Tag Archives: forgiveness

Red Wine Stains

Accepting Limitations

Recently I have started to get up early each morning around 5:30am. I was tending to find that staying in bed until 7-8 o’clock left me feeling drowsy and I found it very difficult to get into gear. Furthermore, God had specifically told me many years ago that this was a discipline that I needed to master, since it was going to be of major benefit to my life.

Typically I come downstairs, as quietly as I can so as not to wake up everyone else in the house, go into the lounge, and spend time talking with God and planning my coming day. Over the last few days I kept being drawn to an old, circular purple mark on the hearth in front of the fireplace. It looks like at some point, someone placed a wine glass down and some of the split liquid had soaked into the stone. I think it has been there ever since we moved into the house 11 years ago, but for some reason I was really drawn to it this time.

I decide to take a closer look at this offending blemish that ruined what was a beautiful plinth of fine marble. I ran my finger across it; it felt slightly rough to the touch. With my thumbnail I scratched at the surface to see what I was dealing with. “Is it really such a permanent mark?”, I thought to myself. I began to scratch at it with a bit more urgency, applying greater force. To my amazement this seemingly unmovable disfigurement began to disappear. I slowly worked my way round the shape watching it get gradually lighter and lighter until it refused to lighten any more. I then marched to the kitchen and brought back a cloth and a knife. I continue to rub at my tenacious adversary. Almost gone now, I applied the knife and gently scrapped at the surface. In just a few minutes, what had stood for over a decade was gone without a trace.

The question I asked myself was this – “Why didn’t I do something earlier?” With such minimal effort the issue was resolved in such a short space of time. I’d presumed that this issue was a permanent fixture and it hadn’t even occurred to me that there might be way to remove it. How often can this be said of many of life’s issues. They linger with us year after year, niggling away at us. Not too irritating that we take positive action to address them, but they stop us to scratch regularly only to forget about it for another day. I think that God occasionally reminds us that he is our healer and that even the most long standing of issues can be resolved. We sometimes just need to listen for his prompting and go with the leading of the holy spirit. And when we do this we typically find that God does something quite incredible, something that makes us stand up in amazement.

So don’t just accept things as they are, no matter how long standing the problem might be. God can resolve it because he does not want us to go through the whole of life living with the hurts of the past. Who knows, maybe today is the day when God says, “I want to do something really special for you today. You know that thing that’s been niggling you and holding you back? Well today I’m going to take it away; erase it completely.” Get ready to receive something wonderful from the father that loves you more than life itself.

Luke 4:18-19a

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Busy Bees

I’ll take care of it

Just when I begin to get everything sorted out, with all things in their right place, someone messes up what I’ve spent so long putting straight. Do you ever feel like that? The days are not long enough and all the time seems to disappear. I’m a list writer and without my lists I don’t get very much done. They are a necessity that keeps me from procrastinating or being drawn off at a tangent. They help me focus on what I need to do and remind me where I was if I get pulled into something else.

The problem with lists is that they can become rather long, especially as I being to plan out all the various things I have to take care of. There’s stuff to do round the house, there’s my work, there’s church, places I need to go, people I need to see. Something is always being forgotten.

Then there are the things that I didn’t even think about; thoughts that didn’t even enter my head. How on earth did I forget to get a mother’s day card for my wife from the dog? Why didn’t I think about what we would have for dinner this evening? Why didn’t I see that big problem looming up and do something about it sooner? There is just so many things to consider; sometimes it seems as if the world is just too big.

And, of course it is. The world, even my little part of it, is far to big for me to manage all of the details and it’s kind of inevitable that I’m going to fail to look after it all. It’s a pretty good job that, first and foremost, none of my failings are held against me. God’s word says that he keeps no record of wrongs, that I’m forgiven and nothing is held against me. Secondly, he says that he will take care of everything that I forget or neglect to do. Everything!

This means that after I’ve finished doing my work for the day, I do not need to worry or even think about the things I’ve not done. All I need to do is focus on the here and now, just today. That doesn’t mean I don’t plan for tomorrow, it means that I don’t need to worry about it. If those plans get blown off course or never come to pass then that’s alright. I can only do what I can do. Just when I need it I can rest without any guilt or condemnation. I am accepted and loved for who I am and not what I achieve.

