Grace and Forgiveness

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By grace you are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8) which means you are declared righteous, because of your faith and not because of anything you did. Therefore God forgives your sins, not because of anything you did to deserve forgiveness, but because his is a good and loving God. Sinners on the whole are not saved because of anything in them, or anything that can ever be in them, but because of God’s love, mercy, compassion and grace.

God is love. He is full of goodness. It is because his mercy endures forever that mankind has not been destroyed because of his sinful nature, but are forgiven.

God forgives those who deserve to be punished and favors those who deserve no favour. Therefore God’s grace is not for the pure and holy. As a matter of fact God himself says there is no-one who is righteous, not even one. But yet, he justifies the ungodly because of his goodness and mercy.

So how do you as human give that same grace to yourself and to others who have hurt you?

Keep in mind our old nature is very strong. We have tried to fix ourselves but we can’t. Try as hard as we could to stop sinning it is very difficult to do on our own. Even though we know that God would forgive our sins, we just keep on doing the things we know we should not. It is just human nature. That is why we need God in our lives.

Ezekiel 36:26 says:

“And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart”.

Only God can give you a new heart and cleanse your old nature, and no matter how many times you may fall, God will continue to forgive you because he understands your human nature.

So do you consider yourself a new person, born again with the new heart God said he would place in you? Then you too can forgive someone who has hurt you the same way God forgave you even though you didn’t deserve to be forgiven.

Forgive as God Forgave you

Look at the parable of the unforgiving debtor in Matthew 18:23:35:

This King decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who were indebted to him. One debtor owed him 10,000 talents which was like millions of dollars. The servant couldn’t pay so the King ordered that his wife and children be sold to pay off his debt. The servant begged the King asking him to be patient and he will pay him everything. The King felt sorry for him and forgave him the debt.

The servant then went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him and demanded he pay him immediately. This servant also begged for some time to pay it, but the creditor couldn’t wait and had him thrown into prison. Well, the King heard about this incident and he called the servant in and asked him why he couldn’t have mercy on his debtor the same way he showed him mercy? The King was so angry he had him thrown into prison until he could pay back all the money.

The parable ends by saying the Heavenly Father would do the same to you if you don’t forgive your brothers.

In Matthew 6: 14-15 it states:

“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”.

So you are expected to forgive others the same way God forgave you, even if the person who hurt you does not deserve it. But forgiveness does not necessarily mean condoning or forgetting. Depending on what that person did to you, you may not forget but you can choose not to remain friends or be in a relationship with that person. And you don’t have to condone, excuse or justify their wrong doing. But forgiveness helps to heal you and allow you to move on.

Grace is God’s gift. Salvation is given to us through grace and faith. But we must act on that faith, because faith without works is dead (James 2:17). We must listen to God’s words and act on them, including forgiving others.

Why it is Important to Have Faith in God

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To truly believe in God means having faith that he will do for us what he promised to do. And he expects us to act on that belief. We must have faith that he exists and has the power to fulfil his promises. Therefore to have faith is to believe in God, and to act on the truth of his word.

Faith means having confidence that God will intervene in our lives. It is not wishful thinking, it is a deep conviction that God truly loves you and will always do what is in your best interests.

However, faith without works is dead (James 2:20). Remember you are saved by grace through faith, but works by themselves do not earn us salvation. We are not saved by grace through inactive faith. We must act on our faith by obeying God’s word.
James 1:25 states that:

“but if you keep looking steadily into God’s perfect law – the law that sets you free – and if you do what it says, and don’t forget what you heard, God will bless you for doing it.

So since we cannot earn salvation, we are still expected to obey God and do his will if we are to receive his gift. We must have living Faith.

You must have Living Faith

To know and love God means having living faith. Living faith is a deep conviction mentioned earlier that God would do what he promised. Without that deep conviction – that faith – it is impossible to please him:

“So you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who comes to Him must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”

Faith means knowing God’s Will

Faith means submitting to God’s will in your life. We cannot truly live happy, successful lives on our own. Jeremiah 10:23 states that:

“I know Lord, that a person’s life is not his own. No one is able to plan his own course”.

This means trying to live a life without God’s direction, without knowing his will would leave you frustrated and miserable. Believe that God has a plan for you and allow Him to direct your life’s course. Then you are assured to live a brighter, happier, more successful life.

