Tag Archives: forgiveness

The Accuser

Read Job 2

The word “LORD” here (and throughout most of the Bible) is a substitution for God’s name, Yahweh. It literally translates into “I AM.” It was given to Moses in Exodus 3:15 (although it was known and apparently forgotten before that – Genesis 4:26) We know that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not know him by this name: Exodus 6:3. Jesus himself makes an unmistakable reference to His name in John 8:58.  (Assuming He was speaking Hebrew here, and there’s no reason to believe He wasn’t, He changed His grammar to say “Yahweh” (I AM). If you notice, the Jews did not like Him equating Himself with God, and they began stoning Him. The days are coming when all mankind will call upon His true name: Zephaniah 3:9

I thought all of this was worth mention, although today’s thoughts are more about the name of Satan. However, I did not want to give too much attention to that name without first acknowledging Yahweh’s beautiful name (since He plays an important role in this chapter as well). We have overlooked His holy name far too long, and I did not want to do that here. In case you think I am dreaming all of this up, or making a big deal out of nothing, it is common knowledge among those who have studied it. Research it and see if I am correct. You can start here: Hebrew Names of God.

In Hebrew Satan means “accuser” or “adversary.” I have only known the definition of his name for one week, however, in that time, it has helped me a lot. Anytime lately that I find myself angry at someone else for the way they are behaving, I remember that Satan is the accuser of our souls. I do NOT want to be anything like him. Our job is not to accuse others for what they are doing wrong. Our job is not to try to make God or others angry with someone when they are not living up to our standards. Just think about it: how often do we fail to meet our own standards? Sometimes when I get angry, I will remember some of the sins of my past and be thankful that someone isn’t following me around telling all of my current friends and associates about my past failures. I am glad that someone doesn’t just show up on my Facebook page and tell all of my secrets from my youth. Thinking about this always throws a blanket of ice over my disgust with someone else. How often do we all fail to live up to God’s demands? Last week, we talked about how our righteousness was as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). No one is sinless. We have no right to point out blame in another of God’s children.

Let’s dig into the story a little bit:

Job 2:10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Job was able to go through these trials without speaking anything foolish. We know he must have had a few thoughts during these events that were not wholly acceptable to God. We know this because God reprimands him at the end of the book. Job 38:3-4, etc. However, he controlled his tongue. This kind of discipline enabled him to also control his body – the works of his flesh. See how he was perfect, or complete:

Job 2:3 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect [complete] and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (Another example of perfect meaning complete.)

Perfect. What does that mean exactly? Here is a link to the etymology for this word. This makes me think that he was finished. He would never be wholly without sin, especially considering that we all have sins in our past, and even if you could be perfect for a day, a month, a year (I have absolutely no idea if this is possible – what is the limit that a human can go without sin?), those former sins would keep us from ever coming into Yahweh’s presence – were it not for the redemptive work of the blood of Christ. But Job was perhaps as perfect as he was ever going to be. As a human being, he was complete.

James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 

It takes an enormous amount of discipline to not sin with your mouth. If you have that much discipline, controlling your body will not be any more difficult for you.

Read the whole chapter of James 3 and think about the implications. How does our tongue get us in trouble? Many times we begin to control ourselves, and then suddenly give up completely, telling everything we know or think.

James 1:26-27 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

I just included that last verse for free. It is an often quoted verse, but we tend to leave off the very last phrase and all of its implications. Just something extra for you to think about this week and come to your own conclusions.face-1381321_640

When a Loved One Hurts You

Last night, my pastor delivered one of the greatest messages I have ever heard him preach. It was from 2 Kings 4:1-7:

Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.

And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.

Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.

And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.

So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out.

And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.

Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.

My pastor went on to say that oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. We are anointed by the Holy Spirit, just as they anointed kings of Israel with oil.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…(Luke 4:18)

Oil was all she had left in the house, but it was the only thing she needed. Just as the Holy Spirit is the only thing we need to sustain us. The empty vessels represent other people in our lives. And here is the gist of the message: it doesn’t matter how many people you pour yourself out to. You will never run out of the Holy Spirit in your life. There will always be enough left over for you.

I have a few friends that are pastors or other types of ministers. I was thinking today about how difficult it must be to be heavily depended on by so many lives. What a burden to feel responsible for everyone’s relationship with God. What a weight to know that your life is a witness to others, that they are looking at you to see if they can find true Christianity. To some extent, every Christian lives under a microscope, but pastors and their families bear the greatest burdens. These people, who are constantly pouring themselves out, constantly sacrificing their time, their sweat, their finances, and their emotions, are taking a great risk by loving the rest of us. I have discovered, over the course of my life, that those who are closest to us have the greatest opportunity to cause us grief. I cannot even think of a good enough term to describe how we make them feel sometimes. Turmoil, vexation, sorrow? None of those words seem adequate.

