Receiving Forgiveness

giving-flowers“Cheryl doesn’t let people bless her.” Ouch! My cousin wasn’t trying to hurt me but it stung nonetheless. Mostly because it was true. I didn’t let people “do for me”.  I could take you down the rabbit hole into the psychology of why. But, I like you so I’ll save you from my twisty-curvy growing-up. My cousin’s observation triggered a confrontation between my ego and my King. Thank God my ego lost. Or I would have missed out on the blessing and humility that comes with being a recipient.

Part of giving is in the receiving. “Giving” isn’t complete until the recipient actually accepts the gift. And the recipient doesn’t benefit from the gift unless it’s received. Even knowing this, I sometimes stubbornly hold on to the misinformed idea that to receive from someone is to actually take from them. I know I’m not the only one who has had difficulty being on the receiving end of a gift or favor. The question is, “Why?” We’re always grasping and working for more. You would think that people in the grind would be happy to do nothing more than reach out and receive. Especially when the gift is desperately needed, like love, help …forgiveness.

To receive means to accept the delivery of, take in and make one’s own. It’s not enough for us to know that we are forgiven. We are meant to live, with confidence, in the reality of God’s forgiveness. Admittedly at times that’s hard to do. The enemy takes advantage of every opportunity to drag us through condemnation, like catfish through corn meal. And far too often we cooperate with him.

But truth will unlock our ability to receive the gift of forgiveness. If you, like me, have allowed shame to waste too much of your time, pray over these 3 truths and ask the Holy Spirit to make them your reality:

There is no barometer for righteousness more fine-tuned than God’s.

God’s nature is calibrated for holiness.  Compared to His Light, any dimming of righteousness is utter darkness. Not dusky, dawn-ish, orbarometer twilight. Darkness.

We tend to give ourselves pardons for small infractions: “Well, it was just a little lie.” Minor offenses have the same consequence as more egregious acts against God’s holiness. Ironically, for the things we think of as deplorably willful acts against God, we become extremely hard on ourselves. The guilt over things for which I’m forgiven can find its way back to my heart and I punish myself for days.  Different sides, same coin. Tails we’re tolerant. Heads we’re hard. Either posture places us in the dangerous position of Righteous Judge. No matter how hard we try, we can’t “out-mercy” God and we can’t “out-holy” God.

Our sense of righteousness is untrustworthy. Wishy-washy. God’s righteousness is steady because it is based on His immutable character and nature.  His is the standard because He is the standard. What He says is sin is sin. And what He says is forgiven is forgiven.

There is no remedy for sin more potent than the blood of Jesus.

Take a deep breath of grace-filled air. Christ has won. God the Son, humbled Himself, became a man, remained obedient and sinless throughout His earthly life, shed His blood, took our punishment, and died our death.The bible tells us “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21).

firey-crossIt was God’s plan all along to crush Jesus in our place (Acts 2:23). This plan pleased Him (Is. 53:10). So that God could perfume our lives with the righteousness that comes through forgiveness.  Once and for all. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it. The cross is enough. The blood of Jesus is sufficient to provide forgiveness for EVERY sin ever committed by every person who ever lived or will live. There is nothing else to be done. Except to receive this forgiveness through faith in Christ.The blood of Jesus alone provides absolute forgiveness absolutely.

Disclaimer: If we’ve hurt someone, we may need to ask that person for forgiveness. A repentant embezzler may be called upon to pay back stolen money. However, God’s forgiveness is offered without conditions.  Any further act He may urge us to do is to restore persons we’ve injured and testify of our changed life in Jesus Christ.

There is no lie loud enough to drown out God’s whispered truth!

You ever notice how loud shame can shout? It’s louder than a creaking floorboard at midnight.  While snuggled under the covers, getting ready to drift off to sleep, that creak splits the silence like a sonic boom.  Suddenly I’m wide awake with a thousand questions shooting through my head, “Is there someone in the house?” “Did I set the alarm?” “Where did I put my bat?” I know, in all likelihood, I’m perfectly safe. But, every now and then, especially when my husband is travelling, that creak infringes on my peace and unleashes irrational panic.yelling-man

Shame, just like that floorboard, is loud, intrusive and unnerving. It breaks through at the most inopportune moments and shreds our contentment like paper confetti. A conversation, a question, a word can conjure shame for a forgiven sin.  Usually accompanied by accusations. Loud lies from the enemy that question our salvation, God’s love, or our effectiveness.

The bible declares we can know the truth and the truth will make us free. God’s love and forgiveness are truths upon which we can stake our freedom. I have a dear friend who knows how much she has been forgiven and maintains, by grace, a complete sense of worthiness in Christ. When faced with accusation she responds with, “Yep I did that and I’m forgiven. Now let’s talk about Jesus!” Her simple response gets to the heart of the issue: Truth always trumps a lie no matter how loud the lie shouts.

Travelling the long distance between heart and head

Whoever said the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step never traveled with me. I start packing 3 weeks before a 3 day trip. Weekend travel consists of my carry-on, laptop bag, suitcase and purse. Let’s not talk about international travel. I’m not ashamed either. I own it. I carry a lot of baggage when I travel.

Regrettably I carry baggage through life too. Admittedly not as much today as I have in years past, but His truth is still sometimes filtered through the remaining baggage. There is a great distance between what I know in my head and what I live from my heart. I travel a road that is pot-holed with regret, crisscrossed by lies and landscaped with distractions. Getting from what is known by me to what is true for me takes time.  Can you relate?

Thankfully, God is travelling the road with me. He’s travelling with you. As we journey, pray, study His word, commit His truth to memory, get honest about where we are, repent, and ask Him to show us how to receive what He freely offers, God is at work. What a great relief to know it’s not up to us. He is molding a heart which will be ripe for His truth. He is planting His word. He is patiently swatting away lies and confirming His faithfulness. His Spirit is leading us into truth and His grace is enabling us to accomplish His will for our lives. He began the work in us and will faithfully complete the work He started. (Philippians 1:6) So be it Lord, according to Your will.

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