Come to the table and eat…

Having meals together around the kitchen or dining room table is something fewer and fewer families are doing nowadays.  Having hectic schedules to contend with; both parents working; electronic technologies competing for our precious spare time; children involved in after-school and recreational activities that carry on into the early evening, and “dinner on the run”; the luxury of quality family fellowship around the meal table is slowly becoming extinct in many households.

What’s the effect?  Family values are not strengthened; parental input and oversight weaken; family unity breaks down resulting in family dynamics that are drastically redefined.  There is no opportunity for the children to learn of their family heritage or histories; no opportunities to “pass down” treasures of the family.  In a sense there is disconnectedness among the family; each person striving for themselves and not necessarily for the common good of the family.  Then there are those fractured families; those with only a single head; either a mom or a dad.  In these cases, there is even more magnification of disconnect and loss of the common good of the family unit.

Society has drifted far from the will of God in reference to family dynamics, especially as it pertains to unity and fellowship.  The influence of modern values, worldviews, philosophies, and morals have corrupted and tainted the family.  God knew this outcome would happen.  He knew the world would bring this deterioration to the family.  I believe that is why He commanded those who are in His family to commune together regularly and commemorate the heritage and history of the chosen people of God.  We are His children; Jehovah is our Father; Jesus the Son is our Savior and Lord; the Holy Spirit is our Paraclete and teacher and the body of believers is who make up our family unit.  God wants His family to function differently than the families of the world.  God wants our focus to be centered on Him and all He provides for His family.  God wants His family unified through intimate fellowship.

So why are we saying to our family members things that God has not said to us concerning fellowship around the meal table?

Why are many born-again believers in Jesus Christ being told by pastoral leadership they are not worthy to participate in the communion meal because of unconfessed sin in their lives; because they have not forgiven someone that harmed them; because they are holding an aught in their heart toward someone or because they have backslidden into old sinful behavior patterns?  Why is this happening?

Could it be we are leaning onto the traditions of man and having the counsel of God darkened over our minds and hearts?  Have we forgotten the command we were given that said to do our best to present ourselves to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth?

I believe this to be the case!!!  Instead of properly exegeting (pulling out of scripture) the interpretative will of God as it pertains to the communion meal, we have put into scripture (eisegesis) what God has not put there.  Because of this, we have wrongfully misinterpreted the will of God as it pertains to communion and has denied many born-again believers their inherited right to partake of the communion elements along with the rest of their God-given family members.

Do you find yourself being one of the people who has been told you cannot take communion?  Have you been told that if you are guilty of any of these sins in your life and proceed to take communion that you will be bringing judgment upon yourself?

Are you one of these people?  If you are, let me say you are being misguided and being taught an untruth” concerning your privilege to participate in the communion meal.

The misguidance stems from a traditional misinterpretation of scripture passages from 1Corinthians 11:23-32, specifically the 26th to the 29th verses.

Somewhere in the annals of Christian tradition lie three false teachings that come from verses 26-29.

  1. The first deals with “unworthiness” in taking communion
  2. The second deals with what a person is to examine in himself before taking communion
  3. The third pertains to the nature of judgment that is brought upon someone for sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.

I say “untruth” because any doctrinal teaching that is not reflective of the revealed will of God is a false and untrue doctrine.  When such false doctrine is assimilated and incorporated into the sanctification walk of the believer, it weakens their faith and opens them up to deception.  We must exercise great caution and care to guard against such teachings.

So, from where did this false teaching originate?  It came from interpreting verses 26-29 out of context to the body of scriptures that surround the account of the Church at Corinth concerning the communion meal.  The Apostle Paul was concerned about the manner in which they came together to take the Lord’s meal.

Somewhere, there developed a misinterpretation of the following points:

  1. Unworthiness
  2. Self-examination
  3. Judgment
  4. Reason for doing communion

It is incumbent upon us then, to shed the light of truth on these four verses; to deliver people from the shackles that have held them back from communing with their brothers and sisters, and to restore them back to their rightful place at the communion table.

But before we can learn anything about communion, we must construct a basement foundation that it will rest upon.  Why should we do this?  Because any structure is wholly dependent on its foundation.  Poorly constructed foundations provide poor support for the building; well-constructed foundations provide excellent support for the building, so we must build an excellent basement foundation of knowledge to rest our communion table upon.

