Reflections 4 Forgiveness (Relationships Series)

Forgiveness…I know that this word, ‘Forgiveness’ is a hard one to swallow when you have been in a fight with someone, or have had a nasty disagreement. It is hard to look at someone you really down deep don’t like very much and forgive them of some wrong doing they have done to you. But this week I would like to kindly remind everyone that to forgive is a direct link to Godliness. Jesus handed down to us some very powerful lessons packed with some very powerful words, forgiveness is one of the most powerful.

In the Lost Gospel Q, on page 112-Q77; Jesus explains this point very eloquently,

Q77“If a companion does something wrong to you, go to the person and point this out. But do it privately. If your friend listens and says, ‘I am sorry,’ forgive and your bond will be strengthened.”

“But how often must I forgive the same person?” asked one of the disciples, “Seven times?”

Jesus answered, “Not just seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

In this we see numbers being placed into the forgiveness question. In truth Jesus was saying you have to forgive regardless how many times the person has offended you. If you broach the topic with a list of wrongs the person has done to you, do it in private. The main objective in this passage as it is in all of Jesus’s teachings is to be one with your brother, sister, father, aunt, uncle, niece, and nephew. His greatest commandment is to love one another, to love your enemy as you love yourself.

In reality people most of the time do not generally plan when they are going to have an argument with someone else. I know from personal experience that arguments tend to happen when one of the two or three people involved have been holding in their resentment, or anger that the slightest thing sets the ball rolling. But it is important to also note, that if we are honest, and are not accusatory, checking our own ego at the door, opening our heart to both speak the truth at the same time be willing to forgive. Doing this in private will eliminate the pressure of the moment, placing the other person at ease and more willing to see what they have done, and this in turn will have a positive effect on your relationship. Forgiveness is a very powerful tool that brings us closer to God.

How do we forgive? What is the first step?

The answer might sound a bit elementary, but this is what I tell all my students, who happen to be children. You must first humble yourself; by this I mean you need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Understand why they did to you what they did, the reason behind it. This does not make the action right, but allows you to understand it nevertheless.

Jesus said, Q67 “Those who praise themselves will be humbled. Those who humble themselves will be praised.”

When my students cut the line and are not humbled I kindly remind them of how to become humble,

Q65“The last will be first, and the first will be last.” No one wants to be last.

To humble yourself, before God is like opening the door to a great peace, so great in fact there is no words that can describe it. There is no hatred that can overcome it, and there is no misdeed that cannot be forgiven. This is the hardest step, because it requires of you to first forgive yourself. People often times feel they are not worthy of forgiveness. That somehow their own sin is so great that it was not washed clean by the last act of Jesus on the cross. Even then Jesus held within him a forgiving heart.

Luke: Chapter 23, verse34:

34Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

In the act of forgiving, remember it means nothing if you are not first and foremost serious, and that you completely surrender your will to God. Allow God to fill your heart with compassion.

Jesus reminds us of this in the Lost Gospel Q, on page 50, Q17:

Q17 “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

There is no sin that God cannot forgive. There is no wrong that he cannot make straight. What you see as a mountain is a flat plain to God. There is not one evil soul, which God cannot cleanse.

The penalty of not forgiving others is greater, than if you simply humbled yourself, and asked him of forgiveness first. Ask him for the wisdom, and the words to bring to the other person or people, do it in private, and be compassionate. For, if you do these things, God will return them to you many times over. He left us without an excuse, without a way out, other than to forgive. Our heart is made to forgive not to hold grudges. God designed us in his image.

Amen

May peace be with you all the days of your life? If you have been moved by this blog I invite you to go to the following Website: http://starkbriank.freewebs.com/ and sign the guest book and leave me a message.

