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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/

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  • “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1 KJV)

    God used visions and dreams in the Bible to reveal His plan, to further His plan, to put His people in places of influence, and to provide information that was unavailable elsewhere. In fact, the Book of Acts tells us that the Holy Spirit induces dreams.  Acts 2:17-18 describes entire households who prophesy, see visions and dream.

    Our families were designed to dream! Taking time to evaluate, plan and develop a vision for our family will help us prioritize so we can design our home with purpose.

    What do we want to be focused on right now as a family? What do we want to do in the future? What legacy do we want to continue and leave behind?

    The Bible is filled with principles like these that provide us with a blueprint for designing our dream home:

    • Designed to Surrender.

      God is the Master Architect of the family. In our homes, Jesus Christ must not only be present, but He must be preeminent. We want our children to understand that God is the greatest reality of life, not just in church on Sunday, but that we value His presence and His purpose every day, in every way (Deuteronomy 6:5).

    As a family, explore ways to invest the talent and treasure God has entrusted to you – volunteering; going on a missions trip; sponsoring a project; or developing your skills to honor God.
    • Designed to Support.

      God commands us to build our homes on Godly character and sound doctrine (Proverbs 4:1–2, Deuteronomy 6:4-9)The Bible instructs parents concerning children that we are to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Spiritual nurturing maintains the environment where our children learn to understand the ways and the Word of God. This is how “the Lord builds the house.”

    What special qualities or talents do you see in your children that you want to nurture? Are there some character traits you would like to see your children develop or strengthen?  What needs do you see in your children’s behavior, faith, or education that you can help cultivate?
    • Designed to Serve.

      Families were designed to represent Jesus Christ. The Bible says, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 KJV).

    When God gives us a dream for our family, it will always be connected to His master plan – the building of His family “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9 AMP). God will not give us a self-serving dream separate from what He wants to do in the world. His plan is to use our family for His dream!

    Does your family have a vision that will affect the present AND the eternal? Are you teaching your children that they have a God-ordained destiny (Jeremiah 29:11)? Are you adding fuel to their dreams or snuffing them out (Genesis 37:10)?

    Ask God to give you His vision for your family so that you can be part of the most important dream of all.  Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3 KJV). This is our ultimate dream home “whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10)!

    Reposted with permission from Reflections.

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  • It was a beautiful afternoon. The breeze was just right as I stood in my backyard and began communing with my wonderful Savior. I felt the urgency to pray specifically for protection for my heart, so I did. I remember asking the Lord to keep hatred and any other feeling that was not aligned with His Word or will from living in my heart. Proverbs 4:23 admonishes, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

    Little did I know, the worst storm of my life was crashing its way towards me, promising all kinds of destroying winds for me and my family. The storm I am referring to was not physical. It was a spiritual battle, and it was a dark season for us.

    If you are a mother I’m sure you would agree with me that we prefer something to hurt us and not our children. My trial involved pain and sorrow for the fruit of my womb, and for me it was very hard to deal with. According to how the world judges, I had every right to hate, despise, and scorn those who hurt my children; but because my heart was protected by God, I was unable to hate them. My heart was unchained, free to pray and praise. I was able to see clear in the middle of a dark night and cry out to the One that could help my family and me to survive the storm. He came to our rescue. He responded to our prayers. We came through victorious!

    “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31).

    I don’t know what you might be facing or about to face, but I encourage you to protect your heart. Fill it with the Word of life, with prayer and praises to the Lord, and nourish it with church attendance. When it makes sense for you to speak bitterness because you have been hurt, you will instead speak mercy, forgiveness, and love, because that’s what your heart is full of!

    “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45).

    BY TERE DE LA ROSA

    Reposted with permission from Ladies Prayer International.