October 26, 2006
Encouragement for Today
Wendy Pope, Director of Development, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member
Matthew 18:21, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" (NIV)
I have to confess I have never believed that forgiving others is an issue with which I have difficulty. I get upset and angry like most people do when I am wronged; however, I tend to ignore the problem or the person until I "feel" better. Thus, I never really deal with the offense at hand. God has brought me face to face with my naiveté. His desire is to work in and through me to surrender a part of myself that has been displeasing to Him: self-righteousness and an unforgiving spirit. Oh, the lessons I have learned. Oh, the lessons I am still learning.
A circumstance arose between my family and other families on my cul-de-sac. It is a situation I would like to have forgotten but the problem and the persons are not likely to go away. They are all there each time I turn down my street. God has been teaching me about forgiving other, and making me deal with my self-righteousness by having me living right in the middle of my offenders.
I have learned that forgiving others is a choice. There are days when the accusations hurled against me make me burn with anger, and the last thing I want to do is bless those who persecute me. The power of the Holy Spirit living in me enables me to live beyond the anger and bitterness to extend forgiveness. When anger and attitude raise their ugly head, I make the choice to say out loud, "Now Lord, I forgave them already. Help me to live in the forgiveness I have extended.” The choice to live in bitterness is mine. The power to make the choice not to live in bitterness comes from God. I am unable to do this apart from Him. The voice of the liar cleverly tries to lure me with memories of the hurt and betrayal I felt. Then I remember his objective for my life is not peace, but pandemonium.
Today's key verse is taken from the parable of the unmerciful servant. Peter wanted to know how many times forgiveness should be offered. Jesus, in true teacher fashion, gave His answer in story form. He goes on tell of a master who forgives a debt that a servant owed him. This same servant refuses to forgive a debt owed him by a fellow servant. Upon learning of this, the master rebukes the servant and turns him over to the jailers to be tortured. Jesus concludes the story by telling Peter, "This is how My Heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (V35) Frightening isn't?
Are you being tortured by the power of an unforgiving spirit? The good news is forgiveness and freedom is only a prayer away.
My Prayer for Today:
Lord, search my heart today. Bring to my attention anyone I need to forgive. Give me the courage and power to pardon them. I can't wait to live in the freedom forgiveness offers, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Continue today's prayer until God brings someone to your heart. Write the person’s name on a piece of paper with the offense. Call the person, forgive him or her, and throw the paper away.
Am I living in a state of torment because of unforgiveness?
Have I completely accepted God's gift of forgiveness for my sins?
Do I need to seek forgiveness from someone I have offended?
Psalm 78:38, “Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath." (NIV)
Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (NIV)
Colossians , " Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (NIV)
Ideas for Halloween, ETC Corner
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart by Lysa TerKeurst
Sandpaper People by Mary Southerland
Originally published Thursday, 26 October 2006.