Discipline from the Father’s Hand

From the heart of the Father
Through the work of the Son
A call to the church to be holy and sanctified

Commanded by the Savior
Authority given to the church
Discipline one caught up in sin

The honor and glory of the Lord to be upheld
Protect the flock and keep her pure
A healthy reverence and fear of sin

Do not neglect
Nor turn a blind eye
To the one going astray

Serious measures must be taken
With the aim to restore
A repentant sinner to the Lord

Proper sense of shame
A tool in the hands of the Lord
To bring one to repentance

The one who knows
Go in private to the brother gone astray
Confront, admonish with the aim to reprove

With ongoing rebellion
Bring two or three witnesses
Rebuke and correct

When faced with open defiance
Hand them over
Remove them from your midst

Be warned dear church
First examine yourself according to the Word
Ensure your heart and mind are right before the Lord

Be filled with genuine love for the sinner
With gentleness and humility
Desire to forgive

From the heart of the Father – Love
Through the work of the Son – Forgiveness
A broken and contrite heart He will not despise

By Susan Wachtel
August 12, 2018

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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!

Forgiveness an Act of Obedience

Matt 18-21-22

This weekend I encountered a situation which required me to make a choice.  Should I hold on to unforgiveness or should I forgive?

Unforgiveness not only poisons my relationship with the person who hurt me, it also messes with my relationship with God.  My focus is on the offense and rehashing it over and over and over again in my mind.  I try to come up with the perfect comeback that will silence and bring the one who hurt me to repentance.  Then there is the questioning of God.  “God, why do you let them do this and get away with it?”  Yeah…questioning God…not the best or smartest move on my part.

So rather than having the brief sting of someone hurting me, forgiving and moving on…I can drag the drama on for hours if not days.  Not real smart is it?

Thank You Lord for Your patience and Your Holy Spirit doing a work in me.  Thank You for helping me to remember that forgiveness is an act of my will, not necessarily a feeling.  Thank You for helping me to desire to obey You.  Thank You for reminding me that this person is a believer and You’ve already paid the penalty for their sin.  Their sin has been punished and their sin debt has been paid in full.  Thank You for reminding me that while You hung on the cross You forgave those people who crucified You.  My hurt doesn’t even amount to a tiny little scratch in comparison.  Thank You for the instructions that You recorded in Scripture when You tell Your disciples that they are to forgive 70 x 7…I’m not supposed to put a limit on how much I will forgive someone.  Thank You for the reminder that when I sin, I want to be forgiven and not have something held over my head.  Thank You for the reminder, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, including forgiving someone when I’m hurt.  Thank You for the promise that You will one day heal our hurts and brokenness when we are in heaven.

Lord…thank You for helping me to forgive.  Please Lord, let my feelings catch up with my will and let the memories of hurt fade away.

Thoughts and Reflections on the Supreme Court’s Ruling

DSC_5657

Last Friday, June 26th, when the Supreme Court’s ruling was announced approving of homosexual marriage we were away on vacation and I wasn’t able to write anything.  That’s probably a good thing because I would have been reacting from the emotions of the moment rather than thinking things through.

Since that day I’ve had time to reflect and want to share some thoughts.

When I heard the announcement my heart was grieved.  I had been praying that the Lord in His mercy would spare the United States from going down that road of approving sin which God has clearly condemned in His perfect and inerrant Word.  Obviously the Lord’s answer was no and the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5 to 4 in favor of homosexual marriage.

Where was God when this happened?  He was on His throne and continues to sovereignly rule and reign over all creation and sinful man.  His Son, the Lord Christ Jesus, is seated at the Father’s right hand ruling and reigning.  This is all under His sovereign control and perfect plan that He is working out.

God has plainly revealed in His Word that this world will continue in its downward spiral of sin.  This ruling just gives evidence to that.  Reading Romans 1:18-32 is like reading today’s headline news.  Repeatedly the Lord reveals that He will give man over to his sin.  Why?  Because man has suppressed the truth in unrighteousness and denies God who has clearly revealed Himself in creation.  We do not glorify God.  As a result, our thinking has become futile and our foolish hearts are darkened.

