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Accepting Forgiveness?

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Accepting ...forgivness?

You know it's really interesting and sad. How we can be so much harder on ourselves, than God is!
We have such a great way of tearing ourselves up!
So much so, that we believe that we are beyond God's love and forgivness. Even after receiving salvation!
We think such things as, "well if I had just not messed up again". Or, "how can God forgive me, or even love me, Im such an idiot". Or, "I knew better". And so we continually beat ourselves up.  
          ...In arrogance!
And what is interesting is this. Even those who are close to God, still sometimes have a hard time just accepting His grace!
We read scripture and place more emphasis on those we want to apply ourselves too. Such as any in the word that gives us instruction. That we know we will still mess up on! But we still try.
Yes, we may have a hard time applying these. But we tend to focus more on what we should be doing. Rather, than accepting what He has already done for us! Afterall, isn't it easier for us to try and "work for it"? Than just accepting it? Isn't that the way our culture is?
Interesting isn't it?
Why is this? Why are we so driven when it comes to "performing". Is it because our society. Has such a hard time with anything that does not require action on our parts?
Well, we know from scripture that the very idea of salvation through Christ counfounds the world:
  "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,"
                (1 Corinthians 1:21-23 NKJV)
Why does it confound the world? Well to the greeks (i.e. gentiles). They seek wisdom. The kind that says things such as, "I must earn, attain (work for) this". Therefore it is based on pride. And how does God feel about pride?
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

      God resists the proud,
      But gives grace to the humble.”
                 (James 4:6 NKJV)
Then there is the side (of salvation) that confounds the norm of the Jewish side:
  “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God."
                 (Deuteronomy 21:22_23 NKJV)
Anyone hung on a tree was considered a curse. So to many of the Jewish people of that time. They believed because of the death that Jesus suffered. That He was accursed.
So it it hard for either side to reconcile the death of Christ. The greeks (gentiles) believed that there was no wisdom to it. They could not earn it, reason it out, too easy, etc. So they do not accept it. The Jews believed Jesus was accursed, so they could not accept it. So here we have a world that does not accept His sacrifice because they cannot rationalize it (in their way of thinking). And that's exactly what God was doing! Confounding the world's wisdom:
  "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence."
                (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NKJV)
So our society is obviously "pre-disposed" to this way of thinking. And we, in turn daily struggle with listening to the world "reason," what they cannot! And we tend to pick some of that reasoning up? Don't we?!
But we must remember what we know to be true:
 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
                       (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
We have been saved by God's grace through Jesus (Jn 3:16). But yet we seem to not be able to get past ourselves, our own short comings. We want to work for everything we receive! But the one thing we can never earn? Salvation!
Now, yes we are all sinners:
 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"
                     (Romans 3:23 NKJV)
Yet God freely gives it to us. His grace:
 "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,"
                   (Romans 3:24 NKJV)
And it is a gift (Eph. 2:8)! Yet we seem to not be able to get past the fact. That it has already been done for us! We keep focusing on our past. The mistakes we sometimes still make (now). Things we think we should do. But yet we rarely ever give much thought to what He has done for us already!
And that He will forgive us when we do sin:

  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

                         (1 John 1:9 NKJV)

