Forgiveness – South Carolina Murders

Character of the New Man

Colossians 3:12-15, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

This week we saw an unspeakable and horrendous crime committed in South Carolina, where 9 families lost their loved ones at the hands of an immature cowardly evil murderer.  What we witnessed in the next couple of days was forgiveness by those families to this senseless murderer.

Some in the media questioned why or how could they forgive this mass-murderer so quickly.  This was not done for show, it was not done because they wanted to appear to be Christian nor were they trying to gain any points with God.

They forgave this killer because THEY have been forgiven by God.  The only way one could forgive this so quickly is to realize the tremendous horrendous sin debt they themselves have been forgiven by the perfect spotless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ on the Cross.

If forgiveness is withheld, it is telling God that your justice is better than His.  That you seek your own brand of justice and that your forgiveness trumps His.  In this circumstance these folks were put to the ultimate test of faith by God.  Were they going to with-hold forgiveness and unmask their unbelief, or were they going to show the world their faith in Jesus Christ.

They showed their faith!

A newsman described this forgiveness as “supernatural”.  He was correct!  By the grace of God working through these saddened families was the only way forgiveness like this could happen.  These families didn’t gain a point from God nor were they seeking merit. This was done to His glory and to His glory alone.  Yes, make no mistake, this is how God unconditionally forgives a sinner!

To get to this level of forgiveness was no mere sudden event.  These Christians practiced forgiveness in their daily lives.  They were already in the practice of removing the burden from others, so when this very sudden tragic horrible murder took place they were prepared.

You must always be prepared.  Get into the practice of forgiving others.  It maybe something simple or large, but you never know when a test from God will come.  We must and I repeat must forgive others just as God as forgiven us!

Forgiveness does not mean you don’t mourn, it does not mean you don’t learn either.   It means you have removed the debt from the offender and put it into God’s hands.  You trust that God will repay.  You may remember the circumstance as well, but any ill feeling, any revenge sought, any hurtful behavior in return will not be placed on the offender.

In a horrible tragedy as we witnessed, the trust must immediately go to God.  Remember the sin debt you have been forgiven of.  Trust in your guiding Holy Spirit.  God’s glory is shown like a very bright beacon in this dark circumstance when people witness His forgiveness.

Again, as Christians we must prepare ourselves for these tests in forgiveness. And friends, it is one of the hardest tests you will ever go through.  If you love the forgiveness granted you, if you love Jesus Christ, get into the practice daily of forgiveness.  Is there someone you have not forgiven?  What is stopping you today to forgive them!

Please pray for the families of this tragedy. Pray for their strength.  Pray that you too will forgive as Christ has forgiven.

God’s glory is shown each time you unconditionally forgive another!

Ephesians 4: 32, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”


The Terms are God’s!

What are the terms for God?  In Joshua 5 we read of Joshua learning a very valuable lesson, God does not work on human terms.  On the eve before the battle of Jericho, Joshua saw an awesome and threatening stranger with a drawn sword in the field and asked a simple question of Him in verse 13, “are you for us or are you against us”.

This awesome stranger revealed who He was in Joshua 5:14 with His answer which was a clear “No”, that He was the Commander of the Lord’s Army, God Himself, the 2nd of the Trinity (Jesus Christ) who is often seen as the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament has labeled Himself here as the Commander.

His answer was No to Joshua meaning what?  That God will not bow down to human terms.  He was not saying He wasn’t going to be with Joshua, He already promised Joshua He would when He anointed him to bring the children of Israel into the Promised Land.

So God’s answer to Joshua was “No” meaning the terms of the coming battle for Jericho would not be Joshua’s, they would be the Lord’s, He showed Himself as the Commander.  In Joshua 6 we see what happened, Joshua and the Israelites took direction from the Commander, they marched around Jericho, they blew trumpets, and did exactly what they were told and Jericho fell into their hands, a quick, decisive, and complete victory!

Too often when we face life’s battles, we want to use God as some sort of advisor instead of our Commander.  We call on Him to be with us and consult instead of asking God as Joshua did in Joshua 5:14 “what does my Lord say to His servant”.   Meaning God as the Commander calls the shots through His word, not you telling God your terms which God must conform to.

If you ask God with terms dictated to Him, such as “God I have this all worked out, just sign off on this please and be with me”, your answer from Him will always be NO!  Again, this is readily done without even knowing it sometimes.  We live our lives without a Commander, but view God as always signing off on the terms we are choosing.