On June 26, 2015, the United States of America clearly abandoned its roots that were once based on Judeo Christian values.

The five justices, not only ruled in favor of sin which God has condemned, they stepped over the line and went from interpreting the Constitution to making law.  If that’s what they want to do, they are in the wrong branch of government.  They should leave the court system and run for office.

So why go the route of the court to change the law?  Well…because 37 States have passed laws limiting marriage as being between one man and one woman or supporting the Defense of Marriage Act.  Going the legal route wasn’t working in favor of homosexual marriage advocates.

Where is this going to stop?  Will the courts soon be approving polygamy or family members marrying?  After all that’s marriage between consenting adults.  We are on that slippery slope and have a mind darkened by sin and corruption and it’s going to get a lot worse.

What’s so wrong about homosexuality?

God has declared it sinful in His perfect and inerrant Word, the Bible.  He is our Creator and He is God to whom we all will give an account.  In the Bible He declares what is sinful and right and wrong.  He has also declared adultery and all sex outside of marriage as sinful.

God ordained marriage as being between one man and one woman.  He blessed them and commanded that they go forth, be fruitful and multiply.  Apart from adoption or science homosexual couples cannot carry out that command.  Physically men and women are complimentary and are able to procreate.  Having two mommies or two daddies does not make up for not having a dad or mom.  The Lord designed family to be a father, mother and children.

I was very troubled by President Barack Obama’s action of bathing the White House in the rainbow colors of the gay liberation movement.  That was very divisive and beneath the dignity of the President of the United States of America.  President Obama is the President over all Americans, not just people who share his view on homosexual marriage.  He should be uniting not dividing.  There was a day when the President said that he believed that marriage was between one man and one woman.  I guess over time his beliefs changed or he didn’t really believe what he originally said.

This ruling is edging us ever closer to silencing those who disagree with homosexual marriage; who in keeping with the Bible call it sin.  We are a step away from forcing pastors, ministers, priests and clergy to either approve of and marry homosexual couples or face legal consequences including fines, imprisonment and loss of non-profit organization status.  Soon saying homosexuality is sin will be considered a hate crime.  We will be losing our Constitutional rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

All people, including homosexuals, are human beings created in God’s image and as a result should be treated with kindness, goodness, dignity and respect.  Their sin is no worse than mine is.  Homosexuality is not the unforgivable sin.  God has promised in His Word that if we repent of our sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we will be forgiven of our sin and spend eternity in heaven with Him.  If we fail to do that God has warned that we will be condemned of our sin and go to hell.

At the end of the day, the worst thing about the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of homosexual marriage will be the result of fewer people sharing the lifesaving message of the Gospel, that there is forgiveness of sin in Jesus Christ.  A broken and contrite heart God will not despise.

People don’t want to be thought of as a bigot or hater…so they may shut up and not share the Gospel.

Recently I watched a video that my friend Ken Kish shared which showed Penn Jillette, from Penn and Teller fame, talking about someone sharing the Gospel.  In the video Penn, an avowed atheist said that he respects Christians who share the Gospel even though he doesn’t believe it.  I won’t forget something he said, “How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?  How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Is my failure to share the Gospel with fellow sinners hatred?  At the very least it’s caring more about me and my comfort over their eternal salvation.

May Christians be men and women of courage and obedient to the Lord and share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with everyone: family and friends, neighbors and co-workers, heterosexuals and homosexuals.  For we are all sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ.

I know that there’s a lot of good commentary out there on the Supreme Court’s ruling and I would encourage you to read and stay informed.  I would also like to direct you to the Hillsdale College website where you can sign-up to take their course on the US Constitution for free.  With the upcoming elections and charged political landscape we owe it to ourselves and fellow citizens to be informed and know what rights, responsibilities and liberties we’ve been granted in our Constitution.  Be informed and select candidates who are in keeping with your morals and values.

