Posts Tagged 'forgiveness'

Forgiven Much, Love Much

JESUS SPEAKING

Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher say it.” “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” (Luke 7: 36 – 50)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Jesus agrees to dine with a Pharisee in his home. Upon arriving, He is refused several customary gestures reserved for honored guests. He is not greeted with a kiss, His feet are not washed, and His head isn’t anointed with any fragrant oil. The religious leader, believing himself to be righteous, discovered little value in the gospel message. And yet a harlot woman who had lived her entire life in abject sin, experienced a new birth; she felt the magnitude of God’s forgiveness through Christ; and in an instant she was transformed. Her newfound faith compelled her to honor Jesus. She kissed his feet; she washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair; she also anointed him with perfume. Through this interaction we are introduced to a solid biblical truth; ‘those who are forgiven much, love much; but those who are forgiven little, love little.’

As the story goes, in 1896, Captain Alfred Bertrand was traveling through South Africa when he arrived in the region of the Barotsi people. He had heard stories of the native King Lewanika, whose greatest delight had been torturing his enemies in cruel and unusual ways before murdering them. He was a brutal, sadistic, and Godless man; which produced his nickname; “the human tiger.” Upon arriving in the region, Captain Bertrand met with a local missionary and Pastor named Monsieur Coillard. On sunday, as a matter of politeness, the French soldier attended church. When he came out of the service, he asked Pastor Coillard, “Who was that remarkable looking man sitting next to me, who listened so carefully?” “That was King Lewanika, ‘the human tiger,'” he replied. “Was it really?” he inquired again. “Yes,” responded Coillard. “Then if that is what Christ can do, I mean to be His,” muttered Captain Bertrand.

Like King Lewanika, those whose lives are steeped in sin, are often the most willing to hear the message of forgiveness and receive salvation. In turn, the prior degenerates, having experienced the depths of God’s mercy, are reborn and reformed. They become compelled to worship God and to follow His commandments and virtuous principles. As a result, genuine believers will display authentic affection for others; every act of kindness is a reminder to the lost that God is alive; and that He is calling them to repent and return to Him.

“Lord Heavenly Father, may we experience Your complete forgiveness, and never forget how merciful You have been toward us. May we remain humble and seek to love all those we meet, as we preach the gospel of grace to those who need to be forgiven, reconciled, and reborn. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit Lord, that we might choose what is good. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!

Second Chances

JESUS SPEAKING

      When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”  A third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”  He said, “Lord you know all things; you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” […] and when he had said this he said, “Follow me.” (John 21: verse 15 – 19.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      On the night that Jesus was arrested, His disciple abandoned him.  As the armed soldiers escorted Jesus to the high priest for questioning, Peter followed at a distance.  When they arrived at their destination, Peter sat down and watched as an angry crowd condemned his master.  They hurled insults at him and spit on him; they blindfolded Jesus and repeatedly struck him in the face.  Upon observing the brutality of the mob, Peter’s heart began to fail; his faith soon gave way to fear.  Three times he was asked by those around him if he was a follower of Jesus Christ; and three times he denied his affiliation.  He eventually ran off, disgraced and ashamed.  After rising from the dead, Jesus appeared to His disciples. They engaged in fellowship and shared a meal together.  Eventually Jesus took Peter aside; refusing to condemn him for his denials.  Instead, He absolved him of his sins and gave him a second chance.  Peter was now being called to serve and care for those who were repenting and receiving salvation.

      In the late 1800’s there lived an ambitious inventor named Thomas Edison.  He is credited with inventing the battery, the phonograph, the telegraph, the movie projector, and many other well-known devices.  One of his greatest inventions was the first industrial light bulb (an item we still use today.)  As the story goes, it took Mr. Edison and an entire team of men, 24 hours to produce the first working prototype.  After many long hours, Edison gave the bulb to a young boy to carry up the stairs to the testing area.  With the fragile device in hand, the nervous assistant cautiously made his ascent; every step was carefully planned and executed. Sadly, despite the child’s best efforts, he somehow shattered the bulb.  In turn, the disappointed team began manufacturing another prototype.  Twenty-four hours later, the new bulb appeared.  Although the young assistant had failed the first time, Edison wisely understood that the boy deserved a second chance.  The youngster didn’t disappoint either; he delivered the bulb to it’s destination intact.

      The world is teaming with people who have failed, in more ways than one; mistakes are a part of life.  However, many human beings can be unforgiving and cruel; but God is merciful.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to forgive others who are truly repentant and deserve a second chance. In so doing, we too will escape the sins of our past. Forgiveness is the pathway to peace, and mercy is a road that leads to genuine fellowship with our eternal Father.

      “Lord Heavenly Father, we have made many mistakes; but You have created in us a new heart.  You have given us a second chance.  May we show that same love toward others; may we forgive completely, and may Your mercy and grace be manifested through us, into the lives of all those we meet.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.”  God bless all of you!

Confession

JESUS SPEAKS

“Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when he had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20: 21 – 23)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples in a room; bestowing upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit (the indwelling of God within their hearts.) Consequently, they were granted great power and authority; including the ability to forgive sins. This practice of confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness, (as well as forgiving the sins of others) is outlined further in James 5: 16; “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Thus there is an established foundation for the doctrine of confession that exists within the Church; which also accompanies the exercise of evangelism.

As the story goes, A former Texas Governor named Pat Neff once visited his state penitentiary, where he spoke to the assembly of convicts. After finishing, he announced that he would remain behind, and that if any man wanted to speak with him, he would gladly listen. Additionally, he proclaimed that he would listen in confidence, and that nothing a man might say would be used against him. When the meeting was over, a large group of men remained; many were serving life sentences. One by one they passed by, pleading for their freedom; insisting that there had been a frame-up, an injustice, or some kind of judicial blunder. Finally one man came up and said, “Mr. Governor, I just wanted to say that I am guilty. I did what they sent me here for. But I believe I have paid for it, and if I were granted the right to go out, I would do everything I could to be a good citizen and prove myself worthy of your mercy.” This of course, was the man whom the Governor pardoned.

Like Governor Neff, those who follow Jesus Christ have the authority to forgive the sins of any genuinely repentant individuals. Through confession and divine mercy, many can be set free from the crushing weight of guilt and shame. Within the Church, most of these disclosures can be facilitated in small group fellowships, or by interacting with the pastors and ministers who preside over our local congregations. Also, as we reach out to others during evangelism, may we use the authority we’ve been given by God to forgive the transgressions of our weary fellows; that they too might experience the joy and purity of salvation.

“Lord Heavenly Father, You alone are the way, the truth, and the life. Help us to avoid any sinful temptations as we spread the gospel message throughout the entire world. May we exercise the authority You have given us to forgive sins and to receive those who are repentant into Your glorious Church. We love you Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!


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