Forgiven Altogether and Forever

“The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

Ephesians 1:7

Could there be a sweeter word in any language than that word “forgiveness,” when it sounds in a guilty sinner’s ear, like the silver notes of jubilee to the captive Israelite? Blessed, forever blessed be that dear star of pardon which shines into the condemned cell, and gives the perishing a gleam of hope amid the midnight of despair! Can it be possible that sin, such sin as mine, can be forgiven, forgiven altogether, and forever?

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A Work in Progress

You’ve probably heard the saying “I’m not all that I want to be, but thank God I’m not what I used to be.” If you can say that today, that means you’re on the road to progress. The truth is that all of our lives are under construction, and sometimes the road to progress is messy and slow. When you’re tempted to get discouraged, remember what the apostle Paul says: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). You’re a work in progress. You will get to the completion phases, because God is going to fulfill His promises to you.

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How to Move When Others Don’t Understand God’s Call on Your Life

I was out running errands one Saturday. City traffic was a little wonky, but to be expected, especially since I was near the mall and other shopping centers. Oh yes, and don’t forget to factor in construction on every major street and highway in the city.

Anyhoo, I was driving in the right lane, ready to turn at the next light, when I realized that everyone was making their way into the left lane. As I continued on, I noticed that an officer had someone pulled over. Of course, I needed to make my way over, so I put on my signal, in hopes that someone would slow down enough to give me space.

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Rejection

Rejection—it’s so personal. It sticks to our souls. It does not respond to reason, and is not easily dislodged from our hearts. We can try to talk ourselves out of the indictment that comes with it, but the words we use are mostly ineffective, reinforcing our shame.

I have experienced all sorts of rejection. I still feel the sting of certain family members not ever returning my phone calls and good friendships that are no more. I have heard things like, “you are not a good fit for our small group” or “since you homeschool, we didn’t think you’d fit in with us.” These words pierce. There is a finality about them. They do not leave room for further conversations.

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When Good Things Start to Hurt

I was having coffee with one of the women I’ve been discipling last month. This is her first year in Kansas City, and in the few short months she’s been here, her growth has been exponential. The opportunity to be discipled, combined with an increased love for learning and heightened capacity to understand theological truth and apply it to her spiritual walk has made her year unforgettable.

Seeing such rapid and significant growth has been fascinating. The Bible uses cultivation language to talk about the lives of believers and how they interact with teachers, disciplers, and others who have influence in their lives – some water, some plant seeds, and some get to witness the harvest.

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The Moment You Pray

We all have things we’re believing will change. We’re fighting an illness, struggling with an addiction, or dealing with fear, anxiety, or depression. We know that God promised He will restore our health, that our children will serve the Lord, that we will be free from the fear. We prayed and believed, but we don’t see anything improving. What you can’t see is that the moment you prayed, the source of what was coming against you in the unseen realm–the fear, the addiction, the sickness–was cut off. What’s feeding it has been cut off, and it’s dead. Don’t get discouraged because you don’t see anything happening. It’s just a matter of time. What God promised you is on the way.

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The Power of Thanksgiving Every Day

In Luke 17, out of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, only one man scrambled back to say thanks. I am sure that the other nine had an attitude of thanksgiving but never applied their gratitude. The power of saying thanks is a simple thing, but often hard to do. A friend of mine says that unexpressed gratitude can often be interpreted as being unthankful. Sometimes it can even be viewed as arrogance or ignorance!

Every day is Thanksgiving for a Christian.

Thanksgiving should be the theme song for followers of Christ. We should have thanksgiving flowing from our lips daily. The people we connect with should be soaked with thanks because we are overflowing with gratitude.

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Courage Inspired by the Martyrs

Among the many heroes of faith, the martyrs stand out. They take up a central place in our corporate identity because they so closely evoke Jesus’ faithfulness in the face of death. God honors the martyrs even to the point that he uses their deaths as a countdown to Jesus’ return.

They [those “slain for the word of God”] cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

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Three Good Things About Difficult Bible Passages

I recently heard a pastor with decades of experience remark that the passage in Mark 7:24-30 is one of the most difficult in the Bible.[1] “It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” Jesus said.[2] How does one defend this apparent ethnocentrism directed at a marginalized mother who is desperate to find a cure for her child?

Confronting difficult passages is, well, difficult. And the Mark 7 passage is but one of many that we or people in our congregations may struggle with.

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Never Take Things for Granted

Have you ever heard the lyrics to the song titled “Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone”? It’s unfortunate that sometimes we have to lose something, or almost lose something, before we recognize the value in it and appreciate it. I was reminded of that by a man whose recovery from an illness had been very long and difficult. He said, “Victoria, I see my life in a completely different light than before I got sick. Today, my precious things are family and friends. I’ve realized that appreciating what you have every day is what’s important.”

It’s easy to start taking for granted things that can’t be replaced. We live in a great country with houses that have running water, electricity, and every convenience. We have places to work and worship and stores of all kinds–whatever we need is basically at our fingertips.

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