FORGIVE YOURSELF

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me;  my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. – Psalm 32:1-5

INTRODUCTION

Forgiveness from Jesus Christ is like a recording of the bad stuff in our lives being wiped completely clean. Forgiveness is never easy. We all know how hard it is to forgive others. However, we often assume that forgiveness from God is almost automatic. In the passage for today we see the very high cost and huge blessing of God’s forgiveness. As P.T. Forsyth pointed out, first, you have to know the ‘despair of guilt’. Then you can appreciate ‘the breathless wonder of forgiveness’.

  1. Experience the relief of forgiveness

Do you ever find it difficult to forgive other people or even to forgive yourself for something you have done? The key to forgiving others and yourself is, knowing how much God has forgiven you. Forgiven people forgive.

As C.S. Lewis pointed out, ‘To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.’ As far as forgiving yourself is concerned, he wrote, ‘If God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than him.’

Through Jesus, God has made total forgiveness available to you and me. In this psalm, we see the huge difference that God’s forgiveness makes.

Release from the hand of judgment – David describes the spiritual agony of not being forgiven: ‘My bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer’.

Transparency with God – The route to forgiveness is simply to come to the Lord with no mask or pretence: ‘Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” – and you forgave the guilt of my sin’.

A fresh start – David describes the enormous blessing of knowing you are forgiven: ‘Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit’. Imagine that in our diaries were recorded, not just our engagements and meetings, but also all our sins. The first two verses of this psalm give us three pictures of what God does with your sins. First, ‘the Lord does not count’ your sins against you. He acts as though they do not exist.

Second, they are ‘covered’. It is as if God gets out his heavenly eraser and rubs out the sinful entries in your diary: ‘Your slate’s wiped clean’ (v.1, MSG). Third, they are ‘forgiven’ (v.1a). Literally that word means ‘removed’ or ‘taken away’. The pages relating to your sins are ripped out and destroyed. ‘You get a fresh start’.

The apostle Paul quotes this psalm as evidence that through the death of Jesus for you, God credits you with righteousness by faith and that forgiveness is not something that you can earn by good works (see Romans 4:6-8). Through the cross, God restores you to a right relationship with him. Therefore, you can pray to Him (Psalm 32:6a). He becomes your ‘hiding-place’. He protects you from trouble. He guides us and His ‘unfailing love surrounds’ us. This is not earned by good works. It comes to the person who trusts in Him by faith. A proper understanding of the Old Testament shows that the path to forgiveness is repentance and faith.

Forgiveness is not a reason to sinit is an incentive not to sin. We want to stay on God’s paths. He promises that he will guide you: ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you’. He does not want you to be difficult to guide like a horse or a mule that must be controlled by bit and bridle (v.9). He wants you to avoid the pain of resisting the Holy Spirit. Follow the promptings of God’s Spirit. He wants you to hear his voice daily, listen to his instruction, walk in his ways and trust in his love.

Lord, thank you that you died for me on the cross so that I can know the relief of forgiveness. I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life… Please forgive me.

  1. Thank Jesus for paying the price of forgiveness – Mark 15:33-47

Take time today to thank Jesus for dying for you. Jesus paid a very high price for our forgiveness. Forgiveness is not easy, but Jesus made it possible. Jesus did die on the cross for us. Sometimes people suggest that Jesus did not really die on the cross but recovered in the cool of the tomb.

However, Pilate checked that he was indeed ‘already dead’. The centurion who had overseen the crucifixion confirmed that Jesus was actually dead. Roman soldiers were experts at carrying out crucifixions. The centurion would also have faced severe punishment himself if he let a living prisoner go.

Joseph of Arimathea ‘took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock’. Joseph would have noticed if Jesus was still alive and breathing. He would not have buried a living Jesus. Jesus was ‘God-forsaken’ because of our sins. ‘… darkness came over the whole land’ (v.33). Jesus cried out, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’. Mark retains the original Aramaic words of Jesus, which mean, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’.  Jesus opened the way for forgiveness and entry into the presence of God

The curtain of the temple (see in today’s Old Testament passage, Leviticus 24:3), which was what separated people from the presence of God, was torn in two supernaturally by God from top to bottom. It was sixty feet high and at least, one inch thick. The fact that it was torn from top down (where humans could not reach it) emphasises that it was God who caused it to be torn.

This symbolised the fact that through the death of Jesus you are given access to God, because your sins are forgiven. God credits you with righteousness and allows you and me the immense privilege of an intimate relationship with him.

Lord Jesus, thank you that ‘you loved me and gave [yourself] for me’ (Galatians 2:20). Thank you that I can now enter the presence of God with boldness and confidence in your name.

