God Doesn’t Make Junk

God Doesn’t Make Junk

Dear Friends,

You are not junk, you are God’s treasure. God does not make junk nor does He make mistakes. You are so valuable to God that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem (buy you back) when Satan tried to make junk out of you. Don’t forget Jesus didn’t die for junk. You are not junk.

Realizing that you are created in the image of God and are not junk will revolutionize your life. If you don’t let this revolution take place you will go through life feeling like junk. As a result you won’t believe it nor receive it when love is shown to you. We see this illustrated in the interaction between Aldonza and Don Quixote in the musical “Man from La Mancha”. Aldonza believed she was trash or junk. Note her reaction when Don Quixote tries to show her love by calling her “My Lady” and “Dulcinea”:

“My Lady!”

“I’m not your lady; I’m not any kind of lady. I was spawned in a ditch by a mother who left me there, naked and cold and too hungry to cry. I never blamed her. I’m sure she left hoping that I’d have the good sense to die. Then, of course, there’s my father; I’m told that young ladies can point to their fathers with maidenly pride; mine was some regiment here for an hour – I can’t even tell you which side. So, of course, I became as befitted my ‘delicate’ birth, the most casual bride of the murdering scum of the earth…”

“and still are my Lady!”

“And still he torments me! How should I be a lady? For a lady has modest and maidenly airs and a virtue I somehow suspect that I lack. It’s hard to remember these maidenly airs in a stable laid flat on your back. Won’t you look at me, look at me, God won’t you look at me; look at the kitchen-slut reeking in sweat, born on a dung heap to die on a dung heap, a strumpet men use and forget… If you feel that you see me not quite at my virginal best, cross my palm with a coin and I’ll willingly show you the rest…”

As I share with you that you are not junk, you are God’s treasure, made in His image your response may be that of Aldonza when Don Quixote said to her:

“…never deny that thou are Dulcinea!”

“Take the clouds from your eyes and see me as I really am. You have shown me the sky, but what good is the sky to a creature who never knew better than crawl – of all the cruel devils who badgered and battered me, you are the cruelest of all! Can’t you see what your gentle insanities do to me, rob me of anger and give me despair? Blows and abuse I can take and give back again, tenderness I cannot bear. So don’t reach out to me when your sweet Dulcinea you call, I am only Aldonza… I’m no one. I’m nothing at all!”

“Now and forever, thou are my lady, Dulcinea…!”

Time passes. The fact that Don Quixote’s words have gotten through to her is evident as she returns to him when he is on his death bed.

“Please… try to remember, you looked at me and called me by another name… Dulcinea, Dulcinea – once you found a girl and called her “Dulcinea”. When you spoke the name, an angel seemed to whisper, “Dulcinea, Dulcinea.” Dulcinea, Dulcinea… Won’t you please bring back the dream of Dulcinea? Won’t you bring me back the bright and shining glory of “Dulcinea, Dulcinea?”

“Perhaps … perhaps it was not a dream —“

“You spoke of a dream … and about the ‘quest’ …?

“The quest … the words … tell me, tell me the words …”

“To dream the impossible dream … but they’re your own words … to fight the unbeatable foe … Don’t you remember? To bear with unbearable sorrow – you must remember! To run where the brave dare not go.”

“To right the unrightable wrong… yes, to love and chaste from afar … yes, to try when your arms are too weary to reach the unreachable star…!”

“Thank you my lord!”

Jesus desires to transform us from being Aldonzo’s who think we are junk as a result of the wounds we have experienced in the past into the realization we are made in the image of God. Read the gospel of John and you will see Jesus helping people rediscover that they are image bearers of the Living God.

In this gospel of John and through out the rest of the scriptures you will discover God’s special message to you at this hour is, “I love you and never forget you are not junk you are my treasure.”

By reading the Bible you will discover God doesn’t make junk. If you have never experienced the fullness of the love of a father or mother you will see God is now saying, “you are the apple of my eye. The one I desire to hide in the shadows of my wings of love” (see Ps. 17:8). That craving, longing and desire in your heart to be loved is a desire placed there by God. He is the only one who can fill this desire.

Everyday God does so many things for us. The fact is we won’t recognize it as a manifestation of His love if we think we are junk.

