In the situation of death, last words are very important and can be very revealing. For example, in the last moments of his life, P.T. Barnham said, "How were the circus receipts today at Madison Square Garden?" George Washington remarked in his last moments, "Doctor, I die hard, but I'm not afraid to go." I believe without question, the most revealing last words ever spoken, and the most famous of all belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus was performing His greatest work, He was speaking His greatest words. Six hours passed between the first pound of the hammer, and the last breath of Jesus. During those six hours He spoke seven times.
I don't believe that it was any mere coincidence that His first words were "Father, Forgive them." This very first phrase that Christ uttered dealt with the problem of bitterness, and answered the question: How can sinful man have a relationship with a Holy God? When Jesus said, "Father, Forgive" He exposed man's greatest problem and his greatest need. His greatest problem is sin; his greatest need is forgiveness. Forgive was a word used to cancel a debt that could not be paid. If you've ever had to forgive a debt, you know that when you forgive a debt you really pay the debt yourself. Forgiveness is the first step God must take toward you before you can take your first step toward God.
When Jesus died on the cross, He paid our sin-debt. I owed a debt I could not pay; He paid a debt He did not owe. Because my sin-debt has been paid, I can receive God's forgiveness free of charge. If anyone ever had a right to be bitter it was Jesus. Do you ever feel unappreciated? Do you ever feel like nobody cares about what you do for them? The Lord Jesus was not only dying for those who were crucifying Him, but there was no sympathy for Him at all. Praise God that Jesus did not come to harbor grudges, He came to give grace.
If you belong to Jesus, you need to be like Jesus. If you're going to be like Jesus, you're going to have to forgive like Jesus. If you are holding a grudge, if your body contains the acid of bitterness toward someone who has done you wrong, I have a piece of advice to you: you need to go back to Calvary. One of the marks of being forgiven is that you are forgiving. In the final analysis, God only forgives the forgiving. You can hold onto your grudges or you can have grace, but you cannot have both. The choice is up to you. Quoted from the Fundamentalist Journal, March 1985, the great Methodist preacher, Sam Jones, said,
"I haven't anything in this world to forgive.
I will never get mad nor stay mad with any man unless he treats
me worse than I have treated Jesus Christ."
Something In Your Past You Just Cant Let Go Of?
Something in your past you just cant let go of? Do you constantly struggle with guilt and regret, wishing things could have been different? Youre not alone. Everyone has circumstances that have occurred in their lives that they pray they could rewrite. So, how do you deal with it?
Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, had a dream or rather, a nightmare. He awakened in the middle of the night, and standing at the foot of his bed was a figure he believed to be the devil himself. The devil had a scroll and on that scroll were the sins that Martin Luther had committed. The devil was reading them off one by one, all accurate in account, and pointing a fiery, bony finger in the face of Martin Luther. The devil then proceeded to condemn and accuse Martin Luther saying, What hope of heaven do you have as a miserable sinner?
At that very moment Martin Luther felt his soul slipping closer to hell. But then the Lord spoke to Martin Luther and said, Martin, tell him to unroll the scroll all the way down. The devil violently refused, yet as Martin Luther proclaimed in the name of Jesus Christ that the devil unroll the scroll, the devil reluctantly proceeded. At the bottom of the scroll, underneath the list of all the sins Martin Luther had ever committed, were the words stained into the scroll, This entire sin account of Martin Luther has been paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Deliverance from the circumstances in your past, freedom from the emotional toils of guilt, and renewal in spirit from a lifetime full of regret can only be found in one place at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ! 1 John 1:7 says, The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. Jesus pure, holy and innocent blood is the only thing that can dissolve and remove the sin stain from our hearts.
So often when I pray with an individual to receive Christ, the first question they ask me is, Does this mean that I will never sin again? Or, What happens now when I sin? Let me be totally honest with you. The unfortunate answer is that there is a strong chance that you are going to sin tomorrow. The good news, however, is that if you have truly given your heart to Christ, the blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse you. Only one person was born into this world totally innocent from sin Jesus. Yet, our Savior and Lord shed His precious, innocent blood so that sinners like you and me would have the hope of eternal life in heaven with Him.
When you go to the grocery store, do you ever notice how certain items you buy have a Use By Date on them? The reason for this is, if you dont use it by the date stipulated, it will lose its potency, its effectiveness, and it may even become sour and make you sick. On the contrary, the blood of Jesus Christ never loses its power. Its just as effective in washing the dirt of depravity away from our lives today, as it was 2000 years ago, and will be for all eternity. However, let me give you this CAUTION - The blood of Jesus Christ can only cleanse the hearts of those who admit that they are dirty. The majority of society today wants to be forgiven, but they dont want to lose their lifestyle.
Others believe that their salvation is set up on an installment plan. You make the down payment when you give your heart to Christ, and then you continue to make your ongoing monthly installments by going to church, being religious, being a good person, and so on. Listen carefully John 19:30 tells us, It is Finished! When Jesus shed His blood on that Cross, He paid off the entire mortgage. Thank God He did, for you and I, despite all of our meager attempts, would be spiritually bankrupt if He had not. But He loved us and He mercifully forgave us period, end of report.
Have you ever thought about this? What kind of shape would we be in if the Bible had said, The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from some sin or, The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from 99% of our sin? It could even say, The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin except for one. Instead, our Heavenly Father who is absolutely just, holy, righteous and perfect said that the blood of His only begotten Son, shed on the Cross of Calvary, was payment enough to cleanse us from all of our sin.
In Luke 23:34 Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. At no time did Jesus ever pray, Father, forgive Me. If there was any other way to be saved, any other way to be cleansed, any other way to be forgiven, any other way to be accepted, then Jesus would not have died nor shed one drop of His blood. But the fact that He did die, and that He did shed His blood, tells us that only His blood can cleanse us from all sin.