Reflections 3: Gods Plan

This week I wanted to cover an element of the mission God has handed down to all of us, his children. A mission, so profound, that it is impossible to really understand, to truly appreciate, every aspect or even the tiniest single element in this wonderful blessing we call God’s plan. As a child I remember asking my parents when we’re going to grandma’s? How soon are we going to be at the cabin? How much further until we arrive? What is the plan? I remember my mother sighing as she replied, “If I had a dollar for every time you asked me that today I would be a rich woman.” I can imagine God feels the same way every time we ask, “When Lord? When are you coming back?”

The fact is God has a plan. His plan is so complete, so perfect that none of us could ever make it any better. I laugh every time I hear someone say in church; “Just tell me Lord, what’s the plan.”

I have never heard him tell those who have asked the plan…the full plan. I will go on the record and say I never will. Why should God tell us, his children the plan? How many times have you told your own children the full plan? I have never told my daughter the full plan of the day’s events. I have never told any of my students the complete plan for the semester. Why would I and give up all the fun pop quizzes? But never the less it does not stop my students, and my daughter from asking, nor does it stop us from asking God of what he intends to do next. A really good passage on this very fact can be found in Mark chapter 13, verses 32-33:

32 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”

In this passage Jesus spelled it out with his warning to be alert. Each day is a gift, each moment is not promised, make every second on this earth count. Trust in the fact that God has a plan, as Jesus had to also trust his father had a plan for him. In fact all the disciples trusted in the fact that Jesus had a plan, and even though some of them could not accept his plan, they obeyed him even still. The beautiful thing about is that Jesus, like God, never said to stop asking of what the plan was, like our parents would once they got tired of us asking.

Mathew Chapter 7, verses 7-8:

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

The fact is God has a plan for every single person who has ever lived, and those who will ever live on this earth. His plan is so inclusive it includes the angels, the devil, and the entire universe. His plan was set into motion before time began. God’s plan is so sovereign, everlasting, unchangeable, and unbreakable, that it includes all things. His plan encompasses when and where we live, go, act, and it anticipates our sins and our good deeds. God has left nothing to chance, but rather it is his will, both the good and the bad. He is constantly testing us, just as he had his own son Jesus in the garden the night he was betrayed, in Luke chapter 22, verse 42:

42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

God was so generous in his plan he allowed for forgiveness, as Jesus states by showing his disciples how they should pray in Mathew 6, verse 9-13:

9 “In this manner, therefore, pray; Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day your daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

In conclusion, Gods plan is above all merciful, one filled with never ending joy and love. God has his plan for your life, and mine. He works his miracles through us on a daily basis, and if we look hard enough we can see his greatest plan in action, that of the new born baby, who breathes for the very first time. As is with life so is it just as miraculous as when we breathe our last at death. His plan has meaning, it gives us purpose, and it fills our lives with hope.

Amen

 

Reflections 2: A Real Relationship With God Part 2

In continuing my reflection from last week; of how to have a relationship with God the father, I wanted to describe to you the biblical beginning and the kind of relationship God wanted to have with us. In that I will cover the topic of relationships in a very broad sense, and illustrate this through the story of Adam and Eve.

As I had stated last week, relationships are extremely interesting, especially when we break them down to their most basic parts. Adam and Eve wanted everything we do; the difference is they had a direct relationship with God. They had a front row set in the World Series final game, free of charge. Instead of going to that final game, they gave their tickets away, but more about that later. For right now, God from the beginning wanted to have a personal relationship with you, and with all mankind. He had wanted from the start to talk with use, look us in the eye, love us unconditionally, and teach us all the wonderful things life is about. God created us in his image, and loved us beyond anything we could ever comprehend. His love is so absolute; we need nothing else. We are made to love him, serve him, and give glory to him. In that our relationship with God is complete, we are complete, and God is complete.

7And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis Chapter 2:7).

15Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis Chapter 2:15-17).

