Around the holiday season, there are two types of people. Those who put their tree up before Thanksgiving and those who wait until after. It’s really funny to see how the people who wait until after are incredibly proud of their act of self-control. And the ones who pull the trigger before Thanksgiving seem to be even more proud of their Christmas cheer singing loud for all to hear.
As I’m not above any of it, I am proud to say that in the Krueger household, our humble 7-foot artificial tree that Ryan and I have had since our first year of marriage is always up before we head out of town for Thanksgiving. Yes, we are those people. If you don’t like it, I hope we can look past our differences in the name of all that is merry and bright. Regardless of who you are, I think we can agree that, for one reason or another, we all love Christmas.
What’s not to love? The lights, the trees, the shows, the food, the parties, the gifts, the music, the movies, the fellowship. The list goes on and on, just like our amazon wish lists. And who doesn’t love their friend’s annual Christmas cookie party?
Beyond all of the festive hype of Christmas, I believe there’s a desperation for the holiday season that goes deeper than just gifts and lights. It’s an eagerness of soul, a longing, and an anticipation that there might just be something fulfilled that our hearts search for during this time.
2,000+ years ago, before Christmas lights and caroling even existed, the origin of why we celebrate centered around only one thing: a desperation for the coming King. It’s the heart of advent, which literally translates “arrival” or “coming”.
On the night of Jesus’ birth, a heavenly host of angels gloriously broke onto the scene before an unlikely group of people that we read about in Luke 2:8-20:
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to Go in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus, being God incarnate, was fully sovereign and in control over every detail of His birth?
In February of this year, Ryan and I welcomed our first child, a son, into this world. Our baby, Graham, was a beautiful picture of the faithfulness of God in our lives and we couldn’t wait to tell those we loved that he was finally here. But there was an order to his birth announcement. We started with our immediate family, then extended family, then close friends, then other good friends, and then finally made an announcement on social media. We think Graham is pretty great, but not so great that he would have the ability to control the news of his arrival or any other detail of his birth for that matter. But the baby in a manger, Jesus, actually did have full control over His.
Jesus, the long-awaited savior-King, could have sent the angels to ANYONE to give the good news of great joy. And who did He send them to first? The shepherds.
At that time, shepherds were regarded at the very bottom of the Palestinian social ladder, right there with the tax collectors and those who cleaned up literal waste. They held a reputation of “incompetence”, to the point where it was stated that if one were to a fall into a pit, no one should feel obligated to pull them out. Sheesh. Talk about a tough go.
But in Jesus’ upside-down Kingdom, they were the perfect audience to receive the invitation to first behold His glory.
So why the shepherds? Jesus wanted to start his life the same way that he would end it – by coming to seek and save that which is lost (Luke 19:10).
The shepherds had nothing in their own merit or reputation to cling to. They knew they were depraved. They were okay to show their need. And because of that, they weren’t afraid to be desperate for that which could save, redeem, free, and heal.
Just as there are two types of people during the holiday season, they are also two types of people in the gospel story, both in which need saving: those who know it and those who don’t.
When it comes to the birth of Jesus, we will never care about it unless we see that we are those in which He came for. We are those that need saving this Christmas. Not just for the neighbor that drives you crazy. Not just for the friend that has hurt you. Not just for the significant other that you wish put you first more. Jesus came for me. Jesus came for you. We are the people who desperately need saving this year.
So, when the shepherds heard of the Good News, what did they do? They responded in their desperation. Luke’s account of the story tells us that they responded with “Let us now go”and then they “went with haste”.
After years of longing for a Savior, the silence was broken on this dark night in Bethlehem. And the shepherds traveled far and wide not for worldly gain, but for just a glimpse of Emmanuel – God with us.
The posture of the shepherds thousands of years ago shows us what the advent season is supposed to stir in us today: an awareness of our need for saving, and an awakened desperation for the presence of our Savior.
So my question is this: Are we as desperate for Jesus as we are for the Christmas parties, the presents, and another year of our favorite holiday traditions?
I don’t know about you, but for me, I could easily fill this month with some of the best things: friends, family, gift giving, volunteer opportunities, Christmas Eve services, advent devotionals, lights, hot cocoa, celebrating my baby’s first Christmas, photo ops, Christmas cards, extra rest, you name it….. and I could still miss it. I could miss the wonder, the awe, the haste, the urgency, the longing, and the desperation for the origin of the Christmas story: Jesus. Let’s not miss it this year.
