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GOING DOWN FORGIVENESS' ROAD
by Dr. Chas Brothers
2/05/2010 / Self Help
Never before in the history of the church today has so much emphasis been placed on forgiveness and its importance to you and me and our relationship with God the Father.
God, through His Son Jesus Christ, made forgiveness of sins available to all people everywhere and not just a select few. That forgiveness however came at a dear price in that it cost Christ His life. You and I as sinners are just as responsible today for his death as it was our sins collectively that drove those spikes through his hands and feet.
To fully understand forgiveness and how it applies to us today, we must first understand the forgiveness process, the cleansing power of the blood of Christ and forgiveness of self which is hard in that as humans we tend to hang onto our personal garbage thinking we will never be good enough anyway or that God can't forgive us for this sin or that.
Growing up in the tough environment of my home as a youngster, there was no concept such as forgiveness. You were either right or wrong, your sentence was always corporal punishment and sentence was always carried out swiftly and without regard for human life or dignity.
So as you can imagine, the thought of forgiveness let alone being able to forgive myself was a source of much emotion and a constant struggle to grasp the concept.
When I was a young man just barely in my teens, my best friend and I went to his folks' home on the lake in Allegan Michigan. My buddy's dad had a friend he worked with come up and stay for the weekend. With him, he also brought his kids and 2 brand new three-wheelers he had just bought for them. With great joy he informed us that we could ride these machines as well. I'd never been on anything like this before so, why not! We were riding the roads and riding the trails no problem then, I hit a fairly deep pot hole which caused the machine to become airborne.
While traveling through the air, I saw it coming but had no way to avoid the tree that was in the middle of the trail and hit it head on. I was thrown from the vehicle and it landed on me. I wasn't hurt but the three-wheeler was. I had cracked the fiberglass fender on one side and bent the front fork on the other.
I limped the trike back to the campground all the way contemplating my fate for this disaster. I told the man what had happened and he got up and said "Okay, let's see the damage and see if we can fix her up!" Together, we worked on the trike and were able to straighten everything out enough to make it work. The man looked at me and said "so, what else is wrong?" I asked him what my punishment was going to be. He said what do you mean? I said aren't you going to hit me or something for what I did? He said no and told me the only thing to do was to get back up and get her out riding again!
That was the first time in my life that I had ever been forgiven for anything and I couldn't comprehend his attitude towards the situation. Pain and suffering was all I had known from my stepfather so I knew that I more than expected it when I ruined the trike.
Inside my mind, I was telling myself that I was no good, I should have been punished, that I was stupid for having the accident in the first place and if I were that guy, I would have killed me!
I missed a lot of good things later in life because of the attitudes I had been taught and the environment in which I grew up. Thankfully and patiently, God, along with help of His Holy Spirit, has taught me forgiveness not only for myself but for others as well.
All of us need forgiving for one thing or another and it is a load off our shoulders when we experience true, genuine forgiveness.
Jesus summed it up best in Matthew 6:12 where we are told; "and forgive us our transgressions (sin), as we also have forgiven our transgressors (those who have sinned against us)."
As in all things pertaining to God, before you ask for forgiveness, you yourself must be forgiven by God in order for Him to act upon your request. Prayer is always a good place to start.
The bible tells us"Forgive and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6:37)
In Mark 11:25, we are instructed that "When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins"
Christ further amplifies this sentiment in Matthew 6:14-15, "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"
Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22)
As you can see, God makes it quite clear by laying down a foundation under which circumstances you may be forgiven. You must appear righteous before the Lord before he can do anything for you lest your prayers fall on deaf ears. Once you confess your sins, your request for forgiveness can then be made, heard, and acted upon by God.
By following these simple examples, God assists us in doing what is right and helps to keep us holy in His eyes for He doesn't want any of His children lost. The benefits of giving and receiving forgiveness go a long way in helping you maintain a healthy, spirit filled relationship with the Almighty.
Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:43)
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him. (Romans 4:8)
By God's own word, anyone that asks for forgiveness of their sins either for themselves or a brother in Christ receives not only what they request, they have the added bonus of having their slate wiped clean!
People never forget when or who they've been wrong by and what the transgressions were but our Father who is in heaven can and will forget and forgive those sins for all time for those who ask.
Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17)
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back. (Isaiah 38:17)
Unlike people, God will never throw your past or your sins in your face ever!
All of this is made possible by the blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who bore the full weight of our sins upon Himself so that we may enjoy communion with God.
I know from experience that it's hard to forgive and forget particularly your own shortcomings and that no one will be harder on you than you but, you've got to give yourself a chance.
How dare we hang onto our confessed and forgiven sins, especially when Christ died to make that forgiveness possible in the first place! Don't cheapen the sacrifice of God and His Son to stay in the way of the flesh by holding onto your excess baggage!!
Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city. And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven." And some of the scribes said to themselves, "This fellow blasphemes." And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? "Which is easier, to say, your sins are forgiven, or to say, "Get up and walk"? "But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" then He said to the paralytic, "Get up pick up your bed and go home." And he got up and went home.
Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven what a powerful message. It describes perfectly the effect that sin can have on your life. Christ summed it up this way, "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life (heaven) crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire" (Matthew 18:8)
Anything that causes you to sin, get rid of it. Go to the cross and confess that it may be forgiven you and your eternal slate will be wiped clean. Confession, forgiveness and claiming both through the blood of Jesus Christ are the only ways to get to heaven. Lay it all down at the Father's feet and know that you are forgiven.
"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon and you will be pardoned." (Luke 6:36-37)
"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account." (Romans 4:7-8) (Psalm 32:1-2)
Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord. Lord hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared (revered). I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. (Psalm 130:1-5)
Even the prophets and the writer's of the Old Testament knew clearly that forgiveness is one of God's attributes and there were certain laws, commandments, rites and rituals that had to be followed to the letter in order to receive God's mercies.
Today, to experience the forgiveness and mercy of God, all we need know is Christ's sacrifice on the cross and to ask for forgiveness in Christ's name and God will put your sins as far from Him as the East is from the West! (Psalm 103:12)
(John 8:1-11) The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. "Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do you say?"
They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."
Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" She said, "No one Lord" And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more."
This illustration of forgiveness coupled with sin teaches us a valuable lesson about being saved by grace rather than being held to the high standards of the law where there was no forgiveness, no pardons, and no intercessor. Her salvation if you will, was based solely upon the fact that there was no one perfect and that all are guilty of sin who are in the flesh and that all need forgiveness of their sins under the dispensation of grace. Thank God Almighty that He had a plan for this. AMEN?
Without the forgiveness of sin, or just forgiveness in general, we stumble over our guilt and eventually are overcome by our sin and our loss of communion with God. This eventually leads to headaches, ulcers, depression and possibly suicide.
(Luke 16:19-31) "Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. "And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
"Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said; "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.
"But Abraham said, Child remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.
And he said, "Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house for I have five brothers in order that he may warn them, so that they will not come to this place of torment. But Abraham said, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. But he said, "No father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!"
But he said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead."
Everyone is looking for something these days. They are looking for something that will give them peace in a world where everyone is at war. They are looking for the calm in the storm. They are longing to be accepted and loved for who they are. And they are looking for something or someway to justify their existence.
God and His Son Jesus Christ are that great equalizer, that calm in the storm, that love above all loves, the great and wonderful Teacher, the One who forgives without measure and the One who heals all hurts internal and external.
God, through His Son Jesus Christ offers all this and more to everyone who seeks them without regard to race, religion, creed, rich or poor. All you need do is ask and it is yours.
I ask the Lord at this time to let the Holy Spirit lay a conviction upon your soul about any lingering sin and that you would ask for God's forgiveness to heal you this very day.
Our Father tells us "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) He also reminds us in Ephesians (4:32), to "Be kind to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you."
If you don't know forgiveness, you'll never understand or be ready for salvation. So ask yourself this, "What must I do to be saved?"
1.) Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. This is not a promise of a perfect life quite the opposite! Jesus said "Take up your cross and follow me!" You may be ridiculed, lose friends, lose jobs and be persecuted for your beliefs. If this happens, and more times than not it will, praise God for this tells you without a doubt that you are His child and when the day is over and everything is said and done, that's all that matters.
2.) Confess your sins. Bring all your sins to the cross of Jesus. Christ's blood has the power to cleanse all sins don't hold anything back! God knows everything but He wants you to come to Him freely and make your confession.
3.) Repent of Your Sins. What does it mean to repent? To repent is to completely turn away from old habits that cause you to stumble or sin in the first place.
4.) Live a Godly life. Christ said in John, Chapter 11 that "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even if he dies" In John 14 he reiterates this statement and adds that "no one comes to the Father but by me" There is no name under heaven other than Jesus that will unlock the gates of heaven to you when you die.
None of us are guaranteed anything. You and I may die today, only the Father knows the appointed time. Wouldn't it be nice to know that you've laid up for yourself treasures in heaven?
God patiently waits on those who seek Him. If you're unsure of your relationship with our Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, contact me. Together, we'll seek guidance from the Father to eliminate those things which are interfering with your walk with God.
Copyright 2010 Rev. Chas Brothers is an Independent Christian Minister with Honorary Doctorates in Biblical Studies and Divinity. He is also a motivational speaker and writer and may be reached at; firstname.lastname@example.orgAll Scriptures taken from the Zondervan 1984 NIV and used with permission
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