God does NOT work that way.  A Commander does not have terms given to Him, He gives the terms. You follow, you don’t lead Him, He leads you.  And sometimes the directions He gives will make you quite uneasy. Maybe it is having to forgive an enemy without a condition. Maybe it having to be patient and see the Lord’s work.  Maybe it is leaving a relationship, a job, a state, with that inner voice being led by God.

Sometimes God will test our faith in order for us to GROW in that faith! Anxiety will quickly leave if you trust in God as your Commander, your Supreme General, your everything!  The Creator of the Universe calling the plays in your life never fails!

This week evaluate your relationship and prayers to God.  Always remember WHO you are speaking to and what you are asking.  Never give terms to God, listen to His terms.  Unsure about His terms?  Immerse yourself in the word of God, seek out other Christians who can guide you.

The terms are God’s!  He does not work in a cooperative political environment as MANY world religions seem to preach, that the terms are always given to Him to be signed off on by Him. Don’t be fooled by these religions, God’s answer is always “No” when He is not seen as or followed as the Sovereign Commander and Ruler.

He alone is the Commander and now He has come!  Trust in Him, allow Him to lead you in your battles, you will always be victorious!

The Commander of the Army of the Lord

Joshua 5:13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” 14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” 15 Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.


God Justifies the Ungodly!

Romans 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness

Some will tell a sinner that sometime in the future if they follow very detailed instructions through their religion that God just may, again just may, justify them in front of Him.  In modern society, the offer will be “come to church with me”.

The sinner then decides to go church with their friend, and then leaves this setting with no real change.  They may feel the pressure from their friend and the church to behave exactly as they are behaving.  While some may stick it out for the sake of their friend for some time, most will have a very good excuse as to why they won’t be further attending that particular church.

What failed here?  Did the church fail?  Or did the premise fail.  I would argue the premise failed miserably. The sinner’s motives were confused by their friend who said by going to church, they would realize a change in their life. When that change failed to appear so did the sinner’s faith.

Friends, it comes down to Gospel sharing!  Today is the day of a sinner’s salvation!  Don’t put up roadblocks before God’s grace by putting a list or steps needed for the sinner from your view.  Remember God will work His divine work differently for each sinner.  Just as we are born physically with different features, we are also born spiritually with different features. So your experience in being born-again maybe fine and dandy for you, but for another sinner it may come in a totally different manner, again depending on God’s will for the sinner.

But what is common and central?  The Gospel!  Remember you are a sinner, and God didn’t wait to justify you through Jesus Christ nor did He put a bunch of red tape in front of you, He justified you in your ungodly state.

Too often those who have been justified error in placing endless and confusing red tape in front of other sinners waiting to be redeemed.  This is done often without even realizing it and pride is the culprit.  Pride will say every sinner out there must experience the exact same tribulation and experience you went through or the regeneration was not authentic, so you then place some un-needed red tape in front of the called sinner by God.

Pride will also say a sinner must participate in a ritual or ceremony first before God can do His divine work in them. This is worldly thinking, humanizing the Divine mind which is a fool’s errand.  Don’t place this foolish red-tape and roadblock before the Cross of Jesus Christ.

On social media and elsewhere I find many well meaning Christians putting red tape up.  You will see their emails or posts condemning a certain sin or group, yet don’t realize what they are doing is putting a road-block up to the Cross.

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Cor 13 to NOT be a clanging bell, but be a light to the Gospel!  The clanging bell puts the red tape up and the sinner runs for the lack of love in the message of the Gospel.   The preaching of the sinfulness of sin, repentance, and God’s holiness is ALWAYS necessary, please don’t get me wrong here.

But always REMEMBER what you have been saved from and don’t believe for a second you are anything more special than any other sinner!  Remember how stubborn and rebellious you yourself were at one time and the steps you took which were not easy ones.  Go back to that time when your sins were on display for a holy God and how you were viewed, in other words humility is needed always!

With your sharing of the Gospel, be careful not to enter your pride in that equation.  The glory of God needs no defense, rather proclaim it in truth and conviction and get yourself out of the way!

1 Corinthians 13:1-2  “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”


The Problem With World Religions!

Romans 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness

The problem with modern world religions out there is they preach the exact opposite of what the Apostle Paul did in Romans 4:5 and falsely change the wording to read “God justifies the godly”.  This problem implemented by the master of sin, Satan, has been in use ever since the church started.

It sends a message to a fallen sinner (of which we ALL are), that you must clean up your act BEFORE God will save you through Jesus Christ.  Some see this world religion billboard and then view their sins and then say “what is the use!”    I have met a few of these people all confused and swayed by the world religion sentiment of hypocrisy.

