Forgiveness – it’s too easy.

I think I take sin too casually. Perhaps, it’s that I take forgiveness to casually.

I think I take sin too casually.  Perhaps, it’s that I take forgiveness to casually.

I’m reading through the Bible again this year, but this time chronologically.  I just started Leviticus.  I’m not sayin’ I’ve read this book as often as I’ve read, say, James.  However, I have read Leviticus a time or two and something just slapped me in the face today.

“4 Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. 5 He shall kill the bull before the Lord; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” (Leviticus 1:4, 5 NKJV)

“… He shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering…”
“… He shall kill it before the LORD…”

Let that sink in. Imagine being “he”.

The first part of the process, I remember – the transferring of my sin to the animal to be offered.  My sin.  My actions, thoughts, attitudes and disobedience – what I did –  becomes the cause of what is about to happen to this animal.

It’s the next part that gave me a bloody nose today.  What hit me is that in this practice, I  kill the sacrifice – by hand – with a knife. There was no lethal injection or medicine to put the animal down and make this easy, clean and painless.  No, this is ugly, loud, and messy.  It is bloody and painful and gruesome. I can only imagine how difficult it is and how much work it was.

It turns out, the last time I read this passage a couple of years ago, I was struck in a very similar manner – see the post here:  “What A Bloody Mess!”

Here’s where it’s different.

I believe if I had to perform that perform that sacrificial ritual – that bloody, exhausting, sacrifice – each and every time I wanted forgiveness, every week , every month, every day – I believe I’d behave differently than I do.

How would my behavior change if I had to gruesomely slaughter a bull to get forgiveness?  How would my behavior change every time I wanted forgiveness, I had to take the life of another animal?

Jesus died a vicious, bloody, painful and gruesome death – so I could have forgiveness.  How would my behavior change if I had to watch “The Passion of The Christ” before every confession? If I had to visualize the beating and abuse He endured for me?

But I don’t.  Jesus died for me to have forgiveness – and that forgiveness comes easily. I only have to ask for it.

At the very least I should remember what my Savior did and endured for me and EVERY one of my sins.  I should remember it every time I ask for forgiveness…

Thank you LORD for dying for me and providing forgiveness and eternal atonement.

Running After Papa

Anger

What is anger all about?

* Why do I get angry? Why am I angry?
* Who am I angry at?
* What am I angry about?
* How long have I been angry? How long do I plan to stay angry?

In Isaiah 12, God gives a model of how to handle anger…

12 In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, O Lord.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
2 Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
4 In that day you will say:
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Is 12:1-6). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

I’m reading through the book of James with another group of men in preparation for a Quest next week, but this morning, before I read my chapter in James, Papa had me turn to Isaiah 12.  I like this passage a lot!  As a songwriter, I think it would be a great worship song and am working on it!  But that’s not the direction Papa took me this morning.  I got really hung up in verse 1.

I have an NIV/The Message parallel Bible that lets me view the passages side by side and here is verse 1 in The Message version.

12 And you will say in that day,
“I thank you, God.
You were angry
but your anger wasn’t forever.
You withdrew your anger
and moved in and comforted me.
Peterson, E. H. (2002). The Message : The Bible in contemporary language (Is 12:1). Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress.

The last line is what caught my eye.  “You withdrew your anger and moved in and comforted me.”

God has modeled the process for anger.  He has modeled forgiveness – even outside of the gospel of Christ.  Anger is active.  Forgiveness active.

First off, Isaiah says that God’s anger wasn’t forever.  God made a decision that the anger wasn’t eternal (Thank you Lord!) and that he was choosing to forgive.  That’s the first step is the decision.

“…withdrew your anger…” – this is an active verb – to withdraw means “to take back or away”; “to remove from use”; “to remove from a place of deposit”

This implies that we put our anger somewhere; we deposit it and keep it in some place of use.  Where is that place?

24 Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
nor go with a wrathful man,
25 lest you learn his ways
and entangle yourself in a snare.

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Pr 22:24-25). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Proverbs 22:24-25 says “…lest you learn his ways…”  Our soul is made up of three parts: the mind, the will, and the emotions.  Anger is an emotion. That place we deposit anger is in the soul, it only makes sense that we process it from there (decision to release the anger – to withdraw the anger – actively)

What is anger all about?

  • Why do I get angry? Why am I angry?
  • Who am I angry at?
  • What am I angry about?
  • How long have I been angry?  How long do I plan to stay angry?

When I begin to process these questions, I find that the MAJORITY of the time, my anger is about me and something in my life not going the way I think it should – rightly or not rightly so.  I get angry because someone, some thing, or some something steps on, inhibits, refuses, hinders or ignores my rights, my feelings, my opportunities, my character or whatever.

There are cases of righteous anger (see John 2:13-17 when Jesus cleared the temple of the corruption in his Father’s house) and while they are righteous, they still cannot last forever.  Righteous anger needs to be processed as well.

But for the non-righteous anger – which for me is the majority of the anger I deal with – God follows the pattern of Is 12:1.

After God decides to withdraw his anger, the next part of the verse says “…you [God] moved in and comforted me…”

Is this not exactly the Gospel message?  God moved in – he became flesh and moved to earth to be crucified, buried and resurrected so that he could restore us to right relationship with God the Father (John 3:16).  God comforts us – He  is the God of Comfort (2 Cor 1:3-7)

Obviously, this could become a very long post, so for the sake of brevity, ask yourself the questions above.  Ask Papa if you’re harboring any anger and how to actively decide and withdraw your anger.  Ask Him what it looks like to move in and comfort the one you are angry at.