So tonight, I want to encourage you if you have been hurt by someone you love. My heart especially goes out to those who have made it their life’s work to minister to others, but the rest of us are affected sometimes too. The fact is, people, self-proclaimed Christians, hurt each other sometimes. When someone hurts me, I have learned to compare where they are right now to who I was nine years ago. I was living in a back-slidden condition then, purposefully sinning, and putting my entire family at risk. Yet I was still me. I was still under the grace and protection of God, and He was still working in my life. Not through me perhaps, because I had made myself unavailable to Him, but rather working on my behalf.

So if there is someone in your life that has hurt you deeply and has behaved unseemly toward you, perhaps they are not hypocrites after all – the first conclusion we want to jump to – but a work in progress. Perhaps this is a phase, and God is going to create something beautiful in their lives. I think that God not only looks at the whole person, but at the whole span of a person’s life.

One of my long-standing prayers has been to see people through God’s eyes. Now, some of us get really good at seeing unbelievers and new believers like that (hence the patience and call to deal with drug addicts, etc.). These are people who we view as needing our help. We look at them, and visualize a beautiful future for them, saved from the depths of despair by the majesty of God’s grace. In a way, I think we sometimes self-worship, and believe that it is due to something good in us that brings these folks to God. I think that’s why it is so easy for us to “help” them. Because we get some pleasure out of it and perhaps a pat on the back. That’s how I feel sometimes, even though in reality I know I am nothing, but a hopeless sinner saved by the grace of God. (Only I can know and understand the depths of my own depravity.)

But it’s 100x harder to see “mature” believers through God’s eyes. Especially if they are hurting us, or if they are in the process of indulging in sin. I’m not saying that I’m completely immune to having my feelings hurt by others, but if I can believe that these people are just short-sighted at the moment and are destined for awesomeness (I think of Paul’s conversion and ministry), then it is easier for me to find peace. And I hope that when I sin against others (and believe me, it will happen), they can extend the same grace to me. I hope they can look into my future and envision a time when I am no longer at odds with them, and a time when my sin no longer dictates my words and actions.

Wednesday evening at church, we all shared our favorite verses with each other. This is my favorite (Job 23:8-9):

Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:

On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:

I believe this means that He is always working in our behalf, even when He seems completely absent. So every negative comment, every health struggle, every relationship issue, – it is all a gift from God to form us into the people He is perfecting. Romans 8:28 says:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Embrace it, believe it, make decisions based on it, treat others by it, live it.

The verse following my favorite passage (Job 23:10) says this:

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Again, he is looking at the whole person. He knows your way – your life, your destiny. You can be at peace with everything that happens to you. But keep in mind that this verse also applies to every other Christian on the face of the planet. He is molding them, using their own situations and shortcomings to teach them.

I want to leave you with this, the favorite verse of one of my brothers in Christ. When he spoke the words Wednesday night, it immediately struck a chord deep inside of me (Psalm 119:165):

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Five Miles South of Peculiar

Sunday, I finished reading Five Miles South of Peculiar, by Angela Hunt. The story focused on three middle-aged sisters, their relationships with each other, and the changes that they all face when life steers them in new directions. Fear, betrayal, and anger are countered with love and forgiveness in this heart-warming tale that centers on the difficulties of living in a small town, where every woman’s history is well-known, and her decisions and mistakes can haunt her for the rest of her life.

This was a nice read. While I was never bored, it did seem to take me a while to get “into” the story. I think it was mostly due to the fact that the story is best suited for a middle-aged audience. The main characters are believable and well-developed, and I grew to care for them throughout the course of the book. A couple of times, I shed a few tears out of the empathy that I felt, as their hearts were torn, and then healed. This is a fantastic book for teaching all of us about forgiveness – a trait that’s becoming more rare as the years go by. Overall, this book really left me with a sense of hope, and an overall feeling that “life begins at fifty.”

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through Glass Road Public Relations.

My Prayer…Routine?

I am teaching my son to pray so he won’t have to figure it out for himself.

