This is a devotion from my next book, FACING STORMS: DEVOTIONS FOR THOUGHT AND MEDITATION. Be sure to check out my other books on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cheryl%20zelenka&sprefix=chery%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Acheryl%20zelenka
“You will begin to heal yourself when you let go of the things that hurt you in the past, forgive those who have done wrong to you and learn to forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made.” – Anonymous
“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)
Jesus suffered many physical injuries on His road to Calvary. The beatings, whipping, and crucifixion left him barely recognizable, even to His family and friends. Because of His great love for us, He took up the cross. It is by His wounds that we are healed. It is through His blood sacrifice that our sins have been forgiven.
Jesus took the sins of the world and pinned them to the cross. Through this act of love, and through His resurrection, we no longer need to fear death. Eternal life has been granted to everyone who repents and acknowledges Jesus as his or her Lord in Savior! In addition to this glorious gift, we have a constant hope through the assurance of grace. With our sincere confession of sin, forgiveness is always granted.
Why, when we have such a forgiving Savior as our role model, do we wrestle with the issue of forgiveness….. Both in giving it and receiving it? Did not our Lord love us first, even while we were blemished by sin and active in worldly pursuits? Should we not be grateful that He looks past the sin we still struggle with and recognizes the being we have yet to become?
John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Oh my, what a friend we have in Jesus! Contemplate His sacrifice! He left His heavenly realm to live as flesh and blood, then willingly died to set us, The Captives (to sin and death) free.
Mercifully, God has equipped you and I to overcome every adversity in life. Through faith and the gift of prayer, we may call upon His supernatural strength any time we feel weak, overwhelmed, or discouraged. He is always willing to help, advise, protect, encourage…. And forgive! He wants to commune and fellowship with us. Since sin separates us from His presence, He is constantly pardoning His children.
Rebellion and personal sin will intensify personal sufferings, so your obedience and submission is factored in to how well you weather a storm. Sin, disobedience, and rebellion always complicates life. Even so, what REALLY matters is the following point. If you acknowledge and confess your sins, you will ALWAYS receive forgiveness. Jesus never ignores a sincerely repentant heart.
So once again I ask, why do we withhold forgiveness when others ask it of us? Is it possibly due to a cold and hardened heart? If so, how is a hardened heart mended?
A hardened heart is surely a sign of an unhealthy spiritual state. With all probability, it belongs to a hungry and thirsty soul who has neglected the Word of God and the Springs of Living Waters. It has become parched and weak for a lack of supernatural spiritual food and water.
A hardened heart needs to hear the loving and healing promises within the Word of God. However, the difficulty comes in getting the loved one to listen. In all probability, they have not been open to the wise counsel of others and has stopped communicating with God, even ignoring prompts from the Holy Spirit. The truths within the Word can supernaturally break through all self-protection, pain, and anger. It will eventually untangle the lies Satan crafted and therefore crack the marble heart of stone. Look for opportunities to share even the shortest of scriptures with this person.
Another important part to healing a hard heart is fellowship. All of us have sinned. When somebody is not walking in close communion with the Lord, they usually avoid any interaction with others who are. They tend to become anti-social and isolated. This solitude gives the Devil a foothold and even more opportunity to tempt, deceive, and lie.
It requires a humble heart, softened by the prayers of others, to acknowledge a detour from the path of God. Pride is a sin we are all guilty of and it will lead to spiritual stagnation, decay or even death. However, once a hardened soul decides to enter back into fellowship with the Body of Christ, and honestly faces what has hardened their heart, peace and joy will once again return to their life. Unforgiveness is a ball and chain. It is tightly fastened around the leg of those who refuse to forgive.
Forgiving yourself of past sins is also required if you want a softer and more pliable heart. When you refuse to forgive yourself (and others) you dishonor Christ and all He did for you on the cross, and through His resurrection.
When you confess sin, it is cast as far as the east is from the west and is forgotten. Please, dear reader, stop reminding your Father of things He has already forgiven and forgotten. He was beaten and bruised so that you would not have to suffer an eternity absent from His glorious presence. He wants you to rest in this truth: By His wounds you are healed.
Will you not extend forgiveness and provide healing for the one wounded by your unwillingness to forgive and forget?
“But He was wounded for our transgressions,He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV)
“ Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 (NIV)
“It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:5 (NIV)
“God pardons like a mother, who kisses the offense into everlasting forgiveness.” ~ Henry W. Beecher