Understanding Biblical Forgiveness

The need to forgive is something we hear a lot about but very few can explain how it's done. Even our dictionaries run around in circles attempting to define the word forgiveness without any real success. Psychology has built an empire on counseling because of our collective inability to heal from past hurts. Many of us in an attempt to heal through forced forgiveness wind up hurting ourselves even more without really knowing why.

From God's perspective, the ability to forgive is dependent upon the blood of Jesus Christ. Without Christ's blood, it is impossible for even the Father to forgive. So if God Himself cannot forgive without the blood, then how can we? The Scriptures indicate that the transfer of our transgressions onto the cross, brought God personal satisfaction. But how? How did the Father receive healing from the blood? And if God Himself cannot heal from his own hurts without the blood of Jesus Christ, then how can we be expected to?

Satan has done a masterful job of covering up and completely hiding the truth about what it takes for anyone to be able to forgive and heal from past hurts. The key ingredient, the fuel that makes it possible, THE ONLY WAY TO BE ABLE TO FORGIVE ANYONE OF ANYTHING requires the blood of Jesus Christ. Without the blood of Christ, attempting to forgive actually causes us more harm. It's unhealthy both physically and spiritually. Forgiveness is not about the other person, it's not even about the transgression. Forgiveness is about healing from the hurt that a transgression has caused which only the blood of Jesus Christ can heal. But how is the blood applied? How does that work? Folks, I've been studying the Bible since 1995 and it wasn't until THIS VERY YEAR that I learned what I'm about to share with you in this session.

1 Hour 23 Minutes
August 23, 2012

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A Future Where Death No Longer Exists

There is a future without death that was made possible by the personal sacrifice of Jesus Himself, who permanently gave up His former life as a non-human, transcendent member of the Trinity, to become a physical human being with flesh, blood and bone. He came to personally take upon Himself the judgment and penalty for all of mankind's transgressions against God so that those who wish to be forgiven of their part in humanity's transgressions could accept Jesus' death as a "balance transfer" so that their own personal sins would be punished at the cross, and Jesus' personal righteousness would be imputed to them in exchange.

He exchanged our sins for His righteousness and then He bought our freedom from death and decay with His own blood. Jesus paid that debt in full and then after suffering the most brutal death in recorded earth history, He got up and walked out of His grave three days later as if nothing had happened. This is the bottom line of Christianity. It's how we became members of God's family and it's the ultimate destiny of every one of us who've been adopted into it.

When death comes to someone we know and love, all we can feel is the fact that, "They're gone!" Despite what we know from Scripture, despite everything we've been promised, we're just not prepared. There's a good reason for this. It says in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God has implanted "eternity" in the hearts of humanity. So even though we live in temporary dwellings, we still think of everything in life from an eternal perspective. Even though we know everyone dies, we can't imagine our lives without the people we love. Even when we think we've prepared ourselves, when it finally happens, we realize we just aren't prepared. No matter how much we know about death both physically and Biblically, we still live with a perspective of "eternity" which is why interruptions in our linear time-line always catch us off guard whether it's the loss of a job, the sudden betrayal of a close friend, an unexpected automobile accident, news of terminal cancer, or the death of a loved one. We all know these things exist in our world, but it always catches us off guard as if "it could never happen to us". That's because deep inside we know that death and loss, while part of life, weren't meant to be part of life. We also know they won't always be part of life, but they still are now, which gets in the way of eternity.

That's what Romans 8:20-23 is talking about when it speaks of us groaning inwardly for eternity through every moment of pain because we're wanting the curse of death and sin to get out of the way, finally, once and for all. We want what's promised to start now with all of us together, no sin, no death, no disease, no negativity, no pain, no striving, nothing but the good forever and together. That day is coming. But until it gets here, we hurt when someone we love dies. We don't hurt for them, we hurt for ourselves because now we have to pick up the pieces of our life without them as we push onward with our temporal lives on this decaying planet, which even now we continue to get glimpses of God's glory and eternity, but with the interference of death and decay.

