Repentance and Forgiveness

America is hurting.

We all have family and friends in many of the cities that are in crisis.

I was talking to my brother-in-law who lives in the Minneapolis area. He wisely said that our country needs two things.

Repentance and Forgiveness

We all have a part to play in both.

We have sinned against each other, but more importantly, against a Holy God. We exclude Him from our lives and then are angry with Him when there is trouble.

Some of our politicians tell us God has no place. Seems to me we are reaping the result of that choice.

When men choose to turn their backs on God, He tends to leave them to their own devices. We are seeing that played out in our cities across the nation. It breaks my heart.

We would rather point fingers than deal with our own guilt.

We want to pin our neighbor to the wall, but are unwilling to admit to our own sick heart.

We want others to forgive us, but we are unwilling to forgive them. We don’t bother asking God for forgiveness, because we think He is irrelevant.

He is expected to act on our behalf, but we refuse to turn our face to Him in humility and repentance. Like a two year old demanding his way. (I have two grandsons that are two…I know of what I speak.)

Jeremiah 5:3b sums it up well.  “…But they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.”

Acts 3:19 pleads with us.  “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” 

The other half of the problem is forgiveness. If we have truly repented and turned our face to God then we need to forgive. This is not an easy task.

In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter asks Jesus… “Lord how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

I think Peter was proud of how often he had forgiven the unnamed offender. Jesus response puts him in his place.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'”

That would be 420 times! Unheard of!!

That doesn’t mean we are free to take revenge when the number reaches 421. (Yes, I am guilty of counting up in my head the number of offenses.) The spirit here is to forgive like God forgives. There are warnings about not offering the same forgiveness we have been given.

“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 11:25

To forgive is impossible. We don’t have the ability to forgive without God, but as we repent and turn our hearts to Him, the impossible becomes possible.

And so I pray that our country would repent and forgive. For it is the only way we will find healing.

For further study: Matthew 18:23-35; Psalm 32:5; Romans 10:9-11

 

 

 

 

 

If the Cure Won’t Kill You…

I’ve been struggling the last few weeks. It started as a cold that wouldn’t go away and when the coughing overstayed its welcome I took myself to the doctor. Bronchitis was diagnosed and antibiotics were prescribed. I thought that was that and dutifully took my medicine and proceeded on my way.  A couple weeks later my cough was sneaking back and there was no more medicine to take. I called the doctor’s office and they prescribed something stronger.  It remains to be seen if this medicine will be effective, but I got a bit of a shock when I read through the three pages of warnings and possible side effects. I suddenly was afraid I would die in my sleep,  if I could get to sleep.

But my biggest problem isn’t bronchitis. My biggest problem is sin. Like the paralytic in Mark 2 whose friends bring him to Jesus, tearing up the roof to get him there, Jesus first words to him were…”Your sins are forgiven”. It wasn’t that Jesus was overlooking the obvious (his physical condition). It was that Jesus saw his most pressing need as the need of his soul, the need to have his sins forgiven. The man didn’t get his life cleaned up before he came. He came sick and helpless. Jesus knew his most pressing need was his soul and almost as an afterthought he heals his body as well.

And so as I wait for the bronchitis cure to take effect I have to think of a more effective cure that has already been applied, one of eternal value. I can’t earn or work for it. I don’t deserve this cure and yet it is freely offered to me and to anyone who will apply the finished work of Christ to his life. Jesus did what I couldn’t. He died so I wouldn’t have to. He gave up His inheritance so I could inherit. How could I help but love such a God.