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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A Better Way

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When Jesus came to walk among men He had a mandate, a mission to let us know that every word of scripture is true and accurate.  He stood behind all that was written by the prophets and men of God.  He wanted us to understand that everything within the Bible is there for a reason and is a part of knowing God.  The Word is complete.  “With all the earnestness I have I say: Every law in the Book will continue until its purpose is achieved.”  Matt 5:18

The tragic problem is we are all law-breakers by nature.  We disobey the Ten Commandments, we wrong our neighbors, and we dishonor God.  By breaking the law we come under the penalty of death, the automatic consequence for crimes against God.  When Jesus came into the grand picture He paid the full penalty for our misdeeds by way of the cross.  Only He could pay the debt we owed because He was never guilty, the only man without a drop of sin or wrongdoing.  “He met the full demands of the law by fulfilling its strict requirements in His life and in His death.”  William McDonald.  Jesus fully satisfied all that the law demanded.  Now all who trust in Jesus are no longer condemned by the law but instead find that amazing grace and mercy rule.  For believers the Ten Commandments are still valid and vital becoming training in righteousness without the attached death penalty.  Jesus permanently paid our death penalty.  This will never to be the critical issue again.  Jesus teaches us that instead of living under the law we live by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the very One that guided men as they wrote the Bible.  Jesus upholds the law and the prophets but now their inspired words are enlarged and develop a deeper meaning. For example, the Sermon on the Mounts sets a higher standard than that set by the law. Where the law said, “Do not murder” Jesus says, “Do not even hate.”

This is the truth: external righteousness without internal reality is not the message of Christ.  Where there is true faith in Christ there will also be practical Spirit-led living.  In the end we believe with certainty these simple yet profound words, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  I live for Him because He loves me best, the Living Word who fulfilled it all.  He satisfied not only the requirements of the law but also gave me a new and better way guided by the Holy Spirit, the amazing law of Christ!

Click here to read another blogger’s thoughts on how God’s forgiveness of us enables us to forgive others.

The Nose Shows

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   As Christians our value system is based on the divine principles of scripture. Our obligation is to give practical expression to the truth. God’s truth is not only relevant but also eternal, standing the tests of human struggle. At the same time God wants to know what our motives are. Why are we doing the things we do? Why do we act the way we do toward our fellow man? The Bible reminds us that there is no place in Christianity for snobbishness or discrimination. “My brethren in your practice of the Christian faith, do not show partiality.” James 2:1

   God has an ingenious plan to balance out treatment of both rich and poor. He has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith. “No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger. It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.” Henry Ward Beecher. Furthermore, any contempt for others because of nationality, age, or sex is also a practical denial of faith.

    “You must love and help your neighbors just as much as you love and take care yourself.” James 2:8 The Apostle James later points out that the most important question is “who is my brother” and “who is my neighbor”? For if we love our neighbors as ourselves we will treat them the way we want to be treated. There is a debt we owe to every person whether they have much or little. “Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others- never finish paying that. For if you love them, you will be obeying all God’s laws, fulfilling all His requirements.” Rom 13:8

    Every man, woman, boy, or girl is my neighbor. God has no partiality. This is a revolutionary teaching indeed. Let us not show favoritism towards one person over another because of unchangeable factors such as culture, disabilities, education, or income level. “Where love is, there’s no lack” Richard Brown Dear Christian, the problem is how we look at our differences. Unrighteous judgements cause division within our family, church, and community. Jesus Christ gave us the true standard of value and that will never change.

 

Click here to read more about favoritism.

Click here to read about loving everyone. God does not call us to selective grace.

Loving God

   Over two thousand years ago the Father sent the Son into the world to reveal the character of God. Today we continue this work of being ambassadors for God.  For the truth is simply this: if any person would know God they would love Him dearly and gladly give Him their life’s devotion.  The debt every man is asked to pay is the debt of love to God.  Psalms 86:12 “I will give glory to your name forever, for you love me so much.”
    Friends, God is perfect in the most wonderful ways.  It means He is always for us, always present to guide us, always right in His dealings with us and always gives us of His bountiful gifts.  What good can come from blaming God for troubles we’ve experienced, to be resentful or rebel against Him?  This is the God who is at work to rescue me and keep me safe.  Psalms 73:28 “But as for me, I have chosen him and I will tell everyone about the wonderful ways he rescues me.”
    Might we acknowledge that we as imperfect, fallible persons hurt and wound our fellow man?  It is useless to criticize God for what lies at our doorstep.  And even when we are insincere and fail Him He will not fail us for His compassion is greater still.  Psalms 78: 36-38 “…It was only with their words they followed him, not with their hearts, their hearts were far away.  They did not keep their promises.  Many and many a time he held back his anger.”
    Dear friends, consider the character of God and let us turn away from our disloyalty and willfulness.  God is the most lovely and beautiful One.  His power is greatest of all and his faithfulness to us is unsurpassed by any human.  Psalms 89:8b “Faithfulness is your very character.”  We are sent into the world to make known the wondrous gift of Gods son, but also to extol the virtues and beauty of God who is perfect in His character and love.  Christian, love Him supremely, proclaiming to all the mighty God who is worthy of our full devotion.<a