Leftovers Left in God’s Hands (Part 1)

I have accumulated a stash of leftover fabric from numerous sewing projects over the years. No piece is big enough to make a new skirt or a pair of curtains, yet I have kept the leftovers because I never know when I might need such a piece as this. Often when a granddaughter and I are having a sleepover, we search through my fabric resources for a craft project. Small pieces have value. Recently while sorting through my sewing stash, I was reminded of Jesus feeding the 5000 and the leftovers from that meal.

When they were filled, He said to His disciples,
“Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”
So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
John 6: 12-13

Join me as I look at these two verses of scripture phrase by phrase. Our focus will be upon the leftovers.

When they were filled”

Leftovers are what is left over after the use of the original intent of whatever commodity we have. These pieces have value beyond there first use. For me it was fabric, while for Jesus it was food. The bag lunch of one young boy placed in Jesus’ hands not only provided the meal for 5000 people but resulted in leftovers as well. I wonder how this boy felt when there were scraps of bread and morsels of fish left after everyone had lunch. Was he happy with the overabundance of food Jesus produced with what he gave or was he disappointed because not all of his offering was consumed in the way he thought it would be? Jesus did the math. He did not just add up what the boy gave, He multiplied it! We may feel disappointed if what we offer to the Lord is not totally used in the way we intended but God has much bigger plans than for us to just be satisfied with what we give to Him.

He said to His disciples . . .”

Jesus asked His disciples to pick up the leftovers. He did not do it Himself. Jesus asked His disciples to gather up the remainder of the meal because He knew the existing crumbs were important. We are not told what the disciples did with the leftovers but I think they gave the baskets of broken bread to Jesus. Maybe this was a prophetic picture of the Last Supper Jesus would share with these same disciples before His crucifixion. I want the obedience of the disciples to be an example of what I am to do with the broken pieces that are leftover from my attempts to serve the Lord.

Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”

John describes the leftovers as fragments. In Luke 9:17, the phrase “broken pieces” is used to describe the leftovers. Jesus did not want to throw away any part of the boy’s offering that had not been consumed. He did not want to see any small morsels left on the ground because they had value to Him. Like my pieces of fabric, the leftovers were just scraps that were not used for the original purpose. However, just as I may have a future use for swatches of fabric, Jesus had a use for the leftovers of the bread and fish. We do not know what Jesus did with the bread crumbs – maybe He fed them to the birds. It is not important for us to know what Jesus will do with our leftovers but it is necessary for us to give them to Him. Whatever we choose to do for the Lord may be used in ways beyond our original intents.

So they . . . filled twelve baskets with fragments”

Is there any significance that the disciples filled twelves baskets with leftovers? Possibly each basket represented the life of one disciple. Maybe each disciple had brokenness in his life that he needed to bring to Jesus so He could use their brokenness for His plans and purposes. The fragile fragments of each disciple were so important to Jesus that He wanted to deal with each one individually. The same is true for us today. We cannot lump all the shortcomings and brokenness of all people into one basket for Jesus to forgive. We must each meet Him personally.

“left over by those who had eaten” 

Leftovers provide for abundance. If I had not kept the odds and ends of various materials, I would miss out on many fun craft creations to be fashioned with my granddaughters. Today, most likely, crusts of bread and bones of fish are simply discarded. However, we never know what the Lord will do with the leftovers of our lives. Jesus still promises us that nothing will be wasted just as He revealed to the young boy with a small lunch over 2000 years ago. He will use everything, including the leftovers, according to His plans and purposes.

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Barefoot

bare-feet-1bare-feet-2Since warm weather has arrived, I have exchanged my winter shoes for summer sandals. These summer shoes reveal more of my feet and provide a little less protection. However, I also like to throw off even my sandals and go barefoot. There is something special about being able to run barefoot through a thick lawn of green grass on a summery day! It is freeing to feel the grass between my toes. Maybe I can identify with Moses and Joshua who went barefoot in the Lord’s presence. In fact, they were personally instructed by God to take off their sandals in His presence.

