Devotions

  • Depth Not Trivia

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    Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. JAMES 1:22-25 

    Insight

    The issue of trust plays a critical role in one’s walk with God. Trusting in our forgiveness frees us to live confidently, while doubt forces us to chase good works to ensure our salvation. The confidence we find in Christ and the trust we have in His character allows us the freedom to live transparently before others. Knowing God’s character enables us to better trust Him and increases our faith. If we are to live as examples of Christ, we must know His heart intimately.

    The words trust, faith and belief are dependant on one another. It’s nearly impossible to define one of these words without using the other two. You simply can’t do it without robbing them of their meaning. When you study the Bible, you will find that trust, faith and belief share the same Greek root word.

    If this is the case, in order to trust God more and deepen our faith in Him, we must know His heart.

    There are several ways to grow in intimacy with God. In the book of Philippians, Paul’s prayer for the church was that they would desire to learn more about God (Philippians 1:9). He sees this taking place through the sharing of common experiences with people inside of community, as well as consistent quiet time with God. When Paul speaks of wanting to know Christ in Philippians 3:10, the Greek word he uses means “to know by experience.”

    When we begin a relationship with Christ, those areas in which we struggled with trusting Him do not instantly go away. We bring baggage into this relationship, reasons why we can’t trust and fear that if we do trust we will only be let down.  It is by getting to know God and understanding His heart that we can begin to let go of the things that hold us back from trusting fully in Him.

    Unfortunately, there are some who never experience this level of trust because they hesitate in pursuing go deep with God. When we don’t experience this level of depth in our relationship with God, this vacuum doesn’t remain empty. We try to fill this void with everything and anything. Even though it was shaped for God, it continues to suck things into its center until something finally fits.  It remains empty but is always pulling.

    We try to mask this intimacy void by creating an “appearance” of depth. Whether it be using spiritual language, displaying our knowledge of Scripture or our right habits or beliefs, all of these actions are driven by our pursuit of religious credibility. We are experts in keeping up a spiritual image among others. This appearance has become such a part of church culture that this image is how many would describe a person who has a deep, abiding walk with God. The activities you participate in and the rules that you keep quickly define your relationship with God.

    Pursuing religious credibility is a cheap substitute for a deep relationship with God, but it is incredibly easy for one to fall into this mindset. What we need to understand is that knowing about God is not the same as knowing God. We cannot mistake trivia for depth. Knowledge without application is deception. Depth is not revealed in our knowledge alone, but rather our response to that knowledge. Our response reveals our faith.

    Reflection

    • What is the difference between knowing about God and knowing God?

    Prayer

    God, I don’t want knowledge of You. Instead, I want to know Your heart. I desire a type of depth in my relationship with You that would cause a change in my character and heart. I yearn to learn more about You in order to trust and obey. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Information Overload

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    To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

    Insight

    In our age of “fake news,” we’ve become increasingly more distrustful of information. We wonder if there is truly a reliable source out there. With trust eroding, we question people’s agenda and the information they are telling us. This hesitation extends to God.

    But, doubting our Creator is nothing new. It’s been happening since Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden and told not to eat of the tree that contained the knowledge of good and evil. They had everything their hearts desired. They experience unhindered connection and communion with God. They were given a garden full of trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food (Genesis 2:9). Yet, even with all this freedom, they were willing to give it all up for the opportunity be like God.

    The enemy told a tale that God didn’t want Adam and Eve to be like Him and, because of that, He was willfully withholding knowledge (Genesis 3:5). This was the accusation. The enticing appeal was the concept that knowledge is power. It would make them, and us, feel a sense of superiority and control. The more we know the less we will have to entrust ourselves to another.

    Information overload occurred the moment the first bite of the apple took place. The enemy knew that if he gave humans enough information they couldn’t handle it and would destroy each other with it. And, we fell for it hook, line and sinker. We now find ourselves locked into a cycle that says if we just know more and understand more, then we will finally be free.

