Mark 11:25 NKJV – Forgiven so I can forgive

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.

God’s forgiveness of believers’ sins leads them to pray for His forgiveness of others and to be forgiving to others. This is a command and not a choice. “Whoa! Wait a minute. You don’t know what he/she did to me.” No, I don’t, but Jesus is very clear with this command. Jesus said, “anything against anyone, forgive him”. Being forgiven is dependent on forgiving others.

I know that I struggled with obedience to this Scripture even after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Though I would tell you that my heart and mind were changed, I still had deep hurts from my past. Some of the hurt was actually bitterness that I refused to let go of. Bitterness is a bad seed. I’ll tell you that it eats at your life and endeavors to consume you. It’ like the worst kind of killing weed. The enemy uses bitterness to keep us from forgiving others. But our God is greater. The enemy is of the world, but God is not. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NKJV)

I had to learn that forgiveness begins with love for that individual. Loving those who hurt you. Loving those who persecute you. Loving those who scorn you. Loving those who tell lies about you. Loving those who others say are unlovable. “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8 NKJV) Jesus was very clear about loving your enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV)

Being changed and delivered from bitterness in my life gave me a freedom that cannot be adequately explained. A freedom of extreme joy. The change and the deliverance came after long hours and many days of being discipled from many brothers and sisters in the Lord and prayer. It was a process that was nurtured and fed with every moment I sought God in prayer. To love like Jesus loves, you need to have a relationship with Jesus. Man cannot love as Jesus loves without the power of His mercy and grace. Man cannot love as Jesus loves without an active relationship with love Himself, Jesus. Jesus is love!

Friend, our forgiveness of others is to be without limits. We are to forgive as Christ forgave us. Jesus went to the cross to pay the price for mankind’s sin. He suffered and died because of us; our sin nailed Him to the cross. The good news is, Jesus forgives. He rose from the grace to defeat sin and death once for all and forgives those who come to Him in faith and belief. Jesus forgives unconditionally when we humble ourselves and submit our lives to Him based on His mercy and grace. Our forgiveness of others must be as unconditional as Christ who forgave us. So where do we start? We start with prayer, seeking God for the mind and heart and compassion of Jesus. Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NKJV) You can choose to carry the bitterness of unforgiveness or you can choose to forgive those who have hurt or persecuted you. Make the right choice and go to God in prayer.

Precious Jesus, thank You for Your forgiveness. Lord, there have been times when bitterness has overtaken our hearts. Thank You Lord that You give us Your love that transcends our bitterness. We can love our enemies because Lord you love them. Teach us how to love as You love. Bring us to our knees as we seek You to understand the depth of Your forgiveness and love. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Romans 12:10-15 NKJV – The importance of love

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

In these verses, there is a common theme…the importance of love. We are to love one another in brotherly love as of the “Household of God”. The believer should be fervent in living for Jesus Christ. We should have enthusiasm and high energy. We should rejoice with each other, have patience when we face difficult times, and remain diligent in prayer. And we should care for each other as the need arises.

When we are insulted and pushed around, made to feel like we don’t matter, we should bless those who do that to us. We should be praying for God’s favor for them and that their hearts would be softened to receive the power of the Holy Spirit to guide them to turn towards Jesus. Jesus said, “But I say to you who hear; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27 NKJV) Our unity as Christians is best displayed in the empathy we show each other in moments of extreme joy or deep, deep sorrow. In short, we must behave like a Christian.

Where do we start? We start with a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is love. So much so that He gave His life for us so that we could be with Him where He is. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3 NKJV) A genuine relationship begins with prayer. Setting aside time each day to spend with Jesus. To let Him know how we’re feeling, what we are facing, to thank Him, to praise Him, to tell Him how much we love Him. Prayer is so important to help us grow in the knowledge of the love Jesus has for us because it’s in those times of prayer that Jesus speaks to us. The more we get to know about Jesus in prayer and the study of His Word, the more He returns that love to us in abundance.

I can tell you that when I felt there was no one or nothing else that could love me, Jesus came boldly and aggressively into my life. He pursued me and captured my heart and my love. “And he arose and come to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20 NKJV) And Jesus will do that for you as well, if you would let Him.

Dear Jesus, help us to love as You love us. Lord, thank You for teaching us in Your Word what it means to be Christlike. Lord, we desire to have a genuine relationship with You. We desire to spend time with you. Help us to grow in our knowledge and love for You. Thank You for pursuing us and capturing our hearts. We love You and praise You. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Luke 6:27-28 NKJV – The Source

But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.

Again, this very verse has challenged me. AND again, the challenge occurred at the workplace. Now I have to say that I am very thankful for the employment I have and the people I work with every day. But there are days, when the stresses of the work begin to wear on everyone. And that’s when things are said that people don’t mean to say. Now, it’s just not at the workplace that this occurs. It can happen anywhere. It’s not like we live in a peaceable world. There is chaos, and strife, and tension just about everywhere. When you experience it, well, it’s not good.

Now I wouldn’t call any of these people my enemies and frankly, when I get drawn into the situation myself, and I fall, I pray I’m not looked upon as an enemy. But this scripture is very clear as to what I am to do when I’m treated wrongly. There have been times that I have been used spitefully and even cursed at. It’s then I have to stop and bridle my tongue and not respond in defense. Defense is a natural survival mechanism, but when not controlled it can get you in a lot of trouble.

Scripture teaches us that it is wrong to strike back or to return evil for evil, whether by immediate retaliation or by taking revenge later. Forgiveness is always the best approach. God’s forgiveness of our sins leads us to pray for His forgiveness of others and to be forgiving in our dealings with other people. Is this easy? Well, sometimes it’s not especially if we don’t understand where our “Source” of forgiveness is.

The “Source” of forgiveness, the “Source” of our peace, the “Source” of our compassion for others comes from the Blood of Jesus. It’s only through the Blood of Jesus that we can endure this world, that we can forgive as we have been forgiven, that we can love our enemies.

These last couple of days has been a challenge to me and I am so thankful that God is still working in me to live a life pleasing to Him in all I say and do. I’m being transparent today because I want you to know that if you are struggling with loving your enemies or those who do you wrong, you are not alone.   I struggle as well. But we have Jesus. The lover of our souls. Who loves us with an everlasting love and through His Blood, we can pour out that kind of love on others. Even on those who hurt us.

Will I have more days like today? I’m sure that I will. But I pray that I remember what God has spoken to me about over these last few days. We must always remember our “Source”. Thank You Jesus!

Precious Lord, thank You for Your precious blood. It’s the source of life and everything we are. Your precious blood allows us to live and breathe in this world. Let us always remember to cling to You and Your sacrifice on the cross to enable us to demonstrate to the world that You are alive. Help us Lord to draw our strength from You. May we always love our enemies and forgive all who persecute us. Thank You Jesus. In Your Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 Timothy 2:1 NKJV – We’re in this together

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.

The other day I began to think about the countless people God has placed in my life. It started out because God placed someone on my heart to pray for. I’ve done this before. I’ve prayed for a lot of folks God placed on my heart. But after the prayer, I began to meditate on all the other people that are in my life. My family, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers, my church family. Even the people at the auto repair shop that I know. I began to think why they were involved in some way with me. Then the revelation came.

The people that I encounter every day, whether I’m working, or in church, or getting my car fixed, or at the grocery store, have been placed in my life for a reason. I may not know that reason, but they were placed there by God. Before the beginning of time, God established a plan for my life and every single one of these people God specifically placed in my plan. I thought, “Wow”. Every one of these people no matter the level of impact or relationship, God knew and established our contact. Even those people that we may not like or who we keep at a distance. I then began to think of the impact my attitude and the way I live my life has on all of these people, and found myself in prayer again. Repentant prayer.

Well, the revelation continued. I began to realize not only were all of these people placed in my life as part of my plan, I was placed in their life as part of their plan. Whoa!!! Yup. It’s true. I was a part of the individual plan God established for them. I again began to think of the impact my attitude and the way I live my life has on them and returned again to prayer. This time a prayer of petition. Help me Lord.

You see, that’s why I say “We are in this together”. When God placed the individual on my heart at the beginning of this blog, to pray for, God had a reason. There was some need and God wanted me to be obedient to pray. I didn’t know the reason. God just wanted my obedience. God placed this friend in my plan and he in mine for a reason. To love each other. Even to love enough to stop and pray that day. These past few days, God has changed me. He has given me a new perspective of what my relationship is with every person I encounter. Even those I don’t like or keep at a distance. I now have a greater understanding of my responsibility to their lives. These people may not understand this whole encounter thing, and they may never understand that I am in their life because God placed me in their plan, but that’s ok. God has commanded me to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) And, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

So, I am thankful for every single person I encounter because each of them, whether they know it or not, has been placed there by God Himself. And I am excited that God has placed me in their life. We are in this together!

Heavenly Father, thank You that You established a specific plan for my life and You have placed others in my life as a part of that plan. Help me Lord to walk in the ways of Jesus and to be a constant light to them. And Lord, to those I am a part of their plan, again, Lord, help me to be obedient when You call and to be open to share the love of Christ and the message of eternal life through Jesus. May Your mercy and grace abound in these encounters. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV – Really? Love my enemies?

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

There was a time when this passage of scripture was very hard for me to grasp. I would tell you that even today; I am challenged at times to understand how or why I should do this. Jesus wants us to know the He loves and cherishes everyone and He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”. (2 Peter 3:9) He went to the cross and died for all of us. To be Christian means to be Christlike. In everything. That means to love your enemies and bless those who talk bad about you, who hate you, who find ways to use you and oppress and torment you.

I remember when my life was a great big mess, filled with anger and the constant thought that life was not fair and I would let the world know about it. My love for people was shallow and my motives were very wrong. Jesus came into my life and changed that. It’s been a process and He’s not done with me yet. But when I look at people now, it’s with a different viewpoint. Jesus taught me to love unconditionally. He taught me to love like He does. To love you for who you are; His creation. And if by doing that, God moves in that person’s life or a change is made, then I say, “Glory to God”. It’s not about me; it’s all about what Jesus did in me.

Dear Jesus. Thank You for changing me and enabling me to love Your creation as You command me. Thank You that You are patient with me when I fail sometimes and my own issues and pride get in the way. You have always loved us from the beginning of time and You died for all of us so that a bridge could be built from us to You. Help us love as You love. Help us be Your lighthouse. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!