Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

We have looked at the reality of true forgiveness for the last two weeks and agree that though forgiveness can be painful and challenging, it is still a worthy goal with the result of freedom. We know there are areas of unforgiveness that need to be swept from our hearts and we are willing to engage in the process of forgiveness. That is reason to celebrate!

But what we know from past experience is that just when we think we have succeeded in forgiving a person, something happens to de-rail the process. So while we celebrate, we want to also step forward wisely. We want to celebrate and replace.

When removing something negative from our lives, like holding grudges, it is important to replace the unhealthy emotions with positive. To replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts.

Psalms 34:14 says this: “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

An angry heart that breeds bitterness can be replaced with loving actions. Sour thoughts that circle your mind can be replaced with loving thoughts and prayers that seek to bless.

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27, 28

Father, we want to forgive. We desire the freedom that accompanies forgiveness. We look to Your Son, our perfect example of forgiveness, and we see how desperately we need Your help to accomplish this. Grant us the strength today to forgive. And as we celebrate, please sustain this forgiveness within our hearts and help us to replace the old unhealthy habits with new and right ways of thinking and acting.

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In our quest for true forgiveness, we often encounter a bump in the road… healthy boundaries. This is especially true with those who we interface with on a regular basis (family, co-workers, etc.). These are the people who are always there, and it isn’t always healthy.

In the book Boundaries, by Townsend and Cloud, this issue gets addressed. They highlight how it was God’s original intention for us to have healthy boundaries that glorify Him, offers respect for others and for ourselves. They show how healthy boundaries allow us to love and serve others without it being a burden. And when Christ sacrificed His life for us to have relationship with God once again, we were freed to embrace those healthy boundaries once again, this time in His power.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Gal. 5:1

Consider writing out a plan of action, for your eyes only, establishing in your heart and mind healthy boundaries to follow as you process through forgiveness. It might look something like this:

~I will forgive through Christ’s power and strength. I know I can’t do this on my own, and I know that Christ wants me to be free, no longer burdened.

~I will forgive, but I must only follow God’s plan for my life and not this other person’s plan for my life. I commit to pray for God’s perfect will to be clear and for discernment of His voice above all other “voices” trying to speak into my life.

~Giving forgiveness does not mean I purposefully expose myself or others under my care to physical, emotional or spiritual harm. In these circumstances, I will pray for that person from a safe distance and limit contact to healthy amounts of time.

~Giving forgiveness does not mean I signed up to be this person’s counselor, their new best friend, or their accountability partner. Personality conflicts are real and can cause conflict. But I will pray that God will provide for them through someone better equipped to handle their needs and personality.

~I will embrace the freedom that forgiveness brings in my relationship with God and my relationship with those around me. I will pray that as I forgive, God will give me the power to love and serve those around me in appropriate measure, with real boundaries.

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“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Matthew 6:12

At 30 some years of age, I benefited from the teachings of the Christian school where my children attended as much as the young students. I learned that when there was an altercation between children there were clear guidelines to be followed. The children involved were led by a loving adult to each take personal responsibility for their part of the problem, apologize to one another for that specifically named part, and offer forgiveness to one another.

There was a very real need for these steps to take place. This process enabled the children to come to school every day with a clean slate and fresh attitude toward their peers. They came with a heart free of resentment! This real need for freedom and a fresh attitude doesn’t just apply to students in a school setting.

That school’s model of encouraging forgiveness was life changing for me. I realized that I was reluctant to gather with other adults because of unresolved resentment and my lack of forgiveness from past relationships. I was stuck just where Satan wanted me. The physical illness, fatigue and hopelessness I experienced was a result of the unforgiving attitude I had carried for YEARS.

Knowing that Jesus died and rose again for my forgiveness and my personal connection to God and watching how that could play out with the children was such an encouragement for me. It motivated me personally to seek forgiveness of others that I had a hard time with and to re-connect with them.

I am now free from those burdens! I pray you can be too!

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The Anger is Real

Just as we know the pain is real when we have been offended, so can anger become our companion through the process of forgiveness.  Especially if the offense is one that leaves deep and ugly scars on our heart that haunt us long after the incident actually happened.  We feel pain.  And we feel anger. 

The trick is to know whether I am  feeling  “righteous anger”, the kind of just anger that God feels when He sees sin and injustice, or if the anger I feel has progressed to sin.  Sinful anger is more about how I feel then what is true.  It is often out of control and over the top.  Sinful anger keeps my heart hard.  It keeps me from sleeping at night.  Sinful anger is harmful.

Is this something that you struggle with too?  Keeping the balance when we have been offended?  We are not alone!  Below is Psalm 4, a Psalm of David, in which he offers some great insight about anger.  Read through these verses, meditating on each of the words carefully.  See if you can pull out some encouragement for your own situation that you face.  Try and pinpoint some personal goals regarding controlling your anger as you pursue the ultimate goal of forgiveness.

      Answer me when I call to you,
       O my righteous God.
       Give me relief from my distress;
       be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

       How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame ?
       How long will you love delusions and seek false gods ?

      Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
       the LORD will hear when I call to him.

        In your anger do not sin;
       when you are on your beds,
       search your hearts and be silent.

       Offer right sacrifices
       and trust in the LORD.

      Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?”
       Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.

      You have filled my heart with greater joy
       than when their grain and new wine abound.

      I will lie down and sleep in peace,
       for you alone, O LORD,
       make me dwell in safety.

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The Pain is Real

Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears,
it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling the secret
of who you are, but more often than not of the mystery of where you have come from and are summoning you to where you should go next.”

Frederick Buechner
Whistling in the Dark

As we work through our various issues on forgiveness, there is a temptation to either discount the very real toll that  an offense has taken or to dwell in unhealthy ways upon the offense.  We pretend to the watching world that all is fine, while inside we cringe at the memory of the details.  We can’t stop the tears from flowing, or we try to hold in the tears.  And deep down, perhaps we feel that God doesn’t see or care.  Regardless, just as the need for forgiveness is real, so the pain we feel is real.

The truth is that God aches with us over our deepest hurts.  His desire is for us to be healed and whole.  Forgiveness is part of that process.  But forgiveness can’t be truly given if we refuse to go with God where He would take us, emotionally and spiritually.  We want to avoid the pain or wallow in it.  God wants us to face the pain, secure in His strong loving arms and in His great power.  The pain is real!  But God will walk us through that pain into a place of healing if we will let Him.

Meditate on the following verses.  Prayerfully ask the Lord to reveal to your heart where He would like to take you in your search for true forgiveness. 

 “I am weary with my sighing; every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief; it has become old because of all my adversaries. Depart from me all you who do iniquity, for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication, the Lord receives my prayer. All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly dismayed; they shall turn back, they shall suddenly be ashamed.”  Psalm 6:2-10

“Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll–are they not in your record”?  Psalms 56:8

“This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says:  I have heard your prayer and seen your tears;  I will heal you.”  2 Kings 20: 5

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Revelation 7:17



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I walk about in freedom, for I have always sought your precepts.  Psalms 119: 45

For several months, I dealt with an issue of un-forgiveness in my heart.  My mind wanted desperately to move past the issue, and for a while I did, or at least I thought I did.  In reality, I hadn’t moved on.  I could not seem to get beyond the hurt and to the root of the matter.  I allowed the scenario to play out in my mind over and over again.  This never-ending cycle resulted in the lack of peace, love and forgiveness.   Most importantly, it interfered with my communion with God.  In an effort to make this right in God’s eyes, I prayed that he would show me how to rise above the issue and find the freedom that this strife had stolen from me. 

The forgiveness that I sought didn’t just happen overnight, I had to learn to apply the word of God to my situation.  It changed my mind, took root in my heart, and now I have experienced the freedom that comes from forgiveness.

Valuable lessons learned…

Discipline the mind to think on Good Things.  Phil 4:6 reminds us, Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable think on these things.

Know the real Enemy.   We have an enemy who lies to us and wants to rob us of harmony with God and those around us.  1 Peter 5:7-9 says this,  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Use God-given weapons to find freedom.  God doesn’t expect us to figure things out on our own,  He gives us weapons to use that will help us to pursue Freedom from strife.  2 Corinthians 2:4-5 tells us, The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Pray Like Crazy, wise words to live by.  1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says this,  Pray continually.  Never stop praying, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

Heavenly Father, you are the giver of peace and you call us to be peacemakers in the land.  I pray you will continue to teach me to forgive others just as you have forgiven me. I praise your holy name, because you give me the freedom that comes from forgiveness in my heart, mind and spirit.  Amen.

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Joseph was hated, ridiculed, abused, sold into slavery and moved far from the only home he had ever known. And to add insult to injury, it was his brothers, his own flesh and blood, who did this terrible thing to him.

Many years later, after God brought him to a position of power and his brothers to a position of great need, God gave Joseph the opportunity to make a choice…to hold a grudge or to forgive.

After burying his father, Joseph went back to Egypt. All his brothers who had come with him to bury his father returned with him. After the funeral, Joseph’s brothers talked among themselves: “What if Joseph is carrying a grudge and decides to pay us back for all the wrong we did him?” Genesis 50:15-19 The Message

So they sent Joseph a message, “Before his death, your father gave this command: Tell Joseph, ‘Forgive your brothers’ sin—all that wrongdoing. They did treat you very badly.’ Will you do it? Will you forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God?”

When Joseph received their message, he wept. Then the brothers went in person to him, threw themselves on the ground before him and said, “We’ll be your slaves.” Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God?

As human beings who interact with others, we are daily presented with the choice to hold grudges or forgive. Sometimes, as with Joseph, it is really big stuff that hits really close to heart and home. Messy, painful, hurtful…yes, it was all those things, but Joseph had a choice to make and he chose to forgive.

Forgiveness isn’t always an easy choice to make. There may need to be healthy boundaries within the restored relationship. But it is a choice that only you can make, and it is a choice that leads to freedom for all who are involved.

Father, help me to choose to walk the path of forgiveness.

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