  1. Understand that forgiveness is earned not by us but for us – Leviticus 23:1-24:23

We see in the Old Testament how seriously sin is taken. It is not a trivial matter. And forgiveness is not to be taken for granted. Justice required an equivalence: ‘Life for life’ (24:18); ‘fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ (v.20). This was never intended for personal relationships but for the law courts to prevent escalating violence. It showed the need of the appropriateness of a penalty for sin (incidentally, it was under this law of blasphemy, vv.10–16, that Jesus himself was condemned to death as we saw in Mark 14:64).

Again, we see Jesus’ death foreshadowed. Forgiveness of sins requires sacrifice, it requires a lamb. The lamb must be perfect, ‘without defect’ (Leviticus 23:12). St Paul describes Jesus as ‘our Passover lamb [who] has been sacrificed’ (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Forgiveness cannot be earned. On the Day of Atonement, ‘atonement is made for you’ (Leviticus 23:28). It is not made by you but for you. This is the radical and revolutionary teaching of the whole Bible. When you understand how forgiveness is made possible through Jesus, it takes your breath away and it totally transforms your life. And when you know that you have received total forgiveness from God, you have to forgive others and you have to forgive yourself.

Lord Jesus, thank you that you have set me free from all these Old Testament laws. Thank you that you are ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29). Thank you that you made atonement for me. Thank you for the breathless wonder of your forgiveness that transforms my life and eternity.

At such a crucial moment in history, when Jesus is defeating the powers of darkness, all his disciples and many followers deserted him. But the women were there at the cross. What bravery and loyalty! In a culture where women seemed to be almost ignored, Jesus empowered them: ‘Many other women who had come up with Him to Jerusalem were also there’ (Mark 15:41). You sense a movement!

 

Stay blessed!

For further inquiries please contact us on Tel Nos. 0302-772013 or 0268130615

Email: saltnlightministries@gmail.com
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saltandlightministriesgh.org

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ANGER?

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. – James 1:19-20

INTRODUCTION

Handling anger is an important life skill.  Anger can shatter communication and tear apart relationships, and it ruins both the joy and health of many. Sadly, people tend to justify their anger instead of accepting responsibility for it. Everyone struggles, to varying degrees, with anger. Thankfully, God’s Word contains principles regarding how to handle anger in a godly manner, and how to overcome sinful anger.

Anger is not always sin. There is a type of anger of which the Bible approves, often called “righteous indignation.” God is angry (Psalm 7:11; Mark 3:5), and believers are commanded to be angry (Ephesians 4:26). Two Greek words in the New Testament are translated as “anger.” One means “passion, energy” and the other means “agitated, boiling.” Biblically, anger is God-given energy intended to help us solve problems. Examples of biblical anger include David’s being upset over hearing Nathan the prophet sharing an injustice (2 Samuel 12) and Jesus’ anger over how some of the Jews had defiled worship at God’s temple in Jerusalem (John 2:13-18). Notice that neither of these examples of anger involved self-defense, but a defense of others or of a principle.

Anger and Injustice

That being said, it is important to recognize that anger at an injustice inflicted against oneself is also appropriate. Anger has been said to be a warning flag-it alerts us to those times when others are attempting to or have violated our boundaries. God cares for each individual. Sadly, we do not always stand up for one another, meaning that sometimes we must stand up for ourselves. This is especially important when considering the anger that victims often feel. Victims of abuse, violent crime, or the like have been violated in some way. Often while experiencing the trauma, they do not experience anger. Later, in working through the trauma, anger will emerge. For a victim to reach a place of true health and forgiveness, he or she must first accept the trauma for what it was. In order to fully accept that an act was unjust, one must sometimes experience anger. Because of the complexities of trauma recovery, this anger is often not short-lived, particularly for victims of abuse. Victims should process through their anger and come to a place of acceptance, even forgiveness. This is often a long journey. As God heals the victim, the victim’s emotions, including anger, will follow. Allowing the process to occur does not mean the person is living in sin.

Anger and Pride

Anger can become sinful when it is motivated by pride, when it is unproductive and thus distorts God’s purposes, or when anger is allowed to linger. One obvious sign that anger has turned to sin is when, instead of attacking the problem at hand, we attack the wrongdoer. Ephesians 4:15-19 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips. Unfortunately, this poisonous speech is a common characteristic of fallen man. Anger becomes sin when it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which hurt is multiplied, leaving devastation in its wake. Often, the consequences of out-of-control anger are irreparable. Anger also becomes sin when the angry one refuses to be pacified, holds a grudge, or keeps it all inside. This can cause depression and irritability over little things, which are often unrelated to the underlying problem.