The only hope... Our only way of pushing onward... is to force ourselves to remember the truth... Jesus promised us and the Apostle Paul reverberated that promise that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. That presence with the Lord isn't an abstract, formless void of spiritual vapor. It is a physical existence of spiritual hardware in a spiritual domain just as solid and real as our domain here, only separated from us because of sin. That separation isn't permanent. It is temporary. Jesus is not forever leaving this planet to Satan to do with as he pleases. Jesus is coming back. To not believe that Jesus is coming back is to call Jesus a liar. That's what Jesus promised when he said, "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house (Heaven) are many mansions (estates, places to dwell): if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And since I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you will be also." John 14:1-3

I think it's important to note that when Jesus said He was going away to prepare a place for us, He was speaking to a group of people who were standing in front of Him in the flesh. They weren't reading what Jesus had said from a passage in the Scripture, Jesus was standing there in the flesh, right in front of them when He said He was going away to prepare a place for them. So they didn't think Jesus was talking about preparing a place for the souls of the dead. Jesus hadn't died yet and no one Jesus was speaking with had died. So they interpreted His promise as a literal promise to go up into Heaven, prepare a place for them, and then come right back down to pick them up and take them there.

Before Jesus had this conversation, His followers were expecting Him to fulfill all of the Old Testament's prophecies as well. It was foretold that He would tread down the wicked, establish an earthly Kingdom bringing in universal peace, not only between peoples and nations but even among all the animals. This coming kingdom was promised by God to King David to be a Jewish Kingdom.

God is always good on His promises and those to whom Jesus was speaking were expecting Jesus to keep these promises during His first coming. But in the famous passage from John 14:1-3 that I just quoted above, He has introduced to them something new... that before He fulfills those long awaited prophecies, He's got an errand to run. The 1st part of the errand was going to the Cross. The 2nd part of the errand was rising from the dead. The 3rd part of the errand was doing exactly what He said He would do, to go to Heaven and prepare a place for them and then He would come back and pick them up. These folks got to see Jesus go to the cross, rise from the grave and then ascend up to Heaven to go do exactly what He said He went to do.

So then after He left, some time went by. As the years progressed, they continued expecting Jesus to return and pick them up, just as He promised. While they were waiting and anticipating the Lord's return during the years that progressed, some of them died. So the Thessalonian Christians became upset that their departed loved ones would miss out on the exciting event of the Lord's return.

That's when Paul reassured them in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1st Corinthians 15:51-52 which explained to them how God would fulfill His promise to both those who have died and those who remained on the earth.

1st Generation Hardware: The Physical Body
All of us are born wearing 1st generation hardware. We live with it all our lives. When we become reborn in the Holy Spirit, our software is fused with the software of the Holy Spirit, making us a new creation. But we remain in our 1st generation hardware until it wears out and dies.

2nd Generation Hardware: The Spiritual Body
When our 1st Generation hardware dies, our software is immediately uploaded into 2nd generation hardware in Heaven. Our place in Heaven is the place that Jesus spoke of in John 14:1-3. Our 2nd Generation hardware is a spiritual body. How it moves and works is not something I fully understand, except to say that whenever it was seen by human eyes as recorded in Scripture, these spiritual bodies looked just like normal human bodies except they could only exist in the domain of Heaven. These Spiritual bodies do not function on the earth, they can only function in Heaven.

3rd Generation Hardware: The New Physical Body (a.k.a.) The Resurrection Body
1st Generation hardware can only exist on the Earth. 2nd Generation hardware can only exist in Heaven. 3rd Generation hardware will be able to exist and maneuver in both Heaven and Earth simultaneously! This final upgrade will be necessary for every Christian when Jesus returns and joins Heaven and Earth, fulfilling all of the prophecies from both the Old and New Testaments. Paul explains how this will happen in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1st Corinthians 15:51-52

1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 (JPA Paraphrase)
"I wouldn't want you to be ignorant, brothers, about those who have died in Christ, that you do not grieve for them in the same way that others do who have no hope beyond the grave. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we know also that those who have died in Christ will God bring with Him. For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will not precede those who have died. For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout (calling everyone by name), with the voice of the archangel (calling every guardian angel by name), and with the sound of the trump of God (declaring victory): and the dead in Christ (coming with Jesus in 2nd Generation hardware) will rise first (being given their resurrection body) and then we which are alive and remain on the earth, still wearing our old 1st Generation hardware, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort each other with these words."

