Forgiveness

Hallelujah, Sung by Emma

womanwashingjesusfeetJesus was once having dinner with a religious leader when suddenly, in walks a woman who had a reputation for living a sinful life. She is at Jesus feet, sobbing. She washes Jesus feet with her tears and dries them with her hair, kisses his feet and anoints them with perfume.

It was an incredible humbling and extravagant act of gratitude. She had found redemption. She had found grace. She had found forgiveness. (Read the full story below)

I have been sharing this story for a month or more at my nursing home concerts. This story inspired a new verse to a song that I have been singing to my girls for the past several months. It is extremely popular around our house and currently my two year old’s favorite song. I am sure you know it as well. “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen.

There is hardly a day that goes by that my Emma doesn’t ask me to sing this song to her. Sometimes she drags my guitar or Ukulele across the room to have me play it for her.

Here is the new verse:

“Those who’ve been forgiven more,
respond with love to the Lord,
So remember all the grace He’s given to ya.
He pursues you when you go astray,
When you choose wrong and lose your way
Forgiveness gives you back your Hallelujah!”

I love those last few lines and have felt the Holy Spirits smile and presence at times when I sing it. Forgiveness gives you back your Hallelujah!

Please leave me a comment and be sure to subscribe.

From the Gospel of Luke:

Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”” (Luke 7 NIV)

Categories: Forgiveness, Gospel, Grace, Redemption | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tribute to DJ, Example of Forgiveness

Tribute to DJ, Harmonica Player, Example of Forgiveness

Categories: Following Jesus, Forgiveness | Tags: | 1 Comment

Will God Forgive You For Anything?

I once had a conversation with a friend and co-worker about Jesus and forgiveness. He could not believe that God would forgive him for sleeping with his best friends wife. He was overwhelmed with guilt.

I tried to tell him that God forgives all and every and any sin. It fell on deaf ears.

A while ago a Christian brother and I prayed with a man who admitted to rape and murder. He too was so overcome by guilt he could not receive our prayers or God’s forgiveness. I didn’t know whether to turn him in or what. Apparently he “got away with it”.

I am a firm believer that justice does and will prevail no matter what. No one, no where, ever “gets away with it”. The guilty may be out of prison or jail but they are constantly being hounded and tormented by they weight of their guilt. We reap what we sow.

I am reminded of the movie The Machinist with Christian Bale. What an amazing film. Christian Bale starved himself (read more) in preparing for his role as an insomniac, emaciated, delusional character who as it turns out SPOILER ALERT!!! (skip to next paragraph if you want to watch this for yourself!) is haunted by a suppressed memory of a crime he had committed. He finally turns himself in and finds some peace.

I once met a man in the Spokane homeless shelter. He had been on the run for years all over the country and lived as a nameless homeless man. He too was haunted by his past and guilt over something he had done which led to a warrant for his arrest being issued in Spokane. He was back in town to after all these years turn himself in. Jesus had done a marvelous work in his life and he had finally found peace and was ready to face the consequences for his actions.

He turned himself in and to his complete surprise, they could find no record of him committing a crime and no record of his warrant. He was free to go. I saw him shortly after that and didn’t recognize him at all. He had a beaming smile and a new lease on life.

I often wonder what would have happened if King David, instead of trying to hide his adultery and have Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed, if he instead confessed his sin to his friend Uriah and begged his forgiveness. Would Uriah have tried to kill him in a rage? If it were me I might have. No doubt this was a very real fear for David as he weighed his options.

Instead of repenting, he chose to compound his sin and guilt… and still God forgave him. There were serious consequences that plagued him the rest of his days however, but he was forgiven and embraced back into sweet fellowship with God.

After his repentance the baby died. After David’s moral failure the enemy had access to his family in the area of sexual deviance. His son Amnon raped his sister Tamar and destroyed her life. Another brother Absalom then kills Amnon and later tries to seize the throne. To incite the people to join him and to convince them how serious he was in his rebellion to his father David, Absalom publicly sleeps with several of Davids concubines.

These are the kinds of consequences that David suffers for his moment of passion with another man’s wife and his subsequent cover up. We don’t actually “get away” with anything. We reap what we sow. Our sin will affect our children and our children’s children and everyone else around us. Your sin becomes part of your legacy. This is how you affected the world and you have to live with that. But you can change your legacy! Your sin can be forgiven and forgotten for all eternity!

