why your forgiveness matters

new coffee cup

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7,9)

Friend, I come to you today with these words heavy on my heart, wanting to share these words that I have been thinking about and carrying with me for some time now. I wanted to tell you that I am just like others at times, holding on to unforgiveness or anger or dislike or wrong attitudes — just because I think it too difficult a job to change my way of thinking. But the truth is — forgiveness holds such an important place in our lives.

Forgiveness is like that cord that holds us together; that binds together the broken, loose pieces and offers something to hold on to, to take hold of. Forgiveness allows growth in us messy and wounded people, bringing us that one breath closer to the One who loves us in the midst of our brokenness. Most of all, forgiveness gives meaning to the mess that we make.

“To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.” (Daniel 9:9)

Mercy and forgiveness belong to the Lord. I know you know this one, dear one. You have felt His glorious grace lavishing you with His forgiveness time and time again. His new mercies have met you every morning, over and over again. We might rebel and fight against and stubbornly refuse His grace, and yet we will never be beyond the reach of His forgiveness — and that is why your forgiveness matters.

Our forgiveness matters because when we forgive others no matter what wrong was done against us, we are in that moment the most like God.

When we forgive others, we better learn that unconditional love of God that loved us while we were yet sinners. This same love reaches us even now. When we forgive others, we learn to extend this glorious grace and so tell the other what we know deep in our bones — that I am no better than you are. That we are just the same.

“If each man or woman could understand that every other human life is as full of sorrows, or joys, or base temptations, of heartaches and of remorse as his own … how much kinder, how much gentler he would be.” (William Allen White)

Bitterness that comes with unforgiveness, is the kind that roots itself deep into our cores. Bitterness has a way of steeping into our thoughts and slowly take hold of our hearts, eventually controlling our lives on a daily basis. And yet, I have learned this one thing — I am certain I have never been worthy of being forgiven the wrongs I have done to others myself. I would say the same for all of us.

Dear friend — your forgiveness matters. Forgiveness pours that much needed grace into our hearts, and allows us to grow in our mistakes and shortcomings. Forgiveness lifts up with love that heart in desperate need of radical love that breaks through walls and chains. Forgiveness shines that wondrous love into the dark of the night.

Linking up: Faith Filled Friday, Grace & Truth, Faith and Fellowship, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Inspire Me Monday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell It To Me Tuesday, Women Helping Women, Titus 2sDay, Coffee for Your Heart, Tell His Story, Word Filled Wednesday, Wednesday’s Prayer Girls, Coffee and Conversation, Works for Me Wednesday, WholeHearted Wednesday, Words of Comfort

what if we would choose grace?

Warm autumn days are my favorite

These days, I am thinking about God’s grace a lot. This all-embracing, far-reaching grace that breaks the chains and brings down walls and fortresses. This radiant, wondrous grace that breaks through to the darkness and delivers into light. This grace, that reaches the least of us.

And I can’t help but wonder, how would the world change if we would choose to see our lives, our circumstances, our people through the lenses of God’s grace. It’s not that we can ever change the world — only God is able to do that — but I think this grace, it would change me. And it might change you. So maybe it could change all of us, after all? In the end, we are all just broken people in desperate need of Him, of His grace.

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The problem with people is, that it is difficult to see where our brokenness begins. It is easy to jump in feet first, to roll up our sleeves and extend our hands, to share a piece of our minds — but these also often come with a piece of our broken hearts. The problem with broken hearts is, there are harsh edges and cracked corners. And where sharp pieces and weary souls collide, it will hurt. Whether we intended so or not.

Where there is hurting or pain, hardships or shame — religion finds its place in our hearts too easily. Instead of choosing to believe that the grace of God meets us without condemnation, telling us to let go of our past and continue on our journey, being transformed into the image of Jesus. We often choose to say, to ourselves and others, that first we need to change and then there will be no condemnation.

But what if we would choose grace instead?

“Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

What if we would fall on our knees before mercy and chose to stay there, covered in this radical grace that renders us worthy in Him? What if for once, we would be quick to run to the unfailing love and forgiveness, letting the shadows fall behind us?

What if we all stopped despising weakness — ours and others’ — and chose to wholly embrace who God has made us instead? What if we would choose to see the messy parts and shortcomings as opportunities for God to work in us and be glorified through us? He certainly is a gracious and merciful God.

Because it is in darkness that we best notice the light. It is in deep darkness that the beacons of light come through most pure. It is in that place where we have nothing, where we are nothing — that we understand that the Lord is all we need, and we get Him. His glorious grace will reach out and take hold of our hearts. And as we behold the glory of the Lord, we are being changed.

“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

Linking up: Tell His Story, Word Filled Wednesday, Wednesday’s Prayer Girls, Coffee for Your Heart, Winsome Wednesday, WholeHearted Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Coffee and Conversation, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Thought-Provoking Thursday, Thriving Thursday, Hearts 4 Home, Fellowship Fridays, Essential Fridays, Faith and Fellowship, Faith Filled Friday

learning from Job: helper of the weak

church

I have been reading through the book of Job in my morning devotions. The book of Job is rather familiar to all of us, I am sure. Job is a very godly man, described as “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1).” In chapter 4, Job’s friend Eliphaz starts talking to Job and though we know that the advice of Job’s friends wasn’t good — after all, they did get rebuked by God — we get a glimpse into Job’s character. Job is described as a helper of the weak; a great example of living a godly life that we can learn from.