1st Corinthians 15:51-52 (JPA Paraphrase)
"For behold, I show you a mystery which was hidden before. Not every Christian will have to die first to get their final upgrade. But every Christian both in Heaven and on Earth will be upgraded. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet of victory shall sound and those who have previously died will be raised into their new physical bodies while we who haven't died will be changed into our new physical bodies.

This is the bottom line for Christians, the blessed hope of the believer! Death is no longer death!! Thanks to what Jesus did for us 2000 years ago, we can know with assurance that when our loved ones die, they are merely being upgraded into superior hardware for a new environment. But as awesome as that is, what's really awesome is the fact that we will receive that same upgrade when we die, or possibly........ WE MIGHT NOT HAVE TO WAIT THAT LONG.

It is the blessed hope of the Christian that we shall not all sleep, but in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we will hear the Lord Jesus shout our name out loud accompanied with the music blast of God's trumpet and we will instantly find ourselves in 3rd Generation hardware with abilities and powers transcending both physical and spiritual dimensions for which immediately after this moment, we will join in progress THE FAMILY REUNION TO END ALL FAMILY REUNIONS!!!

My Aunt Tina, Aunt Jane, Uncle Walter, my Nannie, my Papaw, Grandparents and Great-Grandparents, several teachers and neighbors from my childhood, countless pets and animals are presently in Heaven today, right now as I type this post. One day, we will all be with them. "And so shall we ever be with the Lord." AMEN AND AMEN!!!

Forgiveness VS Reconciliation

The primary reason why forgiveness is such a challenge for most Christians today is because we've been falsely taught that it should always result in reconciliation. But Jesus shows us in Matthew Chapter 18, that this simply is not the case. The most obvious example is the forgiveness of the cross. The Scriptures teach that the blood of Jesus Christ covered the sins of the entire world and yet, not every sinner has been reconciled to God. Why not? Didn't God forgive them? Forgiveness and reconciliation are separate things, they are not the same. While Jesus commands us to be forgiving, he also gives us an example of when it's justifiable for Christians to reject reconciliation. It's surprising to discover that in spite of all we've been told, Christians are given the authority by Jesus Himself to exercise discernment concerning whether or not we should be reconciled with someone who's committed an offense against us.

36 Minutes
February 10, 2012

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A Prayer For The Remnant In America

Inspired By Psalm 35 & Psalm 143

Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with us; fight against those who fight against us! Stand up for our help! Close up and block off the way of those who pursue and persecute us. Say to us, "I AM your deliverance!"

Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek and require our lives; let them be turned back and confounded who plan our hurt! Let them be as chaff before the wind, as you Lord drive them on. Let their way be through dark and slippery places, as you Lord pursue and afflict them.

For without cause, they have hidden for us their net; without cause, they have dug a pit of destruction for our very lives.

Let that same destruction befall our enemies unaware; let the net they have hidden for us catch them.

Then we shall be joyful in the Lord, we shall rejoice in Your deliverance and all of our bones shall say, "Lord, who is like You, You Who deliver the poor and the afflicted from those who are too powerful?"

Malicious and unrighteous witnesses rise up; they ask us of things that we do not know.

They reward us evil for good to our personal bereavement.

But as for us, when they were sick, when they were troubled, we hurt for them and prayed for them. We behaved as if grieving for friends and family members. We bowed down in sorrow, as one who bewails his mother.

But in our stumbling and limping, they rejoice and gather together against us; they slander and revile us, and we don't even know them; they cease not to slander and revile us. Day in and day out, they rage! Like profane mockers at feasts, they gnash at us with their teeth.

