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Forgiveness

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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

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25, New King James Version).

A friend is struggling with forgiveness, and I’m not sure how to help her. Yes, I know the problem, but all the words I think of saying seem like I’m just repeating pat answers I’ve heard in the past. So, I’ve pulled out my Bible, started a search, and am trying to find scriptures to help her find a place of peace. Ultimately, the journey will be hers; only she can decide to forgive. Without revealing her circumstances, let’s just say what she has endured in life is what many would determine unforgivable.

Unforgivable?

I suppose the word unforgivable may be the starting point of this search. Is there ever an act so horrendous we are not required to offer forgiveness? My study took me several places: the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35; Stephen’s last words to those stoning him (Acts 7:60); the words of Jesus as He died on the cross (Luke 23:34). As difficult as it may seem, I cannot find a biblical “out” on forgiving. The degree of the offense has no bearing on our need to forgive—even to the point of death.

At first, we may feel justified to refuse forgiveness. After all, we’ve been done wrong. They don’t deserve our forgiveness. They haven’t even asked for our forgiveness—and may never ask. But eventually, “feeling good” about not forgiving may change to bitterness, anger, resentment, and a desire for revenge. When these negative emotions take up residence, peace moves out.

When considering the offenses of another, we need to realize some things. First, forgiveness is not dependent upon asking to be forgiven. Also, forgiveness does not mean we condone their actions. Nor does it mean they will not have to bear the consequences of their actions. It may or may not lead to reconciliation, and we may or may not learn to trust them again.

Who Forgiveness Changes

Forgiveness may never change the one who hurt you, but it will change you. It will release you from the chains of the past and free you to move into the present. You will find healing and peace of mind. We release the offense and the offender to God, for ultimately they are accountable to Him (Romans 12:17-21).

Mark 11:25 begins with the words “whenever you stand praying.” Before we approach God, we need to be clear with our fellowman. We must offer forgiveness to each other to receive forgiveness from Him (Matthew 6:15; Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness is not an easy journey, but it is one well worth taking. Your well being depends on it.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be forgiving to others even when their actions have caused me disappointment and pain. Take all resentment and bitterness from me and keep me from a desire for revenge for the wrongs done me. You were able to offer forgiveness even when enduring the agony of the cross. Help me to have that same forgiving spirit in my life.