Handling Anger Biblically

  1. We can handle anger biblically by recognizing and admitting our prideful anger and/or our wrong handling of anger as sin (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9). This confession should be both to God and to those who have been hurt by our anger. We should not minimize the sin by excusing it or blame-shifting. We can handle anger biblically by seeing God in the trial. This is especially important when people have done something to offend us. James 1:2-4, Romans 8:28-29, and Genesis 50:20 all point to the fact that God is sovereign over every circumstance and person that crosses our path. Nothing happens to us that He does not cause or allow. Though God does allow bad things to happen, He is always faithful to redeem them for the good of His people. God is a good God (Psalm 145:8, 9, 17). Reflecting on this truth until it moves from our heads to our hearts will alter how we react to those who hurt us.
  2. We can handle anger biblically by making room for God’s wrath. This is especially important in cases of injustice, when “evil” men abuse “innocent” people. Genesis 50:19 and Romans 12:19 both tell us to not play God. God is righteous and just, and we can trust Him who knows all and sees all to act justly (Genesis 18:25).
  3. We can handle anger biblically by returning good for evil (Genesis 50:21; Romans 12:21). This is key to converting our anger into love. As our actions flow from our hearts, so also our hearts can be altered by our actions (Matthew 5:43-48). That is, we can change our feelings toward another by changing how we choose to act toward that person.
  4. 4. We can handle anger biblically by communicating to solve the problem. There are four basic rules of communication shared in Ephesians 4:15, 25-32.
  5. a) Be honest and speak. People cannot read our minds. We must speak the truth in love.
  6. b) Stay current. We must not allow what is bothering us to build up until we lose control. It is important to deal with what is bothering us before it reaches critical mass.
  7. c) Attack the problem, not the person. Along this line, we must remember the importance of keeping the volume of our voices low.
  8. d) Act, don’t react. Because of our fallen nature, our first impulse is often a sinful one. The time spent in “counting to ten” should be used to reflect upon the godly way to respond and to remind ourselves how the energy anger provides should be used to solve problems and not create bigger ones.
  9. At times we can handle anger preemptively by putting up stricter boundaries. We are told to be discerning (1 Corinthians 2:15-16; Matthew 10:16). We need not “cast our pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6). Sometimes our anger leads us to recognize that certain people are unsafe for us. We can still forgive them, but we may choose not to re-enter the relationship.

Conclusion

Finally, we must act to solve our part of the problem (Romans 12:18). We cannot control how others act or respond, but we can make the changes that need to be made on our part. Overcoming a temper is not accomplished overnight. But through prayer, Bible study, and reliance upon God’s Holy Spirit, ungodly anger can be overcome. We may have allowed anger to become entrenched in our lives by habitual practice, but we can also practice responding correctly until that, too, becomes a habit and God is glorified in our response.

Stay blessed!

Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sundays 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays 5:30 am; and Uniiq 95.7 Fm – Saturdays 7:30 pm; for our Radio Bible Study as well as Sunny FM 88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymns and their Stories.

CHARACTER AND CONDUCT

He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known. – Proverbs 10:9

INTRODUCTION

Your character and conduct are everything. They determine if God will bless or curse you, if you will succeed in life or not, or if others will discover you are a fool. A successful life lived confidently and securely is far better than being exposed for sins.

A man or woman that walks uprightly is one with great character and conduct – always doing what is right as defined by God in the Bible. This is no cheap talk – this is walking the walk. Such a person’s conduct matches God’s standard of right and good. The promised reward is His blessing, life success, and no fear of hypocrisy being discovered.

A person with low character perverts his ways – choosing to do what he thinks is right, without total submission to God and His word. He often covers his cheating choices with pious pretensions, but God will curse him, he will fail, and his hypocrisy will be exposed.

Doing things strictly by God’s word, which is the only right way to do anything, makes for a sure life of blessing and success. Perverting things, or choosing to do them even slightly different than what the Bible says, leads to trouble and humiliation. Guaranteed!

What is your character? Read carefully. It is the traits that define or describe you, what you are other than biological factors, the code of conduct that rules your actions, the discipline or defaults for what you do, and the lifestyle that makes up your reputation.

A consistent life of godliness will keep a man confident, and God’s favor will keep him from stumbling. But rejecting instruction and wisdom, and choosing his own way, will lead a man to pain and suffering, and his perverse rebellion will be revealed to others.