Psalm 130:3,4 NIV If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
Philippians 4:19 MSG You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus.

Lies I tell myself

One of the biggest barriers to overcoming the problems in life is being open to the possibility that we might be the problem. That may sound a little harsh, especially if we are suffering at the hands of someone else. Not quite so harsh though, when we recognise that it’s not the problem that causes us the pain but the way we respond when it occurs. Having a bad attitude or a negative outlook can mean that life’s events can often beat us down without us even realising why.

That doesn’t mean that we need to start beating ourselves up when taking responsibility for being the cause of our unhappiness. It’s not time to break out the bunting for a pity party. We might be having a so-called “run of bad luck”, but if we believe God is good we will soon find out that he’s faithful, and will be able to move on from the bad things that happened to us.

Unfortunately we have been taught to think in a particular way. Life experiences have told us who we are and what we’re capable of, or more often the case what we’re not capable of. Whatever has happened to us we can’t go back and change it. We are where we are. We may not even know how we got to where we are, but we’re here and there doesn’t seem to be a clear way out of this place. The fact is this: we’ve been lied to and have lied to ourselves. We are the ones who have listened and told ourselves that we can’t win this game of life.

There is an enemy and they are out to kill you.  A contract has been put out on your life because you are a very real threat to your enemy’s plans. That at least should give you a hint that perhaps you’re more valuable than you think.

The world will tell you that you’ve got rights. That if life’s unfair to you then you have a right to justice. If you’re feeling low then you have a right to reward yourself in order to feel better. The truth is though, that outside of God you have no rights whatsoever. Our so-called rights are forfeited each and every time we reject God and do the wrong thing. The bible say that without God we also have no power and can achieve nothing of lasting value or worth. That includes the power to win in life or change our response to our experiences.

Good news: We don’t have to go back and try to fix everything in order to move forward. We can be right with God and be right with ourselves – we can do that right here and now. That’s doesn’t mean we are free from the consequences of our actions, or that we do not have to try to make amends.

If we’re going to defeat our enemy and live our lives in joy and victory we need to know our God-given rights. To be truly successful in life we need to know who we really are. God alone can give us ultimate assurance of our identity and bestow on us a security that will allow us to stand against every thing life has to throw at us.

God uncovers the lies that run through our mind, allowing us to take hold of them and dump them in the trash. We can then exercise our faith and put God’s truth in the place of those lies.

It’s important to find someone who can stand by you, pray for you and pray with you. Especially if we’re feeling weak and worn down. It is equally important not to put off tackling the lies because we’re weak. God’s power is made perfect in weakness. Now is the time to put yourself in his strong, loving arms and really wholly on him. He will come through for us; he will not forsake us.

Do yourself a favour today: Stop lying to yourself, face up to your failures and ask God to show his live-giving truth to you. He’ll not let you down.

DEAR GOD

I’m sorry that for all this time I have been lying to myself. I thought I would get away with it because I thought no-one would ever find out. You knew though. You knew all along. And even though I rejected your love and truth you still cared for me. all you were trying to do was look after me. Please forgive me.

I now want to stop the lies and begin to listen to your truth. Help me I pray. Give me the strength and wisdom to listen and put into action hope. I know that you are faithful and you will not leave me in my mess. You will bring me through and it will be for your glory. Praise be to my ever-loving father God.

AMEN

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth
is not in us.
1 John 1:8
Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the
standards of this age, you should become "fools" so that you may become
wise.
1 Corinthians 3:18
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us
our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

Change the Flavour

What we say doesn’t just reflect our mood, it affects are mood. More than that, it affects the mood of those around us.

It’s just so easy to join in on a good grumble about all the problems that we share at work, or at church, or in life in general. We might well be the instigator of such conversations without even realising it. Of course, everyone joins in; no-one wants to offend the person who is feeling down by telling them they are wrong.

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t saying anything at all.”

To be able to move on and get beyond problems that affect us we will need to deal with the way we talk. By continually complaining and grumbling we are actually telling ourselves that things will never be any different. We confirm that we believe that the problem is too difficult to overcome and list excuses why we should not even try. Complaining undermines hope.