William Backus and Marie Chapian state the following in their book, Telling Yourself the Truth. “Your beliefs and misbelieves are the most important factors of your mental and emotional life. Disbelieving is the direct cause of emotional turmoil, maladaptive behavior and so-called mental illness. Misbelief is the cause of the destructive behavior people persist in engaging in even when they are fully aware that it is harmful to them (such as overeating, smoking, lying, drunkenness, stealing or adultery).”

The lies that we are worthless, just have enough truth to make them appear as truth. In reality, such lies are a toxic poison that enslave us in destructive activities. It’s a fact that if you tell yourself an untruth long enough it appears to be truth. James 3:15 tells us where this stinking, thinking, lousy speaking comes from. “Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.” A steady diet of such toxins of negative thinking and speaking is deadly. In Romans 8:6, Paul clearly points out that the mind set on the flesh is death. “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

The words we say to ourselves can entrap us or empower us. Psychiatrist Willard Gaylin states, “A denigrated self-image is a tar baby. The more we play with it, embrace it, the more bound we are to it.” The time has come for us to listen to the words we tell ourselves and ask, “am I building a tar baby?” I had a tendency after my first wife Penny’s death to tell myself how lonely I was, when I should have been saying, “thank you Lord for my family and friends.” I also have said too often that I am miserable when I should be saying, “I’m content because I have Jesus who has saved me and given me peace that passes all understanding. Also I have purpose through Christ both now and for all eternity.”

I missed Penny but I couldn’t keep living in the past. I had to let the dream God had placed in my heart come forth and speak of it. As Proverbs 15:4 says, “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.” I had to stop listening to the crazy tapes of negativism and hopelessness going around in my mind and instead do what Phil. 4:8 told me to do. There I saw I needed to think and talk about, “whatsoever things that are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are a good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise think on these things.” By doing this I allowed my pain to be transformed through Christ’s resurrection rather than letting my pain be transferred to others by my thinking that I had become God’s junk. By moving forth in the belief God was working through me, I saw Him doing a mighty work and as time passed He also blessed me with my new wife Debra.

Filtering our thoughts through God’s eternal love demonstrated through Jesus Christ goes a long way towards cleaning our minds of the negative toxic poisons that can and will destroy us. The end result of such filtering results in thoughts and words of thanksgiving and praise. First there is the thanksgiving for the gift of eternal life provided through Jesus Christ. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15). Believers in the eternal all encompassing love of God are then encouraged to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18). “Give thanks to God the Father for everything” (Eph. 5:19-20). Present prayers and petitions ‘with thanksgiving to God’” (Phil. 4:6-7). Then with a heart of thanksgiving that you are not junk but God’s treasure let I Cor. 15:58 unfold in your life. “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

In order for you to “always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain, ”you must have the healthy self-image provided in the Word of God. Begin now to start seeing yourself the way God sees you. Remember, “The Lord is with you O valiant warrior” (Judges 6:12). Yes, you may have made mistakes in the past, but thanks be to God who through Jesus provides forgiveness of sins and the hope of a new beginning. It is a new day and God desires to do a new and powerful work in you and through you. Rebuke that “I don’t care” attitude and stop allowing your weaknesses and insecurities of the past to keep you from the greatness God is calling you to this day. The Lord has said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” Now develop the same attitude that Paul did as he continues in 2 Cor. 12:9, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.”

You don’t have to keep beating up on yourself every time you give in to that nasty habit that you are struggling with. Instead, further surrender that area of your life to Jesus Christ and pray, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Ps.17:8). “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:14-15). Don’t give up but remember, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).

You may not feel at this moment that you are God’s workmanship, created in His image. The fact is inspite of your feelings you have been made in the image of God and forgiven for Christ is risen! Say to yourself at this moment, “God has lifted me out of the horrible pit, and He set my feet upon a rock and put a new song in my mouth” (Psalm 40:2-3). Let God put a new song of praise in your mouth today and fill your life with hope. He wants you to know He loves you more than you can ever imagine. “For God so loved the world,” (means you and me) “that He gave His only begotten Son. That whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Right now you have a choice for “It shall be done to you according to your faith” (Matt. 9:29). If you expect defeat, failure and mediocrity, believing that is what you will get. The other choice you have is that you can remember that it is just as easy to accept the fact you are God’s treasure and believe Him for strength, success and victory. Remember, God has everything under control and that He loves you and wants His best for you.

