Tag Archives: forgiveness

The Healing Power

paralyzed man

The story of the healing of the paralyzed man has many applications to our lives today. First, we look at the four friends who carried him. What friends they were! They took the time to carry their friend to healing. They took their friend to Jesus because they knew Jesus had healing in his hands. Who are the friends in your life who have carried you? Who have been there beside you through your suffering? And who have brought you close to Jesus? Thank God for them today.

The way to Jesus was unusual. The friends carrying the paralyzed man to Jesus could not go the normal way through the door to the house where Jesus was. The crowds were crushing in to be near him, to listen to him preach and to receive healing of their own. But this blocking of the door did not stop the friends of the paralyzed man. It led them to seek Jesus by another way—through the roof. They lowered their friend down from above to place him right in front of Jesus. This process took strength, ingenuity and creativity. This activity took risk and coordination among them. What ways to Jesus have been unique and required extra insight and strategy on your part? Thank God for helping you to see new ways to Jesus and allowing you the power to follow through on the often unusual paths he puts before us to receive help from our Savior.

Jesus’ interaction with the paralyzed man is rather unexpected as well. When the paralyzed man is finally placed before Jesus, the first thing Jesus does is forgive the man’s sins. Forgiveness is the man’s greatest need, even more than the healing of his paralysis. Our sins paralyze us in our faith, stopping us from growth and movement in our spiritual lives. The removal of our sins through forgiveness in Christ is the only way we can move forward in following our Savior. Jesus made the benefits of the forgiveness of sins clear when he was questioned by the Pharisees. When we go through trials in our lives, we need to remember that it is the blessing of forgiveness in Christ that is needed most before any physical need.

Yet after providing the forgiveness of sins to the paralyzed man, Jesus still gifts the man with healing in his body. “Rise, take your mat and go,” Jesus says. Jesus allows us to arise from our troubles of body and mind. We are lifted up from being down. We mirror Christ in his resurrection by rising to new life through him.

When Jesus tells the paralyzed man to take his mat, it is like he is saying, “Carry away all reminders of the past trials and recognize the power you now have over those tribulations that once ruled your life.” The mat represents the bad place the paralyzed man once was in and the carrying of the mat symbolizes that he is not in that bad place any longer.

Then Jesus tells the paralyzed man, “Go!” This was something he could not do previously—go forth on his own two feet and walk. “Go!” means that the man can travel on his own by the power of the Spirit and follow the path marked out for him by God. “Go!” means that the man is fully healed and fully ready to move on in Christ.

When healing comes to you, be ready to go as the paralyzed man was. Be ready to go and spread the news of what God has done for you in Christ. Be ready to help those who are in trouble by supporting them with your presence and prayers. Be ready to lead them to Jesus for help and healing. Be ready to step in the footsteps of Christ and go where he goes and do what he does. Go in the name of the Lord and be his follower forever.

Forgivenesss for Kids

hug

In an article called “Sin and Forgiveness,” in the March 2019 issue of Living Lutheran, author Erin Strybis talked about a time when her young son’s tantrum led her to have a tantrum of her own. To her surprise, her son came up to her afterward and said, “It’s OK, Mommy,” and hugged her (42). Our kids “get” forgiveness more than we perhaps realize.

Strybis suggests three principles to practice in the home to reinforce the power of forgiveness:

Lean on story: The Bible is filled with stories of people who sinned and were forgiven. Think of the prodigal son, Simon Peter, the thief on the cross. Bible stories of forgiveness can be the bedtime stories we tell our children.

Lean into hugs: Remember the father of the prodigal son who ran to embrace repentant son. We need to be quick to reach out and wrap our arms around our children when they come to us confessing their sin. We need to show them that we love and forgive them wholeheartedly.

Lean on prayer: Prayer is an important piece in the practice of forgiveness. We need to pray to God when we are angry at our child and need to reorient ourselves to God’s merciful ways and we need to pray with our kid when we express forgiveness to remind us all the forgiveness comes first from God through Christ and the cross.

