Monthly Archives: August 2011

Forgiveness

Why is it so hard to forgive those who have wronged us?  We hold onto anger and resentment like treasured gifts while they silently destroy our soul.  I recently re-discovered a verse by John Greenleaf Whittier.  It speaks to this very issue…

My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellomen,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!
 
~  John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
 

“…Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”  ~  Luke 17:3-5


A Mighty Fortress is Our God – Verse Two

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He-
Lord Sabaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
 

Psalm 28 says, “The Lord is the strength of His people, a fortress of salvation.”  The name used for Jesus in this verse of A Mighty Fortress is “Lord Sabaoth” – The Lord of hosts, the Lord Almighty.  The Lord who comes with power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him again on the throne.  The Lord who has already defeated the enemy by conquering death.  That Lord is the one we worship!  He IS our Mighty Fortress!

Psalm 46:1-11  ~  God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day…


An Expert Guide

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”  ~  Psalm 23:2-3

The three words of this passage “He leads me” were brought to mind this morning as I was walking down the aisle at the grocery store.

A tiny, little girl was trying to walk.  Her mother was watching and held out her hand, but the child wanted to walk alone, and waved off the mother’s hand.  I smiled and the mother said to me, “she thinks she can do it without me.”

I suppose independence is good in some things.  It was a good thing that the little girl should try to walk alone.

However, independence in spiritual things can be disastrous.  God Himself says “without Me you can do nothing.”  I think about recent disasters on Mt. Hood with climbers who attempt to conquer the mountain without a guide, without safe company, without expert experience.  God has a large family, yet none of us are able to walk alone… nor should we.

To have a guide not only means a level of certainty in life, but it also helps make life more engaging and interesting and fulfilling.  On our recent trip to Barcelona we took a walking tour with a local guide.  We saw more of Barcelona in that one afternoon than many do in a week or two.  We wouldn’t have enjoyed the experience nearly as much if we didn’t have an experienced guide who was thoroughly acquainted with the territory.

Jesus gives us this expert companionship in life.  He is the “Good Shepherd”… not only did He give His life for us… He gives His life TO us and lives His life FOR us.

We need an expert guide to lead us.  And He leads us to good places!

He leads us to REPENTANCE.  (Romans 2:4) “…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance…”

He leads us to LIFE.  (Matt. 7:14) ”But the gate to life is very narrow. The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people find it.”

He leads us to TRANSFORMATION.  (2 Cor. 3:18)  “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image from one degree of glory to another.”

And, like our expert guide in Barcelona… Jesus leads us to HIDDEN TRUTHS and PLEASANT SURPRISES! (Isaiah 42:16)  “I will lead the blind on roads they have never known; I will guide them on paths they have never traveled. Their road is dark and rough, but I will give light to keep them from stumbling. This is My solemn promise.”


The Power of Words

James 3:10-12

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing My brothers, these thing ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs?  Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”

The human body is remarkable in its ability to endure trauma and then heal over time- though sometimes a scar is left behind to show for it.  Our words also can do damage to a person and though the trauma of harsh words may not leave a visible scar, the time it takes to heal from such damage may take much longer.

Words have power to encourage, restore, and build up as well as tear down, destroy, and hurt.  With such power comes great responsibility.  It takes great effort, patience, and restraint to speak purely encouraging words; just as it takes great planning to build something of importance.  To speak harshly or to tear something down takes but an instant with little thought and reckless reaction.

Pure speech is like fresh water; it is refreshing, brings life, and renews someone who is thirsty.  You also have to seek it out because not all water is fresh.  Malicious words are like salty water; not good for anyone to consume, leaves a bad taste in your mouth looking for something to rinse with, and makes you thirstier than before you started drinking.  The salt water however, is easy to find because it is so available in comparison to the water that is useable.  What’s more it takes but just a drop of salty water to ruin a whole bottle of fresh water.  In the same way, a malicious word can bring down a number of kind words stored up over time.

Point for Prayer:

What kinds of inspiring and encouraging words could you use that have power for your life or for someone else’s life right now?


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