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Thursday, March 26, 2015

God Will See You Through Just Trust Him

Hebrews 13:6 (HCSB) Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?
This is a very powerful scripture.  It means that God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, promises to help us know matter what or no matter who is working against you.  It may be someone or something on our jobs, someone or something at school, someone or something in a relationship, finances, etc. We don’t have to worry or be afraid God has promised to help us.  God will see you through if you just trust Him.
Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV) Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
This scripture, according to Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary,   “… contains the sum and substance of all the promises; I will never, no, never leave thee, no, never forsake thee. In the original there are no less than five negatives put together, to confirm the promise: the true believer shall have the gracious presence of God with him, in life, at death, and forever. Men can do nothing against God, and God can make all that men do against his people, to turn to their good.”
 This All Sounds Great Doesn't It?
Why is it then that when we have a situation or circumstance where something or someone is working against us that we still fret and worry?   The answers to this question and ways to win against worry anxiety and stress may be in a study I did with my church’s adult bible study group.  Some of you may have followed that study, “Overwhelmed:  Winning the WarAgainst Worry”  on my Faith The Evidence blog.  If so this will post will be a reminder for you.  For those of you that don’t follow that blog this post will bless and encourage you.
 Do You Really Trust God for Everything? 
If we are really honest I bet you’ll admit there are times that you don’t really trust God.  What’s strange is we trust God for salvation and eternal life, we trust Him for things like, us waking up in the morning, and that the sun will rise and set every day, yet we don’t trust him in so many things in our lives. God wants us to trust Him in everything big and small.  To do that we have to surrender completely to Him and his timing. Until we can totally trust God for absolutely everything we will be trusting ourselves or somebody else and we will always have anxiety.
Here are is some scripture for you to read and meditate on at those times when you are overwhelmed with stress and anxiety.
·         Psalm 9:10 (HCSB) Those who know Your name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh.
·         Psalm 37:5 (HCSB) Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act,
·         Psalm 56:3-4 (HCSB) When I am afraid, I will trust in You. 4  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
·         Psalm 56:10-11 (HCSB)10  In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, 11  in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
·         Psalm 91:2 (HCSB)  I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
·         Isaiah 12:2 (HCSB)  Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid, for Yah, the LORD, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.”
These are just a few.  Psalms is full of scripture on trusting God.
 Why don’t we trust God for everything?
There are some things that Pastor Perry Noble, author of “Overwhelmed:  Winning the War Against Worry” calls trust blockers. 
 Trust Blocker #1 The Pace of Our Lives
The pace of our lives causes us to have blinders on.  We are so fixed on solving this problem, running here and there, trying to address this situation, that is that it is hard to pay
attention to God.    Here’s a quote from Pastor Noble’s book “The devil doesn't want to make you bad; he wants to make you busy.”
Jesus was a very busy person especially during the three years of His ministry.  He had crowds following Him all the time and there were several times when He actually tried to get away from the crowds to rest. A couple or examples of this are in:
·          Mark 6:30-31 (HCSB)30  The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31  He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.
·          Matthew 14:23 (HCSB)23  After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone.
Jesus is the example for us that we need to take a break and rest and spend some time with God and He will show us those promises in His word that proves that He loves us and that He can be trusted because He’s done it before and can do it again.
 Trust Blocker #2 Disappointment

When God doesn't answer our prayers exactly the way we want Him to we’re disappointed.   I didn't get the job that I wanted, my relative didn't get healed or saved.  I didn't get I didn't get, I didn't get.  When we think back about those things then we have a tendency to not trust God.
Here’s the reason we take our preferences and turn them into His promises - even when those aren’t actually things He has promised to do.   Then when it doesn’t happen the way we thought it should happen because we misinterpreted the promise or took it out of context, be honest, we think that God didn’t keep His promise.  We get angry then we don’t trust God.
To keep ourselves from making the mistake of saying or feeling that God doesn't keep His promises is to really know what His promises are.  The only real way to do that is to get it from His word the Bible.  Not from the television or radio preachers, not from your pastor, but by studying yourself.  You have to study for yourself in order to really know what God says about you and His promises through Jesus.  When you do that you will find that “God is a promise maker and a promise keeper - always has been, always will be!”
Here’s the promise that we should always remember Romans 8:28 (NKJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
It is God's love in Christ that sustains us and empowers us—even in the midst of our experiences of sin and death—"to be conformed to the likeness of his Son" (Romans 8:29). God works in all things toward that good purpose. But only "those who love him" know that, because they are participants "with him" in the outworking of that purpose.
 Trust Blocker #3 Spiritual Blindness
When the pace of our lives and our disappointment cause us to focus on our situations and circumstances we can’t see that God may just have something bigger in store for us.

