★ Thought for the Day – How Many Licks to Forgiveness ★

106 - Daily Dependence - Candy SocksMonday was the first day of school for my daughters – My eldest is now a sophomore in High School and my baby is in her last year of middle school.  It is hard to believe how fast time has gone by!  It seems like just yesterday my wife and I were bringing them home from the hospital.  First day of school is always tough…Well that afternoon my mother-in-law gave them this little gift of vintage candy themed socks.  This pair was especially interesting to me…

106 - Daily Dependence - Mr. Owl Socks

Do you remember Mr. Owl?  I may be dating myself but I grew up with this question:

“How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?”

It seemed like this commercial stayed on the air forever.

I discovered that it is actually the longest running commercial in American television history.  It first appeared in 1970 and depicted a boy on a quest to find the answer to that famous question.  Believing that Mr. Owl was the smartest of all, he handed over his Tootsie Pop expecting to get the definitive answer on how many licks it takes to get to the center; but instead the temptation was too great and after just three licks Mr. Owl bites to get to that gooey goodness.  I thought this quote was the perfect way to open this “Thought for the Day.”

106 - Daily Dependence - Forgiveness Is Not A Tootsie Pop
“Forgiveness is not a Tootsie Pop so stop counting.”

This reminds me of a conversation that is recorded between Jesus and His disciple Peter in Matthew 18:21-22:

“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?’  

 Jesus answered,

 ‘I tell you not seven times but seventy times seven.’”

Jesus’s response was probably not what Peter was expecting…”seventy times seven” is a whole lot of forgiving!  But that was not what He really meant; Jesus’ point really was signaling that there should be no limit to how many times we offer our forgiveness.  And just like it’s hard to keep track of the number of licks, it would be very difficult for us to keep up with that many offenses against us.  Instead of tallying each offense, we must follow what Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV) says,

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

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

I would like to unpack these truths of “What Forgiveness Is and Is Not…”

But first, I would like to share something that God showed me the other morning in my quiet time about his character.  Genesis Chapter 3 records the fall of man, when the Serpent (AKA Satan) deceived the Woman to eat the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” and how she then gave it to her husband Adam who ate it too.  A familiar tale that has been captured in numerous artistic depictions and shared during Sunday Schools everywhere as a cautionary tale of not allowing the enemy to twist God’s Words which will lead to sinning.  In Genesis 3:13-20 God rendered the consequences to Adam and Eve’s rebellion, (because there are always consequences to sin – See Galatians 6:7).  He first cursed the Serpent, then the Woman and finally Adam.  But what amazed me this week was what the next verse says…

“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”  Genesis 3:21 (ESV)

Now I can’t tell you how many times I have read this story and flew right past this verse but tell me something, have you ever been betrayed and instantly responded by taking care of their needs?  But that is exactly what God did, which leads us into our first reality…

I read this quote from Ken Sande that I thought was great!

“Overlook an Offense—Many disputes are so insignificant that they should be resolved by quietly overlooking an offense.  Overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness, and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.”  From “The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict,”

And Proverbs 19:11 (NIV1984) says:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense”

If you wait until you “feel like” forgiving, then it will probably never happen.  In His historic Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us a new model for living in Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)…

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

The sun rising on both the evil and the good, and God sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  That is an important truth to put on the sticky side of your brain.  And we need to be ready to not only forgive but to love and pray for those who hurt us.  No doubt this is a hard command to swallow, which segways us to point #2…

Essential?  Does that seem extreme?  Not so much when you look at what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT):

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Forgive or else you will not be forgiven.  Pretty cut and dry…It does not get any simpler than that.  2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) gives this promise:

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,  I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

Truth # 3…

Forgiving someone is not intended about allow yourself to be a doormat to be walked all over but rather it is intended to set you free from bitterness. Unforgiveness can birth bitterness but we don’t have to swallow it.  Robert Morris had this to say about

“We’re all going to taste bitterness in our life, but you have the choice whether you’re going to drink it.”

See Hebrews 12:14-15 also.  All of us will experience pain in this life, and if we don’t master bitterness, depression can result.  I once heard this great quote that

“Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

And even though I know this is true, I fall victim to this over and over.  Growing up, the way I handled being hurt by people was to completely write them off.  If you betrayed me, you were dead to me.  Holding a grudge was my modus operandi and I am sad to say that I did not just drink bitterness but gulped it in huge amounts.  Since 1998 when I gave my heart to Jesus, He has been redeeming my broken and unforgiving heart.  I have experience Truth #4 is in my life…

Many people believe just the opposite.  They think that forgiveness is for those who inflict pain but it really is for the one who has been crushed.  Max Lucado said it best when he penned these poignant words!

