Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness of God’

Reconciliation with God, Others and Yourself

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Reconciliation has many aspects: reconciliation with others (who you have offended or who have offended you), reconciliation with yourself. Reconciliation with God.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as:
1. The act of reconciling parties at variance; renewal of friendship after disagreement or enmity.
Reconciliation and friendship with God, really form the basis of all rational and true enjoyment.
2. In Scripture, the means by which sinners are reconciled and brought into a state of favor with
God, after natural estrangement or enmity; the atonement; expiation.

— How do you define reconciliation in your own practical terms?
— Has it been missing from your life and/or recovery?
— What issues and difficulties have you encountered finding reconciliation with:

** God
** Others whom you have hurt or who have hurt you
** Yourself

— Do any scriptures speak to your heart regarding reconciliation?

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Surrendering to His Will

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Resignation to the divine will is one of the last and highest attainments of the Christian life. It is what is ultimately to be aimed at, as essential to comfort here–and happiness hereafter.

The Scriptures, daily meditated on, will supply us with instruction.

When we have genuine love to God, we shall be led to such an acquiescence in His wisdom and goodness–that we shall choose His will to take place, rather than ours. And the thought of how soon all things shall be set right in eternity, and that He will make all things work together for our good in this life–will reconcile the mind to anything that God pleases.

You will not mistake me, I hope, as if I suppose all true Christians have learned all this lesson completely. Far from it! These things are learned but in measure, and not without much conflict and opposition from sinful nature all along, and much imperfection.

And though it is not easy to confine the Spirit’s operations by rules–yet this seems the general order of Christian virtues:

1. repentance
2. faith
3. love
4. sweet resignation to God’s will.

In Christ Himself, this resignation was perfect, “Not My will, but may Your will be done!” (Luke 22:42), and as far as we can trust in Him for grace–so far we may receive grace out of His fullness.

Oh, let us beg for grace to lie as clay in the hands of Infinite Wisdom, who knows how . . .
to humble our pride,
to bend our proud wills, and
to conform us to the likeness of His beloved Son.

~Joseph Milner, 1780

Is the Past Haunting You?

Monday, January 12th, 2015

When the past comes back to haunt me it can be something from years ago or from just yesterday. Usually the result is confusion in my entire being. But scripture teaches:

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33

So I have to wonder if it is not Satan who drags some of this stuff up to confuse me, to make all of these emotions boil over and create a mess. Now, I am not saying I have to ignore these feelings and emotions. They should and must be dealt with in a godly and biblical fashion. But I cannot allow them to create confusion and a mess in my life. I have to be aware of these emotions and deal with them, not allow the pot to boil over.

I picture in my mind a big pot of oatmeal boiling away, starting to rise in the pot as it starts to boil over and finally it does boil over and what a mess it makes!!!!!!

I have to see the pot…. realize that it is starting to boil over… and then realize it is too much heat creating the problem… take to pot off of the fire. How to do that? Take all this boiling mess to Christ and not allow Satan to continue turning up the heat on the pot.

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.

Remember that….

No matter what is going on in my life God can and will bring peace…..
and he will return the joy to my life.

But I have to turn to Him….
not the pot….
not the heat…..
not the oatmeal…..

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~ * ~
Copyright by S. O. Brennan.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
S.O. Brennan is the Director of
Christians in Recovery and Alcoholics Victorious

What if Jesus Came to Spend the Night?

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. Matthew 8: 18 – 20 KJV

One day Jesus is coming back for us. What a glorious day of rejoicing and victory that will be for some people! The sad thing about it is that for some people it will be a day of sorrow and embarrassment. What if Jesus came back to spend the night with us, would our homes and our hearts be clean? Would we be ready for Him to spend the night with us or would we have to ask Him to come back when our homes and our hearts are clean?

Do we have a bed where He could sleep? If not, would we be willing to give up our bed for Him? If we will read this verse with our hearts instead of just reading it with our minds, we would understand and realize that He felt rejected because nobody invited Him to live with them. How my heart breaks when I read what He said “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

I receive a lot of emails from people who tell me that they feel all alone and that they don’t believe anybody loves them. I believe with all of my heart that our Saviour sometimes felt the same way. I think that He felt like nobody cared about Him because of the way they rejected Him, doubted Him and criticized Him. I think that He felt lonely many times while He was here on earth.