In Exodus 3, Moses was intrigued by a bush that appeared to be on fire and yet was not being consumed. As he went closer to the bush, God spoke to Moses saying in Exodus 3:5, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” In the following verses, Moses and God have a conversation regarding God’s desire for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. When Moses argued with God, God had an answer for him that revealed His willingness to help Moses in all he asked Him to do. In a sense, taking off his sandals signified Moses’ vulnerability to what God asked of him. I wonder if God is asking me to take off something so He can better use me according to His plans and purposes. I do not have to provide my own shoes, or my own strength. In contrast, God asks me to remove any confidence I have in my flesh. In II Corinthians 12:9-11, Paul records, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” … Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

In Joshua 5 while Joshua was preparing for the battle of Jericho, he encountered a man with a sword. When Joshua inquired about whether he was for them or against them, the man revealed himself as the commander of the army of the Lord. In Joshua 5:15 it says, “The commander of the LORD’s army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’” Joshua obeyed this command out of reverence and respect. I want to follow Joshua’s example and take off my shoes in the presence of the Lord. Like the soles of my shoes that pick up the dirt of the ground around me, my soul within me can pick up sin from the world in which I live. Out of reverence to my holy God, I want to remove sin from my life. I Peter 1:15-16 says to me, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’” Taking off my sandals or shoes can be an outward expression of worship revealing my inward reverence for the Lord.

While walking barefoot, I feel a closeness to the God of all creation who has created the grass upon which I walk. I am aware of being in touch with the Lord when my feet are touching His creation. A few scriptures come to mind that inform me of how to walk with the Lord. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Then II Corinthians 5:7 KNJV tells me to “walk by faith and not by sight,” while Paul reminds me in Galatians 3516 NKJV to,Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Bare feet and summer seem to go together, but I need to remember that in order for me to walk with the Lord I should be barefoot in His presence no matter what season of the year. I John 2:6 NASV says, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” In order for me to walk as Jesus walked, it will be beneficial for me to be barefoot so I can place my footsteps in His footprints.

My Reader, do you want to go barefoot today?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Anchored to Hope

While HOPE is one of my favorite topics to blog about, I have chosen to emphasize it today in honor of a dear friend of mine, Judy, who went to be with Jesus a year ago in April. June 17 was her birthday on earth, and while she is celebrating that day in heaven now, I want to honor her with the following insights regarding HOPE. She anchored her faith to hope throughout her illness. The anchor with a yellow ribbon pictured above, was given to each of us at her celebration of life service. I still cling to this anchor pin as well as to the spiritual promises of hope.

In the bigger picture, the view from which Judy now experiences it, hope is the eternal full manifestation of eternity with God. Our eternal hope is promised in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” But in the meantime, we walk by faith and not by sight because according to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

My Reader, what comes to your mind when you hear the word HOPE? Do you perceive hope as a fluffy, flimsy desire floating through your mind or do you picture hope as an anchor uniting with faith in your heart? We often have trouble describing hope because it is invisible. There is an anonymous quote that says, “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” A scriptural definition of hope is found in Romans 8:24-25, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Although HOPE is invisible, I want us to envision the anchor as a picturesque image of hope.
Hebrews 6:19 states, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Sarah Young says in Jesus Calling, “A good way to remain anchored to Jesus is to whisper His name as often as needed. We can pray and proclaim “Jesus, You are my HOPE!’”

With this in mind, I have created an acronym for HOPE that elaborates upon four descriptions of the Lord that will help us understand why He is the One in whom we must put our hope and trust.

H.O.P.E.

H = Helper – Zechariah 4:6
John 14:26 NASV says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” In this verse, Holy Spirit comes from the Latin term paraclete that means advocate or helper. II Corinthians 5:7 tells us to walk by faith and not by sight, but as human beings this is hard for us to do. We tend to want to follow what we see and what we know in our heads, so we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to help us secure HOPE deep in our hearts.
In Zechariah 4:6, the Lord Almighty declares that victory is attained “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.” So, with this assurance, we can assume that Helper is an accurate word for the letter H in our acronym for HOPE. Only as the Holy Spirit helps us, can we grasp the assurance of hope.