    We think information will bring us peace because it buttresses our perspective and supports what we can see. This only creates a vicious cycle leading to nowhere. Why? Because one can’t give or get enough information to build a relationship. When knowledge replaces trust, we will never get to love. The truth is more than facts and information. It is a force that demands submission. Knowing as we ought isn’t a matter of mere facts. It’s a matter of trust.

    We can’t allow our emotions, our circumstances or our limited perspective cloud our judgement. To authentically pursue truth, we must hold out the possibility that we might be wrong. This admission is impossible if we display a scoffer’s heart. Scoffing is where skepticism meets arrogance. A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, or doesn’t seek wisdom at all because they believe they are the smartest person in the room. Knowledge has the power to lead one to arrogance. Humility is required when we pursue truth. Knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Wisdom begins with God’s perspective.

    Reflection

    • When you hear the word “truth” what comes to mind? How would you define truth? Who gets to determine was is true?
    • What is the connection between truth and trust? What role does our emotions play when we encounter truth?

    Prayer

    God, rather than trying to know all and understanding everything before I move, may I have the courage to trust and walk in faith. Allow my focus and intention to be pursuing You and letting that encounter shape everything about me, both my actions and my words. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

     

  • Persistence

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    Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

    “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ “

    And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8

    Insight

    Persistence, boldness and diligence. Are these words that define your prayer life? Or are terms like weary, disillusioned and disenchanted more apt descriptions?

    What keeps you from approaching God’s throne with boldness? What has caused you to lose heart?

    Prayer can be summed up in one simple word: communion. It goes beyond communication to communion. Unfortunately, many of us find it very difficult to land at this place of refuge. Before we even start, inadequacy paralyzes our prayers.

    Weariness in prayer stems from a distorted view of God’s character.

    This is fueled by the assumption that God has better things to do with His time (bringing peace during wartime, ending poverty, curing AIDS, etc.) then listen to our silly requests concerning our insignificant lives and the decisions we face.

    Through the telling of the Parable of the Persistent Widow, Jesus is nudging us to see the heart of God from a different perspective. Jesus contrasts the vast differences between an unjust judge and a gracious God who cares about the condition of our soul.

    God longs for us to participate in His story by lifting up our requests to Him confident that a loving Creator cares about our wants, needs and desires. He is interested in the situations we face.

    Today’s parable echoes Paul’s message of persistent prayer found in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. It is a simple message of two words: pray continually. With our busy schedules and all the demands that come with living life, keeping this command seems nearly impossible.

    How can one pray without ceasing and not grow weary? What Paul is saying is that prayer is a “heart-set” that keeps the lines of communication with God perpetually open.

    Prayer is about creating an atmosphere where constant communion with God can exist.

    Reflection

    • How would you describe your prayer life?
    • What does it look like to pray continually?

    Prayer

    God, forgive me for doubting that my concerns are important to You. I desire to trust You with all my hopes, dreams, fears and concerns. May I be persistent in pursuing Your heart and aligning myself with Your story that is unfolding before me. Allow me to have the humility to come to You in faith with all that I am. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

     

  • Wide-Eyed

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    And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

    Insight

    There is something glorious about the golden age of childhood. Oh to be wide-eyed, full of wonder, and innocent again!  Of course, children can be sneaky and selfish too, but there is something magical about the nature of a child.

    Children are little reminders of the beauty we find in curiosity, trust and simple wonder about the world and people around us.  But as we grow into adults, we lose our child-like senses.  Some of us lose the innocence of our childhood earlier than others.  We may even be able to boil it down to a moment we experienced the cruelty of the world.  Little by little, day by day, we become cynical.  It is surely easier to be cynical than it is to risk being hurt.

    As a parent, I teeter between the desire to shield my children from everything and the desire to paint a realistic picture of the world in which we live – a world simultaneously full of beauty and brokenness.

    Adam and Eve’s choice to consume the fruit from “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” carries collective consequence for all of us.  God granted them the freedom to disobey, to choose their way over His, and their choice paved the way for our great awakening: the painful awakening in which we become conscious of the distinction between good and evil.  All of us have this sense:  life is not as it should be.

