Tough Love

1 Corinthians 13

The simplest truth about human relationships is that if we just loved one another a bit more, we would have fewer problems.  I know, it is a bit cliche, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Our focus would be consistently outward.  We would be ready to listen and meet the needs of others. God has made it pretty clear that the most hardened heart can soften by showing the quality that embodies who He is, yet it is a weapon we often leave unwelded.  We often list our harshness or judgements under the guise of “tough love”, and this may or may not be true on a case-by-case basis. However, we must stick closely to the prescribed path in 1 Corinthians 13.  It actually might be simpler to love “toughly”, but if you simply write people off, or find a way to punish them, or speak your mind without backing it up with the many other qualities listed here, you are a hollow box and a lot of noise.  What’s tough love, really tough love, is to love someone who isn’t concerned in the slightest with being like God at the moment, or even ever. Love never fails. So you must love. You absolutely must.  And your love must be like God’s love.  Below I reworded one of the most famous passages of scriptures (v.4-7) that coincides with our reading and, most likely, one of the last handful of weddings you attended.  My goal isn’t to add to the list, only to reword it to give it novelty in hopes to make it challenging or convicting instead of a rehearsal of familiar words.  If it helps tune your mind to God’s love, wonderful.  If it is a confusing mess, don’t read it.  My concern is that you know loving is tough, especially those whose actions betray your love.  That shouldn’t stop you.  But THAT is tough love.  And THAT is what God shows to each one of us on the daily.

For God to come in and change the “unlovable” (mind you, this can be and has been you), you must sit and listen. Listen to their problems and hear them say what they think, even if you don’t agree. You have to include them, share with them, and treat them with dignity, even if they are not concerned in the slightest about having any.  To love, you have to let others be great and cheer them on.  Sometimes this means the spotlight will come off of you, or you are treated as less important.  If you are loving, you’re not concerned with that, because in love, others come first.  Love holds back the insults, name-calling, and doesn’t attack a person made in the image of God.  True love can be shown without expecting anything in return and can be left unreciprocated.  On rare occasions, you can have angry love.  You can be mad at someone because they are doing some serious sin damage to others or even him/herself.  But you don’t start there.  You don’t live there.  You are truthful with someone, because lying is not loving.  But you retreat quickly from the fight, and fill the space with mercy, more patience, and more kindness.  That means love is forgiveness, and not holding grudges.  We can love those who have wronged us.  We can love those who have besmirched our reputation, injured our family through carelessness, or hate us because of our beliefs. We may know their wrong to us as a historical account, but not as an emotional one, and we thank God we have an opportunity to show love to them in such a way.  In fact, loving like God means that you would actually stand-up for this person who has done you the greatest harm.  Loving someone means that you are trusting without “but.” And that can be so hard. But trusting in God first and foremost allows you to do that.  Believe in people.  Never give up on people.  Much easier said than done. It’s tough. So tough. But don’t let it stop you from trying. Your efforts are to help others see God, and they will know His love because it has been extended to and shown through you.

-Aaron Winner

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Esther 1-2 and 1 Corinthians 13

Hero of our Faith

Acts 7-8

            Stephen is a great hero of our faith who does not get a lot of limelight, as he is only covered at the end of chapter six and chapter seven.  He is an honorable man we can all learn a lot from, as he was willing to lay it all on the line.

            At the end of chapter six, Stephen was seized for preaching about Jesus of Nazareth.  Some false witnesses ensured that he would get into trouble with the high priest and other Jewish officials.  The high priest had Stephen speak for himself, and that is the majority of the content in chapter seven.  In the first 50 verses of Acts chapter seven, Stephen provides a pretty nice summary from Abraham to King David.  At the conclusion of this summary, he begins to rip into the Jews for being a “stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in hearts and ears,” (Acts 7:51).

