Monday, November 16, 2009

The Good Stranger

The Good Stranger
by Ester Barnes,

As a woman was traveling the road between romance and reality, she fell in love with the charming but insecure young man.

And it came to pass that after they were married, he beat her and robbed her of her dignity, and she ran from the house bruised and afraid, wishing she were dead.

A faith leader saw her swollen face and stopped to give some advice, “Wives, submit to your husbands,” he read. And he excused himself to attend a seminar on Motivating Strong Leaders.

A doctor stopped and bandaged her face and gave her a prescription for Valium.

A women’s group leader hearing her sobs felt a rush of pity. “I don’t know what she sees in him,” she thought and was thankful for her own gently husband. And she went to buy the young woman a book on Making Your Marriage Work.

A police officer asked her if she needed help. She asked him to arrest her husband. The officer asked if there were any witnesses to the assault. Since there were none, he left her alone.

Another women’s group president learned she was wandering the streets also without a purse, her clothing torn, and said to the treasurer, “How awful! Poor dear!” And they agreed something should be done, and that they would bring it up at their next meeting.

A social worker noticed her and stopped to talk, “What did you do to provoke him? She asked. The battered woman turned and walked away. The social worker concluded she did not want help.

And while the battered woman was wondering where she would sleep that night, a stranger greeted her and said, “Sister, come with me. We’ll get some food at the crisis center and maybe some clothes.” She took her threadbare coat and placed it on the woman’s shoulders.

And when they found the Crisis Center had no empty beds, the stranger took the woman to her attic room, and cooked a macaroni dinner and canned peas on a hot plate. She made a pot of tea and listened to the incoherent burst of pent-up pain. She wept to hear the broken dreams, self-doubt and shattered faith. And as the woman dropped to sleep upon the couch, the stranger breathed, “You’re a survivor, like me” and made herself to lie upon the floor.

Which of these people was a neighbor to the woman who fell into the hands of the abuser? The one who had compassion on her.

Go and do likewise. Go and do likewise.

Domestic Violence Month is not over...many will be abused this month also.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Forgiveness is not a Feeling

1. Forgiveness is NOT a feeling....It is a promise.

Isaiah. 43:25 When God said He "won't remember" it is not the same as forgetting our sins. God is omniscient and He cannot forget. But He can choose to "not remember". Forgetting is passive and is something that we humans do, not The Omniscient!

2. We must learn to forgive the way God forgives.When we say to someone, "I forgive you", it is a promise. And it is a threefold promise. We promise not to bring up their sin to: them, others or ourselves

3. When we have sinned or we remember someone has someone something against us, we are to go to them quickly!.
Many times people say, "Why should I go when they were wrong?" Because you are the one that knows there is a problem. Many times people may have offended you but they don't know it. The one who knows, goes!

4. "What if I don't feel like I have forgiven them". Forgiveness is not a feeling.
"Would I not be a hypocrite if I go to them when I don't feel like it?" No, we do things every day that we don't feel like. I came to work this morning and I didn’t feel like it. I would only be a hypocrite if I said to you, "oh, I really loved getting up this morning to go to work!" "But if I do that it just wouldn't feel right". Again, forgiveness is not a feeling.

5. The granting of Forgiveness IS conditionalRead Luke 17:3-4 So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."
So many times we tell people we forgive them for something they never asked forgiveness for. Ultimately there was NO repentance.
If forgiveness was not conditional we would have no need for Matthew 18:15-18. At each point in the verse, we see the need to repent. When this is done, then there is reconciliation. If there was no repentance we are to move on to the next step. (However, we must forgive in our heart, even before going to them or they come to us)

Errors in "Forgiveness"
1. Forgive and Forget. This has been a big hindrance for some in the body. Because they have not forgotten, they believe they have not forgiven. Remember, forgiveness is a promise not a feeling. God does not "forget" He chooses not to remember.

2. Apologizing: An apology (apologia) is a defense of oneself against a charge of wrong doing.

3. Forgiving Self. God forgave you through Christ finished work on the cross. For you to believe you still need to forgive yourself means you are greater than Christ and you need to add to His finished work. No, we need to repent, then walk in the forgiveness He has already provided. And don't bring that sin up again to God, to others or to yourself.

4. Forgiving God. Yes, I have heard people say this. Usually I have heard this with the death of a child or very close loved one. No, we don't forgive God. He Is God!

The greater question is simply: Do you want your "right" to be angry more than uninterrupted fellowship with the Father!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This first step always seems the hardest!

"After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10).

Have you ever been wrongly judged? Have you ever had people assume there was sin in your life because of the troubles you may have experienced? Or perhaps they judged your motives as wrong. What if the people judging you were your closest friends? This was exactly what happened in the life of Job. His friends did not understand how a godly person could ever go through his degree of adversity his unless God was judging him for his sin. However, his friends were wrong and God intervened. "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has," said God to Job's three friends.

Nothing has really changed after thousands of years. I recall going through a "Job" experience. Friends in the marketplace could not understand why I would experience such calamity unless I had made poor choices. Those in the Church often wrongly equated trouble with sin. Sometimes this can be true, but often trouble is simply a consequence of a call on one's life such as Joseph and the apostle Paul experienced.

Joseph was required to forgive his brothers. Jesus was required to forgive Judas and the disciples for betrayal. You and I are required to forgive those who wrongfully judge us. This forgiveness is often THE most important step in gaining restoration in our own lives.

The scripture above reveals that it was not until Job prayed for his friends that he was restored in the things he had lost.