O = Omniscient – Isaiah 55:8-9
Omniscience is defined as “the state of having total knowledge, the quality of knowing everything.” Although God is beyond our full understanding, He is omniscient. He is sovereign and knows all about all His creation. We serve a God who thinks about our lives, our world, and Yis creation on a completely different level than even the smartest human being can think. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.”
With this in mind, I have chosen Isaiah 55:8-9 as our scripture to describe how the omniscience of God is appropriate for the letter O in our acronym for HOPE. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

P = Perfect – Jeremiah 29:11
Psalm 18:30 begins by saying, “As for God, His way is perfectand Deuteronomy 32:4 declares,His works are perfect.” God is the only one who is perfect, being without sin or weakness. As I looked for a definition of perfect I read such phrases as “complete and right in every way; having nothing wrong” – “exactly right for a particular purpose or situation” – “being entirely without fault or defect.” I also think of the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy that describes the Lord as being “perfect in power, love, and purity.” God is the only one who is perfect!
When I want a reason to have hope in God, perfection is a good choice of words to use for the letter P in the acronym for HOPE. Jeremiah 29:11 supports this by stating, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

E = Emmanuel – Deuteronomy 31:8
When the angel announces that Mary will conceive a child by the Holy Spirit and have a son, it is declared in Matthew 1:23 that they shall call His name Emmanuel which is translated “God with us.” This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. In Genesis 28:15 the Lord says, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” Not only does He promise to be with us but He also promises to watch over us! So, if God is with us, we can rely upon His help because of what we previously said about the Holy Spirit being our Helper. And, we can trust His help because God is omniscient and perfect, also based on previous statements.
T
he choice of Emmanuel as an applicable word for the letter E of our acronym for HOPE is supported by the scripture found in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” It has been said that “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”

The anchor of HOPE prevented death from having a hold on Judy. I desire the anchor of hope to prevent hopelessness from having a hold on me. To us, our situation may look hopeless, but according to Mark 10:27, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” I like the New Living Translation of Hebrews 11:1 that says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” These are the words upon which I desire to anchor my heart to God’s heart.

I want to conclude by extending to all of you the message of Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Jesus, Chickens and Mothers

mother-and-child-2chickens-1Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
Proverbs 31:28

With this coming Sunday being designated as Mother’s Day, I want to take time to honor our mothers and fulfill Proverbs 31:28. However, I am pondering what qualifies a female to be a mother. I believe any woman who reflects a lifestyle of nurturing and caring for others is a mother. Motherly characteristics are exhibited not only by human beings, buy also by animals and birds. Jesus described His love for Jerusalem (a symbolic representation of all believers) as being like that of a mother hen. I am not saying Jesus or mothers are chickens! However, I think there is a revelation of Jesus’ love and a mother’s love when we look at the life of a chicken. I grew up on a farm and we had chickens, so maybe that is why I am attracted to this image today. Let’s see how we can tie together the hearts of Jesus, chickens, and all women who function in a mother role.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,
how often I have longed to gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
and you were not willing.
Matthew 23:37

When I read this verse from Matthew, I not only see a mother hen drawing her little chicks close to her body but I also picture Jesus doing the same with each of us as His children. I am reminded of the refrain of the old hymn Safe in the Arms of Jesus by Frances Crosby, “Safe in the arms of Jesus, Safe on His gentle breast; There by His love o’ershaded, Sweetly my soul shall rest.” Psalm 91:4 NLT says, “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” This image is similar to a picture of an earthly mother holding a baby in her loving, caring arms. There is a feeling of warmth and security as well as love when a baby chick, a believer in Christ, or a young child is snuggled near to the body of the one emanating love. 

As a young girl, I remember seeing the chickens running around in their open space while I was swinging on my tree swing. One of my recollections is of a mother hen leading her newborn chicks out for a walk. With the mother hen in the lead, five or six fluffy little chicks followed in a parade. The new hatchlings followed their mother wherever she went. They trusted her to lead them along the right path. Mothers of young children also lead and instruct their children. Proverbs 22:6 instructs moms (and everyone else) to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” David says in Psalm 25:4, “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.”

