Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mirroring God's Forgiveness

Well…It’s not quite the weekend, is it? Oops, Oh my! If I could just get my life under control! We took off to Oklahoma on Saturday and moved our youngest child in with my mom. Then on Monday she and I spent the morning straightening out all the problems with her registration at the college she will be attending. Finally we returned to Texas for her to tie up some loose ends. Now I am finally sitting down to write Part 4 of Luke 15.

Let’s see what the prodigal son and God have for us as we dive in to Part 4 of Luke 15.

Luke 15:17-19
 17"But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."' (ESV)

Notice the first phrase of verse 17. “But when he came to himself”, basically Jesus is saying, “when he came to his senses”, or “when he realized what he was doing”, then this prodigal son said to himself “what am I doing here? I’ve sinned against God and my father! I repent!” Just like we talked about last time. I love the way Rodney put it, “Grace awakened the younger son to how the Father forgives!” He never would have returned if he had not known that his father would not forgive him, but he KNEW his father would forgive. We KNOW our FATHER forgives!!! I could camp here and praise GOD for his Grace in forgiveness! We are so blessed with HIS forgiveness!!! Well…we must move on…

Just like with repentance, we need to define forgiveness so we are all on the same page. Forgiveness is canceling someone else’s debt. In actuality, I wear that debt or pain.

Rodney shared several great points about forgiveness. I won’t go into them as points, but I would like to tell you some things this message taught me. Had I been that father I may have been sitting on the front porch waiting for the son, and plotting my punishment and even revenge on my own son for the way he had treated me. What about you? Remember…he has taken 1/3 of what you own and in essence said, “You are dead to me!” Is that what this father does? Is that what our Father does when we ask for forgiveness? Absolutely NOT!!! He is waiting, anticipating, our arrival. He is aggressive in His forgiveness. HE RUNS TO US! If you have never heard the song “When God Ran” you must listen to it. I know of 3 recordings of this song. It is about this very thing. Benny Hester recorded it in 1986, then Phillips, Craig and Dean did it in 1999 and in 2008 The Kingsmen Quartet also recorded it. Each time it has been very popular because of it’s extraordinary lyrics. I will post links to YouTube recordings by each person/group. Please listen! This is exactly what God does. He is aggressive, He runs to us, grabs us, hugs us tells us He is happy to see us and forgives us. God has sacrificed His one and only son to forgive us.

John 3:16  16"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.(ESV)

In our definition I mentioned that the one who forgives “wears the debt or pain”. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, He said to us, “I will wear your debt.” That gives me chills. That makes me want to cry. He sacrificed His LIFE for ME! ME!  I should be willing to give my life as a LIVING sacrifice. (Ok so that living sacrifice part isn’t necessarily part of forgiveness, I just added that. So as Michael Booth says, “that part’s free.” But don’t you think, if He was willing to DIE for us, the least we can do is LIVE for HIM!)

Romans 12:1-2  1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)

Now consider this, the father began with a posture of forgiveness. What I mean is, way before the son ever returned, the father already had a forgiving and loving heart. Before we can forgive we must stop dwelling on the sin or the wrong that has been done. Ok did that sting? I know it did me.

So you may be saying, “Angie, these are all good principles, but how do I apply this in a practical way to my life?” If I am not constantly forgiving those in my faith family as they sin against me, I will build a wall of bitterness, strife and malice in my heart. Obviously that does nothing but hurt my spiritual walk and damage my relationship with others. So I need to examine my forgiving to see if it mirrors God’s. Do I forgive aggressively, sacrificially, and do I have a posture for forgiveness? That is the way God forgives. That is the way I want to forgive.