Would we have to call people and tell them that we couldn’t go to those places with them? Would He be offended because of the people we have as our close friends? We are to witness to people but we are to be very selective about our close friends. It is very important that we only form close friendships with people who love Jesus. A person can be a Christian and not love Him. It only takes one person to pull us down and discourage us but it only takes one person to encourage us and say “You can do it.” We should be that kind of person to our family, our loved ones and to the world. We need to be encouraging people, not discouraging them.

Would we be embarrassed for Him to see the magazines and books we are reading? Would He be hurt and upset to hear the kind of music that we are listening to and to see the program that we have on the television set when He comes to spend the night with us? What about the things we are doing when He comes to spend the night with us? Are the things we are doing pleasing to Him or do they bring shame and disgrace to Him?

If we can’t go to places and read books and magazines and watch things when Jesus is spending the night with us, then we should never read them, listen to them or go to those places. We may hide these things from our families and our friends, but we ca’t hide from Jesus. He knows everything and He sees everything.

Is your heart ready if Jesus were to ask you if He could spend the night with you? Is it filled with unconditional love for others as He has commanded us to love others or is your heart filled with resentment and anger? If He were to look into your heart right this minute, would it be filled with the light of His joy, peace and happiness or would it be full of criticism and hatred?

Thank God that when He does return for us, He is taking us home to be with Him for all eternity. Are you going to go with Him when He comes back for us? Have you been washed in the cleansing atoning blood of Jesus? If not, you will not go with Him, instead you will go to live with Satan forever. Please don’t miss out on spending eternity with our precious Saviour. Give your heart and life to Him now before it is too late!

— Joanne Lowe

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Rescued and Transferred

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins!” Colossians 1:13-14

The true believer hates and resists those sins which once he loved–and renounces that world which once so much enamored him.

How divinely glorious is the religion of Jesus!
Old things pass away–and behold, all things become new!
It turns the lion, into the lamb.
it turns the desert heart, into the garden of the Lord.
It converts the impure and savage heart, into a habitation fit for the mild and holy Dove.
It restores the Hell-bent sinner to the divine favor.
It transforms him into the divine image.
It redeems him from the depths of damnation.
It raises him to the highest seats in glory!

What tongue can speak, or what heart conceive, the richness and extent of divine redemption!

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace which He lavished on us!” Ephesians 1:7-8

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

~ Thomas Reade

Who are You Looking To?

Monday, October 13th, 2014

“Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”—Isaiah 45:22

It is not “Look to yourself”… But it is “Look unto me.”

You say, “I do not repent enough.” That is looking to yourself.

“I do not believe enough.” That is looking to yourself.

“I am too unworthy.” That is looking to yourself.

“I cannot discover,” says another, “that I have any righteousness.” It is quite right to say that you have not any righteousness; but it is quite wrong to look for any. It is, “Look unto me.”

God will have you turn your eye off yourself and look unto him. The hardest thing in the world is to turn a man’s eye off himself; as long as he lives, he always has a predilection to turn his eyes inside, and look at himself; whereas God says, “Look unto me.”

~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Sovereignty and Salvation

The Truth Shall Make You Free, Part 9

Monday, July 28th, 2014

John 8: 31, 32 is a conditional statement. Jesus says if we continue in His word, we will be His disciples. We will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. The key words are: “if”, “continue”, “truth”, and “free.”

If we abide in, stay with, live out and proclaim His word through our attitudes and actions, we will know His truth and we will be free.

Freedom is the one thing we all seek. Adam and Eve might have sensed “freedom” when they were told they would be like God and know good and evil. Satan told them a lie (they would be like God) and a truth (they would know good and evil). Their choice brought the curse God stated in Genesis 3. That was a curse on them and on the earth. For you and I, that curse ends at death when we go to be with Jesus. For the earth, the curse continues until the New Jerusalem descends out of God from heaven as described in Revelation 21.

Adam and Eve sought freedom and instead they found bondage. That bondage is what Jesus wants us out of in John 8:31, 32 and He meant that we could be free of that bondage even before we die.