God at this point had given Adam everything; there was nothing else he needed. The tree God told Adam to stay away from was a tree that was filled with knowledge we as human beings did not need to have. It would have been a wonderful thing indeed had God had the chance to teach Adam directly the mysteries of that tree. This would have taken time, as Adam was a lot like our children, who we do not give away all the mysteries at once, but little over time as they grow and mature. Adam was truly blessed, because his relationship with our creator was a direct one. There was nothing separating him from God, and God from Adam. This was the type of relationship God intended us to have with him, a deep, personal, relationship.

18And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis Chapter 2:18).

In this God created Eve, not to be subservient, but equal to Adam, helping Adam to maintain all that God had given them. So the relationship Adam and Eve were supposed to have had is exactly what God wants from all of us today. He wants men and women to be equal helping each other, loving each other, respecting each other, in order that we all can maintain all the blessings God has bestowed to us in our everyday lives. In that we are complete, God is complete. With that stated, I find it funny how we have taken this first lesson in relationships and have so distorted it. We as human beings found a way to make it alright to make other races, genders, faiths, and just about every other differences we have in this world and justify our cruelty in making others subservient. Justifying it as if that is what God had intended all along. Biblically speaking we are complete, because we make the effort to help, love, honor, and cherish the blessing God has bestowed. We are complete, because we have given the glory back where it belongs, back to the source, back to God.

22Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man he made into women, and he brought her to the man. 23And Adam said,“This is the bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called women, because she was taken out of man.” 24Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis Chapter 2:22-24; 22).

It cannot be ignored that the most sacred of all words in the bible, is also unmistakably linked to the kind of relationship God had wanted from us, and for us. The word marriage is first introduced in Genesis Chapter 2:24, it is a word that can be found in many of the other books in the bible, and is always defined as a special relationship between a man and a woman. This is a fact. I do not point this out to disqualify anyone else, but rather to define the right kind of relationship which God had intended.

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis Chapter 2:25; 25)

This denotes the underlying fact that the experience Adam and Eve had was one without shame, without devastating lies, absent of worry, and of any kind of discord. God gave them the food they were to eat, the land in which to live, and the companionship to make their lives full of happiness, and filled with love. Their relationship was one overflowing with the unconditional love of God. With this I make the argument that God still wants this for us today. God initiated this relationship between himself and of all mankind by simply creating us in his own image. His love was so profoundly endless, and selfless, he allowed us to be and to have a close relationship with him. Our God is a loving, and caring God, and we are blessed that he is who he is, and is in this for the long haul.

As I reflect on this passage of the bible I cannot help but wonder how much more heaven is, than the paradise he had made for Adam and Eve. How much more love, and happiness there is in heaven. I also cannot help but wonder why people allow themselves to be taken up in the things of this world, and ignore the blessings that God has given to them. The fact is the wants of God have not changed; rather it is us who have changed. The relationship we have with God the father is a deep, personal, giving, and sharing relationship. He desires it, seeks it out, and rewards us if we return his love with our participation in that relationship. He set the stage for us to have a human relationship between husbands and wives, one that is equally rewarding.

I end this reflection with the question; if God loved us this much, what more could we ever possible need, or want?

Amen

May peace be with you all the days of your life? If you have been moved by this blog I invite you to leave a comment.

Reflections 1: God's Desire for Man

As a Christian first, parent second, and an educator third, I see a great disparity between how I am raising my child, (with God), and that of some of my students who are searching to belong, (outside of God.) Coming from the inner city most of them are exposed to crime, and violence, and some of them have siblings involved in drug usage and gang violence. They see a harsh reality, one absent of God, one of separation and sin. They are searching to belong in any group they can both identify with, and feel accepted in. So today I wanted to reflect on how all of God’s children can have a real, relationship with God, and experience God in our everyday lives.