Transcendence is our basement foundation.

It is defined as to be independent of the world; to exist above and apart from the material world. 

By implication, whatever is transcended is not subject to the physical limitations of the material world, it rises above those limitations and is free to become something else; something the material world could not limit it from becoming.

Jesus Christ is who introduced the dynamic of transcendence to us during His observation of the Passover Meal on the night He was arrested.  In order to understand the significance of transcendence we must first build a sub-basement from the following three areas:

  1. The Historical Old Testament Passover Meal
  2. The Significance of the Old Testament Passover Lamb
  3. The Identification of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb

The Historical Passover Meal

The Israelites were enslaved by the Pharaohs of Egypt for 430 years.  The Nation of Israel is the chosen people of God who were in physical bondage and slavery and could do nothing on their own to escape.  They were in need of rescue and only God could do it.

The difference between “rescue” and “escape” is that if you can get yourself out of danger, you have escaped.  If you can do nothing to escape then you need someone to overpower your situation and get you out of danger, you need rescue.

The manner God chose to rescue his people was through the means of a substitutionary sacrifice of an innocent animal.  That sacrifice brought propitiation, (the regaining of favor or the goodwill of God) to his chosen people.  In this case, it protected the Israelites from the anger, wrath, and agitation of God toward Pharaoh.

The head of each Israelite home sacrificed an innocent lamb and used its blood to cover the doorposts and lintel of the entrance to the home.  When the death angel came to destroy all the firstborn in Egypt, (men and animal), he passed over” those homes that had blood on the doorposts and lentil.  The judgment of God toward Pharaoh passed over those inside the homes.  Deliverance from their physical bondage came that night because God broke the shackles of captivity and slavery under Pharaoh and the next day the Israelites left Egypt and headed toward the land of promise – Caanan.

This account of physical deliverance from bondage in Egypt authored by Jehovah God is a true historical event. It gave to mankind a prophetic foreshadowing of the process of spiritual deliverance and rescue from the bondage of Sin and death that was to come through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the propitiation of God’s judgment against fallen man.

After their deliverance, God commanded the Israelites to remember and celebrate the events of that night throughout the generations so the people would not forget that God Himself rescued them and brought them out of bondage.

The commemorative meal is called the Passover Meal.

The Significance of the Old Testament Passover Lamb

The lamb that was chosen to be sacrificed had to be a one-year-old male without physical defect.  It had to be slaughtered and then eaten by every member of the family. Its blood was used to “cover” the doorposts of the home; to act as a sign to the death angel that those behind the door belonged to God, His chosen Israelite Nation, and they were to be shielded from the wrath of God’s judgment on the first-born of Egypt. The lamb took the place of the first-born in each Israelite home.  The lamb was sacrificed in their place.  It was reckoned worthy to be sacrificed because it was without physical defect, and innocent.  Since the life of every creature is contained in its blood, there had to be an exchange of life as payment for the cost of rescue; the life of the lamb in place of the life of the first-born.  This exchange is called substitution, the taking of one life in place for another. The sacrifice propitiates the anger, wrath, and agitation of God.

The Identification of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb

God’s disposition toward mankind with respect to being spiritually separated from His presence as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, is to bring reconciliation and restoration between Him and who he spiritually created – man.  This can only be accomplished by appeasing the wrath He has against mankind and pacifying His desire to condemn mankind to an eternal second death separation in the lake of fire.  Enter Jesus Christ.  He is the manifestation of God’s grace toward mankind.  He is the atoning sacrifice that brings propitiation for man’s sinful nature.  What I mean is that Jesus Christ brings forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration between God and mankind as a result of his sacrifice on the Cross at Calvary.

Jesus Christ can do this for one reason and only one reason.  He is accepted by God to be innocent of sin.  He is unblemished as it relates to sin.  He is in this respect as the Passover lamb was; innocent and unblemished.  This fact qualifies him to be an acceptable sacrificial entity that represents all of mankind in God’s sight.