I want to touch on something. If you listen to the podcast you will find that towards the end Rodney talks about reconciliation. In most cases I believe that forgiveness and reconciliation go hand in hand. As we forgive we also rebuild or reconcile those relationships that were broken. But I also believe there are times that we do our part in forgiveness but reconciliation does not, some times cannot or even needs not happen. Before you quit reading and storm off mad, please let me explain. When I have been wronged it is MY job to FORGIVE! That takes care of me. It takes care of me on a spiritual level, emotional level and even a physical level. I have done what God has asked me to do. I am released of the anxiety, bitterness and other emotional turmoil caused by hanging on to the wrong that was done to me. This wrong cannot cause me physical pain, no headaches, stomachaches, tight muscles or any other ailments from holding a grudge. Yet we have all experienced times when the other party simply will not accept that we have forgiven them, for whatever reason. In that case, we are not responsible for them. We can pray for them, but we cannot worry about their acceptance of our forgiveness and reconciliation of the relationship. Then there are times when reconciliation should not take place. Unfortunately in this world this happens, when someone is physically or sexually abused. I believe that the abused person needs to forgive for all the same reasons I listed above, but there should never be a relationship with the abuser again for obvious reasons. Again this problem is the abusers’ not the abused. The abuser can be prayed for. However if the abuser tries to reconcile he/she usually ends up being hurt more and possibly even abused again. It is better to avoid that all around and “forgive and forget”.

I want to see if I can mirror God’s forgiveness. How about you?

Matthew 18:21-22  21At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, "Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?"
 22Jesus replied, "Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven. (The Message)

Living in Grace,

If you are interested in listening to any of the messages on Luke 15 by Rodney Hobbs, Pastor of Stonegate Church, Midlothian, TX. Please listen to the podcast at: 

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·                  I have updates on the burn victims!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Life of Repentance

Hello again friends!
I must apologize for allowing other things to get in the way of my writing this blog. I will get into that a little while later.

I may be behind in posting, but we are not behind at all with our study of Luke 15. Today I want to talk about Part 3 of our series on the Prodigal Son- Repentance. Let me just tell you from the beginning, this one is a hard one for me. I really thought I understood repentance. WOW! I now see so many things I have been so wrong about. So buckle your seat belts and let’s get started.

First why don’t you reread Luke 15:12-32 just to remind yourself of the entire parable…

Maybe I have a twisted sense of humor, those that really know me will probably say a resounding YES!!!, but I find this first thing that Rodney points out ironically funny, yet very interesting. Take a look at verse 13, depending on the version you are using (I’m looking at 4 different ones right now, haha), it only takes the son 9 words (ESV) (8 in the KJV or NIV) to squander his entire inheritance! This tells me some things about God’s character. He doesn’t focus on where the son went, how he got there or even how he lost the inheritance. God is only concerned about 2 things: 1.the son’s need-where he IS, his current position, he has a need NOW, and 2.that the son return-repent and restore fellowship with the father (God).

One more, quick thought before we get to the real meat, the repentance part. Verse 14 speaks of a famine. We have NO idea what it means to live through a famine. Yes, we are in a drought right now. As I understand it, one of the worst droughts in history. The last time Texas was this dry was in 1951. That was the beginning of a 6 year drought. Texas and the rest of the United States, can still grow and ship food. We will NOT go hungry! However, in Jesus’ day when the crops dried up, there was NO food for the animals or humans. So when the animals don’t eat the humans can’t eat meat and the humans can’t have crops when there are none. So for this son, at first he thinks, desperate times call for desperate measures and he begins by feeding the pigs. Then eating with them, because he has NOTHING. Then the light bulb comes on! DING!

This is where he must choose repentance. Oh how I wish I could give you ALL of my notes on this message! It is SO good! Instead I will focus on one point that God knocked me over the head with. So I will share with you then you can listen to the message in its entirety later.

As a Christian is my life marked by repentance? How often am I repenting? Not how often am I sinning? I’ve been saved for almost 40 years yet I have always focused on sinning instead of repenting. As soon as I say it, I can see immediately how Satan can use it. Can’t you? Why would I focus on the negative thing?