David was forgiven. He changed his legacy. As all the consequences for his sin unfolded in his life, he enjoyed the wonderful bliss of a reconciled relationship with God (who is love) as soon as he repented. But… not a moment sooner.

If any of us want to enjoy the awesome friendship of God as some of the consequences for our sin continue to play out, then we must repent. If we’d rather be miserable and alone as our sin wreaks its havoc and continue to compound our sin and our guilt and our agony, eventually leading to its horrifying abysmal end, then don’t repent. These are the only two options.

Unfortunately the default is the latter option… to do nothing. You actually must take action to repent. To not repent requires no action on your part whatsoever. Put on another movie and distract yourself until your dead. Another misspent life down the toilet bowl of the universe. Forgive me for being feces-ish I mean facetious.

Our sin is serious. So serious that Jesus actually had to die an agonizing death on a cross and most of all suffer the rejection of his Father and bear all the righteous wrath of God for sin on the blackest day ever to repair the rift and discord in the universe that our sin has caused. Our sin will also cause you to miss our purpose, mainly to be loved and then to love others and whatever else it is that God had foreordained for us to accomplish in our short time here. We are, after all, his masterpiece created for good works. We get to repent! You get to repent! God is granting us the privilege of repenting from that which causes us harm! AWESOME!!!

Repentance means having a change of mind. It is taking on a whole new paradigm for how to view reality through God’s eyes. Have a change of mind about who God is, and change your mind about sin. It involves leaving sin (your idols) and coming to Christ. It means to stop trying to be your own god and submit to the only true God who is love. Just think, we get to surrender to love!

“And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things.” Luke 24:46-48 NLT

So yes, God will forgive you for anything but you must repent. What do you need to repent of? What do you need to turn yourself in for to God (or even to the authorities)? Take it to the LORD. David gave us a wonderful glimpse into the prayer he prayed to get right with God. He encourages us to learn from his example and use his prayer as our own:

Psalm 51
New Living Translation (NLT)

A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
5 For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.
7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
that my mouth may praise you.
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Some really serious sinners have found grace and redemption in Jesus Christ. No, you haven’t out-sinned God’s grace because, “Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds”. Grace is always shown to be greater. Its his trump card. You played your hand of rebellion and sin and you thought you had him beat. He plays the grace card and wins… your heart.

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Categories: Forgiveness, Repentance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Beauty of Redemption

I am finally sharing this post after years of having a particular movie come back to mind time and time again. It continues to bless me with a glimpse of God’s redemption.

The Razor’s Edge is a movie in which Bill Murray plays Larry. Shortly after WWI, Larry goes on a quest to find truth, to find something worth living for, to find a purpose to life. He was not content to simply be who everyone else expected him to be, living the status quo life he saw all around him. No, he wanted more.

And so he parts ways with the girl he was seeing at the time, Isabel, and goes off for a year to tour the world, eventually finding himself up on a snowy mountain peak in Nepal. At the end of the year he returns to London to learn that Isabel had married one of Larry’s wealthy and influential friends.

One night, while all three of them were out to dinner together they saw in the restaurant an old friend of theirs named Sophie. Isabel related the gossip about her. Evidently she had gotten mixed up with drugs and alcohol and even worse had now resorted to prostitution. Right then and there Larry decides to rescue Sophie.

Larry takes Sophie home with him, to save her. He convinces her to stay with him each new day and they spend the days just enjoying life. Picnics, outings on the lake, long walks, good conversation… Soon the light comes back to Sophie’s eyes. She remembers what it was to have fun, to laugh again, to really be alive. She has hope.

It was in this unselfish daily outpouring of redeeming love, giving worth to Sophie, and restoring the beauty of her soul that Larry finds what he was looking for all along. He finds meaning and truth in true love. He never so much as makes a reference to her past. But instead he gently woos her, wins her confidence and trust and eventually her heart.

After many days Larry and Sophie become engaged, but Isabel, though married to another, is jealous and sabotages Sophie. She cuts her down with snide remarks and tells her that she doesn’t deserve to be loved by Larry. She doesn’t hesitate to remind her of her past and her words find their mark. Sophie is devastated and begins to drink a bottle of alcohol, a gift from Isabel.

Sophie leaves. When Larry learns that she is gone, he is soon in desperate search of her. Sadly, he learns that Sophie had returned to her old life and finds her at the brothel, drugged up, drunk, and surrounded by wicked men. He pleads with her to come home with him and she replies, “Don’t you see, you’re better off without me.” The men throw him out and beat him up as he struggles to rescue her.

