Category Archives: Understanding Gods forgiveness

There are many lenses I have viewed my husband through over the last eight months. The lens of anger and hurt, of bitterness and displacement. Even though the world would say that I have a right to all of these reactions, I am learning that we have to be very cautious about which lens we choose to view our life through. Viewing our life through a wrong lens distorts our understanding of the gospel and brings disaster into our lives. 

After many hard knocks I have come to understand that it’s only the lens of God’s word that should influence our lives. It’s the only way for true contentment and fulfilment with the one who knows us best.

When we are looking through a wrong lens, sin is crouching at our door.
 

Proverbs 17:9 says:

Love forgets mistakes; nagging about them parts the best of friends. 

God forgets our mistakes, he hurls our iniquities into the depths of the sea. If we are loving God before ourselves, then we do the same when people hurt and offend us. 

James 1:25 says:

 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it, not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it, they will be blessed in what they do.

When we experience betrayal and hurt our instinctive reaction often turns to bitterness and distance, anger and unforgiveness. Looking through the lens of God’s  word  enables us to see that God reacts to us very differently. God  reacts with kindness and forgiveness, with tenacious love and with no thought to his own feelings when we have hurt and offended him. When we are looking through the right lens we begin to view those who have offended us as loved and precious to God. When we break it down, we begin to view ourselves as no better than those who have hurt us. We are all sinners that don’t deserve the outrageous kindness of our Heavenly Father. So, if  God reacts with love, grace and forgiveness when he is hurt and offended, so must we. 

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Philippians 4:11-13

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

My life has plateaued, and the adrenalin that was frantically pumping in every direction has finally halted. Being in a constant state of high alert is finally over, and I am faced with my new life which I didn’t choose. I have struggled to find contentment with my life as it is now.

Rick Warren says:

“Contentment means my happiness is not dependent upon circumstances. Most people get caught in “when” thinking — “When I get such and such, then I’ll be happy.” ”

This morning, driving to work I  prayed for contentment. I also acknowledged that I didn’t want to pray this prayer, and I needed God to work In my life to enable me to mean the words that I was saying.  This took energy  and effort  because I was asking God to make me content with something I was discontent with.  Its hard to ask God for true contentment if  we don’t feel proactive about changing our attitudes.

Paul says in Philippians 4:11 that  He had to learn to be content. It wasn’t something that came to him naturally.  I’m sure he didn’t want to be in dire need or in prison or shipwrecked or hungry. Yet paul experienced all these things and through it, learned contentment.

I know my heart is rebellious and I know how wrong I am. I am struggling and grappling and trying to work through finding contentment in this situation I am now in. The key is loving God more and wanting every situation we find ourselves in, good  or bad to please God.

This is my prayer for today:

Lord,
I am discontent about many things in my life.  There is an unwillingness to accept the here and now. I am discontent over all I have lost. Forgive me for my rebellious heart that is so slow and reluctant to ask for contentment with the life I now have.

To know contemtement in every situation pleases you. You know best, and whatever happens in our lives, help me to trust you and understand that you are working out everything for my ultimate good. Help me to know that contentment can only come from you. It has  to be learned and applied as we look to you for help.Thank you for your willingness to forgive again and again. Thank you for Jesus who gladly gave up everything, and yet was content to submit to your will. Help me to do the same.

Amen.

Trust and obey. 


I have been reminded over the past few  months that in order to know God’s comfort and help, we have to listen to him first. He gives us the ground rules from his word, and if we choose not to obey,  we suffer for it, and ultimately lose out. A lot of what God expects us to do, goes against the grain, and in order to do what’s right we need God’s help. He needs to soften us and give us a desire to go his way. 

We live in a messed up and broken world. I can relate to this in a way I have never been able to before. I never expected my life to turn upside down and inside out. The things in my life that were constant and sure suddenly became liquid, and ran down the plug hole. God was my only hope.

As his children, he expects us to conform to his pattern, but under pressure we are often tempted to go in the opposite direction.  God says: 

  1. Love others  (1 Corinthians 13)
  2. Forgive others  as Christ forgives us  (Matthew 18 )
  3. Choose  joy in all circumstances  ( Philippians 4:4)
  4. Know contentment in all circumstances. ( Philippians. 4:12)

This is totally impossible in our own strength. 

But God has given us everything we need for life and godliness.(2 Peter 1:3). Even with this verse in mind, when life falls apart at the seams,  and we’ve been hurt and feel overwhelmed by the unkindness of others, these ground rules really smart,  and we don’t want to abide by them. We want God’s help and rescue but only on our terms and not on his. Then we wonder why our prayers aren’t answered.
At the beginning of this process I almost felt it was harsh of God to expect me to conform. 

But I found fighting  with God about what he commands puts us in a worse position. When we don’t follow the rules, we end up with selfish, bitter and self- pitying hearts which are often unwilling to forgive others, and full of resentment towards those who have hurt us. The end result is that we can feel bewildered and even angry with God because of the awful path he has put us on. 

I needed to listen to God’s word in order to experience God’s grace in my life. I began to understand that obedience to God really matters and shows our love for him. When we obey him by doing what he commands we experience joy and relationship with him, and it’s the only route to true contentment and joy in him.

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him” psalm 128:1
There is a lovely old hymn that talks about true happiness resulting from true obedience. Praying that we continue to walk in it. 

Every miracle started with a problem. 

I have a screen saver on my phone which says “every miracle in the bible first started with a problem.” So countless times every day this is what I read. As I look back in the gospels and see all the miracles that Jesus performed, this statement is indeed correct. Jesus’ miracles are all about people in dire need and overwhelming despair.

They are about the dead raised to life, the blind seeing, and lives that are completely smashed and ruined by demon possession. We also see people who are treated badly and counted as nothing because of their physical disabilities, and the dreaded leprosy which separates loved ones. In all of these huge problems we see the power of Jesus smashing through it all. He loved, and had compassion on all people, and sorted the problem when humanly speaking there was no solution.

As I look at phone and reminded that every miracle started as a problem, I know that God is the same God and can smash through our problems when we see no way forward.

This weekend is a painful one as churches are meeting together where we live. We have not yet met people face to face after my husband’s fall from grace and I have hunkered down, got out of bed late, talked to a wise friend and my husband went to church with a heavy heart. Shame is an awful thing. We know that there is forgiveness at the cross, but facing people know us feels too much.

I felt for my husband and texted him, asking him if he was ok. His response was: “the sermon is on psalm 32!”

This is what it says:

1 Psalm 32:1-11 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven,whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding-place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

We were wonderfully reminded once again that God loves the contrite, and we felt his kindness to us in orchestrating this passage on this particular weekend. We often feel that we need to continue to be punished for something that God has forgiven. We often find it hard to accept the outrageous kindness and grace of God, in delighting to show forgiveness. Praying that God’s miracle of grace smashes through our problem and all its consequences, so that people will be amazed at God’s power and grace, and believe. What a wonderful saviour we have.