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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • Recommended Reading

OF FLAGS, STATUES, AND FOOLISHNESS

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana)

Ignore history at your own peril. Banning flags and tearing down statues will not hide sin; make us more righteous; or prevent hate. All this is simply the outside of the cup. Americans must change within. This is the true change that Christ promised. Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) There is salvation in no other name. It is the gift of God confirming the love of God and those who are loved by God love one another.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 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. (Colossians 3:12-13)

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LOOKING BACK

I had lived with no idea how thoroughly sin had penetrated every area of my life. Even the idea that I needed some kind of forgiveness was ridiculous to me. God, however, is merciful.

I was His enemy, yet God brought me to Him. Paul said:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

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CONSIDERING SIN

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)

Consider sin. It twists and disfigures the soul. The image man once reflected of God is now shattered by sin. It disfigures man and destroys the image of God as though it were despised. Every sin flies in the face of God’s wisdom. All sin is a declaration of war against God.

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THE LIBERTINE

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18 ESV)

A libertine is described (especially from the 17th century on) as a person with an immoral lifestyle who is primarily interested in sexual pleasure. (see Merriam-Webster) This definition was once considered to apply chiefly to men, but in our lifetime, it is equally applicable to women. Today’s culture glorifies the libertine as a hero. Sexual sins have become man’s declaration of independence from God.

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WHEN FORGIVENESS IS DIFFICULT

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

Have you ever been hurt by someone? When we are hurt, we often desire for the offender to suffer as we have. We call it “justice”. Yet, how often do we offend God or grieve the Holy Spirit by our addictions to various sins? Christians know the hunger for forgiveness when we sin. We pray for mercy for our transgressions, not justice.

How can we ask God for forgiveness when we fail to offer forgiveness to others? Paul writes:

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A LIFESTYLE OF FORGIVENESS

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

unforgivenessUnforgiveness can affect every facet of your personal life. It impacts the mind and spirit, and creates tension and anxiety. Most importantly, unforgiveness is the disobedience of God’s Word. (Matthew 6:15 ESV)

Unforgiveness may lock the mind in an ongoing stressful state. (“The Negative Effects of Unforgiveness on Mental Health”, Theravive April 28, 2014) Researchers report that people who tend to be unforgiving reported higher rates of heart disease, elevated blood pressure, stomach ulcers, arthritis, back problems, headaches, and chronic pain than those who reported they do not have this characteristic. (Feldman and Kravetz, “Grudge Match: Can Unforgiveness Be Bad For Our Health?Psychology Today 2013)

Unforgiveness is not a desirable characteristic for either the physical or spiritually healthy life. Jesus said:

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THE OVERFLOWING MERCY OF GOD

The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145:9 ESV)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

Samuel A CainGod possesses mercy and love in abundance. He chose to make us alive together in Christ. Through the mercy of His love, God raises us to heavenly places. We are delivered from the power of darkness. God proves His love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We were dead, yet He was full of mercy. He stretched out His hand and made us alive. He made us worthy. Although we were sinners, He made us righteous. He reconciled us with Himself. Our abode was in the kingdom of darkness, yet, He called us into the kingdom of light. Continue reading

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