When we see that with each passing day, in spite of the circumstances God is perfecting His work within us, we are free to believe that, “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

As we believe God is working for our good and we know we are His treasure, we are free to accept God’s best for our lives. This doesn’t mean we will allow ourselves to be trapped in a greedy materialistic lifestyle, for we know God’s best far exceeds filthy lucre (money) as Jesus referred to it. God’s best frees us to live in His presence, knowing that God is working daily for our good in spite of the circumstances.

When we realize that God is at work in every situation and we are his treasure, life becomes an adventure in faith. What is faith? “It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see” (Heb. 11:1). Now instead of believing the worst, choose to “taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8).

This past year as New Life Evangelistic Center faced a mountain of financial need, I found myself itemizing these needs on a piece of paper and putting them in my Bible at Phil.4:19 where it says, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” When worry and uncertainty would strike, I found myself turning to that passage, knowing that God would meet that need.

Now I want to invite you to join me in accepting Jesus at His Word when He says, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:13, 17) Let us ask Jesus now to work in us to share His love by providing shelter to the homeless, food to the hungry and help for the hurting. Let us tell everyone that God doesn’t make junk by sharing the good news of the eternal life He has provided through His death and resurrection.

Now “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1, 2). Don’t give up. God doesn’t make junk. Give God 100% by doing your very best on every job He has given you. You are God’s treasure and your efforts for good do make a difference. Your labor is not in vain. At this hour our Lord is telling us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Facing Death

Facing Death

Dear Friend,

It’s a fact. Some day we are going to die. Until we learn how to face the reality of our pending death, we are not free to really live. The scriptures teach us how to look courageously at the fact that we are terminal and death is certain. Yes, Jesus heals the sick. There are many examples of this in the Bible, but where does it say these healings were permanent? Lazarus was raised from the dead, but the fact is he died later. These who see healing as a way to escape death are in for a rude awakening. In spite of all the miraculous healings we have experienced in life, the fact remains that we are still terminal and will die. Life is very fragile. We never know when death will strike. Facing this reality, our prayers should be, “teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”(Psalm 90:12) This heart of wisdom involves living a life in the midst of the reality of our mortality and learning how to let go. This letting go or disengaging can seem painful, but in reality it provides the freedom necessary to really live. It involves seeing death, not as the end, but as the doorway to a new life which is now possible because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 2:14, 15 we read, “so that by His death He (Jesus) might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” It is this fear of death which prevents us from really living. Once we face the reality of our pending death with the realization it is not the end, but only a new beginning, we are free to take the necessary risks that come from living courageous lives. We discover as we live such lives freed from the slavery of the fear of death that God meant what He said in Jeremiah 29:11. “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” This hope and a future exist not only now but also even beyond death itself. When Paul discovered this he declared, “for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)

Those who refuse to accept the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection have every reason to fear death. Instead of an eternity in the presence of the Living God who is love, what awaits the unbeliever is condemnation and an eternal separation from God. “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”(John 3:18) Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”(John 5:24) This condemnation is hell. In Rev. 14:9-11 John describes hell as a place of intense suffering, “tormented with burning sulfur”, “the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever.” In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Jesus frequently warned against the danger of hell. Such warning is found in Matt. 5:22, 29-30: 7:13; 8:10-12; 10:26-28; 13:40-42, 47-50; 18:8-9; 23:33; 25:41, 45,46. Hell is a place of separation, pain and punishment, darkness and destruction of body and soul for those who refuse to believe and accept the atoning work of Jesus Christ. “God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”(2 Cor.5:21) “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.”(1 Peter 2:24)

As believers and receivers of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, we believe it when He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God; trust also in Me (Jesus). In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”(John 14:1-3) What a wonderful place heaven will be! “For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immorality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory, Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”(1 Cor.15:52-57)

The certainty of this victory after death affects the way we live and work in the here and now. Before such certainty existed, we were unstable, purposeless and hopeless. But now we have hope and Paul’s directive for our daily lives makes sense when he says, “stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”(1 Cor.15:58)