I have been trying to encourage him to cultivate a close, personal relationship with Christ. I don’t want him to have that all-too-pervasive mentality in which God is nothing more than a glorified vending machine. I’m trying to teach him that we go to God with more than just our wants. I’m also trying to teach him that our prayers should be like conversations, personal and varied – different every time we speak to God. When we pray, we use words and grammar that come to us naturally, like talking to a friend. But I do like to use the structure of the Lord’s Prayer for our example:

Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…

Every time we approach God, I believe we should worship Him for who He is. My son and I accomplish this by spending a few moments telling God how awesome He is. And then we try to think of specific things in our lives and in Creation that testify to His awesomeness. For example, we might see a beautiful sunset and worship God for His beauty. We might learn about how ants keep their own herds of aphids and praise Him for His wonderful creation. We might recover from an illness and stand in awe at the marvelous healing capabilities of the human body. At this point in our prayers, we also thank God for several varied and specific things such as salvation, liberty, parents that have taught us about God, or the mere fact that God thought of us individually and saw fit to create our souls. Then we thank him for things we like or enjoy, such as snowflakes, birthday parties, and toy train sets. Our praise and thanksgiving varies from prayer to prayer because I don’t ever want my son to look at the process as a ritual, but merely a conversation between friends, one of whom is holy and deserves acknowledgment of that fact.

Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…

I try to truly accept God’s will in my life. Whether He wants me to go or stay, be rich or poor, healthy or ailing – if it accomplishes His will, then that’s what I want in my life. My only unwavering desire is to see as many saved as possible, and I doubt that God’s will is any different in that respect. I would like to think that I would gladly give my life or graciously suffer the deaths of my loved ones, if it could only result in more souls saved. I don’t desire anyone to be separated from our Creator for all of eternity.

Give us this day our daily bread…

I believe it is okay to ask God for things. While it should not be the main reason we pray, He desires to give us the things we ask for, just as a doting father may enjoy buying coveted gifts for his children. When I ask though, I generally tag my petitions with “but your will be done.” I know that He knows better than I do what’s best for me, so I don’t really want anything outside of His will.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…

It is good for us to specifically address our short-comings, and confess them to God and one another. Doing so holds us more accountable, and may even help prevent us from repeating the same mistakes over and over. We need to search our souls for the things that are keeping us from a perfect walk with God, and take whatever steps necessary to oust them from our lives. One of those things is the resistance to forgive others. We have sinned against a holy God thousands of times, and have been forgiven all. What gives us the right, unholy creatures that we are, to withhold forgiveness from those who sin against us?

And lead us not into temptation…

And while we’re asking God to keep us from temptation, we need to not be the hypocrite that walks headlong into temptation on purpose. Our request for help should serve to keep us in check.

But deliver us from evil…

I pray that nothing traumatic ever happens to us, but again, I want God’s perfect will in my life. And God forbid I should ever be a source of evil in this world.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Realize who God is. Realize his awesome power and sovereignty. Remember who you are speaking to as you approach Him with your petitions. Remember that He loves you personally; He is your doting Father. Remember that He desires friendship. But remember too, that He demands obedience.

Challenge: If you don’t have a prayer life to speak of, put down whatever you are doing and begin right now. If you aren’t willing to start now, when will you ever make time for God? I keep hearing Jillian Michaels in my head saying “Transformation is not a future event.” So true.


Ian and I just read the book TJ and the Time Stumblers: Switched! by Bill Myers. The book was about a girl, TJ, who happens to be friends (and I use that term loosely) with two time-travelers from the 23rd century. They follow TJ around and attempt to help her solve her problems – she’s a great historical figure where they come from. At the same time, she gets wrapped up in their escapades as they try to make their way back to their own century. They make a lot of mistakes along the way (nobody’s perfect), which result in often hilarious consequences. The theme of this book is forgiveness.

My seven-year-old absolutely loved the book, but I’m not sure he understood the references to the preteen crushes and insecurities. He laughed out loud a lot though! I enjoyed reading it to him, but the book got on my nerves more often than not, with its constant interruptions (there are giant, bold print words on nearly every page that represent loud noises and shouting) and the cutesy names of all of the characters. However, I doubt these things would be a problem for the age group for which the book is intended. I’m assuming it’s for 5th and 6th graders?

Here is Ian’s review (my seven-year-old): That was a great book! No book’s funnier than this book!!! The one guy turned into a waterspout; it was so funny. It could talk. TJ and Hesper’s bodies got switched around.

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book.

What does God sing about?


The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

I wish I could put into words how this verse makes me feel. We’ve all heard John 3:16 so many times, that we tend to overlook its deep meaning. We’re desensitized. I think people get the feeling that God is trying to guilt them into serving Him.

