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This world is full of religion. You can find a religion that will fit your needs and make you feel good. But what exactly are they offering you? Do they teach the Word of God? Is a change of heart a requirement for the promise of salvation? Is every level of hierarchy with in those religions built on honesty and truth?

From what I have seen of religion today offers nothing but a false hope, a half truth and hypocrisy. This practice in man made religion has been going on for years. In fact, Jesus preached about it. At that time it was the Scribes and Pharisees that were doing a disservice to those that wanted to seek God. In Matthew 23 Christ brings judgment to those that require acts from the people and not themselves. To those that are more concerned with the “law” than a heart change. To those that are busy about works that make them appear to be righteous but are not sincere in their hearts. He concludes this message with verse 23; “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” The scribes and Pharisees in Bible times were more concerned with acting like a follower of Christ than being one from the heart, as many religious leaders are today. God requires us to pay more attention to the “weightier matters of the law” those that are most important, judgment, mercy and faith.

In my observation of religion I have seen that many have two of the three. Some have mercy and faith. They preach that God is love and will forgive anything as long as you believe. That you can’t live with out sin, but God is merciful just say “I Believe”. Others are full of judgment, have strict creeds that, and are stingy with mercy. There is any combination that can be made. But if you don’t have all three, you don’t have the complete truth that God has for you. The three principles, judgment, mercy and faith all work together and the result is beautiful.

In order to receive mercy through faith, one has to experience judgment. How can you ask for forgiveness if you have done nothing wrong? Romans 3:23 reads “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Each and every one of us has committed sin. What is sin? Sin is a transgression against God’s law, something that we know is wrong but do it anyways (1 John 3:4) or something that we know we need to do, but we don’t do it. (James 4:17) The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and that God is not pleased with this. Romans 6:1 asks “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” the answer in verse 2 is “God forbid.” His plan for us is that we live in communion with him. We cannot do this if sin remains in our life. So judgment comes through the acknowledgement of sin and the need to seek forgiveness or mercy for them. If we fail to do this and continue living in sin, we have a reward, and that is hell. (Psalms 9:16-17) But let’s not forget God’s perfect plan. He does offer mercy to those that seek his forgiveness for their sins. God sent his son, the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live with out sin. In Matthew 1:21 the Bible states that Jesus came to save his people FROM their sins, not to save them while they continue IN their sins. All we have to do to receive this mercy is to confess our sins. (1 John 1:9) It is hard to say that we are wrong and to say sorry, but God loves a humble heart and will draw them close. Once we have been forgiven it is up to us to choose to live sin free every day. Sin is a choice as we discussed earlier and it is with God’s mercy and grace that we are able to choose to follow him in righteousness. We have a responsibility to keep a tight hold on our salvation, 1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” We are born into God’s family when we have sought forgiveness and received it; we then need to keep ourselves so that the enemy of our souls will have no power over us. Now where is faith in all of this? Ephesians 2:8-9 reads “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We do need to have faith to believe that God can and will save us. That he will keep his promises. Through the power of salvation in us and his presence through the Holy Spirit, we can live each day in a manner pleasing to him. We will not make it to heaven just by doing good things, we cannot save ourselves. We need to accept the blood of Jesus as a payment for our sins and though God’s mercy continue our life with out sin. Our salvation is a work that only God can perform in our lives. It is only when we have acknowledged the judgment of sin and sought mercy through faith that we are able to live as God would have us to, holy, sin free, and in communion with him.

Through all of this we can see that we must have all three, judgment, mercy and faith to live according to God’s plan for his people. Be honest with your self and with God. Don’t be content with just a religious belief, search for a true relationship with God. Seek the truth where ever you go and God will be faithful to bring you to it. It is his desire that you find the truth.

We live in a world with many people, personalities and differences. While this is a good thing, making life interesting. Happiness and sorrow come from the encounters that we have with those around us. It is a given that at some time we are going to be hurt. There will be disagreements, accusations, disappointments, and physical harm.

When someone comes against us wrongfully, betrays us, destroys trust, harms us, there is cause for hurt. And the hurt is greater if it is someone that we love and trust.

