May 30

God of Zion, to you even silence is praise.

    Promises made to you are kept—

2     you listen to prayer—

    and all living things come to you.

3 When wrongdoings become too much for me,

    you forgive our sins.

4 How happy is the one you choose to bring close,

    the one who lives in your courtyards!

We are filled full by the goodness of your house,

    by the holiness of your temple.  Psalm 65:1-4, CEB

As we’ve been talking about the last couple days, our wrongdoings can overwhelm us.  It’s important to remember, though, that our wrongdoings do not push God away from us.  Our wrongdoings are our choices to turn away from God.  He stands there with His arms open trying to beckon us back and entices us by offering little things like forgiveness.  When our wrongdoings become too much for us, when we realize we’ve walked too far away from God, He forgives us.

I often think of forgiveness as following a pattern.  I confess, God forgives.  That happens in some instances but forgiveness doesn’t always follow a mechanical formula.  In these verses we see that sometimes God takes the initiative.  Sometimes He just forgives without us doing anything.  Now, we probably don’t want to bank on that, but it is possible.

God chooses to forgive and takes the initiate so that we can be close to Him.  That’s what He wants, after all, for us to be close.

What is it that we want?  Do we really want to be close to God, or does it just sound nice?

If we’re honest with ourselves when we answer that question it might change how we feel about God’s forgiveness.  But it certainly isn’t going to change how God feels about you.

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May 29

1 The one whose wrongdoing is forgiven,

    whose sin is covered over, is truly happy!

2 The one the Lord doesn’t consider guilty—

    in whose spirit there is no dishonesty—

    that one is truly happy!  Psalm 32: 1-3, CEB

As hard as it may be to do a daily practice of a step 3 in submitting to God, or to make it a habit of confessing to Him, or to simply acknowledge wrongdoing on our part let alone take ownership, being forgiven is an enviable place to be.  Jesus’ death is the means which makes forgiveness possible, but it’s not activated until we respond to it on our end.  When we do that, through acts of submission and confession, our indiscretions are covered, and we are “happy”.

Forgiveness is something that God offers.  If we respond to the offer, then our “indiscretions” no longer matter.  God will no longer hold them against us and we no longer need to hold ourselves down or beat ourselves up reliving the things we most regret.  So today, pray this psalm, access forgiveness, and put your past behind you.

You don’t need it any more.

May 28

17 My heart’s troubles keep getting bigger—

    set me free from my distress!

18 Look at my suffering and trouble—

    forgive all my sins!

19 Look at how many enemies I have

    and how violently they hate me!  Psalm 25:17-19, CEB

Sometimes we have to lie in the bed we make for ourselves.  Our tendency to turn from God, our refusal to submit to Him, and our willingness to pursue our own will often leave us in a bad way.  We’ve all heard the saying, “My best thinking got me here.”  We know what our will wants and, in many cases, it’s not what is best for us.  When we let our cravings control us, God has the tendency to let us experience the consequences of our actions.

But even so, He’s gracious and merciful.  He sees the mess we’re in and He’s willing to help.  Helping us out often begins with forgiveness.  Or perhaps forgiveness is the help in some instances.  The point is, when we back ourselves into corners we can cry out and ask God for a way out.  He may not provide a way out immediately, or in our preferred fashion, but He is listening.  Today, if you recognize that you’re dealing with a mess you’ve made and you need forgiveness and a way out then use this psalm as a guide for prayer.

But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.  1 John 1:9, CEB

May 27

All the Lord’s paths are loving and faithful

    for those who keep his covenant and laws.

11 Please, for the sake of your good name, Lord, forgive my sins, which are many!

12 Where are the ones who honor the Lord?

    God will teach them which path to take.  Psalm 25:10-12, CEB

We submit to a higher power knowing His ways are better than ours.  We understand we all make plenty of mistakes in life and that part of this whole process is learning how to own up to that and then working to make things right where we can.  Part of that owning up process is going to God to confess and seek forgiveness.  We’re not seeking forgiveness in the sense that we’re going to God wondering if He’s going to give it to us.  We can approach Him with full confidence, knowing exactly who He is.

So today, use this as your prayer.  Let it remind you who God is and who you are approaching when you’re seeking forgiveness.


 

May 26

Make your servant’s life happy again

    because, my Lord, I offer my life to you,

    because, my Lord, you are good and forgiving,

    full of faithful love for all those who cry out to you.  Psalm 86:4-5, CEB

We’re going to use these last few days as meditations on some passages.  We haven’t dealt with the forgiveness that takes place between God and us as individuals this month so we’re going to use these last 5 or 6 days for that.  Rather than talking about it I’ll provide verses for you to reflect on and pray over.

