Love Forgives – First15 – February 16

Love Forgives

Weekly Overview:

James 2:26 tells us, “Faith apart from works is dead.” If we are going to experience the fullness of life offered to us through our faith we must be those who put our words into action. We must not profess to love God on Sundays and live as if he isn’t present, real, or good on Monday. May your faith come alive this week as you seek to be a doer of the word.

Scripture:“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Devotional:

We’re promised forgiveness from our Father because his forgiveness is offered in complete grace. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” We have done nothing to deserve the forgiveness God so freely lavishes upon us. God offers us forgiveness because he is love; it is his very nature. And as Jesus demonstrated through his death, love forgives.

Sin stood between us and God like a great chasm separating a wanderer from an oasis; and so great was the Father’s love for us that he sent his only Son that we might be justly forgiven. Jesus fully bore the weight of our sin. In doing so, he received the wrath of God on our behalf that we might be afforded restored relationship with our heavenly Father. He set aside what was fair for himself and chose to give grace. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Christianity is the only religion where salvation is based on grace instead of works. God, in his love, has laid before us a path founded on mercy, and he calls us to do the same for others. As the children of God, brought into his family solely by his grace, we must forgive as God has forgiven us. Colossians 3:13 says, “[Bear] with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, [forgive] each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Jesus modeled forgiveness perfectly in laying down his own life for you and me. In order for us to forgive others, we must be like Jesus and die to our own rights for the sake of the person who has wronged us. Forgiveness requires humility. It is a decision to offer unmerited grace because “as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

Think about your own life for a moment. Who in your life do you feel has wronged you? It could be a small wound. It could be a life-altering sin committed against you. Maybe a parent left you. Maybe you were abused. Maybe you lost a job opportunity that should have been yours. Maybe it was a word someone spoke against you that hurt you. Whatever sin was committed against you, large or small, call it back to mind. Feel the injustice over it.

Now reflect for a minute on the sin of the world committed against God. The story of humanity is a fall from perfection because of pride. In every age thus far, man has chosen his own way over God’s and has thereby perpetuated the cycle of sin and destruction we live in today. God placed his judgement over the sins of all humanity, past and present, on the person of Jesus because he couldn’t take being separated from you and me. We have all been wronged, but no one more than God.Every day humanity turns away from God.

God weeps over what’s been done to you. He knows your pain because people wrong him every minute of every day. But still he chooses to forgive because there is no love without forgiveness. There is no abundant life apart from restoration of relationship. There is no joy for God or us when we harden our hearts and live for what is fair rather than what is good.

We aren’t called to forgive because someone deserves it. We forgive because love requires it.We forgive because abundant life requires it. Choose love today over your own sense of fairness. Choose to be like your heavenly Father and forgive those who have wronged you. Choose to be a doer of Colossians 3:13 and “[forgive] each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” You weren’t made to live with the weight of unforgiveness, so don’t bear it any longer. The Spirit will help you. He will give you the strength and courage to do what seems impossible. Spend some time in God’s presence today and forgive as he guides and directs you.

Guided Prayer:

1. Meditate on God’s heart to forgive. Allow God’s forgiveness to be the foundation for your own.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” Psalm 116:5-7

2. Ask the Spirit who you need to forgive. Whether the wound was small or big, to whom do you need to offer grace today?

3. Forgive that person. Forgive them in your heart right now. If you can, set up a meeting with them to talk through what happened. The awkwardness or pain of the conversation will never outweigh the lasting peace you will experience from offering grace and forgiveness.

“[Bear] with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, [forgive] each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13

Forgiveness is a process. But it is a process worth going through. Assess your heart immediately after you’ve been wronged. Go through the process of forgiveness instead of allowing the wound to be reopened time and time again. The French proverb says, “Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble.” It’s ok to be hurt. It’s only harmful if you write your wounds in marble and let them linger longer than they should. God has designed you in his image and has given you his Spirit. You have the strength to forgive. So choose love today and every day. Allow the Spirit to work in your heart, healing the wounds people and life have caused you through the wonderful gift of forgiveness.

Extended Reading: Colossians 3

Pearls of Grace – February 16

February 16

Precious in His Sight

“He hews out channels through the rocks; and his eye sees anything precious”

Job 28:10

One of the greatest comforts we can know in this life is the realization that God is on the throne. He is intimately acquainted with all every one of our comings and our goings and He misses nothing, not even the tiniest detail of our lives. When we experience rejection and the hatred and jealousy of others and the disappointment of those we trusted in, its empowering to know God is reining in complete wisdom and power. He is a faithful watchman fixed upon the walls of our lives scrutinizing everything detail of our lives.

We have all experienced pain at the hands of another, some even from the hands we looked to for shelter and love. These moments may send us running away from our hurts, but they have the potential to drive us right into the arms of an ever-present God. And in the running, we will find the strength needed to face our offenders as we embrace God’s promise of a future. There is no need to fear anything that comes into our life’s path because God knows the plans He has for us, plans not to harm us but to do us good; plans to give us a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11).

I met a young woman when teaching abroad in a third world country that so desperately needed to hear this truth. After a teaching session with the women one afternoon, she approached me hesitantly and only out of utter hopelessness believing she had no other options. As she poured out her life’s tragedy to me, I came to know she had been brutally raped by another member of her church who was also a close family friend. My heart ached so for the destructive force of evil that had robbed her innocence of the peaceful life she had known. She needed to know that her life was not ruined; that she was still precious to God and He loved her.

As I listened with an aching heart I remembered the words of wisdom spoken of in Job 28:10 (He hews out channels through the rock; and his eye sees anything precious”) There couldn’t have been any more precious jewel buried beneath the rock of pain than this young 17 year old girl weeping in my arms. The sweetest sound ascending before the throne of God are those groans too deep for words. She needed to know that what had been done to her did not amputate her future. She had never told another living soul what had happened believing that it would only further harm any hope of good and joyful future. She had believed the lie of the devil that she was ruined for life.

As I shared with her about the character of God and the greatness of His love to turn even the most horrific of situations into a force of good, I could see the water of His love wash over the soiled garments of her pain. When we finished our time together with prayer, I took off the necklace I had worn for so long around my neck every day that had inscribed upon it the words of Jeremiah 29:11. I encouraged her to keep it there as a reminder of God’s promise to her and the security of her future in His hands.

She learned that day that God knew of her pain and He knew of her violator and even in the knowing He stilled loved her and He is powerful enough to secure her future. This truth alone can bring healing to even the most violated of souls. Even if we take flight out into the dessert or when we are caught between the pain of holiness and the waste places not knowing which to choose, God sees us. He sees us in those painful places and lovingly gives us the reassurance of His presence. This is the beauty of every hurtful situation we experience. He sees that which is precious to Him, even if it is buried beneath the rock of pain and suffering.

Every offense gives the potential for Holiness or Barrenness.

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