“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”
“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”

 What an image and truth!  When we refuse to forgive, we are effectively slamming the cell door shut, and locking ourselves in a prison of our own making.  Jesus again said in Luke 6:35-36 (ESV):106 - Daily Dependence - Luke 6-36

“But love your enemies, and do good, andlend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” which leads us into our fifth and final truth…  

Dictionary.com has this definition of Act: “a deed; performance,” whereas an Attitude is a…

“manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind.”

Forgiveness is not “a one and done.”  It is a continual, purposeful mindset that is a choice which is essential and a gift for the offended.  I love what Martin Luther King Jr. said that makes this point perfectly!

Jesus modeled this in his final moments as recorded in Luke 23:34  (ESV),

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.”

After being disrespected, spat upon, slapped, beaten, flogged and nailed to a Roman Cross, Jesus looks up to heaven to intercede on our behalf!  What an attitude of forgiveness!  William Blake said:106 - Daily Dependence - The Glory of Christianity is to Conquer By Forgiveness (3)

“The Glory of Christianity is to Conquer By Forgiveness,”

So the question is will you “Conquer By Forgiveness”…will you forgive others as God has forgiven and loved you?  Think about it, Adam rebelled against God, sin entered the world and we were separated from Him forever.  To resolve this, God sent His Son Jesus as the payment for my sin so that all we need to do is accept the sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sin that came into the world.  Romans 5:18-19 (NLT) says,

“Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.  Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners.  But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.”

One man ushered sin into the world but what is more important is that one man, Jesus Christ has destroyed the power of sin over our lives if we make the right choice.  One of my favorite quotes from John Wooden is:

“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do.  So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”

Remember, forgiveness is not a Tootsie Pop.  Don’t even try to count the number of times you have forgiven someone.  In God’s reality, there is no number of licks you will take that you will ever be justified to stop forgiving.  So now the choice is yours.  What will you do with this information?  You know what God would do, He will always forgive a repent person.  And in return, He expects us to show others the same mercy you have received.  Will you do the same?  Because in the end, the choice you make, makes you!

If you are interested to read more about Forgiveness, check out this two part series of posts called:

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness In Action ★

 

Continue reading

Advertisements

★ Thought for the Day – Is There Such a Thing As a Free Lunch? ★

In the 1960’s and 70’s there was the Classic TV game show ‘Let’s Make A Deal’ with host Monty Hall where audience members would try to win cash and prizes by making wacky deals. 47 - Daily Dependence -Let,s Make A Deal CBS has since revived the show in 2009 with host Wayne Brady.  I have not seen the new version but as a child, I remember my parents watching the original in syndication.  What was so much fun about the show was that audience contestants were picked at random, dressed in ridiculous costumes, trying to win cash or prizes by choosing between curtain number 1, 2 or 3.  Before the contestant could decide, Monty would tempt them with something from within a small box, or flash cash in front of them and then they chose between what they knew or what was behind the curtain which could be a new car or a farm animal.  The interesting part was always…will they take what they know or risk losing it for the chance for something better?  The success of the original and the subsequent sequel, is that at the core of every person is the desire to get a deal!
47 - Daily Dependence -Deals

Whether it is BOGO, clearance sale, or straight out free gift, ever single person wants to stretch their dollar a little farther and maximize their buying power.  And if we are honest with one another, what we really want is to get something for nothing!  But there’s no such thing as a “free lunch” or is there?

There is one thing that is absolutely free…and that is GRACE!  The definition of Grace as it pertains to Christian belief is:

“the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”

Let that sink in….“the free and unmerited favor of God.”  It is so hard to comprehend the true meaning of this reality.  For hundreds of years, people have tried to express the truth of God’s Grace in songs, poems, and sermons.  But the Bible describes it best…One of the most incredible verses on Grace is from Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) which proclaims…

“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible, he made this commentary on these powerful verses:

“If our salvation were dependent upon our actions – if we could be redeemed by doing good works, keeping the commandments, and refraining from sin – we would always be in danger of losing it whenever we stumbled.  However, because salvation is a gift given to us freely – and not in exchange for anything we can do – it is completely secure.  Our salvation therefore magnifies the awesome love and grace of God alonesince He blesses us not because of our merit but because of His goodness.”  

I love that, God “blesses us not because of our merit but because of His goodness.”  This is especially important because our sin separates us from God.  Here is a incredible picture of what Grace means.

