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The Tyranny of Unforgiveness

3 Jun

But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 Amplified

I don’t really want to get into the last part of this verse, but lets take a long look at the “If” portion. If I understand the tense it is written in (Second Aorist, Active, Subjunctive) it means that we are to forgive when and if we have occasion to forgive–in other words when there is an offense against us.

Forgiveness means to cut off, to send away, to set free, to cancel a debt. Forgiveness does not mean that you are disregarding sin and doing nothing about it, but you are liberating a person from them, their guilt, and their power (Zodhiates). Normally we think about forgiveness like this in terms of God forgiving us. But it seems we have two choices here: 1) We can nurture our hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with our relationship with God, or 2) We can forgive and let it go.

Nurturing implies paying attention to something, caring for it, and feeding it. This means that you are often pulling your list(s) of offenses off the shelf and meditating on them instead of meditating on God’s will or God’s Word. I would much rather cut the gum-like offense off of me and free myself from its tyranny over me and my spiritual and emotional well-being. We are never more like God than when we forgive.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  But it is God’s way. When I was a new Christian I soon learned about forgiveness, but did not understand HOW to forgive. I read books and looked for ways to forgive a certain individual in my life. I remember reading about someone who wrote down all the offenses that someone had made against her and then burned them.  I thought, “If it worked for her, it can work for me.” I grabbed a notebook and began writing page after page of offenses.  (Doesn’t this sound more like nurturing than cutting off?) After I burned it, I kept thinking of other offenses to add to the list. I would have had to maintain a perpetual fire to deal with it. *chuckle* It interfered with my relationship with a forgiving God.

I honestly believed in forgive and forget, but I couldn’t forget, and that’s because I didn’t understand my enemy.

I learned that forgiveness is a decision of our will. We simply make a decision to forgive.  Now the enemy–or all three enemies, the flesh, the world, and the devil–will try to convince us to nurture the offense and that we are right to do so. The battle that follows the decision to forgive is in our minds. We need to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-6)

If nothing else helps us to forgive, this will: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19

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Fear Not!

12 May

1But now thus saith

       the Lord that created thee, O Jacob,

       and he that formed thee, O Israel,

Fear not:

        for I have redeemed thee,

       I have called thee by thy name;

          thou art mine.

The But now of 43:1 refers back to chapter 42 when God gave Jacob up to the looters and Israel over to the plunderers—He poured his anger upon them when they failed to hear and see.

But now God says, it is a new season and you need not fear. Fear, yare’, is a Hebrew word which means to morally revere and to causatively be frightened. It is used here in its causative sense. I am always a bit surprised to learn that Fear Not, which sounds like an order, is not written in the imperative, but in the Qal Imperfect tense, which is a simple tense written about a continuous or repeated condition.

I would imagine that God does not give us an order, because we perhaps are not capable of carrying it out, although He does give us four reasons ascending in prominence so that we can look at our fear rationally.

  1. God created us. The verb, bara’, is actually written in the Qal Active Participle tense which would read literally: God, creating you, Jacob. Why would God not take care of that which He has created?
  2. God formed us. The verb, yatsar, is also written in the Qal Active Participle tense which would read literally: God, forming you. This is the word used for a potter molding his clay. God is continually forming us into His image. Why would God not take care of that which He is forming?
  3. God redeemed us. The verb, ga’al, is written in the Qal Perfect tense, which signifies a completed act. He bought back the Israelites from captivity and paid the ultimate price on the cross for us to be freed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13) and be bought out of our captivity as well.
  4. God calls us by name. This verb, qara’, is also written in the Qal Perfect tense, which signifies a completed act. To be called by His name implies that He has intimate knowledge of us, that He has a loving friendship with us, that we belong to Him, that we are part of His family, and that we are created in His likeness.

What amazing reasons not to be frightened! And God gives us one more in verse 5:

       5. Fear not: for I am with thee. The God of all the universe is with us RIGHT NOW!

Iron Sharpens Iron

21 Apr

Unknown Beauty: The closer you look, the more you see.

 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17

I am so grateful for friends who move me toward a deeper relationship with the Lord. I’m thankful to my friend Becky, who has opened up the world of listening to Christian books to me, which has led to me reading books out loud and making my own audio books.  (That sounds much grander than it is; I’ve just gotten started.)

