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Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Matthew 16:24-27

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.
Matthew 16:24-27

Dear God, when my wife and I were praying together this morning, we talked about laying down our bitterness—the wrongs people have done to us that stick around in our minds. Forgiveness.

She told me about a great novel she read that, towards the end has one last argument between a husband and wife. The wife is pious but unforgiving and bitter. The husband is not pious at all. Just before he leaves to live alone for the rest of his life, he calls her on it. Paraphrasing: “I’m not pious, but you are. But you don’t forgive. What good will your piety do for you on the other side when you’ve never forgiven others?”

I think that feeds into this passage. “Give up your life for my sake.” That means giving up the hurt and the bitterness too. It means embracing the role you have for me to play in this world instead of caring about what role I have for me to play in this world. It means seeing another person’s offensive behavior for what it might be beneath the surface and disregarding how it impacted/impacts me. Not that I should allow myself to be abused. But once I’ve removed myself from the abusive situation, I think you call me to let go and prayerfully consider what actions you would have me take for that other person’s good.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, please guide me. Teach me. Holy Spirit, pray for me. Pray for those who are on my heart as I type this out. And I also want to pray for the two people today I know who are experiencing memorial services/funerals for their loved ones. Please ease their pain. Comfort them. They are people of faith in you. Please meet them and strongly support them.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2019 in Matthew

 

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Peter & John — 1 John 3:7-10

1 John 3:7-10 NIV
[7] Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. [8] The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. [9] No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. [10] This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

Dear God, I must be misinterpreting what John meant in verses 9 and 10 because I see plenty of Christians continuing to sin, including me. Part of my story is that I kept getting frustrated by my sin as a child. I went to a Baptist Church at the time and from the ages of 9 to 17, I probably walked the aisle and got “saved” close to 30 times when you add up Fellowship of Christian Athletes conferences, church revivals, and just church services. I would hear the speaker talk about a transformed life, I would figure I must not have done it right the previous times and I would “give my life to Jesus” again.

Then I went to a conference that taught me how to be a disciple. Somehow, I figured out that this life on earth wasn’t about being sin-free. It was about the journey with you. It was about my mistakes and failures coupled with your love and redemption. It was about my growth and learning more and more about how you see the world as opposed to how I had seen the world up until then (and that process is ongoing). It was more about how you saw me and my life than how I saw me. My life became smaller and smaller in my own eyes, and I mean that in a good way. There is a great freedom in just being a piece of your plan and not needing to achieve through performance or sinlessness.

Father, I don’t mean to contradict John here because I do think being sinless is a goal. But it needs to be considered along with the realization that we are all on a continuum of growth and there is mercy from you for our failings. Maybe the difference between my first eight years of faith and the next 31 years is that after I was 17 I started to see how you see me in a new way and I came to have the same peace with myself over my sinful nature that you have with me through Jesus’ blood and redemption. Help me to live in that victory and peace even more today.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2019 in 1 John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — 1 John 1:5-2:2

1 John 1:5-2:2 NIV
[5] This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. [6] If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. [7] But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. [8] If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. [10] If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
[1] My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. [2] He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Dear God, I think John’s message here is simply, stop trying to portray yourself as perfect, be humble about your sin, accept grace, and do your best to walk in holiness (the light).

I would probably be remiss if I didn’t mention a song that was performed by dc Talk called “In The Light.” Here are the lyrics:

In The Light

I keep trying to find a life
On my own, apart from You
I am the king of excuses
I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do
What’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior
I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light
The disease of self runs through my blood
It’s a cancer fatal to my soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring this sickness under control
Tell me, what’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior
I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light
Honesty becomes me
[There’s nothing left to lose]
The secrets that did run me
[In Your presence are defused]
Pride has no position
[And riches have no worth]
The fame that once did cover me
[Has been sentenced to this Earth]
Has been sentenced to this Earth
Tell me, what’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior
I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light
I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light
Songwriters: John Paul Jones / Jimmy Page / Robert Plant

Father, I do want to be in the light. I want to be in your light. There are all kinds of Christian songs that mention being in your light. Help me to bring your light, or allow your light, into the darkest parts of my heart and live in your freedom, peace and joy. And help me to encourage others in this way too.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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Peter & John — 1 John 1:1-4

1 John 1:1-4 NIV
[1] That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. [2] The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. [3] We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. [4] We write this to make our joy complete.

Dear God, these first four verses seem like a hybrid between the first 15 verses of John’s gospel and 1 Peter. We get the part about Jesus being from the beginning, but we also get the part about John saying that he is an eye witness to this Jesus thing.

I guess this is John’s thesis. He starts his gospel and this first letter in the same way: “Jesus is God and I saw it firsthand. Everything else I have to say it true because this is true.“

It starts with saying that everyone has sin (that will be tomorrow’s prayer journal), but just saying that to some people can be hard for them to hear. I prayed “The Lord’s Prayer” twice this morning in church as part of the pre-service and then the service, and I wondered how many people really think about being forgiven by you at the same level at which we forgive others. I don’t know. Maybe I’m rambling now. And maybe I’m accidentally praying about tomorrow’s passage.

