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!

 

Are People Listening To You?

Are you feeling as though people aren’t hearing what you say? To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, the greatest compliment anyone could pay me is that someone would ask what I thought and will then listen to me. My goal is to be the one that listens.

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That, however, would need to be true undivided attention, without distractions. The kind that can be seen in my eyes. Not forced attentiveness with a goal to just win friends and influence people.

Of all people, even when Jesus was being pressed in by the crowds, he still took the time to give undivided attention to the woman who touched his robe (Mark 5:30-34). He didn’t have to. She had already been healed. He could have kept on walking.

I have learned in my job that actively listening to people and asking about their stories can help you grow in understanding and give you the kind of joy that comes only by emotionally connecting with another human being. But that requires face-to-face interaction.

It also requires discipline and intentionality. That will more than likely require putting our phones away, limiting our TV viewing, and committing the time to visit with family and friends. I know this is not easy. I have to remind myself to be intentional about it all the time. That being said, I’m glad that the one TV series I allow myself to watch has ended for the season.

So, as we remind ourselves to “love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other,” who is willing to give genuine listening an intentional try with me? (Romans 12:10)

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