This advent season, let us see ourselves as shepherds, full of lack and with nothing to boast in but Christ. Let us remember the goodness of God in the past to send us His son to be born, live the perfect life we could never live, and to die a death that we deserved… all to set us free from sin and death. And let us look ahead to the promise that one day He will return and bring it all to peace.
He will right every wrong.
He will heal every sickness.
He will wipe every tear.
He will welcome every outcast.
He will free everyone stuck in shame.
He will redeem all brokenness.
I pray it’s such a wonderful holiday season for you. I pray you laugh, drink all the hot cocoa, see all the lights, watch all the classic movies, attend all the festive parties, kiss under the mistletoe, and soak in all the music, fellowship, and chats around the fire. But above all, I pray you and I experience Jesus in a renewed way this year. I pray we would crave His presence. I pray we would cling to His word. I pray that we would look to Him as our ultimate comfort and our true reason for the season.
Let’s be desperate together for true Christmas this year. Let’s be desperate for Jesus.
Morgan Krueger is a wife, mother, and an encourager at heart. She loves all things Fall, talks around a fire, and teaching/learning what it looks like to follow Jesus. Having been on team LO, she will always have a “young & scrappy” mentality when it comes to life, ministry, & sisterhood and is so grateful for any opportunity to come back & encourage sisters and friends. You can read more from Morgan on Instagram @morganwkrueger 🙂
For the friend that feels divided in a million different ways, this post is for you. For the weary soul that feels like you’ve lost your passion for the things that once gave you life, this is for you. For those white knuckling your way through your days thinking it will just get better if you get through your to-do lists, this is for you.
Let’s talk about what it means to be whole.
This is a topic that is so close to my heart because anything I share today is such a personal part of my story. Things God is teaching me. Things God is ironing out in my life right now. And I want to invite you today to join me in a deep hunger to live a wholehearted life for God.
I want you to close your eyes. Clear your mind. Think back to a time, maybe it was yesterday, last week, five years ago, when you were five, but think about a time you truly felt alive. A time you felt wholehearted. Don’t overcomplicate it. Think about where you were. Think about who you were with. What were you doing? What were you thinking about? What were you NOT thinking about? What were you not worried or anxious about that you might be struggling with now? How present were you?
Now open your eyes.
Friend, whatever that moment was for you, I want you to realize the holiness of that moment. I want you to see that the state you were in, that’s God heart for you. Not the anxiousness and half-heartedness you might find yourself in. It doesn’t mean all our moments will be like that one, but the beauty of a life lived with Jesus is that there is a peace that surpasses our circumstances. A wholeness of heart that can transcend our broken situations.
I think for too long we have been letting our circumstances determine the way we live wholeheartedly. This IS not God’s heart for us.
If we want to be wholehearted, we have to know and have a true understanding and love for the Father’s heart.
When we know the Father’s heart for us, everything changes.
Most of you know King David. He was the appointed King of Israel from the tribe of Judah. He was an unassuming shepherd who God chose to use in mighty ways. In humility toward God, he accomplished great things in his life, check it out:
- A humble leader – and from him we get the phrase “man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
- A fierce warrior, to the point he had songs sung about him in battle.
- He killed Goliath – enough said.
- He escaped death countless times and then extending mercy to those who tried to kill him.
- He is the writer of most of the Psalms (think NYT best-selling author and top Christian Album on Apple… no big deal.)
And don’t get me wrong, David also had a past. He was a murderer and an adulterer, but still God saw David as a “man after his own heart.” If anything, this points to the goodness of the unconditional love of a Father.
And the Lord makes a covenant with David that he IS the rightful king of Israel, and that his throne will be established forever.
David had many children but one of his children was Solomon.
And one of the greatest tasks of David’s life was to prepare for a temple to be made for the Lord’s presence. He was old in age, so God charged Solomon to build it.
David knew as a Father that he had to prepare everything for Solomon to be able to pull this thing off:
“David said, “My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the Lord should be of great magnificence and fame and splendor in the sight of all the nations. Therefore, I will make preparations for it.” So David made extensive preparations before his death.” (1 Chronicles 22:5)
He prepared every stone, gold, silver, bronze, iron, all workers, all positions, musicians, gatekeepers (security), treasurers, military, and every single other thing he would need.
Maybe you need to hear that today, that your Heavenly Father prepares for you exactly what you’ll need to accomplish what He has called you to.
David did it ALL.