            The Jews did not take too kindly to the words of Stephen, so they decided to stone Stephen.  I can’t even imagine the level of pain Stephen would have been going through, as he was being stoned to death.  If it were me, I would have been so riled up in anger, and I would have wanted to retaliate.  However, that is not the course of action that Stephen took.  Just moments before Stephen’s death, he fell “to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’  And when he had said this, he fell asleep,’” (Acts 7:60).  What a way to go out!

            Stephen followed the example set by his Lord and Savior, Jesus of Nazareth, as Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of the people who crucified him.  There is so much to be learned in this short recording of the life of Stephen, a lesson of strength and grace.

            At the same time that Stephen’s life comes to an end, we are introduced to the man who wrote nearly half of the books of the New Testament.  It is an introduction that is only made for the movies (and, well, the Bible).  This man proved to be a foundational piece in the spreading of the gospel message.  He would go by the name of Saul.

            Saul is introduced in the scriptures as approving the execution of Stephen, a hero of our Christian faith.  Not only did Saul approve the execution of one man, but he “ravaged” the church.  Saul went from house to house finding people who claimed to believe in Jesus.  Once he found these people, he would send them to prison.  Surely, this led to many of them having to die for their faith.

            What an awful start to one’s life!  Thank the LORD that Saul did not follow this course of action for much longer, as we will see in the coming chapters.  We can learn from Saul that God is willing, able, and wanting to use anybody, no matter what someone has committed in their past. 

Let this serve as an encouragement to you, as you may struggle with some choices you have made in your past.  Don’t let decisions you made in your past prevent you from being an instrument of God’s work, as God was even willing, wanting, and able to use the likes of Saul, a man who persecuted many Christians.  Praise God that we serve a forgiving God.

There’s a lot to learn here, as we take a look at the life of Stephen and the introduction of Saul.  It’s my prayer that we all learn to have the strength and grace of Stephen, and we don’t let our past stop us from serving God like Saul.

-Kyle McClain

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 7-8

Tomorrow we continue the story of Saul with chapters 9-10. Don’t miss it!

Forgiven to Forgive

Matthew 18

One parable that comes up many times when you talk about forgiveness is the parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  This parable demonstrates how we should forgive others no matter how big their sin is.  But to understand this parable best, we have to understand to whom Jesus was teaching, why Jesus was teaching this parable, and what happened before Jesus started telling the parable.

Before Jesus taught the parable, Peter asks in Matthew 18:21 “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  To him, it probably felt like he was doing more than he needed to by forgiving others that many times.  But Jesus responded that you should forgive others up to seventy times seven times.

After saying this, Jesus goes into the teaching of the parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  The parable starts by telling how the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves.  One of the slaves who had been brought to the king owed him ten thousand talents, which was equal to 20 years of work.  Since the slave could not pay back the money, the king ordered for the slave, his family, and everything he owned to be sold.  The slave pleaded with the king and asked for time to repay everything back to the king.  The king then cancelled the slave’s dept in mercy towards him.

Just like the slave, we are in the debt of God.  The ten thousand talents which the slave could not repay back is like our sins.  We have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  Our response to God is to ask for the forgiveness of our sins, just like what the slave did.  Through mercy, God grants us that forgiveness and cancels our sins.

We are like the slave in the beginning of the parable, but we do not want to be like the slave at the end of the parable.  After leaving the king’s presence, the slave finds a fellow slave who owes him a hundred denarii, and demands to be repaid.  One denarius was worth one day’s wage.  The fellow slave pleaded with the slave, asking for time to repay his debt.  The slave, however, did not show mercy to his fellow slave and had him thrown in jail.  Other slaves who were watching this unfold, went and reported to the king what they had just seen.  When the king found out what had happened, he was very angry for he had shown mercy to the slave, but the slave would not show that same mercy to others.  Because the slave had thrown his fellow slave in jail for owing a debt, the king threw the slave in jail for owing him debt.