    Personally, the more knowledge I have about brokenness and the more I see brokenness in myself and others, the less my heart is inclined to trust that God is actually real and in the midst of it all.  “Where in the mess of things are you, God?”, as Ann Voskamp so honestly asks.

    But God has not left us alone in the garden of our lives with a head and heart full of knowledge about evil.  He wants us to turn toward Him and remember that He is finishing His work.  He does have a plan and purpose for us, for our neighbor, for our broken world.

    As followers of Christ, we will all doubt this truth at times.  Yet, if we spend more time learning about God and the promises He has for us than we do fixating on the evils around us, He will prove faithful to sustain us and regenerate our hope and trust in what He is doing.  Even as the world makes no rational sense, we must resolve to lean on Him and not our understanding of it.

    God tells us, “I am making everything new” (Revelation 21:5)!  Through Christ, He has given us a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31), a new song (Psalm 40:3), a new name (Isaiah 62:2) and a new heart & spirit (Ezekiel 18:31).

    He is taking what we have spoiled and making it new again.  He is showing us the way back to living more like the image in which we were created – His image.  He is taking our brokenness and making us new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and ultimately God will fulfill His promise and usher in a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17).

    But how are we to live in the meantime?  What if we don’t feel new?  How do we keep from feeling like a character in the play of human tragedy?

    We learn more about the truth of God and who He is.  We grasp tightly to that truth by writing it down and hanging it on sticky notes if we have to.  We cling to the person of Christ in us.  We remind ourselves that while our world is broken God is good.  We choose to walk with others who live by this manifesto while humbly serving those who don’t.  We choose to trust, we choose to sit at His feet daily, we choose faith.

    Reflection

    • Make an honest evaluation of your heart today:  do you find yourself trusting God or drifting away from Him?  If you are honestly trusting God, spend a minute to simply thank Him for that grace and pray for someone else who may need to trust God more.  If your heart is drifting, spend some time reminding yourself about the truth of God’s love for you.  Ask Him to show you something new about Himself and give you fresh eyes to see His love.

    Prayer

    God, thank you for creating this world.  Help me to use my knowledge of evil and brokenness to fight for what is good and just.  Help me to trust You more.  In Jesus name, Amen.

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.

  • Prepare Your Mind

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    Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13

    Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

    Insight

    Proverbs 25:28 says that a person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls. Each one of us must have a way of dealing with the world when it doesn’t make sense. This is why resting, renewing our minds and capturing out thoughts is so critical to our spiritual formation and battle over freaking out.

    Captive thoughts prepare one to see correctly. When we rest and meditate on His word, we become well attuned to hear those quiet voices inside of us that are quite simply a whisper from God. Scripture spends a great deal of energy focusing on the importance of conquering our mind: setting our mind (Colossians 3:2), renewing our mind (Romans 12:2), submitting our mind (Psalm 26:2), and preparing our mind (1 Peter 1:13).

    Our thoughts and what controls our mind determine the way in which we experience God. Yet, the importance of capturing our thoughts and renewing our mind is rarely stressed in Christian circles and even more rarely practiced as a spiritual discipline. We let our thoughts run wild in our mind with little to no self-control. This, in turn, causes us to struggle to experience an intimate relationship with Christ and trust in Him when our world is thrown off kilter. We don’t realize there is a battle going on for our heart and mind.

    The struggle over our mind is really a struggle over who we are. Beginning to live in the knowledge that we are His beloved will help us in any struggles that we might face in life. In this war we find ourselves in, we must replace all those lies we focus on with the truth of who we are in Christ.

    What controls our mind often determines our actions. We become what we set our minds on. The first step in renewing our minds is remembering who we are in Christ. It is crucial we align our perspective with what it is true, solid, good and right. Only then will we begin to realize that God is ultimately in control of every situation we face.

    Reflection

    • How does your mind control your actions?