Father, at the end of the day, you sent Jesus as your essence and embodiment on earth. Your son. He was born of the Virgin Mary. Lived a remarkable, sinless life. He suffered under Pontius PIlate and the Jewish leadership at the time and was crucified. You resurrected him from the dead and he ascended into Heaven. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom (your kingdom) will have no end. Thank you. Because all of that is true, I can sit here a forgiven man, free from my sin.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2019 in 1 John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Matthew 18:21-22

Dear God, I wonder where this question from Peter came from. Right now, I’m only looking at Matthew’s version of Jesus’ life, and maybe he was just really into Peter—good stuff, bad stuff, and all, but I’m really noticing as I scan these stories that Peter is almost always the only disciple identified as a solo speaker. In most other stories, if the disciples speak they are credited as a group.

In this story, something has driven Peter to ask this question. And is he speaking about his brother Andrew or a figurative brother among the disciples? I suppose it doesn’t matter, but I had never considered he might be specifically referring to Andrew.

There was something in Peter’s personality that was very black and white. He judged others and himself on the ability to be good. There wasn’t a lot of room for gray. One either did the right thing and succeeded or did the wrong thing and failed.

One interesting weakness I observed in myself as my children were growing up was that I am usually very diplomatic and thoughtful in how I approach someone who works for me when I need to reproach them over an issue. But when my kids would do something wrong as children, my tendency was to be much more straight up confrontational. Perhaps it was because it’s the pattern I fell into when they were babies and toddlers and I had a hard time growing out of it. I am getting better now that they are adults. My wife has helped me a lot in this area. But my tendency is still to be more black and white with them.

Father, help me to be a generous forgiver. Help me to be sympathetic and empathetic. Help me to also humble myself and seek forgiveness when I need to—both from others and from you. I only know how to live because of the love you give me. Let the same be true with other area of my life. Help me to know how to relate to others through your example of how you relate to me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2018 in Matthew, Peter and John

 

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Emails to God – Me Forgive Them? (Matthew 18:21-35)

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Dear God, does being resentful mean unforgiveness? There is one person in my life who hurt me a few years ago. They are the person who comes to mind whenever I ask myself if there is anyone I haven’t forgiven. This person did something that I felt betrayed me for their own selfish gain. I am publicly nice to them. I don’t trash the person to other people. But at the same time the hurt that they caused me is still there. If I see them in public I don’t want to talk with them. I don’t think I would go out of my way to help them unless it was something they really needed. But I don’t know if that means unforgiveness.

I guess I need to figure out what it means to forgive. Does it really mean to send something away from myself as far as the east is from the west? I know women who are victims of sexual abuse. What does forgiveness look like for them? How does one really turn loose of that kind of pain (for the record, what was done to me is nothing compared to something like sexual abuse)? In order to forgive us, you had to sacrifice your own son and look at us through his pure and holy death. You don’t see me alone, but me through Him. I don’t have that luxury.

Father, I don’t want to disappoint you because of my inability to adequately forgive someone. Please show me what it means to love my enemies. Please show me what it means to truly forgive. If Judas had lived, I wonder how the disciples would have dealt with their bitterness towards him. Could they have seen, in retrospect, that Jesus needed to die to fulfill the plan, or would they have seen that Jesus needed to die, but Judas didn’t have to betray him to make it happen, and therefore had a hard time forgiving him? I don’t know. But I know that I still resent this person, and if it is holding me back from receiving more of you or any of your forgiveness, then I will work on it. I will pay attention to it. I will strive to completely forgive.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Eye for an Eye (Matthew 5:38-48)

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Dear God, like the previous passage with oaths and marriage, I am going to link the two parts of “eye for an eye” and “love for enemies” together since they seem to go hand-in-hand.

I have not had too many enemies in my life. I will always remember what my dad went through when I was in high school with a lawsuit from an attorney who put together over 2,000 plaintiffs and sued my dad’s company for $50 million. I can’t imagine the stress that this event plus the economic crash that coincided it in the late 80’s put on my dad. I could see it on him, but he also masked it pretty well for us. I learned a lot of things from him through this.

  1. He taught me that it is okay for your family to see you stressed and vulnerable, but, at the same time, you need to hide some of it from them for their own sake. Those who are being led need to feel the confidence of their leader. You CAN be TOO vulnerable.
  2. He taught me that you can forgive your enemies and reconcile. I think there was a lot of hatred for the attorney at the time, but within a couple of years of the lawsuit’s resolution my dad and the attorney became friends.
  3. He taught me to try to objectively find fault in yourself. It didn’t happen immediately, but he ultimately decided that they did have some amount of responsibility in the lawsuit and it wasn’t totally groundless, eventually settling out of court.
  4. He taught me to share my failures with others. I have heard my dad talk about this time in his professional career and he owns the mistakes that his company made during this time. The response I see from that in the people he tells isn’t judgment, but respect, appreciation, and even a little relief as they then feel free to share their failures with them.

Father, thank you for giving me a father who gave me a good example of how to follow you, how to be a faithful husband, how to be a forgiver, and how to be vulnerable. I know he wasn’t perfect. I am not perfect as a father either. I just hope that one day my kids will be able to get past the judgments they feel towards me now (as all teenagers feel towards their parents), and feel like I gave them at least a little of what my dad gave me.

 

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Matthew

 

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