The Hug Heard Around the World

[325 words] Having been convicted of murdering Botham Jean, a member of the Dallas West church of Christ, the last thing Amber Guyger probably expected to hear at her sentencing were the words “I forgive you” from a member of the victim’s family.  After reading a statement which expressed forgiveness and even a wish that she wouldn’t have to go to jail, Jean’s brother Brandt asked the judge for permission to give Guyger a hug. The dramatic scene was recorded on video and shared throughout the world via television and internet. “I wasn’t going to say this in front of…
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Do Better Than Job’s Friends

[441 words] Job had been sitting on the ground in misery. Everything had been taken from him. He showed amazing restraint after losing all his possessions. Even more incredible self-control was on display when he was told about the death of his children. Even after being afflicted with a painful illness, even after his own wife told him he should just curse God, Job still would not do it. In fact, the Bible says that he worshiped (Job 1:20)! However, everyone has a breaking point. When three of his friends came by they sat with him for seven days. Afterward…
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To Receive Forgiveness, Love

[244 words] “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).  In this age of tolerance, it is so easy for us to define biblical terms in our own ways, ways that perhaps suit or justify what we’re already doing. But God is very good about making sure that there is no room for accepting a standard or definition any different than the one He intends us to have. After reading: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” could anyone truly accept a lesser…
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I Will Remember Their Sins No More

[156 words] When the Hebrew writer quoted Jeremiah (Chapter 13) concerning the new covenant that Jesus brought, he writes, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Heb 8:12). This is in stark contrast to the old covenant where the Hebrew writer states, “But in those (animal) sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins year by year” (Heb 10:3). Why? “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). The Hebrew Christians were reminded of a wonderful blessing. When God forgives us under the…
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Be Reconciled to Your Brother

[124 words] Too many people think going to church cancels out any wrong doing in their lives. Too many think putting something in the collection plate means the rest of their lifestyle is okay. However, Jesus has something to say about that: “if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24). I’m quite sure God wants you in church. I’m equally sure that God wants…
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Baptism and the Forgiveness of Sins

[215 words] In the context of our congregation, the biblical teaching of baptism for the remission of sins is not a teaching that troubles any of us (at least, with regard to what I am aware). The other day I was talking to a Baptist preacher, a man with whom I am very impressed; he was saying to me that he has trouble over the idea of someone making a decision for the Lord, then instantly dying without being baptized, how that person would not be pleasing to the Lord. I understand the nature of the problem as he posed…
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True Forgiveness

[441 words] “For if you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).”Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). Often people will quote the first set of passages and thus conclude that forgiveness must be extended in a “blank…
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Forgiveness

[428 words] “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). The character of the Christian includes “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” (Col. 3:13). What has God said about this beautiful gift that we can (and must) extend to each other? Specifically, what roles do repentance and restitution play in the interchange between the offender and the offended? Must repentance happen before forgiveness can be granted? These will be the…
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Forgiving and Forgetting

[228 words] Henry Ward Beecher once said, “I can forgive, but I cannot forget.” Isn’t it wonderful that God both forgives and forgets when he forgives our sins? Hebrews 10:17 says of God, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” God expects us to do the same when it comes to forgiving others. Jesus Christ once taught, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). Yet too many of us feel like…
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Do You Have Any Sense?

[131 words] “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11). According to this proverb, someone who has good sense takes a while to get angry, and is quick to overlook someone else’s failures. The question for us is simply this: “Do we have good sense?”  Our society today is full of unforgiving people who constantly seem to be mad about something. Does that describe us? Or are demonstrating good sense? When we are willing to overlook someone else’s offenses we accomplish three things. We remind ourselves that we too need…
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Time to Re-Evaluate

[218 words] Modem people have a hard time getting around the concept of hell and a “loving God.” They can’t imagine a loving God consigning multitudes of people to an eternal punishment. We have come a long way, it seems, from the “hell fire and damnation” sermons of a by-gone age. We have also ignored fifty percent of the character of God: “Note then the kindness and severity of God: Severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off’ (Romans 11:22, ESV). We need to…
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Forgiveness

[446 words] What on earth can we do about our sin? We can lie about it, ignore it, forget about it, refuse to confess our need for it, and blame it on others, but it will remain unchanged. However, if we understand the tragedy and burden of our sin (Is. .59:2; Rom 6:23), the one thing we really want can be ours: forgiveness! Forgiveness is an intriguing power, force, blessing, and incentive. It cannot be demanded, only accepted and received. It is found in grace and cannot be bought, but it is given only because a price has already been…
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Watch the Ledger

[407 words] One of the hardest classes that I had when I started college was accounting. My teacher was a stickler, there was plenty of homework, and class was a fast-paced frenzy of new ideas. It should have been an easy subject, but I didn’t quite get the knack of it at first. It was the whole concept of debits and credits that I could not straighten out in my mind. Once I had it, I would stumble on another problem that would send my back into an accounting tailspin. I excelled in math, but that did not matter if…
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The Hardest Words to Say

  [187 words] I must have been sick on the day they taught phonics in school. If I don’t recognize a word by sight, I can find some amazing ways to mispronounce it. I cringe when I have to use certain words because no matter how much I practice, I’m not sure how it will come out.  However, I know that the hardest words to say are sometimes the most simple to pronounce. Phrases like, “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong” and “I have sinned.”  It would behoove us to remember this when people need to say those words. We…

