Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians 4:29-32’

Love and Forgiveness

March 29th, 2013

“We have redemption through His blood, [and] the forgiveness of sins.” Ephesians 1:7 NKJV.

Without a selfless act of forgiveness, you are imprisoned by an inescapable past.

My thoughts and comments today are about “love and forgiveness.”

Who has not been wronged, whether slightly or severely? And who has not done wrong against God or man? Life is not livable without forgiveness and forgiving; the burden of your wrong, or the wrong of another, eventually becomes too great to bear apart from forgiveness. Without a selfless act of forgiveness, you become imprisoned by an inescapable past. See Mark 11:25 NIV/Colossians 3:13-15 NIV/ Matthew 6:14-15 NIV.

It is not forgiveness with which we struggle; it is love that is our challenge. Love demands more from you. Love keeps no score of wrongs . . bears all things . . endures all things . . love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. With love, sacrifice is less burdensome; inconvenience not worth mention. Forgiveness comes without measurement of wrong or deservedness. The one who chooses to forgive accepts the price and pain of the errors of another.

Good Friday is about immeasurable love. Jesus, who had done no wrong (See 2 Corinthians 5:21), took your sins, accepted your place before the righteousness of God, paid the awful price of your sin, and felt the pain for every sin and wrong you committed or will commit (Matthew 27:46). The worst of which every person is capable was embraced on a cross, the instrument of our Savior’s death.

His cross represents the worst of sins but also the greatest of loves. He forgave you there because of love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17 NIV.

On that cross, your history and destiny were forever changed. “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us . . that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” Read Ephesians 1:7-12 NKJV. No one has to remain as they have been.

It was a Good Friday indeed, because hope was born there for anyone who would believe. Read 1 John 1:9-10 NIV. Author Max Lucado wrote, “Jesus would rather go to Hell for you, than to go to Heaven without you.” What do you do with a God like that? You can’t just dismiss Him. Instead, you humbly bow before Him, accept His forgiveness, and live your life for Him.

“[Christ] presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready . . We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” Romans 5:7-8 MSG. Imagine; God put His life on the line for you!

Recipients of such grace and love, why do we struggle to forgive? Here is the application. You cannot leave the wrongs of another unforgiven, when yours have been so freely and fully forgiven. The Bible says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God in Christ forgave you.” See Ephesians 4:29-32 NKJV. Love is at its best when forgiving.

My prayer for you this day is that you know God’s immeasurable and wondrous love.

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wholesome Words

August 31st, 2012

“What you say can preserve life or destroy it.” Proverbs 18:21 TEV

A cleansed heart is the source of a wholesome vocabulary.

My thoughts and comments today are about “wholesome words.”

My fourth grade teacher put a fascinating book into my hands that would shape and equip my adult life, though its significance was unbeknownst to me at the time. That book was about etymology, “the study of the sources and development of words,” that cultivated my appreciation for language. As is often said, “Words mean something.” That’s true all the time, not just when you intend for your words to mean something. Words carry a weightiness you can easily fail to realize even at the time you are speaking them. In conversations, you leave blessing or turmoil. Your words can validate or invalidate a person to whom or about whom you speak. I want my words to lift lives, not diminish them.

Know this about words; words inspire or dishearten; they induce healing or inflict trauma. Hearts have been wooed and won by tender, loving words, as well as mortally wounded by angry, hurtful words. With words, endearing friendships or enduring enemies are formed. Solomon wisely observed, “What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequence of your words” Proverbs 18:21 TEV. In perilous times, national leaders such as Sir Winston Churchill have, with their words, rallied nations to great courage and sacrifice, while Adolph Hitler’s words spawned unparalleled hatred and evil in the soul of a generation of Nazi Germany, bringing devastating destruction across a continent. See Proverbs 12:18 NKJV.

Consider with me the spiritual etymology of your words, their “source and development.” Have you ever thought to yourself, “Where did that come from?” Your words are consequential and reflect their source. See Matthew 12:36-37 NKJV. A wise person weighs their words carefully, or better yet, prayerfully. Before speaking, you should weigh your words because others will, and God does. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things . .” Read Matthew 12:34-35 NKJV. A cleansed heart is the source of a wholesome vocabulary. Monitoring what comes out of your mouth is less difficult when you guard what is in your heart.

