Category Archives: Healing & Forgiveness

Because it’s not good to hurry…part 2 of 3

So yesterday I said I would give you the last half summary of our Sunday sermon, but as I am studying back over my notes…there is just too much info. I try to keep these short so you all will keep coming back (insert smile).

Hope you don’t mind if we stretch this into three days…but it is really good stuff!

If you didn’t read yesterday’s post we are going over my notes from Pastor Brian Talty’s sermon from July 16th (firstdecatur.org/sermons) on Matthew 16 about the many facets of the Crown Jewel of Christianity – the Cross <3

I am adding some of my own reflections and some other material so I am putting my notes in Italic to protect Pastor Brian from anything I would add to his words that he may or may not agree with!!!

Today we pick up with #5….

Propitiation: the act of appeasing an offended party.

As Pastor Brian pointed out, the thing that makes God’s grace, mercy and love so special IS the TRUTH of His judgment, wrath and anger.

His anger is because of His protective love. 

He gave us examples of God’s Active Wrath in the Old Testament (Sodom and Gomorrah/fire and brimstone) and the New Testament (Ananias and Sapphira/lied about tithe and were instantly killed).

Then there is God’s Passive Wrath outlined in Romans 1: 18-32. 

I must tell you that this passage would be the reason you are not getting all four points today.

These verses bring me to my knees as I look around the spiraling mess of our culture. We surely have, in our prosperity in this land that we love, become a people who have worshipped the creation and not the Creator and we are reaping the harvest of death daily as a result.

God’s passive wrath in New Testament is when he hands you over to your evil desires to face the consequences of your choices. And we ALL deserve the wrath of God because of our natural tendency to go our own way.

AND YET through Christ’s propitiation – God’s wrath against our sin is absorbed by Jesus on the Cross. 

1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins and not only our sins but also for the whole world.

1 John 4:10 In this is love – not that we loved God – but that HE loved US and sent His Son to be the propitiation of our sins.

This is the only way because God is Holy, Just and Righteous.

As only God could do, I received a book for my birthday and have begun reading it and the passages I read yesterday speak so clearly into this very subject.

So I am going to stop here with my sermon notes and share from the pages of this book to help solidify the powerful truth of what Jesus did for us as giving Himself to appease the wrath of God against us.

In the book No God but One, author Nabeel Qureshi explores the paradox of the Absolute nature of God and how can He be both fully/completely just and fully/completely merciful?

He points out that a completely, perfect Just Judge would rule guilty on every infraction of the law, from the least to the greatest 100% of the time, just as a completely perfect Merciful Judge would forgive every infraction of the law, from the least to the greatest 100% of the time.

God is our perfect Father and He loves us with both mercy and justice.

In our offenses, He must extend justice (would we not want that as the victim??) and yet mercy (don’t we need that as the perpetrator??)

So how does God “draw the line”?

Listen to the words of this man, who has come to understand the gift of grace and transformation:

“Herein lies the genius and infinitude of the love of God: He does not draw the line. He offers mercy to everyone who has ever sinned while also demanding justice for every sin ever committed. He does this by offering to bear the consequences of our sins himself. The consequences of our sins is death, and God is willing to die on behalf of all of his children.”     page 41

This is what the Cross is.

This is what Jesus Christ, THE Messiah, has done for us.

For you.

For me.

For the sins of a whole world that has rebelled against the Loving God who created us.

I cannot add to such a profound thought.

It brings me to my knees.

May I encourage you today to examine your own heart in light of Romans 1: 18-32 and ask God to show you where you have worshipped creation instead of Him who created you?

Let the precious Blood of Jesus Christ wash away the shame and guilt of those transgressions as we turn our grateful hearts to Him.

“He loves us, and we are forgiven.

When we realize the depravity of our sins and the depths of our rebellion against God, it exceeds the minds capacity to grasp this grace. 

He engulfs us with his infinite love and absolute mercy, though we cannot earn it.

It is into that overwhelming flood of grace that our hearts release their poison.” Nabeel Qureshi, No God but One  page 46

 

I marvel at the strength of fragile things <3

So we are watching the corn do its thing here in the Midwest and I tell you, if you stood still and just watched for part of the day I am quite certain you could literally see it growing.