It is crucial that you understand this point of fact.  Adam represents all of mankind from the human perspective and Jesus represents all of mankind from the human perspective because he was fully human when he walked the earth more than two thousand years ago.  Adam sinned against God, Jesus Christ did not.  Therefore, all mankind is credited as sinning against God because of Adam and all mankind is credited as not sinning against God because of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ being an acceptable sacrificial entity had to die (pay the cost for sin) in order to bring propitiation (appeasement) from God.  This act of Jesus Christ brings spiritual deliverance from the wrath and condemnation of God.  It brings spiritual release from the bondage of sin and death and the authority of Satan over our lives.

It is this recognition that one must have when they are taking communion.  The transcendent recognition of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  No other focus is to be in mind.  If the elements of the communion meal are taken without full transcendent recognition of these points, then judgment is the outcome.

Therefore, if anyone has received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, then they are not to be denied a seat at the communion table. The requirement to sit at the communion table has nothing to do with a sinful lifestyle.  The requirement has everything to do with what Jesus Christ has done.  He gave His body to satisfy the requirements of the Law, and He shed His blood to provide remission of sin.  Your acknowledgment of this, and your receiving of Him as Lord and Savior are all that is needed for you to partake of the communion meal.

So, come to the communion table with a heart of peace, and gratitude, and love for what Jesus Christ has done for you.

Infidelity

This article is for married men and women who are ignorant of fidelity.  Now before you say to yourself “That’s not me…I’m not ignorant about fidelity”, be absolutely sure that you know what I’m speaking about before you stop reading any further.

Fidelity defined: faithfulness to a moral obligation, pledge, promise or vow.  It implies complete submission; complete entrusting; and complete allegiance to that which you have committed yourself to.  The key word in this definition is COMPLETE.

Therefore, can you say that you have been completely faithful in the fulfillment of your marital vows to your spouse since the day you said: “I Do”?  If you can say “Yes I have” then you can stop reading, but let me challenge you to consider one more thing before you do.  The word complete implies total; nothing lacking.  Can you say with assuredness that you have never fallen short in your words, thoughts or deeds concerning fidelity with your spouse?

Humm…I thought you couldn’t.  Let’s learn something then about the word fidelity and how we have many times missed the mark in our marital relationships by manifesting infidelity in ways we never thought we were.

By its definition, fidelity is not confined to marriage.  It is a condition that is applicable to any commitment.  Infidelity then would mean there was a breach in faithfulness concerning a promise, pledge, vow or moral obligation to someone that resulted in a violation of the commitment of fidelity between the parties involved.

So, when we use infidelity in the context of marriage, we must replace the misconception that the word implies only having sexual relations outside the covenant of marriage.  There is a much deeper significance we must come to understand.

It is easy for us to focus on issues of adultery, substance abuse, gambling, physical and verbal abuse as behaviors that undergird marital discourse.  These are like “bombs” that explode in our faces.  As a result, they are not hard to identify.  They are extremely devastating to any marital covenant.  But there is another “villain in the camp” that we pay very little attention to.  This villain is subtle and appears innocuous but brings a sense of anesthesia into relationships that cause a gradual state of emotional numbness to develop.  The villain’s name is Mr. Erosion, aka Mr. Drip/Drip/Drip.

You know how he works.  I’m sure you’ve seen him do his thing in nature.  He’s that constant drip of water that keeps striking in the same spot on the earth, and over time, erodes the soil it’s been pounding on to create a crevice that penetrates deep into the ground.  Can you recall seeing his works?

Well, did you know that he likes to abide in marital relationships also?  Instead of water, he uses things like impatience; unkindness; jealousy; envy; boastfulness; pridefulness; haughtiness; selfishness; rudeness; demanding one’s own way; irritability; or holding records of wrongs.

Through these areas, he develops insensitivities between husband and wife.  Each tries to initially co-exist with these insensitivities, but as time goes on in the marriage they find themselves emotionally distancing from each other.   One insensitivity leads into another and the intensity of the insensitivity grows; more distancing occurs until there becomes an emotional “crater” existing between them.  You begin hearing one of them say: “He doesn’t love me like he use to” or “She doesn’t show me respect anymore” or “We don’t seem to connect with each other anymore” or “We are always arguing over the little things”.

In my tenure as a biblical counselor, I have encountered numerous marital cases that were byproducts of these emotional erosions.  The geography of the crater that these couples present in counseling is often times very deep, very jagged and very treacherous.  For the spouse who has fallen into that crater, negotiating the terrain back to the surface isn’t easy because of the extent of emotional numbness that exists.