This parable concludes with Jesus explaining how if we do not forgive others, God will treat us the same way.  We have been shown mercy by God, deserving to be punished but instead were forgiven.  In the same way, we need to show mercy and forgiveness to others who sin against us.  Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  We want that forgiveness from God, and to receive it we must forgive others who sin against us.  If we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us.  

Saying that we forgive somebody, but not truly forgiving them in your heart, is not real forgiveness.  The forgiveness towards others must come from our hearts to count.  Matthew 18:35 states, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”  In every version that I have looked at, it explicitly states that it must be from your heart.

When forgiveness comes from our hearts, we are forgiving others with no pride or desire for revenge.  If we have pride or a desire for revenge, there is no true repentance or forgiveness.  The slave in the parable did not have true repentance and forgiveness, which caused him to not forgive others.  He had not truly repented, but was glad just to be “off the hook.”

As Ephesians 4:32 says, we need to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving towards others, just as God has forgiven us.

Kaitlyn Hamilton

Kaitlyn, a middle school student from Michigan, has made the most of a wild and crazy 2020 and she is already working on her third time reading through the whole Bible this year. Way to go! Thanks for sharing with us today!

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway – Matthew 18

Tomorrow’s reading will be John 7-8 as we continue on our journey through the Bible. Print your copy of our Bible Reading Plan and hop onboard! Kaitlyn will tell you there is something new to discover every time you read His Word!

Who are You Imitating?

Matthew 5-7

Today’s reading comes from Matthew 5-7.  You may know this as “The Sermon on the Mount”, and this may be among the most well known passages in the Bible.  The Jews Jesus was teaching knew the Old Testament laws really well.  Jesus took this opportunity to focus on what God really requires – he focused on matters of the heart, not just following the letter of the law.

For example, the old law said, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.”  Jesus took it further and taught, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”  This is a difficult teaching, but wait – there’s more.  

Then, in Matt 5:42-45, Jesus tells us, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” – This is even harder to follow.

In this passage, Jesus is telling us more of the reason behind his new rules.  God loves even those who hate him, and he does them good – in spite of their hatred for Him.  And we should imitate this characteristic of God.  Jesus takes this even further in verse 48, where he said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  – Ok, now this isn’t possible to obey without some serious help from God.

In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus said, “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  Basically, this is asking God to forgive me only to the extent I forgive others.  Jesus then told us plainly in Matt 6: 14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  – This is a pretty good reason to forgive others! – But still not easy to do.

Then, Jesus tells us in Matt 7: 1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  – Did you catch that?  I will be judged in the same way I judge others.  This is a pretty good reason for me to not condemn others!  This goes back to the old saying, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.”

As I read these passages, a couple things jump out to me.  First, I need to imitate God as much as possible. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at doing this, so I need to beg for His forgiveness.  Fortunately, He is loving and extends grace.  From His example, I recognize I need to be loving, and extend grace too.

Second, once I recognize I am a worthless sinner, saved only by the grace of God, it’s suddenly easier for me to be less eager to condemn others.  Then, if I can see them through God’s eyes – as other sinners in need of grace – that makes it even easier for me to extend grace to others.  And that grace may take the form of forgiving them, or of not judging them, or even turning the other cheek if they hit me.  On our own, this isn’t possible, but we can do these things with God’s help.  Ultimately, we can (again with God’s help) come to the point of loving or enemies, and blessing those who persecute us.

Jesus closes this section talking about the wise builder (who built on a rock) and the foolish builder (who built on sand).  The wise man was likened to someone who listened to Jesus’ teaching, and put it into practice – building his life on the rock.  The foolish man was likened to someone who listened to Jesus’ teaching, and didn’t put it into practice – building his life without a foundation.  In both instances, storms come.  But only the house built on the rock survived.  By analogy, only the life founded on Jesus’ teachings will not be destroyed.