Straight rows of it, all shooting up out of nicely tilled and prepared soil.

And sure…we need the rains to come at the right time…not too much and not to little.

But right now, and for miles upon miles, in every direction the eye can see…corn and soy beans are marching across the prairie in a thick carpet of green that just about takes my breath away as we drive the flat ribbons of highway.

And yet, here is what intrigues me.

The power of life forcing itself through solid rock.

Breaking through the barriers of fences made of unbudging steel…

Finding a footprint in a place that is hard and unkind to growth…

a seed will take what little soil is available…

and push its way sunward.

And these brave soldiers remind me of…

the power of God’s creative beauty and breath and redemption.

And how much stronger life is than that which would crush what appears to be so weak.

How can a small green leaf break through rock?

But isn’t it true?

Life is stronger than death.

Light is greater than darkness.

In our weakness, He becomes our strength and we also…

rise up from the hard, dry, rocky ground of adversity.

We, too, can feel as if we will be crushed at times…

paved over by the concerns of this world…

but in Christ, we rise…

living and breathing and beautiful for His glory.

Press on today, sweet seedling of the Lord.

Push through the granite base of whatever you are facing as you continually reach heavenward.

God sent His Son to redeem us that we might be raised up with Him…

beautifully fragile in our suffering and yet fiercely strong in His love.

A planting of the Lord to display His glory and His splendor.

Bloom, dear one, bloom…just the way you were made to do <3

Here Comes the Sun <3

Happy May Day to you!

Did you do that when you were kids? Fashion a cone out of construction paper and fill it with dandelions and violets and hang it on a friend’s door?

Oh I hope you did…a tradition that we could well use on this sunny day here in the Midwest.

Because the sun did come back to kiss us on this Monday morning…after three long days of..

soaking…

relentless…

rain.

As we drove past the overflow of too much water I thought how sometimes life floods us with so much…

so much good sometimes and sometimes so much not so good.

I thought how we can swell over our banks of capacity with sorrow and grief and loss and yet our God promises to be overflowing with His outpouring of love and blessing.

Whatever fills us too much, that does spill over…doesn’t it?

And we don’t seem to get to choose all the time what will pour down on us.

But we do choose to what or to whom we will cling when we are overwhelmed.

So this morning I sat with coffee and the sweet blessing of sun shining over our table and over God’s Word….

and I see the winds are blowing not so gently outside the window as the trees and plants dance…

and I know that HE is causing the waters to recede even as He continues to usher in a new season.

As I studied and revisited a favorite Psalm…number 16…

I wrote this prayer and I pray now by sharing it will bless you <3

 Heavenly Father, As I read the words of the Psalms, I will pen my prayers.

The sun comes through the window, bright on the pages after a weekend of down pouring rain.

Shine on us, LORD. Shine in us today.

Psalm 16:6 – the promise from You to me – For the Lord has established the boundaries of my life and they fall, always, in pleasant places. Most assuredly I have, in Him, a delightful inheritance.  

I will bless YOU, Lord. You counsel me wisely. You hold me together and I live and breathe and move in the shelter of Your love and approval.

I do rest in Hope-in-the-Lord for you have kept a flicker of HOPE alive. Your gentleness breathes over the ashes and lovingly seeks out buried embers.

Warmth begins to glow from what appeared to be stone cold gray powder – life from death. Joy rises from what seemed dead and hopeless and drowned forever.

First a flicker and then a flame. Hope rises up and spreads warm and glowing. And there is a light.

Light.

Light for a new day.

Light for a new season.

For Light always, always, always overcomes darkness <3

Be blessed today dear ones…He is breathing His Life into you…overflowing love from His heart to ours that we might spill over rivers of living water as we ….

you and I ….

 

journey onward <3

Hello Monday <3

We did some yard work this weekend and by yard work, I mean I learned first hand about the thorny work of trimming roses back…

Among the  many thoughts that filled my mind as I attempted, unsuccessfully, to avoid bodily harm were:

<3 Sin, the Fall of Man, and how roses in heaven will not have thorns. Can I get a Hallelujah????

