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November 6, 2003

Forgiveness Should Be Enough

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." Luke 5:20

If you grew up going to Sunday School, you will remember the story. The paralyzed man is lowered through the roof in hopes that Jesus would heal him. (I can just picture the flannel graph figures in my mind.) Jesus honored the faith of the man's friends, and He said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." He didn't heal the man - He forgave him. Eventually, He healed the man in order to prove his authority over sin, but I wonder... the forgiveness should have been enough.

Jesus, so often I come to You for healing. My heart cries out, "Won't You just fix this broken part of me?!" But Your words are normally the same, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."

What did the paralytic think when You forgave him rather than healing him? What did his friends think? Were they disappointed?

How foolish we are! Forgiveness gives us life eternal. Healing merely makes us more comfortable.

Father, help me to be content when healing doesn't seem to come. Help me choose to rejoice in Your redemption. Forgive my ingratitude for the most important gift of all - Your only Son.

November 9, 2003

Loving Little

"Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Luke 7:47

Do any of us have the right to "love little"? Jesus told Simon the Pharisee that the woman who washed His feet with her tears loved much for she had been forgiven much. Simon, on the other hand, believed himself to be righteous. The invitation to dinner was the extent of Simon's hospitality.

Lord, what do my actions reflect? Am I seen as compassionate and loving? Or do others believe me to be self-righteous? You and I know the full extent of the forgiveness I have received. In actuality, there is no one who walks the earth who has the right to "love little." We have all been forgiven much.

So why are there some in the church who are like Simon? How much compassion do we show for those who are lost? The prostitute living on the streets, the gay man searching for love from any who will notice him, the drug addict who feels he may die without another fix - how do we treat them? With contempt? With compassion?

Spirit, help me to love much for I have been forgiven much. Shine in my life, today and everyday!

November 22, 2003

The Gift of Brokenness

"Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." Luke 20:18

I read an article yesterday that spoke of a statue that was recently repaired in a local cemetery. It is a statue of Jesus standing with open arms. His hands had been broken off, and the face had been severely vandalized. Amazingly, a sculptor had rebuilt the hands and face using identical materials, and he bolted them in place, bringing the statue back to life. Rather than crushing the statue completely and creating a new one, the sculptor was able to repair it. Now, generations can be inspired by the work of not only one artist, but two. Can brokenness be a gift? In the case of this statue, it was. Repair was still possible. Brokenness was not the end.

For most of my adult life, I have been broken. Somewhere along the way the statue was smashed, and I have spent the better part of ten years trying to put the pieces back together again. Sometimes I have used the proper materials. Sometimes I have grabbed what I thought would help, but it only caused me more pain.

Amazingly, the Sculptor hasn't quit on me. Rather than crushing me completely for my failures, He has carefully rebuilt the broken parts and continues to bring me back to life.

Jesus, thank You for standing with opens arms to receive me. Thank You for rebuilding that which I thought would be destroyed forever. Forgive me for opening my heart to the ways of the world. Worldly solutions can never repair what is broken. Ultimately, they only cause more damage.

Refrain from falling upon me, Lord. Forgive my sin, and make me whole again.

January 22, 2004

Guilty!

"What can we say to my lord?" Judah replied, "What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants' guilt. We are now my lord's slaves - we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup." Genesis 44:16

Guilty! There is no other verdict. No man except Jesus Himself has lived his life without the shadow of guilt upon him.

Judah fell before Joseph a broken man full of guilt and shame. Although he didn't realize it, he was standing before the one in Egypt who knew the truth. It was Judah who said, "Come, let's sell him to the Ishmaelites." Judah saved Joseph's life by taking away all that he had. When Judah was faced with the possibility of telling his father Jacob, "Benjamin is no more," he broke. How could he go on? Judah pleaded for Benjamin, but I think in some ways he was pleading for Joseph. Judah was making amends for his brother as he should have done years before.

Lord, I stand before You a guilty man. Eventually, all my guilt will be uncovered. It if were revealed today, I don't feel I could go on. So many lives could be hurt if the truth were seen about the things I have done.

Yet, You know the truth about me as Joseph knew the truth about Judah. Joseph looked upon his brother with compassion. I know that Your heart is full of compassion as well. You came to this earth. You died to remove the guilt.

Help me to hold fast to this truth. You have forgiven, and I no longer need to be ashamed. My guilt and shame have kept me in a place of darkness for far too long. Your light is refreshment to my soul. Continue to shine on me.

January 23, 2004

Afterwards

And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him. Genesis 45:15

Twenty-two years had past. A great deal had happened since Joseph was taken from his family. Joseph had seen the darkness of slavery and prison. His brothers had seen the darkness of guilt and shame. But despite the pain - despite the years of hurt, Joseph didn't blame them. He could see the bigger plan. He knew that God worked out every detail to put him in a place to save the ones he loved.

And what a wonderful scene it was! Joseph took the time to draw each brother close - to forgive him - to encourage him - to start anew.

