Monday, May 10, 2010


Monday, May 10, 2010 1 Chronicles 26
Verse 6: they were mighty men of valor
Verse 8: they were able men with strength for the service
Verse 9: valiant men
Verse 12: To these divisions of the gatekeepers, the chief men, were given duties like their relatives to minister in the house of the LORD.
Verse 16: Guard corresponded to guard.
Impression: The job of gatekeeper was not for sissies. God used specific men to guard the gates of the city, to open and close the gates, to oversee that which went out and that which came in. They were men of valor and strength whose job was understood in their ministry to the LORD. Should I view the importance of my soul any less? Or this body which is the temple of the Spirit? To guard against outside forces, to overcome self, to open and close the gates of my heart is not a job for a sissy. If I choose to sit back and let enter what will, I have failed to guard my heart (Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.) If I choose to “be myself” and give in to every thought and desire, I have broken down the walls of my heart (Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control).
God is the One who gives valor, strength, and ability. He is the One who ultimately oversees the gates of my heart, but I must submit to His Spirit and His working in my life to benefit from His guardianship. How? By conscious choice and open request. With a soft heart and a determination of will, dependence on God becomes a lifeline that overcomes the dangers of laziness, procrastination, permissiveness, the desire to exalt self and please others.
(Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Cost of Forgiveness

Forgiveness. Yesterday was Easter and my reflections fell on it. It is not a frightening word. It is not a negative word. On one hand it's expected. On the other, it's... impossible. Forgiveness is the act of moving beyond an offense, intentional or otherwise. Neither side of forgiveness is pleasant. The one who has offended must accept it with humility, with lowliness and meekness. The one who offers forgiveness does so at a cost.

God has been teaching me the cost of forgiveness and I am learning a greater sense of awe and reverence for who He is. I have discovered that forgiving others means that, although they were wrong, I bear their offense. If I was slandered by another, I bear the price of their slander. I am the one that was defamed. But in forgiveness, the price is not laid on the one who initiated the crime. It weighs on the one who was wronged, the one who forgives.

To forgive is to relinquish the expectation of reconciliation or retribution*, although that may come. To forgive is to simply live on apart from the offense. It is so very impossible. My mind recalls words, details, memories and I must put them to rest. I must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I must choose not to dwell on, or remember, those details, by the grace of God. Apart from the working of God Himself, this is humanly impossible.

This is the forgiveness of God. This is the picture of Christ's death, His substitutionary death for me--that He took on Himself my sin, my wickedness, my death, and I pay nothing. God does not expect me to make it right. I cannot. He does not expect me to pay Him back. I cannot. In His forgiveness, He indwells me and enables me to "simply live on apart from the offense."

The other amazing thing I've learned in practicing forgiveness is that God has already given us an antidote for relieving the pain. Five times the writers of the gospels quote Jesus saying, "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39, 16, 25; Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, 17:33). In a voila moment, I realized that the hurtful moments that roll off my back are the ones I don't take personally. Jesus was not only speaking of finding life after death, but of the eternal life we can experience in the here and now. I can experience the joy and peace of God when my life is not my own. In those moments that my life is lived for Christ and not for myself, the offense is not mine, it is His. Not only is the offense not realized at the time, the pain of forgiveness is nil. It is not mine to forgive, it is God's and He has already given it.

To walk in the Spirit is to walk with an eye ever on the Savior, with a heart bent to His will, with an ear listening to His voice. To forgive is to rely on God to faithfully prune those areas of my life that I hold too dearly, and cling to those that will draw me closer to His side.

* I may be wrong, but I believe God's forgiveness is free of reconciliation--Jesus forgave those who nailed Him to the cross. But reconciliation is the only way to experience a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The forgiveness is available, but must be received in order to restore the relationship. Through Christ I can forgive someone apart from a restored relationship.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The How

Yesterday, I blew it. I gave in to eating more than I should, to eating more of the comfort foods than I should. Just simply gave in. You might say I had good reason if I unloaded my excuses, but in my heart, I know excuses don't count. Reality does.

How encouraging then, this morning, to realign myself and agree with God about my failure. I need His forgiveness and help. If you will allow me, I will open my daily reading journal for you to read. Perhaps it will be a comfort and encouragement to you, too.

March 2, 2010 Romans 9:1-16
Verse 16: So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Impression: There is no “me” in salvation—it is all about God. If this is true, even my sanctification—and certainly my glorification—is an act of God. How can one part be my choice, my will, my decision, my doing, but not the other parts? I know I cannot resurrect this body and replace it with a glorified one. How much more will I take credit for my salvation (WHO died and paid for my sin? Certainly not me.)? How much more will I take credit for my sanctification (“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure)? So, then, it is God who does the work.

Will I submit myself to His will and ways today? He is so much more able, more capable, more invested in this fleeting, minimal life of mine than I am. How could I trust myself to know where to go, what to do, what is best? How much wiser to entrust it to the One who knows all, does all, enables all and is all loving, all just…. Simply trust and obey. Now. Today.