Forgiven

One of the central things that we must understand in the Christian walk is the concept of forgiveness.  Not only from the perspective that we are forgiven, but how we can forgive others.

The issue that we face is that when it comes to our own forgiveness we tend to forget that we are completely forgiven by the blood of Christ and the sacrifice that he made for us.  The biggest issue that many have today is that they tend to follow the mindset that “God can’t forgive” them.  The real issue that I have seen in my time in ministry is that this is more of a case of them being unable to forgive themselves for the past they have.

Today we have to realize that for us to receive the blessings of God’s forgiveness in our lives, we must be willing to forgive ourselves and let go of the things that are holding us back.

The other concept of forgiveness is that we tend to get caught up in holding grudges and refusing to let go of things that are causing division in our personal relationships.  The issue with this is that it carries over into our churches and in many cases causes a split within a congregation as the two sides lobby for support among the members.

Neither of these will help us as we begin to move forward, we must exercise forgiveness in our lives for God’s will and blessing to work in us.

God has already forgiven each of us for the things we have done and the things we will do.  This doesn’t mean for us to go on sinning because we have forgiveness, but means that any mistake we have made and will make is covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. It also means that we must realize that true forgiveness from God starts when we are able to let go of things on our own and forgive ourselves.  We tend to hold on to those things because we know how we would react if those same things were done to us, but if we feel that way, then why do we do them?

I encourage you today, forgive yourself and let go of the things holding you back from receiving a blessing.  Also, offer the same forgiveness to others.  In being Christ to those around us we not only need to serve when we can, but we also need to offer forgiveness and let go of the things that keep us from growing in our relationships with him.

These grudges and ill-will issues that we hold to are cancers within a church and can cause so many problems that can rip the church apart at the seams.

Today, offer forgiveness; ask others to forgive you.  Today, take the time to strengthen the church, not cause the weakening of its foundations.  Allow God to be God today, and allow His forgiveness to work for us all and through us all today.

One

Sports are a big part of my life…I’ve played sports my entire life, as a sports writer, and now as a coach and sportscaster, I seem to follow them around quite a bit.  One lesson that I have learned about life from sports is the aspect of unity.  Teams that win championships seem to have this aspect of the game down…a team that works together, wins together.

What is unity?

unity /ˈyunɪti/ [yoo-ni-tee]

–noun, plural -ties.

1. The state of being one; oneness.

2. A whole or totality as combining all its parts into one.

3. The state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification.

4. Absence of diversity; unvaried or uniform character.

5. Oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement.

(dictionary.com)

The state of being one…oneness; this is the central aspect to teamwork…teams that work together…win together…because they are ONE.  I look at the NCAA championships in just about every sport and think about the champions.  Every champion won the championship because of a unified purpose and a unified goal…to win the National Championship.  A group of individuals who each have specific roles in the game plan…who found a way to work through the differences of role to bond together for the common purpose.

The second definition stating, “A whole or totality as combining all its parts into one” is a huge key as well to the teamwork aspect of a sports team.  It also reminds me of the cartoon of Captain Planet…the way that they would call for Captain Planet would be to bond together seeing the common goal…and then combining their powers of Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and Heart summon Captain Planet.  The interesting part of this combination would then be Captain Planet’s statement…”When your powers combine…I am Captain Planet.”

This is something that is central to the life of a Christian as well…look with me at the book of Ephesians…

19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

— Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV)

Paul uses this theme of unity to describe the oneness that the church at Ephesus needed to have.  Paul also used a theme of unity in 1 Corinthians 12 when describing the body.  He states that the body is not one but many parts, and that it must work together…each part in its own capacity…to benefit the body in the greatest fashion…

22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

— 1 Corinthians 12:22-27 (NIV)

Paul wanted to get the point of unity across to the church…Paul wanted them to understand what being a part of the body of Christ truly meant in the grand scheme of things when it comes to being a follower of Christ.  But this is not a foreign concept to Paul…because if you look back at the book of John you see that unity was part of Jesus message as well…When Jesus was praying in the garden – He prayed for unity of the church…

20“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

— John 17:20-26 (NIV)

Unity…the common theme of the modern church; which means that no matter the denomination…whether it be Baptist…Christian…Methodist…or any other…the church itself should stand firm in the truth that the God of the universe is the common denominator.  Stop basing your walk on what building you attend and start basing it on the God you serve.  The only way for the world to come to know the love of God is for the church to band as one…to join in the cause…and to exemplify what God means to a dying world.

God loves His children…enough so that Jesus died on a cross…ONCE…for ALL.  If we were supposed to be a group of people who were to be solo acts when it comes to the furthering of the kingdom…why would the writers of the New Testament find it important to speak of the unification of the body?  How are you living?  Are you working together for the common cause?  Does your church join with others to further the Father’s work?  The battle between the denominations has to stop for the Kingdom of God to be fully realized here on earth…Stop saying my church does this…or my church believes that…because in the bigger picture…we are all part of the same Church…we are all part of the Bride of Christ….

That doesn’t mean we should go it alone though…

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

— Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)

Let the light of Christ shine through you today…and band with fellow believers in the sharing of the Gospel to which we are all a testimony…

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

— 1 John 1:7 (NIV)