… to Forgive.

Maybe you are like me. I love the idea that I am forgiven. It is comforting and encouraging and honestly, it gets me through some days that I just might not have made it through.

Forgiving others, however, doesn’t quite produce the same feeling of comfort and security.

As we talked about last week, if you are in Christ you are FORGIVEN. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, emphasis mine). There is absolutely NOTHING Satan can do to take that away. What he can do, however, is plague your mind with thoughts each day that say you are not enough or that you do not deserve forgiveness. He can stir angry thoughts in your mind that cause you to dwell on what so-and-so did to you, or said about you. He can remind you of the hurtful words your parents said to you, “You’ll never be good enough” or “You’re going to eat another piece of cake?” or “You really can’t get an ‘A’ in Biology?”

Somehow, no matter how many positive things were spoken over you, the enemy will find a way to remind you of the negative things said to you.

And then Satan wins the battle. (Just the battle. He has already lost the war and that is reason to celebrate!!! But let me assure you, he will never stop fighting for the victory of the battles.)

Darling girls, you have been forgiven in order that you might forgive.

That we have been granted forgiveness from God after every offense we committed against Him is remarkably beautiful. What only adds to the beauty is that we have been granted the power to forgive.

If you have ever forgiven someone (and boy, I sure hope you have) you know that forgiveness is no small feat. The deeper the hurt, the harder it is to forgive, but oh the victory we experience when we forgive!

There is nothing natural about forgiveness. Every time you forgive you are letting the gospel SHINE in you. You are showing this sick and twisted world a small, yet glorious, glimpse of the God who has forgiven you. That is lovely.

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Seems a little harsh, eh? Why would God withhold forgiveness from me?

“God, You don’t know what she said about me!”

“God, You don’t understand… he told me he loved me.”

“God, I can’t forgive my dad for that. It’s too much.”

It’s okay. I’ve had those conversations with God, too. What we must understand is that the depth of the pain we feel when someone sins against us is merely a drop in the ocean of the grief that we have caused the Lord with our chronic unfaithfulness and continual sin.

Jesus spoke such strong words in Matthew 6 to express to us that every time we withhold forgiveness we quench the flame of the gospel. How can we stand before a sin saturated world and proclaim that we serve a God who forgives, yet we harbor bitterness that rules over us? It doesn’t match up, and Yahweh knows.

Jesus shares a parable in Matthew 18 about a servant who owed his master the equivalent of millions of dollars. The servant begs and begs that the master would show him mercy and cancel the debt. The master does so, and the servant leaves. When he leaves he finds a man that owed him the equivalent of a few bucks. Keep in mind this man had just been forgiven millions of dollars. What do you think he does?

If you thought, “He forgives him, of course!” You are unfortunately wrong. Despite the second servant’s begging for mercy (sound familiar?) the first servant has him thrown in prison until he could pay the debt.

The other servants saw this man who had received such mercy withhold mercy from another man and they reported it back to the first master. He calls the wicked servant before him and Scripture says, “In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” (Matthew 18:34).

Yikes, right? Ready for a double yikes? In the very next verse Jesus says, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (18:35, emphasis mine).

We have been forgiven in order that we might forgive because when we forgive we show the world a glimpse of the gospel that magnifies the precious name of Jesus Christ.

And what other purpose do we have on this earth?

To forgive is to release. Forgiveness brings freedom, and sweet friends, you were called to be FREE.

Lord,

I do not deserve Your relentless forgiveness. I have done nothing to earn it, and everything to disqualify me from it. Thank you for seeing beyond my inconsistency and loving me ever so consistently. Teach me to forgive as You have forgiven me. Help me see people as You see them. I want people to see You in the way that I forgive. I love you.

Amen.

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You are Forgiven!

“When you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14

I challenge you ladies to find a more powerful, comforting, triumphant verse in all of Scripture. Okay, perhaps you could persuade me to another, simply because I love the word of God, but this one is high up on my list.

I love this little passage because it captures the threefold message of the gospel. We were dead, we have been made alive, and it is only by the power of the cross. Each of these snippets has vast importance in the understanding that you have been forgiven.

Did ya catch me?

You are forgiven, precious one.

