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Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

I read that yesterday marked 33 years to the day that Pete Rose joined Ty Cobb as the only players in MLB history with 4000 hits.  A Facebook friend of mine posted this fact and his opinion that Rose deserved to be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rose, as you may know, was banned from MLB baseball and from its Hall of Fame for life because he gambled on MLB baseball games as a player/manager.  My friend insisted that this was irrelevant to his accomplishments on the field.  He also felt Rose had not gambled on baseball games as a player.

I began to respond to this post with the following, “Whether he was a player or not when he gambled on games (Rose was definitely a manager at the time of his gambling) is irrelevant.  Rose knew what was right/wrong, and he knew the consequences.  He nevertheless chose to do what was wrong — not once, but repeatedly.  He deserves his punishment and should NEVER be allowed in the Hall of Fame.”

I finished typing and my finger hovered over the “submit” button.  But I couldn’t send my scathing message.  Why?  Because I realized I was indicting myself — and in a much more important sphere — the sphere of life and my relationship with God Himself.

How many times have I done what I knew to be wrong?  Knowing the consequences, I did it anyway.  How many times have I lost my temper and lashed out at others — even those I claim to love?  How many times have I taken the selfish action, knowing it would bring pain to others?  How many times have I failed to take action that I knew would bring comfort to, ease loneliness of, soothe suffering to others?

I know there is a God.  Creation itself testifies to this.  I know that in doing wrong, there are present and eternal consequences for knowingly sinning (doing wrong) against others and therefore against Him.  And yet, I did the wrong things anyway.  I certainly don’t deserve His love nor to be in any “Hall of Fame” He may have (heaven and right relationship with Him).

As the United Airlines firestorm continues, Dr. David Dykes (longtime pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas) shared this: Regarding the man pulled from the flight, my first thought was, “When they were dragging this bleeding man off the plane, why didn’t someone stand up and say, ‘Let him go. I’ll take his place. Take me instead’?”

“I suppose all the passengers were shocked and stunned into silence. I’m just glad that 2,000 years ago when I should have been the one rejected and bloodied, Jesus stepped forward and said, ‘Let him go. I’ll take his place. Take me instead!’ “

Today is Good Friday.  On this very day, some 2000 years ago, Jesus took my place.  He took my place at enormous cost and enabled me to receive what I didn’t deserve.  To receive what my actions dictated I should NEVER have:  right relationship with God now and forevermore more, and abundant & eternal life.

“What must I do to be saved?” asked a man in Scripture after Jesus’ death.  The answer?  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

On this Good Friday, I remember what Jesus did for me — and for Pete Rose and for you.  And I believe in the Lord Jesus.  And I am grateful (an inadequate word) that Jesus took my place.  May my life going forward reflect this gratitude by reflecting Him.

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Awhile back, my son had done something wrong — probably not a huge thing in isolation, but troubling because it seemed to be becoming a potential habit.  As we talked about it, I could tell he was troubled and knew he was wrong.  But he wouldn’t admit that wrong nor seek my forgiveness.  It was difficult for me not to just say “Oh, it’s all right, don’t worry about it.”  It was difficult because I could see, as the hours passed, that he was very down, morose, quiet, had no appetite. It was guilt and my chastening that was having this effect.
Finally, I asked, “Is something bothering you?”  He nodded with tears in his eyes.  I asked him, “Are you bothered that things aren’t right between us.”  Again, he nodded with tears.  Then I asked, “What do you think you should do?”  And at that point, he confessed he was wrong and asked forgiveness — at which point I rushed over to him with my arms open wide and held him close.  I reminded him I loved him and would always love him and would forgive him always when he confessed and was truly sorry (a godly sorrow we might say :-)).  And I reminded him what repentance was really about — changing direction, acting differently in the future. Our relationship was restored — the effect on him was like night and day. Appetite returned, smiles returned — he knew he was forgiven and that he could count on my love.

Someone else had an experience like this — and at a much deeper level.  He tells of his experience in Psalms 51, 32, 130 and 103.  There is much to relate to and learn.

Key Points in Forgiveness/Restoration

Psalm 32:5 – “Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and You forgave the guilt of my sin.” (NIV)

Psalm 51:17 – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”  (NIV)

Psalm 130:7-8 – “O [Jeff], put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption.  He Himself will redeem [Jeff] from all [his] sins.”  (NIV)

Psalm 103:11-12 – “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who [revere] Him, as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  (NIV)
 
These four Psalms contain so much truth regarding sin, forgiveness and restoration that bring hope, joy, and a deeper faith it is hard to know where to begin.
Perhaps the best place is with the fact that it is foolish to try to ignore or cover up our sins.  

Warren Wiersbe points out that “Guilt is to the conscience what pain is to the body: it tells us that something is wrong and must be made right, or things will get worse.”  David felt that guilt for some time as he tried to pretend everything was all right.  But he (David) describes vividly in Psalm 32 the effects of guilt and God’s chastening.  He became a physical and emotional wreck.  I can personally attest to such effects of ignoring sin and refusing to confess it to God (and, if needed, to others).  

But David, through this guilt (which is in itself a form of God’s grace and mercy) and God’s calling in it, does come back to God and confess his sin.  And from there, the wonder of God’s love and grace is well chronicled in these Psalms.

1) David is forgiven.  A burden is removed from David’s soul and psyche.   

2) David was cleansed and restored.  He was able to make a new start.  David was terrified that God would reject him.  But God responds to godly sorrow and a broken heart!  Truly, there are consequences of sin which cannot be eliminated, but God can and does renew and open new doors.

3) David wants to tell others of God’s grace and mercy and lead them home.  Forgiveness should result in a life with a new direction, a walking in the way of God and in accordance with His calling on our lives.  God doesn’t forgive us so we can go back to sinning.  Forgiveness is not a blessing to be taken lightly or for granted – it cost God His Son.  As Wiersbe reminds us: Salvation is a serious and costly transaction.

4) Renewal of a sense of joy, wonder and awe as a result of what God has done.  David had lost hope and lost freedom, but God restored the joy of his salvation.  The burden of sin was removed, the debt was paid (by another), and the record of sin blotted out.  If it were not, who could stand before God (Psalm 130:3)?

I, personally, have experienced the guilt, despair, depression and the wondering if I’ll ever be “good for anything or anyone” as a result of sin I have committed in my life.  I, like David, have been a physical and emotional wreck because of sin in my life.

How can I experience what David did?  When I, like David, cry out to God, confessing my sin with a repentant & broken heart — because of Christ’s blood, my faith in His death and resurrection, and God’s love for us — God the Father will bring forgiveness, healing, redemption, and renewal.

God is so wonderfully and mysteriously good!  The depth of His love seemingly beyond understanding and inscrutable.  May we truly put our hope in the Lord and His word and His Son — and experience the joy of restored relationship, renewed vigor, and deepened faith and hope because of His forgiveness and love for us.

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star would choose to light the way for my ever wandering heart
 
Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea would call out through the rain and calm the storm in me
 
Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are
I am a flower quickly fading here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling, Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am — I am Yours, I am Yours
                                                                     — “Who Am I,”  by Casting Crowns

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