And at the very end of his life, he gives a monumental speech and prayer to the people of Israel and to his son.
If you’ve ever seen someone at the end of their life, you know that they use their words wisely. We should all pay attention to this charge.
He prays this prayer for his son and God’s people:
“O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.” 1 Chronicles 29:16-19
What a beautiful prayer. Solomon doesn’t pray that God would make his son rich, established, or “successful”, but wholly sincere and dedicated to God. That’s the good news – that we have a God that just asks us to be whole. Not perfect, but whole. See there’s a difference.
Perfection is about achievement.
Wholeness is about giving what you have.
Perfection is all about the end result.
Wholeness is about the journey.
Perfection is about pride.
Wholeness is about humility.
David didn’t need his son to be perfect, He just needed him to give all that he had knowing that God would sustain him. Knowing that the good work he had begun in him, HE would bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).
Hopefully right about now if you appreciate a good story, you’re asking the question, well… did he? Did Solomon remain wholehearted?
Here’s the bad news…. no, he did not. He did for a while, but he didn’t stay dedicated to the one hope that God had for him. And it’s interesting because there are three main factors that drew him away from wholeheartedness that I believe God wants us to be aware of as a warning so that we might resist the schemes of the enemy.
Let me break this down.
1. He loved the things of the world more than the things of God.
Solomon does what was commanded of him, he built the temple, he asked for wisdom, and things seemed to be going well. The people were happy. And then there’s a shift.
Because God blessed Solomon’s reign, the riches and honor came flooding in and with that, Solomon shifted from worshipping God to allowing others, and eventually himself, to become to object of his worship.
He loved that people came to him for wisdom, the wisdom given to him by God. (1 Kings 10:24)
He loved the gifts more than the Giver and kept them for himself. (1 Kings 10:25)
He loved receiving glory and status more than giving all the glory to God. (1 Kings 10:18-21)
2. He let the wrong voices be the loudest voices.
Over time, Solomon acquired many wives of foreign women who worshipped other gods. These voices, the closest voices to him, because the loudest voices in his life. (1 Kings 11:1-4)
Before you think this isn’t relatable, don’t underestimate the power of even one relationship having a huge impact on your wholeheartedness. Some of you might not even have one wife or husband, but you follow more than 100 people on Instagram, right? Each of those voices you’re letting speak things and ideas into your life without even knowing it.
The voices we let into our life will either lead or mislead us into intimacy with our Heavenly Father.
3. He filled the wrong temple.
Solomon thought he was wholeheartedly serving the Lord by building the temple as he asked. And he did to an extent. But why do you think that God wanted the temple in the first place? So He could be with us. So He could fill us with His love and presence.
The temple was God’s way to be with us. To dwell among us… and Solomon missed it. He was so caught up in doing, achieving, completing, that he left vacant the main thing God wanted to fill, which was himself. Friend, God wants us. Anything He asks us to do will only be a means to an end to bring us to him.
David asked Solomon to be whole – to have an “undivided” heart to build the temple. But really it was never fully about the building, God wanted to fill a different empty space.
And maybe today as you read this, there are idols, or some spaces, or some voices that need redemption today. If so, God is near, and loves doing the impossible.
So Solomons life ends with bondage to idolatry and a love for the world over God. (1 Kings 11:6)
I know this feels discouraging because we love a happy ending.
But praise be to God, there is one.
Solomon wasn’t the golden child of David, but God the Father was faithful.
So much so that when Jesus puts on flesh to enter the cosmos, he is called the “son of David” (Matthew 12:23).
See, Jesus was wholeheartedly devoted to the things of God. Jesus lived a perfect life. Even when met with temptation of worldly status, he rejected it by becoming a humble servant.
When the wrong voices tried to speak into his life, he retreated to let God be the loudest voice.
When everyone around him was trying to earn salvation by works, he purchased that salvation through pouring out his blood for us.
In Solomon we see failure, in Jesus we see fulfillment. Through Jesus, now we are the temple that God wants to fill. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
This IS the Father’s love on display.
SO HOW DO WE LIVE A WHOLEHEARTED LIFE?
You see, the first thing said about Solomon was that he was loved from the start. (2 Samuel 12:24)
So today, know that you’re loved. Know that God wants to be the ultimate Provider for you. If He sent us Jesus, won’t he give us everything little thing that we’ll need? Just like Solomon, won’t God our Father provide? (Matthew 6:27-31)
Through Jesus, God has made a way for us to be a recipient of wholehearted love.