    Prayer

    God, often when I am freaking out my mind is all over the place. Help me to renew and prepare my mind for those moments when I am tempted to worry or overact. May I see the situation I am facing through a different lens, one that is guided by Your love for me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

     

  • From Death To Life

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    But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. ROMANS 5:8

    So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.JOHN 8:36

    I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one. EZEKIEL 36:26

    Insight

    Mark Allen heads up Refuge, PC3’s addictions ministry. When he shared his story from the stage last Sunday as part of a special message on Wilmington’s opioid epidemic, I was in awe of two things: the depths to which he spiraled during his addiction to heroin, and the tenacity with which God pursued Mark despite his rebellion.

    “I couldn’t change my past, but God had a plan to save me from it,” Mark said. That is the Gospel, right there! For everyone has sinned. We all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23) We’ve all messed up. Some in shocking, obvious ways. Others in insidious, hidden ways.

    My own journey with addiction took the form of an eating disorder that nobody knew about. From age 18 to 28, I was enslaved to food and a distorted body image. Bulimia didn’t place me around drug dealers or in dangerous situations. But it consumed all my thoughts, kept me from being truly known and smothered me in guilt and shame.

    Amazingly, Jesus came to my rescue while I was still a stony-hearted unbeliever who used His name in vain and scoffed at His church. It would be 15 years before I realized Jesus was the One who had resurrected me from the spiritual death of bulimia. But now I have all of eternity to praise His name.

    Christ wants to unshackle each of us from whatever bondage we’re in. As Mike Ashcraft shared last Sunday, the Gospel is the power of God to change our identity from death to life. It’s the only power that can truly set us free.

    Reflection

    • Is there anything in your life that’s making you feel trapped?
    • Have you ever asked Jesus to deliver you from it?
    • What would life be like if you were free of this bondage?

    Prayer

    Dear Father in Heaven, the enemy tells us we’re unworthy of Your love because of what we’ve done in public or in secret. He also whispers that we should handle our sin by ourselves. But Jesus proved Satan wrong on both counts! He died and rose again so that we can have new life. Remind us that no addiction or life-dominating sin can enslave us when we turn it over to You. In Christ’s holy name we pray. Amen.

    PC3 writer Katy Davis wrote today’s devotional.

  • Markers Of Growth

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    For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9-12

    Insight

    Everybody prays when they are freaking out, in a difficult situation or dealing with a tragedy. We naturally lift up our concerns during those times when we face weakness head on. Unfortunately, if one were to look at the prayers of most Christians during these moments, they would see something surprising.

    We tend to think that God should strengthen us so we get what WE WANT.

    God give me the strength to control my kids, my husband, my finances, etc. God let this situation pass so I can get back to my normal routine. We want God’s power in our life so we can control the situations we don’t think God is doing a good enough job controlling.

    We ask God to change our circumstances rather than transform and shape our heart.

    Stability, gratitude, and generosity are markers of spiritual maturity. God never promises for a believer’s life to be easy and free of troubles. The purpose of a walk with God is not status quo.

    Stability shouldn’t be mistaken for predictability, the absence of difficulty or a life void of weakness. Rather, we can witness if stability is taking root in our character by judging how we react, or in some cases overreact, to the circumstances around us. Do we rely on God’s grace when our strength isn’t enough?

    Stability measures the way we walk by faith and not by sight.

    The emotions we feel towards the circumstances we face are very important. They can serve as markers towards our growth.

    This in no way undermines the legitimate emotions of worry, grief, anger or disappointment, but instead, it helps us measure the condition of our hearts in response to the circumstances that often damage it.

    We think self-control happens as a result of sheer will power and is not a fruit of the Spirit. But, today’s Scripture reminds us that sober mindedness and self-control are needed for our prayers. There needs to be a level of endurance in the situations we face. Controlling yourself is critical for surrendering yourself.

    Reflection

    • Ask God to open your eyes to areas where you are struggling to exhibit stability, gratitude, and generosity.