Do you remember the vows you made to your spouse on your wedding day?   When was the last time you took an inventory of them?     The covenant of marriage is the most basic of relationships established by God.  He expects us to be virtuous in that covenant.  If you don’t remember what you vowed, how can you guard against Mr. Erosion?

What specifically did you vow to your spouse?  Was it to love and cherish and care for?   Was it to honor, obey and respect?  Was it to be there for your spouse in sickness and in health?  Was it to forsake all others?  Fidelity is the cornerstone of any relationship. Does it matter to you that God expects you to be virtuous in his covenant?

Let me give you a homework assignment that will complete your schooling on fidelity.  Meditate on the following scripture passage from the Living Bible, and then write a letter to your spouse relating what the Holy Spirit has revealed to you about your role in the marital covenant.

Ephesians 5: 21-27, 33 (TLB)

{21} Honor Christ by submitting to each other. {22} You wives must submit to your husbands’ leadership in the same way you submit to the Lord. {23} For a husband is in charge of his wife in the same way Christ is in charge of his body the Church. (He gave his very life to take care of it and be its Savior!) {24} So you wives must willingly obey your husbands in everything, just as the Church obeys Christ. {25} And you husbands, show the same kind of love to your wives as Christ showed to the Church when he died for her, {26} to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s Word; {27} so that he could give her to himself as a glorious Church without a single spot or wrinkle or any other blemish, being holy and without a single fault. {33} So again I say, a man must love his wife as a part of himself; and the wife must see to it that she deeply respects her husband – obeying, praising, and honoring him.

Stop the erosion in your marriage.  Renew your wedding vows by restating them to each other.  Do it soon.  Do it this weekend.  Send the kids to a sitter and go for a weekend getaway.  Dress up.  Go to dinner.  Create an atmosphere of intimacy.  Speak life back into your marriage by vowing to each other that you will protect the fidelity of each vow.  Commit to edifying each other every day.  Commit to love and honor and respect your covenant of marriage.  Commit to letting infidelity be a thing of the past.

I pray that you were able to digest this and I pray that God gives you the courage and desire to revive the flame that was ignited between you and your spouse on the day you entered into His blessed covenant of marriage.

A devotional challenge – What Foundation Is Your House Built On?

Read this devotional message and then challenge yourself to follow what it’s asking you to do:

Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)

24”Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Insights:      Jesus Christ is the one making this statement.  He presents a truth; an insight into an element of belief that is overlooked many times by believers or not fully understood.

That element is “acting on what you believe”

People make decisions every day in accordance with what they believe, and what they believe is a result of their own processes of acceptance or rejection of presented facts.  A person will assume a posture of a belief that will reflect their understanding of those presented facts as being either true or false.

What is significant for us to note is what does the person do with their beliefs? They can either act on them or not.  Just because someone has a belief in something does not mean they will act on that belief.  When they “act on” their belief it is because they put their trust and reliance on it.  When they “do not act on” their belief it is because their trust and reliance are lacking.

We are told in the Gospel of John 1:14 (NIV) that Jesus is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.  We are also told in Psalm 119:160 (NIV) that all of God’s words are true and eternal.

Therefore, in verse 24 of our devotional scripture passage, Jesus is speaking about those persons whom He calls wise, who hear His words of truth and accept them as truth and act on them out of trust and reliance.

In verse 26 of our devotional scripture passage, Jesus is speaking about those persons whom He calls foolish, who hear His words of truth and accept them as truth but do not act on them because of a lack of trust and reliance.

Jesus is giving us insight into the dynamics of what our faith should be.  The truths of God’s words are what we are to trust and rely on.  If we do what He tells us to do – we are demonstrating the trust we have in Him.  If we do not do what He tells us to do – we are demonstrating a lack of trust in Him.

Jesus is telling us that only by having trust in Him and doing what He asks us to do will ensure that we will overcome the situations, circumstances, trials, and tribulations that come upon us.  We can and will withstand these things because we are anchored on a “rock” foundation that is not moved by any situation, circumstance, trial or tribulation.

On the contrary, if someone has little trust in what Jesus says then they will find themselves not doing what He asks of them and when those situations, circumstances, trials or tribulations come upon them they will suffer great loss.