<3 A comparison of how painful one tiny jab of one of those nasty things was compared to a crown of them pressed down on the head of Jesus and how thankful I am for what He endured.

<3 That most people probably just trim their roses without making a life sermon out of it…

and…

<3 How thankful I am I only have to do this once a year.

or once a lifetime if I have these beasts permanently removed from the yard.

Just kidding.

I won’t … but the thought kept me going.

So all that being said, I sat in church yesterday with several scrapes on my forearms, a sore finger and a couple of slices on my ankles that looked like a bad encounter with a mean cat.

And then we did a different version of the Lord’s Prayer and while I stumbled through most of it trying to read the new version while reciting the old in my head…

(trust me, it isn’t easy having this kind of brain to live with because I can overanalyze a sneeze)…

these words caught my thorn-weary heart…

“Forgive us as we forgive those who owe us something”

or as my mind and soul heard it…

Lord, forgive me…

in the same way…

that I forgive..

those people who I feel…

owe me something.

And the Lord worked on my heart there in the quiet of the moment.

Because I saw the capacity of unforgiveness in a different way, even though God’s Word and many a good sermon and teaching have tried to help me see it for what it is.

I realized there are some people that I feel “owe me”…

maybe it’s an apology I am waiting for…

or a thank you…

or a recognition that I was right and they misjudged me.

Maybe it’s to somehow restore something they took from me…my time or my resources, a piece of my heart.

Maybe their choices have now put ugly scars on some of my sweetest moments from the past.

And by golly…they OWE me something to make up for it.

But then I think about what Jesus was telling me in the prayer He taught His disciples.

And all the times I have taken what wasn’t mine and squandered gifts.

All the times I messed up and caused pain.

All the times I clearly saw right from wrong and chose wrong.

All the times I was too busy having fun to even notice I was making a choice.

All the times I was ignorant of what I was doing and yet caused damage to others and to the Kingdom.

And if my being forgiven what I owe depends on my ability to forgive what others owe…ouch.

Such knowledge is a deep thorn cut to the soul for sure.

But it isn’t what convicts my heart of the sin of unforgiveness that I am so prone to commit.

It is the gratitude of the debt that was paid…

FOR ME…

BY HIM…

for what I owed.

This…

remembering the price paid for my sorry soul…

is what finally breaks the hard places in me that are waiting to be repaid.

My chains are gone…

I’ve been set free…

My God…My Savior…

has ransomed me…

His mercy….

His MERCY and GRACE….

not only RAIN…refresh…renew….revitalize me

they REIGN…RULE…are SOVEREIGN

 over

me <3

 

 

 

 

Because I can’t stop thinking about this

I get a copy of the Voice of the Martyrs magazine every so often.

This past month had an article about a young woman who needed a fast escape from a situation and her mom arranged a ride for her with some people she knew.

Only it didn’t turn out like the mom would have hoped or the daughter expected.

Long story short, she ended up as a purchased wife out in the depths of some rural and obscure place with little to no hope of escape. Ever.

And while it would be wonderful to say that prayers were answered and she got away and was able to return home…that is not how God worked in this story.

But He worked.

Oh yes.

He worked.

Because some missionaries had gotten some Bibles to some people off in that remote place.

And some residents became Christians.

And some of them shared the gospel with this victim of the worst kind of deceit.

As she studied God’s Word her heart softened towards her husband.

He noticed a change in her and as he pursued finding out what was different, he too received Christ.

I am so thankful for the work of many to advocate for women such as this one.

But I stand in awe of an awesome God who takes what men meant for evil and uses it for life-changing good.

This couple and their fellow believers live in a country that persecutes Christians.

So we pray for them and for those with whom they now share the Gospel of the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ.

Because this life will end…no matter how good it has been to us…no matter how evil.

But we who follow Christ know, this place where we dwell and the streets we walk and the people we interact with are not our home.

Prayers today for those who are called to go…for those who are called to fund…for those who are calling out for help…let us not grow weary in fighting the good fight…not just for the lives of others but for their eternal life <3