From your heart

Read: Exodus 11-12, Matthew 18:21-35

Have you ever had to ask forgiveness? Wait. That’s a silly question. We all have. And if you haven’t, I guarantee that you probably should. We’ve all done things to offend someone. We will all do things that will offend someone. When that happens, we all want to be forgiven. No one wants the weight of wrongdoing hanging over their heads—at least I hope not.

Not only do we all need forgiveness, but we’ve already received forgiveness. In the moment that we receive Jesus into our lives as Lord and Saviour, God forgives us. But what does that really mean?

FORGIVE: To pardon; to remit, as an offense or debt; to overlook an offense, and treat the offender as not guilty. The original and proper phrase is to forgive the offense, to send it away, to reject it, that is not to impute it, [put it to] the offender.

It is our sin that separates us from God, but when we ask Him to forgive us, He separates our sin from us. It is no longer ours. It has been sent away. Rejected. And because of that, we are expected to do the same for others. In Matthew 18, Jesus tells a story to help us understand how this works.

A king wanted to settle accounts with his servants. There was a man who owed him a great deal of money and was not able to pay. When the man begged to be permitted to leave, the king forgave the man his debt and sent him on his way.

When that same man who had begged forgiveness was approached by another man who owed him, rather than extend a small amount of the mercy he had been granted, he had the man thrown into prison until the debt could be paid.

When the king heard this, the man was brought before him, called wicked, and was turned over to the jailers to be tortured until his original debt was paid in full.

Matthew 18:35

Words are cheap and easy. Anyone can say that they forgive someone. The hard part is acting like it, but that’s where the forgiveness really is. The best place to start to learn to forgive is to learn to act like you’ve been forgiven.

The wicked servant in Jesus’ story never took to heart the gravity of what he’d been given. If he had, it would have been easy to offer just a small portion of that to another person. When we learn to truly accept just how much we been forgiven of, we can learn to take that grace and extend it to others.

It is not until both your words and your actions line up that you can truly learn to forgive from your heart.

Valuable

What determines the value of your life? Is it how much money you make or how much stuff you have? Is it the quality of your education and the job you have? Is it how much you give to the poor and needy? What is it that makes life worth something if it is even worthy anything at all?

But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.

Acts 20:24 (NLT)

Paul considered all but three years of his life to be worthless—the only years that held value were the ones he used to obey the call of God on his life.

Like Paul, we’ve all been given the same assignment—the Great Commission as described in Mark 16:15. But what about everything else? Not everyone can (or should) go into full time ministry. How do we know what else to do with our lives to make them worthwhile? How do we know what to do to give our lives worth?

Who else can we get advice from than the man after God’s heart? David certainly knew where guidance came from.

Who are those who fear the Lord?
He will show them the path they should choose.

Psalm 25:12 (NLT)

God’s call on our lives doesn’t simply appear out of thin air the moment we accept Christ as Savior. It takes time. It takes a relationship. It takes trust.

Our value and worth in life are derived from our relationship with God and our obedience to His leading. My call isn’t your call and your call isn’t your sister’s call. While we’ve all been given certain instructions as Christians, the how, when, and where may vary. Determining those factors can only come through your own personal relationship with Jesus. This is where trust and dependence on God comes in.

The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all those who keep his covenant and obey his decrees.

Psalm 25:10 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 25-27, Acts 20:17-38

Give to the light

Did you know that in many Latin-based languages, there is no specific word to describe the term to give birth? In Spanish, the term is dar a luz. Directly translated, it means to give to the light. If you’re familiar with any of the languages that use this term, perhaps it is of no great revelation to you. But what if we put it in the context that Jesus used?

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

John 3:3 (NLT)

Unless you are given to the light

Believe in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.

John 12:36 (NLT)

When we are born again—accept the free gift of salvation and accept Jesus into our lives as Lord and Saviour—we are given to the light. We become children of the light. We are then able to see through the darkness and no longer have to stumble around because we cannot see where we are going.

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness.

John 12:46 (NLT)

When we stop trying to put our trust in ourselves or those around us and put our trust in Jesus, we are no longer in the dark. We give ourselves to the Light. The Light of the world. The Light that gives life. The Light that illuminates our path. And then that Light shines in and through us so that we can guide the way for others.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 4-6, John 12:20-50

My family

My mother has recently taken up our family tree. Through Ancestry.com, she has been able to trace our lineage back to the 16th century, debunking some commonly touted family legend and lore in the process. It’s good to know where you come from. We’re fortunate enough to have come from a line that could boast a modicum of wealth—this has greatly increased the amount of information my mother has been able to uncover the further back she traces.

Other lines of the family tree have not proved as fruitful. It would seem that, the less you have, the less important you are, and the less likely you were to have your name recorded for posterity’s sake.

In 2 Samuel, in David’s final address as king, he speaks of his family.

It is my family God has chosen!
Yes, he has made an everlasting covenant with me,
His agreement is eternal, final, sealed,
He will constantly look after my safety and success.

2 Samuel 23:5 (NLT)

Did you know that we, the Church, have a share in that agreement? That covenant that is eternal, final, sealed? Our names have been recorded in the Book of Life.

God made a promise to David that, so long as his descendants served Him, his line would be on the throne forever. If you read through the super-exciting genealogy in Matthew 1, you will see that Jesus is a direct descendant of David—on both his mother, Mary, as well as Joseph’s side. When anyone accepts Christ as Lord and Saviour, we are also then accepted into the family of God.

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Romans 8:16-17 (NKJV)

We are a part of the chosen family David spoke of! God has made an everlasting covenant with you. His agreement is eternal, final, sealed.

No you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you.

Galatians 4:7 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 23-24, Luke 22:31-53

Father

Whether you are with or without a father today, let us consider The Father. The One who created us in His image for His pleasure. The One who gave us free will and, even though we turned from Him, He still made a Way for us to have fellowship with Him. Though man has continued to turn from Him, He is still faithful and true, and always, always keeps His promises.

Let us celebrate the One who sent His Son, His only Son so that we could be saved from our own sinful nature.

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by given among men by which we may be saved.

Acts 4:11-12 (ESV)

There is  and will every be only one Saviour. And he was given to us by a Father who loves us so much, that He was willing to be separated from himself in order to make a way for us to come to him.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 9-11; Acts 4:1-22