Just Thinking on Forgiveness and Obedience

Matt 6-14-15

I am privileged to be a part of two Bible studies this year.  One of my favorite things about these studies is the discussion time that we have as a small group, following our personally studying of God’s Word.

I love hearing how other people answer the questions.  Sometimes it’s the way they word their answer that helps me to understand the Scripture passage in a fresh or clearer way.  Sometimes it’s an example they share; a story, a parable or something from their own life that helps me to understand the Scripture.

In this week’s lesson we studied the passage from Matthew 6, which includes God’s commands about forgiving others.  One question had us answer what we would advise a person who is struggling to forgive.

One response that was given was an example that many of us may have heard.  Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  That’s a good example on the harm that unforgiveness does in our lives and just how crazy it is to not forgive.

But that got me to thinking about forgiveness, especially for believers in Christ.  Why should we forgive someone when they have hurt us, either purposely and intentionally or by accident?

First and foremost, God calls us, no He commands us to forgive others.  That alone should inform my actions and cause me to obey Christ.

But if it doesn’t cause me to forgive, what might prompt me to obedience?  I can look at my own life, my sin, my deceitfully wicked heart apart from Christ and see how much God has forgiven me.  When my huge sin debt has been wiped clean by holy and righteous God Himself, how can I hold onto an offense by another and refuse to forgive them?  When my grievous sin is weighed on the scales against the offense I’ve suffered, there is no comparison.

I may need to remind myself, especially if it’s a fellow Christian, Christ has forgiven them.  He died on the cross and paid the penalty for their sin, even the sin that hurt me.  Their sins are forgiven and cast as far as the east is from the west, as are mine.  How can I put myself over and above Christ and not forgive someone whom Christ died for and forgave?

If it’s an unbeliever, well Christ died to pay the sin debt all humanity.  He stands ready to forgive them and embrace them if they repent of their sins and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.  His righteousness will be applied to their account and their sin debt will be wiped clean.

God doesn’t say, “Forgive someone if they are a fellow Christian.”  No, He doesn’t make my forgiveness conditional on their repentance or if they are saved.  He tells me to forgive.

I have no solid ground to stand on when I choose to be unforgiving.  None!

Is it easy?  No, absolutely not.  But God can help me to forgive.  It’s a choice that I need to make every day.  When the enemy comes along and stirs up hurt feelings, I can choose to remind myself about what God has already spoken about forgiveness.  Speak the truth from God’s Word into my life, my heart, mind, will and emotions.  I can ask God in prayer to help my feelings catch up with my will to obey Him and forgive.

Another thought I had was about obedience to God.  I’m a little concerned about things I see in the church today.  It’s seems like we have a tendency to make it about us and not God.  We may focus on how we feel.  We talk about the benefits we may experience as a result of obedience.

But there seems to be a lack or reverence and obedience to God.  He is Holy and Righteous and Just and deserves nothing less than our full obedience.  Not because we feel like it, but because He is God!

That doesn’t mean that our feelings are always in line with obeying God as an act of our will.  When that’s the case, we can confess that and seek God’s help to heal our hurting hearts.  We can strengthen our minds with truth from God’s Word.

Lord, help me to love You more with each passing day.  Help me to know Your Word, to hunger and thirst for it.  Help me to hide Your Word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.  Help me to obey You, as an act of my will and out of love for You.  In Christ’s precious and saving name I pray…Amen!

Providence

It seems Your hand of providence
Is best understood when looking back

As I move forward in faithful obedience
I see that You have prepared the way

I feel Your gentle hand guiding me
Directing my footsteps

With each step taken I can clearly see
That You have gone before me and prepared the way

Lord, I must confess that I don’t understand
The whys and wherefore of this new chapter

I’m not certain what You will be doing in me
Or how You might use me as part of Your plan

When I feel weak and overwhelmed
Help me to cry out to You for strength, wisdom and peace

Help me to not hesitate in fear of the unknown
But unwaveringly follow Your lead

by Susan Wachtel
July 10, 2014

Just Thinking

If I take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, if I guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus, if I hide God’s word in my heart so that I won’t sin against Him…how will that change how I live? 
 
If I truly choose to think on that which is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy…how will that change what I choose to think about?  How will that change my speech?  How will the impact what I read, listen to or watch on TV or in the movies?  How will that influence my conversations with both believers and unbelievers?  Will it motivate me to choose to keep company with people who love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul and strength? 
 
Is my love for the Lord be manifest in my thoughts and my words?

Finally brethren whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:8
 

Thy Kingdome Come

It seems like each day God continues to work on me and challenge me.  It’s easy for me to pray the Lord’s Prayer…and say “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  But the real work starts in my heart.  Am I ready, willing and able to let God’s will be done in my heart, my mind and even my mouth?
 
One area that God has challenged me is when I see something unlovely in the life of another Christian.  When that unattractiveness is displayed towards me or others….I find it so easy to want to go to God and complain about them.  But God is challenging me, instead of complaining or building a case against a brother or sister in Christ…I need to remember that this side of heaven, none of us is perfect…that includes me. 
 
Instead of complaining…God is challenging me to be in prayer for them.  That God would reveal to them an area of weakness or sin or an attitude that He would have them to repent of.  That they would have a heart that is tender and yielded to the Lord.  That they would have the ears to hear Him and a heart that responds in loving obedience and repentance.
 
When I see that area of weakness in another Christian…it should be a reminder for me to be praying for them.  That neither they nor I will give the devil a foothold by having a wrong attitude or response.
 
We are on the same team…I need to help build up the body of Christ, not tear them down and pray that they will do the same for me. 