To really know what God wants for us and to remember what He has done for we have to slow down and spend time with Him in His word the Bible.  The Bible is where we find the promises of God and taking time to read them and meditate on them and ask God what He is really saying.  Listen to Him not our own emotions or looking back on the times we thought that God disappointed us.  Then and only then can we learn to trust God and to lean not to our own understanding Proverbs 3:5 (HCSB)5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding;
We want control and when we decide that we are going to take control then comes the stress and anxiety.  When we trust God because He is in control and when we spend time with Him in prayer and the study of His word, the bible we will know that He loves us.  The greatest example of that love is the gift of Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us.
 The Lord is Your Helper
What do we have to fear if the Lord is our helper?  Nothing.  We have the complete assurance that the Lord is on our side.  No spirit or Man can do anymore to us than He permits and if He permits it then He can limit or end it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (HCSB)  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.
·          Psalm 27:1 (HCSB)  The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom should I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom should I be afraid?
·         Psalm 27:9 (HCSB)  Do not hide Your face from me; do not turn Your servant away in anger. You have been my helper; do not leave me or abandon me, God of my salvation.
·         Psalm 54:4 (HCSB)  God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my life.
·         Psalm 118:6 (HCSB)  The LORD is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

God is in control and He is our protector, helper and friend.  He has helped and delivered you before and He will do it again just trust Him!

Monday, March 2, 2015

What Does the Bible Say, Does Forgiving Mean Forgetting?

One of the questions that I get a lot is,  “Pastor, does forgiving mean forgetting?”  I have an answer but before I give it let’s see what the bible says about it?  Whenever someone asks me a question dealing with relationships I always defer to the bible because it’s the manual that God gave to guide us in how to live with one another.  

In Exodus 20:1-17,  the scripture that we call the 10 Commandments, numbers 5-10 are how we are to relate to one another 
Exodus 20:12-17 (HCSB) 12  Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 13  Do not murder. 14  Do not commit adultery. 15  Do not steal. 16  Do not give false testimony against your neighbor. 17  Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.  
So this is my manual for knowing how I should relate and interact with everybody.
Now to the question.   Does to forgive mean to forget?  Let’s first define the two main words in the question, forgive and forget.
Forgive (verb)
·         to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)
·         to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)
·         to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)
·         Synonym – pardon

Forget (verb)
·         to be unable to think of or remember (something)
·         to fail to remember to bring or take (something)
·         to stop thinking or caring about (someone)
·         Synonyms – disremember, unlearn

To forgive is to stop feeling anger toward someone or about something, to pardon them.  To forget is to not remember or think or care about something, to unlearn or disremember.
 What Does the Bible Tell Us about Forgiving

The phrase “to forgive and forget” is not in the Bible.  The Bible does however, in many places, command us to forgive each other.
Matthew 6:14 (HCSB) “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.

Ephesians 4:32 (HCSB) And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

Jesus’ comment to Peter when he asked how many times we should forgive implies constant forgiveness without holding it against the one we forgive.
Matthew 18:21-22 (HCSB) 21  Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22  “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.

The Bible also tells us that if we don’t forgive we won’t be forgiven.

Matthew 6:14-15 (HCSB) 14  “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15  But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

Mark 11:25-26 (HCSB) 25  And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing. [ 26  But if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your wrongdoing.]”
A forgiving spirit is made easier for Christians when they consider how much God has already forgiven.
Why should we give anybody a clean slate who has wronged us?  Because God, who is our example for how to forgive, does.  He forgives and overlooks everything that we have done and do against Him, through Jesus, so that we can have eternal life and an eternal inheritance.
Micah 7:18 (HCSB)  Who is a God like You, removing iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not hold on to His anger forever, because He delights in faithful love.