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Sin

  [454 words] We’ve all heard the story of the preacher who was asked, “What are you preaching on Sunday?” He responded, “Sin.” The querist retorted, “Well are you fer or agin it?” It seems sin is a taboo topic in our world today. The politically correct movement wants us to use words like “illness,” “mistakes,” “misguided” or some other term that will not make someone feel guilty or responsible for sin. However, sin is an important subject and it is dealt with through out the Bible. We need to be warned of sin’s danger. We kneed to understand its…

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The Hardest Words to Say

  [179 words] I must have been sick on the day they taught phonics in school. If I don’t recognize a word by sight, I can find some amazing ways to mispronounce it. I cringe when I have to use certain words because no matter how much I practice, I’m not sure how it will come out. However, I know that the hardest words to say are sometimes the most simple to pronounce. Phrases like, “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong” and “I have sinned.” It would behoove us to remember this when people need to say those words. We need…

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Behold, the Lamb of God

  [320 words] Sin has a way of demanding our attention. Whether it is a sin someone has committed against us or our falling prey to our own evil desires (James 1:14), sin has a way of becoming our focus. All sin is against God and carries with it the spiritual death sentence demanded by God’s holiness (Rom 6:23b; 7:11-12). This makes sin in our lives and in our world a truly important fact to be understood. We must let God’s word point out sin so that we are conscious of it (Rom 3:20). However, sin, regardless if it is…

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Freedom from Sin: Before or After?

  [105 words] Read Exodus 14:9-31 and 1 Corinthians 10:1-4. Now, when did Egypt lose their power over Israel? Before or after Israel was baptized into Moses? When did Israel find their freedom from bondage? Before or after they were baptized into Moses? How did Israel end up receiving their God-given freedom from slavery? By faith before being baptized into Moses, or by faith after being baptized into Moses? Now think about those answers and exchange Egypt with Satan, Israel with your name and Moses with Jesus, then read Romans 6:1-18 and answer the same questions to figure out if…

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God Forgives Completely

[142 words] The East-West Promise (Psalm 103: 12) “As far as the east is from the west so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” The Stain Remover Promise (Isaiah 1: 18) ” … though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as while as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” The Behind-the-Back Promise (Isaiah 38: 17) ” … for Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back.” The Eraser Promise (Isaiah 43:25) “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will…
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The Losses We Endure

It was 2009. She died in my lap. I do not agree with those who say animals seek to be alone near death, though perhaps some seek comfort elsewhere. My cat friend had been poisoned as had been her sister who had died earlier. Our vet was fairly sure it was deliberate. I was too, as I had found another cat garroted with a wire coat-hanger in our pasture. Now, my kitten held on to my legs and arms with claws that held tenuously. I was angry and sad, quivering as she passed from this life to her next. Ella…

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Crucified with Christ

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” Galatians 2:20. If we replay the gospel backwards from the religious confusion we have today, we see that without the ascension the Holy Spirit could not come, Jesus could not be our High Priest, and the church could not be established.  Jesus’ resurrection means that we too can overcome the grave, but first we must be “buried with Him in…

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Burnt Biscuits

When I was a child, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don’t remember what I told him that night,…

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Forgive and Forget

[396 words] The phrase “forgive and forget” has been in the English language for a long time. An older member of the church once commented to me concerning forgiving and forgetting, “I don’t know which is harder to do!” As difficult as they are for us humans to do–do them we must if we are to have forgiveness from our Father in heaven (Matt. 6:15). Forgiveness in the original language of the Bible has the connotation of “to send away.” For example in Micah 7:19 we read that God will “cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”…
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70×7 – The Formula of Forgiveness

[177 words] The Lord Jesus Christ commands us to forgive people. And he punctuates it with this statement: “so that your Father in heaven may forgive you.” If you forgive, God forgives you. If you don’t forgive, God will not forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15). One of the more challenging things about forgiveness is that it’s not a once in a while kind of thing. We are to continuously forgive each other. To emphasize this point, Matthew records a conversation between Jesus and the Apostle Peter. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my…
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Selfish Forgiveness

[276 words] Scientific findings have recently confirmed what we Christians have known all along. An unforgiving, grudge-holding spirit is not in our best interest. According to a report heralded by Newsweek, more than 1,200 published studies have now been conducted on the subject and the results are both consistent and conclusive: “…increased blood pressure and hormonal changes – linked to cardiovascular disease, immune suppression and, possibly, impaired neurological function and memory” are the “specific physiologic consequences” of unforgiveness. One researcher, Everett Worthington, uses language even I can understand: “It happens down the line, but every time you feel unforgiveness, you…
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Written in Sand and Stone

Two friends were walking through the desert and got into an argument. One friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.” They kept walking until they found an oasis. Thirsty, they stopped for water. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire, fell in, and started drowning. His friend saved him. That evening, he wrote on a stone, “Today my best friend saved my life.” The friend who had slapped and saved his…

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Right in the Middle of Forgiveness

What is right in the middle of the word “forgiveness?” You have “for” and you have “ness,” but right in the middle of“forgiveness” is the word “give.” To “give” is to provide someone with something. To “forgive” is to provide someone with pardon. “Forgiving” is one of the greatest ways of “giving.” The New Testament words translated “forgive” are indeed graphic. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors ” (Matthew 6:12). Here the word “forgive” (aphiemi) means “to send away.” “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians…

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Twenty-Five Years Later

One day as a wife and her husband quarreled, harsh words were spoken. Each was too proud to ask the other’s forgiveness and the bitter feelings finally led to divorce. Neither found a new mate during the intervening years. And now 25 years later, with one son already dead and the whereabouts of the other unknown, this woman learned  that the only man she ever loved was in the hospital. She went to see him, and with tears they finally forgave one another. At their request, the preacher gladly remarried  them right there in the hospital room. As he left…

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