Application:      Examine yourself over the next thirty days to see how much trust and reliance you are putting in Jesus Christ in the various situations, circumstances, trials, and tribulations you encounter.

Do the following:

  1. Write down what situation, circumstance, trial or tribulation you find yourself confronted with.
  2. Write out the options you have concerning your responses to these areas by drawing a line down the middle of a piece of paper. On one side, label it “My Ideas” to solve the situation. On the other side, label it “Jesus’ Methods” to solve the situation.
  3. Use your Bible to locate various scriptures that speak to your situation. Write those scripture references on the side of your paper labeled “Jesus’ methods.”
  4. Compare your side to Jesus’ side and see what discrepancies exist between the way you would handle your situation and the way Jesus would.  If there are discrepancies you will have to ask yourself how much you believe that Jesus’ methods are true and better than yours. The proof of your faith will be evident with your decision to follow Jesus’ methods.
  5. Record how many times you were successful following your methods’ versus how many times you were successful following Jesus’ methods.

Prayer:        Lord, give me the desire to put into practice the truths of your Word concerning all of the situations, circumstances, trials or tribulations I find myself in.  Strengthen my faith through my obedience in fully trusting and relying on your Word so that I can experience your wisdom of standing in you as my “rock” of deliverance.  Change me, Lord.  Change my habits of reliance on myself so that I can bring glory and honor to you in the way I respond to life’s challenges.

It is in Jesus name I pray.   Amen.

I once was blind, now I can see…

The ability to “see” is a remarkable phenomenon we possess as human beings.  This phenomenon is made possible by the reflection of light rays off of an object that is then transmitted onto the surface of the retina of our eyes.

When this happens we say we can “see” the object and are then able to interpret the image we “see”.  Without the light rays or their transmission to our retina, it is impossible to “see” anything.

Our physical eyes give us physical sight, but our spiritual eyes give us spiritual sight.  Both require the reflection of light rays.

In the physical, the light rays come from the sun or moon; in the spiritual, the light rays come from the Word of God.

Since we understand the physical sense of sight, let us gain some understanding of the spiritual sense of sight as it is told to us in the Bible.

The Bible tells us that our lives are lived in either “darkness” or in “light”. 

Things that are untruths or lies are said to be “darkness”.  Things that are truth, are said to be “light”.

If you were in a room that had no light, just pure blackness, and it was filled with furniture, you would probably have difficulty moving around in it without bumping into something or tripping over something because of the darkness of the room.  Your movements would be hindered, tentative, unsure and clumsy.  You would grope around trying to feel your way because you were not able to “see” your way around.  The situation would be completely different if the room was lighted.  In that case, you would be able to “see” things in your path clearly and would move freely and effortlessly throughout the room.

Well as a Christian, we see the world through our eyes of faith in Jesus Christ, who told us in the Gospel of John 14:6 that he was the way, the truth and the life.

If Christ is the truth, then He is light, and it is His light that is reflected in the “retina of our spiritual eyes” which is our faith.

Because of this, we are able to say I “see” the truth of God in this or that.  Those areas in my life where I was groping around in the lies of “darkness”, have now been lighted with the “light” of truth because of my faith in Jesus Christ.  I am now able to move freely and effortlessly around those “things” in my life, that were once in darkness and that caused hindrances in my relationship with Him.

Thank God for rescuing me from the kingdom of darkness and bringing me into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who has given me the ability to “see” the “light” of truth that is in Christ Jesus.

Is what you see, what you get?

Jesus tells us of an account he had with a fig tree when he was hungry.  It can be found in Mark 11:12-14 (NLT):

The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus felt hungry.  He noticed a fig tree a little way off that was in full leaf, so he went over to see if he could find any figs on it.  But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit.  Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!”  And the disciples heard him say it.

Jesus expected to find figs on the tree to satisfy His hunger because the tree advertised it was carrying figs evidenced by its foliage, but when Jesus didn’t find figs, he cursed the tree.  What Jesus expected to find, he didn’t.

When people look at you, a professing born-again believer in Jesus Christ, what do they see?  Do they see the evidence of your union with the Holy Spirit or do they see your association with the world?

The fruit of your foliage is supposed to be the fruit of the Spirit:

(love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.)