We have been in the trenches. We have been beaten up, bruised, toyed with, and spit on by the enemy and if he has his way we will continue on in a state of regret and guilt. None of this is the way it was designed to me, and you need to know that.

You need to understand that if you are in Christ, you are forgiven. You have been made new. ((Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2Cor5:17)) Ya’ll, this is good news!

I can hear you already. You’re saying, “Jenn, you don’t understand what I’ve done. You don’t understand where I’ve been.” You are right in saying this, I won’t pretend otherwise. But Christ knows. That is precisely the beauty of the gospel. He knows all about where you have been and all about where you are going, and His love has not (nor will it ever) change, falter, or pause. Not even for a second.

“If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Okay, so there’s a catch: confession and repentance. The word confess in the Greek is homologeo and it means “to agree with” or “to concede” or “to profess.” To confess your sins is to agree before God just as he spoke through Paul, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…” (Ephesians 2:1) [Are you ready for a little Greek lesson? :)] In the verse we see from 1 John the word confess is in the subjunctive tense. There are lots of different tenses in the Greek language. The most common is the indicative tense which states reality. “I’m typing on my computer.” That would be indicative. The subjunctive tense, however, is almost more of a suggestion. “I may go get a cup of coffee.” See the difference? So “If you might confess your sins…” would be a more accurate expression of the subjunctive. John is explaining what will happen if we confess. So forgiveness and cleansing is only a result of confession. That is lovely.

I want you to think for just a moment what you have been forgiven of. What comes to mind when you think of the weight of God’s glory compared to your sin? Is there anything that you think is too far from grace? Too “bad” to be forgiven? I pray that you will see the beauty of redemption and the depth of God’s love and grace towards you. “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 with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8

This grace was poured on us according to God’s perfect wisdom and full understanding. You are in good hands, sweet girls. Find peace, comfort, redemption, and forgiveness in this blessed truth.

Father God,

I do not deserve Your forgiveness but I am so thankful that in Your wisdom You lavished Your grace on me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for being patient with me. I don’t understand why You show me such grace, and I am sorry that my obedience to you is inconsistent. Teach me to walk in obedience. Help me to hear Your voice. I love you.

Amen.

…to Love!

Sweet friends,

You must accept my deepest apology! When I began this little journey of weekly encouragement I was still at home enjoying my lazy weeks of summer. Now, I have begun my internship in Nashville and life is much, much busier! I am so sorry that I skipped a post last week! Because I come to work extra early on Wednesday mornings, the posts will now be coming either Thursday or Friday mornings when I am at home! I am sorry for my inconsistency!

What I am most excited to encourage you with this morning is more than that beautiful truth that you are loved. In case you forgot, you have a Father in Heaven who loves you, period. Regardless of your sin, your bad choices, your disobedience, and your unfaithfulness. You are loved by an everlasting God with an everlasting love. That is something to celebrate!

Not only is their beauty in the truth that you are loved, but there is action required from that love. Now, now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing that you could ever do to earn the love of God. That’s not what we’re talking about here. What we’re talking about is the overflow of joy that comes because you are loved. It is that indescribable something inside of you that makes you want to love others! Know what I’m talking about? It’s the Spirit, my friends!

You are loved to love. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Our entire ability to love stems from the love that God has shown us. Just a few verses later he says, “And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (vs. 21). Again, it is said in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Read that one again, would ya? “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus is saying that the way we love will make it evident to all mean that we are His followers.

The way we love is noteworthy because we are evil people. We are not naturally good. Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Christ is saying in John 13 that people we know we are different because we love. Because even though there is something in our hearts that urge us to wickedness and unrighteousness, the Spirit moves in us to instead choose love.

There are people all around you every day that are deeply hurting. I know you are hurting too, but there are people who hurt with no hope. We have hope in Christ and that gives us strength to keep going.

My challenge to you is to love those that are not easy to love: your little sister, your hovering mom, your co-workers, your classmates, or your boss.

Make it a habit to frequently ask yourself, “Can people know that I am follower of Christ by the way that I love?” If the answer is anything but “yes” make it your goal to love more unconditionally.

Lord, I want to love the way that you love. I know that you have created me to shine in a world plagued by darkness. Give me the ability to love those that get on my nerves. Give me patience, and make me more like You. Thank you for loving me despite my inconsistency. I love you. Amen.