Jesus, the day is coming when You will reveal Yourself. Many will be terrified. Many will be sent from Your presence, but I long to remain - to experience Your embrace - to kiss your face - to talk with You afterwards. What a glorious day it will be. Come, Lord Jesus!

January 29, 2004

Does God Weep?

"'This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.' Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father." When the message came to him, Joseph wept. Genesis 50:17

How many times does God weep when we ignore all He has done for us?

In the eyes of the world, Joseph had every right to take revenge for all his brothers had done. Now, Joseph's brothers were afraid. Their father was dead, and they could no longer hide from their sins. His brothers begged for forgiveness - forgiveness that had already been granted and proven by Joseph's actions over the years. Their very lives were owed to Joseph. His wisdom and position had saved them from certain death during the great famine, and they now enjoyed the prosperity of Goshen. Upon hearing their request, Joseph wept. How could his brothers be asking for forgiveness now? Couldn't they see how much he loved them?

Lord, time and time again You have proven Your forgiveness. The blessing I enjoy from Your hand is great. Yet, I still feel unforgiven on occasion. The enemy taunts me with memories of sins long-since forgiven, and I find myself begging to be forgiven all over again. Oh, there is always new sin. My heart continues to deceive me, and I fail You. But the sins of yesterday sometimes weigh me down.

Does this make You weep?

When I dwell on forgotten sins, it must sadden You. Your heart's desire is for each of Your children to soar above the wearies of this world, yet so often we cling to the chains that keep us from flight.

Help me, Father, to live with anticipation of blessing rather than fear over punishment that will never come. Jesus already received it on my behalf. Forgive me for disregarding the cross. Make me a man of great joy rather than great sorrow.

I am forgiven! Praise God for all He has done!

April 9, 2004

Providing for God's Anointed

If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, he must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed. Leviticus 4:3

God made special provision for the anointed priest. A sin offering was to be presented as atonement for his sin before the offerings were made for the community, the leaders, and the individual.

Do we make provision for God's anointed today? Have we put pastors on such pedestals that they are not free to be human - in need of God's grace as much as anyone?

Lord, we live in a time when pastors are put in unique positions that leave them exceptionally vulnerable to sin. Yet, we are unforgiving when they fall. Too many pastors are isolated from real friendships. I once read that it takes at least four years for anyone to establish a true friendship. In most main-line churches, pastors are moved every three to four years. We have generations of friendless, lonely pastors.

And the fear of exposure that pastors experience! How can a pastor be transparent? One breech of confidentiality can destroy a church. Most pastors live their lives secluded from their congregation - from other pastors. To even see a counselor requires traveling to another city in order to keep the secret.

Father, Your Church is in crisis. Despite the efforts of some to reach out to the lonely pastor, too many have been abandoned - left to lead - alone - afraid. Lord, make special provision for those whom You have called into Your service. The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross was for ALL sin - even the sin of a pastor.

Spirit, make Yourself known to the pastors in my life. Let them experience Your forgiveness in ways the Church has not found possible. Help me to reach out - to love them as I should.

April 24, 2004

We Can Know

"Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins." Leviticus 16:30b

Once a year the Israelites took a day to make atonement for their sins. On that day sacrifices were made and a goat was set free in the desert, symbolizing how their sin had been taken far away from them.

How freeing it must have been for the people! Every year on the Day of Atonement, they knew - they were clean.

As a Christian, it only took one act - one choice - the acceptance of Christ's atoning blood. We can know, without any doubt, that we are clean.

Lord, sometimes I forget to reflect on Your forgiveness. You have set me free from all guilt, yet I cling to it. It literally weighs me down. Today, I acknowledge that I am clean. Like a weight lifting from my chest, I release my shame. Send it far away from me. Be my God - every day of the year.

September 7, 2004

Prayer and Forgiveness

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he as sinned, he will be forgiven. James 5:15

We live in a society that thrives on the pursuit of health. The miracles of modern medicine have contributed to a longer life span. Many are waking up to the fact that obesity is killing them, and a movement is taking hold to lose the weight and live a healthier life. Everyday someone new touts the possibility of health and happiness by following an easy seven-step plan - the first of which is to buy the book. We are chasing a dream - a dream of healing - a dream of wholeness and good health.

Still, the one solution that brings success eludes many who long for happiness and health. In all their pursuits, the real healing never comes.

The solution is two-fold. Prayer and forgiveness.

In his letter to the church, James tells those who are sick to ask for prayer. Prayers offered in faith can bring about healing. But there's another piece to this puzzle. Forgiveness. James' words show a direct link between sickness and sin. Referring to the sick man, he says, "If he has sinned, he will be forgiven." Without forgiveness - without addressing the sin, real healing will never come.

Lord, I have been chasing a dream. For years my pursuit of wholeness has been hindered because I thought I could find the solution and keep the sin. In truth, the sin has to go! There is no hope unless I am walking with You - every step of the way. Keep opening the doors, Lord. Help me to find the help from Your Body. Help me to find the healing You promise.

Forgive my sin, Father. Make me whole.