So again, we find that today’s reading has implications for us today, and for eternity.  And just knowing these truths isn’t enough, we must put them into practice.  Please join me in taking this seriously.  Apply this to your life.  Ask God’s help living up to these requirements that are impossible to accomplish on our own.  Become an imitator of God.  The reward is eternal.

–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Matthew 5-7.

Tomorrow’s reading will be Matthew 8:1-13 and Luke 7 as we continue on our Bible reading plan. SeekGrowLove.

True Repentance

2 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 26

2 Kings 15 9 NLT sgl

 

Today’s reading might have seemed a bit repetitive. Going back to the history books, we are reviewing the reigns of King Uzziah of Judah and several kings of Israel. Did you notice a pattern? Nearly every king is described as having done, “what was evil in the LORD’s sight.” While there could be many ways in which these kings sinned, I noticed every time the phrase “evil in the LORD’s sight” was used it was immediately followed by, “He [the king] refused to turn away…” It seems to me the author is trying to get across a point. The refusal to turn from sin is just as evil and displeasing to God as the sin itself. What God desires, and what none of these kings had is a true repentant heart.

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He knows we are human. He knows we are going to make mistakes. That’s why he sent us Jesus, a way for us to be redeemed. God knows we are going to sin. He is not shocked by our mistakes, while we might be. We might find ourselves in a place we never thought we would be, walking down a road of darkness we never thought we would find. We may see ourselves as too dirty to present ourselves to God, and so continue down a path of sin. Perhaps we find ourselves unworthy of forgiveness and so decide God must feel the same. We keep ourselves from God, and by doing so, remain in sin.

When you sin, what God requires is full repentance. To completely turn away from sin and enter a life of freedom. True repentance means recognizing our sin, turning away from it, and no longer allowing it to define our lives. This last part is key. Do not act as your own judge and jury. God has already forgiven you. He forgave you before you were even born. According to the passages read today, not repenting, continuing to live in guilt, can have just as many negative consequences.

Emilee Ross

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+15%2C+2+Chronicles+26&version=NIV

Tomorrow we begin the book of Isaiah (chapters 1-4) as we continue hearing from God’s word on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Don’t Be a Hater

Proverbs 10-12

Proverbs 10 12 NIV sgl

I have a lot of thoughts and emotions swirling in my head after the death of George Floyd and all the events surrounding it afterward.  There is a lot to dig into and talk about, but I am going to keep this devotion simple by sharing some very pertinent verses from our reading in Proverbs today.

Proverbs 10:12 starts out by saying that hatred stirs up conflict.  Well, that has certainly been proven true.  If you want to dig to the core of this whole problem, racism, you will find hatred there.  People have chosen to hate someone based on the color of their skin.  Some of this hate is intense, and unfortunately leads to death at times, but there are also many people that carry with them a milder form of hate that still makes the problem worse even though it may not be so blatant.

So how should we combat hatred?  The second part of verse 12 says that love covers over all wrongs.  Love is what is needed to make this situation better.  Considering everything that has happened, you might not be feeling that right now.  There is a lot of anger out there, and it is ok to get angry sometimes.  Some things are worth getting angry over. However, that anger can’t last.  It will ruin you and those around you if you hold on to anger for too long.  There have been many wrongs through the years that can’t be undone, but love can cover those wrongs, and forgiveness needs to be part of that love.  The wrongs can be forgotten with forgiveness and love.

You have a choice to make.  Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?  Proverbs 12:18 states, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  You can speak harshly and blame people for their wrongdoings.  You might even be accurate about what you are saying, but if your tone is cruel and insensitive, it is like piercing them with a sword.  A wise person’s words are softer, gentler, loving, and empathetic, which brings healing.

I think it is safe to say that most people have been feeling anxiety over what has been happening.  The first part of Proverbs 12:25 says that anxiety weighs down the heart.  I’m sure many of you have experienced that during these trying times lately.  The good news is that there is a cure for your heart.  The second part of verse 25 says a kind word cheers it up.  Again, you can choose to speak harshly to others about what they have done wrong and make the wounds worse, or you can say something kind to help make their heart glad.