The Lordship of Christ

Do I submit to the Lordship of Christ in my life?

How does that effect my thoughts, words and actions?

Is my will conformed to His?

How does that look in any given day?

Do I recognize that I am a slave to Christ?

Do I recognize that Jesus Christ bought me off slave market of sin…that I belong to Him?

Do I serve Him and submit to Him out of love and gratitude?

Am I conformed to God’s will, my will or the worlds?

Does Christ’s Lordship in my life effect what I read and listen to? 

Does it dictate how I spend my money and time?

Am I living for myself of for Christ?

Am I filled with the fullness of God or with myself?

Do I seek to glorify God with my life?

Is there any area of my life that is off limits to God?

Is there any area of my life that shouldn’t be brought into submission to God’s will?

Is my disobedience to God evidence of my lack of trust in Him, reflective of my lack of a true knowledge of God?

Contemplating Sin



The following comment was received by “Imma Hypocrite”:

We view sin as entertainment when it comes in the form in movies, books, TV and music.

I, too, believe this. My question for God is… what are my options?

Do I completely shun worldly entertainments and give up time with my husband and friends who love movies?

Tho my circle of family and friends are dedicated Christians, workers in the church they are not as contemplative of these things.  It is contemplation which grows the hatred for sin simply because…it is not something the one I love foremost, enjoys, likes, tolerates, etc

The only way I can condone ‘Hollywood entertainment’ is to engage in it for the sake of developing a friendship with a lost one or newly saved one—the meeting at the well or the eating with Zacchaeus?.

It’s a lonely place to be.

 
 
Dear Friend,

In looking at your blog…I see that you too contemplate the things of God. 

Indeed Jesus reached out to those who were unsaved or those young in their faith.  He would talk or dine with sinners whom society or the religious leaders shunned.  Praise God…He is still the same yesterday, today and forever.  Because Jesus is still reaching out…I was saved from the consequences of my sin.
 
When Jesus met people…He challenged them, He confronted their sin, He caused them to, “Choose this day Whom you will serve.”  He encouraged them to repent, to turn their back on their sinful ways and walk in a manner worthy of their high calling.
 
Some examples that come to mind are the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, the rich young ruler, Nicodemus, and the woman caught in adultery.  Not everyone repented…but it didn’t keep Jesus from confronting them with the truth from God’s Word.  It’s ironic that it was the religious leaders who couldn’t see past their own self righteousness and recognize their own sin. 
 
Jesus may have dined with them or talked with them, but He never joined them in their sin.  Instead Jesus confronted sin…be it overt sin or the sin hidden in the thoughts and intentions of hearts. 
 
One reason it’s hard for Christians, including me, to feel comfortable talking with someone in a very straightforward manner about sin is due to our own sin and past failures.   We feel like damaged good…but praise God He uses broken vessels to accomplish His purposes and plans.   God can use those who walk in obedience to be salt and light where He has placed us. 
 
We will never regret walking a life of obedience and holiness.  But there will come a day when we will regret not taking a stand, or compromising what we know is right.  It may not be easy and sometime even lonely, but compared to the rich rewards in heaven, to quote the Apostle Paul…it’s not even worthy to be compared.
 
Jesus gave His all…what should I withhold from Him?
 
We are cleansed by the washing of the Word.  It’s there we are confronted with our own sinfulness and with God’s perfect standard and the requirements of the law fulfilled only in Jesus Christ.  It’s through prayer that our relationship is strengthened and our love for God grows as we come to know Him more.   
 
The more I read God’s word…the harder it is to look upon that which Hollywood and the recording industry try to pass off as entertainment.  What’s funny about adultery?  What’s amusing about women or men displaying their bodies in a way that is meant for private intimacy within marriage?  What’s entertaining about murder, or stealing or drug use and alcohol abuse?  What’s edifying about filthy language? 
 
It’s hard to see the sin that Christ died for as entertainment. 
 
My dear friend…surely you aren’t the only one in your circle of friends that feels uncomfortable with Hollywood’s entertainment.  I’ll bet if you voiced you feelings….not in a condemning or arrogant manner, but heartfelt…you might find others feel likewise and are just looking for someone to stand with them. 
 
Thankfully these days, we are offered more choices in the Christian community.  I’m so grateful for the work of Christian filmmakers like Provident Films which offers good Christian entertainment.  Perhaps a place to start is by finding some good, clean entertainment alternatives for family and friends.
 
It’s my prayer that we will have the courage as Christians to live each day in the light of eternity.
 

In Light of the Cross – Submission to God’s Authority

As a Christian, is there any area in my life that should not be brought in to submission under the authority of Jesus Christ?  Is there any area that I can hold back?

Does liberty and freedom mean license to sin or is the power to live in obedience to Christ?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 1 Corinthians 5:17

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. – Ephesians 4:22-24
 
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

Does submitting to Christ’s authority influence the choices I make each day?   Does it touch the root level and impact what I choose to think about?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  I am to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. – II Corinthians 10:5

For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?”  But we have the mind of Christ. – I Corinthians 2:16

Does Christ’s authority impact my words and what I say?  Does it impact how I treat my husband?
 
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:45

Does it influence what I read, what I listen to, and what I watch on TV or in movies?  Does it impact what I choose to wear or how I spend money?
 
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. – Luke 9:23


For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:16

Is there any area in my life, anything at all, that should not be brought under the authority and submission of Jesus Christ?

What did Jesus Christ withhold on the cross? 

If Jesus Christ, Who is God the Son, equal with God the Father, chose obedience how much more so should I?