I hope that I have not lost any of you with this series of devotions. I know it is pretty deep…but it will bring back the Joy of the Lord to your life! Today is the last of the 3 devotions (in this series) that tend to be harder, more time consuming, and emotional! That can be a good thing because it can help you deal with past issues and present consequences. Hang in there, honestly working thru the material, and spend quiet time with the Lord.
So far we have looked at:
- The Reality Choice… Admitting that you are not God…and life can be unmanageable…. identifying the main issue that impacts your life.
- The Hope Choice… Believing that God exists, you matter to Him, He can help you deal with your hurts, habits, and hang-ups.
- The Letting Go Choice… the Commitment Choice. Committing your life to Christ’s Love, care and control.
- The Coming Clean, House Cleaning Choice. Taking time to examine your past and to confess your faults…first to yourself…and then to God. Many find it very helpful to confess them to a trusted person…to own them and release them.
- The Transformation Choice…making changes. This is when you begin to be who God created you to be! This is when you voluntarily submit to every change that God wants you to make and to humbly ask Him to remove any character defects.
There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 “Pacos” showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
Forgiveness is one of the most common pieces of our hurts, habits, hang-ups. It is at the core of many of our issues.
Today we look at… The relationship Choice…repairing relationships. This is when we evaluate all of our relationships…offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us…and make amends for the harm we have done to others.
Wow…I can almost hear some of you closing this devotion and saying “no thank you!” “I’m not going there” “I will never ask so and so to forgive me, it was there fault anyway” or “I will never forgive them even if they come begging me.”
Let me share 2 verses from the beatitudes with you. Matthew 5:5…Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (those who say they are sorry) and Matthew 5:7… Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (those who forgive others)
My story above about Paco and his father can help us to understand the need to make this next healthy choice.
First of all: many of us are like Paco. We carry around a load of guilt, wanting forgiveness, but not knowing where to find it. The good news is that just as Paco’s father ran an ad in the newspaper…God the Father ran an ad in His Word saying that Jesus died for you. He invites you into His mercy and grace. You are invited to receive His unconditional forgiveness.
Second…we are called to heal relationships with others as well. (forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us). A peace filled life is centered on asking and giving forgiveness. Now you may ask “Why should we forgive others?”
- Because God has forgiven you! Colossians 3:13 (tlb)… Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. People who feel forgiven find it easier to forgive others…remind yourself that God forgave you!!! He did make you beg, earn, wait for forgiveness.
- Because resentment doesn’t work! Job 18:4 (gnt)… You are only hurting yourself with your anger. Will the earth be deserted because you are angry? Resentment is unreasonable (you are only hurting yourself), unhelpful (it won’t change the past, the problem, or the other person), and unhealthy (resentment is a cancer that will eat you alive).
- Because you will need forgiveness in the future! Mark 11:25 (nlt)… But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. Try as you may…you have a sinful nature…you will sin and need forgiveness (many times)
Note…Remember that forgiving someone does not mean that the hurt did not happen, or that the pain is not real, or that it was ok, or they can do it again…..It means that you will no longer carry the pain, releasing it to the Lord to deal with.
How should I ask for forgiveness from others that I have hurt?
- Pray first…ask God to give you wisdom.
- Ask yourself how you would want to be approached if the situation were reversed.
- Do it at the right time! Ecclesiastes 8:6 (esv)… For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.
- Do it with the right attitude! Ephesians 4:15 (nlt)… Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
- Do it in an appropriate way! Proverbs 12:18 (esv)… There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Be careful what you say…when you say it… and how you say it…and your motivation behind it.
Remember that your job is to offer forgiveness or ask for forgiveness…you are not responsible for how they respond to you! Reconciliation is the goal, but you are responsible for your half!
Questions to ponder this weekend about forgiveness:
- Why is it so hard for you to forgive people that hurt you?
- How many times should you forgive someone? (Hint)…Matthew 18:21-22 says Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
- Who is someone you should forgive?
- Who have you hurt and youneed to seek their forgiveness? What is your first step?
My next devotion will be on Monday. I strongly encourage you to worship with us this weekend at royred.org. I encourage you to check out the other tools to spiritual growth found there. Also, take time this weekend to work through these last 6 healthy choices. The good news is that the next 2 choices that I will cover on Monday and Tuesday are not so deep. They will be tools to maintain a healthy Christian life.