Lord Herbert said it like this: "He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass." That was Jesus’ message in this most frightening verse in all The Model Prayer ; God’s forgiveness of a Christian’s sin is conditioned upon our willingness to forgive others.So terrible is the power of this one phrase that it has caused saints to hesitate in speaking the words.Robert Louis Stevenson lived in the South Seas and it was his habit to gather his wife and children every morning for Bible study. At the close of their “little discussion” together as he calls it, they would say the Lord's Prayer. One day he began to repeat The Prayer and got half way through it and arose and walked away. At that time of his life his health was rather frail and so his wife assumed that he was feeling ill and she went to him and said, “Is there anything wrong?” “Only this,” he replied, “I am not fit to pray this prayer today.”That’s where it starts, isn’t it?Don’t come asking for something we are not willing to give!
Remember that in this versewe are NOT talking about salvation forgiveness for the unbeliever which comes at the beginning of our walk with God.But we are referring to RESTORATION forgiveness for the Christian who frequently stumbles in his daily walk with God.The moral expectation is much greater for the Christian than for the unbeliever, and the consequence of disobedience is severe.Should a child of God choose to go through life with an unforgiving spirit, he will suffer the spiritual falloutof that lifestyle much like a prodigal sonwho chooses to live in the far country.Where there is an unforgiving spirit there is sin, thus we must practice 1 John 1:9 when we sin so that we can be restored to fellowship with God.First, confess (agree) that we have sinned; second, ask God to forgive us; and third, He will cleanse us of our unrighteousness and restore us to fellowship.Simple formula, right?And most of the time that’s all it takes UNLESS our sin involves someone other than God, and then we must forgive that person, too, before we can expect God to forgive us.
Be careful what you pray for, you might just get it.By praying “forgive us of our sins as we forgive others,” we are actually asking God NOT to forgive us unless we are forgiving toward others.I forewarned you that this was a scary verse!Have you ever left a church service and wondered why you got nothing out of it?Just maybe it wasn’t the preacher’s fault but it was because your unforgiving spirit blocked your ability to worship.So what do we do about it?If you have a grudge against someone and you have held it for a long, long time how do you get rid of it?
First, take it to God as a sin and repent of it. That's where it starts.
Second, go to the person. Tough, huh? Go to the person and say, “I want to seek your forgiveness.”
Third, a practical suggestion which I learned from a godly pastor is to give the person something you value very highly. Jesus said, "Where your treasure is that's where your heart will be also." Maybe it’s a book or something you know that person really wants; or maybe it’s a check or money.It will vary, but the gift of value will open your heart and his/hers.This gesture will pave the way toward genuine forgiveness and restoration.
Beloved, from my heart to yours, I beg you to follow the principle of forgiveness and teach it to your children.We must break the generational sin of harboring grudges against our neighbors, church members and family.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, never again allow me to miss a blessing because I have been unforgiving and/or my own sins have gone unconfessed.Amen and amen.
If you consider this verse as part of the “How to Live for Christ” manual you received when you became a Christian it will be easier to grasp the meaning.Yielding to temptation is natural, so learning NOT to yield is a process that comes with practice and is often associated with a fierce struggle.Does this verse say that unless we ask God to protect us from temptation He won’t?No.At first glance it also seems that this unusual petition opens the possibility that God would intentionally “lead us into temptation,” but we know that isn’t true either.Jesus counseled the disciples to pray lest they fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41 KJV ); furthermore, we know that temptation does not come from God (James 1:13 KJV ).So the paradox of this verse lies in the several meanings of the Greek word.
This word is presented over and over in the New Testament, and it’s translated in several ways depending upon its context.Sometimes this word is translated test, sometimes it's translated prove, sometimes it’s translated trial, and sometimes it's translated temptation because it can be any of those things.I'm convinced in our verse it would better be translated trial.Let's read it that way. “God, lead me out of the potential of evil that's in my trials and tests.”
