.

First, the beginning of Proverbs 1 it talks about wisdom, instruction and teaching. I find that heeding the instruction of my father and the teaching of my mother is described as a graceful garland for my head and adornment for my neck (Proverbs 1:8-9). Therefore, I asked the question, what is the significance here? This word picture points to the fact that our lives are to reflect whose instruction and teaching we follow. Thus, it will be as plain as a necklace or garland worn on our heads.

Second, Proverbs goes on in chapter 3 verse 21-22 to say that I should not lose sight of wisdom and discretion for they are life for my soul and again, an adornment for my neck. Hence, I would hope that my life reflects the beauty of God’s wisdom much like the beauty of wearing a set of pearls as seen above.

Third, in Isaiah 61:10, I find another word picture that is inspiring.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
    my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.*

Likewise, God has graced us with these through His Son, Jesus. God calls us beloved and chosen. He dresses us with the righteousness of Christ. He loves us with an everlasting love.

Wisdom for Adornment in the New Testament

Last but not least, there is one more that I have found in the New Testament in 1 Peter 3 verses  3-4. Here, I am to adorn myself with the hidden person of the heart with imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. This is precious in God’s sight. This is also in stark contrast to what the world would have me to adorn myself.

How do you adorn yourself, according to His Word or to the way of the world?

*The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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Creed? What is it and Why Do I Need It?

Creed

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting.

This is called the Apostles’ Creed because it contains a summary of their teachings. Where I attend worship we say this most every Sunday. At other times we recite the Nicene Creed and on one Sunday out of the church year we recite the Athanasian Creed which is a much more in depth and a long one. I particularly like the Apostles’ because it is a simple statement of faith. Reciting and memorizing it protects one from false teaching. It explains the trinity being God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If you were to attend at my church you would know what we believe without having to ask. There is a certainty here in this statement of faith. The Bible supports this statement.

Why Do I need it?

Because I am a fickle person and my flesh is weak. Without it, I could so easily grow complacent in my faith and lose sight of the fact that I need God. I find reassurance too when it is recited in my church.  We all believe the same and worship in spirit and in truth.

Some may question it or call me foolish but that is their opinion. If according to the naysayers, I am wrong then I have nothing to lose but if I am right in my belief, and I know that I am, then I have everything to gain. I would rather err in believing than to die in unbelief. God has in more ways than I can count proven His love to me. This creed is my statement of faith and nothing can change my heart.

If you wish to know more click this link.

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

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