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!
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God Doesn’t Want Me to be Ambitious?

What do you think of when you hear the word: Ambitious?

Do you think of that other guy in the office or on the sales floor who nearly doubles your commission on a daily basis? Do you think of that mom who has more kids than you do, manages to host a church small group in her home, is working toward her master’s degree, fixes full dinners every evening, always has room to babysit one more extra, never tells you no, always has a smile, seems to know the Lord intimately, has the perfect husband who gets paid more than yours, blogs regularly and takes care of her ailing parents? Do you think of that kid who’s never made a B in his life? The entrepreneur?

Or do you think of yourself? Do you tuck your thumbs into proverbial suspenders and smile at your success? Are you pleased with your well-organized list of goals for the next five years?

Or do you think of the little kid who wants to be a doctor when he grows up; the little girl with big aspirations of becoming a famous dancer?

Is Ambition good or bad?

Here’s what Dictionary.com has to say: an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment
desire for work or activity; energy

The examples above and the definition makes us think of all the things we want to do and the people we want to be. Ambition is prized among men and women of all ages, races and economic status. So I found it interesting when someone pointed out recently that the God doesn’t seem to have the same opinion. At the very least, God has a different list of things for which we should be ambitious.

A quick search using the Online Parallel Bible, reveals 11 uses of the word “ambition” in the entire Bible. Of those 11 uses, only three of them are positive. Most often, ambition is referred to as selfish. Other adjectives include: insincere, vain, and employed by treacherous people.

Paul is the writer who talks about ambition in a positive manner. Paul said he was ambitious to preach the Gospel (Romans 15:20). He instructed his readers to have as their ambition to lead a peaceful and quiet life (1 Thess. 4:11). And in                         1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul lists his ambition as “to be pleasing to the Lord.”

Most of the time, the word ambition makes me squirm. I never feel like I have as much ambition as the next person. I don’t have clearly outlined personal and professional goals. I am not driven in so many ways. Actually, God’s version of the ambitious person is relieving to me. I DO want so much to preach the Gospel, to live a quiet, Christ-centered life, and to be pleasing to God. At least, I want to want those things. Do you know what I mean?

What do you think of ambition? Are you God’s type of ambitious person?