The problem comes in between knowing and acting on this knowledge. We may accept the notion of death theoretically or theologically but in reality, most don’t want to think about death until death’s hand is on the door pressing to enter into their lives. Many often avoid the reality of death by giving in to the inward turbulence of fitful sounds and a rapid succession of preoccupying thoughts, if not denial of the reality of death itself. In order to come face to face with death and the peace and possibilities that it brings when one dies in the Lord, there must be first the stilling of the soul. In Psalm 46:10 God commands, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 37:7 declares, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” This stillness of the heart and soul, inner serenity, is a result of surrender to the reality of God’s love and all powerfulness and the acceptance of our own finality and death. This comes through prayer in a quiet, private setting. As such prayer takes place, it can open the deepest recesses of the human spirit. Those desiring to experience such prayer must first become vessels emptied of self, devoid of clamoring internal voices and open to hearing and receiving the still small voice of God. Such receptivity makes one available to experiencing the peace of God and the assurance of graceful living and dying. “Be still,” the Spirit speaks “and know that I am God.” Experience Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” Knowing that God is with us provides that stillness which enables us to come to terms with our finiteness and God’s bountifulness. We discover a new freedom of the spirit that is no longer bound to actualize the inner drives to accomplish everything in this single life span. We come to the realization that we have been given time that spans all eternity on the other side of death. We see death, not as the end, but as a new birth experience where we move from the dark womb of this existence to the eternal bliss of being in the personal presence of God in a place called heaven. This realization enables us to say “good-bye” to this world and all we cherish in it, knowing that when the day of death arrives, we can say “hello” to the new reality it brings.

The question is: how can we really know that we are going to go to heaven after we die? After all, Jesus Himself said in Matt. 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Is that what Jesus is going to say to you? How do you know; after all, your eternal destiny depends upon it? According to Matt. 25:31-46, what is the will of the Father?

Jesus declares in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.” What does this promise mean to you as you come face to face with death? Remember, to know Christ means following Him in obedience. “The one who says, ‘I know Him, but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”(1 John 2:4) “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”(1 John 3:10) “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”(1 John 3:16-18) “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about His Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”(1 John 5:10-12)

We do not need to fear death if we believe that Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins through His death and resurrection. To believe means to adhere to, to trust in and put our faith in Christ totally as the provider of our salvation and the hope of eternal life with God forever. “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God (Jesus) keeps him safe and the evil one cannot harm him. We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”(1 John 5:18-20)

As we face death, we can experience a peace that passes all understanding because Jesus has conquered death and provided for us the gift of eternal life. That is why Paul could declare, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 8:38, 39)

Dealing with Anger

Dealing with Anger

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Anger is like a toxic waste. Sooner or later it will come out. When anger is turned inward, emotional exhaustion manifested as depression is often the result.

Eph.4:26, 27 gives us some very valuable steps for dealing with anger. It states: “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

The first step in dealing with anger is to be honest and not deny your anger. People usually relate to anger in one of two ways. They are either intimidators or enablers. The intimidator uses anger to intimidate, while the enabler keeps it all inside until an internal explosion has taken place. Intimidators destroy other people with their anger, while enablers or internalizers destroy themselves and destroy other people by denying that anger exists when asked about it. Eph.4:26 says: “Be angry but do not sin.” In other words, you must be honest in admitting that you may be angry, but you may not have all the facts and, as a result, your anger may be on the wrong basis. That is why Jesus said that if we had anything against anyone, we must go to them, one-on-one, and sort out the facts.

The second step we are given in verse 26 is to not sin in our anger. We are not told never to get angry, nor are we told to feel guilty over our anger. Instead we are told to not sin when we are angry. Verse 31 of this chapter 4 of Ephesians goes into further detail. There it says, “get rid of all bitterness.” Anger that has turned into bitterness is sinful anger. Verse 31 goes on and tells us to get rid of rage and anger, brawling and slander along with every form of malice.

We are not to let anger fester in us. That is why we are given the third step to deal with anger in Eph.4:26 when it says, “do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Anger that is not dealt with is anger that will develop into emotional toxic waste that will poison everything that the angry person tries to do. That is why it is so critical that one does not go to bed with yesterday’s anger. Verse 27 says, “and do not give the devil a foothold.”