Tests have always scared me whether in the classroom or in life.I don’t like being tested because there is always the potential for failure…both in academia and in the real world.I must constantly guard against failing those tests which come to me because I live in a fallen world.Maybe it’s a test of the eyes, or of the ears; or maybe a test of the tongue, or even a physical test.I must constantly be alert to what’s going on around me.We thank God for saving us from our sins of the past, but this petition shows we are equally concerned about the sins of the future!So we pray, don't ever lead us into something that we can't handle, an idea which comes from one of the greatest verses in the entire Bible (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV ). Don't give us a trial that is going to become an irresistible temptation but rather deliver us from any trial that would bring evil on us as a natural consequence.
You see, what God intends for good, Satan uses for evil.Tests are given for rejoicing over the glory of God, and for strengthening the believer.A trial is a test to prove your strength, to exercise your spiritual muscle, and develop your spiritual strength.Our petition is an appeal to our Father that through our trials, not the absence of them, we may learn to overcome temptation ( 1 Peter 1:5-7 KJV ).
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I don’t know if I will ever be a YIPPEE kind of Christian when it comes to rejoicing over personal trials and tests, but at least help me to become mature enough to know that while exercising my spiritual muscles may cause a little soreness now, the reward is eternal.Amen and amen.
Beware of anything you do in life to make an impression on somebody, especially if it’s for the sake of spiritual demonstration. Should Christians fast? Certainly, fasting is a legitimate Christian practice but only if they do it without calling attention to themselves. The Pharisees had a huge problem in their “look-at-me” style of religion and Jesus often criticized them for their false piety. He called them hypocrites, meaning an actor on a stage, and warned that we should not become like them.
Fasting is commanded only once in the Bible, when it was associated with the Day of Atonement and the participants were directed to deny themselves food from sunrise to sunset (Leviticus 16 NIV). But this law was overturned on the Cross in the body of Jesus Christ, our ultimate “scapegoat” sacrifice, who died for our sins once and for all. Praise God, He is the everlasting Atonement for sin!
(A Note of Concern: There are medical exceptions which will rightly preclude some devout Christians from fasting.)
Is fasting beneficial? When it is done voluntarily, with the right purpose and in private, it is quite beneficial. It will always have a spiritual reason (although there are some physical benefits, too) and it is always done in secret. If one person is told about the fast, “the one who fasts has their reward.” It does not happen in a vacuum but it has a cause. There is always a stimulus, sin, concern, a decision, grief or something which will require an intense period of going without food. Fasting is not something you choose, but it is something which you cannot avoid. So intense is the experience that you surrender to the spiritual need in a way that removes the pangs of hunger from your conscience.
Several years ago, when I was in low level management at a recruiting firm in Houston, Texas, a young married man and devout Christian was under my supervision. I knew that he and his wife were struggling financially, and I observed that every payday, on Friday, he would quietly sit in his office at noon without eating lunch. One day I asked if he was going to eat, and he said, “Not today.” I thought it was because he couldn’t afford to purchase his sandwich until after he received his paycheck, so I was persistent and even offered to buy his lunch. He seemed embarrassed but he smiled and reverently said, “Please close the door. My wife works across town and we have lunch at the same time every Friday, she in her office, and me in mine. Instead of eating we spend the time praying for each other, for our marriage, and for our relationship to God.” Wow! I know God will bless that fast because I made him confess what he was doing. What a perfect example of a reason to fast on a short term basis!
Beloved, don’t think that you should rush to fasting just because you read this devotional today. But at least be open to the idea when life gets really brutal, the Holy Spirit comes knocking on your door and it seems like the right time to try it. He will let you know when you should and it will be such a holy time that you will not want to share it with anyone but Jesus.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, thank You for the lesson on fasting years ago in Houston, Texas; if your Son could spend 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness with no food, surely I can do without food for 45 minutes and give that lunch break to You in prayer and Bible Study. At least that’s a start. Amen and amen.