You Are Forgiven

You Are Forgiven Devo

Daily Reading: (Ephesians 4:32):

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Your ability to forgive someone else begins by receiving your forgiveness in Christ. One of the

There are two statements in the Bible that have led to some confusion for people because they seem to contradict each other but they only are confusing when you are confused about the Covenant that you are living in.

1.  “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14).
2.   “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

Do you see the difference between these two statements? The first statement says that forgiveness starts with us. The second statement says forgiveness begins with God.

Which is it? Both of these statements are reconciled in Jesus Christ. He satisfied the condition for forgiveness when He went to the cross. But a better explanation came from Jesus Himself when He told the story of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:23).

Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. One servant had a huge debt he could not pay. To satisfy the debt the king planned to sell the servant, his family and all his possessions. The servant begged for mercy, the king took pity and cancelled the debt.

Now try and put yourself in the place of that servant. You are on the verge of being sold into slavery. Your wife is going to be sold as well. She is about to become the property of another man. Your kids will also be sold into slavery. You will likely never see them again. There is not a thing you can do to avoid this. You have no legal recourse.

And then, at a command from the king, your debt is instantly canceled and everything you hold dear is restored to you.

Wouldn’t you go from that place singing the praises of your king? Wouldn’t you shout from the rooftops that the king is good? Wouldn’t you go home and hug your wife, and enjoy your kids, knowing that, because of the mercy of the king, you now have a future together?

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

The shocking plot twist is that this is not what the man in the story did. He walked out of the king’s presence unchanged. In the very next verse, he found someone who owed him a small amount of money and he demanded payment. When that man couldn’t pay, the unmerciful servant had him thrown into prison. Later, when the king heard about this, he reversed his merciful judgment and delivered the “wicked servant” to the tormenters.

Most people think that the story of the ungrateful servant is a tale about morality. But Jesus said it’s a description of the Kingdom of Heaven. Each of us had a debt we could not pay and God, in His mercy, paid the debt on our behalf. The debtor’s law that stood opposed to us was fully satisfied.

There are only two possible responses to God’s generosity. One response is to say, thank you Jesus! What amazing grace! I will be forever grateful and I will tell others what you have done so they may ask for mercy too. The other response is that of the servant in the story. It is to remain unrepentant and unchanged by the goodness of God.

The forgiveness that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4:32 is supernatural.

“Be kind and compassionate” in the Greek word it is talking about the ability to become kind and compassionate to those who need our forgiveness, to those who have done us great harm. It is only possible to act in kindness and compassion and forgiveness to someone who has greatly wounded us as we remember how greatly forgiven in Christ we are.

How forgiven are you and I in Christ? Do we have to ask for forgiveness in order for Christ to forgive us?  No, because we are already forgiven. Christ forgave you. It is a done deal.  It is forgiveness in the past, forgiveness in the present, and forgiveness in your future.  You are forgiven in Jesus.  Now, that you know that and we see how greatly forgiven you are enabled to forgive even if they don’t deserve it, even if they don’t ask for it. It is for your good that you forgive and you cast your cares on God. Not only are we enabled to forgive but we can in Christ also be kind and compassionate to those who need forgiveness. 

But when the topic of forgiveness comes up some will point to a verse in the Gospel of Mark 11:25- “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25). This doesn’t mean what you might think. We are forgiven because of one reason. 1 John 2:12: “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.”

Are we forgiven because of Jesus or are we forgiven because we have perfectly forgiven everyone else?

To answer this question that is raised in Mark 11:25 one must look at who is Jesus talking to in Mark 11? Jesus is taking to those living under the Law. The message is clear, if you want to try and earn salvation, you will find that it is impossible. One of the requirements to perfect law-based living would be the perfect forgiveness of all who wronged you.

Jesus came and fulfilled this requirement for us perfectly. When we go to the scene of the crucifixion people were mocking Jesus, they were spitting on Him, hurling insults at Him, and casting lots for His clothes. He was crucified for our sins and yet the people who rejected Him hung a sign over His head, ‘This is the king of the Jews.’ He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” How did Jesus respond? His response is kindness and compassion. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

When Jesus said this statement, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins” people were still living under the Law, if you think the Law offers you salvation then you better do it perfectly all the time including always forgiving everyone all the time.

But since we have already been forgiven, we can read Jesus’ statement through the lens of grace. As an exhortation to walk in the grace of a Father who has already forgiven you in Christ. Try shifting your glance away from the one who hurt you and setting your eyes on the one who has saved you. 