The next day Sophie is found dead, floating in the river.

——–

In this story, I see the heart of God for us. We are “Sophie”. We all need a Savior to come to our rescue, sweep us off our feet, and show us how to live, laugh, and love again. But, our story could end as tragically as Sophie’s if we aren’t careful. We have to fight to embrace the love of Jesus. While it may be true that we don’t deserve God’s outrageous love, that doesn’t matter to him. It isn’t about what we deserve at all. It’s all about his passionate love for us.

There is a verse that saved my life found in 1 John 4:18:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” NIV

or, as another translation puts it:

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” NLT

This verse gives me hope, that though I may still fear, it’s only because I haven’t quite yet grasped God’s perfect love for me. His love is still there. It still remains to be discovered, embraced and that’s encouraging! And then there’s that whole thing about punishment. Let me ask you, are there any sins left to be punished if Jesus took them all at the cross?

What remains then is, will we receive his love? Will we fight for that love, to hang on to that love? (Romans 8)

God will indeed receive you and lavish such love on you, never to mention the ways you went wrong in the past. But, you must not allow the devil to lie to you, and tear you away from the one who loves you so much that he would die for you (and he did). You must hang on to the hope that Jesus offers you. You need to believe!

There is a similar story found early in the book of Hosea in the Bible. Through this story God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute. Hosea’s wife then leaves him and gets mixed up with other men. Hosea searches for her and when he finds her, he even has to pay a ransom to buy his own wife back.

God orchestrated this story in Hosea’s life to represent God’s relationship with his people. That even though we have been, and are, unfaithful to him, as Hosea’s wife was to him, and even though we cheat on him with our sins, God still loves us. He will not divorce us as his people but will restore us and redeem us… if that’s what we want.

“God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

He doesn’t even wait for our hearts to turn toward him to redeem us. He redeemed us even when we still loved our sin. Even when we are still pursuing our wicked ways, he died for us. This is what Jesus has done for you and me at the cross.

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrated his love toward us in this, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

It is Christ’s death that redeems us from death. It is Jesus who came to our rescue while we were still “in the whorehouse”. He will restore life and beauty to our souls.

One more note. We also must be careful not to play the part of Isabel in other people’s lives. Jesus wants everyone to come to the table of his love and grace. We cannot be obstacles to people coming to Jesus. There is room for everyone and we must not make it about who deserves to come and who is more righteous than the next and who deserves his approval more. No one deserves the extravagant love of God. But God is desperate that everyone knows his generous love and redemption.

Redemption is such a beautiful thing!

Always remember this:

You are loved outrageously by an outrageously loving God!

Love, by Jaeson Ma:

ps. Read Luke 15. This is the Father’s attitude toward us, and relates perfectly to this post:

Luke 15  (NLT)

1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[b]’

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

Categories: Forgiveness, Redemption | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Be like Anne!

I was reading the story of David and Saul to Ellie last night and was struck by Sauls response to David after he spared his life:

“You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil. Yes, you have been amazingly kind to me today, for when the Lord put me in a place where you could have killed me, you didn’t do it. Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the Lord reward you well for the kindness you have shown me today.  And now I realize that you are surely going to be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will flourish under your rule. Now swear to me by the Lord that when that happens you will not kill my family and destroy my line of descendants!” (1 Samuel 24:17-21 NLT)

(Read the whole story here)

“So what do we do when someone is mean to us and treats us badly?” I asked Ellie. “We treat them with kindness and we love them and maybe even bring them a gift”, I told her.

This reminded me of watching Anne of Green Gables awhile ago with my wife. I was so impressed with Annes zest for life and just how truly full of life she was. One scene that stuck with me was the transformation of one of Annes enemies. She was a jealous and bitter woman that worked with Anne at her first teaching job and made her life so difficult. At every opportunity Anne just responded with kindness and love and finally won her over earning her trust. She in turn became one of Annes dearest friends and “came to life” herself. It was beautiful.

I shared all this at my concert today and asked the group, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to see this played out in real life? In our own lives? Are there people in our lives who are mistreating us that we can respond with kindness, show love, or even give a gift?

How about you? Is there someone like that in your life? I know there is in mine.

I can’t wait to see what God will do and what former enemies will become dearest friends as we do as Jesus taught us:

 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5 NLT)

Let me know what happens when you respond like David did, repaying evil for good. Come back and leave a comment!

Categories: Forgiveness, Gospel | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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