Let forgiveness flow freely in our families by the grace of God.

Our Sustaining Force

gospelIn the Editor’s Note of the December 2016 Christianity Today, Richard Clark says,

“I’ve always thought it odd that we gospel people so easily fall prey to the false gospels of moralism. Sometimes moralism is directed at myself; sometimes it’s directed at others. In the wake of the right kind of mishap, I can spiral into self-doubt and self-accusation about my own pitiable nature. Yet just as quickly, I can start casting aspersions on those who’ve made similar mistakes. Only the grace of the gospel can pull me out of the pendulum swing” (9).

Though this was written several years ago, it seems more true than ever to me. We can so easily be swayed by outside forces. We are so quick to judge others, to judge ourselves, to shake our heads in disgust or shame and leave it at that. But that is when we need to pull everything back into the context of the gospel, the context of grace, the reality of forgiveness for every sin, won for us and the whole world through the cross of Christ and through his resurrection.

It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that is our sustaining force. It has the power to put right side up every apple cart sin has overturned in our lives and in our world. No sin, no evil, no misdeed is beyond the gospel’s scope of reversing when we come to Christ confessing our waywardness. How so? Only through the undeserved favor of God through the sacrifice of his Son. That is grace. And that is why we call it amazing.

Making a House a Christian Home

home sweet homeSome friends of mine recently moved to a new house and posted this on on their Facebook page when they closed on the deal: A house is made of walls and beams. A home is made of love and dreams.

What a beautiful sentiment to ponder as they embark on a new adventure in a new dwelling place.

This got me to thinking: What makes a house a Christian home?

A Christian home is a place where there is genuine love for one another and for Christ.

A Christian home is a place where the Word of God is shared and perhaps even displayed through plaques with favorite verses.

A Christian home is a place where forgiveness flows from one to another.

A Christian home is a place where prayers are said over meals and at bedtime and at anytime.

A Christian home is a place where all our hopes and dreams are grounded in the good news from Jesus who comforts us with these words, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2).

We know as Christians that our homes here on earth are only temporary, but our eternal dwelling place is in heaven, where we will join with all the saints in praising the name of our Savior, Jesus. May our homes here on earth give us glimpses of our home yet to come.

 

 

Gentleness

gentleness Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5

One part of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness. And in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he wants to make sure that this congregation’s gentleness is evident to all. Why? Because the Lord is near. Our gentle ways should be what people are seeing at work in us when the Lord returns.

In a world that is often hostile, angry and at odds with one another, our gentleness as Christian people can stand out. What do we mean by being gentle? We only need to look to our Lord Jesus when he was on this earth for guidance. He said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). He took little children into his arms and blessed them (Mark 10:16). He spoke gently even of those who were crucifying him, saying, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

In the same way, we can be people of gentleness by being humble in our approach to people, by embracing children and caring for those around us in a loving way, by blessing those around us with the peace of God and encouraging them in their endeavors. We can be gentle in our forgiving of those who have hurt us, recognizing that we are all sinful and in need of the grace and mercy found only in the cross.

Even when we witness to others of the hope we have in Christ, we are to do so “with gentleness and respect,” St. Peter says (1 Peter 3:15). We need to be comforting in how we share our faith, not overbearing. Our goal should always be to be kind and helpful and reassuring. That is what gentleness is all about. Be gentle in your ways today, with the help of God.

 

 

Rebuilder

rebuilderThere are a lot of shows on television these days about rebuilding and restoring and redecorating homes. We are somehow drawn to the process of what carpenters and designers can do to reimagine a space or an entire house. The payoff comes at the reveal, when the finished product is presented to the homeowners with exclamations of delight.