    Prayer

    God, I want my life to be marked by stability, gratitude, and generosity. Do the work on my heart in order to get me there. Help me to realize I sometimes cannot control my circumstances, but I can take ownership in regards to my response to those circumstances. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Heavy Sleeper

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    “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –C.S. Lewis from The Problem of Pain

    The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18

    Insight

    It’s funny how God brings two complete opposites together. My wife is a morning person. She’s chipper as soon as her feet hit the floor. Not me. Most days I’m like a groggy grizzly bear who has just risen from a month long hibernation.

    The slightest noise will wake my wife up. Not me. I’ve slept through hurricanes, fire alarms, thunderstorms, barking dogs and crying babies. Side note to new fathers: never yawn, stretch and say, “What a blessing…our newborn didn’t even make a peep” to your bloodshot eyed wife. This never ends well.

    If heavy sleeping were an Olympic sport, I would be a lock for a gold medal. Being a deep sleeper, I’ve devised many tricks to see the light of day at a reasonable time. My iPhone has 5 alarms set. The fallback plan is the radio setup on the opposite side of the room that blares the local rock radio station at full blast.

    Those screeching sounds are the only way to shock my system into wake up mode. Without them, I’d still be sleeping and not in front of a keyboard. In some regards, loneliness serves as a similar wake-up call.

    When life is going well, we can sleep walk through our days not realizing our desperate need for connection with God and others. The pain of loneliness rouses us from our slumber. It awakens our eyes to see our brokenness and separation.

    Colliding with pain forces us to come face-to-face with our deepest spiritual needs. Our natural tendency will be to hit the snooze button, roll over and try to go back to sleep. But, the alarm ringing again is inevitable.

    We’ve got to get out of bed and answer the call. But, more importantly, we have to realize there is a beauty and purpose behind the pain. God is not so much concern with changing our circumstances. He is more focused on mending our heart.

    God desires to redeem our loneliness. If we lean into the pain, God can use our loneliness to transform our heart and mind as well as bring us in a deeper intimacy with Him. He wants to speak to us through His megaphone of pain.

    The alarm is ringing, are you going to answer it?

    Reflection

    • How has God used moments of loneliness to shed light on your need for Him?

    Prayer

    God, often I struggle to hear Your voice or sense Your presence. Yet, in those lonely moments when I can no longer ignore the pain, I can feel You are with me. During these times when I am all alone, I can sense You shouting to me, reminding me that You will never leave me nor forsake me. Redeem my loneliness. Let the pain bring me closer to Your side. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

     

  • An Escape Clause

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    Let my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right. Psalm 17:2

    Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:16-19

    Insight

    Forgiveness doesn’t seem fair. Instead of forgiveness, we’d rather have justice.

    The person who caused us pain must be held accountable for their offense.

    Our desire for the offender to accept responsibility before we extend forgiveness holds our freedom hostage, unable to live life fully and freely.

    Forgiving others without witnessing what we believe to be vindication for the offense feels oppressive and even unjust.

    We don’t see forgiveness as liberation; we see it as an escape clause for the offender.

    However, extending forgiveness to those who have offended us is a true act of liberation – not for the offender, but for us.

    When un-forgiveness remains in our heart, we wound ourselves all over again.

    We are bound by our past. It is impossible to walk in freedom when we are shackled to the need to vindicate ourselves.

    By understanding the implications forgiveness has on our own lives, we are able to deal with the implications it has on our relationships.

    Forgiveness is where freedom is found. His wounds bring us wholeness.

    When we separate forgiveness from reconciliation, we can look at forgiveness long enough and close enough to experience the freedom and the healing we find through it.

    But, many of us don’t get to this point. Because we don’t know how restoration is going to look, we wonder if forgiveness is even possible.

    This is why we must focus on forgiveness first. The restoration of the relationship is secondary.

    Forgiveness paves the way to trust but it doesn’t guarantee it. It also doesn’t eliminate the cost or the consequence.

