Monthly Archives: March 2018

MOLLY AND ME – FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness – O how much Molly needs my forgiveness!

Take yesterday, for example. During our walk up the sidewalk on the main road, I noticed that she was walking unusually slowly. I checked her harness and found that her right front leg had slipped out of its place. I loosened the harness to correct it and like a flash of lightning, she was out of it and running!

Calling her meant nothing! She was free…and she ran! I was terrified that she would run into the road where the cars were whizzing past. Fortunately, her attention was on the hadidas (large birds) that were foraging nearby.

My only hope was to return home on a quiet side street, knowing that she would follow me. She criss-crossed the street many times while I prayed! She did something her heart had long desired to do – attacked a huge dog on the outside of the gate!

We finally reached home without incident and she happily followed me into the safety of our front garden.

Did she ever need my forgiveness!

Molly reminds me of King David. Despite being a man after God’s own heart, he slipped out of his “harness” one spring morning and ran free. While he should have been leading his troops into battle, he was lounging around on the rooftop of his palace, spying on a beautiful woman who was taking a bath. We know the story.

The law demanded stoning to death for both parties but, instead, God forgave him although he could not escape the consequences of his wilful behaviour. For the rest of his life, David had to endure conflict and rebellion in his family, among his troops and even his subjects. The seeds of division had been sown and history tells the unhappy story of the people of God.

Hopefully, Molly’s little escapade won’t have such far-reaching effects! However, for her and for me the lesson is the same. Like our Father in heaven, I must forgive because “she didn’t know what she was doing”. She was not aware of the terrible anguish she put me through because of the danger she was in.

Forgiveness flows from a heart of compassion. I can never forgive if I feel outraged by the offense she did to me, but my love and compassion for my beloved little pet sets me free from selfishness  to forgive her, again and again.

God’s forgiveness flows from the compassion for His lost family that moved Him to provide Jesus, the substitute who paid our debt so that we can be forgiven and restored to His favour, again and again.

Such love calls us, no, compels us to respond by believing in the name of the one who said, “Whoever believes in me will never perish, but will have eternal life.”

 

THEY OVERCAME BY THE BLOOD

Our theme for this week is an opportunity to clarify some misunderstandings that might have crept into our belief system by unthinkingly copying what other people say or teach.

It is a good idea rather to follow the example of the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who were more open-minded than the Thessalonians and who searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.

Sadly, there are many true believers who erroneously think that the blood of Jesus is a sort of “magic” protection against all kinds of ills and reverses in life. I have even listened to prayers that make my blood “curdle” like “soaking our families in the blood of Jesus” or “covering our houses or cars with the blood of Jesus”!

No, my brothers and sisters, Jesus did not shed His blood to save our home, cars, property or even our families from the calamities that are a part of life in a fallen world. God promised that He would be with us and that He is able, in all things to work for our good. Trials of all kinds are God’s gracious way of teaching us to trust Him.

Jesus shed His blood as an atoning sacrifice for our sins so that we no longer owe God an unpayable debt. His blood forgives, cleanses and reconciles us to the Father.

What do you make of our verse for this month, then: They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…?(Rev.12:11)

Paul adequately clarifies this Scripture for us in Col. 2:14-15 (NLT), He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.

Jesus’ death exposed the devil as a fraudster, liar and deceiver and His resurrection proved that He, not Satan, is Lord.

When Satan accuses you of sin and holds up your past to disqualify you from God’s love, the blood of Jesus is your undeniable proof that Satan is lying. You have been forgiven; you have been reconciled to the Father – Jesus’ blood is the evidence; you have received mercy – Jesus’ blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel; you have been brought near by the blood of Jesus.

That’s how you overcome Satan – by the truth of what the death of Jesus achieved…and God’s peace in your heart is the testimony that you are no longer a slave but a son.

PEACE THROUGH THE BLOOD

All sorts of ideas flood my mind when I think of the word “peace”. In a world full chaos, people everywhere long for peace. Why is there so much strife in the world?

The Bible gives us the only answer that makes sense. People are at war with one another because they do not know God. From the moment that Adam sinned, everyone was born into the world hating and afraid of God.

Paul said that we were God’s enemies (Rom. 5:10). We were born with no knowledge of God. Despite the evidence, some people even refuse to believe that God exists while many just live as though there is no God. Others defy Him by being as wicked as they can and think that He does not see or know what they are doing.

The amazing thing is that God was not put off by people’s attitudes of anger, hatred and enmity or even indifference towards Him. Long before we were born, He took the initiative and did something unthinkable to bring us back to Himself.

God cared so much about our alienation from Him that He gave His Son, Jesus to pay the price of forgiveness to reconcile us to Himself. Just imagine that! He did what we could never do. He paid the debt for us

For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross (Col.1:19-20 – NIV).

 Peace with God is the foundation for peace in the world. Jesus reconciled us to the Father through His blood and He also reconciled us to our brothers and sisters.

For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two (Jew and Gentile) one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace (Eph. 2:14, 15b – NIV).

There is only one answer to the conflict between people and nations in the world – peace through the blood of Jesus.

Before He left His disciples to go to the cross, He gave them His legacy – His peace.

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 – NLT).

How do we get this peace? Paul gives us a prescription for God’s peace that guards our hearts and minds – Phil. 4:6-7.

With His peace in your heart, you’ll be at peace in the world.

BROUGHT NEAR BY THE BLOOD

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13).

“Far away…” What does that mean? How far is far away? When we stand outside and look at the Amatola Mountains, they seem far away.  This is not the kind of “far away” to which Paul is referring. He is talking about another kind of “far away”. Not far away in kilometres but far away in fellowship.

You know what it feels like to be in the same room with someone you love but at the same time to be far away because of some rift that has come between you. That person might as well be on the other side of the planet because you cannot communicate with one another. Your hearts are estranged.

We were all once far away from God because there was a great rift between us and Him. Sin had separated us from Him and made us enemies. We were afraid of God; we hated Him; we stayed as far away from Him as we could because we were not sure what He might to do us if we got too near.

Then Jesus stepped in. In fact, the Father sent Him. How amazing that God the Father, the very one that we hated and ran from, wanted us back so badly that He sent His own Son to heal the breach which breach was no easy matter! It was not just about apologising on our behalf for our rebellion. It was about paying the debt for what we owed God.

Death was the penalty God demanded for our stubborn disobedience. God created us for a very specific purpose – to have fellowship with Him and to manage the earth and its resources for Him, but we thumbed our noses at Him and ran amok. We lived as we chose, did as we liked, wasted His gifts and refused to have anything to do with Him. We deserved to die.

Then He sent Jesus to die, as though He had done what we did. Jesus loved and obeyed the Father in every way we did not. The people whom God chose to be His own people put Him to death as an evil-doer. He went willingly in obedience to the Father.

Gone was the sin between us and God. Gone was the enmity, the broken fellowship, the hatred and rebellion. The Father opened His arms to us and said, “Come.”  There was no reason for us to be estranged from Him any longer.

We have been brought near!