I recently heard the song “Rebuilder” by the Christian group Carrollton. It celebrates the fact that our God is the greatest rebuilder of all, not of our homes, of our very selves. When we are falling apart and in bad shape and in need of repair because of our sins, our doubts, our waywardness, he rebuilds with his foundation of goodness and grace, his blessing and love. He is like the foreman of the project that is our lives. The end result is a new creation because of the work of his Son, the carpenter, who followed through with the rebuilding of all believers by going to the cross for our forgiveness. The old is gone; the new has come, as the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 5:17. And there is great excitement in the reveal of our newly redesigned lives. The Bible says, “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). And we who have come to him confessing and have been rebuilt by our God, rejoice as well, saying, “The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3). No matter what condition we may find ourselves in today, God can rebuild us and the results will be glorious. As the Bible declares, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). What a wonderful craftsman we have!


Enjoy this song:

Lift Up Your Heads

lift up your headAt a conference I attended recently Pastor MItchell Gowen of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Aiea, Hawaii, talked about the experience on January 13, 2018, when for 38 minutes residents and tourists in Hawaii scrambled to react to a terrifying emergency alert on their phones that read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” The alert turned out to be a false alarm, but there was no way of knowing that during that frightening period.

Those Gowen was with at his church at the time asked what they should do. Most decided to run to the basement. But Gowen decided he was going straight to the parking lot to “watch the show.” If this was indeed his last day, Gowen wanted to be there to see it.

I admire Gowen’s reaction born of faith. As Christians, our last day on earth is not something that we should be afraid of. Because it means we will be with our Savior in heaven. It means the end of tears and pain and sin and the beginning of a perfect eternal life won for us through the death and resurrection of Christ.

I think of this verse from Luke 21:27-28:

At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

When the end comes for each of us, it should not be time for us to look down or look away, but a time, by God’s grace and strength, to look up and see what God has accomplished to bring us salvation. At a time or an hour we do not yet know, Christ will come and no matter when that might be, we as his faithful people need to be ready, as Gowen says, to “see the show.” And what a sight it will be!

Treasures in Heaven

damaged packageIn an article in October 22, 2017 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reporter Aisha Sulton relayed the story of how her father had shipped several boxes of her childhood memorabilia from his basement, but how only one tattered box actually arrived at her home. The note inside from the post office said, “During the processing of your package the contents became unsecured and required rewrapping in order to forward it.”

All that was left of her childhood possessions were a couple elementary and high school yearbooks. All the other papers, ribbons, trophies, journals, personal letters and photos that were in those boxes originally were gone forever.

Sulton said she felt a pinch in her heart for the lost items for several days afterward. But then Hurricane Harvey hit and she witnessed on the news how hundreds of thousands of people lost everything they had in the rising waters. She was able to put her own small loss into perspective and recognize the fact that, as Henry Havelock Ellis write, “All of the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”

Which called to mind for me Matthew 6:19-21:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

For us a Christians, we need to always remember that we need to loosen our grip on our earthly possessions that will one day be destroyed, but to hold fast to the treasures of heaven of forgiveness, life in Christ, and salvation in him that will never pass away, but will be with us forever.

Think of ways this week that you can start letting go of some of your earthly possessions and ways you can begin to hold on more tightly to the things of heaven that really matter.

Honesty

honestyAt a recent Lent seminar I attended, one of those present said, “Lent is about honesty.” That is a good message for us to remember on this Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

First and foremost in Lent, we must be honest with God about our sins. We should not sugar-coat it or make excuses or trivialize it. We have sinned. We are at fault. We have not obeyed the will of our God. There is no denying it anymore. We must confess sincerely what we have done.

And we must be honest with ourselves and say that we would not be here at all were it not for God. He is the one who created us. He is the one who gave us breath. He is the one who guides and protects us. Everything about who we are is a miracle from him and he deserves all the credit for that.

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Evangelism 101

Jesus centerIn the Fall 2016 Concordia Journal, Prof. Glenn K. Fluegge focuses on the role of evangelism in the article, “The Dual Nature of Evangelism in the Early Church.” He explains that the two goals of evangelism then and now are: spreading the gospel and preserving the gospel.

That second goal of preserving the gospel struck me as something that we don’t often associate with evangelism, but is so vital in our world today.

In today’s world, in our effort to please and placate everyone, the gospel can become so watered down that it can often lose its core concept: Christ crucified for us.

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