Category: Forgiveness (Page 1 of 11)

Honor and Glory

“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus… Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” ~1 Timothy 1:13-16

God saved Paul. This blasphemer, the personal persecutor of the Lord and his Church, this violent man who is deserving of death, this self-proclaimed worst sinner in the world – God saved him. Not just as an act of love and mercy, as amazing and wonderful as that is. Paul is a showcase for God’s unlimited patience. Paul says, “I’m the display, I’m the model. I’m the picture of all hostile sinful rebels against God, whom God tolerates while patiently working for and waiting for their salvation.”

And it’s so amazing and so wonderful, God’s patience is so awesome, that Paul just breaks out into praise! He can’t help it!

“To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever! Amen!” ~1 Timothy 1:17

Paul is saying, “Look at me. Look at my sins. Look at my rebellion. It doesn’t get any worse than me. But God was patient with me. Patient. And look what’s happened. Only God! Honor and glory!”

There was a time in my life when all I thought about was me. All I cared about was my career. I stepped on a lot of people and I hurt many others just to get a controversial quote or the inside scoop on what I thought was a big story. I only associated with people I thought could get me more access, more control, more power. I surrendered my integrity and my values to get better ratings for my shows. I paid more attention to the women at work than I did to my wife. I neglected my children. I was not good.

But God was so patient with me. God has been slow to anger and so very patient with me. And look what’s happened. And what’s happening. Only God! Honor and glory!

What about you? You’ve got a story, too. God has shown you his unlimited patience. God has been slow to anger with you for the sole purpose of saving you. You are where you are right now only by God’s great patience. Only God! Honor and glory!

Peace,

Allan

If Not You…

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God.” ~Hebrews 12:15
As children of God and disciples of Christ Jesus, we demonstrate his grace to the people around us. We make sure all the people we contact every day know the truth about our God because they experience it in us. They encounter his grace in us. They see it and feel it in you.

This is as practical and tangible and as real as the Christian life gets. Whatever you have received from the Lord, you generously pass it on to others.

“Forgive each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” ~Ephesians 4:32
Forgive the person in your life who doesn’t deserve it. Forgive the person who’s never apologized. We’ve got more than enough people out there accusing and condemning. Who’s going to forgive? Christians who, by God’s grace, have been forgiven.

“Accept one another just as Christ accepted you.” ~Romans 15:7
Invite somebody over to your house who is 30 years older or 30 years younger than you. Take somebody to lunch who’s a different race or speaks a different language. Have a conversation with somebody from a different culture than yours and learn something. We’ve got lots of people out there dividing us and categorizing us and drawing lines and excluding others. Who’s going to accept others? Christians who, by God’s grace, have been accepted.

“Love one another as I have loved you.” ~John 15:34
Take a Sonic drink to your grouchy next door neighbor. Say something kind and encouraging to the customer service agent. Compliment the cashier at the gas station. Give up your own rights and give in to the demands of someone else. There’s enough hate out there, there’s enough haters – more than enough. Who’s going to show love? Christians who, by God’s grace, have been eternally loved.

Peace,

Allan

Not as Our Sins Deserve

There is no image more enduring in all of Jesus’ parables than that of the father in Luke 15 running down the road to embrace his prodigal son. And as memorable as that part of the story is for us, it must have been doubly striking to Jesus’ audience of Pharisees and teachers of the Law. God’s Law states clearly in Deuteronomy 21 that a rebellious son who brings disgrace to his home and his village must be taken to the city gates and stoned to death.

Yet this father ran to hug him and kiss him. He draped his arms around his son and they walked together to the father’s house. Shocking!

If anybody had attempted to stone this son, they would have hit the father who was embracing him. What a foreshadowing of what Jesus did for us at the cross! The great shepherd guards his sheep. He protects them. He provides for them. And he sacrifices his own safety and reputation and welfare for them.

Had the boy been dealt with according to the Law, there would have been a funeral, not a feast. Praise God, our Father, for his mercy and love and grace!