    At its core, forgiveness frees us from the need for vengeance and vindication.

    We no longer hold the offense against the other person. We wish them no ill will.

    There will be some relationships where restoration and reconciliation are unattainable. There are others where boundaries must be established.

    Yet, in all cases forgiveness is available.

    Reflection

    • Do you view forgiveness as an act of liberation? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
    • Where are you seeking vengeance and vindication? Why do you want to be right in this situation?

    Prayer

    God, No longer will I demand vengeance. No longer will I seek vindication. No longer will I let past wounds define my present and determine my future. Instead, I will lay the burden of unforgiveness down at Your feet. I will remember that I have been forgiven much and the same grace You extended to me is given to all. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Three Promises

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    No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:34

    Insight

    Regardless of what people might say, to forgive is not to forget.

    There is no magic in forgiveness where the moment it is accepted that the memories of hurt are instantly erased from the hard drive of our memory and our deep wounds suddenly disappear.

    But, what do we do with passages like Jeremiah 31:34? If God forgets our sins when He forgives us, shouldn’t we do the same to those that hurt us?

    The word “remember” in Jeremiah 31 is not dealing with a memory issue, but rather a promise.

    God doesn’t suffer from amnesia.

    He made a covenant not to treat us as our sin deserves. Jesus took the cost of our sins on His shoulders when He was nailed to a cross in order to fulfill that covenant.

    Debunking this idea that forgiveness is forgetting helps one to better see forgiveness as an event and process.

    When we show grace to someone it is an ‘event’ as words are expressed in “I forgive you.” There was a time and place when the original act of forgiveness occurred.

    Yet, every time their hurtful words or actions get brought back to our attention we must continue to forgive and not give in to any desires for revenge or anger. This touches upon the ‘process’ of forgiveness.

    Failure to see forgiveness through the lens of being both an event and process will cause considerable frustration, disappointment, and guilt for an individual.

    A chain reaction will be set off where they try even harder, using sure will power, to erase whatever sin they’ve forgiven from their memory completely.

    Flipping the off switch on a hot oven doesn’t instantly turn it back to room temperature. Stand anywhere near the oven you can feel the heat radiating.

    However, over time the warmth of the oven lessens. The same is true with forgiveness.

    It does not eradicate the hurt, lack of trust or anger you hold towards the person you have forgiven.

    By forgiving someone, you are absorbing the cost of their offense against you.

    This transaction comes with some requirements on your part.

    By counting the sin no more, you are also committing to uphold three promises to the individual whom you have forgiven. These promises are:

    “I will not bring up this offense again or use it against you.”

    How easy would it be for us to keep the guilt of their sin in our arsenal for a fight in the future. We very well could use it time and time again as our trump card in an argument: ‘remember the time when you…’ This does not mean it cannot be talked about again. Instead the promise you are making is not to bring the sin up anytime you are angry or bitter as a way of getting back at an individual.

    “I will not bring it up to others in gossip or bad mouth you in front of others.”

    Depending on the gravity of the sin, appropriate care may help you handle an offense against you. This promise deals more with not having loose lips around others. We put a clamp on our mouths and do not play the blame game as we gossip about the person to others.

    “I will no longer personally dwell on this offense.”

    This promise is at much for your benefit as it for anyone else. You no longer replay the sin on videotape that shows the transpired events on a continual loop inside your head. Rather than dwelling on the past, you look to the future and the change God has in store for both you and the individual.

    One has to trust they have forgiven even if there is some warmth coming from old wounds. This awareness forces you to have consistent motive checks where you ask God to reveal your attitude towards this person.

    Reflection

    • Of the three promises above dealing with forgiveness, which promise do you most often break? Which one do you believe people find the hardest to commit to upholding?

    Prayer

    God, open my eyes to the places where unforgiveness resides. Also, help me to trust that true forgiveness has occurred in other areas even when I can feel the sting of old wounds. It brings me comfort knowing that You identify with my pain and comfort me when I am weak. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.