Let’s get a little clearer view of repentance. I know most of us have heard the definition of turning away from one thing (the negative or sinful thing) and turning toward God, or making an about face, turning 180o. It is all of these, but it includes a step of faith. So what if we say that repentance is turning away from sin and in faith moving toward the Savior.

Here is the thing that just grabbed me. When we sin, even when it is a wrong towards another person, it is always primarily against God. In case you are slow or hard headed like me, let me say it again. Sin is ALWAYS PRIMARILY AGAINST GOD! OUCH! I’m not doing things to intentionally hurt God! But I am! Every single time I sin! That made my sin SO much more real to me. I realized every time I tell a “little white lie”, I’m lying to God. When I’m vindictive to someone, I’m being vindictive to God. When I steal a pen or paperclip from work, I’m stealing from God. When my attitude is hateful, rude, unloving, mean, or selfish, I am being hateful, rude, unloving, mean or selfish to my loving, kind, selfless, gracious Savior. The very one who gave his life for ME! THAT IS WHO I’M SINNING AGAINST. THAT IS WHO I’M OFFENDING. What have I been thinking? How selfish, self-centered and egotistical of me to live my life like it is MINE!

Just to reinforce this point, let’s look at Psalm 51.
1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3For I know my transgressions,
 and my sin is ever before me. 
4Against you, you only, have I sinned
 and done what is evil in your sight, 
so that you may be justified in your words
 and blameless in your judgment.
 5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
 and in sin did my mother conceive me. 
6Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
 and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
 wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 8Let me hear joy and gladness;
 let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
 and blot out all my iniquities. 
10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
 and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
 and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
 and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
 and sinners will return to you. 
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
 O God of my salvation,
 and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
 15O Lord, open my lips,
 and my mouth will declare your praise. 
16For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
 you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
 a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 18Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
 build up the walls of Jerusalem; 
19then will you delight in right sacrifices,
 in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
 then bulls will be offered on your altar.
David wrote this after his sin with Bathsheba. Take a look at the part I have highlighted in yellow. Even David realized that his sin was against GOD. He doesn’t say I’ve sinned against Bathsheba or even Uriah, her husband, which to me is logical. No David says “against you, you only, have I sinned”! As you read the chapter did you see it? I did! David got it! David understood the impact his sin had on God. How it grieved God’s heart. I’m still not sure I do. Do you? The only way it really seems to hit me is when I look at it this way…Every time I sin, I picture that sin as the nail that nails Jesus to the cross. The problem there is I want to deny it and look away, but I can’t! That is EXACTLY what my sins did!

Now that I know who I am sinning against and how my sin effects my God, I know I must turn to Him and repent. We’ve already established that repentance is turning away from sin, and in faith moving toward the Savior. It is NOT confession. Confession is simply telling God what we have done. When we repent, we move toward Him. That means our relationship with Him changes. We are restoring a once broken relationship. We get closer to Him. I make a choice to get closer to Him. To spend more time with Him, reading His word, praying, singing, whatever it takes to become closer and more like Jesus. He is so merciful, He will ALWAYS WELCOME ME HOME!

Now due to this message, I feel I need to tell all of you something. At the beginning of today’s post, I apologized for allowing other things to get in the way of my blog. I want you to know. I have asked God to forgive me for not staying up with this for the last couple of weeks. I truly believe this is a ministry He has given me and I have let Him down. I know He has forgiven me, now I ask that you all please accept my apology and pray for me as I continue this. I have many things bombarding me right now, but I need to stay committed to this since it is something I believe God has gifted me with.

Thank you and God Bless You.
I am planning on posting Part 4 before the weekend is over!

Living in Grace,

If you are interested in listening to any of the messages on Luke 15 by Rodney Hobbs, Pastor of Stonegate Church, Midlothian, TX. Please listen to the podcast at 

Luke 15-Part 3

* Don’t forget to check out my new pages!