Is that what people see when they examine you?

Be who you say you are; a born-again believer in Jesus Christ.  Let the phrases: it is, what it is or what you see, is what you get be true of you.

An Eternal Sleep

I laid on my bed one night tumultuously struggling with thoughts of death.  My emotions were overwhelmed with the terror of not being able to escape such a dreadful fate.  I pulled the covers over my head wishing I could find some refuge but my fear only grew in intensity.  As I tossed from side to side I could not stop myself from trembling and crying.  In my mind and in my spirit I keep saying, “I don’t want to die; I don’t want to die” but my thoughts were oppressive and kept me terrorized with fear.

Then a calm overtook me, like when clouds roll back from a storm and you feel the warmth of the summer sun come out and light your face with a cool accompanying breeze.  I heard the voice of the Lord speak softly to my spirit.  He said, “You are my child because you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord and you, therefore, belong to Me.”  He told me that He loves me and is always with me.  He told me how His unfailing love for me has been graciously preparing me for the very moment that I found myself so fearful of.  He reminded me how I have practiced every night of my life for the very moment when I will physically die.  And He assured me that I had become well versed in the process.  That process is called “falling asleep.”

Peacefully, every night of my life I have rehearsed my grand exit from this world.  As I fall asleep each night I cannot recall exactly when I lose consciousness and fall into a state of sleep, but it is something that happens regularly with no fanfare or fear.  How peaceful those moments are; how unafraid I am of falling asleep at those times.

The Lord reminds me that that is exactly what is going to happen to me when I physically die.  He says I am going to go to sleep one more time, then when I awake, because I belong to Him, I will wake up to find myself with Him in paradise for eternity.

Understand one thing: People will have an experience of thinking about death at some point in their lives.  For some, it may come when they are small children.  For others, it may come when something has threatened their life.  Some might witness a loved one die right before their eyes and wonder where they have gone to.  Regardless of the circumstance, rest assured, people are destined to confront their mortality at some point in their lives.

Death has become a reality:  Death was never in God’s original design for man.  Man’s sin brought the consequences of physical death from this world and spiritual death from God into existence.

Death affects the human spirit in two ways.  It separates the human spirit from the presence of God and it separates the human spirit from the physical body.

Adam and Eve brought a curse on all humanity in the Garden of Eden when they sinned against God.  As a result, everyone’s spirit is separated from the presence of God at birth.  Everyone is “spiritually dead” at birth.

In addition, everyone will experience a “physical death”, where there will be a separation of their spirit from their physical body at the end of their physical life.  Both of these deaths are a reality we all face.

Unless you have knowledge concerning your human spirit, the thought of death creates anxiety, fear, and trepidation. Unless you have knowledge of God’s love for you and what He has done to resolve the dilemma of your human spirit, the thought of death stings your very soul.

Scripture identifies two resting places for the human spirit when physical death comes.  One is for those who are reunited with the presence of God through rebirth and the other is for those who remain separated from the presence of God through the rejection of Jesus Christ.  The location of the former is the bosom of Abraham; the location of the latter is Hell.

You see, man cannot change the reality of his physical death; the separation of his human spirit from his physical body.  But he can change the reality of his separation from the presence of God.

By believing in Jesus Christ’s death as the propitiation for man in satisfying God’s judgment for Adam’s sin and by believing in Jesus Christ’s resurrection as God’s justification for man, a provision is given to man that resolves his separation from the presence of God.  The provision is a manifestation of God’s grace. The provision is a gift of God.  It is salvation.  The provision is Jesus Christ.

Accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior brings you into perfect fellowship with God.  It answers the question, which resting place will my spirit go to when it is separated from my physical body.  It will go to the bosom of Abraham.  Positioned to receive a new body that will never be separated from God but united with God eternally.

Scripture says:

1Corinthians 15:50-57 (TLB)

I tell you this, my brothers: an earthly body made of flesh and blood cannot get into God’s Kingdom.  These perishable bodies of ours are not the right kind to live forever.