Now, think of this. Peter the apostle. Everyone knows (who has read the word) that Peter denied Jesus three times:
  "Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”
 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” 
  And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 
  But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” 
  And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” 
  Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly."
              (Matthew 26:69-75 NKJV)
And Peter's heart was broken. He loved Jesus very deeply. He felt awful for betraying Him. He went out and wept bitterly. And How many of us have done this? Or do this? We feel awful for betraying the Lord and we become so upset and angry with ourselves. And we go out and weep as if there is no going back for us. No forgiveness.
Now, did Jesus stop loving Peter because He denied Him? Of course not! He forgave Peter. But look at how He did forgive him!:
  "So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 
He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep."
           (John 21:15-17 NKJV)
Now, think about this. Jesus asked Peter three times, “Simon, son of Jonah do you love Me?". Could He have just asked him once? Would it have not been sufficient? Of course! But why do you think Jesus did this? Because Peter needed to hear to hear it for himself. Think about it. It would have been sufficient for Jesus to just say, "Peter, I forgive you". But instead He asks him three times, "do you love Me?"
You see Jesus loved Peter so much that He asked him three times if he loved Him. Jesus already knew Peter's heart. Just as Peter said in the last verse (17, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You). But Jesus knew Peter NEEDED to hear it for himself!
Jesus restored Peter to Him! And that's what God does for us when we ask for forgiveness! He restores us to Him (1 Jn 2:1)!!
And we're often the same way aren't we? We need to hear it! We need to be reminded about God's grace and forgiveness!! We need to go back and read the word of God. What it says about God's forgiveness.
We need to be reminded of His love, grace and forgiveness!
You know if we think about it logically. God is a righteous God:
 "For the LORD is righteous,
          He loves righteousness;
          His countenance beholds the upright."
                  (Psalm 11:7 NKJV) 
He means just what He says:
 "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void,
       But it shall accomplish what I please,
       And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
                    (Isaiah 55:11 NKJV)
 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away."
                      (Matthew 24:35 NKJV)
If He says that He will forgive us. Then He, being righteous, will forgive us! He will not go against His nature!! He is not like us!!!
So where do you think the constant accusations come from? From our inability to accept His forgivess? Our arrogance? The evil one's proding of us?
His lies?
  "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it."

                            (John 8:44 NKJV)

His craftiness?

 "And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light."

             (2 Corinthians 11:14 NKJV)

And he will do all he can to make us feel guilty.

Or perhaps part, or all combination of all three?
Now, should we have guilt over our sin? Yes! But when God forgives us? It is forgiven! It is removed from us!! The guilt is gone!!!

Think about this:

 "As far as the east is from the west,
         So far has He removed our transgressions from us."

                     (Psalm 103:12 NKJV)

So when we still feel guilty. It is either us in our arrogance. Mad that we "messed up". Not accepting His forgiveness. Because we are being attacked spiritually by the evil one.

 ....Or did we really ask for forgiveness? Did we really repent?

...And when God forgives, He forgives! Yes?!!

Now, with this. There has to come a time in our walk when we just simply come to terms that yes, we are sinners. That we will always have this struggle.

Just as Paul did:

 "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
      So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."

           (Romans 7:14-25 NIV)

Now, let's look at this same verse with just a little more "insight". Into common everyday language:

  "I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.

 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

 It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

 I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different."

               (Romans 7:14-25 The Message)

You see Paul realized that only Jesus can help him! With the constant struggle between the flesh and the Spirit! And we must remember this also (we are NO different)!!

And that we are saved under grace:

 "who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,"
                       (2 Timothy 1:9 NKJV)
And that we are His children:
 "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him."
                          (1 John 3:1 NKJV)
And just because we may sin. It does not mean that we are "hopeless", or "beyond forgiveness".
You see we must remember. That God did not save us, just to "grill us" like a piece of chicken when we make mistakes!
But, what He does want from us is this. When we fall? To get back right up! Repent, ask for forgiveness. And persevere in our faith! Our walk!!
 "who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;"
                       (Romans 2:6-7 NKJV)
He knows that we will fall. And He wants us to know that He will be there to, "pick us back up":
 "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
                        (1 John 2:1 NKJV)
So the next time you have a hard time accepting forgiveness?
Just remember this. God is not like us! what He say's He means!!
 "The LORD is righteous in all His ways,
          Gracious in all His works."
                (Psalm 145:17 NKJV)
...And that is VERRRRRY good news for all of us! yes?!!

Rev. John Heintzman
Evangelist Non-Denominational
Any questions, comments, prayer requests?

POHOM Columbus, Ohio
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