He Reigns!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Comfort & Joy



Forgiving those who have hurt us can be one of the most difficult things we ever have to do. In fact, it’s so difficult that there is a very popular saying, “I may forgive but I will never forget.” I’ve even heard this come from Christians but nothing can be farther from the teachings of Christ.
1 John 1:9 tells us that, “He forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” Not only are we forgiven for our sins but they are no longer remembered by God. He takes our sins, throws them into a Hefty Bag, and then tosses it into a big dump that only God has the directions to.
          God is not a god who reminds us of our faults of yesterday but of our abilities through Him for all of our tomorrows. God wants us to shine, to minister to others, to represent His Son, Jesus, wherever we go, and to win souls to the Kingdom of Heaven.
          One of the biggest things we will have to do in order to accomplish this is to forgive and forget our own past. Yes, I said to forget the past, not just forgive the past but forget it ever existed. That includes not only forgiving others but one’s self, which is a difficult task, I know.
          I am one of those people who bear the weight of the world on their shoulders. I think that I am responsible for everything everyone else does, and if I had just said or done one thing differently, the entire outcome of everyone else’s lives would be different. I ride on waves of guilt that seem to well up within me from nowhere at all. I allow the consequences of other people’s actions to land on me, and make me feel as if I am responsible for what they have done.
          What I had to come to terms with is I am not God. Imagine that—I am just one of several billion people who occupy earth and take up oxygen, living a very ordinary life. I cannot make anyone do or say anything they don’t want to, and beating myself up over what other’s do only drives me farther from the love and grace of God.
          I have laid in bed crying in anguish over my ex-husband who passed away. (Dancing With Bear: A Love Story) I was so distraught over his passing, and convinced that I could have done or said something to someone, somewhere, that would have prevented his death. I loved this man for more than half my life and his passing felt as if it would destroy me. It was just one more thing the devil had in his arsenal against me, and he used it well.
          The truth is, the devil is out to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10) your life on  earth, and ultimately, your soul. He doesn’t want you to live happily with God’s blessings, no, he wants you to be miserable and unhappy, and he wants your soul in Hell with him.
There is a saying among Christians, “We know how the story ends and the devil loses.” Yes, he loses but in the meantime, he is active in this world to make sure he takes down as many of us as he can in the time he has left.
          So, how does the devil work? Unbelief is his greatest ally. For those who don’t believe in God, the devil doesn’t really have to worry about them. He knows they have what they want—money, drugs, fame, or whatever it is—and that is their reward. But for those of us who believe in God, who believe Jesus is the Savior of the world, we can expect the devil to do his best to destroy our lives. The devil is a coward, he never just confronts us directly, no, he likes to use those things that make us most vulnerable. The biggest of those is our past.
          Don’t we all let our past get to us? Don’t we obsess on all the things we have done wrong in our lives? And don’t we dwell on the things others have done to us? These are the devil’s weapons. He knows where to jab, punch, and kick. He knows how to use our guilt and unhappiness against us.
The Bible describes the devil as “…your great adversary, the devil… prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) But verse nine says, “Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith…”
So, the only way to defeat the devil is to be strong in our faith in Jesus Christ and the Word of God, the Bible.
          I know sometimes that is so difficult, especially if you are new to Christianity and are just learning the Bible. When we are brand new, baby Christians, we still have our old non-Christian baggage that we drag around behind us. We haven’t figured out yet how to let it go, or what to do with it. And the devil knows this.
          What is inside your bag? Were you hurt as a child? Abused physically, sexually, emotionally? Have you been raped, lived with an abusive partner, or been a drug addict? Were you a prostitute? Do you have a sexually transmitted disease there is no cure for? Were you a criminal, served time in prison? Or perhaps nothing in your life has ever worked out for you, and everything you have tried to do has come to nothing?
          No matter what is in your bag, God can rid you of it, but the first step is allowing God to have full control of your life. And to allow God to do that means to forgive yourself and those who have harmed you.
Forgiving those who have hurt us can be one of the most difficult things we ever have to do. In fact, it’s so difficult that there is a very popular saying, “I may forgive but I will never forget.” I’ve even heard this come from Christians but nothing can be farther from the teachings of Christ.
1 John 1:9 tells us that, “He forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” Not only are we forgiven for our sins but they are no longer remembered by God. He takes our sins, throws them into a Hefty Bag, and then tosses it into a big dump that only God has the directions to.
          God is not a god who reminds us of our faults of yesterday but of our abilities through Him for all of our tomorrows. God wants us to shine, to minister to others, to represent His Son, Jesus, wherever we go, and to win souls to the Kingdom of Heaven.
          One of the biggest things we will have to do in order to accomplish this is to forgive and forget our own past. Yes, I said to forget the past, not just forgive the past but forget it ever existed. That includes not only forgiving others but one’s self, which is a difficult task, I know.
          I am one of those people who bear the weight of the world on their shoulders. I think that I am responsible for everything everyone else does, and if I had just said or done one thing differently, the entire outcome of everyone else’s lives would be different. I ride on waves of guilt that seem to well up within me from nowhere at all. I allow the consequences of other people’s actions to land on me, and make me feel as if I am responsible for what they have done.
          What I had to come to terms with is I am not God. Imagine that—I am just one of several billion people who occupy earth and take up oxygen, living a very ordinary life. I cannot make anyone do or say anything they don’t want to, and beating myself up over what other’s do only drives me farther from the love and grace of God.
          I have laid in bed crying in anguish over my ex-husband who passed away. (Dancing With Bear: A Love Story) I was so distraught over his passing, and convinced that I could have done or said something to someone, somewhere, that would have prevented his death. I loved this man for more than half my life and his passing felt as if it would destroy me. It was just one more thing the devil had in his arsenal against me, and he used it well.
          The truth is, the devil is out to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10) your life on  earth, and ultimately, your soul. He doesn’t want you to live happily with God’s blessings, no, he wants you to be miserable and unhappy, and he wants your soul in Hell with him.
There is a saying among Christians, “We know how the story ends and the devil loses.” Yes, he loses but in the meantime, he is active in this world to make sure he takes down as many of us as he can in the time he has left.
          So, how does the devil work? Unbelief is his greatest ally. For those who don’t believe in God, the devil doesn’t really have to worry about them. He knows they have what they want—money, drugs, fame, or whatever it is—and that is their reward. But for those of us who believe in God, who believe Jesus is the Savior of the world, we can expect the devil to do his best to destroy our lives. The devil is a coward, he never just confronts us directly, no, he likes to use those things that make us most vulnerable. The biggest of those is our past.
          Don’t we all let our past get to us? Don’t we obsess on all the things we have done wrong in our lives? And don’t we dwell on the things others have done to us? These are the devil’s weapons. He knows where to jab, punch, and kick. He knows how to use our guilt and unhappiness against us.
The Bible describes the devil as “…your great adversary, the devil… prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) But verse nine says, “Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith…”
So, the only way to defeat the devil is to be strong in our faith in Jesus Christ and the Word of God, the Bible.
          I know sometimes that is so difficult, especially if you are new to Christianity and are just learning the Bible. When we are brand new, baby Christians, we still have our old non-Christian baggage that we drag around behind us. We haven’t figured out yet how to let it go, or what to do with it. And the devil knows this.
          What is inside your bag? Were you hurt as a child? Abused physically, sexually, emotionally? Have you been raped, lived with an abusive partner, or been a drug addict? Were you a prostitute? Do you have a sexually transmitted disease there is no cure for? Were you a criminal, served time in prison? Or perhaps nothing in your life has ever worked out for you, and everything you have tried to do has come to nothing?
          No matter what is in your bag, God can rid you of it, but the first step is allowing God to have full control of your life. And to allow God to do that means to forgive yourself and those who have harmed you.

                                                              www.mariemcgaha.com

Marie McGaha is an author, editor, & owner of Dancing With Bear Publishing. She is the author of several books in genres ranging from Christian nonfiction, historical fiction, to contemporary romance. She was named as one of the 50 Authors You Should Be Reading 2016.

She lives on a farm in SE Oklahoma with her truck driver husband, Nathan, and a plethora of farm animals, and a houseful of dogs.


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