Monday, September 20, 2010

The List Keepers

I am thinking a lot about forgiveness today. As I do, I am comforted in the fact that Jesus has forgiven me for many things. I have discomfort today as well. My discomfort come from "List Keepers" You know, those who think it is their "God-Given appointment" to dig up anything wrong you have ever done in your life and "bring it into the light" for all to see. So as I struggle with a battle going on in the earthly realm, God gently reminds me, that the spiritual realm is where my strength come from. 

As I was praying this morning, this is the passage that came to my heart:

Luke 7:36-50
 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."
Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
      "Tell me, teacher," he said.
 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
      "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
 Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

 As I read through this passage, a couple of things really jumped out at me.

"If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."

Really?! Jesus knew exactly who she was. Some say this was the woman who had been caught in adultery, that Jesus forgave. Whomever she is, people knew her sins. Furthermore, in reading this, unless you participated in her sin with her, you knew about it because it was being talked about. By "list keepers".

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 

She loved much. That is a powerful statement coming from the one who is the author of love! And Jesus also says she had MANY sins, and that they had ALL been forgiven.

That is comforting to me! Jesus can forgive my many sins. My love for Him matters! My love for other people matters! "List keepers" don't take into account love. That never seems to make it on the list.

  Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

These words spoke right into my soul this morning. I can go in peace knowing my sins have been forgiven and my faith has saved me!

One of the hardest things for Christians to do, is allow others to be forgiven. If Jesus has forgiven someone, do we the right to "keep a list"?

Hebrews 8:12 
For I will forgive their wickedness
      and will remember their sins no more.

To keep a list is to say you have more authority than God. That is a scary place to be. 

But The love thing.......Much love......

I wanted to know just what Jesus defined as love, since He equated her having loved much with forgiveness. Here is what I found:

1 Corinthians 13:1-7
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

This is a powerful passage. This describes love the kind of love that God has for us. 
it keeps no record of wrongs.

  If we want to love like God, we MUST not keep any record of wrongs.

The response to that tends to be, "OK, I'll forgive, but I do not have to trust you!"
always trusts

If we are to love like God, we must trust. There is no love without trust. There is no argument that can be made to this except to choose to disobey God's Word.

I too, can be a "list keeper" of sins. As a matter of fact, I am guilty as charged. But today, I will burn that that list out of my mind, and out of my heart. The only reason I should care about someone's sin, is to lead them back to Jesus! Not to throw them and their sin into the public arena for ridicule. I have the ministry of reconciliation, not humiliation! And if Jesus has already forgiven that sin between the two of them, I am entering a realm that I do not belong in! And I don't know what has gone on between Jesus and another in their private prayer time!

I choose to be forgiven because I have much love.
For Jesus.
For others.
I am thankful Jesus remembers my sin no more!

I think I may become a " list keeper" of a different sort.

I will keep a record of the good I see others do and recognize it.

That is the start to Chasing after God's Heart!

Chasing After Their Hearts,

Glenda Johnson

Friday, September 17, 2010

Grace, The Lessons In The Valley

March was a long time ago.

A very long time ago.

I have learned an incredible lesson over the last several months.

It has come from walking in a valley.

The cause?

Being silly enough to think I should blog on GRACE!

It seemed so right. To blog on GRACE. Logical. I have taught three woman's bible study on GRACE.
I had learned so much. After talking with many people, it became obvious that in all actuality, few people really realize what GRACE truly encompasses. So, in my excitement, I figured I would share what I had been so deeply touched by.


And I could have sworn I heard a whisper say, "REALLY?"

And so the journey began into the realm of really being taught what GRACE is.

I had a sin debt that I owed to God. One day He will call the debt due, and it will need to be paid in full. The problem is, the only thing that can pay that debt, is my life. In death. Oh, and may I mention, it must be a perfect spotless life to sacrifice to pay the debt. Now I am in trouble. I know my past. I know what I have done. While I might be willing to freely die to pay this sin debt, it would still not cover what I owe. Now I am in deep trouble...

This is where GRACE stepped in. Jesus, who lived a perfect, spotless, blameless life, chose to intercede on my behalf. He and God the Father and the Holy Spirit, set up a plan for Jesus to die in my place. God would accept this. What is really awesome, is that this plan, was put into effect even before I even cared who God was, or what I owed Him.

My sin debt was paid when Jesus died and then resurrected on that cross so many years ago. I did nothing to deserve it. I did nothing to earn it. I was just loved enough to be given a lavish gift far beyond anything imaginable.

I must however accept that gift. And I have. I have chose to believe and obey God, and have been covered by the blood of Christ. I, in essence, chose to unwrap the gift that has been waiting for me since before I was born.

The good news is, that everyone reading this has a gift waiting too, a gift of GRACE.

Open yours today.

Had I written this blog in March, that is where this would have ended. But, there has been 6 months of teaching in valley for me.

I did not just receive this gift of GRACE for my own salvation. GRACE is NOT just about my soul escaping an eternal separation from God. It is about how you live, act and treat other people.

I have been in a valley.
I have had a war declared on me in the last 6 months. I have done everything I can to bring peace. Learning to show GRACE while under fire has been a very painful thing. It is however, what God has called me to do.

So to end the series on GRACE, these is what I learned in the valley:

1. NO ONE has done ANYTHING to me that even comes close to what I have done to the Almighty God, the Creator of all. And yet, He shows me GRACE daily.

2. My reputation, and my motives are truly known by God. Jesus was misunderstood, falsely accused, and treated very poorly for most of His life. And yet, He chose to die to redeem those any way.

3. I am called to serve, regardless of what others may claim. My service is between Jesus and myself, no one should be able to hinder that, unless I allow them to. People claimed Jesus was wrong when he did His father's will. And yet, He did it any way, because it was what He was called to do.

4. I am called to love like Jesus, no matter what. No circumstances, no excuses, no twisting of Scripture to fit my own feelings. Jesus was attacked, spit on and beaten by the very ones He created. And yet, He said, " Father forgive them, for the know not what they do."

All of the above is GRACE. Not just to be accepted, but to impart as well. I cannot save a soul by showing GRACE, but I can lead someone to the ONE who can save their soul by showing GRACE.

It's been a long one today. Thanks for hanging in with me. I am back to blogging, so the next one won't be 6 months worth!

Chasing After Their Hearts,

Glenda Johnson