Study Biblical Examples of Faith

To understand how faith works you must study the examples of others from the bible. The bible was given to us to read and learn from the experiences, difficulties and challenges from others. People like Abraham, Sarah, Jeremiah, Ruth and Esther are great examples of people who despite going through many struggles and challenges, had extreme faith.

One great example of faith was of a woman who suffered from some type of blood problem for 12 years. She spent all she had on doctors but none could cure her. When she heard about Jesus and his healing powers, she thought to herself that all she needed to do was just touch His clothing and she would be healed. After touching his robe, Jesus felt healing power released from Him and wondered who touched Him. When the woman confessed it was her, Jesus told her that her faith healed her, and she was healed from that very moment.

You can read about this in Matthew 9:20-22 and Luke 8:43-48.

It is important to read and study the bible to hear God’s words to us and build our faith.

“Yet faith comes from listening to this message of good news – the Good News about Jesus” (Romans 10:17).

As Christians, our life is not exempt from trials and challenges. But these are meant to build and grow our faith. We must continue to depend on God to deliver us from our trials. We must continue to pray and study the Word. Believe in God and walk with him every day so you can build and grow your faith.

Benefits of Christian Meditative Prayer

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Christian meditation is mental or meditative prayer that allows you to lift your heart and mind to God. It is the exchange between God and the soul, which means it nourishes the soul. It is also Christ-centred in that it deepens your relationship with Jesus, where you get to know, follow, and love him more completely. It also helps you discover God’s will and purpose for your life. God, through meditative prayer, wants to reveal to you what your purpose is.

Focusing on God

The purpose of meditation is to help you concentrate so that you can focus on a specific subject. Christian meditation means focusing on God. When you focus on God, this opens your soul to hear and receive a specific word he wishes to speak to you. When you receive this word, your heart is drawn to reflect on it.

 

The word that you receive comes from Jesus through the Bible. It is through Jesus’ words that God teaches us. This means studying and obeying what Jesus taught. When you reflect and meditate on the words of Jesus you will begin to know God’s will and purpose for you. After meditation, do not forget those words. Christ’s words must abide in you. You must keep them permanently in your heart, and He promised you will receive anything you ask for.

“But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! (John 15:7)

Choose a passage to reflect on

Begin your meditation session by choosing a passage from the bible to reflect on. You can choose from the Old Testament as well, as this is all part of God’s word. The Psalms are great to read since a lot of them are the prayers from King David. Read and re-read to get an understanding of what God is trying to tell you. Ask yourself questions:

• What does this passage mean for me and my life?
• How does it relate to my purpose?
• How can it help with my daily struggles?

It is a good practice to write down your reflections so you can reference them and make note of how the meditation session has impacted your life.

Personal relationship with Jesus

Apart from knowing Christ’s words, meditative prayer also helps deepen your relationship with Jesus. You pray to God through Jesus since we cannot approach God directly because of our sinful nature. Jesus is real. You relate with him just as you would a close friend. The thought of conversing with Jesus can be intimidating. With friends, you can relax, be yourself and speak your mind. But when it comes to conversing with Jesus, the words just don’t flow as naturally. But it should not be that way. When you go to Him in prayer remember He loves you like no-one else can. He knows your deepest thoughts and emotions. You cannot hide from Him. He cares about you and what you are going through. Through meditative prayer reveal all to Him.

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Meditate Daily in a quiet place

Make it a habit to meditate every day. Start by committing at least 10 minutes a day, preferably at the same time every day. Once you get into the habit, you will be able to dedicate more time. Try to meditate in a quiet, solitary place. It can be anywhere that you are comfortable. It can be even done outdoors, where you can appreciate nature and God’s creation.

Meditative prayer helps to relax you to the point where you feel less anxiety and stress. You will begin to adopt a more positive outlook on life. Most importantly it takes the routine out of your regular prayer life so you don’t risk losing faith and abandoning your prayer life entirely. Meditative prayer helps to strengthen your faith.

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6 Important reasons to pray everyday

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Prayer is simply a conversation with God. God in return speaks to you through the Bible. It is important when you go to pray to have your bible at hand to assist you in receiving his answer and counseling, and notebook or journal to write down your thoughts, experiences or anything that comes to you while in prayer.