The book of James says if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask and He’ll give it freely (James 1:5-6).

Running After Papa…

Jacob, or is it Israel? (Gen 32:22-32)

Once Abram was renamed to Abraham (Gen 17:4), he never referred to as Abraham again in the rest of the Bible except for 2 references that speak of his name being changed from Abram to Abraham (1 Chron 1:27, Neh 9:7).

In Gen 32:28, God renames Jacob to Israel.

We don’t truly see ourselves until first we see the Lord. “What is your name?” (Gen 32: 27, nkjv) was the question that forced Jacob to confess his true self—“Jacob, the schemer.” Once he faced himself and confessed his sin, Jacob could be changed. God gave him a new name—“Israel, prince with God” or “a God-governed man.” The way to have power with God is to be broken by God. God also gave him a new beginning and a new power as he began “walking in the Spirit” and not in the flesh. This was illustrated by a new walk, for now Jacob limped. He had been broken by God, but his limp was a mark of power and not weakness. Verse 31 indicates the dawning of a new day, as the sun rose and Jacob limped out to meet Esau— with God’s help! 
Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the Old Testament (Ge 32:1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books

Yet, Jacob is still referred to and called Jacob, even after God gave him his new name.

In 35:10 God renames him again to Israel, yet for the rest of the Bible, he is still referred to as both Israel and Jacob.  Why?

It’s like we’re never able to forget that Jacob was a deceiver – a schemer.

When God forgives our sin and changes us, isn’t it permanent?

Did Jacob find his identity in the name he had built (schemed) for himself, and therefore never forgot who he used to be?

Let’s talk.

Faith

OK.  You know we sleep to the New Testament playing on my MP3 player 24×7.  Every day, I wake up to a new passage.  Today I woke up to the MP3 player playing Mark 11 and it captured me this morning.  So, that’s what I studied.  IT IS RICH…  Here is just SOME of the greatness of this chapter.

Mark 11:12-14

Jesus curses a fig tree because there is no fruit on it; and rightfully so.  Did you catch the end of verse 13 where it says “… for it was not the season for figs.”  Clue #1: This isn’t about a Jesus taking it out on a fig tree because he was hungry.  The end of verse 14 provides Clue #2 where it says, “… and the disciples heard it.”   OK.  I think Jesus was setting them up for a lesson, which comes “later”, when we get to verses 20-26.

Mark 11:20-26

The next morning the fig tree is dried up from the roots (Clue #3: OK… even Roundup doesn’t kill a fig tree overnight – something supernatural is going on here).  When Peter notices (Yeah Peter!) Jesus lays it on them.


22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

OK.  Quick Greek lesson.  Faith (v22) = pistis, which means to “believe to a complete trust.”  Doubt (v23 “does not doubt”) = diakrinomai, which means “judge, or to judge there is a difference.”  Heart (v23) = kardia, which means “inner self, including: the volition, the mind, the desires, etc., though the facility of the intellect may be slightly more emphasized.” Believe (v23) = pisteuo, which is “faith, believe to the extent of complete trust.” Says (v23) = laleō , which implies a literal breaking of the sound waves, to speak aloud.  Received (v24) = lambano, “to take hold of, grasp, grab, acquire.”

I’m not advocating a “name it and claim it” mentality, because the Scripture is also clear that the Lord will give us the desire of our hearts – meaning when we are close to him, in intimate fellowship with Him, our desires will be planted in us by Him.  This means we won’t be asking for a new Lexus, or a million dollars, or any self-centered, self-pleasuring thing.  We will want what He wants and our prayers will come into agreement with His heart.

What I do think this passage, and what Jesus was trying to teach the disciples, is this.  Our mind is the key to our belief and ultimately our faith.   Clearly, “doubt” in this passage is the antithesis of “faith” – in this passage.   When I unpacked “doubt,” it is very clearly dealing with the mind – “to judge”, or “to judge there is a difference.”  That says to me that my mind is evaluating what’s coming out of my mouth (aka, my prayer) with what it believes and measuring up any discrepancy, or difference.

The second key for me, comes in verses 25-26.  An odd place, at the surface, to throw in a seemingly unrelated statement.  But Jesus does not throw down random thoughts.  These are very related.  For the sake of brevity, unforgiveness affects our prayers.  Its related to the previous thoughts.  If I haven’t forgiven someone, then when I pray to Father,  my mind (my “heart”) is constantly evaluating the truth of it all.  If I haven’t or can’t forgive someone, then the truth of God forgiving me is something my heart can’t receive, and if God hasn’t forgiven me, then how can I pisteuo that He will hear – much less answer – my prayers?   This is when my heart diakrinomai (doubts).

What then is the significance of “says” in verse 23?  Again, for brevity, and I may write another blog later on this, it has to be audible.  I know I am way too guilty of praying silently, quietly, and in my Spirit – not always with my tongue, aloud, audibly.  I believe there is significance to the implications of the word laleo.  Jesus cursed the fig tree (which remember was NOT in season) aloud (the disciples heard it) because there is power in our words and in our audible prayers.  This is going to require some more digging into…

I’m sorry for the length, but breakfast with Papa was GOOOOD this morning!

Daddy, you are SO good.  Thank you for your Word.  Thank you for time with me this morning.  May the truth of your Word and the truth of your examples sink deeply into my heart today, so that I will not doubt in my heart, so that I will not judge there to be a difference in what I say and what I know about You.