How to receive God’s forgiveness

Psalm 32:5 NLT

When God forgave David for adultery and murder, he wrote: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said…’I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone” (vv. 1-5 NLT). Unconfessed, unforgiven sin will make you miserable. But after you’ve acknowledged it and received God’s forgiveness, you shouldn’t continue to feel miserable. So why do we feel miserable? Many times it’s because of how we were raised. We grew up hearing words like, “I hope you feel bad about what you’ve done!” or “Shame on you!” And if our offense was great, like wrecking the family car, we may even have been put on probation! In other words, we’re programmed for long-term guilt. The good news is, God’s forgiveness doesn’t work that way. The moment that brings conviction and confession of sin also brings cleansing of sin, and leads to restored confidence before God. Don’t let Satan keep condemning you. Refuse to walk around feeling guilty and ashamed. Today say with the psalmist, “You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” Now go out and live freely, confidently, and with joy!

Soul food: Exo 13-15; Matt 6:9-18; Ps 71:17-24; Prov 2:3-5

Receive God’s forgiveness

Psalm 32:5 NLT

When God forgave David for adultery and murder, he wrote: ‘When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long…Finally, I confessed my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said…”I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone’ (vv.3-5 NLT). Unconfessed, unforgiven sin will make us feel guilty and ashamed. But after we’ve acknowledged it, taken it to God and received His forgiveness, we shouldn’t continue to feel that way. So why do we? We can often be brought up to regret our actions, and people around us can continually remind us of them. Our mistakes can become part of our identity, so we see ourselves as failures. But because Jesus died and defeated sin, God no longer looks at us and sees sinners. Instead, He looks at us through Jesus and sees His beloved children made pure. When we’ve done something wrong, we can bring it to God and ask for His forgiveness. The Bible says that love ‘keeps no record of wrongs’ (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). God is love (take a look at 1 John 4), so God doesn’t keep a record of the things we’ve done wrong. The Bible says: ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1 NIV). The enemy wants us to feel guilty and ashamed so that we feel separated from God by our sin. He wants us to think we’ve messed up beyond repair, because that will stop us glorifying and serving God. But instead, we need to say the words of the psalmist: ‘You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.’ And then go out and live freely.

Exo 13-15; Matt 6:9-18; Ps 71:17-24; Prov 2:3-5

When you worship, you’re serving God

Psalm 134:1 NKJV

The last verse of the last psalm in the Bible says, “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 150:6). That means as long as you are alive you are called to worship God. But some of us are more wired to be worshipers in the church, while others are more wired to be workers. While all of us are called to worship God, some of us are more inclined to do it through works while others are more inclined to do it through worship. And with God, both count as acts of service. The psalmist said, “Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who by night stand in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord” (Psalm 134:1-2 NKJV). Note the words “servants of the Lord.” How were they serving Him? Through worship. The Westminster Confession of Faith says, “The chief end of man is that he might glorify God.” And there are many ways to do it: “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me” (Psalm 50:23 NKJV). Worship acts like a thermostat; it creates a climate in which God’s presence can be experienced and enjoyed. David said: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2 NKJV). What a benefits package! Forgiveness, healing, deliverance, and protection. How do we receive these benefits? Through worship. When we bless the Lord, He blesses us. So when you worship, you’re serving God.

Soul food: 2 Sam 14:21-17:13; John 3:1-21; Ps 89:15-37; Prov 23:15-18

Have you been treated badly?

Luke 6:23 TM

When you’ve been treated badly, always ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience? How do I respond in a more Christlike manner? Am I willing to acknowledge my mistakes? How can I grow wiser and handle similar experiences better in the future?” When all is said and done, the answer to misunderstanding is forgiveness. Now, forgiveness doesn’t mean you necessarily agree with or want a close relationship with the person who mistreated you. But it does mean that you let it go. When you bury the hatchet, don’t leave the handle sticking up! In other words, don’t just forgive – choose to forget! Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be great is to be misunderstood.” And here’s an even better statement: “To be greater is to forgive the one who has treated you badly.” Paul refers to the Christian life as “the high calling of God” (Philippians 3:14). So take the high road! What does that road look like? Jesus tells us: “Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is…the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable…be glad when that happens…all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my…witnesses have always been treated like this” (vv. 22-23 TM). By living this way, you also take back your power by refusing to let another person dictate your mood and your outlook, and you keep your joy.

Soul food: Rev 10-14; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 4; Pro 12:25

Vengeance is God’s job, not yours

Romans 12:19 NKJV

Vengeance is God’s job, not yours. He will repay – whether on the Day of Judgment or in this life. He can discipline your abusive boss, soften your angry parent, bring your ex to his knees or her senses. Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice; it entrusts it to God. He guarantees the right amount of retribution. We give too much or too little, but He has the precise prescription. And unlike us, He never gives up on a person. (And you should be glad about that). Long after we have moved on, God is still there probing the conscience, stirring conviction, orchestrating redemption. Fix your enemies? That’s God’s job. Forgive your enemies? Ah, that’s where you come in. “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to…God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead…’If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good” (vv. 17-21 NLT). Author Max Lucado says: “Revenge builds a lonely, narrow house. Space enough for one person. The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal: Make someone miserable. They do – themselves. No wonder God insists we ‘Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent’ (Hebrews 12:15 TM).”

Soul food: Job 40-42; Luke 19:37-44; Ps 69:1-18; Prov 8:27-29