To be heaven bound, the world religion will say you must do this and you must do that, all inventions such as rituals and ceremonies, that you must have stellar church attendance, etc., when the word of God says just to believe in what Jesus Christ D I D!  The world religion will say before God will entertain forgiving your sins, you must clean yourself up first, God’s word says the opposite, that He justifies the humble fallen sinner who realizes he or she needs a Savior.

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells the Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.  The Pharisee is shown to say that He believes himself righteous and thanked God for not being like the other rabble sinners out there even as the collector.  The tax collector in turn prayed “Be merciful God on me, a sinner”.  Two totally different approaches one was right, can you guess which one?

If you said the Pharisee, you have been cast into the delusion of world religion.  Quite simply, Jesus said the tax collector was the one who went home justified.  Why you may ask?

Because the tax collector viewed himself as a sinner!  He then asked for the ONLY mercy available and it was from God.  He realized there was no good work, no merit points, no going to church every week, that could ever convince God to forgive him.  So he simply asked for mercy of which Jesus said was granted.

If you are working for your salvation by trying to be righteous through your world religion, STOP!  The first thing you need to realize is you have broken God’s laws, every single last one of them.  There is NOTHING but a guilty verdict for you which means eternal hell.

If you also believe that you must somehow be “good” before God will forgive you, also STOP!  Jesus did not come to save the already righteous, but depraved sinners who understood they needed Him as a Savior.  You must submit to the realization that God and God alone is your sole Judge and Jury and Lawyer.

By His mercy and His grace, God sent Jesus Christ to die in your place!  Jesus took on ALL your sins, every single last one of them and bore them on the Cross.  He paid your punishment!  Is there anything you can do?  No In that there is not one work or merit you can add to Jesus Christ’s FINISHED work.  Yes! Be thankful and then repent of your sins, which means you turn away from them and ALLOW NOT a worldly religion to guide you, but God Himself through His word, the Bible.

If you don’t own a Bible, message me, I will send you one!  The Bible is not just a book, it is a living breathing work of God which He will speak intimately with you each day.  Discern world religions by which God speaks to you, not the other way around.  Use Scripture as your source for truth each day and you will never ever go wrong!

Again, God justifies the ungodly sinners!  Don’t be led astray by the many many world religions who speak the opposite of His grace and His mercy.  Do not fear man, rather fear God who will always give those who do much wisdom, much joy, much love, and much hope through His Son Jesus Christ!


Grace in Mourning a Loss

“Because death is the only thing that could have ever kept him from you.”
― Ally Carter, Out of Sight, Out of Time

Today I went to a funeral of a friend’s father. All I could think on the way to the funeral about was Kevin (my friend) lost both his parents, his mother at the young age of 52 and 15 years later, his father unexpectedly.

The grace of God is the only way one can survive such a loss, and although a rather tragic and sad event, Kevin exemplified this grace. He isn’t the first one to ever lose his parents and won’t be the last but with all the thoughts of those attending such a sad occasion, one must notice that God holds together those who are suffering this loss.

I can only empathize at the numbness one must go through to picking out clothes for the deceased loved one, to funeral arrangements, to picking out food and notifying family and friends, it takes a supernatural effort when every part of human nature would just like to go to a dark room and mourn.

The beauty of God’s grace is that in the direst of circumstances, it shows its beautiful light. He brings families together to mourn this loss, to lift up those who are internally grieving as well. The part I will remember from the eulogy about Kevin’s Dad, was that “he was faithful”. Faithful to God, faithful to his work here on earth, faithful to his family and friends, a wonderful testament to a life!

Funerals are a grace from God to the grieving. Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Some don’t know what to do or say, you may not know the deceased, but never worry about this, just know that you being there is that grace to those mourning.

While the mourning and grieving process continues, never forget those who lose their loved ones. There are a lot of firsts they now go through. The first birthday, holiday, etc. without that loved one in attendance and it continues. So continue to comfort and encourage of those mourning. It maybe just a simple phone call to see how they are doing which is something missed sometimes at a funeral exhortation to the congregants. The comforters are called by God!

To those mourning a loss, know that God’s promise says He will wipe every tear away. We wait in joyful hope of Jesus Christ. Place your trust in Him, the Chief Counselor and Comforter. Talk to Him and walk with Him and know no matter what He will hold you together!

Isaiah 41:10 “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”


God Blessed Us With Mothers!

Proverbs 31:25-31 “Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.”

One of God’s mighty blessings to creation are Mothers! For all they are and what they have done and what they will do, they are remarkable testaments to God’s love. Taken for granted, yet steady they will never fail their children. Sure God didn’t need Mothers, He could of created mankind however He wished, but sent us Mothers to teach everyone who He is and the unconditional and lasting love He has through our Moms.