You ask, How can I possibly let go of
the events of my past, its just not that easy? My
friend, Jesus has simplified the complicated. All He asks is that
you lay them to rest at the foot of the Cross. Jesus has already
forgiven you its time you forgive yourself. God Bless You!
Just this week I heard about a lady who was struggling and fretting over a decision of whether or not to have cosmetic surgery. She was thinking about having a facelift, but it was very expensive and she didnt know whether she ought to do it or not. While she was discussing it with her husband she said, But what if I drop dead three months after I have this surgery? Then what would you do? He thought for a moment and said, Well, I guess wed have an open casket.
While this may be a light-hearted example of some of the small things that we worry about on a daily basis, I believe there is no irony in the fact that the very things that Jesus described 2,000 years ago that caused people to worry are the very things that you and I worry about today finances, food, fitness, fashion and undoubtedly, the future.
Think about it we worry about how much money we have or we dont have. We worry about feeding our families, we worry about our health, and unfortunately, we worry too much about the kind of clothes that we wear and the material things that we possess. Youve heard me say it many times we let our possessions possess us. And, its no surprise that we all worry about our future.
Someone said it well when they said, Worry is the interest we pay in advance today for the trouble that may never come tomorrow. Sometimes it is carved into our bodies by sores that we call ulcers or etched into our faces by lines that we call wrinkles. It can be seen in a frown or heard through footsteps pacing the floor late at night. Sometimes it is muffled by the silence of simply lying in bed staring at the ceiling without being able to go to sleep, or, the anticipation of receiving those test results that can alter the course of our lives.
Let me share some astounding results with you. If you possess a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, there is no big stuff to sweat over or worry about. Jesus said dont sweat the big stuff, and everything that falls outside of your personal decision to follow Christ, is considered minute (small stuff).
Romans 8:32 tells us this: He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Why would our Heavenly Father go to the extreme measure of offering up His own Son as a sacrifice for our own sins, and then let us self-destruct under our own circumstances? God does not abandon His children. Worrying doesnt solve a problem, it never changes a test result, and it never lifts a burden.
Did you know that a dense fog extensive enough to cover seven city blocks, 100 feet deep, is composed of one 8 ounce glass of water divided into 60,000 million droplets? Think about that one 8 ounce glass of water, spread out, can stop the worlds busiest airport in its tracks and it can cause a 70 car pile-up on a major interstate. Worry is just like a fog. A little bit of worry can stop you dead in your tracks. Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Has life backed you into a corner? GOD SAYS DONT SWEAT THE BIG STUFF! And since God says you dont have to sweat the big stuff, its foolish to sweat the small stuff because God will take care of it all. Live one day at a time and look one way at a time. Look up!
Most of us at one time or another in our lives will come to a point where we ask, "Where is God when it hurts?" No matter what your age, what your station in life, or what your occupation, you cant escape the situation of suffering. So why does it seem that in times when we need Him most, Christ seems to keep His distance?
One of the greatest Christians, greatest preachers and greatest missionaries, who ever lived, the apostle Paul, knew exactly what it was like to have problems. 2 Corinthians Chapter 11 closes with a litany of the tremendous difficulties and problems that Paul faced throughout his ministry. In verses 24-33 we find that Paul was whipped, shipwrecked, robbed, mugged, betrayed, jailed and left for dead. Any number of reasons to want to question God.
However, through all the discouraging events that had unfolded in His life, God allowed something truly remarkable to happen to Paul he was given a literal glimpse of Heaven. Paul had come full circle. He had gone from the most humiliating experiences of his life, to the most exhilarating experience of his life. He received a guided tour of Heaven yet never told a soul. Today, if someone received that same privilege, they would be calling press conferences, running the talk show circuit and negotiating a contract for a Best-selling book.
Although God blessed Paul with this most incredible experience, it came with a very large price tag. "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure." Ever heard the expression "A thorn in my side"? Well, this is where it comes from, directly from the Bible. Paul described this thorn as a spear in his side. For fourteen years, day and night, psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual pain was his companion. Why did God allow this to happen?
Paul had been lifted so high in his spiritual experience, that his greatest danger was pride. God knew that in his life was the danger that his head might swell and his heart might shrink. God saw that there was a chance that Paul might get too big for his spiritual britches. Thus, God had to teach Paul a lesson the higher that a man goes, the farther that man can fall.
Have you ever asked God to heal you of a sickness, relieve you of a sorrow, or alleviate your suffering and He didnt do it? In addition, did you question, "Where was God when you needed Him most?" Let me share something with you join the club. Paul prayed three times. In fact, he was more than praying, he was pleading. He begged three times to remove his thorn, but God did not do it.
Have you ever thought about this sometimes we get so busy telling God what we want Him to do for us, that we cant hear God trying to tell us what He wants to accomplish in us. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 the Lord tells Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." To this Paul responded, "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." Gods answer to grief was and still is today - grace.
God knows that if He continually fills our hands with blessings, eventually we will fall on our faces, and if He continuously loads our backs with burdens, we will fall on our backs. Gods answer was not to remove the problem, His answer was to relieve the pressure. Many times we find that God gives us what we really would have asked for to begin with if we had just had enough sense to ask for it. We have to remember that if Gods grace is sufficient to save us from our sin, it is sufficient to strengthen us in our suffering.
I dont have to tell you that with the start of the new school year this month, our children face many adversities. Building spiritual champions within our children to withstand societal pressures has become paramount. I think the subject of this letter is not only valuable to us as parents, but valuable if we impress it upon our children. God can take our weakness and turn it into His strength. God can take our pain and turn it into His power. God can take our grief and turn it into His glory.
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