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Freedom Over Worry

Freedom Over Worry

Daily Reading: (Philippians 4:6):

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

To have guidance from God’s Word when worry comes makes all the difference. God’s Word will not bring freedom from worry ever creeping in, but freedom over worry when it does.  

The Message Bible says:

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Instead of worrying there is another option, prayer. Paul says worry will come but instead of dwelling in, pitching a tent in the camp of worry, you could do something else that will cure your worries and that is prayer. Paul is a smart guy who knows the Old Testament really well. When he writes Philippians 4 I believe he is thinking about the words of the Psalmist who would write:

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4 NLT).

I prayed to the Lord and what happens when he prayed or when we pray… God will answer us. God will respond to your prayers. He will rescue us or deliver us from fear and worry.

The verse before in Philippians sets the tone for us to experience freedom over worry.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” It is easy to forget during difficult times just how near God is (Philippians 4:5) because in the trouble He can feel so far away. But He is with us, and we can communicate with Him, and pray at any time and experience freedom over worry, trust in His love, instead of fear.

“Don’t worry” (merimnaō): don’t even take thought of it to the point of allowing it to trouble you. Before it gets to that point of causing you trouble, pray (Philippians 4:6).

Worry builds and that is why it is best to deal with it before it gets to a troubling level. It is remarkable to me that living 1,000 years apart, Paul and David are saying the exact same thing. However, Paul adds some things about prayer. in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 

After thanksgiving then let your requests be made known to God. Thanksgiving is the Greek word “eucharist”, communion. Worship God for all your spiritual blessings in Jesus before your requests. Paul says in Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Start your prayers by giving thanks for what God has done for us in Christ. And then let your requests be made known to God.  In this way, it says, “I trust God.” 

When you pray like this, all of a sudden, you are no longer held hostage waiting for what you think the result should be. The more you thank Him, the more His peace reigns in your heart. Whatever your concern is, bring it to your Father in prayer and thank your way to peace!

Friend of God: Name Dropping

Friend of God

Daily Reading: (Romans 5:11):

“Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

We have the opportunity every day in our lives to boast about the victory Jesus has given us. We boast about different stuff all the time. Just look at bumper stickers, “my kids is an honor student”, “I ran 26.2 miles”, “I am an alumni of XYZ University”. Social media is full of places we have been, the food we ate, and things we have experienced that we are proud of and want to share with the world. There is something within us to want to share the wonderful things we have been a part of, and here Paul is saying we can and should boast in the greatest thing to ever happen to us, we are now reconciled to God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What is crazy is God didn’t give this great gift to His best friends, God gave the gift that was the life of His son, to His enemies. Enemies? That’s strong language but it is what we were apart from Jesus,“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life” (Romans 5:10)!

That is why Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, because this is what I did for you. When someone is persecuting you, causing you trouble, we have the Holy Spirit who gives us love, joy, peace, etc… This person who is not acting like a friend, but more like an enemy, I can pray for them, they are the perfect candidate for someone who needs Jesus. This is where miracles take place. God loves them too and wishes for them to have their lives forever changed by the Gospel.

So, we use to be enemies with God (Romans 5:10) but being reconciled to Him through Jesus, we are now friends of God and part of His family. We are friends and even family of the One who made the Universe.

We have now received the reconciliation. The word “received” means that this reconciliation is a gift that we receive by grace through Christ. Reconciliation is special in that it is not like most other gifts. Let’s say it is your birthday and your significant other buys you a lantern. A lantern is a practical yet fairly lame gift. Most people don’t ask for a lantern for their birthday, you might even question how well they know you or have been paying attention to you over the year. But if your power goes out you might be thankful for the lantern. Then when the power is restored, you put the lantern away, and then forget about it entirely until the power goes out again. Then you feel thankful again for the gift again.

This is different from what Paul means by receiving the gift of reconciliation. He means receiving it in such a way that what is in the package makes you rejoice all the time. And what is in the gift, is God reconciled. The gift of reconciliation is God offering us Himself so that we might rejoice in Him.

James 2:23 says: And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. ‘And he was called the friend of God. In John 15:15 Jesus said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Jesus made us righteous through His sacrifice on the cross and our faith in Him. We now are friends of God (John 15:15, James 2:23).

What we should be doing is name-dropping about who we are friends with. God is my friend. God is my Father. It changes our perspective on things. Paul is so confident in his relationship with God, that he says to other believers who gave to him to help him while in prison “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). I am friends with God, He has abundantly blessed and abundantly supplied me in Jesus.