But I am telling you this strange and wonderful secret: we shall not all die, but we shall all be given new bodies!  It will all happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown.  For there will be a trumpet blast from the sky, and all the Christians who have died will suddenly become alive, with new bodies that will never, never die; and then we who are still alive shall suddenly have new bodies too.  For our earthly bodies, the ones we have now that can die, must be transformed into heavenly bodies that cannot perish but will live forever.  When this happens, then at last this Scripture will come true – “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  O death, where then your victory? Where then your sting?  For sin – the sting that causes death – will all be gone; and the law, which reveals our sins, will no longer be our judge. How we thank God for all of this!  It is he who makes us victorious through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Therefore, if you have accepted Jesus Christ, you can continue your “dress rehearsals” with a peace that surpasses all human understanding.  You never again will have to become fearful about death.

Memory and Forgiveness

In this blog, I am going to present an academic view and a practical perspective, on how the capacity of our memory influences our decisions to forgive and forget an offense that someone has committed against us.

Have you ever thought about how the memories you have concerning an offense influence the decisions you make about forgiving or forgetting?

Ever consider what power your memory exerts over your behaviors, emotions, and thoughts?

If the truth is told, without memory there would be no need to worry about forgiveness, because you would not be able to remember that an offense ever occurred.

What do I mean by that statement?

Well, before I can give insight into the meaning, I must first lay down this foundation:

All memory does is to recall all of our experiences; specifically our past experiences.

MEMORY recalls THE HISTORY OF OUR LIVES

Now here’s the academic view:

The Merriam-Webster dictionary classifies the word memory as a noun and uses a definition that fits our context:  It says that:

“Memory is the power or process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned and retained especially through associative mechanisms.”

It goes on to say that:

“Memory is the store of things learned and retained from an organism’s activity or experience as evidenced by modification, structure, or behavior or by recall and recognition.”

As this definition implies, memory is the foundation for all learning, conditioning, habits, behaviors, and thoughts.

Without the capacity of memory, you would only know how to live for the moment, and that moment would be a new moment, every moment.

For when that moment was over, without a memory, you would not be able to recall it.  It would be gone, non-existent; like it never happened.

But through the process or power of memory, you are able to recall what happened at that moment that had just passed.

You see, memory is needed to bring back to mind those things of your yesterday.

Memory is always past tense, and it is a very critical component of what your present and future tenses can be.

Now consider this interesting insight about “man.”

His experiences of yesterday are the things that influence his here and now; his today.

His yesterday experiences give meaning to his present, here and now, and consequently, help him decide what he has to do in his current situation or in the future.

Therefore “man,” in addition to always learning new things from moment to moment is always in a state of reacting to things or modifying things by recalling past experiences of those things every second of every day of his life.

His world is one of not just continual enlightenment as he relates to those things that are in his environment, or with people whom he interacts, it is a world dominated by present and future decisions that are influenced by past experiences.

The acronym:

“(M)y (E)nlightened (M)ind (O)nly (R)emembers (Y)esterday” …

Is a phrase the Lord gave to me to use for the word “memory.”

Therefore, with regard to forgiveness; when someone offends me, it immediately becomes a historical event one second after it happens.

The incident is then immediately stored in the mind of both the offender and the offended.

It is locked away with all of the particulars that were connected to it; (such as words, emotions, actions, thoughts, sights, smells, sounds, etc.) – all locked away.  It is now historical.

It is something that happened in the past.  It can never be physically relived, only mentally remembered.   It is something that has happened – not something that is happening.

So, thus far, we have successfully laid the foundation that gives meaning to our opening statement which was: If the truth is told, without memory there would be no need to worry about forgiveness because you would not be able to remember that an offense ever occurred.

Therefore, one must rely on the recollection of this historical data in order to bring resolve to the issue of offense.  Without this information, without this memory of the offense, no knowledge of an offense would ever exist.

Think for a moment about this precious capacity of memory we have.  What a wonderful capacity the Lord has given to us.

It is something we use to remind us of where we have been, what we have done, what we have said, what we have learned;

It is something we use to remind us of where we have failed, where we have succeeded, where we have error, where we have fault;

It is something we use to remind us of where we are strong, where we are weak, where we are vulnerable, what we like and what we don’t like.

I believe with the utmost assurance that the capacity of memory is one of the many vital capacities the Lord has equipped us with for growth and maturation not only as human beings but as Christians.

Let us take a look at another academic view of how the Lord tells us to use this capacity of memory in the area of forgiving and forgetting.