We all live with the two natures of good and evil. Both are in us. We want so much to be good and do well, and often we succeed. And in other times, more often than not, we really take leave of our senses and pursue evil with renewed purpose and assurance, with deliberation, with total cynicism, and all of this leads to the smell of the true nature of sin. Thank God that Jesus died for those sins and that we are saved by the grace of God through Jesus! Without Him it would be hopeless.

The “truth” is the ultimate reality of the grace of God in this life through Jesus. Within that grace are three aspects of that truth. If we claim these truths, life can become much more in tune with His glory and honor. Our reason to live is not out of our own ego, but out of a desire to glorify Him. That is the purpose of our lives: to glorify God.

The first truth is our position in Jesus. We are in Jesus and He is in us. Every day I recite Galatians 2:20 to myself. I was crucified with Christ. It is not I who live but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in Jesus who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

The second aspect of his truth is my personage in Jesus. Who am I in Jesus? First of all, I am a saint. I cannot claim this because of my works. That would be a laugh! No. I claim this because the word tells me I am a Saint (1 Corinthians 1:2). Second, I am an Ambassador – an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). What is an ambassador? He/she is a person who represents his government in a foreign country. We represent Jesus in a world that is foreign to Him because that world is ruled by the devil and his angels. How do we live in this situation? By faith in Jesus – faith that He is in us and with us and is our friend. So, we love God and we love our neighbor as ourselves.

Third, I am His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). I am here to do good works. This is how He can influence this world – through our good works. The goal of the good works is that others will see Jesus in us. They should. He is there…in us. Our goal is to claim that and open up our spiritual hearts so that He may be seen. Fourth, I am light (Matthew 5:14-16). My light shines because I am in Jesus. In the New Jerusalem of the future heaven, God will light that place by His presence. We will never know darkness again. But, here light is the antithesis of darkness. Our choice is to be a light on the hill that He may be seen in us.

Lastly, I am salt (Matthew 5:13). What does salt do? It (1) gives flavor; (2) is used as a preservative; and (3) can be used in healing. Think about that. It is not easy to be who we really are, and I suspect those of us in recovery because we probably did not want others to see who we really are. But, we are in Christ, and He is in us. That is the flavor…the spark of flavor we can give to this world. As salt, we can preserve the way of Jesus in the midst of this crazy world – to keep His way being put forth for others to see. And, as salt, we can have a healing influence on others around us.

I want to put all these words together in so far as my personage in Christ is concerned: I am a Saint. I am His Ambassador. I am His workmanship put here to glorify Him by my good works. The light of Jesus in me can shine out to others if I let it. As salt, I can flavor this world by just being me, which is something I am more comfortable with than ever. As salt, my values, which are His values, can help to preserve a better way of doing things in this world. As salt, I can help in the healing process by just loving others and also loving Him. Just the actual act of loving God can be a healing event.

I find these truths to be exciting. They give me hope. And, because they come from His word, they are real.

My name is Michael the Penguin and I am a Christian in Recovery.

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Copyright by Penguin. All rights reserved.

The Truth Shall Make You Free, part 4

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

John 8:31 is certainly not the only verse where Jesus speaks to what the character of a disciple of His ought to be. He addresses this character in many parts of the Gospels, and the rest of the New Testament “fleshes out” what He taught. Naturally, the character of a Christian is the main “sermon fodder” in our Churches. Much is expected of us. We are saved by the free gift of His grace. We did nothing to earn that grace (Ephesians 2:8,9). But, the next step, which some call sanctification, takes up the rest of our lives.

Jesus tells these new “converts” who believe in Him: “If you continue in My word, then you will be disciples of Mine.” (John 8:31).

I looked up the word “continue” in the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. Some of you know this book. It is on the Internet, I believe. It basically cross references every verse in the Bible. If you go through all of these links, you might discover how the Bible can comment on itself.

Consider one of these links: the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:18-23). My Ryrie study Bible interprets these four people this way: “There would be four different responses to the Word: no response; emotional response; worldly response and fruitful response.” I think that Matthew 8:20-21 is an example of not continuing in the word. A person hears the word and responds to it with great joy (emotion). But, he has no firm root in himself. Soon he falls away. Maybe that could be some of those Jews who came to believe in Jesus: they responded emotionally and it did not “stick.” Also see Luke 8:13.

