How to Believe in Forgiveness

Out of one of the most violent acts that can be done against any person, God provided the simplest way for us to have eternal life with him. However, as seen over and over again, it doesn’t seem to be as easy as it sounds.

God says by grace you will be saved because of your FAITH and not because of the good things you do (Ephesians 2:8-9).  That faith is based on the belief that Jesus was put to death on a cross to take the punishment for our sins so we don’t have to take that punishment ourselves.  But why do we struggle to believe that it is that simple?  And that we need to follow good practices in order to earn our way into heaven?  Since we feel as though we need to do something to earn acceptance with God, the simplest solution – to just believe – is difficult to put into practice.

No matter how hard we try not to, we all do things that are offensive and most of the time we struggle to accept the fact that forgiveness could just wipe away those offenses and still earn us the right to eternal heavenly peace. How do we understand and accept God’s free offer of forgiveness and then release ourselves from feeling as though we still owe a debt? And then, how do we grasp the concept of a gracious God that would save us even though we falter in our behavior every day?

The best analogy is the parent-child relationship. The love that a parent has for a child has to be the deepest love I have ever encountered. There is nothing my daughters could do that would make me stop loving them. This is manifested in the fact that I would lay down my life for them or give anything to take away their pain.

God’s love is so much more than we could ever express through these mortal bodies. So imagine a love greater than our earthly parent-child relationship coming from God who describes Himself as our Heavenly Father. He uses the parent-child analogy by telling us that He would not give us a scorpion if we ask for an egg, or He would not give us a snake if we ask for a fish (Luke 11:11-12). So, as our Father, why wouldn’t He extend grace towards us if we ask for forgiveness?! If that’s not enough, He is a Father who created us and knew us before we were even born! (Psalm 139:13-16). Wouldn’t you take special care of something you created?

Meditate and take hold of the fact that God is your Father and believe that He will love and forgive you — no matter what.  All you truly need to do is believe that He will forgive you because Jesus already paid that debt on the cross!

 

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Who Gains the Most from a Mission Trip?

Why would anyone want to use their vacation time to go overseas to live among the poor and risk their health and safety? That is a question I actually get more often from those that I go serve rather than friends and family at home. The question always surprises me. I’m usually thinking “why not?” I feel as though my reward is sometimes greater than those I am serving but those I am serving are so humble that they do not readily understand what they have to offer.

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Serving on a mission, whether locally or overseas, is the best way to learn and understand compassion and put your unconditional love and selfish desires to the test.

I am about to go on my eighth overseas mission trip and I’m looking forward to getting away from the endless busyness and responsibilities of American life and focusing on serving as Jesus’ hands and feet. We will be going to the Dominican Republic to teach children, do construction, lay cement floors, help with gardens, and the best part of all, visit homes and look into the grateful eyes of those who do not have the means to do all of this for themselves.

I also look forward to once again learning how to increase my faith from those who rely on God at a deeper level than I’ve ever had to. It is indescribable to be a part of such spirit-filled worship in the midst of environments that make you think there is nothing to celebrate. On the contrary, their faith is in abundance and they have so much to teach me! For instance:

In Cebu Philippines, I learned that kids are the same no matter where they are and orphanages, such as the Children’s Shelter of Cebu, can be beautiful when run by people who truly love and want to rescue children of all abilities. I also learned a deep respect for squatters who live in cardboard houses and yet dare to dream and work hard to get an education so they can change their futures.

In Eastern Germany, I learned the importance of building relationships to strengthen and encourage fellow Christians, especially those who are struggling to serve in an atheistic society.

In Haiti, I witnessed the spiritual joy and strength of the elderly even when all they have is their one room shacks. I also learned about the ministry of touch. Rubbing lotion on sick and dying patients was one of the most realistic manifestations of Christ’s love that I have ever experienced because I wasn’t there to just solve a need, I was there to comfort and touch the untouchables.

In Mexico, the Church taught me how to apply and prioritize spiritual disciplines, which included audible prayer walks before sunrise.

In Liberia Africa, I witnessed a Christian culture that takes the Bible literally and one of the ways they apply it is by demonstrating respectful speech and hospitality. My favorite experience was when waking up in a mud house to the sound of a sweet voice singing right outside my window. By the way, did you know roosters crow at night!?

That is why I go on these trips. God has created and called me to experience so much more than my small world has to offer.

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