The Joy of Forgiveness

In Proverbs 6:27 we are asked a very obvious question, “Can you build a fire in your lap and not burn your pants?” While the writer is only mildly concerned with our clothes, he is seriously interested with our lack of regard for the consequences of sin. Yes, sin, the prickly little word of those moral and religious puritans of long ago, dismissed by secular society, and the whole reason Christ Jesus died on the cross.

Even though we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God; Sin, and the aftermath, can be hard to talk about, especially in group settings. Testimonies are powerful for others combatting similar problems, and have made leading the discussion of “When God’s People Pray”, a Women’s Bible Study by Jim Cymbala, an incredibly meaningful experience. He, as pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church, has seen the power of prayer and God’s forgiveness change people’s lives and their destiny. His book, “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire,” is a moving history of the church, Cymbala’s commitment to prayer, and has been a powerful influence on my own prayer life.

All of the study sessions have deeply touched my heart, especially listening to the testimonies of God’s beautiful daughters. My heart was most impacted by the session on obedience in prayer, and why God refuses to hear us, and bless us, when we choose to remain in our sin and not obey His Word. In Isaiah 59:1-2 he clearly states, “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” It may sound harsh, but consider this; When Jesus, the only one without sin, was on the cross dying for all of our sins, God had to turn and look away from His Own Son. God cannot be in the presence of sin. He is complete Holiness!

Can we even fathom, or begin to imagine what Jesus really suffered for all of us? Talk about unconditional love for those who put him on the cross in the first place. Talk about the power of forgiveness, Jesus is the perfect example of true forgiveness!

This is not a column to judge or condemn anyone, but rather to bring revelation about what God has to say concerning answering our prayers and the issue of unresolved sin in our life. My desire is for as many people as possible to have a rebirth through Christ Jesus our Lord. My desire is for people to hear from God, with answered prayers, through signs, wonders and miracles.

If your prayer life is as dry as the Sahara, consider King David’s request in Psalm 26:2, “Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.” If you sincerely desire things to change, then sincerely ask the question and get ready to get closer to God! Sin is anything that goes against the Word of God. He will show you his standards are not the world’s standards. We should be asking Him to cross-examine our hearts on a daily basis. If I want to have my prayers heard and answered every time, and every day, then He must test me for sin. Remember, He is holy.

King David was confronted with multiple sins by God’s prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12. Nathan addressed David’s sin of coveting, theft, adultery, and murder, during his affair. David could have turned away from Nathan and asked him to leave the King’s inner court, or even killed him. Instead, David was remorseful and confessed his sins to Nathan and God. The prophet quickly told David that the Lord forgave his sins but there would be consequences for his contempt for the Word of the Lord. God does not tolerate our sin. There are consequences for our sinful actions. Consequences usually come with a valuable lesson for those of us willing to learn from our sin.

There is a sweet joy in forgiveness, knowing we once again have the ear of God, hearing and answering our prayers and requests. There is sweet freedom lifting the weight of guilt, loosening the knots tied in the physical body. David beautifully expresses the joy of forgiveness in Psalm 32, “Oh what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”

Jesus is the sweet salve ready to soothe the fire and scars of sin. Stop blaming or measuring yourself with others, take responsibility, and let God take a fresh look at your heart. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength!

Psalm 17:7-8 reminds us there are benefits to living by the rules, “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.

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