To continue in His word is to abide in His word. Jesus describes Himself as the Vine. We, the branches, abide in Him (John 15:5-7). If we are rooted in Jesus, we will know that His love will fill us (Ephesians 3:17-19). Jesus has caused a reconciliation in our relationship with God if we continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast (Colossians 1:22-23).

We are told in Colossians 2:6,7: Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude .

In many respects, that verse sums up what is expected of us. Normally we view expectations as “work.” This is true here. Sanctification is hard work. It is never an easy path. One reason is that God intervenes in that path with life lessons. It is almost as if “school” is in session in our lives every day. A day that goes by without having learned something is a wasted day, I believe. God would certainly view this to be true in terms of the learning tree called sanctification.

Sometimes people can hear the word but because that hearing was not united in faith by the hearer, it did not profit them (Hebrews 4:2). Perhaps this might describe some of the people Jesus spoke to in John 8:31.

To continue in His word is to live in it, abide in it, imbibe it, seek it, spend time with it, and to let it become us. I firmly believe that when you open His word, you see yourself. I see myself in Adam, Jacob, David, Jonah, and Peter. That is just for starters. Often when I read His word I wonder how the heck He ever knew that was me he was talking about. Reading His word can be pretty disconcerting at times. It forces you to look at yourself.

So, we need to continue in His word, and if we do, we will become disciples of His, and we will know the truth and the truth will make us free.

So, what is this “truth that will make us free.” This is pretty much going to be the “meat” of what Dr. Stanley taught in that sermon set I mentioned.

But, before I do that, I want to explore, in the fifth installment, my own impressions of His Word — Scripture.

I am Michael the Penguin and I am a Christian in recovery.

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Truth Shall Set You Free _ Part 3:

Monday, July 21st, 2014

In the second installment, I testified how God’s Word – His Truth – set me on the road to freedom…not just freedom from alcohol, but also freedom to become the man God wants me to be.

Presumably the story could have ended there. After all, I had hit rock bottom, knew despair and loneliness, hated the person I really was, and all of this ended by the intervention of my Lord Jesus. Not only did He intervene but He showed me truth in His word, and that truth set me free.

End of story. Let the violins swell up to a crescendo while you see me disappearing into a beautiful landscape of life wonderful.

No. The story begins there. That landscape is beautiful at times, but a lot of the times it is a rocky difficult terrain and it has almost sucked me dry while I navigate through it. These have been some good 12 sober years, but at the same time, they have sometimes been downright awful. Why? I did not always continue in His word. Often I would ignore His word and would go my own way, and when I did boy was it terrible. I also think that I was not discerning enough to see that in some of that rocky terrain maybe God was trying to teach me something. If so, then I flunked the class. So, these 12 years have been “up and down.”

Look at these versions of John 8:31,32:

Then Jesus turned to the Jews who claimed to believe in Him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” (The Message)

So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, if you abide in My word [hold fast to My Teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you shall know the Truth and the Truth will set you free (The Amplified Bible).

Jesus said to them, ‘You are truly my disciples if you live as I tell you to and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (The Living Bible).

What is happening here? First, as many of you know, the gospel of John is different from the other three in that it emphasizes more of what Jesus says as compared to what Jesus does. In Chapter Eight all we know is that He is at the Temple talking with those have followed along with Him. These public discourses dominate John’s gospel up through chapter 12. From then on, His statements are to a smaller audience, mainly the Twelve and other followers.

So, the words in John 8:31,32 were for public consumption at a place revered by the Jews: the Temple. Jesus, being a good Jew, worshiped there. He also taught there. Apparently He was confronted with opposition to His teaching. But, when He spoke the words you see in John 8:28,29 many apparently came to believe in Him.

So, what does He do? He speaks directly to those people who came to believe in Him: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Isn’t that impressive? Those who came to believe in Him got His attention and He spoke to them. I still think that is true today. In my early days as a Christian, He was there with me, teaching me through His Word, and through the lives of other Christians. This immediate attention often will separate the wheat from the chaff. In John 8:31 He lays out for them what the character of a true disciple of His ought to be: to continue in His word.

Unfortunately, not all of those who “came to believe in Him” actually did so. Perhaps some of them had an emotional reaction that did not last. You can see that in their reactions and statements from verse 33 on. The exchange of words between these people and Jesus get pretty confrontational. Chapter Eight ends with the people trying to stone Him! But, He hides and eventually gets away and out of the Temple.