While living on the farm, there were occasions when I remember hearing a lot of squawking from the chickens. Usually it meant that some predatory animal, or even another chicken, was trying to attack a brood of young chicks. The one making the most noise was the mother hen who was trying to protect her defenseless chicks. If the attack was instigated by another chicken and her squawking was not enough of a deterrent, she would ruffle her feathers and attack. Psalm 121:7 says, The LORD will keep you from all harm– He will watch over your life.” The Lord watches over our lives, a mother hen watches over the lives of her chicks, and mothers watch over the lives of the children entrusted to them.

Jesus, chickens and mothers are not synonymous words, but it has been fun to search for similarities. While exhibiting love and compassion, mothers are also protective and defensive of their children. Their goal is to help their children grow and mature to be who God created them to be. Any woman who finds herself in the role of a mother is worthy of honor on Mother’s Day and every day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

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The CONS of Romans 8

bible-studyCON” is a simple three letter prefix, When it is combined with various letters of the alphabet, it creates a variety of words found in Romans 8. Join me in a search and study of these words.

Therefore, there is now no CONdemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Romans 8:1

To be condemned means to be proven guilty. To separate the syllables of condemn and then combine the meanings of the two syllables produces the meaning to be “with damnation.” Condemnation pronounces a strong negative judgment upon a person that may involve punishment. This first verse of Romans 8 assures us that there is no condemnation if we have a personal relationship with Jesus. John 3:17-18 assures us, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” We do not need to worry about being good enough to please God. Since Christ died for us, He will not condemn us as long as we personally embrace John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” As I continue reading in Romans, I find confirmation for the promise of no condemnation in Romans 8:34, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

So letting your sinful nature CONtrol your mind leads to death.
But letting the Spirit
CON
trol your mind leads to life and peace.
Romans 8:6 NLT

In this verse, we discover that we have a choice of how our minds are controlled. Our sinful nature leads us down the path of destruction while yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit offers us life. Romans 8:9 gives the assurance, “You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.” Only when we are controlled by the Holy Spirit are we be able to please God.

I CONsider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:8

When I consider, or think about, suffering, I become uneasy. I do not like the thought of enduring pain of any sort. However, we are not exempt from uncomfortable circumstances even though we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When reading a few more verses we come to the assurance of the benefit of our suffering. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This does not mean that everything that happens to us will be good, but it does mean that God is able to turn every situation around for His long term good . Another reassuring verse is II Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.” We will all encounter pain of some sort during our lives, so it is beneficial for us to consider how we will handle uncomfortable situations before we are confronted with it.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be
CONformed to the image of his Son,
that he might
be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Romans 8:29

To be conformed means to be made into a similar form or style. When I separate the syllables of the word, I create the definition “to be with formation.” To be conformed to the image of Christ is to be made into His likeness and character. A note in the Life Application Bible points out that as we become more like Christ, we discover our true selves – the person God created each of us to be. I John 3:2 says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

No, in all these things we are more than CONquerors
through him who loved us.
Romans 8:37

A conqueror is a person who overcomes such things as weakness or fear successfully. He or she is able to take control and cope with life’s challenges. To conquer often refers to overcoming by the use of military force. With this concept, I am reminded of Ephesians 6:10-11, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” The writer of Romans tells us that as Christian soldiers, we are more than conquerors. Looking specifically at Romans 8:31, Paul says, What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” This gives us confidence to think of ourselves as conquerors.

For I am CONvinced that neither death nor life, neither
angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth, 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

To be convinced means to firmly believe in the truth. It is very reassuring to know that when we have a personal relationship with Christ, He will never allow us to again be separated from Him. Going back to the first verse of this chapter, we were told that if we have asked Christ into our lives, we will not be condemned. However, to use another “con” word, Jesus will CONvict us but He will not CONdemn us. We need to be sensitive to conviction so we can repent of any sin and not live in fear of condemnation for the wrong we have done. Romans 2:4 states, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” We need to remember the truth of II Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

As we near the end of our study, I remind myself that the prefix CON means “with”. When I combine the promise of Philippians 4:13 with the definition of CON, I realize that with Christ I can do all things. I come to the CONclusion that I can be free of CONdemnation, I can allow my mind to CONtrolled by the Holy Spirit, I can CONsider the reality of suffering, I can be more than a CONqueror, and I can be CONfromed into the image of Christ. All of this is possible when I live my life with Christ! The prefix CON is small but powerful when CONnected with Christ!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Promises! Promises!