47 - Daily Dependence - Grace is the BridgeThe old testament prophet Isaiah said to the people:

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.”  Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV)

This true for us today, our inequities or inward bent toward sin has separated us from God.  Isaiah said because of our sins, God is hidden from us, or another way to say it, our sin pushes God away from us.  BUT Grace, changes everything because it bridges the gap between our sin and God.  Many people have a hard time believing that God’s grace, His favor and His love is free to anyone through belief in Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection for all of our sins over 2,000 years…You cannot earn your salvation, or do enough “good deeds” to make it to heaven but it is a free gift, as Acts 15:11 (NLT) says:

"We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

The grace we receive is undeserved and is solely based on “who God is” and not on anything we do.

One of my all time favorite hymns is from John Newton called “Amazing Grace.”  Hillsong Worship just released their 23rd album called “No Other Name” which I have been listening to it over and over…just absolutely incredible!  The stand out song for me off the new album is a revitalized version of my favorite hymn called “Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)“.

How beautiful is that picture?  God takes our failures, our weaknesses and forms something beautiful out of the broken mess that each of us are.  So back to the question at hand, is there such a thing as a free lunch?  NO, THERE IS NOT…because even though Grace is free to us through faith in Jesus, it came at a heavy price for God.  So how will you respond?  Will you accept God’s Grace?  Will you accept Jesus as your savior?

Make this your prayer today:

God take this broken vessel and forgive my sins.
I am wretched and in need of a Savior.  I believe that Jesus came to die for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Please forgive all my sins.  I accept the free gift of salvation and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  So take this heart Lord, I’ll be your vessel so that the world can see Your life in me!  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you earnestly prayed that prayer, you are a new creation (see Romans 10:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17)!  God will honor that prayer of surrender and will do incredible things in your life!  Please contact me if you have any questions about your new life in Jesus Christ, I would love to discuss your decision more.  God Bless!

 

To finish this Thought for Today, check out this incredible short film about the life, death and love of what OUR savior Jesus Christ did for EVERY PERSON!

 

★ Thought for the Day – Extra Grace Required ★

Have you ever heard of the abbreviation “EGR “?  I just recently was introduced to the term, which is short for “Extra Grace Required.”

34 - Daily Dependence - Extra Grace Required

I did some research and found this definition…

EGR n. Abbreviation for Extra Grace Required. 

“A person in church whose ongoing spiritual and emotional needs frustrate the efforts of others to interact with that person or minister to that person.” (Source: http://www. dictionaryofchristianese.com/)

We have all met someone like this…A person who requires a lot of effort on our part to help. Sometimes, if we are being honest, it is a challenge just listening to what they are going through, but as I read the definition, I felt the Lord convict me and say to me that: “You require EGR too!”

We all do.  We are all sinners.  We all have fallen way short of the mark and we are all in need of God’s grace!  I love how Max Lucado put it about the grace that God offers us…

“He gave us grace. Not just mercy, mind you, but grace.  Grace goes beyond mercy.  Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace threw him a party.  Mercy prompted the Samaritan to bandage the wounds of the victim.  Grace prompted him to leave his credit card as payment for the victim’s care.  Mercy forgave the thief on the cross. Grace escorted him into paradise.  Mercy pardons us.  Grace woos and weds us.  Grace does this!  Grace is God walking into your world with a sparkle in his eye and an offer that’s hard to resist.”

It is all about Grace!  So before we say, “Extra Grace Required” for someone else, remember we all require extra grace!

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day –  Our Tongues Should Point People to Jesus ★ 

The whole purpose of our lives is to point others to Christ, not to ourselves.
Check out this awesome Instagram account http://instagram.com/undeservedgrace__

“The whole purpose of our lives is to point others to Christ, not to ourselves.”  Kristen Clark

As I have been reading through the Book of James, God has been showing me areas that I can improve on, so that I help point people to Jesus.  (I highly recommend you read it for yourself.)  One of the ways is in “Controlling My Tongue.”  My prayer and suggestion is for God to help us NOT TO BE LIKE what it says in James 3:7-10…

“People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue.  It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.  Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.  And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”

Nothing will turn people off from Jesus faster than hearing someone who professes to be a Christian, gossip, tell lies or use profanity.  INSTEAD we need TO BE LIKE what it says in James 3:13-17 which tells us that True Wisdom Comes from God…

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.  For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom.  Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.  For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

  • But the wisdom from above is first of all pure.  
  • It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  
  • It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds.  
  • It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”

So if the whole purpose of our lives is to point others to Christ, then we most learn to control our tongues!!  If we don’t then we will turn people away from what the point of our lives is all about.  We need to live our lives “mission-minded,” to see every moment, of every day as an opportunity to show the love of Christ to others.  In Matthew 28:19, Jesus tells us to “go and make disciples.”  We cannot do that if we are NOT CONTROLLING OUR TONGUES!  

Continue reading