An early childhood memory for me was walking into the local dime store with my Mother. 4 or 5 years old at the time, I saw candy in a jar and proceeded to eat the candy. My Mother’s instant anger towards this was something I remember to this day. I clearly didn’t know it was wrong, but she educated me right then and there how very wrong I was. She called me a “criminal”, and a “evil sinner” and continued to berate me all the way to the car. Funny though after 40 plus years ago, I can remember where the car was parked! Hurt and confused at the time, she explained to me that no son of hers would disrespect her like that again and she would not tolerate theft. I got the message!  That message was from God.  He gave her that gift of relaying a very important message, stealing was wrong and would not be tolerated.

I relate this story to tell you Mothers out there how much impact you really do have! Discipline in love means much more to your children than if you simply looked the other way. By this, you greatly your child’s outlook on life and how they grow. Too much in today’s society is made for the political correctness of how Mother’s must treat their children. Endless books are written on what a Mom must do.

However God the Almighty has gifted each Mother with an innate sense of how to rear her child, if instead of listening to the pundits they would just listen to Him. Recently a Baltimore Mother scolded and gave her child a whooping in public for all the world to see. Some saw it as harsh, but the child now will always remember the time when his Mother taught him a valuable lesson.

In the long run, sometimes the rod across the back so to speak such as public embarrassment is much better than being politically correct and I believe every Mother has been gifted to treat her child the way she feels is right. Whether discipline or a gentle hand, they know exactly when and where and what to do, so Mother’s forget what the world tells you, instead always listen to the voice in you from God above!

Mothers are simply remarkable! The little things, the big things they do are so impacted on their children and it continues for a lifetime. You are blessing from God!


Get OFF the Wide Road

Matthew 7:13 [ The Narrow Way ] “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it”

Are you on the wide road?  Many religions promote what is called the wide road through what I call easy believism.  They use the word of God in salvation as some sort of cookbook. They will tell you “this what you must do” and then list out all the requirements.  The sinner caught up in this seemingly and now has an instruction manual that came from the religion which placed them right on the wrong road!

Example after example in Scripture, God has taught on His sovereignty.  The instruction throughout the whole Bible is to forget what the world teaches you and instead PLACE YOUR FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST.  The resounding voice from Heaven time and time again says “This is My Son, Listen to Him”!

What kind of faith is this?  Is it based on intellect as you would obtain from  a parent who taught you to look both ways when crossing the street so as to not get hit by a car?  No!  This is a different kind of faith. It is a faith that once you are GIVEN it by God, you quickly understand that it is not intellectual derived where you can analyze all the pros and cons, but a total letting go.

What God grants is the letting go of your worldly notion in problem solving, and a total trust in Him.  You see friend?  God solved the problem!  He does not want you worrying about it, but to give Him the honor and glory that Jesus Christ alone deserves.

By trusting in Jesus, you must let go of this notion that you need to help Him out.  Many have this notion built in them by their religion.  They say if you only do all these things, Jesus just may let you eternally dwell with Him.  In other words they are teaching you not to trust in Him.

Some churches have went so far to declare themselves infallible which is only a divine characteristic, meaning they are not capable to error.  What they have done by doing this is declare in bold letters WE ARE THE WIDE ROAD!  COME JOIN US ON THE PATH TO DESTRUCTION.

Human beings are fallible.  We are capable to error.  But Jesus promised a Helper and His name is called the Holy Spirit who is infallible.  God also gave us another infallible guide and that is called Scripture.  Folks this is the narrow road going to the narrow gate!

Why is it narrow?  Because of a very important thing that must take place and again it is by faith, that God supernaturally regenerates your heart and you become a new creation not by your doing but His doing.  In this regeneration, God sends the Holy Spirit just as promised.

Narrow is the way, because now you must trust in someone you can’t see or hear physically, but One that indwells you. That instead of so and so preacher telling you what you must do, God is guiding you to the fullness of truth.  Will you stumble?  Most likely, but the progression, maturity, and growth in the Holy Spirit will also be realized.

Narrow is the way, because the struggle ensues between trusting your old sinful nature and completely letting go and now trusting the Holy Spirit.  Narrow is the way because just as Andrew and Simon in Mark 1 left everything and everyone behind to follow Jesus Christ, you must as well.

Narrow is the way, because you will be scoffed at, you will be called names for the sake of Christ, you may be imprisoned and even put to death for this faith you hold.  While the world keeps telling you are crazy, to abandon your faith.

Trust in God!  Let go and let Him do the work He has willed in you!  He needs no help from you but your faith in Him!