A friend recently commented about another that, “They had lost their filter.” They were describing a person who frequently indulged themselves in saying what they thought, without regard to their words’ propriety, origin, or effect. Speaking your own mind isn’t always best if you want to have friends, or be one. Filters are important. “May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NLT. The words you speak are too relationally important and eternally consequential to be handled casually, without careful examination and prayerful forethought.

The Bible teaches, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths . . that it may benefit those who listen.” Read Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV. Their effect on others is the standard by which words are judged. Do your words pass that Bible test? “Do not be rash with your mouth . . therefore let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 NKJV. You will experience a lot less regret.

My prayer for you today is that your communication is always honoring and edifying.

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Getting Even

August 20th, 2012

“Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 NIV

Life is better when you respond positively to negative realities.

My thoughts and comments today are about “getting even.”

Getting even might feel good for the moment but its satisfaction is short-lived and leaves a lingering, bitter taste. Getting even is never a good idea. You cannot afford the cost of buried bitterness, which flavors your life for a season and sometimes forever after. Here’s the Bible’s advice: “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause you trouble, and by this many become defiled.” Hebrews 12:15 NKJV. Bitterness results from your failure to embrace the grace of God.

When you fail to respond righteously as God directs, you internalize hurt and the self-imposed harm is worse than anyone else’s words or actions can cause. Harboring hurts and grudges is relationally destructive and personally unhealthy – negatively impacting your emotional, physical, and spiritual health. God’s answer is forgiveness; forgiveness is the antidote for bitterness. Read Matthew 6:12-14 NIV. “Be kind . . tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:29-32 NLT. When you forgive, healing begins. Joseph saw the intent and actions of his brothers but saw God at work. “God turned into good what you meant for evil.” Genesis 50:20 NLT. Forgiveness releases God to work in ways you cannot foresee.

The answer is simple in principle but difficult in practice, “Live in harmony with one another . . Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge . . Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:16-21 NIV. Overcome evil with good. Admittedly, that instruction is counter-intuitive. It is perfectly natural to want to hurt people who hurt you, but that is a natural instinct, not spiritual, that worsens rather than resolves situations. Getting even is a poor, problem-solving strategy.

Jesus’ teaching is clear, “go the second mile, give more than can be required of you, and turn the other cheek when mistreated” – go further, give generously, behave righteously. Read Matthew 5:38-45 NKJV. My conclusion from that is this: life is better when you respond positively to negative realities. Imagine how much peace and joy you discover by obeying God (and how much fun you will have confusing those who make life difficult).

It takes two people to have a fuss; likewise, it usually takes two people to settle differences. But it only takes one person to do what’s right and pleasing to God; be that person and do what is right. When wrong has been done to you, do what’s right anyway, “as far as depends on you.” Do what you can for reconciliation and trust God for what you cannot.

You can be either proactive or reactive; reacting to hurt forfeits God’s grace. Being proactive minimizes misunderstandings and seeks Godly reconciliation. Paul’s solution is love, “[Love] keeps no record of when it has been wronged . . but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love . . is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT. Love always wins.

My prayer for you today is that you release hurts quickly and embrace healing confidently.

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Unruly Tongue

August 16th, 2011

“I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue.” Psalm 39:1 NAS

“Thinking without speaking is always wiser than speaking without thinking.”

My thoughts today are about “the unruly tongue.”

The Bible asks, “Do any of you want to live a life that is long and good? Then watch your tongue! Keep your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others.” Psalm 34:10-14 NLT. Monitoring and managing your words is a challenge, but the reward is well worth the effort. You will have no scarcity of opinions, but will observe that some opinions are best kept to one’s self.

Here’s what I am learning: thinking without speaking is always wiser than speaking without thinking. Just because you think something does not make it wise to say it, without forethought. Often the best thing is to test your words before you share them. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one . . let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth but what is good for necessary edification that it may impart grace to the hearer.” Colossians 4:7/Ephesians 4:29 NKJV.