But this verse in Zephaniah is fresh. It proves to me how much God really does love me. Enough to give His son, of course. But even more than that. Enough to sing over me. I am precious to Him. He enjoys my company; desires my fellowship.

It kind of reminds me of my relationship with my husband. I told someone the other day that I really like my husband, and they said, “Well, you love him!” But to me, liking my husband is even more important than loving him. I love a lot of people – I care intensely about them and what happens to them. But I really like my husband. I like being around him, talking to him, spending time with him. This is the way God feels about us! Not only does He love us, but He likes us too!

This verse does a couple of things for me: first, it makes me feel deeply loved (and liked!).

Second, it makes me really wanna hang out with my best friend, who also happens to be the Creator of the universe.

Third, it helps me forgive others because I realize that this verse can apply to anyone walking the face of the earth. Even those who aren’t saved yet still have the potential to get saved, and to bring this much joy into the heart of God. It helps me remember how precious each and every person is.

Ramblings from Sunday’s Sermon

So I had an idea Sunday morning while my pastor was preaching. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case you forgot: when I think back to a sermon I’ve heard, I don’t always remember what the preacher was saying. I pay attention, but then my mind takes me somewhere I need to go, and I only remember what I take away from the message. Anyway, his message was about intimacy with God. Not sure what he was saying at the exact moment that my idea crept up, but it was something along the lines of getting to know God more. It occurred to me that all my personal problems, you know, my fleshy parts that I wish would just dry up and fall off – like arrogance, unforgiveness, the things I struggle with most – all my personal problems would go away on their own if I could just develop an intimate relationship with God. These are things I try to fix on my own, reminding myself that no one is better in God’s sight, no matter how much one is “trying” or not trying. God has forgiven me for all, so why do I have trouble extending the same grace to others? So I keep reminding myself of these things, pretty much on a daily (if not hourly) basis. I’m trying to “fix” myself. Then I thought, why don’t I just talk to God more? Talk to Him as I would my best friend? Because He is my best friend. The more I communicate with Him, the more I am honest with Him about everything, the more it seems I get back from Him. I begin to understand His nature a little more. His Word is revealed to me a little more. Eventually, I’m hoping that forgiveness and humility will just become clear to me, as God becomes clearer. There are so many things that “just make sense” when you surrender to God. I’m sure that if I looked more closely in the mirror that is God’s Word, I could see myself more clearly, and God would help me work out my problems.

How to Forgive?

I struggle with forgiveness. I especially have trouble forgiving repeat offenders, and there are a couple of people in my life who I feel have sinned against me more times than 7×70, even though I realize that Christ was being rhetorical.

I struggle.

How do I forgive someone? If I could just decide to forgive them, then I would, but I don’t know how! I try to remember that I’m no better than anyone else, that my sins are as grotesque as anyone else’s. I remind myself that when I sin, I do it willfully, because I know better, and that’s even worse than someone who is just floating along in life randomly stumbling and sinning. I remind myself that Christ died for the whole world, and I’m just one member of that population.

But then I think, “But so-and-so’s not even trying! Why do I have to forgive them? They’re not even sorry!”

Yesterday I read something that may indeed help me: “How can Joseph do this? How can he forgive his brothers? I think the answer lies in his mature and settled conviction that God has been sovereign in the events of his life, telling his brothers, ‘It was not you who sent me here, but God.’ ”

When the Bottom Drops Out by Robert Bugh, pg. 76

Then again on page 83: “Did you catch that? God is somehow using your suffering for His global purposes.”

I am hoping that this perspective will help me forgive more readily. Next time I feel at a loss to find forgiveness, I’m going to see if it works. I really think it will! I’m excited because this is something I have struggled with for a very long time. I see now that my lack of forgiveness is a lack of trust in God’s ultimate plan for my life. No more! I can see more clearly now.

I need a rewind button

If I pray really hard before I go to sleep tonight, do you think I could wake up and have another go at today? I messed up big time today. I was trying to “help” two people that I really, really love. I was so angry. I stormed in with righteous indignation, thinking to force them to see things the way I do. Well, someone forgot to tell me… Righteous indignation only works if the indignant person is righteous. Which I’m not. Not by a long shot. What is my role? How do I help? By example only, not by word? If only I could have kept my anger from getting the best of me. It’s better now; they love me back and have forgiven me already. But how can I forgive myself? My sin was worse than theirs! I wish to be made again.

Creat in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10