Tuesday, February 17, 2015

To Bad to Forgive

It’s a feeling most of us have had.  We have done something so awful, hurtful, or unthinkable that forgiveness is not a consideration.  We beat ourselves up, replaying the events in our head thinking “if only” I had walked this way, or listened to this friend or been at a different place that night.  For some, it was a one time event.  For others, it was years of satisfying lust, greed, and sinful desires.  We wrestle with what we did or didn’t do playing it over and over in our minds.  Maybe it even stems from anger toward God for not doing what you expected him to do or allowing some tragedy to devastate your life.

Like most sin, it doesn’t happen over night, it gradually slips into our lifestyle and permeates our thoughts, ever so slightly changing us, weakening our defenses.  Like an affair, it has been building for weeks, months or years...it didn’t happen in a day.  Let’s face a harsh reality, those things we did can’t be undone.  There are consequences to our actions.  We wake up in the morning regretting the decisions we made only hours before.  We feel as though forgiveness is impossible.

If you allow me, I would like to give you hope.  I wish to give you freedom from the daily war that rages in your conscience.  Let me share an amazing story with you, one that I dare say most people haven’t heard of or don’t remember.  I can’t ever remember it being preached from a pulpit, but it hit me like a lightning bolt yesterday.  It starts with a man by the name of Omri, he was the commander of the army of Israel.  After a murderous coup by another general, Omri is made king of Israel.  (Now if you don’t know about the northern kingdom of Israel after King David and King Solomon, let’s just say the kings devoted themselves to doing great evil.  As much as King David sought after pleasing God, these kings sought equally as hard to lead people away from God.  In doing so, they led the nation of Israel to commit atrocities against Yahweh.)  King Omri reigns twelve years and when he dies his son Ahab reigns in his place.  Now Ahab’s father figure was this:

“Omri did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did more evil than all who were before him.”
(1 Kings 16:25)

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that when Ahab takes the throne, he “did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” (16:33) In fact, it says “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.” (21:25)

To bad to forgive?  Look what happens.  The great prophet Elijah proclaims a word from God condemning Ahab for murder and his great sins leading a nation to serve other gods.  He prophesies the destruction of Ahab’s lineage and the disgraceful death’s they will suffer.

When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly.” (21:27)

That simply means that Ahab humbled himself and was sorry for his sins.  As a result of Ahab’s penitent heart, God delays the judgement in Ahab’s lifetime.  Here’s a man who has sold himself to evil.  He has invented more ways to do evil and lead a country astray than any person before him.  Ahab is the epitome of an despicable leader and yet when God sees TRUE REPENTANCE and sincere humility he is quick to forgive.  HOW MUCH MORE can we expect from God when we humble ourselves and repent of our sins?  We are never to bad to forgive, for we have a God of such unending mercy and grace who loves us and desires a relationship with us.

Still hanging on to those sins?  Now is the time to drop to your knees and show God a true repentant heart.  Let go of that sinful lifestyle and let the healing process begin.

[Read the full story in 1 Kings 21.]

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Don't Lose Hope

Consider the story of being trapped in a dungeon cell. You have heard there is a tunnel to freedom on the other side of the wall. But the wall is stone, and you have no tools. For months you use fragments of stone to chip away at the wall, and you work and work to gain your freedom.

Then one night, when your hope is almost gone, you collapse in weariness against the wall, and your elbow hits a slight protrusion. Before your eyes the stones move and a small door opens by itself. You are free.

Life has many dungeon cells, and stone walls, to hinder our joy and fruitfulness. Some of them are meant to fall down in five years. Others in five seconds. Whether it is the patient endurance to press on with joy, or the breakthrough in the twinkling of an eye, God has appointed prayer as the key.

If the wall is meant to give way in five years, prayer is the key: “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy” (Colossians 1:11).  If the wall is meant to open by the press of unknown button, prayer is the key: “Knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

So let it not be said of us: “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Persevering work in the cause of truth and righteousness is a beautiful thing. God gives it. And God approves it. Never stop. But know this. God also loves to give breakthroughs in the twinkling of an eye.

Excerpt from John Piper's January 12, 2015 blog "What God Can Do in Five Seconds" found at www.desiringGod.org.