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Forgiveness

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“For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14, New King James Version).

My friend trusted me with her secret. Because of a family emergency, she left town suddenly. In her rush, she needed someone to pack her apartment so her things could be shipped. She had already enlisted a male friend to help with the furniture, but my job was different. I was to box up her closet and more specifically—her shoes. Her many, many pairs of shoes. Some still lay in the original boxes, never worn. A female friend (especially one who also liked shoes) would understand this mad passion and not reveal just how many boxes were in that closet.

Another friend admitted to hiding new clothes in the back of her closet, tags still dangling. Her rationale was if she let them hang there for a month or two or three, she could truthfully tell her husband she’d “owned” that outfit for quite a while. (Definitely a bit of subterfuge on this one.) If you’re smiling as you read this, you may just love pretty shoes and clothes too.

Both friends told me their secrets because they knew I wouldn’t judge them harshly for their weaknesses. They didn’t need to feel embarrassed to tell me about their shopping obsession. It’s so good when friends understand us and love us. It doesn’t mean we are perfect. Far from it. But they love us and offer us mercy. The same is true with the Lord. As our Creator, He understands our human frailties. He can empathize because He wrapped Himself in flesh and came to earth as one of us. He lived as we live, felt the same emotions, and endured the same temptations we face.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16-16, New Living Translation).

When we fail, and we will, we don’t need to fear. We can come boldly to the throne of God and receive His mercy. He remembers we are made of dust. He forgives and restores.

Prayer: Thank You so much, Lord, that I can come to You in my time of need. You also walked this earth and understand my weaknesses. I can come to You without fear, seeking Your forgiveness and Your strength. You will help me overcome.

Forgiveness is powerful. The person who forgives extends mercy and peace, while the person being forgiven receives absolution and another chance.

When it comes to our relationship with God, we can know that He forgives us when we repent with a contrite heart.

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

Yet, so often, we limit the empowerment that comes from God’s forgiveness. We heap our past mistakes on our shoulders, allowing ourselves to be weighed down with guilt, shame and frustration. God doesn’t want us to wallow in our mistakes, stuck in a rut of hopelessness and fear. He doesn’t just forgive; He wants to cleanse.

“‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.’” (Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

I tend to picture a cute lamb with pure white fleece when I read this verse. But that’s not how our sins look. Instead, they’re unruly, obtrusive and ugly — nothing like an innocent lamb. And, realistically, that’s not how a sheep looks after a few months of living in the real world. Its fleece gets long, matted, dirty and cumbersome.

So, how does that wool create beautiful clothes, blankets and rugs? You can’t just take the wool straight from a sheep and create a masterpiece. The process requires a few steps first, and God uses a similar cleansing process with us.

1. Shear the sheep.

When processing wool, a shearer first needs to carefully cut the fleece away from the sheep’s body. The shearer must know exactly where to cut, how to position the sheep and how to calm it down. Meantime, the sheep is uncomfortable, scared and, ultimately, exposed.

But this step is necessary to remove the fleece that would otherwise weigh the sheep down. In the same way, God wants to shear the sins that burden us, obscure our vision and trip us up. We can trust Him as the shepherd to know what to cut away and to take care of us in this vulnerable time.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:1-2 KJV)

2. Grade and sort the wool.

The next step is to sort the sheared wool into sections based on quality. Wool has different value depending on where it originated from on the sheep’s body. So, wool from the shoulders might be used for clothing, while coarse wool from the legs might be made into a rug.

Likewise, God examines and directs our lives so we can best fulfill our potential. He sees how one chapter in your story can be used to develop a ministry, or how a rough part of your life can become a powerful testimony. He can even use the parts of you that nobody, including you, considers valuable.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

3. Clean and scour the wool.

This is when the cleansing process really starts to heat up. Sheared fleece contains dirt, oils, sweat and fecal matter — all of which can make up to 50% of the fleece’s weight. At this point, the fleece has the potential to be valuable, but it’s not quite ready. The wool needs to undergo a treatment with hot water and soap. It soaks and soaks, and then it is squeezed and squeezed. It might even have to go through the process again.

God does the same thing with us, as He washes away our impurities. It might feel like you’re drowning, or suffocating or waiting endlessly, but you can trust God. He won’t scald, crush or abandon you.

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7 NLT)

4. Card the wool.

The wool still isn’t ready, though. It needs to be combed through with metal teeth to separate the individual wool fibers and remove leftover impurities. After the fibers have been broken apart and smoothed, they can finally be spun together into stronger strands of yarn.

We might experience “combing” times when it feels like we’re being torn apart, bruised and broken. It might be hard to believe this is part of God’s plan to develop us, but He’s in control.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 KJV)

You are not defined by your past mistakes. Your sins have been removed and erased. You have been forgiven. What’s more, you have been cleansed, so walk in freedom!

 

BY JEN ENGLISH

You can follow Jennifer English on her personal blog https://jensrandommusings.wordpress.com/

“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” Luke 6:37

The greatest example of forgiveness is shown as Jesus hung on the cross, when He asked the Father to forgive the ones who were crucifying Him.

In the pattern for prayer that He gave His disciples, which we know as “The Lord’s Prayer,” He said we were to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us.  That means that if we do not forgive others, we cannot expect the Lord to forgive us.

When we have been hurt or wrongfully treated, our first reaction is to get back at the person who has mistreated us.  We can think of lots of things we could say or do to make that person feel as badly as we do.  But that is not what the Lord expects of us.  Wouldn’t it be terrible if the Lord treated us in this matter, and punished us for every time we fail Him?

Forgiving someone does not mean that we forget entirely what they have done, or that we let them treat us badly repeatedly.  It simply means that we recognize they are human and make mistakes the same as we do, and that we can forgive them and go on with our life.  Even if they never ask for forgiveness, we can extend it to them.

Forgiveness is for our benefit as well as the one who has wronged us.  If we do not forgive, there is a danger of bitterness growing in our hearts and keeping us from a good relationship with the Lord.  The one who wronged us may go merrily on their way, not realizing how we feel, but we think about it every day and let it destroy us.

As people look at us, do they see a forgiving spirit and know that it is because we love Jesus.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help me to have a forgiving spirit, no matter what others may do or say.  You have forgiven me so much, and I want my life to be an example to others.

Devotion by Anne Johnston