Grow… in Grace

Lately, God has placed it on my heart that I really need to grow in the area of GRACE.
 
Romans 8:5 says – But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
 
His love is UNconditiional. What else in this world can you think of as “unconditional?” We can’t earn His grace. It’s given. It is the most precious of gifts.
 
I feel like I struggle with the same things over and over. 
One of the things I wrestle with is being gracious… When I look back on my life and relationships, I have a pretty good track record of being hurt by someone, and holding a grudge, or giving up and turning away from that person.
You got it – that is NOT grace.
 
God wants us to grow strong in grace. To live by His example of grace to us.
 

Colossians 3:13 – “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

And…
 
The opposite is may be true as well. Sometimes when we’re being apologized to we say, “It’s ok.” When it’s really not. If someone is apologizing to us, something happened that needed apologizing for. And, it’s actually NOT ok. But, that is where forgiveness, and grace comes in. Jesus showed us His perfect example of grace and forgiveness. When He died on the cross for our sins, He wasn’t just saying “it’s fine.” He was saying, “I forgive you. I love you. I am wiping the slate clean.” For ALL time…
 
And now He asks us, “Will you accept my forgiveness? Will you accept my grace? Will you humble yourself to offer the same to others?”
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Before you answer an enthusiastic “YES! Yes of course!” Take a moment to really think about your yes… My yes, and your yes comes with responsibility. Growing in grace is serious business, not to be taken lightly. Accepting and extending grace is something we grow in. Something we strive for, and must live out probably daily… 
 
When we fail to grow in grace, we face lost relationships, and opportunities. And the one who hurts the most in this – is ourselves. When we allow the root of bitterness to grow, it doesn’t destroy the other person – it destroys us.
 
Here’s the GOOD news (I have to keep reminding myself!): It’s not impossible to grow in grace! We have to remember, and constantly remind ourselves that Christ forgave us – and we must forgive others in the same way. If we are intentional in growing in grace, we will. God will be faithful in our pursuit. He will give us strength and guidance in that area.
 
The stakes are high! We can choose grace, or choose heartbreak.
 
My prayer is that you, and I – choose well…
 
God bless us all!
~Allison

Vengeance is Mine says the Lord

Romans 12:19 – 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.

Vengeance is a strong word. It’s not one of those pretty, flowery words that just flow off our tongue. It’s not an enjoyable word to say. It’s hard, harsh and angry sounding.

Vengeance comes from the depths of pain and anger. It’s the urge to get even. When we’ve been hurt, vengeance rears its ugly head in the form of wanting to give back the pain that someone gave you.

Here’s the problem with that. It doesn’t work. The end result that you hoped and longed for in taking revenge on someone for something they did for you only turns into more pain for yourself. It never results in feeling good or satisfied.

Yesterday I shared about how forgiveness is scandalous. It’s unfair. It doesn’t make any logical sense. It’s so hard, in our humanness to reconcile the hurt someone caused to us with the call to forgiveness and pardon.

Gandhi said, “If we followed the ‘eye for an eye’ principle eventually the whole world would go blind.” Oh how true is that? You see, none of us are immune to hurt. And the reverse is true, none of us are immune to being the one who hurts. We can thank our own sinful nature for that one.

There is only ONE perfect person who walked this earth, and there will never be another one. His name is Jesus.

Look at how He responded to hurt? He sacrificed His life for the sins of every single one of us for all time. Once and for all. As he was dying on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He wasn’t only referring to the soldiers who were crucifying Him. He was referring to ALL of us. He was proclaiming there, on the cross, the forgiveness of our sins. Yours, and mine. 

I’m a big World War II buff. I have watched a lot of movies, documentaries, and have read countless holocaust books. My husband doesn’t quite understand my interest, because it’s so very, very sad and disturbing. Sometimes I even ask myself “why?” am I so interested in such a dark part of history.

When I think of forgiveness, I can’t help but think about the story of Eva Kor {read about her here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/12111155/Why-I-forgive-the-Nazis-who-murdered-my-family.html}. She was a concentration camp survivor, and she and her twin sister were used as medical “guinea pigs” by the famous Dr. Josef Mengele. She found it in her heart to forgive. Her public forgiveness has brought criticism from other concentration camp survivors to which she responds, ““Why survive at all if you want to be is sad, angry and hurting?” she says. “That is so foreign to who I am. I don’t understand why the world is so much more willing to accept lashing out in anger rather than embracing friendship and humanity.”

“Why survive at all if you want to be is sad, angry and hurting-” she says. “That is so foreign to who I am. I don_t understand why the world is so much more willing to accept la

She gets it.