October 19, 2004

The Judgment Seat

You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. Romans 14:10

I have no right to go about pointing fingers at anyone else's sin. The day will come when I stand before God's judgment seat, and there will be plenty that I would rather not be told. But all will be seen and heard. Every secret will be exposed. With His amazing grace, God will see it all and say, "Yep, you are guilty. But the price has been paid."

That same price was paid for every man who will accept it.

Lord, help me to never judge the actions of a brother, for it only reveals my spiritual pride. You know the truth. I have no right to be proud. I can only be grateful. Thank You, Jesus, for not judging me - for loving me - for dying for me. Give me Your strength today.

February 2, 2005

Precious?

He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight. Psalm 72:14

It's a bit tough to imagine someone thinking my blood is precious. A gem is precious. Gold is precious. A small child is precious. But me, a sinner who lives with regret over so many wrong choices - how could anyone consider me to be precious?

Jesus does.

And that is enough. He paid the price for my blood with His own.

Lord, help me to see what You see. No man is perfect, but every man is loved beyond measure. You considered my blood as more precious than the blood of Your Son. How can I think any less? Jesus, pour Your cleansing water of forgiveness over me. Wash me. Help me to know - without any doubt - that I am clean. Help me to never wonder again about how precious I really am to You.

March 29, 2005

A Forgiving God

O Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds. Psalm 99:8

Unfortunately, some people believe God lives to punish us. They think He watches us closely, waiting for us to make a mistake, just so He can zap us.

How did they ever come to see Him that way?

My guess is these people have never sought God's forgiveness. If they had, He would have given it. He is a God of fairness and equity. He always counters punishment with forgiveness. It is merely our place to receive it.

I am so glad He is forgiving. Without His forgiveness, life would be very sad indeed.

Lord, there are so many who live sad lives. They don't know Your love and forgiveness. At times, I struggle to receive it. Help me to find the balance. Help me to walk in righteousness. Help me to forgive myself for my misdeeds.

June 5, 2005

Misdirected Contempt

Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt. Psalm 123:3

What does one do when the contempt he endures comes, not from the outside, but from within? Experiencing the hatred of other people isn't easy, but to hate oneself is a burden that is nearly impossible to carry. Self-hatred can cause someone to sabotage every good thing that is sent his way.

In my life, like probably every man, sin has sabotaged what is best for me. I truly believe, however, that it is but a symptom of a deeper issue, a contempt for myself. Why should I fight temptation if I am not worth fighting for?

Once, a friend told me to face temptation by remembering how much I love my wife and kids, yet I have learned that no amount of love for someone else can save me from myself. To find the strength to stand against the enemy requires an inner strength - a strength that comes from loving myself - from allowing the Lord to love me. And since I know every flaw that makes me unlovable, loving myself is only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.

God's greatest mercy is often seen in the ability to forgive myself for every past hurt - for every past wrong. Oh, I am not referring to a conceited love of self, but a forgiving compassion, something that I often find easier to give away rather than to keep.

Lord, have mercy on me. Help me to endure the contempt I so often hold for myself. Nothing I do could ever make You stop loving me. How can I think I know better than You? Thank You for loving me so much that You died for me. This is proof of my lovability - that the God of the universe would come to earth and die for me!

Use me, Father, how You choose. I love You.

January 30, 2006

Seeking Forgiveness

"For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first of the whole house of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king." 2 Samuel 19:20

Shimei was a bold man. First, he cursed the king as the king's entire court fled from Jerusalem. Then he was the first in line to seek forgiveness. David could do as he pleased. He could have order Shimei's death on the spot. Yet he chose mercy.

If a man like Shimei can so willingly seek out forgiveness from an earthly king, why do we sometimes seek to hide our sin from our Heavenly King, the most merciful one of all?

Lord, I need to learn from Shimei. Forgiveness that is eagerly sought is rarely refused. Forgive me for sometimes clinging to my guilt. Help me to lay everything at Your feet. Help me to accept whatever You choose. Be my King. I want to be Your servant.

May 8, 2006

Forgive and Forget

"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Hebrews 8:12

Why do we so often live our lives based upon unremembered sins?

God's grace covers everything - from the simplest white lie uttered from the lips of a child to the conscious choice of an adult to stray into darkness. There is no sin so great that He cannot forgive it. There is no sin so great that He cannot forget it. All that matters to Him is His choice to forgive and forget.

Lord, for some reason I often feel like a man who is condemned to die for his sin - condemned by things You choose to forget. What could be more foolish than putting an innocent man on death row? Why do we try so hard to ensure guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for those who are sentenced to die?

I am guilty!

Yet, in Your eyes, I am innocent.

Death is not my future. Life is my sentence, eternal life to be lived in Your service - in Your presence. Help me to grasp the truth of my eternal calling. Help me to start living my sentence today. What a blessing it is to serve You! Help me to receive. Help me to forgive. Help me to forget.

About Forgiveness

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The Potter's Hand in the Forgiveness category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Encouragement is the previous category.

God's Love is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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