Forgiveness is an act of the will and since God commands us to forgive we must make that choice.  We must forgive even if the person who offended us doesn't ask for or doesn't even want forgiveness.
Matthew 5:44-45 (HCSB) 44  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45  so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

The Problem with Unforgiveness

Here is what I learned about unforgiveness from a recent study that I led for my church’s Sunday adult bible study group.

The person who won’t forgive is the real victim.  We want to be forgiven for stuff we have done because we rationalize that we really didn't mean it or what happened was the result of a bad decision, so of course we should be forgiven.  How arrogant of us to feel this way and then we not forgive.
“Withholding forgiveness does not hurt ‘them’ it hurts you.  Withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill the person who hurt you.  Withholding forgiveness puts a barrier between you and the blessings of God.  Withholding forgiveness overwhelms you with feelings that the human body was not designed to sustain”.

When someone hurts us it really does hurt and some things are almost too horrible to bear.  Things  like being raped or molested, someone stealing from you, a spouse or good friend betraying you, someone spreading lies about you.  These are horrible things and some of them will always affect us.  But we don’t have any choice but to forgive because Jesus commanded us to forgive and He gave us an example.
Jesus was betrayed by a friend, He was arrested on false charges, He was beaten, made fun of, and finally crucified.  But what did he say?
 Luke 23:34 (HCSB) Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”] ….  
They didn't deserve forgiveness and we didn't deserve forgiveness but God through Jesus did forgive and he continues to forgive us.
Here is a great quote from the book “Overwhelmed:  Winning the War Against Worry” by Noble Perry.  “Forgiveness is like putting a key in a prison door to release someone else, only to discover that the person you are releasing is yourself.

But What About Forgetting?

The Bible says that God doesn’t remember our sins against Him.
Hebrews 8:11-12 (HCSB) 11  And each person will not teach his fellow citizen, and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” because they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. 12  For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins.  Micah 7:19 (HCSB) 19  He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

God having forgiven us treats us as if the sin had never happened.   We that now belong to Him through faith in Jesus Christ are assured that He doesn’t hold our sins against us.  Following that example we should, as best we can, act as if it never happened.  Now I don’t believe that means that we must allow the same thing by the same person to happen again especially if it’s something serious.
We will remember the it because it’s impossible for us as human beings to truly forget what others have done to us.  If we’re healthy we can’t selectively remove some things from or memory.  But we can live as if we don’t remember it keeping in mind 

Ephesians 4:32 (HCSB) And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

Forgetting is not required in order to forgive.   Because we still remember doesn't mean that forgiveness isn’t complete and total.

 One Final Thought on Forgetting

Think about this.  
2 Corinthians 5:10 (HCSB) For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless.
God totally forgives, but apparently He doesn't completely erase the memory of our sins.  He will judge every act and every even careless word and our rewards will be based on that judgement.  
That’s a subject for another post.
This from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary2) Motivated by Judgment. 5:10. This important verse may be summarized thus: (1) the plan—we must; (2) the parties—all; (3) the presence—appear; (4) the place—before the judgment seat of Christ (cf. Rom 14:10); (5) the purpose—that, etc. The purpose (1) includes all—every one; (2) recompenses all—may receive; (3) recalls all—the things done in his body; (4) discriminates between all—according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Here’s My Answer to the Question Does Forgiving Mean Forgetting?

God wants us to forgive each other just like He has forgiven us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  Once we do what it says in 
Romans 10:9-10 (HCSB) 9  If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10  One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.;  
God  treats us as though we never sinned at all and doesn’t hold our sins against us. So, in a sense, He “forgives and forgets.”
In the same way when we forgive we should act as though it never happened. We do still remember the offense, and we should learn from it, but to truly forgive, we should treat the person as though it never happened.  I realize that it’s impossible for us to do that on our own however we have the Holy Spirit in us that empowers us, to do what is impossible to do in our flesh.  

The Bible is, of course, you primary source of information from God regrading His plan for you, but He has bless others with the ability to break it down for us so that we can apply biblical principles into every aspect of our lives. 

For more on forgiveness

What do you think?  Can you truly forgive and treat the person who offended you like it never happened?  What about an abusive relationship can you forgive?  Please comment below. You never know how your comments and experiences will bless others.