“Surely you have instructed many, and you have strengthened weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees” (Job 4:3-4)

As we walk with God and learn through the trials and blessings, there will be those we can instruct because of what we have gone through and learned. There are Scriptures that have encouraged us and given us hope. We know what the Bible says about the issue because we ourselves made a study of it when we went through it. We can give advice when asked for it — and here, a little side note. What I am learning to do, is to state my opinion and give advice only when asked, to make sure it is from God that I should say something.

More important than any advice or any idea we can share, is to guide this person to God. Give them Christ; lead them to Christ. Jesus is all they — and we — need. He is our strength. He is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Our hands get weak when we are desperately trying to carry more than we should. So we can strengthen the weak hands of people by carrying their burdens with them, by taking loads off their shoulders and remaining by their side until they find their strength again. We preach God who is our strength (Ex. 15:2; Ps. 73:26; Is. 40:29-31), who we trust to strengthen us (Is. 41:10). We speak of His grace that is sufficient for us, for His strength is made perfect in weakness.

What an amazing grace!

When someone is stumbling in their walk, we are told that we can uphold them with our words. I find this rather interesting, that it is our words that can uphold them and I am being reminded here, too, that our words truly are so very important. When someone is stumbling, we can guide them and lead them gently by speaking the Words of Truth into their lives and situation, by correcting and encouraging and giving hope. We need, and I really mean need, to walk alongside those who are stumbling; not just correcting them of all the wrong they are doing and their weak faith and think that somehow, they will now get it right. No, we need to walk alongside them and gently prompt them towards the right way, all the while speaking truth, hope, and love.

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

Finally, we are to strengthen the feeble knees, to help those who are barely standing in their faith, who feel like the weight of the world is too much for them right now. We can speak into their fears with grace and compassion, telling them of the One who is our strength and our hiding place, the One who loves us even when we are falling and failing. We stand there with them, supporting them and exhorting them to lean upon Christ, until their knees get stronger and they can stand on their own.

Linking up: Sharing His BeautyMonday’s Musings, Titus 2 Tuesday, Titus 2sDayTell His StoryWholeHearted WednesdayWinsome WednesdayA Wise Woman Builds Her HomeHearts 4 HomeCoffee for Your HeartWord Filled WednesdayThriving ThursdayThrive at HomeGrowing in Grace

let us rise up and build

blues

“And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work.” (Nehemiah 2:13,18)

We all have hearts with walls which were broken down and gates which were burned with fire. We live in a damaged world of deceit, where it is easy to get hurt and wounded, broken down and burned with fire.

The important thing, though? Jesus does not leave us there. He came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1). We can leave the past behind because God will make us new (Isaiah 43:18-19).

What we have to realize is, we are not alone in this. We are not the only ones broken down and burned with fire. Neither are we the only ones in the process of building ourselves back up again. We all have our own part of the wall that we can build really well — and therefore we should. But to make ourselves whole, to make others whole, to make our church and community whole — we need others, broken down and burned with fire just like us, building their part next to us.

Another thing we need to realize is, when we are being restored and we are coming closer to being whole. There will be those who get angry at us, who come in attacking and creating confusion. The enemy does not want us becoming whole in Jesus. So he comes, wrecking around, trying to shatter us and to turn us away from the Lord. We need to be on the lookout for that, realizing that the enemy will come and try to steal, kill and destroy.

Know this, though — the hand of your God is upon you. You are kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5).

Linking up at: Titus 2sDay, Women Helping Women, Titus 2 Tuesday, WholeHearted WednesdayWord Filled WednesdayCapture Your JourneyCoffee for Your Heart

when you feel like you are failing

In the middle of nowhere is my favorite place to be. Sometimes it takes looking at your failures to understand how faithful God is to carry you through. Sometimes it takes seeing just how wrong you have been to finally see how right He can make things. Sometimes it takes losing so very much, maybe what feels like losing it all — to realize that it is only in Christ that we have anything. Sometimes it takes coming to the end of your rope to finally be able to let it all go, and let the Lord work in and through you.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies” (Psalm 103:2-4)

This is the thought I am trying to wrap my mind around: when God created me, He already knew my sins and my failures, and still He redeemed me worthy. He knew the broken heart and the messy relationships. He knew the irrational fears and the ugly failures. He knew my impossibilities, rebellion, disobedience, and stubbornness. Still He chose me, and this perfect love goes beyond my understanding.

Sometimes it is the hardest thing, to trust His love and grace in order to accept that you have been redeemed. It is so much easier to lose hope, to give up on yourself and think that He has too. Yet, we know that there is redemption in Christ. Our God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7)

So when you are failing, and think you are beyond hope? When you are sure there is no coming back now, that you botched things up too bad? When you look around and all you see is darkness?

Lift up your face and look to God, because His mercies are new every morning. Trust God and trust His Word, because in Him we have redemption. He knows the messy and the ugly parts; He has seen the brokenness and hurt in your heart. Bring all of you to Him; the good and the bad, the weak and the weary. Thank Him for His goodness. Thank Him for His faithfulness. He is here with you, and He is making you new.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Linking up: Hearts for Home, Thriving Thursday, Thrive at Home, Growing in Grace