The Dream: A Lesson in Forgiveness

DarknessA man, distraught at the murder of his son, stood in the courtroom and shook his fist at the perpetrator. He cried out, “I hope you burn in Hell!”

That night, as he slept, the Lord appeared to him in a dream.  He said, ”I’ll grant your request on one condition.”

“Anything!” said the man.  “He deserves to suffer forever.”

God said, “He will burn in Hell forever, but you must observe it forever.  He will always be in plain view and within earshot of you for all time.”

“Good,” said the man.  “I want to have the satisfaction of watching him burn.  I hate him with all my heart.”

And so, God granted his wish. In the first few seconds, the man felt a curious mix of recompense and repulsion.  Inside of a minute, he was very uncomfortable.  Before two minutes were up, he was crying and begging God to shut the sight and sound of the other man’s damnation off.  And just as he ran into the fire to pull his son’s murderer out of eternal suffering, he woke up trembling violently and drenched in perspiration.

The man fell onto his knees beside his bed and asked God why he had felt pity for someone he hated so badly.

And God replied, “You cannot ever hurt someone else without hurting yourself.  As long as you harbor unforgiveness, you can never be free of the person you hold captive; neither can you be released from the guilt of your own sins.  In order to be released FROM him or her, you have to first be the one to turn loose.”

To whom are YOU chained today because of unforgiveness?  It is not God’s will for EITHER of you to remain captive!  Forgive and be forgiven, release and BE released!

 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”  Matthew 6:14-15 (MSG)

               

The DEVIL Advocate

No, it’s not a typo.  I didn’t mean “devil’s advocate.” DevilI’m talking about the sinister, sneaky evil who pretends to be your friend but he is most definitely NOT!  My graphic may be cute, but there is nothing cute in reality about the enemy of your soul.  The devil is a pusher and his drug of choice is EXCUSES.  Now more than ever before, we are a society who lacks accountability.  However we fail to measure up, we always have someone else to tag “it” in the blame game.  What bad behavior are you struggling with today?  Your only hope is in the Word of God, because the devil will give you all kinds of excuses to keep you circling around in the whirlpool of iniquity.  Word:  he is NOT your friend.

Oh how convenient those excuses are!  I behave this way because…bad temper runs in my family, I don’t feel well, I was raised that way, we didn’t show affection in my family when I was growing up, I need that drink, I deserve that joint, I can’t control myself around chocolate, it’s no one else’s business what I do, and the biggest one of all:  I’M ONLY HURTING MYSELF.  If the devil can succeed in making you feel justified in behaving badly JUST FOR TODAY, I promise you he’ll show back up tomorrow with another convenient alibi.  You can either speak the Word, as Jesus did, and drive away the tempter; or you can buddy up with your own destroyer and–contrary to popular belief–hurt not only yourself, but everyone around you.  As you go about your day today, consider this:  if an excuse won’t hold water when we stand before God on that Great Day, it doesn’t hold water now.

Pray with me:  “Heavenly Father, everything in my flesh feels as if I deserve to behave badly and without restraint.  Frustration, temptation, undealt-with anger or unforgiveness, even a feeling where I want to retaliate and pay forward the pain I’m feeling.  Sometimes it feels good to be grouchy, sarcastic, verbally abusive, contrary, full of complaint, and full of myself.  But Lord, in the end, it doesn’t feel that good…not really.  There’s a feeling of emptiness as people pull away from me and as I start burning bridges.  Please lead me to places in Your Word today that I can confess over my weaknesses, as I roll my works over onto You.  You can keep me from caving in to peer pressure, to an addiction, to an uncontrolled temper, or to an easy out.  I want to do better, and Your Word says I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.  I accept Your help today, and I will put forth effort as I wait for You to meet me where I am.  I am NOT destined to fall into a pattern of ungodliness and negativity.  I am NOT going to be a child who brings You sorrow, and I am NOT going to be someone who hurts everyone around me and expects them to just accommodate my bad behavior.  Yesterday is gone, and with it, all those bad, worthless excuses.  In Jesus’ name, I will behave, think, and SPEAK like a Child of the King!”