 


1400782535lioka
PERSONALIZE GOD’S PROMISES

Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said,
and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised.
Genesis 21:1
Today as I read this Genesis scripture, the Lord impressed upon me to personalize this verse and replace Sarah’s name with my own name. So I read, “The Lord did for Cheryl what He had promised.” (My Reader, I encourage you to insert your own name.) Yes, I can think of many times that the Lord has fulfilled His promises to me. For those times, I praise the Lord. I will not take time to tell of these positive promises, however, I encourage each of you to take time to personally reflect upon the manifestations of the Lord’s faithfulness to His promises in your life.
1400782535liokaGOD’S PERSPECTIVE OF PROMISES

Promises! Promises! I make promises to others. Others make promises to me. Although I intend to be faithful to my promises at the time of commitment, I do not always succeed. Because of my natural human inability to keep my word, I can be prone to doubt the devotedness of my supernatural God. How foolish of me because God always honors His promises recorded in scripture. I want to reassure myself of God’s faithfulness by reflecting upon scripture verses that declare a positive perspective
of His promises.

He has given us His very great and precious promises.
II Peter 1:4
(What an amazing gift the Lord has given to me!)

being fully persuaded that God had power to do
what He had promised.
Romans 4:21
(My goal is to be completely confident that God will carry out His promises.
He is able to do what He says, but do I wholeheartedly expect Him to do it?)

Not one of all the Lord’s good promises
to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
Joshua 21:45
(He is incredible!)

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Psalm 138:8
(I can depend upon His faithfulness to carry out His Word for me!) 
1400782535liokaMY PERSPECTIVE OF GOD’S PROMISES

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33
I must embrace the totality of any promise Jesus gives. I cannot hit the delete key for any of the words of the Bible and twist God’s promises to my advantage. Although I like the beginning of this promise in John 16 that Jesus made, I am not quick to want to accept the second part. I cling to the promise of peace but want to push the thought of trouble out of my mind. In reality, I can appreciate the promise of peace more after a trial of trouble. God sees a bigger picture for the fulfillment of His promises than what I perceive.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8
Another thing I need to remember about God’s promises is that they may not be manifested in the way or according to the timeline I might expect. God’s thoughts and ways are so much deeper than mine! Consequently, the way He chooses to do what He declares will be better for how He wants to fulfill His plans and purposes in my life.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

The best perspective I can have regarding the Lord’s promises is that He know
s best! He fulfills His promises in the perfect way for me personally. I must not add or subtract from His complete promises and I must have faith in His wisdom and faithfulness. 1400782535liokaPERSONALLY APPLYING GOD’S PROMISES

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Psalm 138:8
I began my inserting my name instead of Sarah’s name in Genesis 21:1 and now I conclude by replacing the pronoun me in Psalm 138:8 with my personal name. (My Reader, you can do the same.) I think again about God’s promise to Sarah in Genesis. God was faithful to her having a son even though she had to wait until she was 90 years old. This was the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abram, her husband, back in Genesis 12 when he was 75 years old. It took 25 years for God to do what He promised! When I consider this promise, postponement, and performance, I understand the predictability of my positive God! God never left Abraham and Sarah and He was faithful to His promise even through their son Isaac was not born according to the timeline expected by the couple. If I intend to place my name within this scriptural promise, I must believe that God will fulfill His promise according to His plan and purpose.
God’s promises are wonderful even though the manifestation may not be
according  to my expectations.

The Lord shall not turn back until He has executed
and accomplished the thoughts and intents of His mind.
Jeremiah 30:24
My Reader, here is one promise I can make to you that I know will not be broken. It is not my promise – it is God’s promise.

Joyfully,
Cheryl,
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Forgiveness – Receive and Give

prayer-man2

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.]
Matthew 6:9-13

lentMy Reader, is it easier for you to receive forgiveness from someone who has offended you or for you to ask someone to forgive you for offending them? Neither act is easy and both acts require humility. I will admit that I find it is easier to say “I forgive you” than to say “please forgive me”. However, it can still be hard for me to fully forgive and forget. Actually, God does not tell us that we have to forget because we can often learn from the offense we have experienced. However, we must not hold the offense against the other person and allow it to hinder our relationship with them. I found the following statement as a notation in the Life Application Bible, “You have to admit you need forgiveness before you can accept it.” That is certainly something for me to ponder!