She’s GOT it.

None of us can quite grasp the amount of pain, trauma, and brutality the Jewish survivors experienced. It puts our trivial quarrels and issues with each other quite in perspective doesn’t it?

When we forgive, we also must remember that we are not excusing the behavior. We could never condone or excuse persecution and murder such as the Jews endured. Not at all. But by forgiving, we free ourselves of the weight that the bondage of unforgiveness places on our shoulders.

Writer, Elizabeth O’Connor says, “To bless the people who have oppressed our spirits, emotionally deprived us, or in other ways handicapped us, is the most extraordinary work any of us will ever do.”

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Does forgiveness matter today? Yes. Without forgiveness we are robbed of living in the freedom and joy that our Father God wants us to live in.

Take a good look at the world we live in. What if countries forgave each other? What if tribes forgave each other? What if world leaders forgave each other? What if church denominations forgave each other? What if friends forgave each other? What if husbands and wives forgave each other? What if children and parents forgave each other?

What IF?

We have the choice.

Every day.

To forgive, or to hold on to unforgiveness in our hearts and miss out on what God has in store for us…

What is the reward? It’s a life lived free of regret, redeemed, and restored.

Forgiveness: remember – it’s “scandalous.”

Let us prayerfully choose well.

Daily His,

Ally

Scandalous Forgiveness

Colossians 3:13 – …bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Have you ever had to be forgiven for something? Have you ever had to forgive someone? I can pretty much assume we have all been on both sides of forgiveness.

Phillip Yancey refers to forgiving others as “the scandal of forgiveness.” I love that! The scandal of forgiveness is that forgiveness does not make sense. It’s not natural, it’s not human nature. It’s scandalous!

When we feel wronged, our human nature tells us, “You have been sinned against. You deserve to be upset, and apologized too. That person needs to come and admit what they did was wrong, and THEN maybe I’ll forgive them. It all depends if they are sincere or not.” *sigh*

Human nature wants to ‘teach them a lesson’ doesn’t it? But doing life God’s way turns it all around! What’s so amazing about grace is that it doesn’t make human sense. Learning about forgiveness starts with JESUS. He went to the cross to forgive us of our sins. He was blameless. There was nothing in Him that deserved death on cross, yet; He went there for you, and for me. He bridged the huge chasm of sin between God and us.

Even as Jesus hung on the cross, one of the thieves next to him asked for forgiveness for his sins as he was dying. Jesus knew full well that it was a request of desperation. But Jesus responded, “… you will be with me in paradise…”. He forgave. Grace. It’s scandalous. The love God has for us was scandalously given through His Son Jesus.

Forgiveness is a tough thing isn’t it? We have our pride to cut through. Sometimes that can be pretty challenging.

…bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Have you ever had a conflict with someone, a friend, a spouse, a family member – and after the conflict you wait, and wait… for that person to come to you FIRST to resolve it? I sure have. I have gritted my teeth, and set my jaw and said, “Nope, they have to come to me first, and THEN we’ll talk about it!” Oh how wrong that is… There’s a natural destructive cycle that stems from this way of thinking.

We have pain. Then we blame. Then the pain returns because we haven’t resolved our pain and oftentimes anger with the other person involved. So then we blame them again for not coming to us to resolve the original pain. And the cycle goes on and on.

Unresolved.

UNTIL, someone steps up to the plate and shatters that cycle and says: “Enough!”

Many times forgiveness is downright UN-fair. Hindu’s believe in karma. Karma is when you get what you deserve.

But for Christians, forgiveness is getting and giving what is UN-deserved. It’s grace. Think about what it would be like if WE got what we deserved? Yikes. In the same way, God calls us to extend the hand of forgiveness through the love of Jesus, to those who have hurt us expecting nothing in return.

Phillip Yancey writes, “Forgiveness offers a way out. It does not settle all questions of blame and fairness – often it pointedly evades those questions – but it does allow a relationship to start over, to begin anew.”

Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? Or someone you need to ask for forgiveness from? Don’t wait. Unforgiveness is one of the worst prisons we can be in. God doesn’t want us sitting in that prison being hurt, angry and separated from loved ones. I’ve certainly been on both sides way too many times to count. I’ve done forgiveness, and I’ve greatly failed at it.

Life is fragile. It’s fleeting. Don’t waste a second of it living in unforgiveness. Be scandalous today – forgive as He calls us to forgive! When someone asks you how you are today, respond, “I’m feeling scandalous!” It’ll be a great conversation starter I’m sure!

God bless you all!!!

Daily HIS!

Ally