Solace in the Face of Evil and Questions for Followers of Islam

Yesterday, when I heard the news of the latest atrocity committed by ISIS, aka the Islamic State, I felt a mix of emotions: horror, anger, rage, grief and profound sadness.  How can a rational human being understand the utter depravity of the human heart that would lead them to burn a living human being to death?  A person created in God’s image.

I will not watch these awful, obscene videos that Islamic monsters have put out.  I don’t want the images seared in my mind.  Yet, how can I not ponder and imagine what the Jordanian pilot suffered?

As I tried to sleep the one solace that I found in the face of evil is the promise and assurance from God’s word that He will punish evildoers.  The Jordanian pilot suffered unimaginably in the last moments of his life.  But I am comforted by the thought that the unrepentant evildoers will be punished by God who is sovereign, just and righteous.  Vengeance is God’s and He will repay.  He will do so in His perfect timing.

The unrepentant sinner’s suffering will begin the moment they die.  They will be punished, not for a few years, not for a lifetime, but for eternity.  Forever…it will never stop.  Ever!  He will be in a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  In a place where the fire is not quenched.  In a fiery furnace he will be burned, but not consumed.  It’s a place of everlasting shame and contempt.  A place of torment, gloom and utter darkness.

I thank You God for the day of justice which will one day come…when the wicked and unrepentant sinners will be punished.

What’s equally hard for me to comprehend is that God’s desire is that sinners repent, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved (even the people who have committed unimaginable atrocities).  Jesus bore their sin on the cross, He paid the penalty in full for the horrific crimes they have committed and the “little sins” that only the God knows about.  And the Father stands ready to embrace and forgive the genuine repentant sinner who comes to Him through Christ.

God’s forgiven all my sin.  While I may not have lobbed off someone’s head, I have sinned greatly against the Father.  There’s not a day that’s gone by when I haven’t sinned in thought, word or deed.  I’ve hated people and in my heart committed murder.  But in Christ Jesus, God the Father has forgiven me and He will do the same for all who repent, confess with their mouth and believe with their heart that Jesus Christ is Lord and they will be saved.

I’m left with a question that I’ve really not heard answered.  What is it going to take for decent Muslims to stand up and speak out against these awful atrocities that these monsters are doing in the name of Islam?  Why aren’t you crying out loudly against them?  Condemning their actions?  Are you afraid, afraid they are going to do the same to you?

Why aren’t you storming the talk shows and condemning ISIS and radical Islamic followers?  Why aren’t you writing to newspaper editorial pages and decrying what these people have done in the name of your religion?  Where is your voice speaking out against these atrocities that have now become an everyday event in the news?  Why aren’t you telling your friends, neighbors and co-workers that these people don’t represent your religion?  I don’t hear too many Muslim voices condemning radical Islam.  Why is that?  Why in the world don’t you loudly and publically condemn such actions?  Why don’t you rise up against them?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

I hear a lot of silence!

Don’t let evil triumph.  Speak up and speak loudly, unapologetically and bravely condemn the evil done in the name of Islam.  The time is now.

Imperfect Forgiveness

Just when I thought I’d moved beyond it
I see wounds from the past and brokenness
Still impacting me today

Time has moved on
As has the one who fell short
Leaving scars in their wake

This side of heaven
My questions will remain unspoken
“Why?” and “What were you thinking?” will not be answered

I wish I had been able to talk it through
Or hear “I’m sorry”
And confess my sins against them too

Lord I need to forgive completely
Not dredge it up again
Let the pain remain in the past, not feel it afresh

Lord, I need to follow Your example
Forgive completely, once and for all
Cancel their debt

Help me to remember
Not only did Jesus pay my sin debt in full
But He died for the sins of the world

You are lavish in grace, mercy and forgiveness
Not holding my sin debt against me
You have cast my sin into the sea of forgetfulness

I need to remember
Unforgiveness is a sin
Like all sin, I must repent of it

Show me how to live this out day by day
Help me to remember that You never waste my trials and pain
You are working things out according to Your perfect plan

Thank You God that Your forgiveness is not like mine
You forgive fully and completely, even to the uttermost
Heavenly Father, help me to be more like You

by Susan Wachtel
June 19, 2014