Let’s immerse ourselves into the concept of forgiveness as we continue our exploration of the paradigm for prayer given to us by Jesus. Each week we are taken deeper into the Lord’s Prayer as we continue our expedition during this Lenten season.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Matthew 6:12

Once again, we will focus upon specific highlighted words as we unpack the meaning of this verse of scripture.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our
debtors.

Debts and debtors are the first words we will study. These are the words used in most translations of the Bible for Matthew 6:12. The Greek word for “debts” is ophelilema and it means “that which is owed.” Opheiletes is the Greek word for debtors and means “one who owes another.” I grew up in a mainline denominational church that prayed the Lord’s Prayer saying, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Why the different choice of words? When I read Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV, it says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.These verses are the basis for the alternate wording of the Lord’s Prayer. No matter what terms one is most familiar with, the concept we are dealing with in Matthew 6:12 concerns the need of our asking for forgiveness and extending forgiveness for our debts or trespasses or sins or mistakes or shortcomings.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have f
orgiven
our debtors.
I notice the word “forgive” in the first line followed by “forgiven” in the second line of this scripture. Forgiveness is found on a two-way street. One way I travel requires me to ask God to forgive me while the other direction of travel says I am to forgive others. Everyone sins so we all need to seek God’s forgiveness. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So, what is the solution for my sinfulness? Jesus is the answer! II Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” One of the names for Jesus I highlighted on February 17 in the blog post What Is in a Name? was Jehovah-tsidkenu that means “The LORD Our Righteousness.” Although Romans 3:10 says, “”There is no one righteous, not even one;” when we cry out to Jesus for forgiveness He restores us into right relationship with Him again. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins (ask for forgiveness), he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (my emphasis) I said earlier that everyone sins. Now I highlight that everyone needs to be forgiven and to forgive others.

OK, I understand how I can receive God’s forgiveness when I ask Him to forgive me for the ways I have hurt or offended Him. This requires humility but I can do it! However, I notice that in order for God to fully forgive me, He asks that I forgive others who have hurt me. I may not want to do this, but I remind myself of my analogy of forgiveness being a two-way street. I must ask, “How can I expect my Heavenly Father to forgive my sins if I am not willing to forgive those who sin against me?” A note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible says, “Prayer for forgiveness is qualified by a readiness to forgive personal injury.” This is what makes forgiveness hard! No one likes to be hurt. And, if I am hurt, I often like to keep the wound open by replaying in my mind what happened to cause the injury. This really is not a healthy thing for me to do. One of the reasons the Lord asks us to forgive others is that forgiveness frees us from the bondage of our hurts. Healing comes after forgiveness. Our extension of forgiveness to the one who has hurt us also frees the Lord to work in the life of the person who sinned against us in the first place. We are to let go and let God do His work of restoration in the lives of everyone involved. When I have trouble forgiving another person, I often find it helpful for me to pray the prayer Jesus prayed for those who were crucifying Him. Jesus simply prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they doin Luke 23:34. In this verse, I notice that Jesus asked His Heavenly Father to forgive them. This allows me to ask the Holy Spirit to help me forgive others when I am not able to do so on my own.

And forgive us our debts,
as
we also have forgiven our
debtors.
The use of three little pronouns four times is significant. All of these words are plural. When I consider that Jesus used the words “Forgive us our debts,” I believe that He was emphasizing that all of us have a need for giving and receiving forgiveness. I agree! However, I think that each of us also should pray this phrase of the Lord’s Prayer on a more personal level. I need to examine my heart to see what sins I have committed for which I may need to specifically ask forgiveness. I also need to ask myself if there is any person I need to forgive. My Reader, I encourage you this week to pray this prayer guideline as follows, “Forgive me my debts, as I also have forgiven my debtors.” You might also like to study on your own the Parable on Forgiveness found in Matthew 18:21-35. I like the words that conclude of this parable, “forgive your brother from your heart.” Will you follow these words of Jesus?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new