What a kind, loving Father we have.
If you want this today, or if you want to go deeper into a life of wholeheartedness, I would encourage you to repent, which means “to turn” away from the things leaving you less than whole.
The good news is that it’s through the Father’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
It’s his kindness, it’s his LOVE that gives us a whole heart. What a whole hope we have today through the loving Father and the perfect son.
Morgan Krueger is part of Team LO and loves any opportunity to hear someones heart. In her free time she loves drinking coffee with friends, watching British baking shows, and leading their local church’s young adult ministry in West Monroe, LA with her husband, Ryan.
6:00am alarm sounds.
Roll out of bed.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
2020. Thanksgiving. For a lot of us, putting those two words together feels like a bit of an oxymoron right about now. Thankfulness is the last thing we feel. And for so many of us, the feeling and reality of loss is a very real thing this year.
Millions of people lost their jobs in 2020.
Millions of lost loved ones.
Millions more sick.
And even if you aren’t in this category above, in some way or another, this year’s residual effects and massive life changes have impacted you emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
So, we can all agree it’s been hard, it’s been beyond challenging, and it almost feels like more than we can bear.
But…. what are we going to do with it?
So many of us start our days with the routine laid out above. We wake up. We grab our phones. We scroll. We search to be numbed. We search for an escape. We search for meaning. We just want a little peace. But we’ll never find peace if we’re not willing to fight for gratitude where it’s meant to be found. As long as we turn to temporary pleasure, we’ll be stolen from, actually straight up robbed of our souls in 2020.
Because truth is, we’re not getting out of 2020 unscathed. In fact, 2021 holds no promise of the “end” of what’s been challenging this year. I love you enough to tell you, 2020 will leave a scar. 2020 will wound us. So, knowing that we won’t escape the troubles and tribulations of the broken world we’re living in, what will you do with it? Will you let it be a holy scar? One that points to the glory of God? One that cries out, “This was painful, this was scary, this was one of the hardest things I’ve faced, yet God took it and used it for good. Let me tell you about my God through this scar.” Or will you let it be pain for the sake of pain without any ounce of purpose?
See, God never intends for our pain to be purposeless.
But in the wrestle, you might get bruised, you might end up with a limp, but you get God.
The apostle Paul put it like this: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8
Paul’s list of “wants” doesn’t look like ours today. Ours often look like this:
To ace our test.
To get the promotion.
To have our family perfectly healthy and safe.
To keep our jobs.
To have a comfortable home.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this list, but let’s compare it to Paul’s:
To know Christ.
Like Paul, if we truly desire God’s presence, we would give thanks in all circumstances.
Because God’s presence supersedes circumstances.
Have you ever thought about your biggest breakthroughs with God? Haven’t they in some form or fashion been connected to trials? To the lowest of lows? That’s not a coincidence. This is more because of us than God but it turns out we realize we need God a WHOLE LOT MORE when everything is stripped from us. And God never wants to be picked last, but in his mercy, He’ll take it. He’ll use it. And He’ll blow you away with His presence when you have nowhere else to turn.
And because God supersedes circumstances, gratitude supersedes circumstance.
God just wants us to want Him, friend. When we want Him, we give thanks for Him, not our good (or bad) circumstances. We actually give thanks for Him regardless of our circumstances.
What if our gratitude simply came from who God is and the fact that He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever? (Hebrews 13:8)
What if our gratitude was rooted in the fact that we can know God because his son Jesus came down to earth and put on sin for us, so that we could be made right with God? (2 Cor. 5:21)
He is God with us, our Immanuel. And because of Him, we can give thanks for the good, bad, hard, messy, and beautiful.
Friend, Jesus lives. Now that’s something to be thankful for. 2020 can take so much from us, but nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:38-39)
So, this year, when it would be so easy to throw in the towel, don’t let anything steal your heart of gratitude. But instead, throw off your anxieties, and with thanksgiving, simply tell him what you need, and receive the peace he gives through His presence and through His son Jesus.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Isn’t it crazy how there are literally years of your life you can’t vividly remember and then there are some days that you’ll never forget? This was that day for me (YES that’s little Morgan!) Also shoutout to my mom for unapologetically rocking that fresh bowl cut and retro glasses.