If you do not evaluate your words before giving them a voice, your listeners become the arbiters of their suitability. Words can build up or tear down; they can edify or destroy. They can inspire or dishearten, being profitable or unprofitable. Choose well and wisely before you speak foolishly.

Often what you don’t say is as important as what you do say. The test for your words should always be two-fold: taste them as though you were hearing rather than speaking them, and test them if they properly reflect God’s standard of righteous communication. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NKJV. Now that’s a guideline that will spare you a lot of hurt and embarrassment.

The Bible warns about idle words. “. . out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. For every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34-37 NKJV. Your words will justify or condemn you; be advised.

Some people shock others by the words that come out of their mouth occasionally; a few people are even astonished by what they hear themselves saying! The Psalmist vowed, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue.” Psalm 39:1 NAS. I have occasionally regretted not having spoken, but far more frequently have been grateful when I did not say what did not need to be spoken.

The Bible warns of the danger of an unruly tongue, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check . . no man can tame the tongue.” James 3:2-12 NIV. There is a connection between your self-disclosure and your self-discipline. And there is an answer to your incapacity to tame your tongue. Pray as did the Psalmist, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141: 3 NKJV. Much remains to be said of profanity and vulgarity, which reflect a profaned spirit and a limited and inappropriate vocabulary, and grieve God and soil one’s own soul. See Ephesians 4:29-32 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will not discount the value of your words by speaking foolishly or thoughtlessly.

Devotionals , , , , , , , ,

Second Chances

July 11th, 2011

“How often should I forgive someone?” Matthew 18:21 NLT

“In the human heart there is an inherent need for rules to be fair.”

My thoughts today are about “second chances.”

Forgiveness can be challenging eventually, even if not initially. God seems to have put a sense of fairness and justice inside of every person. The youngest of children can be heard to respond with these words of complaint, “That’s not fair!” Ever been waiting in a line and someone cuts into the line, seeming to assume their time is more important or their need more urgent than others patiently waiting? And I’m sure you are cool with someone hurrying into that just vacated parking place for which you had been waiting.

We expect people to do what’s right, to wait their turn, and to play fair. And when that sense of fairness comes up against injustice, we want justice restored. In one’s heart there is an inherent need for rules to be fair, and for them to be followed equally. Granted, people are prone to permit themselves a more tolerant standard than they may allow others.

Most people will be understanding and forgiving a first time, even a few times. But how do you feel when the same person continues to assume that same grace, even seeming to take your understanding for granted multiple times? Peter faced that all too common question; “Lord, how often should I forgive some who sins against me? Seven times?” He must have felt very expansive in his answer, until he heard Jesus’ answer; “’No!’ Jesus replied, ‘seventy times seven!’” Matthew 18:21-22 NLT. Read Jesus’ explanation why. See Matthew 18:23-35 NIV. Any idea how many times you have needed forgiveness?

Was Jesus giving a number at which unforgiveness becomes acceptable? I think He gave a number that you would soon lose count until any limit would become irrelevant. The more sincerely forgiveness is practiced, the easier it becomes. But isn’t that the way of the Kingdom of God? God always stretches you beyond what you think you should or could do, so that you will rely on Him for all you need.

Here are three simple truths that can help you forgive when it’s otherwise difficult. (1) Remember how much and how often you have been forgiven. Read Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV. (2) Remember; forgiveness is not required of you, if and when you no longer expect or will need forgiveness. Read Mark 11:25-26 NKJV. (3) Remember; your unforgiveness wrongly suggests that God will do the same. Read 1 John 1:7-10 NIV.

There is a passage of Scripture that I do not presume to fully understand, but neither do I dare ignore. “Then Jesus . . said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven.’” Read John 20:21-23 NIV. What you and I do may have eternal consequence in another’s life. That is sobering to me. You and I are to be “ambassadors for Christ.” Represent Him well. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NKJV. He is the God of second chances, as many times as needed. See Jeremiah 18:1-4 NKJV. For that, I am very thankful.

My prayer for you today is that you rejoice in forgiveness and give it freely to others.

Devotionals , , , , , , ,