Monday, June 24, 2013

Forgiveness and Healing

Forgiving is something that is very hard for most of us.  We are hurt and want to take it out on the person who did it or even the closest person to us.  Often we only look at our side of the pain...this person wronged us and who cares what they think or how they feel?  Well that's not exactly how we should be reacting.

First off we are blind to our own sins most of the time.  Some people are very aware and some people are just clueless.  Here are some scriptures to get us started on this road of forgiveness and healing.

Psalm 19:12
But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. (NIV)

Psalm 32:5
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD." And you forgave the guilt of my sin. (NIV)

Psalm 79:9
Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name's sake. (NIV)

Psalm 130:4
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. (NIV)

So now we have acknowledged that we sinned to.  We aren't just victims but people who need forgiveness ourselves.  God is will to give us forgiveness but our we willing to forgive?

Matthew 6:12-15
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NIV) 

Oh no!  God only forgives us as we forgive others.  So we know that if God isn't forgiving us that we aren't going to Heaven no matter what we do.  We need God's forgiveness!  In order to be forgiven we must also forgive anyone who has done us harm.  You may be thinking you have no idea what people have done to me!  I've been wronged in every way possible!  These people don't deserve to be forgiven!

Who are we to decide what is forgivable and what isn't?  If God is willing to forgive us and anyone else who cries out to Him why are we holding on to this grudge?  It can be many things...pride, anger, bitterness and just looking to blame someone.

We can't hold onto those feelings!  It's hard to forgive but we need to ask God to help us forgive!  Here is an excellent example.

Corrie Ten Boom Story on Forgiving
“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.
“It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’
“The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.
“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!
[Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.]
“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’
“And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?
“But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
“ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.
“ ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’
“And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
“For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’
“I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.
“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’
“And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“ ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’
“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then”

So forgive others so God can forgive you!  Be set free from the trap you've been held in of bitterness, hatred, and anger.  Let God heal your heart and forgive you!

Psalm 34:18 ESV / 

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What did quitting ever accomplish?

Often we want something..maybe something to happen and we pray.  Months go by and then years but we don't get the desired results from our prayer.  We pray for salvation of friends and family members, children who have turned away from God, a better job, a new house, a wife, a husband, a restored marriage.

We get discouraged and say I prayed but it didn't work.  God didn't answer my prayer!  We doubt God and before we know it we are really in a mess and need prayer more than ever.  We try to fix it on our own.  Then we turn our backs on God totally and angrily because we don't get our way in our timing.  We want our answer now!  How dare God answer anyone's prayers but ours!

God is not a genie!  He is not Burger King who says "Have it your way." 

Do we even understand what prayer is?

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary it's this 

Definition of PRAYER

a (1) : an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought prayer
for the success of the voyage> (2) : a set order of words used in praying
b : an earnest request or wish
: the act or practice of praying to God or a god prayer
: a religious service consisting chiefly of prayers —often used in plural
: something prayed for
: a slight chance prayer
When I see the word wish I cringe because it reminds me of wishing wells, genies and just fiction.
Here are some Bible verses on prayer to help you and keep you from quitting. 

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
James 5:13-16 (NIV)
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Matthew 6:5-6 (NIV)
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:9-15 (NIV)
“This, then, is how you should pray:
” ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Now these are just a few verses but lets take a look at them.  First we notice that God wants us to humble ourselves and seek Him and turn from our wicked ways(sin).  So we can't go to God all puffed up with our request like we are doing Him some huge favor by praying.  He knows our motivations when we pray. 
 Second we notice that we need to have faith and confess our sins.   Too often we pray but as a last resort.  That tells God right away where our faith is.  We have tried we might as well try God.  We must believe He is able to do that which we are praying for.  He don't do anything without our faith.  It also takes repentance.  That means we need to ask God to forgive us of our sins.

Third we need to be asking for things that are God's will.  Praying for a million dollars to spend on yourself doesn't seem to add up to His will now does it?  We need to pray for things such as salvation of others.  Pray for other people's problems, dreams and desires.  Pray is not just about getting what we want it's about praying for what God wants.  If you believe He wants you to use your talents for Him a certain way pray for it.  If you have a financial need(not a HD tv) such as rent after losing a job He can and will provide.  Not always in the way we want or how we expected but He does provide for His children.

Fourth we need to pray in private.  We don't need to spout off this super fancy prayer in front of everyone to get our prayers answered.  He hears us just as much in private as He does in public.  There are lots of prayer needs that require privacy of others as well.  We don't need to make prayer into a gossip session.  Example:Oh God, please help so and so for they are adulters who just can't find their way and my brother is a liar so please fix him, etc.

Fifth we need to prayer the prayer of Matthew 6:9-15.  It lays everything out there.  It covers everything that is at the core of our relationship with God.  It puts the emphasis on His will and our needs.

I would also like to add a few things.  Pray scripture!  Proclaim it over your life!  It is God's word.  Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Proverbs 30:5 

Isaiah 55:10-11

New International Version (NIV)
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Last of all don't forget this 

Galatians 6:9

New International Version (NIV)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
The key is don't give up.  God works in His own timing!  It requires patience.  Here is a great example 

Genesis 21 - The Birth of Isaac

A. The birth of Isaac.

1. (1) God fulfills His promise to Abraham and Sarah.

And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken.

a. The Lord visited Sarah as He had said: It took a long time (25 years) for this promise to come to pass, but God was faithful to His promise. God’s promises never fail.

b. As He had spoken: The promise of a son was not fulfilled because Abraham was perfect in his obedience, but because God was faithful to His Word.

i. Some promises of God are conditional and depend on something we must do. Other promises of God are unconditional, and God will fulfill them not because of what we do, but because of who He is.