The sister proverb declares, “Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once” – Proverbs 28:18. The slight variation in wording helps fill out the full sense of the warning. The upright man will be blessed and safe from trouble in his life, but the perverse man will definitely and suddenly fall into trouble.

The proverb you are considering adds that secret hypocrisy and hidden rebellion will be exposed and known. The man who chose to do things his way will be ridiculed by others, for they will clearly see that he cheated and compromised godly wisdom. Though he flattered himself that he had better insight, he will later hate his foolish choice (Psalm 36:2).

Zophar bluntly reminded Job about hypocrites by saying, “Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; Yet he shall perish forever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he?” – Job 20:4-7. Judas and Ananias perverted the way of the Lord, and their judgments are well known, the former hung himself by God’s judgment, and the latter was killed directly by God (Matt 27:3-5; Acts 1:18; 5:1-11).

A sincere and faithful man, who walks righteously before God and men, will be secure in his conscience, in the blessings of God on his life, and in safety from trouble. Reader, this is the good life. This describes a great man. Where are you tempted to compromise? Where are you playing with folly or sin in your life? Repent!

This man is single minded with no fear of detection, for he has never practiced deceit or hypocrisy. He neither fears devils or wicked men, for God is his helper and heaven his home. He will not fear the future, for his heart and steps are fixed in God’s word. He knows that God is with him, regardless of what men may think. He knows that difficulties for other men will not defeat or destroy him. He is confident and secure.

But the man who chooses sin and perverts the way of righteousness will fall for sure, and all men will know his secret and selfish pride and perversity. To disobey is truly to be perverse, for it is corruption of, and rebellion against, God’s wisdom. Perversity is God’s word for disobedience, and you should respect the seriousness of disobeying (Job 33:27).

Sin has consequences, and the hypocrite cannot hide his foolish heart and private life for long. He shall fall at once, and good men will see his perverse practices being the cause of the fall (Pr 26:24-26). Noble saints will even pray for his exposure (Ps 144:7-8,11). 

Though such a man thinks he has hid his sin, the Lord sees every motive of his heart and every hidden act. If he makes it to the grave with his lying pretense in place, it will show up in his family and/or in the Day of Judgment (Eccl 12:14; Luke 12:1-5; I Tim 5:24).

Upright men are commended, but perverse men will be despised (Pr 12:8). Upright men fear the Lord, but perverse men despise him by their actions, no matter what they say (Pr 14:2). It is better to be a poor upright man than to be a rich perverse man (Pr 28:6).

The man who walks obediently with the Lord Jesus Christ is the surest of them all (Heb 13:5-6). He is content and confident, and the Lord will be with him when all men desert him (II Tim 4:16-18). Paul was not ashamed of his despised life, for he knew Whom he had believed (II Tim 1:12).

Beloved, are you walking surely with the Lord this day?

Stay blessed!

Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sundays 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays 5:30 am; and Uniiq 95.7 Fm – Saturdays 7:30 pm; for our Radio Bible Study as well as Sunny FM 88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymns and their Stories.

 

 

 

THE MEANING OF JESUS SUFFERING

“Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted.  But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to His own way; and the LORD has laid con Him the iniquity of us all” – Isaiah 53:4-6 NIV.

 

INTRODUCTION

30th March, 2018 is Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  On that day, over two thousand years ago, Jesus was crucified in a very cruel way.  It was a painful death but it was also dramatic, symbolic and fulfillment of prophecy.  On that day darkness covered the earth for three hours!  And the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the rest of the Temple was torn into two, from top to bottom so that we could have complete access to God.  Jesus by His suffering on the cross, bridged the gap between us and the Holy God.

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THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to the, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her.  Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” – Matt. 21:1-3 (NIV)

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RESURRECTION LIFE

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:18-19

 

Introduction:
As we prepare to celebrate Easter please join me to study these thought provoking devotionals from Oswald Chambers called “My Utmost For His Highest”.  It is my conviction that God will touch our hearts in a special way.  He declares that He is doing a new thing. Let us lay hold of what He has for us.

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IN THE CROSS OF CHRIST I GLORY

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the word – Galatians 6:14 NIV.

Introduction                                                                                                                                                                      

In our day the cross has become a piece of jewelry.  It is something attractive that people identify with.  A polite person would not even mention the cross in public.  It would be like our talking about the gallows or the gas chamber or the electric chair.  Nailing someone to a cross was the worst form of execution in Paul’s day.

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THE JOY OF RESTORATION

“Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” – Psalm 51:11-12 (NIV)

 

Introduction

Restoration brings a great feeling of warmth, love and acceptance. If anybody understands what it means to be restored to fellowship with God, it is Peter the apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and one of the members of His inner circle.

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