How many times have we watch a hollywood film where one member of a group seems intent on spoiling the hero’s plans. They go against every good idea and grumble at any attempt to get out of the current peril. We recognise them instantly as the ‘baddy’ by their behaviour. The question is though, do we recognise when we’re being the baddy in our work, or in our homes, or with our friends?

To see our situation change we need to begin to change the flavour of our conversation. This might mean just being quiet and refusing to say anything negative about a person or situation. At first this will be difficult because we’re so used to joining in with everyone else. People will expect us to back them up when talking about how terrible things are.

Here are some suggestions on practical ways to change the way we speak.

  • Refuse to complain about a person or situation
  • Make a list of positives and focus on those instead
  • Stay quite and listen to others when they complain
  • Resist being draw in to a negative conversation
  • If necessary, make an excuse to go and do something else
  • Ask questions like, “Why do you thing that is?” or “What are you going to do?”
  • Don’t think yourself better than others just because you’re not joining in
  • Give thanks to God for the other person or situation

Dear God

I’m sorry for the times I have pulled others down by the way I have spoken. Forgive me for being negative and affecting the mood of those around me. Instead of using opportunities to build others up, I have acted in weakness and joined in the complaining. Help me to now to focus on the hope you have promised me, to change the way I talk, that I might be a blessing to others. Thank you for the MARVELLOUS work you are doing in my life. Thank you that you do not leave me in my situation forever but instead help me to overcome.

Amen

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the
body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life
on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
James 3:6
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
Proverbs 21:23
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as
is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace
to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29

Moving On

From time to time we get to a point where we just wish that we could move on. We find ourselves back in the same place again, facing the same issue that we’ve faced on more than one occasion. But despite our efforts we are seemingly unable to know what to do differently that will free us from this never-ending cycle. We might ask our friends advice, read the latest book or blog and put into practise a new set of techniques to help us overcome the issue. Stubbornly it remains.

A major factor in being able to move on in life is to cut our ties to the past. Before a ship can sail it must first release the mooring ropes and lift the anchor from the sea bed. Failure to do so will result in a pretty short trip and a hasty return to the same port. The engines might be running at full power and there may well be a large amount of noise and action, but in the end there is little achieved. So what anchors us to the past?

One thing that can seriously affect our progress in life is unforgiveness. By refusing to let go of past hurts we continue to drag a large, heavy bag with us through life. Our reaction to what has happened to us acts like a large weight that we’ve picked up, slowing our progress through life. After a while we don’t even bother looking in the bag to see what’s inside, we just carry it into every new situation that comes along. And guess what, we act out the same response again and again.

Forgiving is not easily. We want justice for what was wrongly done to us. The wrong must be paid for and we will fight to the last to see that happen. It feels that to forgive would be a betrayal of what we believe – the righting of wrongs. But the only person who is being punished for the wrong is us, as we carry around the hurt letting it poison our lives.

Now we’re not making excuses for what has happened but here are some thoughts that may help us to begin to take some things out of our bag.

  • They didn’t know that what they had done was wrong
  • They didn’t know how much it would hurt us
  • They hadn’t been taught how to treat others with respect
  • They hadn’t experienced love and kindness
  • They had been seriously hurt in the past
  • You got too close to them and they find it difficult to trust others
  • We were overly sensitive and took offence
  • They didn’t mean to hurt us but struggled to express themselves
  • They decided to take the easy option because they couldn’t handle the situation
  • They believed they were justified in what they did
  • You had hurt them and they wanted to get their own back

Furthermore, there are better reasons to forgive:

  • We are equally guilty of hurting others
  • People are carrying unforgiveness because of what we’ve done
  • We deserve punishment for all our wrongdoings

God says that unless we’re willing to forgive others then he can’t forgive us. Our present suffering is not some punishment for all our wrongdoing. The wonderful thing is that we can be free from our past and we can move on. Forgiveness is God’s gift to us, for all the things we’ve ever done and will ever do. All we need to do is share that gift with others.

Dear God,

Thank you that I can trust you to right all wrongs. You know the hearts of every person and you are just and true. You do not treat me as my sins deserve but instead have pardoned me through the death of your son. Help me to forgive those that have hurt me. Search my heart and reveal to me my true motives. I thank you that my future is secure in you and that you have promised to move me on. I put myself into your hands merciful God.

Amen

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our
iniquities.
Psalm 103:10
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still
sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your
heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14