Prayer must be done on a regular basis.  In the Bible, King David prayed three times a day (Psalm 55:16-17) and the Prophet Daniel also prayed three times a day (Daniel 6:10). Jesus Christ Himself prayed on a regular basis.

Prayer should also never be done as a last resort in times of trouble or distress. It is a very powerful tool to be used in both good and bad times.

Here are six important reasons to pray everyday.

1.   For our needs

The bible is filled with examples of God promising to fulfill our every need once we ask him.  Here is one from Matthew chapter 6.

“Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your priority concern” (Matthew 6:33-34).

2.  For our anxieties, fears and problems

And not just our day to day needs, but all our problems, fears, anxieties and concerns.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6).

3.  For thanksgiving

We see too, we must thank God for all he has done. When we pray we must pray with thanksgiving, thanking him for all the blessings he has already bestowed on us.

“No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

4.  For intercession

Intercession means praying on behalf of others and is an important part of prayer. We must pray for others, not just for ourselves. The bible tells us that Jesus still intercedes on our behalf.

“But Jesus remains a priest forever; his priesthood will never end. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save everyone who comes to God through him. He lives forever to plead to God on their behalf.” (Hebrews 7:24-25).

So too we must pray on behalf of others. We must pray for the sick, for those who are unsaved, for our church, pastor, friends and family and even for our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

5.  For Grace and Mercy.

As humans we are weak and will fail from time to time. Jesus Christ as human also experienced temptation, so he understands our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). When we experience, and give in to moments of weakness and temptation, we must pray for forgiveness, and God will grant us the grace and mercy we need.

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it (Hebrews 4:16).

Without grace and mercy all our attempts to live a successful, fruitful life will fail.

6.  For Spiritual Growth

Prayer is essential for our spiritual growth and also helps us fulfill our life’s purpose. That’s why we need to accompany prayer with bible study. Whatever God called us to do, we must consistently pray for his guidance and help. Thus we can be assured we will be successful in fulfilling our purpose and to heed his calling.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me” (Psalm 57:2)

In conclusion, the bible also states when you pray do not use vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7). God wants you to pray from the heart (James 5:16), (Hosea 7:14).

Pray is our lifeline to God, pray every day and He will give you peace of mind.

Note: All Scripture taken from the New Living Translation, Self Help Edition unless otherwise indicated.

How to deal with losing someone you love

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Losing someone you love can be one of the most painful things to experience. When we lose someone close to us, it is quite natural to experience unhappiness, grief, loneliness and in extreme cases depression.

The death of a loved one can be emotionally draining. When you lose someone close to you, especially if they lived with you, major adjustments must now be made to daily activities and routines. Having to pick up the pieces and move on with life can be very hard. But you must find ways to deal with your loss and avoid getting to the point where it is hard for you to move on.

Here are a few ways that can help you cope with the death of a loved one, including some examples of how Jesus dealt with grief.

Death is a part of life

First, accept that death is inevitable. There will come a time when we all would die, and as painful as that is, death is a part of life.

Grief is a natural process

Second, when someone close to us dies, grief is a natural reaction to dealing with the loss. It is a necessary process that allows you to release that hurt and pain you feel inside. For instance, crying is one way to release that pain.

When Jesus learnt of Lazarus’ death, he wept.

In another example we saw where Jesus went off by himself to a quiet place after he learnt of John’s death.

In your time of grief, you may need to take some time off by yourself. But don’t isolate yourself for too long. It also helps to be around friends and family to express your feelings.

Think about the good times you spent with your loved one

Thirdly, getting over your loss would take time, but time heals all wounds. While the pain may not go away entirely, with time it would subside. Focus on the positive, all the good times you had with your loved one. They would not want you to be sad, but to move on with your life and be happy.

Don’t blame yourself

If your loved one died under tragic circumstances the pain would be even more difficult to deal with. You may want to blame yourself because you felt you could have done something to prevent it. But things happen for a reason we may never fully understand. You just have to trust in God and leave it in His hands.

“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted”. (Matthew 5:4)

Comfort Others

Finally, one of the best ways to deal with death and loss is to minister to others. The bible tells us that God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us (2 Corinthians I:3-4).

Don’t keep those feelings of grief inside. Help others in their time of grieving and you too would be comforted.

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