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”
~Psalm 103:10-13

Father, Forgive

 

 

 

 

 

THE HATRED
which divides nation from nation,
race from race,
class from class;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

THE GREED
which exploits the labors of men and women
and lays waste to the earth;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

OUR ENVY
of the welfare and happiness
of others;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

OUR INDIFFERENCE
to the plight of
the homeless and the refugee;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

THE LUST
which uses for ignoble ends,
the bodies of men and women;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

THE PRIDE
which leads us to trust in
ourselves and not in God;
FATHER, FORGIVE.

~ Coventry Cathedral

Lavish

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” ~1 John 3:1

Our God does not measure his love to us. He doesn’t weigh it on the scales or scoop it out with a spoon. He doesn’t give us just enough of his love to get us by or just as much of his love as we might deserve. He floods us with his love! We have more of his love than we could ever ask for or imagine! That’s the one thing you can ask God to do that’s just impossible – God, will you love me more? Nope. Can’t. Impossible. He lavishes us with his love.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” ~Ephesians 1:7-8

Our Father lavishes us with his grace. We sing about it. God’s amazing grace. God’s matchless grace. God’s grace that reaches even me!

God’s forgiveness is over the top. It’s not that you’re forgiven of some of your sins or you’re forgiven of most of your sins or all the little sins or every sin except that one sin. It’s not that you’re forgiven if you do this one thing or keep these sets of rules or say this particular creed. In Jesus Christ, God’s forgiveness is total and complete and forever! In Jesus, every single one of your sins – all of ’em, name ’em! – are all gone forever. They are removed from you as far as the east is from the west. They are hurled to the bottom of the sea, never to be dredged up again. God doesn’t put your sins up on the top shelf in the corner of a dark closet just so he can pull them out and hold them against you at the worst possible time. God’s forgiveness is lavish and complete.

Lavish love. Limitless grace. Inexhaustible forgiveness. Unmerited favor. Eternal glory. Our God is passionate about you and me. And he holds nothing back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m not writing anything here today about the Mavericks. I don’t want to jinx it.

Peace,

Allan

As the Lord Forgave You

Naming all the sin around us is not the solution. Exposing all the sin is not what matters. That is not what fixes the problem. Keeping score is not the Gospel. Shaming people and punishing people is not the Gospel. Forgiving sin – that’s the Gospel! Because it’s the only thing that works.

If something’s going to be done about sin, it’s not going to be with laws and commands or with judgments and punishments. Do we really think that what’s wrong with the world is something we can fix with more laws or more creative ways to do judgment? No. Forgiveness is the only way. God forgives sin. And as God’s children and disciples of Christ, we are the stage where that forgiveness is shown to the world. We make God’s forgiveness visible and real to the world.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” ~Colossians 3:13

Forgiveness is the only way to deal with a sin that’s been committed against you. You can only forgive. Forgiveness does not settle all the questions of blame and fairness. In fact, forgiveness purposefully avoids those things. What forgiveness does is bring people back together. It allows a relationship to start over. It creates something new.

But I think a lot of us get stuck between forgiveness and justice. When somebody does me wrong, I can think of a hundred reasons not to forgive. He needs to learn a lesson. I don’t want to encourage her irresponsible behavior. I was the one wronged; he has to make the first move. How can I forgive her if she never says she’s sorry?

Here’s the deal: justice is not the last word. Justice is not the best word. The last word and the best word is forgiveness!

Forgiveness must be our Gospel response to every person who hurts us or sins against us. Our world has plenty of judges and juries and prosecuting attorneys to say, “You’re guilty.” Who’s going to say, “You are forgiven?” If it’s not us, who’s going to say it? “Your sins are forgiven.”

However important justice is – for the record, I think justice is very important – forgiveness is more important. Assuming the criminal crucified next to Jesus was receiving a just sentence – he admitted it himself that he was getting what he deserved – forgiveness trumped justice that day. Forgiveness was more important than justice. It always is.

Peace,

Allan

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