What does it mean to continue in His word? Here are some possible meanings from Webster: “to maintain without interruption a condition, course or action.” To continue is to endure, stay, keep up, prolong, last, abide, and persist. One word that works is: abide. I like the way Matthew Henry put it:

“It is to dwell in Christ’s word, as a man does at home, which is his center, and rest, and refuge.”

I like that. As I write this, I am safe inside my home while an ice storm is raging outside. I hear the clicking of the sleet against the screens of my windows. Yet here I am in my home, my center, my refuge, safe, warm, and secure. That is what it is like to abide in His word.

Next time I want to take one more look at John 8:31.

My name is Michael the Penguin, and I am a Christian in recovery.

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The Truth Shall Set You Free, Part 2

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

We all want to be free. The desire to be free is part of our make-up, and that means God/ gave us that desire. In my case, I want to be free to be the man God wants me to be. I have always wanted that. Wanting and achieving are two different things, however.

I have fears. These fears weigh me down. What caused them? I have ideas, theories, and sometimes even valid reasons why these fears exist. But, what matters is how I have handled these fears. Some people grow out of them. I didn’t. I took them with me into adulthood. And, in doing that I thought maybe I could use them in my favor. The best thing to do was to plan, anticipate, scheme, and prepare. The overall plan for the day was to control, control, control. That took a lot of thought. In the process I became an insomniac.

And, over time, I became an alcoholic.

Why? Because as life happened, it got more complex and there were too many loose ends. The pain of seeing these dangling ends was too much. Alcohol took care of that and, in an odd way, it helped. I could sit up at night and plan, anticipate, scheme, and prepare and be energized by the alcohol.

Eventually all of this came to a head: my world imploded, and my biology crashed. Suddenly there I was totally alone being a person I hated.

Trouble was, I really was that person.

So, what was I to do? In fact, I did not do anything. It was Jesus who did something. He confronted me. He got into my face. He tried a variety of ways to intervene which I, of course, either could not see or perhaps was too self-absorbed to see.

When you hit bottom, you are so alone. All of you who read this know that. I had failed myself and others, and others had failed me. I was desperately alone. I was so alone I was physically ill.

There I sat ill, on a glorious sunny Saturday, 21 October, 1994, in the midst of beautiful Colonial Williamsburg, surrounded by happy tourists, and there I was, slowly dying inside. That was when He spoke. There was no audible sound. He spoke in my spirit: “Michael, the reason you are in bad health is because of your drinking. Once you stop the drinking, your health will improve and everything will be all right.”

Jesus was using the word “health” in two ways. The first applied to the disease of alcoholism. The second applied to the deeper spiritual disease or malaise which I knew would force me to address long hidden issues out of my entire life. Frankly, it was the second disease that I feared the most.

So, where did I need to start?

I started through His Word. Scripture. Later that day, as I was sinking into withdrawal (I had not had any alcohol in 12 hours )I asked Him how. — How was I ever going to stop drinking? And, on top of that, what was I to do with myself once I stopped? Horrible fear overtook me — the fear that I would be so exposed and helpless for all to see with no place to hide, being a person even I did not like. It was terrible. I saw no way out.

He gave me two verses: Proverbs 3:5 and Philippians 4:13. I took out the Gideon bible in our motel room and found them:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13).

Suddenly the fear was gone. Thea “edge” of alcoholic withdrawal was taken away, and I felt human, real — and I even felt safe in the knowledge that I was there, in Him, and comfortable being who I really was. I claim this as a divine intervention in my life, and in many respects, the next day, 22 October, was really the first day of the rest of my life: a life that had to be grounded in God, not in my fears and need for control.

So, it was His Word that was put me on the road to freedom. I am not there yet. I was not instantly healed. I will be seeking good health in both of these areas for the rest of my life. Probably I will never quite get to the end of the road, but by then I will be in His arms and then it will be glorious.

Until then, I have His Word, and I want to continue in His Word in order to know truth and through that truth, have freedom.

In the next installment, I want to give some thought to the word “continue” as Jesus used that word.

My name is Michael the Penguin and I am a Christian in recovery.

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