Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Closing the Door on God’s Forgiveness

One of our most blessed benefits in knowing Christ is our ability to call upon the blood of Jesus to forgive us of our sins when so often we stumble and fail. 1 John 1:8-9 teaches us, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” With that promise of forgiveness in 1 John also comes the condition that Jesus gives us in Matthew 6:15. God requires that we give forgiveness to receive forgiveness. We can no doubt all think of times when others may have done things to us that are, in our minds and hearts, unforgivable. God would ask us a question. What if He considered the things we have done in our lives unforgivable? None of us can attest to deserving or earning God’s forgiveness. We have all come, or at least should have come to the realization that we have fallen short of the glory of God. We are all sinners standing condemned under the law of God, estranged from God except for the grace of the blood of our Lord Jesus that has atoned for us. For all of those who have acted in faith in asking Christ into their hearts to be the Lord of their lives he has washed our sins away, casting them as far as the east is from the west.
What if God continued to hold a grudge, an offense or unforgiveness in His heart towards us? How would that affect our relationship with Him? It would obviously bring a separation and estrangement again from His fellowship and love. That is exactly what we do when we hold on to an offense, resentment and unforgiveness for others. Our offense toward others becomes God’s offense toward us. Some of us would say, ‘but that isn’t fair, you don’t know what that person has done to me or to someone I love’. Is there anything that God has refused to forgive you for?
Yes, there are some horrible, detestable and seemingly unforgivable acts that one person can perpetrate upon another. They are not right and they will be judged, but we are not the lawgiver and judge. That is God’s department. We can’t control the behavior of others, but we are responsible for our own. We can’t always control how we feel, but we don’t have to choose to live and act according to our feelings. It is Christ that now sits upon the throne of our hearts. He is to be the ruler over our mind, will and emotions. We have been called to walk after the Spirit and not after the soul. Often that is a very hard position to align ourselves with when we are carrying deep seated emotions of anger, hate, resentment and unforgiveness. It is not a switch that we can just turn off and on, but it is something that the Lord can help us to come to terms with if we will allow Him too by opening our hearts and being honest about where we are at.
We must understand the principle that resentment, resistance and retaliation, repels love.
What is God’s nature? Love. When we hold these things in our hearts we are switching off His love, which is the light to bring us to healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. We may never be reconciled where we have the same relationship with a person that we once had, but the important thing is that we have reconciled the offense caused by someone else’s behavior or bad decisions with the love of Christ that abides in us. This often stands contrary to how the world acts and behaves, but we are not of this world, we are a kingdom people with the kingdom of God residing within our spirits and lives. That means we live and operate our lives out of the context of kingdom principles.
At some point and often at many points in our lives we struggle with these issues. What we must realize and remember is that resentments and unforgiveness will always do more to hurt us than the people that we are offended with. It is not our love, but the love of Christ in us that is the ointment and balm of our healing. It is His love in us that is that power to release the unconditional love and forgiveness that He has released toward us. If this is an area in your life that you are struggling with then, for your sake, open that door of forgiveness that God’s love and forgiveness might flow back into your life. He wants to set you free. How else can we give forth the love of God if it has never been tested in our lives?

Blessings,
#kent

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Higher Level Living

March 5, 2014

Matthew 5:11-12

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


Higher Level Living


What is our natural response to insults, verbal and physical attacks, slander, gossip and false accusations?  Isn’t it to fight back, justify, retaliate and begin attacking our attackers.  Suddenly we find ourselves drawn in and participating in the same fleshly ugliness of those who attacked us. We have come down to their level and are fighting with the same carnal weapons they are.  We are opening our hearts to be influenced by the same spirits that are influencing them.  

“An eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth,” some will say.  Funny you should say that because a little further down in Matthew 5:32-42 Jesus says,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”  

Wow, that is pretty unconventional wisdom by this world’s standards and wisdom only a few are willing to walk in.  

Why?

Because it denies all of “my” rights.  It is asking me to give up and renounce what is “mine”.  It is asking me to return good for evil and it imposes seemingly unfair demands upon “me” as a person.  It  seems to be letting injustice prevail and our rights to be taken unfair advantage of.  

When we can all walk in the principles that Jesus gives us in Matthew 5-7 it is probably a pretty good indicator that we are getting very close to being dead unto self and alive only unto Christ.  For us to willingly walk in the principles that Jesus is describing means it can no longer be about me, but only about exemplifying and living out of  Christ.  These are the principles that He walked and lived by.  The reason He could is because His heart and affection weren’t upon His natural man or the things of this world.  

We all have our possessions and things we have worked hard for.  We all have our reputation and our dignity to uphold.  It so goes against our grain to be taken advantage of or exploited or to be spoken falsely about.  

What Jesus is telling us is, there is a higher level of kingdom living that most of us never touch or  really know because we are still so connected and attached to this earthly kingdom and realm.  Many of us still think that the political candidate or president is going to determine the fate of the world, the nation and my well being.   We may believe if others aren’t of our particular denomination or persuasion of belief they are going to hell or will miss it and yet how many of us are really living these principles of Jesus?  

What we all need as believers, who say we love Christ, is a deliverance from a lot of our materialistic and capitalist ways.  They are not His ways, but what the world has taught us is true and valuable.  If we are not of this world then why are these things still so important to us?  The truth is most of us are really living out of a lower level of life and values than what Christ has called us too.  

Sometimes we don’t think much about it until we are put in those positions where we must choose between the conventional wisdom of this world and the wisdom that is from above.  If you want to really stand out as odd, even among most of the Christian community, try truly walking in the principles that Christ lays out here.  

Finally Jesus really stretches us even more in verses 38-43 by saying,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Jesus is calling us to a higher place.  It is not a realm where we can operate in conventional wisdom or even love with conventional love.  It  is place that we can only operate out of, by His Spirit and His Agape’ love.   It is a place where our self identity can not live; only our identity in Christ.  It is a place where we need to thank God for our enemies, because they are the only ones who can help elevate us to this realm of living and being.  Are we ready for a higher level of living?

 

Blessings,

kent

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