When anger is allowed to remain and forgiveness is resisted, a root of bitterness is allowed to grow and the devil is given a foothold. From a foothold, the toxic poison of persistent anger enables Satan to build a stronghold. Once this satanic stronghold has become established, then the devil, whom Jesus referred to as the father of lies, proceeds to deceive the one filled with the toxic waste of anger. “He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”(John 8:44)

When one chooses to hold on to yesterday’s anger, the devil is given legal license to come in and establish his foothold and whisper his lies. He convinces the angry person that it is all right to steal and let unwholesome bitter language flow like water. Paul, in Eph.4:28-32, continues giving practical direction for resisting the foothold and schemes of the devil. He writes, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer but must work, doing something useful with his own hands that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Unresolved anger results in grieving the Holy Spirit who lives in each believer (Romans 8:9; 1 Cor.16:19). The Holy Spirit, as the Third member of the Holy Triune God, can experience grief like Jesus, the Son of God, did. (Matt.23:37, John 11:35) When a follower of Christ lets the sun go down on his anger, he lets the devil get a foothold, producing such un-Christ-like actions that the Holy Spirit is grieved. Such grieving of the Spirit is dangerous because it leads to resisting the leading of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 7:51) This can lead to putting out the Spirit’s fire and rejecting the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit. As Paul warned the Thessalonians, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (1Thess.5:16-22) To willfully persist in “bitterness, rage and anger” (Eph.4:31) is dangerous and can result in actually insulting the Spirit of grace. “How much more severely do you think one deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace.” (Heb.10:29)

When one refuses to forgive and insists on angrily holding a grudge, such an individual is in essence trampling the forgiveness that Jesus provided through His death and resurrection. Jesus says in Matt. 6:15 the result is, “If you do not forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will not forgive your sins.” To refuse to forgive is to directly insult the Spirit of grace. The word forgive occurs over 140 times in the New Testament. It means to let go of the anger, leave the offense behind, and cancel the debt you believe the offender owes you. The teachings of Scripture clearly state as we saw in Matt.6:15, and in the parables that Jesus taught, such as the one we find in Matt.18:23-35, that if we want to be forgiven by God, we must forgive others. If we insist on refusing to forgive and extend mercy to others, it will block the flow of God’s mercy and forgiveness to us. (Heb.12:15, James 3:11,14) Unforgiveness is totally incompatible with all that it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

To forgive does not mean to condone wrong or injustice. As Christians, our love for the offender compels us to go humbly to them on a one-to-one basis and point out the error of their ways. Our approach is motivated by our desire to see the offender repent from action that is destructive to them, rather than a desire on our part to confront them, resulting from personal anger. The offense may anger us but it need not blind us to all that is right or moral. That is why Eph.4:26 says to be angry but sin not.

Robert Ingersoll said, “Anger blows out the lamp of the mind. In the examination of a great and important question, everyone should be serene, slow- pulsed, and calm.” In James 1:19 we read, “Wherefore, my beloved, let everyone be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” The poison of unresolved anger keeps this from happening. As this cancer of unforgiveness spreads within, as a result of the root of bitterness, the angry person finds it becomes easier and easier to let the poison manifest itself in one outburst after another. Because of Satan’s deceptions, each such action seems totally justifiable to the one from whom such venom comes forth. For that reason Heb.12:15 warns, “see to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile
many.”

The root of bitterness, deep inner unresolved anger, can result from suffering, personal tragedy or the hardships encountered in daily living. Such difficulties can actually result in anger towards God. Heb.12:5-8 warns, “Do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and punishes everyone He accepts as a child! Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children.” When trouble comes, we must trust God and not let it result in a root of bitterness. Trouble may come as a result of
our spiritual warfare with Satan (Eph.6:11-18). It could be a test to strengthen our faith (1 Peter1:6-7), or prepare us for a ministry of support and comfort for others who are facing similar situations (2 Cor.1:3-5) We must never forget in the fires of adversity “that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”(Romans 8:28) We are also promised that no matter what problem or trouble we may face, we do not go through it alone, for “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”(Heb.13:5,6)

As you face hurt, pain and injustice, never forget you are not alone. Don’t let anger fester within. Ask the Living God to show you any unresolved anger. Then by faith release the offender through forgiveness. Be set free from the prison you have been placed in of bitterness and hatred resulting from the anger upon which many suns have set. When someone has angered you, go to them and “speak the truth in love,”(Eph.4:15) following the directives given in Eph.4:26-32.

Jesus has come to set us free from all that holds us in bondage. That includes the bitterness of unresolved anger and its toxic poisons of the past. Confess this anger which has been with you for so long. Believe that Jesus will set you free. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”(Gal.5:1)

Yours in Christ
Larry Rice