Archive | April 2014

Forgive

Leading to Easter, I have looked for new or renewed insight in the death and resurrection of Jesus. As I read, my eyes and thoughts keep lingering on the word and action FORGIVE. Not forgive if…., or forgive when…., just forgive.

What a nightmare! Jesus was betrayed and disowned by some of his closest followers, friends, brothers. He then endured some of the most inhumane abuse. He was mocked, taunted, stripped, beaten….nailed to a cross to die while a murderer was set free. The mocking and taunting continued as he hung in pain. YET Jesus forgave.

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 NLT

Still, the verbal abuse continued. Two criminals were also crucified that day; one on each side of Jesus. One of those criminals joined in with the jeering. The other criminal reprimanded him, and said they were getting what they deserved, but that Jesus had done nothing wrong.

 But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?  We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.’

And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.'” Luke 23:40-43 NLT

Jesus forgave. This is the example we have of forgiveness. Jesus will forgive us, and He wants us to forgive others. In Matthew 7:1-2, Jesus said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” NLT   God holds us to the same standards we hold for others.

Do I forgive readily? Do I put conditions on my forgiveness? God forgives without condition. I should recognize my need to forgive others with the humility of having been forgiven for so much myself. I need to forgive whether the offender is remorseful, apologizes, or asks for forgiveness.

When we harbor unforgiveness, in the long run it hurts us more than the offender. We let it simmer and fester causing bitterness, resentment, and hate to build within us. It makes us miserable, and soon we make those around us miserable as well. In Hebrews, we are warned to watch out, and not let bitterness take root in our lives because it will cause trouble to many. (see Heb. 12:15)

Now, there are two things I want you to ponder. First, do you need to ask Jesus to forgive you? We all are sinners, and need His forgiveness. Ask Him to forgive you today. He will forgive you. Second, are you holding on to a grudge? Do you need to forgive someone? Don’t wait; forgive now!

Winning the Race

It’s Track and Field season! Through the years, this has become my favorite spring sport. No, I am not a runner, and never have been. However, all four of my kids were distance runners and 3 of them competed at the college level. One thing I have learned  is that to excel in running one must be dedicated to practice hard. Skipped practices and doing only enough to get by, does not produce outstanding runners.

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It is at this time of year, I am reminded of some Bible passages that address running.  In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul said, he does everything he can to help spread the good news of Jesus. He then used this analogy of running a race.

 “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26a

Are you running your life race with purpose? As a Christian, my purpose should be to bring honor and glory to God in all I say and do.

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My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart…Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:1,5,6

If you follow this proverbial workout, you will run well and not fail.

My runners were goal setters. They not only competed against other runners, but sometimes their toughest competition was themselves.  It was not uncommon to see their memo board filled with numbers, but to the general public that’s all it was. However, it was a great visual of past, present, and future running times. Posted to see daily was last year’s time or last week’s, the goal set for the next race, and the personal best time record goal to meet by end of season. When a new personal best time was made, the end of season fastest time was one step closer. At times there were injuries and falls, but they pressed on. We may not have a big trophy or gold medallion dangling in front of us, but we have something much more noteworthy. We have a heavenly reward, eternal life with King Jesus. Run the course with the prize in view!

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 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13, 14

My kids made adaptations in their running strategies as well as in their diet. They also studied the pros and cons of a variety of running shoes, before selecting the one that fit their foot best and was designed for the specific race distance. They eliminated things that would slow them down.  We need to do the same in our  lives. Get rid of the things that drag you down and cause you to stumble.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1,2

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Run this life race with excitement and don’t look back. Keep running with your focus on Jesus.

Now folks, I must run, or I’ll be late to the first track meet of the season.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31