It is easy to harbor a grudge or wish pain back on that person in punishment for how they made us feel. You want justice for the wrong deed that was committed.

However, there is danger in this. We cannot be found close to God if we don’t forgive them.

What is it to forgive?
to give up resentment against or the desire to punish; stop being angry with; pardonto give up all claim to punish or exact penalty for an offense; overlook
to cancel or remit a debt

Through out the bible there are descriptions of how a Christian is to live.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

It is interesting that we are first instructed to get rid of the bitterness, wrath, and anger, before we are told to be kind and forgive. It is impossible to forgive with bitterness.

Another place in which we are commanded to forgive is

Colossians 3:12-13

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

The scripture lists that qualities we need to have being apart of God’s people.

In both of these scriptures Christ is pointed out as our example of a forgiving heart.

Forgiveness is an act of the heart, not just in motions, we can’t harbor or hold on to a grudge, allowing bitterness to grow

Often we hear the words “forgive and forget” I think that is impossible. God gave us a memory for a reason; it would be easy to forgive someone if we didn’t remember the hurt that was caused. God wants us to be able to forgive even though we remember.

The children of Israel continued time and time again to go against God, but in his mercy knowing they were human, he forgave then.

Psalms 78:38-39

But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

God showed compassion just as we are to show compassion, as said before forbearing with each other, understanding the weakness of the human, and forgive.

Side note – this doesn’t give us the liberty to go around heedless of those around us, not being careful to not cause offence. We still need to be faithful to our promise to God, to do our best and not sin, and in this we are to do right to those around us.

If we fail to forgive we can’t reach God and he will hesitate to answer our prayers, in fact, he says he won’t hear our prayer.

Mark 11:24-26

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

God hearing and answering our prayers is contingent upon us forgiving others.

We are also instructed to seek forgiveness of others if we have caused hurt before coming to God.

Matthew 5:23-24

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

We need to be careful to have everything clear between us and others before seeking God. It is best that once we know that there is a problem, to take care of it, thus to not hinder our relationship with God.

Jesus explains forgiveness through a parable in Matthew 18:21-35, Peter questioned Jesus about forgiveness. He was in a predicament, his brother kept bothering him. He would say sorry, and Peter would forgive him, but it kept happening over and over. Peter was tired of it.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

In Today’s money

1 talent=15 years wages, at minimum wage, yearly is $15,000, 10,000 yearly wages – 2,250,000,000, 2 billion, 250 million dollars

100 pence – $1.56

This story exemplifies the amount that Chirst has forgiven us to anything that we may need to forgive another man. Christ is our example in how we are to live our life.

The seriousness is that if we can’t forgive, that Christ won’t forgive us.

Matthew 6:14-15

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

With out God’s forgiveness, we would still be living in sin.

It takes a humble heart to ask for forgiveness and to forgive, let us be willing to be humble. To clear up anything that we have with others, if you can, call up someone that has heart you and let them know you forgive them. If you can’t, forgive them in your heart. Seek forgiveness of those that you have hurt. When you are able to let the hurt go and forgive, you are able to be in communion with God, and life gets so much better.

I got this in an email today and was impressed to share it.
What an amazing example of Christ’s love and sacrifice to us.
It’s long, but worth the read.

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States.

Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course their freshman year, regardless of his or her major.

Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve.

Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor’s class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.

“How many push-ups can you do?”

Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.”

“200? That’s pretty good, Steve,” Dr Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?”

Steve replied, “I don’t know…. I’ve never done 300 at a time”

“Do you think you could?” again asked Dr. Christianson.

“Well, I can try,” said Steve.

“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,” said the professor.

Steve said, “Well… I think I can…yeah, I can do it.”

Dr. Christianson said, “Good! I need you to do this on Friday..Let me explain what I have in mind.”

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson’s class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?”

Cynthia said, “Yes.”

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?”

“Sure!” Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk.  Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’s desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, “Joe, do you want a donut?”

Joe said, “Yes.” Dr. Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?”

Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.

Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship.

When the professor asked, “Scott do you want a donut?”

Scott’s reply was, “Well, can I do my own push-ups?”

Dr. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them.”

Then Scott said, “Well, I don’t want one then.”

Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?”

With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.

Scott said, “HEY! I said I didn’t want one!”

Dr. Christianson said, “Look! This is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it.” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.

Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”

Sternly, Jenny said, “No.”

Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?”

Steve did ten….Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say, “No!” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.

Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn’t bear to watch all of Steve’s work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert count the set and watch Steve closely.

Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Dr. Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?”

Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, “Well, they’re your push-ups.  You are in charge now.  You can do them any way that you want.”  And Dr. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, “NO! Don’t come in! Stay out!”

Jason didn’t know what was going on.

Steve picked up his head and said, “No, let him come.”

Professor Christianson said, “You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?”

Steve said, “Yes, let him come in.  Give him a donut.”

Dr. Christianson said, “Okay, Steve, I’ll let you get Jason’s out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?”

Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. “Yes,” he said, “give me a donut.”

“Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?”

Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters.  Steve’s arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity.  By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular.  Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, “Linda, do you want a doughnut?”

Linda said, very sadly, “No, thank you.”

Professor Christianson quietly asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?”

Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan.  “Susan, do you want a donut?”

Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry.  “Dr. Christianson, why can’t I help him?”

Dr Christianson, with tears of his own, said, “No, Steve has to do it alone; I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not..  When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book.  Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade.  Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work.  Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups.  He and I made a deal for your sakes.”

“Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?”

As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, ‘Into thy hands I commend my spirit.’  With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life.  And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.”

Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.

“Well done, good and faithful servant,” said the professor, adding, “Not all sermons are preached in words.”

Turning to his class, the professor said, “My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ He spared not His Only Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever.  Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid.”

“Wouldn’t you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?”

Lamentations 3

1-17: I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.  He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day. He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.

18-33: And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.  The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.  It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.  He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

40-45: Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned. Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through. Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people.

55-58: I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon. Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.

God is so faithful to us. When we are going through trials God is always right there. His mercies are there for us each day. We can trust that he will hear us and will send comfort just when we need it, no matter when or how many times we call upon him. Great is his faithfulness to us each day!

Hurry Home

He’s been sitting by the phone since she left
But it’s time for work and he just can’t be late
So he grabs his old guitar
And he plays a couple bars on the machine
And then he softly sings

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, I still love you
It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, you can still come home
And honey if it’s you, we’ve got a lot of making up to do
And I can’t hug you on the phone, so hurry home

Well the message light was blinking when he got back
It was an old friend calling cause he just heard the news
He says Man I hope you find her
If I see her I’ll remind her that her dad is worried
And want her to know

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, I still love you
It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, you can still come home
And honey if it’s you, we’ve got a lot of making up to do
And I can’t hug you on the phone, so hurry home

Well the days dragged by without a word from her
And it looked like she might not be coming back
People said man don’t you think it’s time to take that old message off
He said no, you never know when she might call

She was just outside a bar in New York City
Her so-called friends had left her all alone
She was scared he wouldn’t want her
But she dialed up that old number and let it ring
And then she heard him sing

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, I still love you
It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, you can still come home
And honey if it’s you, we’ve got a lot of making up to do
And I can’t hug you on the phone, so hurry home

He walked in just in time to hear her say
Dad, I’m on my way

By Jason Michael Carroll

This song reminded me of a modern day prodigal son.

Luke 15:11-24 

And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

 I am thankful for God’s mercy. It doesn’t matter how far we go in sin or that we turn our back on God. No matter where we allow our selfish ways to take us, God is still waiting with open arms for us to come back to Father’s house. He patiently waits for us to become sick of sin, of our way, thoughts, opinions and attitudes and make that step to come back to him with a repentant heart. It is a heart that is truly sorry for their sin and desires a complete change that is found acceptable to God. And in his mercy and love he will clean us up and prepare us for his work. It is this mercy that keeps the door open waiting for us to take the first step, to come to the place where we realize the benefits of Father’s house, and make the decision to come home.

 For all of you out there that are away from Father’s house, consider where you are, and where you could be. The Father is waiting, praying, desiring for you to come home. It doesn’t matter where you have been, what you have done, or who your friends are, God still wants you to come home. The best time do make this decision is now, so hurry home.

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