First, let us build another foundation by looking at the definitions of both words – Forgive and Forget

The word “Forgive” is a verb (an action word) that has three definitions which say:

  1. To cease to feel resentment against (an offender): pardon.
  2. To give up resentment of or claim to requital.
  3. To send forth, send away, let go from

The implication of these definitions is that a volitional, purposeful, and intentional decision is made to cease to feel resentment; to give up resentment and to let go from oneself.

The word “forget” is also a verb (an action word). BUT we must use its proper form if we are to understand how God uses it in context with the verb forgive.  That verb form would be the intransitive form of the verb which says:

To cease remembering or noticing.  The implication is that a volitional, purposeful, and intentional choice has been made not to remember or bring to mind the offense.

Now, let us put all of this together.

Memory influences our decisions to grant forgiveness or to forget an offense because it precisely brings to mind the entire travesty of the offense, which could and many times does hinder any of our efforts to resolve and/or reconcile our relationship with the one who has offended us.

As the offender, our memories are of all the precipitating circumstances that brought us to the point of committing the offense.

As an offender, our memories could be of that desire we had for selfish gain at the expense of another; or that desire we had to hurt, harm, or destroy the person because of prideful motivations we had, or maybe our memories are cloudy and confused from an unwitting innocence.

As the offended, our memories are of all the emotional hurt, physical hurt, financial loss, personal violation, betrayal, injustice, anger, disappointment, which we suffered.

Memory recalls these historical facts – brings them to mind, BUT it stops there.

Memory only reminds us of those facts.  Memory does not make us act on those historical facts; something else does.

So that brings us to the crossroad.  Regardless of whatever perspective we come from (offender or offended), the question is what decisions are we to make concerning the historical facts of the offense, what are we to do?

Now the practical perspective is this:

As born-again believers in Jesus Christ, we are to simply be obedient to what Jesus has commanded us to do in the area of forgiving and forgetting an offense.

Even though many will say that there has to be more to it than that, in reality, for the born-again believer, it is the only practical answer.

And just how is that played out?

As the one who was offended – you must make a volitional, purposeful, and intentional decision to choose to forgive and let go from yourself the feelings of resentment toward the offender (when you have had your heart healed and restored by the Lord), and to also volitionally, purposefully, and intentionally choose to biblically forget by not bringing the offense to mind.

As the one who did the offense – you must make a volitional, purposeful, and intentional decision to go and be reconciled to the person you have offended by confessing your guilt and asking for their forgiveness.

Understand that reconciliation can only come from the offended, not the offender.

The syntax is: “go and be reconciled”, notgo and reconcile” – Matthew 5:23.

You might be saying right now: That is not the answer.  Elder, you have no clue.

Well, you are 100% correct. As a human being, I have no clue, BUT my creator and Lord does. He has the just, righteous, and holy answer.

To the offended:   He tells you in Matthew 6:14-15 –

“that if you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

To the one who offended someone:   He tells you in Matthew 5:23-24 –

“that if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24leave your sacrifice there beside the altar.  Go and be reconciled to that person.  Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

You see after all the emotions have died down and you have returned to your ability to think rational thoughts, then as a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, you are left with only one thing to do and that is to obey what Jesus has commanded.

You are to forgive and forget offenses committed against you as the Lord has commanded you, even though the knowledge of the historical facts are locked away in the memory banks of your mind.

And those facts will always be there because they are facts that actually occurred. But it should be your heart’s desire to do what God has commanded if you are born-again.

Scripture says:

“And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.  Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  (Ephesians 4:30-32)

And

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”   (Colossians 3:13)

Therefore “Memory”:

  1. Stores all of our past experiences.
  2. Reminds us of those experiences.
  3. Reminds us also of what the Lord has commanded us to do, especially in the area of forgiving and forgetting an offense.
  4. Reminds us also of the love, grace, and mercy of our Father in heaven and what He has done for us in forgiving our sins and reconciling us back to Himself.

So now you can see what role memory plays in our decision making.

MEMORY ONLY ACTS AS A REMINDER OF WHAT HAPPENED 

The heart is what motivates us to do in response to our memory.  And our heart’s desire should always be to honor the Lord and bring glory to His precious name by following His command to forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.

So, take some time and marinate on this instructional message and I pray that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Amen