How long, O Lord, will You look on without action? Silence them! Rescue our lives from their destructions, and our dearest precious lives from these blood-thirsty lions! We will give You thanks in great assembly; we will praise You among a mighty throng.

Let not those who are wrongfully our foes rejoice over us; neither let them wink with their eye who hate us without cause.

For they do not speak peace, but they devise deceitful matters against those who are quiet in the land.

Yes, they open their mouths wide against us; and they say, "AHA!! AHA!! Our eyes have seen what you did!!"

You have seen this, O Lord our God; don't be silent! Don't be far from us! Arouse Yourself and awaken to the justice that is long overdue, even to our righteous cause. Judge them and vindicate us according to Your righteousness and let not our foes rejoice over us!

Let them not say in their hearts, "Aha, that is what we wanted! We have swallowed them up and utterly destroyed them." Instead, let THEM be put to shame and confusion together who rejoice at our calamity! Let THEM be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify and exalt themselves over YOU and over us!

Let those who favor our righteous cause and who have pleasure in our uprightness shout for joy and be glad and say continually, "Let the Lord be magnified, Who takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servants and His children." And our lips shall speak of Your righteousness and justice, and of our reasons for Your praise all the day long.

Hear our prayer, O Lord, give ear to our supplications! In Your faithfulness answer us, and in Your righteousness.

Do not enter into judgment with Your servants, for in Your sight no one living is in themselves righteous or justified. All of us have contributed in some way to our nation's sins. All of us have gone astray in one way or another. But we remembered your promise in 2nd Chronicles 7:14.

For many years now, a remnant of us who are called by Your Name, we have humbled ourselves, we have prayed, we have sought Your face, and we have turned from our wicked ways; so that You would hear from heaven, You would forgive our sin, and You would heal our land. So please hear our prayer, O Lord, give ear to our supplications! In Your faithfulness answer us, and in Your righteousness.

For the enemy has pursued and persecuted our souls and the very soul of this nation, he has crushed our lives down to the ground; he has made us to dwell in dark places as those who have been long dead. Therefore is our spirit overwhelmed and faint within us. Wrapped in gloom, our heart deep within our chest grows numb.

We remember the days of old when we used to follow You as a nation; we meditate on all You have done for us throughout the centuries, despite our sins and shortcomings, we see where You have remained faithful even when we were unfaithful, we ponder the work of Your hands.

We spread forth our hands to You; our soul and the soul of this nation thirsts after You like a desperate thirsty land for water.

Answer us quickly, O Lord, for our spirit fails; hide not Your face from us, lest we become like those who sink down into the grave.

Cause us to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, for on You do we lean and in You do we trust. Cause us to know the path we should take and the way we should walk, for we lift up our inner selves to You.

Deliver us, O Lord, from our enemies, both physical and spiritual; we flee to You to hide us.

Teach us to do Your will, for You are our God; let Your good Spirit lead us into a level country and into the land of uprightness.

Save us, O Lord, for Your name’s sake; in Your righteousness, bring us out of trouble and free us from distress.

And in Your mercy and loving-kindness, cut off our enemies and destroy all those who afflict us, for we are not only Your servants, but we are Your adopted sons and daughters, purchased and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

Hear our cries, O Lord our God, for we pray all these things...


True Greatness Defined

Jesus overheard a debate between his disciples about who among them would be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. So Jesus sat down a little child next to him to use as a visual aid to represent the child of God and then proceeded to give a lecture on (1) how to get into the Kingdom, (2) how to be great in the Kingdom and (3) how to receive the King's favor. Regarding greatness, he explained that it's the humility of our heart before God as our Father that makes us truly great. We examine what this means and unravel how Jesus defined true greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven.

18 Minutes
July 30, 2011

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Let Nothing Stop You From Praying

Some people think prayers are only for important things and you have to sound like a preacher when you pray. But Jesus taught the exact opposite. In Matthew 6:5-7 He said, "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who use vain repetitions, heaping up phrases, repeating the same ones over and over as the heathen do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking." Don't worry about how you sound or the words you use. Just be honest and truthful with Him. Spend as much time as you need talking about anything and everything. He's there for you.