Proverbs 12:20 goes one step further by saying those who promote peace have joy.  Peace feels so good and it is what most of us strive for.  If you can promote peace, even in very small ways, it will bring joy to your heart.  The only thing that will completely end racism is the return of Jesus, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up until then.  I encourage you to make this world a better place one person at a time.  You can’t solve this whole problem by yourself, but you can make it better by being a light to the individuals you come into contact with in your daily life.

I am not saying we all need to pretend nothing happened and try to live happily ever after.  There are many conversations that need to take place and changes need to occur.  I am saying that we need to embrace the wise words from scripture and go into those conversations with love, not with hate boiling on the inside.  You also need to search your own heart to see if there is any hatred there, no matter how strong or mild it may be, and rid your heart of that hatred.  Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs.

Rick McClain

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+10-12&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 13-15 as we find more of God’s wisdom on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Extreme Grace

2 Samuel 8-9 and 1 Chronicles 18

2 Samuel 9 3 NIV

I somewhat recently took a job as a Residential Counselor at Residential Treatment Facility for youth in the teenage age range. These kids have had severe traumas in their lives and have had terrible things done to them and happen in their lives. Most of them have terribly dysfunctional families that have hurt them in extreme ways. In order to cope and also survive through learned behavior they verbally and sometimes physically abuse staff for reasons as simple as being told “No.” There are times they will use all the ammo on you to try to hurt you or get a rise out of you. This isn’t normal teenage behavior like saying I hate you or You are dumb. Think the worst things that people have ever said to you. Now I want to be super clear that these behaviors are not entirely these kids’ faults. They’ve simply been dealt an unfair hand and do not entirely have the capacity to behave in ways other than this.

One night, I was handling a situation with a kid where other kids had lied to a girl, I will call Ivery, and told her the lie and how I reacted to the situation. In an attempt to advocate for the youth on the unit she proceeded to call me every name under the sun. She called me a pervert. She made fun of me in every way she could think of and then because she knew I had a girlfriend started to say anything to get a rise out of me in that area of my life. Finally, when she was running out of ammunition to get me off kilter, she threatened to kill me, my family and my girlfriend. Now, I knew she couldn’t actually pull that off but it was quite an experience to be threatened like that. I responded as best I could and didn’t try to discuss anything when she was just looking for an argument. After the fact I was definitely hurt that anyone would say those things about me.

I would love to say my next shift I just showed up and loved her and it all went away but those feelings stuck with me longer than I would have liked them to.

2 Samuel 9 is a great example of a man who despite what was done to him didn’t let the actions of other people affect how he treated overs. In this chapter David is looking for someone from the house of Saul to bless on account of Jonathan, Saul’s son. If you remember, this is the same Saul who had chased David through the desert and caves all over Israel seeking to kill him. This wasn’t just a brief period of time. Some scholars imagine this time period to be 7 years!! I can’t imagine what I would feel toward my oppressor after being chased under threat of death for even 3 years. All the same, I feel David’s desire to try to find someone from Saul’s house to bless is an amazing story of forgiveness. I could probably write a whole devotion about that but I want to focus on one particular verse of this awesome story.

In verse 3 David is talking to Saul’s former servant and asks him, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?”. This whole line is crazy to me. David is asking and even seeking out someone to bless from the house of Saul. I’ll be honest, most my kindness doesn’t go past the people I interact with. It stays in my world. I am not seeking out people that I can bless.

Let alone am I seeking out people from the family of the man who had just tried to kill me for 7 years and literally only by his death could I return to my home country. But that is David, the man after God’s own heart. This is extreme grace, thoughtfulness and care that he would go out of his way to search out a man from Saul’s house to bless.

The phrase “that I may show the kindness of God to him?” says once again so much about David and how he viewed everything. David releases in this simple phrase any form of ownership to how he was going to bless Saul’s relative. He points it directly back to God. He didn’t try to take the credit and say look at my kindness to my enemy. He identifies back to God.

