A Play by Play of Forgiveness

Misty Moring

Forgiveness is not some cosmic brain dump.

Neither is forgiveness an arbitrary scribbling over of the past.

While it’s wonderful to relish in the relief of God’s forgiveness toward us, it makes sense that should know exactly how it works, because God commands us to forgive as we have been forgiven. (Eph. 4:32)

One of my favorite Psalms actually gives us a play by play description of forgiveness. Forgive the simpleness of this short Bible study. I promise it’s nourishment for your soul!

Check out Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). This is a list of the benefits of knowing God. But in truth, none of the benefits of knowing our Creator-Father would exist aside from the forgiveness through Christ that enables us to reconcile with and have a relationship with our majestic God.

Fittingly, David starts with the benefit of forgiveness.

  1. Forgives all your iniquities: Here God pardons sin. Pardon is another word for absolution. As far as God is concerned, sin is gone. (Check out verse 12 of the same Psalm.) We say things casually like “pardon me” and hope that before he’s taken another two steps, the guy we just ran into with our grocery cart has forgotten what we look like. That’s pardon.
  2. Heals all your diseases: Okay, so diseases here is the English word, and it works but doesn’t cover all the ground of the original Hebrew. This word is comparing the effects of sin in our lives with disease. Not only does God forgive and pardon our sin, but he restores favor (or health). He puts us back in good standing, in good health. All his right anger toward us is replaced with favor.
  3. Redeems your life from the pit: This word means to ransom or avenge. To this point, God’s grace toward us has taken place between us and himself. However, the moment we sinned, we signed an agreement with the devil. We chose to do things his way (“all wrong doing is sin” James 5:17, “if you’re not for me your against me” Matt. 12:30) The moment we sinned, Satan had rightful claim to our souls, but God (through Jesus) steps in here. He avenges our wrong and ransoms us from certain death.
  4. Crowns you with steadfast love and faithfulness: Think of a crown of glorious jewels encircling your head. Then, imagine being encircled by a protective wall. This word “crowned” means to surround like a protective wall, with steadfast love and faithfulness. Not only do these wonderful attributes adorn you, they surround and protect you.
  5. Satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s: Within the comfort and protection of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, ransomed from evil’s vengeance, in perfect health and completely pardoned, all our longings and desires are satisfied. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When we realize all that has been done for us, it delights us! It fulfills us. It is enough–more than enough. All of our longings, desires, hopes, dreams and needs have been met in the benefits of God!

Psalm

Shout to the Lord, All earth let us sing!

Round the mountains praises ring.

Petals, raindrops, wind dance gaily,

Louder,

Flute and ukelele!

Harp and voices, thunder unite.

To your percussion voice give flight.

Strum you harp and pluck you string!

People, Creation your honor bring,

And bow before your Lord,

Your King.

Like never before let freedom resound,

Our Life, our Hope, Salvation found!

He Sees You When You’re Sleeping…

Not having ever believed in Santa Clause, I never really considered how creepy it might seem to a kid that some short, fat, elderly elf is watching them ’round the clock. In fact, I snickered behind those kids’ backs, wondering how they could buy into such an obvious lie. Seriously, flying reindeer? little elf minions? How did they explain the fact that even the meanest, rotten kids usually got gifts from someone?

I’m probably stoking a fire here that I am not prepared to put out, but please join the discussion understanding that I don’t have kids myself and I’m not telling you what you should or shouldn’t do. But, as a Christian – what do you tell your children about Santa Clause? I’ve heard some argue that to endorse Santa is to tell your children a bold-faced lie. I’ve heard others declare that you’re robbing your children of fun and fantasy to reveal the truth about the jolly old elf. Can you combine Jesus and Santa?

The undeniable truth is that Jesus does watch you – 24/7, while you’re sleeping and awake, sitting and standing, running or hiding.

Ps. 139 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven you are there! If I make my bed in the depths you are there! If I take the wings of the dawn and dwell in the midst of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.”

But there’s a very good reason that God watches you! Your life depends on it!

He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The LORD keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever. ~ Ps. 121:3-8

Let Me Be the Weakest Link

A common Christian misconception is that we will spend most of our lives battling our weaknesses. We bemoan our weak faith and idolize the super saints. We wish we had a bigger testimony. We wonder what we are doing wrong that God doesn’t remove our limitations, heal our illnesses or enable us to be more generous.

If only I could get a better job! Then I could send my kids to good Christian schools and support the missionaries at church. If I had gone to college I  could get a real job, then I could be so much more effective for God. Instead, every spare minute and penny goes right back into just staying afloat.

I wonder what I did wrong to deserve this cancer? I spend half my life in and out of the hospital. When I am home, I’m too weak to be effective. God, I’m so sorry, please, please make me more useful to you.

Ever had thoughts like these? Last week, I stumbled across a verse that surprised me. I think I read it wrong to begin with. Mentally, I replaced a “you” with an “I”.

“And call upon me in the day of trouble, I shall rescue you, and you will honor me.” Ps. 50:15 God tells the author that he will call upon God, God will rescue him and the author will glorify God. That’s where I found my weakness lie: God is pleased with my strength as a Christian. 

The truth, according to Psalm 50:15, is that God is honored when He rescues me. God is shown to be the great, awesome, super natural, astonishing, against-all-odds, Savior that He is. When I am beyond all hope and God activates His favor on my behalf, then His character, His greatness is on full display. But God shows more than His power in my weakness. He shows his everlasting love. When God rescues a weak, hopeless, failing, impotent mortal He shows His absolute power and His absolute goodness.

Here’s the secret: the more aware you are of God’s grace, the more humble, prayerful, thankful, patient, gracious, content and joyful you will be. And you are more aware of God’s grace when you are weak. – John Bloom

So be careful as you analyze your life. Continue asking God to search you and know you, to try you and know your thoughts. Then be willing and ready to hear Him. Confess your sins because He is faithful and just to forgive. (Ps. 139:1-2, John 1:9) But don’t confuse your weaknesses with sin. They are different.

Remember the blind man to whom Jesus restored his sight? The disciples wanted to know who had sinned so that this man had been born blind. Jesus told them that the man’s blindness was not a result of sin – it may have been a limitation, a weakness but it was not from sin. And in the man’s healing Jesus was identified as the Christ.