Showing posts with label forgive. Show all posts
Showing posts with label forgive. Show all posts

29 April 2015

Love and forgive, or forgive and love?

It's impossible to love someone you have not yet forgiven. Or, to put it another way, if you truly love a person you will certainly forgive them. So we cannot say which comes first, love or forgiveness. We must conclude that they arrive together, as a package. Love and forgiveness cannot be separated, if you have one you also have the other.

Reaching to touch
Reaching to touch
It's the same with the Father's love towards us. If he says he loves us - and he does - then he also forgives us. And if he forgives us, we know that we are already loved by him.

But beware, for hatred and condemnation (or judgement) go together in just the same way. Do not hate/condemn anyone.

We can't take any of this for granted. Remember that love and forgiveness must be received as well as given, and receiving requires repentance as the first step. We should be constantly grateful to Papa for his love/forgiveness and for sending his Son into this broken world to demonstrate that love/forgiveness. And we should also be grateful to our friends who show us the love/forgiveness we so badly need from them, a pale image of the love/forgiveness of the Father.

So praise you Father for everything you have done for us, praise you Jesus for coming into our world, and praise you Holy Spirit for remaining in us as a deposit of what we will inherit.

And thank you to all my friends (who are many) for everything you have done for me. Thank you for reminding me by your gifts of love, of that greater, heavenly gift of love that we all share.

And remember that this is also the root of mission. How can I receive this great gift without wanting to share it with everyone who will listen? It's just a matter of reaching out to people in ways that will touch them and cause them to search for spiritual truth and discover that Jesus loves/forgives them too.

24 September 2012

Seven times?

How many times must I forgive a person who wrongs me? We take a look at forgiveness in terms of Cain's murder of Abel, Israel's history, and the teaching of Jesus. There's a pattern, a thread running through all these themes. We see how forgiveness is protective and comes without limits.

Forgiveness at its source
When Yahshua told Peter he should forgive not just seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22), he was clearly making the point that forgiveness is something that should be seen as having no limits.

But this is not the first time these words are found in the Bible.

All wise and all knowing as he is, Jesus would have been very familiar with the earlier texts in Genesis 4:15 and Genesis 4:24. He intended Peter (and us) to get the deeper message. So what is that deeper message?

Cain - Read Genesis 4:8-26. In verse 8 we see how Cain attacks his brother and kills him. Which is the greater sin, attacking my brother or killing him? Most of us would agree that murder is worse than injury. But is it? We'll come back to that.

Cain's punishment is more than he can bear, he understands he is to become an exile, hidden from Yahweh's presence, and a restless wanderer at risk of death. Even so, Yahweh protects him by placing a mark upon him and decreeing seven-fold vengeance on anyone who dares kill him.

Cain goes into exile but raises a family and builds a city. His descendent Lamech also commits a murder and claims seventy times seven-fold vengeance. Notice in verse 26 that it was after these events that people began to call on the name of Yahweh.

Israel - We can see much in the history of Israel that mirrors these events. The life of Cain is, in a sense, prophetic. Joseph's brothers were jealous, they sold him to Egyptian traders and told their father that he was dead. For all they knew it was true.

The nation passed into slavery in Egypt, hidden from Yahweh's presence. When they were released from Egypt they became restless wanderers at risk of death, but they carried the mark of circumsision and were protected from destruction at the hands of the Egyptians and other nations.

They began to call on the name of Yahweh and worshipped him - first in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple.

Forgiveness - Let's move on again, to the conversation between Peter and Yahshua. Peter wanted to offer the protection of Cain to his brother, but Jesus requires the protection of Lamech. What is really going on here?

Peter's forgiveness is just like the forgiveness of the Father. It is the thing that protects from vengeance. Peter either forgives his brother, the fault is forgotten and the relationship restored, or he does not. And he needs to treat every repeat offence as if it's the first. And like Peter, we too are called to forgive without limit, without counting. It's what the Father and the Son have done for us, forgiven without limit. How can I do less for my brother, my sister?

It is the word of the Father that he will demand life from anyone who harms us. We have only one enemy - the evil one - and he cannot stand against our Father.

The pattern set by Cain and Lamech (pre covenant) comes down via Israel (Old Covenant) to the church (New Covenant). Cain was offered a mark and a seven-fold protection. Lamech claimed a seventy times seven-fold protection.

Israel (before the Messiah) was given the mark of circumcision and protection through repeated but temporary ritual sacrifice.

In Yahshua we (with Israel) are given the mark of the Holy Spirit and protection through ongoing and indefinite forgiveness. But like Lamech we must claim that protection. In our case we can only do so by believing and confessing Jesus as Lord.

Oh yes... Murder or injury, which is worse? Jesus pretty much equated anger and murder - don't murder, don't injure, and don't even be angry. Anger is the source of murder in my heart just as it was for Cain.

Read Matthew 5:21-22, 1 John 3 and 1 Corinthians 6 for more on this topic.

Did you know? There's a 'Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance' that was formed to promote forgiveness in all situations. The organisation declares that 'Forgiveness is the greatest healer of them all' and 'Without forgiveness there is no future'. They have some great stories about forgiveness.

I'd say that Jesus is the greatest healer and without him there is no future. But Jesus came to open the way to forgiveness, healing, and eternity.

06 December 2011

Be like your Father

< A pottery lesson | No later items >

I think it will be useful to share the words of another Fisherfolk song, this one from 1979. The track (and the album) is called 'Be like your Father' and it's always been one of my favourites.

Part of the LP cover for 'Be like your Father'It's so easy to live my life with 'me' at the centre. It's called being self-centred and it's not a good thing, not a good thing at all. Yahshua calls us to be other-centred, not self-centred. In fact, I need to live a life focussed first on Father, and then on all those around me. That includes my enemies. What a challenge!

'Be like your Father' is based on Yahshua's own words as reported by Matthew (chapter 5:43-48)

So here are the words of the song. The image shows the album cover.
But I say unto you...

Love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you.
Give to those who ask, don't turn away. And

Refrain:
Be like your Father in heaven above
Who causes his sun to shine on evil and good,
And sends down his rain to quench all men's thirst.
In him we live and move and have our being.

If you forgive your brother so will God forgive you
Do not judge lest you be judged yourselves. And

Refrain

When you see the hungry, feed them from your table.
For the poor and weary be their watering place. And

Refrain

Love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you.
Give to those who ask don't turn away. And

Refrain (x 2)
Thanks go to the Community of Celebration for permission to reproduce the lyrics. The CD is still available from their online store.

I don't have permission to share the music with you, in any case I only have a scratchy copy on an ancient vinyl disc. But perhaps I can offer you a small snippet to give you a feel for it and encourage you to splash out on the CD (crackle free)!

Hmm... I think I've just persuaded myself to buy a fresh copy on CD.

< A pottery lesson | No later items >

28 November 2011

What is the Spirit saying to the church?

The Spirit is speaking to the church, but are we listening? And are we ready to live daily for Jesus with him front and centre in our lives and in our hearts and minds?

A graft unionSpirit and breath are the same word in both Hebrew and Greek. So when, in Old or New Testament writings, you read 'spirit' you might also read 'breath' and vice versa.

The Holy Spirit is the Breath of Truth (John 15:26), the Breath of Power (2 Timothy 1:7), but above all the Breath of Christ (Romans 8:9).

The Holy Spirit is always speaking to the church. How could it be otherwise?

The church is the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ. How could the breath not fill the body? How could Christ's Spirit not speak to Christ's Bride?

A new thing - We are at a time when the Spirit is again speaking to the church. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say we are at a time when the church is again listening to the Spirit. Don't misunderstand me, there are always those in the church who are listening raptly to the Spirit of Christ, but sometimes there is a wider, wholesale hearing that changes all our preconceived ideas and sets the church on a new track. I believe this is such a time.

There are a number of voices now speaking about different aspects of this new thing, and a number of people beginning to see some common themes. What it will become we do not know, but we will know.

Perhaps the central theme is that the Father and the Son and the Spirit matter, that they have a significance we can't overstate. Everyone will say, 'But we already know that!' Well, yes we do, but sometimes we know it in our minds without being driven by it in our hearts.

We know that without him we are nothing, yet without us he is still everything and will, if necessary, raise up the stones to worship him. We know that Jesus said, 'Apart from me you can do nothing' (John 15:5). We know that he said he does only what he sees the Father do (John 5:19), and says only what he hears the Father say (John 12:49-50). We know all these things but we still don't always live them out day by day.

It's all about him first, not us. It's about being in his presence, not being busy with our own stuff. It's really about knowing him, having a close and personal relationship with him - individually and as the church (his Bride).

Bullet points - Having said all that, here's a list of eight aspects that have come to my attention over the last few years. There may be more than this, of course. I've added a reference or two after each one, these are books, articles, or quotes that expand on the topic.
At first I thought it would be useful to put them in some kind of meaningful sequence, but I couldn't get that to work. I think the reason is that all eight need to be in parallel, not in sequence. In fact they are so intertwined and interdependent that any kind of structure seems to do violence to the underlying truth.

I need to shout this from the rooftops...

Focus ever more fully on Jesus!

Everything we are and everything we do needs to stem from having him full and central in our hearts and minds every day, every minute. Isn't that what it means to be 'grafted in' to Jesus? He is the vine, his Father is the gardener, and we are grafted-in shoots.

06 October 2011

THOUGHT - You or Me?

Look at any area of human endeavour and you will find two extremes of outlook, those that focus on self and those that focus on others. Between the two is a broad spectrum of attitude and behaviour reflected in society at large and affecting us all for good or ill.

ForgivenessMany of the issues we face in life can be viewed in this way. Take career for example. Should I do my best in exams and training, work hard, and hope for the best? Should I push others out of my way by fair means and foul? Should I defer to others and settle for a lesser role?

Yahshua (Jesus) was always clear - love the Almighty, love one another, love your enemy. Simple. But note that those three calls to love leave out only one single person in the entire universe - self. Yahshua calls us to love everyone but ourselves. In other words he calls us to unselfish love. And thinking about that, isn't love always unselfish? Could love possibly be any other way? I don't think so!

Sometimes people say, 'We need to love ourselves before we can really love one another'. There's an element of truth in that but only if we understand the implication that we need to be gentle and patient with ourselves. Perhaps it's more correct to say that we need to recognise our failings and forgive ourselves.

Forgiveness is always liberating, always beneficial, always brings out the best in people. That is why we do well to forgive ourselves and even better to forgive those around us. Since Christ is always ready to forgive, so should I be. Forgiveness redeems what was lost, in ourselves, in others, and in eternity. And the motive and power that drive forgiveness are found in love.

With that in mind, do you have any comments on the chart above? (Click it for a larger version.) If someone has something against you, how might you improve the chances of reconciliation?

Wherever and whenever forgiveness is offered we should receive it with grateful and thankful hearts. It is one of the greatest gifts we can offer others.

Yahshua said that providing the opportunity for others to forgive transcends sacrifice. (Matthew 5:22-24). Perhaps we should spend less time celebrating the fact that we are forgiven, and more time looking for opportunities to forgive one another. If we are truly driven by love that is exactly what we will do.

All honour and glory and praise to the King who sets us such an example!

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