This line continues to show just how much David acknowledged the fact that what he had wasn’t his. He lived in continual recognition that what he had been given to him was by God. He acknowledges his forgiveness isn’t from himself. His kindness isn’t his. His life isn’t his. His kingdom isn’t his. It is God’s.

He viewed the world not “how can I be kind to people” but rather “how can I show God’s kindness to others.” While the difference is oh so subtle, one is making our good deeds about us and the other is pointing the kindness back to God. David recognized as a servant to God it was no longer him doing it. It wasn’t his resources that he was using to bless this descendent of his enemy it was God’s that he was temporarily in possession of.

Now, in the same way I had the opportunity to show God’s kindness to Ivery the next day by overwhelming her with love or by showing her kindness. Don’t let opportunities slip by in your own life to give away something that isn’t ours. Rather, give away what God has given you to give away.

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+8-9%2C+1+Chronicles+18&version=NIV

Tomorrow we return to the Psalms (50,53,60,75) as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Confess

Leviticus 5-7

Leviticus 5 5 NIV

Confession – yesterday we talked about Christ’s sacrifice replacing the Old Testament offerings. I also mentioned how we often take for granted the fact we no longer have to make the sacrifices. In those sacrifices, it was just that, a sacrifice – the people had to give something that they could have enjoyed because of their sin.

Even though there was a loss, the people had no clear way to alleviate the weight of guilt and find forgiveness in their lives. God has provided another way to help with that – Confession.

Confession is something that is hard to do. Many lie, deny and push blame on others just to avoid confessing. It is something that God asks of us not for his benefit but for ours. I remember being told often as a kid the only way to fix a problem  is to realize there is one. And that is what confession is.

Further, confession gives a proper view on sin, God and ourselves.

The punishment for sin is death – we need a proper view of sin. I have often heard of people talk about their sin as “Not that big of a deal.” Sin is just that, SIN. If it is wrong, we shouldn’t do it. Sin that is not confessed and not repented of leads to missing out on the Kingdom.

God cannot be in the presence of sin – we need a proper view of God. Our God is a holy God. He expects purity not just in our actions but also our hearts. (Matt. 5:8 says the pure heart will see God.)

We cannot do it on our own – we need a proper view of ourselves. We often try to fix our problems on our own. Sin is not something we can fix on our own or earn enough to repay the debt. We need a savior and Christ is willing to step in on our behalf.

A couple tips on confession:

Confess immediately – when you know you have done something wrong do not push it off. It is easy to push it off.

Confess specifically – I hear a lot of prayer that vaguely ask for all sins to be forgiven. Make it personal and specific.

Confess honestly – Take it serious and do not make promises you know you will not keep.

Confess to someone else – this is something I push in the church. For some reason people are afraid of letting others know about their sin. Most will acknowledge they are a sinner but would never discuss their struggles for fear of other’s judgement. Find someone you trust and create an open discussion and ask for accountability.

John Wincapaw

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+5-7&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s reading will be Leviticus 8-10 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

A Perfect Sacrifice

Leviticus 1-4

Leviticus 4 35b NIV

In the first few chapters of the book of Leviticus, we see 5 different types of offerings. God had already redeemed the Nation of Israel; the offerings were God’s way of providing the people an opportunity to regain and keep fellowship with Him.

Fortunately for believers today, we no longer need to keep up with these. For a deeper dig check out Hebrews 10.  Quick summary: Christ’s sacrifice covered it.

I assume most appreciate Christ’s sacrifice but I bet most also take it for granted. Imagine having to make a sacrifice each time we sinned. Instead, we can thank God for his offering. He gave his son so that all can retain and keep fellowship with him. A single sacrifice once for all.

A super quick summary of the 5 offerings:

Burnt offering – the worshipper would bring an animal sacrifice that atoned sin.