Being honest and open before God is a form of boldness that is a privilege we've been granted for those of us who belong to Christ. He's no longer our judge, but our loving Father. We're his little kiddos. We don't have to prove anything to Him. He already knows it all anyway. According to Hebrews 4:13-16, there isn't anything in our heart that's hidden from Him, so we might as well be honest. He understands us exactly where we are, what we're feeling, why we're feeling it, and why it comes out in the words we use when we pray.

Romans 8:26-27 assures us that when we pray, the Holy Spirit takes our prayer, our words and the true meanings behind them that's hidden in our hearts, and then fully interprets our prayer to the throne using words, groanings, yearnings, vocabulary and facial expressions that better speak on our behalf than our own language ever could. It's a wonderful comfort to know that whenever I pray, regardless of how it comes out, I have no reason to fear that God might possibly misunderstand my prayer, or not feel the full weight of my request or need.

Do people think you're long-winded? Don't worry about it. God's attention span is stable enough to receive every word from your heart without ever being distracted. God isn't limited or bound by the clock as we are down here. He has the ability to listen to each and every prayer independently with as much time as He needs and there is no such thing as an unimportant prayer to God.

According to Luke 12:6-7, He numbers the very hairs of our head. Not only that, but Psalm 56:8 says that He even counts all of our tears and saves them in a bottle. These are the actions of an almost obsessive God who's so intimately watching over the smallest details of our lives that His own measurements of what's important (or what isn't important) would probably surprise us. A God who numbers the hairs of your head and puts all your tears in a bottle will never think that anything you have to say or ask is "unimportant".

I'm sure you've heard the expression, "Be careful what you pray for, you just might get it." Don't worry about that. It's not true. Don't let that discourage you from praying. When you pray, even though you're tapping into the unlimited resources of God's power at your disposal, it's filtered through God's protective wisdom making sure you don't accidentally blow up the earth. God's perfect love for us and what's best for us will always filter our prayers.

A common problem that stops a lot of us from praying is past experiences where God seemed to ignore our prayer or He allowed the exact opposite of what we prayed for. Whenever that happens, it's never without a very important reason. While Jesus was perishing on the cross, a lot of good people were desperately praying against what was happening. But if God had answered those prayers, there couldn't have been a resurrection three days later and there would be no hope for anyone beyond the grave. Whenever you or a loved one is suffering and it doesn't make any sense, remember the cross. The cross didn't make sense either while it was happening.

Another thing that stops us from praying is thinking, "Nothing can happen outside of God's will, so what's the point?" Here's the point. Prayer is actually God's way of keeping us included in His will. When God wants something in our life that isn't there, He plants the desire in our heart to pray for it so that when we receive what we've asked for, we know it came from Him. So the next time you have a yearning for something and want to take it to the Lord in prayer, get excited and start praying. It's highly possible that He's the One who put that yearning in your heart with the intention to grant it. If not, God will cause you to see things from His perspective in time and you'll be very happy that He answered you differently than the way you originally wanted. Either way, you'll be glad you prayed about it.

The bottom line is this. Prayer doesn't exist to keep God informed. Prayer exists to keep us included in whatever God is doing in our lives or in the lives of others. It's a gift that's far too precious to neglect. It keeps us connected to God in a way that nothing else does and the more we pray, then the easier it is to feel His presence in those moments when we truly need Him the most.

Faith That Moves Mountains

All of us have to deal with various types of immovable mountains in our path that are huge and intimidating. They're too high for us to climb over, they're too big to go around and too thick to tunnel through. These mountains can be circumstantial, emotional, financial, physical or even demonic. Jesus said that just the faith of a mustard seed could enable us to remove mountains and nothing would be impossible for us. He also said that the ingredients to building that kind of faith required prayer and fasting but what does that mean? It's not what you think. In this session, we set aside some special time to address specifically the kind of faith that moves mountains, how to get that faith, what prayer and fasting is REALLY all about and then we examine various types of mountains and how God removes them.

49 Minutes
September 10, 2010

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