Relationships are extremely interesting, especially when we break them down to their most basic parts. To truly understand this we must first understand two basic things about people from all walks of life. The first thing is that we are all God’s children no matter from where we come. Secondly we are all born wanting three very basic things. That can be classified in the following list:

  1. We want to be Remembered
  2. We want to make some sort of Contribution
  3. We want to be Loved

These needs are so great they guide our decisions unconsciously in our everyday lives. We are moved, compelled, even manipulated into doing things we would not otherwise do, if we simply understood how these three core wants work, and how God hot wired us with these needs to better serve his purpose.
The best example I can give you in the bible of this is found in (Matthew 3:11). John the Baptist was answering a question from his followers who asked him if he was the Christ. John emphatically replied,

11″I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

In this we are given instruction of the relationship we are to have with God, and the son of man. We are sinners first, all of us, without exception. It is because we are sinners we are not fit for the kingdom of God. Our relationship to Jesus is one of repentance, and only until we are convicted within our hearts and minds and seek forgiveness can we be baptized by the Holy Spirit.

So it is no wonder why some people come to terms with their own life, after great tribulation. I often tell my students that we first belong to God, until we chose something different. God always wants the best for us in our life. This cannot be said for others, who say they are your friends. In the end when you are confronting God in heaven answering for your sins, where are they going to be? Where is Jesus? If you look hard enough you will see that Jesus is standing right next to you, protecting you, guiding you, loving you. Your so called friends are in the same line as you, answering for their sins, the same as you. Consequently I also tell my daughter the very same things. She has been raised knowing that Jesus is and will always be her first primary relationship in this life.

As I write this post, I am called to link the scripture of John to the three core wants of man. People in the time of John wanted John to be the Messiah. The people felt comforted by his messages, they felt loved by him. With John they contributed to a movement that was gaining popularity in their day, and they knew they were going to be remembered because of John’s message. This made it easy for them to follow Jesus after John was beheaded; because John had prepared them for Jesus, and his ministry. We today follow people for the same reasons, we mistakenly put our faith in people, and we trust those who do not have our best interest at heart. Lucky where the followers of John, because John also demonstrated that God must be the primary relationship, Jesus reinforced this lesson many times over.

Our personal relationship as I have described above is how we show our obedience to God. It is an act of faith, humility, and reverence for our father, in that he is glorified. But we also do something else within our core wants, which goes beyond the act of believing, and leading a Christian life. We also use our words in our prayers, and when we witness, and testify to others about our personal relationship with Jesus, and to God. Our words can be harsh, and loving, convincing, and misleading. Our words echo what is in our hearts and mind, and tells others a lot about our character.

Jesus used very harsh language, vivid language, and in some instances convicting language. An example of this can be found in (Mathew 15:10-11), when asked by the Pharisees why his disciples break with tradition and do not wash their hands before they eat. They wanted to make an issue of things that where clean and those things which where unclean. Among a lot of things Jesus had answered with this was the most direct, and it out lines our relationship to him and to all those around us.

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said “Listen and understand. 11What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean.” He then later in chapter 15:16-20 drills this lesson home, the lesson being we are responsible for our words, as much as we are responsible for our actions.

In conclusion, my students live the life without God because many of their parents have demonstrated to them a life absent of God. They work nine to five, and have little time for themselves let alone for their child. Some of them are children themselves, and or participating in crime and violence themselves. They live a life filled to the brim with sin, and though they understand what they are doing is wrong, they feel guilty, and unworthy. The questions I get from a lot of my students parents echo the same question many people have asked about Jesus. (How can he forgive me? Especially after all I have done.) The simple truth is this, when confronting our sins we must be willing to forgive ourselves, then ask that others forgive us, but this cannot be done if we first do not ask for forgiveness from Jesus. It must be this way as Jesus himself stated in Luke chapter 11:9-10,

9″So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Supported by (John 10:7-9:7) Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; who ever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.”

Jesus is actively seeking a relationship from each and everyone of us. We are all his children, and we are all worthy of his forgiveness. We need to belong, to be remembered, and to have our lives matter, because these are the very things God uses to make each and everyone one of us worthy.

Amen.

May peace be with you all the days of your life. If you have been moved by this blog I invite you to leave a comment.

God Bless