Grain offering – an offering that is a response to God’s grace. Part of the best of the worshipper’s produce.

Peace offering – a free will offering that was optional – but above and beyond what was expected.

Purification offering – this was asking for forgiveness for unknown sins or sins of ignorance. It was a way to keep the tabernacle from human defilement.

Guilt offering – this was an attempt to repair the damage done for the sins committed. Not just forgiveness but also restoration.

John Wincapaw

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+1-4&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Leviticus 5-7 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Forgiveness

Genesis 32-34

Genesis 33 4 NIV

Today we are going to look at what happened when Jacob and Esau finally meet again. If you remember the last time the two brothers were together was back in Genesis 27. Whatever city they were in it definitely wasn’t Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. Jacob’s mother actually has to tell Jacob to run away to another land because Esau, his brother, is trying to kill him. Probably Esau rightfully felt these things because Jacob stole his father’s blessing from him and also extorted his birthright. I could imagine having a little bit of hostility towards a brother who did these things to me as well. Luckily, Jacob’s mama gets involved and sends him away to her brother where he was able to get married and prosper.

I can’t imagine the hostility that lay between these two brothers. Some of us are slightly more dramatically than others of us but we have heard people use phrases like, “They ruined my life”. Now I’m not saying that they didn’t but they probably didn’t do it like Jacob did to Esau. Jacob literally took away Esau’s inheritance from him for a bowl of soup. That better have been like some lobster bisque. On top of that while Esau was out hunting for an animal to make his father a nice stew Jacob and his mother went the easy route and took one of the animals from the flock and made their father a stew and stole Esau’s birthright. I couldn’t imagine doing all the work of hunting an animal just to see that your brother took one from the herd and used it to steal your birthright. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Imagine having all that happen and how you would feel if you ever saw your brother again. I am not sure about you but I would be expecting the best apology in the world. I’m not really sure what all would be included in that apology but at the very least I’m thinking something like a sky writing plane writing, “I’m sorry. You are awesome.” Maybe then I could possibly forgive them if they included like season passes to my favorite ski mountain. Let’s take a look at how the incident actually plays out in the Bible. You should go read the entire chapter of Genesis 33 but since I cannot put the entire chapter in this devotion. I will settle for one verse.

 

Genesis 33.4 “But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”

 

Esau had twenty years to stew over how wrong Jacob had done him but instead of holding in all that hostility, anger and rage he chose to do something absolutely crazy. HE FORGAVE HIM. His reaction to seeing his brother is profound. He didn’t even just walk up and shake his hand. It says he ran to him, like children would when they see their father coming home from work. He embraced him, fell on him and kissed him. That’s love and forgiveness and all the stuff I want in my life.

I have things in my life that are as small as people have told lies about me and have said negative things about my character that I have a hard time letting go of and forgiving them for. But Esau, literally the leader of a non-Israelite nation, had way more forgiveness than I do.

Colossians 3.13 says, “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.” This verse can seem kind of abstract and not practical. For me personally, when I see an example of how this is played out in real life like what happened with Jacob and Esau it raises the bar. It shows me my failure to fully attain to the level of Christianity that I want to be at; which is to live like Christ.

So how do you forgive somebody after something like what happened to Esau. I don’t think it is in our nature to. I think we need to bring it to God. I know that there are things that I wasn’t ready to forgive people for, my heart isn’t ready for and it still clings to the hurt. I think the only way to handle those types of situations is to bring it to God in prayer and ask something like, “God, please help me forgive this person and love them despite what they did to me.” Sometimes we just need to release that charge against them in our minds and tell ourselves, “I am not going to hold that against them.”

I hope that this helps any of you that are struggling in this way. I hope that we can all release that resentment we have and forgive each other fully.

 

Daniel Wall

 

To read or listen to today’s Bible reading you can check out Bible Gateway at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+32-24&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Genesis 35-37 in our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan