Forgiveness Is Not An Option…

Forgiveness isn’t an option. It’s mandatory.

Jesus makes this clear over and over again.

In the prayer he modeled for us in Matthew 6. In his answer to Peter in Matthew 18:21-22. In the story he told of the unforgiving servant later in that chapter.

And check this out:

But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:15

Whoa.

Do you get that?

Forgiveness is the one thing that Jesus says is actually tied to God’s forgiveness of us! (Well, forgiveness and repentance. Or maybe repentance isn’t real without forgiveness.)

And not just forgiveness, but restoration.

The entire Bible is the story of God fixing what’s broken. That’s who HE is and it’s who he wants us to be.

God doesn’t even want our offerings until we fix things with other people. And he’s not cool with our promises to get around to fixing things someday.

He tells us to GO. Now. Right now.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:23-24

Are you starting to understand how important forgiveness is to God?

Found a great article by Randy Alcorn in which he reminds us, “Forgiveness is clearly a matter of choice, not feelings.”

Will we choose to do what God says? Or what we want?

And for those of us who need to seek forgiveness, will we choose to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness, make things right and seek reconciliation? Will we do what God tell us in Romans 12:18?

Forgiveness and reconciliation aren’t easy, but God doesn’t tell us to do these things to punish us. God knows what’s actually best for us. That’s what he wants for us!

See, God knows that, as Randy Alcorn puts it, forgiveness is the ultimate pain reliever.

God wants us to understand that reconciliation heals the heart.

Does anyone believe that the father in Luke 15 would have been better off holding a grudge? Would shutting out his repentant son have helped either of them?

So, GO! Reach out. Love. Let God heal! Forgive…

Check out Randy Alcorn’s blog post HERE

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Standing at a crossroad

Some great thoughts from Daughter By Design.
What Anna writes is so true.
Often, we take surveys, looking for the answers we want to hear. Or we seek permission to make decisions we know God doesn’t want us to. As if any consensus could trump the Creator of the universe and designer of our hearts.
Psalm 32:8

uncertainty, trusting God, running to God Many times in my live I have found myself standing at a crossroad with multiple roads in front of me leading in different directions.

Each one offering an option for me to take and door I can step through leading to an end I cannot yet see.

And in those moments of uncertainty when I feel overwhelmed about which road I should go I make a huge mistake: I run as fast I can to get advice from important people in my life: my mentor, my sister, my friends, or my father.

This may seem to not make any sense.

Isn’t it wise to run to people for advice when you find yourself at a crossroad or dead end or a situation you don’t know how to handle?

Yes.

But only after you first run to God.

All of these years I’ve had it backwards.

Instead of running to the…

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SOTD: Pass You By | Carrollton

Sometimes we get so caught up in our “stuff,” that we miss the awesomeness of all that’s around us.

Here’s a quick 3 minutes of audio encouragement for you on this Monday morning…

Hope you all have a great week!

More: Carrollton

The Anatomy Of Growth

HURT inside
HALLELUJAH in spite
HEALING in time
HOPE in front of us

Bonus: Helping others going through same thing.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ returns.”
1 Peter 1:6-7

Amazing

The more I surrender to God’s grace, the more I HATE sin. Especially my own.

Instead of using it as a license to live in sin, Grace becomes the motivating force to do right.

It changes hearts, open eyes and realigns desires.

And, like Paul, instead of raging against the people you see as sinners, you realize the only response is love.

It really is amazing…

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
Romans 6:14

People Change…

The desperation in this song is a painful reminder of a conversation I had with a dear friend out West. When “D” first shared what was happening in his marriage, we talked almost every night for several months. I remember asking him one night, “how are you doing, man?” He stopped for a second and came back with, “I’m not ok, Matt. Not ok.”

When I heard this song the other day, those words grabbed me by the throat. Word for word almost, these lyrics mirrored that conversation.

My heart hurts for them, their kids, and several other families I deeply care about who are dealing with great pain at the moment. It hurts for my own family.

But I want to encourage all of us with a reminder to take heart. To not believe the lie that there’s no hope, no point, no chance. That it’s over.

No matter how big a miracle you think it would take, do you honestly believe that God can’t? We serve the God of the impossible. There are no limits.

Don’t believe the enemy’s lies that people don’t change. Or that God can’t move in an instant, no matter how improbable.

Take what happened to Saul. Nobody believed that guy was gonna change. But God…

Acts 9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.

Look how things changed just a few verses later.

Acts 9:18, 20-22 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God! All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains…?” Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.

People change.

In fact, we should all be changing. Daily. Renewing our minds, moving closer to Christ, growing in grace.

If there’s something that you know needs to change, I encourage you to start today. Talk to your pastor, or a trusted friend who’s truly following Jesus, and figure out what your next step should be and begin!

And don’t miss the change in people around you. Skepticism really is an unwillingness to believe. Cynicism at it’s core is doubt.

God specializes in changing people. Drastically. Suddenly. It shouldn’t surprise us. And when they don’t change on our timetable, sometimes God’s trying to change US!

God’s plan is ALWAYS for restoration. The entire Bible is a story of restoring what’s broken and bringing what’s dead back to life.

Things don’t have to stay as they are. Take a step of faith. Yes, following God requires risk, but it’s always the safest thing we can do. (Take a minute to read the intervening verses in the above chapter and I’ll share some thoughts on that soon.)

Trust God. Press on.

_____________________

Quick Question: Why Don’t You Just Give Up?

I often hear people ask why someone hasn’t given up in a particular situation, why they don’t just move on, or get over it.

Dr. Richard Stillman summed up my feelings on this perfectly, when he said:

“There’s no point in not fighting. Surrendering leads immediately to defeat, it’s futile. The only thing to do is do our best. So I don’t care whether it looks hopeful or hopeless – I’m going to fight anyway.”
– Dr. Richard Stallman

To be sure, there are things that are worth giving up. Hurts, grudges, bitterness. Bad habits, unhealthy thoughts, anger. All good things to get over.

But we’ve become way too quick to give up on people. And things worthwhile.

Too often, for many of us:

– We take the path of least resistance and end up places we never wanted to be.
– We spend more than ever, but buy nothing of lasting value.
– Our immediate, personal happiness trumps everything, yet we’re chronically sad.
– We believe the lies we want to and ignore the Voice of Truth
– The slightest adversity or difficulty knocks us off mission.
– We document every moment, but miss them all.
– We give up the meaningful, in pursuit of a mirage.
– We’ll sell our soul to gain, not even the whole world, just a tiny piece of it.
– We’ll throw away the cherished, for gold plated garbage.

We need to adjust our mindsets. We need to turn all of that thinking inside out and right side up.

Let’s fight. Not WITH each other, but FOR each other.

Warren Barfield wrote a song for his wife, six years into their marriage. At a time when they had huge problems and were both 100% convinced it was over, both fully planning on walking away, he penned the following words:

“Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It’s a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We’ll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for…”

Warren and his wife chose to fight. They didn’t give up. They tore down their house on the sand and rebuilt it, together, on steady ground. Seven years later, their love remains.

I want to repeat Dr. Stallman’s words, because they are manna to the soul of a hurting, weary heart, that wants to give up:

“There’s no point in not fighting. Surrendering leads immediately to defeat, it’s futile. The only thing to do is do our best. So I don’t care whether it looks hopeful or hopeless – I’m going to fight anyway.”
– Dr. Richard Stallman

Choose to fight. They’re worth it. And so are you…

Don’t. Give. Up.

#PressOn

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
– Galatians 6:9