Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Titus 2 Tips {on Thursdays}: Five Keys to Practice Forgiveness {Guest Post}

If I were to go back in time, and tell myself anything about how to better experience, live and teach a critical life lesson, it would be to practice forgiveness and do it well. I still need to remind myself of just how important this choice is.

I grew up in a single-parent, large family. Even though it was a Christian family, I did not understand and therefore did not practice forgiveness well. I sometimes rehearsed the wrongs others did to me, in my mind.

One of the critical hallmarks of being a disciple of Jesus, is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and your neighbour as yourself. {Matthew 22:37-40, John 13:34, 35}. Loving someone is to constantly practice forgiveness. Both asking for it, and giving it.

The Lord taught that this was an essential characteristic of His disciples and mentioned it numerous times.

He even said that we would not be forgiven, if we did not forgive our fellow human beings. {Matthew 6: 9-15, Mark 11: 25, 26}. Fellowship with our heavenly Father would be broken, until we repented. Broken fellowship means that we will not be enjoying the Lord as we should, and we also open ourselves to attacks of the enemy and that we will not be experiencing answers to prayers.

Forgiveness is about believing God.

It is believing that when I am wronged, that God will take responsibility for teaching the offender what they need to know. I am to believe that God will do as He says He will do...."Vengeance is Mine, I will repay". {Romans 12: 17-19}. I am called to demonstrate love and forgiveness even when the person hasn't recognized their part. The world may be watching, and will learn by example that Jesus' disciples do something that many others will not do. Which is the hardest thing to do, actually—giving up the right to get even. Giving it up to God, who knows much better than I how to handle it!

When I am offended, I am to send up a prayer to God, and say that I forgive them. Then, when the time and place are possible, I should speak to the offender and talk about it, and ask them if they'd like my forgiveness. (like offering a gift) If they say yes, then I give forgiveness verbally. If they do not, I leave the situation with God, still quietly forgiving them in my heart.

If I offend someone, then I am to go to them and ask their forgiveness.  If I'm not aware that I offended them, and they come to me to mention it, I should ask forgiveness.

Forgiveness is Over and Over Again

The Lord said that we forgive over and over and over again. Seventy times seven. {Luke 17:3,4}

Sometimes, we have to see leaders in our church family to help sort out an issue amongst members. That is mentioned in Matthew 18:15-19.

Forgiveness is Not Based on Feelings

Another critical part of forgiveness, is that most people will say that they don't FEEL forgiving, so therefore won't do it. The truth is, when we verbally release the person from the offence, by saying, "I forgive you", the resolving of feelings will come later. We need to recognize that feelings are a separate issue, and the forgiveness action is like a written contract. It needs to be separated from the feelings. We ask God to heal the hurts, and comfort our hearts and over time the hurt will also be released.

We actually will experience spiritual loss and physical consequences of unforgiveness if we do not forgive. When we need His help to forgive, all we need to do is ask for it {Phil 4:6-7}, and we will receive peace.

Forgiveness is Good and Hard

Forgiveness as taught by the Lord sounds good and right, and it is.  But when it comes down to the crunch, it is amongst the hardest choices of the will to do. The Lord has also said that He will be with us to the end of the age, and He empowers us to do the hardest things on earth.

It will be by His Spirit that we will be able to do these seemingly impossible things. {Luke 18:27}

Every time we come into relationship with anyone, we take a risk. The risk to hurt someone's feelings, and to have our feelings hurt. Sometimes, it is much more than just feelings hurt. And yet, this is one of the most critical ways that the world will observe and learn about God from us.  Many people may never darken the door of a church, but they are watching us all the time. And with God, the impossible becomes possible!

Jesus Himself gave us the supreme model of forgiveness, when as He died on the cross, He cried out to the Father, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do". {Luke 23:34}

Also, we may feel that the person cannot be trusted anymore. We should not stand by and allow ourselves or loved ones to be abused. We should remove ourselves and/or loved ones from dangerous situations under threat. We might need to seek protection from authorities, or counsel under unusual circumstances.

Forgiveness is Freedom

To be unforgiving, is to be held captive.

Practicing forgiveness sets the captive free!

May we choose to live life in freedom.

Esther Weston formerly worked in Food Service Venues in Toronto, with CNIB and as a nursing home Food Service Department Head. Married for 31 years to Rob, an Auto Shop owner. When their children were born, she became a stay-at-home mom. As her children grew, she volunteered in numerous capacities as time allowed. Now she's a Mother of 3 adult children and 2 daughters-in-law. She's presently enjoying an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, ever increasingly seeking and aware of His power and grace in her life and those around her.

{Esther writes: "I cannot take credit for this message on forgiveness, as it was taught by Dr. James Rennie at a Riverdrive chapel retreat 10 years ago.  It is backed up by scripture and when practised, works."}

A Soft Gentle voiceI am honoured to host these guest posts in this series on women mentoring women

Some weeks you may find tips from the kitchen or healthy recipes, tools other women have used to grow spiritually, hints to help us build up and love our husbands, and lessons they have learned as they have walked along with their children to teach them to love God wholeheartedly, habits they have developed in keeping their home, ways they have worked on to keep their behaviour respectful, or rhythms that allow peace and rest in the home and hearts that dwell there within.

You will find all the posts in the series here.

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour,
not slanderers or slaves to much wine.
They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,
that the word of God may not be reviled."
{Titus 2:3-5}

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