This was the first day I ever heard the phrase “faith like a mustard seed.” This saying comes out of Matthew 17:20-21:
“He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
When this picture was taken, it was at the land that my small Christian school was praying to build on. That day, we all got in a circle, read the scripture out of Matthew, and all buried mustard seeds in the ground. I remember making my hole, shoving that little seed in there (I wasn’t the most graceful kid), and filling the hole the best I could with the surrounding dirt and rocks. I think a reason I remembered it so well was because it was such a foreign idea to me.. and sometimes still is. But, I believe God was showing me something that day that brought me all the way to writing this post.
What I didn’t know was that this little girl in the picture wasn’t just planting a mustard seed, but instead a biblical truth was planted in me and since that day, has grown and grown.. and grown.
Here are some facts about mustard seeds:
They’re either going to produce one of two things: Mustard Plants or nothing. You’re not going to get tomatoes from a mustard plant (sorry ketchup lovers).
The mustard family includes a variety of plant species, spread all over the world: white ones, black ones, brown ones, and other variations like Florida Broadleaf, Green Wave, Southern Giant Curled, Tendergreen, Red Giant, etc.
They don’t take a lot of “effort” to grow: just a little consistent water and sunlight each day.
Unlike other plants, almost every part of the mustard plant is usable.
They have incredible “bioenergy” just like humans! Meaning, even just one mustard seed measuring 1 millimeter in radius, generates a bioenergy field of 100-millimeter radius! What this bioenergy ultimately brings is healing. Healing to itself and everything surrounding it.
I could easily take all of this info and say “LOOK! YOU are the mustard seed!” But friend, the truth in love is:
Unlike mustard seeds, we try to produce things that we were never created to produce
Unlike mustard seeds, we can’t bring about unity and diversity on our own.
Unlike mustard seeds, we overcomplicate our faith, our relationships, and our call to love daily.
Unlike mustard seeds, we close off and compartmentalize parts of our life and say, “God could never use this.”
Unlike mustard seeds, on our own, we can’t bring about the healing that we or our world truly needs.
So… what is the mustard seed?
If you read earlier in Matthew 17, you see Jesus take three of his disciples (Peter, James and John) up to a mountain and they saw the transfiguration of Jesus. CRAZY STUFF! Literally his face “shining like the sun”, his “clothes becoming white” and then boom, out of nowhere, Moses and Elijah join the party. Can you imagine?! Jesus displayed his full wonder and splendor to his besties. After that sight, what else would they need to have the faith to perform the wonders and miracles that Jesus would empower them to do?
Right after, it’s told to Jesus that his disciples (most likely Peter James and John leading the charge) weren’t able to cast out a demon in a boy. Jesus, in love, then follows up their question of “why couldn’t we do it?”, with (paraphrasing) “Have faith. It can be the size of a mustard seed. That’s enough for my power to rest on you. Then, nothing will be impossible.”
I challenge us all to see the mustard seed in us today as Jesus, not our own strength. Just like Peter, James, and John, our efforts will sometimes fall short if we are leaning on our own strength. But seeing our mustard seed as the faith of Jesus in us puts HIS power and glory on display knowing that we can do what he is asking us to do, even if our faith is the size of a 1 millimeter mustard seed.
We can go out and produce fruit 100 fold with that kind of faith.
We can celebrate diversity and can bring together black, white, brown, and any other variation of God’s children with that kind of faith.
We can grow by just standing in the light of Christ and drinking from HIS well with that kind of faith.
We can actually influence those around us with that kind of faith.
We can be who we were created to be with that kind of faith.
Just like a mustard seed, you are allowed to start small and let God be big.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
2020. A new year. A new decade. A new song. A new opportunity.
Fam, what a year it has already been! I don’t know about you, but there is a stirring in me for God to get in my heart and take care of some of the hard stuff that maybe I didn’t want Him to touch in 2019.
I’ll say this upfront so you’re not mad at me later: this might be the last blog you want to read today but the one blog that you need to take in.
Maybe in 2019 you were hurt by something (or more accurately, someone) and you have carried it into this decade. And maybe everyone around you is living all freed up and joyful (in our flesh, that can be so frustrating, can’t it?) and you can’t quite get there because of some resentment that has been hard to let go. I feel you. I sit here writing this post on forgiveness feeling deeply convicted over a relationship with someone that I have yet to forgive from almost a year ago.
So, what if today, right now, you and I take a dive into the Word that wants to do a new thing in us this year? A good work in and through you and I that will cleanse us of bitterness, resentment, and anger from the pains of the last decade?
What I do know is that hurts run deep, and I would never want to minimize that. But what I also know to be just as true if not truer, is that God’s grace for us (shown through Jesus) runs deeper and has more power than resentment ever could.
