Walk in Forgiveness

The merciful…will be shown mercy.” Mt 5:7 NIV

The German philosopher Schopenhauer compared the human race to porcupines huddled together on a winter night: “The colder it gets outside, the more we huddle together for warmth. But the closer we get…the more we hurt one another with our sharp quills. And in the lonely night of earth’s winter, eventually we begin to drift apart and wander out on our own and freeze to death in our loneliness.” What’s the answer? “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (See Mt 6:12). President Ronald Reagan understood this. After an attempt on his life in 1981, his daughter Patti Davis said, “The following day my father said he knew his physical healing was directly dependent on his ability to forgive John Hinckley. By showing me that forgiveness is the key to everything, including physical health and healing, he gave me an example of Christ-like thinking.” Perhaps your wounds are old ones: an abusive parent, a cheating spouse, a business deal gone sour. Or maybe they’re still fresh: an overlooked promotion, an unpaid debt, kids who’ve forgotten you exist. Either way, you’ve a decision to make. Get over it, or get even. Let it heal, or turn to hate. Release it, or resent it. Resentment allows whatever’s eating you, to eat you up. It stokes the fire, fans the flames, and replays the pain. Think about it: has your resentment brought you relief? If today you stood by the grave of the one who hurt you, would you be free? It’s doubtful. “The merciful…will be shown mercy,” because they’ve experienced an even greater grace—God’s—and forgiveness is the key to understanding it.

Obadiah 1:11 Even thou wast as one of them.

Brotherly kindness was due from Edom to Israel in the time of need, but instead thereof, the men of Esau made common cause with Israel’s foes. Special stress in the sentence before us is laid upon the word thou; as when Caesar cried to Brutus, “and thou Brutus”; a bad action may be all the worse, because of the person who has committed it. When we sin, who are the chosen favorites of heaven, we sin with an emphasis; ours is a crying offence, because we are so peculiarly indulged. If an angel should lay his hand upon us when we are doing evil, he need not use any other rebuke than the question, “What thou? What dost thou here?” Much forgiven, much delivered, much instructed, much enriched, much blessed, shall we dare to put forth our hand unto evil? God forbid! A few minutes of confession may be beneficial to thee, gentle reader, this morning. Hast thou never been as the wicked? At an evening party certain men laughed at uncleanness, and the joke was not altogether offensive to thine ear, even thou wast as one of them. When hard things were spoken concerning the ways of God, thou wast bashfully silent; and so, to on-lookers, thou wast as one of them. When worldlings were bartering in the market, and driving hard bargains, wast thou not as one of them? When they were pursuing vanity with a hunter’s foot, wert thou not as greedy for gain as they were? Could any difference be discerned between thee and them? Is there any difference? Here we come to close quarters. Be honest with thine own soul, and make sure that thou art a new creature in Christ Jesus; but when this is sure, walk jealously, lest any should again be able to say, “Even thou wast as one of them.” Thou wouldst not desire to share their eternal doom, why then be like them here? Come not thou into their secret, lest thou come into their ruin. Side with the afflicted people of God, and not with the world.

Move On and Live On

“They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that anyone accused of murder may not die before they stand trial before the assembly.” — Numbers 35:12

The  portion for this week is , which means “journeys,” from Numbers 33:1–36:13, and the  is from Jeremiah 2:4–28; 4:1

This week’s Torah reading acknowledges one of the most tragic occurrences in life: Accidents, specifically fatal accidents. It is evil when one person deliberately takes the life of another person, but what about when someone takes a life by accident? It is a double tragedy – both for the deceased and for the one who unintentionally brought that life to an end.

I am reminded of the story of Steven Curtis Chapman’s family. Steven Curtis Chapman is a famed Christian songwriter and singer. He not only writes beautiful lyrics, but lives them, too. To that end, the Chapmans decided to adopt three baby girls from China in order to give them a better life together with their three biological children. Sometime after the girls had become part of their family, Steven’s teenage son tragically and accidently ran over the youngest daughter. It was a double tragedy that shook the family to their core. Yet, the Chapmans’ strength and faith was awe-inspiring. While there was nothing to be done for the 5-year-old who had gone to heaven, the family focused on strengthening the 17-year-old son so that he could move on and live.

In the Torah reading, we learn about the “cities of refuge.” God commanded that six cities be designated within Israel as places where a person who had killed someone accidentally could seek safety from any relatives who wanted revenge. However, the purpose goes deeper than that. Scripture states, “They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that anyone accused of murder may not die …” The Sages explain that the purpose is not simply that the accused “may not die,” but also so that he or she should live. There among the Levites, in whose territory these cities were built, the person who had committed this accidental tragedy would be inspired by the holy priests and learn how to move on and live.

There is no doubt that if not for the grace of God we could all make tragic mistakes at any given time. Today, there are no cities of refuge, but God is our refuge. As we read in Psalm18:2, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge …” When we err, we need to run to God. We need to seek His refuge and trust in His forgiveness. God doesn’t want us to get stuck in the past or wallow in our misdeeds. God wants us to live – to make a life, to thrive, and to flourish. So take refuge in God todayand move on to a brighter tomorrow.

Pray About It

Why is this happening to me?” Ge 25:22 NIV

The Bible says: “The Lord answered [Isaac’s] prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord. The Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger’” (vv. 21-23 NIV). Even when your vision is born of God, you’ll experience times of both faith and fear. You can have clarity in one area, yet experience confusion in another. What should you do when this happens? Do what Rebekah did: take it to the Lord in prayer. She asked, “Why is this happening to me?” Question: Are you experiencing fear and foreboding in the middle of your success? Are you wondering, “What’s wrong with me? Things are going well, so why am I anxious?” You’ve achieved some success and things are starting to come together after a long, hard struggle. But instead of feeling happy, you’re disappointed because you’re not experiencing the joy and fulfillment you expected; you’re actually worrying about what might go wrong in the future. In every success story you’ll find chapters of uncertainty. And when it happens you must bring your turmoil to the Lord. Ask Him for help with the inner conflict you’re experiencing, and to give you peace concerning the vision He’s given you. And remember—no matter what you achieve, its ability to satisfy you is limited. No amount of success can ever take God’s place in your life.

Jeremiah 3:14 I am married unto you.

Christ Jesus is joined unto His people in marriage-union. In love He espoused His Church as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of bondage. Full of burning affection He toiled, like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid, and now, having sought her by His Spirit, and brought her to know and love Him, He awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Not yet hath the glorious Bridegroom presented His betrothed, perfected and complete, before the Majesty of heaven; not yet hath she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as His wife and queen: she is as yet a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar; but she is even now the bride, the spouse of Jesus, dear to His heart, precious in His sight, written on His hands, and united with His person. On earth He exercises towards her all the affectionate offices of Husband. He makes rich provision for her wants, pays all her debts, allows her to assume His name, and to share in all His wealth. Nor will He ever act otherwise to her. The word divorce He will never mention, for “He hateth putting away.” Death must sever the conjugal tie between the most loving mortals, but it cannot divide the links of this immortal marriage. In heaven they marry not, but are as the angels of God; yet there is this one marvellous exception to the rule, for in Heaven Christ and His Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials. This affinity as it is more lasting, so is it more near than earthly wedlock. Let the love of husband be never so pure and fervent, it is but a faint picture of the flame which burns in the heart of Jesus. Passing all human union is that mystical cleaving unto the Church, for which Christ left His Father, and became one flesh with her.