This Psalm is a praise even as it is a cry for help.  We cry to God, asking for Him to make all things new, to improve our situations, even as we remember what kind of God He is.  He’s one we trust with our lives.  He’s good, forgiving, and faithful.

If you relate to these ideas at all, then try using this as a model for your prayers today.

May 25

1 And Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he returned to the temple. All the people gathered around him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The legal experts and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. Placing her in the center of the group, 4 they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone women like this. What do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, because they wanted a reason to bring an accusation against him. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger.

7 They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” 8 Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. 9 Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd.

10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?”

11 She said, “No one, sir.”

Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.”  John 8:1-11, CEB

Jesus doesn’t condemn the adulteress.  The word forgiveness isn’t used here but that’s essentially what forgiveness is.  He chooses not to view her in light of her past indiscretions.  He views her as being separate from those deeds.  That is really what it means to find new life in Christ.  God forgives us, and no longer views us in terms of our past indiscretions.

Now, to build off of yesterday’s theme, let’s speculate for a second about how this woman felt about her status as a forgiven person.  Do we think this woman instantly felt no remorse for her behavior?  Do we think she felt worthy of forgiveness?  Do we think she simply felt like a “new creation”, someone who had “new life in Christ”?  Well- there is absolutely no way of knowing.  If Jesus came to us in the flesh and told us we were forgiven- we might actually believe it then…or maybe not, who knows.

The reality is, she remembers what she did and even in being offered forgiveness it reminds her that she did something wrong.  So I can’t imagine her emotional state was entirely positive.  What I have been trying to say, though, is that this doesn’t matter.  Even if she was still entirely remorseful, even if she felt lowly and unforgiven…she wasn’t.  She was forgiven and we know this from Jesus’ actions.

We may very well be similar to the woman caught in adultery.  Women had very low status in that culture, even lower than they have in our culture today, even lower than they had in our culture in the 1930’s and 40’s and 50’s.  A woman caught in adultery had even lower status.  They were at the bottom of the food chain.  If anyone was going to feel unloved, unworthy, or without value it was this woman.  Who has a harder time feeling forgiven than those who are unloved, unworthy, and without value?

I suspect many of us have been in that place.  The beauty of this story is that God brings us out of that place.  With God we are loved, we are worthy, and we are invaluable.  And that is exactly why He wants to forgive us, so that we can be close to Him once again as His precious children.

May 24

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, know this: Through Jesus we proclaim forgiveness of sins to you. From all those sins from which you couldn’t be put in right relationship with God through Moses’ Law, 39 through Jesus everyone who believes is put in right relationship with God.  Acts 13:37-39, CEB

Some of you have probably heard this story before but I’m going to retell it anyway.  When my grandfather became a Christian, about 20 years ago, he couldn’t sleep at night.  He felt heavily convicted over the life he had lived and stayed up asking God for forgiveness night after night after night.  Eventually, one night, he drifted off to sleep and dreamed that Jesus came to him and said something to the effect of, “These sins have been forgiven, you don’t need to ask for their forgiveness anymore.”

I suspect that many of us relate to this experience of knowing that God is “supposed” to forgive us but we all tend to feel like what we have done is not worthy of being forgiven and that it is so bad that God won’t extend forgiveness to us because we’re just that bad.  The thing is, this simply isn’t true.  There’s nothing that we can do that God can’t “undo” by offering forgiveness.  He’s far more powerful than we are.

But I think part of the issue here is that it is just difficult to feel forgiven.  That is what my grandfather struggled with and I know I’ve struggled with it and suspect we’re not the only two.  Even if we know God forgives, He doesn’t send us a letter or an email saying, “Hey, forgiveness happened, don’t worry about it.”  We’re often left to wonder.  The thing is- we don’t really have to wonder.  The Bible isn’t unclear about how forgiveness works.  Entering relationship with God (which means learning to follow Him) gives us access to forgiveness.  It’s that simple.

Bottom line:  It doesn’t really matter how we feel.  I mean, it does matter, obviously, if we can’t experience being forgiven that’s a huge problem!  What we need to learn to recognize, though, is that forgiveness happens regardless of our feelings about ourselves.  If we feel we aren’t worthy, or aren’t the types of people who God will forgive then we’re believing lies.  The forgiveness is there even if you don’t feel it…but can we believe that?

Forgiveness doesn’t happen when we feel better about ourselves.  It happens when we approach God, earnestly, for the first time.  If you’re not experiencing that then you may have some false beliefs about yourself that are buying up all the real estate in your brain.

Don’t be that guy!  Don’t let the enemy buy up all the real estate in your brain.  Forgiveness is offered…may as well accept the invitation.