Let’s start being the forgiven who forgive because of The Great Forgiver.
We’re taking a look at 10 verses on forgiveness that have the power to do the seemingly impossible. You’ll find a question below every verse as well to pray through or journal them out. Don’t rush through this! Take your time, let Jesus speak, and ask Him to guide you as He pleases for the purpose of forgiveness and letting go of the past.
1. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to five us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9
You probably didn’t think I was going to start with a verse on our own sin, did you? That’s right, before we can ever hope to forgive others, we have to acknowledge and be confronted by our need for forgiveness. As much as it isn’t fun to think about, God sees all sin as equal and you and I are just as in need of forgiveness as anyone else.
Is there something you need to be forgiven for today? I encourage you to first confess to God and then confess to anyone you need forgiveness from. Let’s forgive from a fresh place of being forgiven!
2. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
Paul (the author of Ephesians, speaking to the church in Ephesus), encourages us to “put away” everything that would hinder us from offering forgiveness to those around us. He explains a few verses earlier in chapter 4 to put off our old self, the self that only follows our desires. The old self holds on to past hurts and bitterness, but the new self, found in Jesus, hands our hearts over to Him to be healed and softened toward forgiveness.
What are some differences in your old and new self?
3. “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
We just looked at what we are told to “put off”, and in this verse, we are shown what to “put on” as our new selves. Putting on these characteristics of Christ is our only path to true forgiveness.
What are some ways you can begin to put on and practice the qualities of Jesus?
4. “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent’, you must forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4
Jesus, speaking to his disciples (and you and I), is asking a big thing of us here. He is showing us that we must stay uncapped on our forgiveness. We are called to forgive for every trespass done against us, and especially when our brother or sister comes to us in repentance. And guess what was the disciples immediate reply in verse 5? “Increase our faith!” They KNEW that this was an impossible task without Jesus doing a work in them.
Do you find yourself limiting your forgiveness? Is there a specific person it is harder to forgive?
5. “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47
Jesus is so rich in mercy! Jesus is speaking to a pharisee who was offended by the service that a “sinful” woman was offering Jesus by washing his feet. The lesson here? When we know the depth that we are forgiven, forgiving becomes the better, freer option, rather than judgement.
Do you live like a child deeply forgiven by Jesus? Does this affect the way you forgive?
6. “Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure — not to put it too severely — to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him … Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive.” 2 Corinthians 2:5-8,10
Do you mean it when you say you want people to know Jesus? If so, forgiveness is the best way to show them that you forgive because you have a forgiving God and that they aren’t as far away from Him as they think. In fact, He is ready to welcome them home as soon as possible (Check out the prodigal son in Luke 15!)
How can you show the forgiveness of God through the way you forgive?
7. “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25
What Mark is saying here is that prayer should be an integral part of our daily prayer life. Did you catch that? Every time we pray, we need to practice bringing our hurts to Jesus and forgiving anyone who has hurt us. When we do, we have freely received the forgiveness that’s offered to us.
How can you incorporate forgiveness into your daily prayer life?
8. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. – Isaiah 1:18
We see here the type of forgiveness that God offers. As you can see, God never partially forgives. His forgiveness is wholistic, turning what is completely blood stained into blemish-free. For us, this means that our forgiveness must also be full and impartial.
Is there anyone you have partially forgiven that you need to extend FULL forgiveness to today?
9. “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.” Luke 23:34
One of the last things that Jesus did on earth before He died was advocate for forgiveness. He knows that without forgiveness, we can’t be fully free.
Have you fully accepted and received Jesus’ forgiveness for your sins paid for on the cross? If not, He is ready to show you His forgiveness today, friend!
10. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25
God doesn’t just forgive us, He chooses to “remember our sins no more”. He lives like our past sins are not a part of us. What a gracious act of love! Maybe you feel that you’ll never be able to forget the pain of the past, but through the power of Jesus, you do have the ability to love people like they never hurt you. Through Jesus, we can be free from holding onto those pains and love without boundaries.
Friend, I hope this was a challenging and fruitful time and that God has prompted you to journal some prayers of forgiveness, call a friend for an overdue conversation, or even finally walk in the forgiveness that you’ve been given!
Forgiveness is one of the hardest realities on earth, and that is why Jesus had to die one of the hardest death to overcome it. But He did it, for us, and now we get to be the recipients of a forgiveness that is immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine.