Imprisoned

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Everyone cringes at the idea of ever being sent to prison.  Though not behind bars sadly many do find themselves captive to an unpayable sin debt.  In Bible times there were serious consequences for those who could not repay what they owed.  The debtor could be thrown into prison, dependent on his family or friends to supply the money to purchase his freedom.  Using this illustration Jesus teaches a parable about a king who generously forgave a man a ten million dollar debt.  However, when the same man was asked to forgive only a ten dollar balance he prosecuted without pity.  “…but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.”  Matthew 18:30 KJV

Friends, we have incurred a terrible sin debt that can never possibly be paid.  There is enough sin DNA within each of us to send us directly to hell.  Do we really see our own distressing capacity to do wrong?  We desperately need forgiveness.  God’s forgiveness and mercy has been extended to us beyond all measure.  To know what it is to be forgiven by God is to experience a gratitude that is truly boundless.  By wonderful mercy and compassion the Lord Jesus paid our immense sin debt at the cross, canceling our sin record for all time.  

Because God has forgiven everything from character faults to our crushing sins we must not withhold forgiveness from others.  “He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.”  George Herbert   And so when the King saw the man refuse to cancel the lesser debt he“…delivered him to the tormenters, till he should pay all that was due unto him.”  Matthew 18:34 KJV

When we do not forgive others we are cast into a personal prison where hurt, bitterness, and unbelief hold us captive.  “A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain.”  Samuel Johnson   The words of this song remind us just what we have been given through the amazing gift of forgiveness: “Jesus paid it all.  All to him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain.  He washed it white as snow.”  To continually forgive others is meant to be as much a way of life as breathing.

Yesterday I forgave all that once went so wrong.  Today I will ask forgiveness for my weaknesses and lack of faith.  Tomorrow forgiveness will pave my pathway with renewed hope and the strength of my abiding Savior.  How wonderful to know that the tremendous power of forgiveness sets us free to thrive under the God of mercy and love.

Click here to read a beautiful quote about brokenness by Brennan Manning.

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How Shall We Then Live?

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Just as we always suspected it really does matter how we live.  The believers life is based on the decision to follow Christ closely which produces true blessings both now and eternally.  This parable in Matthew 13:47-50 reminds us that there is at the end of life an evaluation of the genuineness of our faith.  “…The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the godly…”  Matthew 13:49 LB  And Jesus will be exalted above all others as he comes to judge the earth.  “When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.  And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another…”  Matthew 25:31, 32 KJV  Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, is worthy to judge his creation.  However, don’t we all find it so unusually tempting to take part in the judging of others?

It’s often easy to judge behaviors, lifestyles, inner motives, and even whether people truly belong to Christ.  The apostle James explains the vital importance of living by the liberating law of love.  “Don’t criticize and speak evil about each other, dear brothers.  If you do, you will be fighting against God’s law of loving one another, declaring it wrong.”  James 4:11 LB  This is another reason why it’s imperative to not judge one another.  We will always have faults and areas that God is working on in our own lives.  It shouldn’t be a bit surprising when we discover we do the very things we condemn in others.  “And why worry about a speck in the eye of a brother when you have a board in your own.”  Matthew 7:3 LB

Now it is encouraging to know that each believer does have incredible potential to understand and evaluate.  “…The spiritual man has insight into everything, and that bothers and baffles the man of the world, who can’t understand him at all.”  1 Corinthians 2:15 LB  While we cannot comprehend God by human effort, the Spirit reveals many of his thoughts to us.  God has set in motion the most wonderful plan; a plan that sets us free from judgmental or critical attitudes toward our fellowman.  “And the Father leaves all judgment of sin to his son, so that everyone will honor the Son…”  John 5:22,23 LB  This is a far better way, a life that exalts the Savior.  Lord, how shall we then live?  Let us rely on Jesus to teach us how to see others through the eyes of both God’s wisdom and love. 

Click here to read another bloggers scripture based insights about judging others.

Coming Home

start_over1Dear believers in Jesus, I bring you simply a plea.  I encourage you to receive a message of repentance and reconciliation with God.  As Christians we live where Jesus reigns, in a world within the world.  The Kingdom of God has set up residence within us.  In God’s time we decided that Christ held the best plan for living so we took Him up on His offer of both complete forgiveness and a life of purpose.  We all still have persistent struggles but we are never expected to change ourselves.  That is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.  “…the Holy Spirit has been at work in your hearts, cleansing you with the blood of Jesus Christ and making you to please him.” 1 Peter 1:2 Living Bible.

And yet something is profoundly amiss.  Too many believers are giving up on being led and controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Often by default we are turning to another power.  Could it be Christians are purchasing property and establishing a second residence in the demonic kingdom?  Perhaps we haven’t spoken in plain enough words.  Ungodly influences can saturate our lives.  Do we no longer believe in the consecrated, abundant life that was promised us at the moment of spiritual conception?  Could we be pushing our senses beyond what they can absorb when we read or watch movies depicting the occult, violence, or explicit sexual content?  What cannot be processed will be acted out in some kind of overflow often leaving us hardhearted and insensitive to both God and others.  We live out anger, arguing, and bad language when we take in an impure bombardment of both mind and emotions.  We can become sick inside through frequent violations of God’s principles.  “Obey God because you are His children; don’t slip back into your old ways- doing evil because you knew no better. But be holy now in everything you do…” 1 Peter 1:14, 15 Living Bible.  Mental, emotional, and physical illness can develop after too many times of saying no to conscience and the wisdom of God revealed in His Word.

At times we all experience pressure even to the point that we don’t know which way to turn.  It’s easy to make family the whipping boy for our stresses because we haven’t walked closely with God, relying on him to bear our burdens.  We have been made in the image of God and only by returning to Him will we find relief.  As Creator He knows how we work, what makes us tick, and how we can become happier, healthier people.  We can overcome our doubts, fears, and struggles as we acknowledge that through the precious blood spilt at Calvary we walk away from the cross not only forgiven but whole.  We have been given a brand new lease on life with fresh clean pages to begin an exciting new story.  Turn the corner and dance like King David, praise with positive declarations about our Heavenly Father, and plead the blood of Jesus Christ to rescue and protect our minds.  Let’s pour out our feelings, our deepest longings before God, lifting our heart to God in song.  It’s time to take down that elaborate front of self-righteousness and pride.  Dismantle that false sense of security that says because we are Christians we are ok. Kick in those rotten boards of jealousy, gossip, and unforgiveness.  With God’s help we can build again!

Dear believers, take this opportunity to start over, to live again under God’s ways outlined carefully, perfectly in the Bible.  Let us have only one resident address- PO BOX Kingdom of God.  We don’t have to be unhappy!  God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the greatest holy trio known to man, are available every moment to help and deliver us from the worst scenario known to man, our destructive sin problem.  Don’t ignore the path to victory!  God did so much to make a way for us.  We don’t belong to any part of the darkness.  “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”  1 John 1:5  Living Bible.  We can step out into the light and enjoy all God has made for us and planned for us.  We were specifically created for such a time as this.  Friends, please believe me when I say it isn’t too late.  With all His heart Jesus bids us welcome back.  Come home to Jesus.  Come home.

Click here to read another bloggers encouraging article about the Conflict of Kindness.