My friend, Vicki, and I Facebook Message back and forth while we each have our morning quiet time/devotional/Bible study/prayer time, encouraging each other in our study, sharing books we’ve found on Amazon (You should see our Wishlists!), and yesterday encouraging one another to take a Bible course.

I just finished the first module on Bible Arcing, which is a method of looking at the Scripture and coding it relationally to see the flow of God’s Word throughout the Bible and better understand it. I’d been using Howard Hendrick’s method of Bible Study, but Bible Arcing is Hendricks on steroids. The course is only $10 and is a real strain on (my) brain, but I can only see marvelous things coming out of it for my study of Isaiah.

Just wanted to share the joy.

Bind Us Together, Lord

7 Apr

 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

For many years, I thought this verse meant if we just kind of sit and wait patiently, without striving, God would renew our strength to help us get through those tough times when we are worn down to nothing.

But. No.

The word wait, qavah, means to bind together by twisting. When we bind ourselves together with the Lord by twisting, He renews our strength. Renew written in the tense it is written, the Hiphil Imperfect, means that God will exchange our strength for His.  It is through the binding together that this happens.

BIND US TOGETHER, Lord, Bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord,
Bind us together,
Bind us together with love.

 

Martin Luther (not King) Day

15 Jan

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In a sermon last Sunday, I heard this quote from a Martin Luther letter to his dear friend which had me guffawing in church.  Read it and tell me if you think he would make it today when we are so careful of one another’s feelings?

I beg you, who are so pugnacious in everything else, fight against yourself, your own worst enemy, for you furnish Satan with too many weapons against yourself. . . . I pray for you very earnestly, and I am deeply pained that you keep sucking up cares like a leech and thus rendering my prayers vain. . . . If we are not strengthened by his promises, where in all the world are the people to whom these promises apply?  But more of this another time.  After all, my writing this is like pouring water into the sea.

 

From Luther:  Letters of Spiritual Counsel (p. 147)

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S.T.O.P.

26 Feb
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As you can plainly see, I’m having difficulty with the “O” in S.T.O.P..

I recently attended a workshop on executive functions–which just means what you need to do to execute anything.  The acronym we were taught was S.T.O.P..

S = Space

T = Time

O = Objects

P = People

For example, if I’m leaving work and want to stop at the grocery store before a 6:00 appointment, I need to think of the route I want to take (Space), I need to work backwards from 6:00 and think of the drive time to and from the grocery store and determine how much time I can spend at the grocery store (Time).  I also need to think of what I need to bring, like my wallet and passport and what I need to buy (Objects).  And of course, I need to think of Mike’s likes and dislikes when I grocery shop and the person that I’m meeting at 6:00 (People).

I was thinking about executive functions in the spiritual realm.

S = Space – We are pilgrims in this world, just passing through. Our citizenship is in heaven. Psalm 84:5; Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11

T = Time – We need to use our time well now, but will soon live in eternity. Ecclesiastes 3:11; Isaiah 57:15; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5

O = Objects – We hold them lightly and know how to be content with much or little. Acts 2:45; Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:8

P = People – We treat them as we would like to be treated, loving them unconditionally and giving grace and mercy.  Matthew 7:12; John 13:34

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Lilies of the Field & Birds of the Air

23 May

red flowerI’ve just started a book by Soren Kierkegaard.  Don’t know much about his theology, but the first chapter of his Christian Discourses touched my core.  He speaks of the anxiety of poverty:

The deeper he then sinks in anxiety, the farther he removes himself from God and from the Christian position; he is most deeply sunken when he will not know anything higher, but on the contrary wills that this anxiety shall be, not merely the heaviest (which in truth it is not, for the heaviest is the pain of repentance), no, but that it shall be the highest.

I’ve written before that growing up in my family it was considered an unspoken virtue to worry–after all, how else can you show that you truly care??  Until now, I’ve not heard of anyone else speak of lifting up anxiety to a high place.

Kierkegaard uses the parable of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air to speak his truths, and even more than that he refers to the birds and lilies as our teachers in learning to trust God and His provision.

The book begins with this prayer:

Father in heaven, when spring is come, everything in nature returns in new freshness and beauty, the lilies and the birds have lost nothing of their charm–oh, that we might also return to the instruction of these teachers!  Ah, but if in the time that has elapsed we have lost our health, would that we might regain it by learning again from the lilies of the field and the birds of the air!