forgiveness

CAST OFF UNWANTED 2023 BAGGAGE

(January 19, 2023) A. Richard Samuel challenges ‘new year resolutions’…

Whenever we enter a New Year we think of resolutions. But, someone once jokingly said, ‘New Year resolutions are made to be broken.’ In effect, we must realise that we can do nothing without God’s help.

Jesus pointed out that ‘apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). So as we travel further into 2023, let’s look to Him and seek His help! But note…

Hindering baggage
Many would have seen signboards like the one below in railway stations and in major bus stands.

In our life journey, this statement makes sense. Any unnecessary load is cumbersome and burdensome.

In Ephesians 4:31-32, Paul detailed six pieces of unwanted luggage that hinders our travel… Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.’

Paul also suggested that we carry only necessary luggage that will make our travel comfortable and pleasant – as well as our co-travellers… Kindness, compassion and a forgiving nature.

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WISE PARENTS – WAYWARD CHILDREN

(October 13, 2022) Maureen McQuillan shares good advice…

Wayward children!

I know, I know… Psalm 127:3 says children are the blessing of God in that they are an inheritance from Him. ‘Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him’ (NLT). But… how they can cause parents trouble at times!

Worries
Some heartbroken parents shared with me recently that their child is an adult and, naturally, they have no control over them. Now they don’t want to tyrannically control their child… but, being good parents, want the best for their ‘inheritance’ regarding certain situations. Unfortunately the ‘child’ won’t be counselled by them!

I won’t go into a long list of things that are troubling these particular parents. However, some of you will relate to the following short list –

  • Don’t honour God as you brought them up to do.
  • Stopped going to church.
  • Into drugs and mixing with the wrong company.
  • Has a bad love relationship
  • Mentally ill but won’t seek good counsel.
  • Physically unwell, and you’ve only learned second-hand.
  • Under a cloud of darkness and depression.
  • Isn’t sharing if proper medications are being taken or not.
  • Won’t talk to you.
Read more: WISE PARENTS – WAYWARD CHILDREN

Am I right in saying this list goes on, worried parents? That when you try talking to your kids, they just won’t listen, may even abruptly shut you up!

Workaround
Oh, I could give some workaround ideas. But… what if I agree with them, outrightly saying, You shut up.’ You’re probably reacting in horror, so let me explain how I see it.

You’ve been good to your kids, looking after them through all those trying years of growing up into adulthood;  through sicknesses, insecurities, job-hunting, opposite partner seeking.

And, as a Christian parent, you taught them to ‘honour their neighbours’ and seniors; always tell the truth; make good decisions about everything; know what sin is and that God forgives; pray and trust the Lord; know Him personally. You even taken them to church with you, bought them Bibles at an early age, and encouraged learning more about Jesus.

But they’re no longer children! Perhaps they’re away from home, have back-slain somewhat. And the biggest disappointment you’re presently facing is that they’re no longer that obedient little boy or girl you once could cuddle and share with, giving warnings and good wholesome advice!

And here’s the heart of what I mean if I’d abruptly said, ‘You shut up’… you have already done all the right things, given them good life-instructions, taught them how to make great decisions, and most importantly to trust the Lord.

So then… if they’re not listening to you, dear parent, instead of being downcast yourself, considered this: What can you say that’s new to them? They’ve heard it all before from you! And because they’ve made mistakes, they know exactly what you’ll say and won’t want to hear it all again! They’ll be thinking you’re judging, not caring.

Oh, you might be able to get them listening a little – and of course you should try! But ultimately they have to make that right choice. The ball is in their court now! From your own experiences or from helping others, you know what they should be doing – or not doing. They need to know themselves, and make their own decisions!

But don’t turn your back on them! Lovingly assure them that you’ll always be there for them, no matter what. That your door is always open, that they’ll always be yours. That you’ll always be thinking of them… and caring, loving.

You don’t necessarily have to add that you’ll be praying for them… they already know that! Do keep loving them, remember birthdates and special days. Above all, believe that the Holy Spirit will get through to them… He is the only source to getting them to come to their senses!

Wisdom
When troubled parents asked my help recently about their child, a wasteful adult, I shared the above. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit quickened to me wise principles that Jesus taught about  a similar situation.

Remember Luke 15 – ‘the lost chapter’? To me it’s as if beyond the salvation message here, Jesus tells a parable of a wise parent and a wastrel child.

Preachers, even non-Christians, refer to ‘the parable of the prodigal son.’ What is overlooked is that it is also known as the Parable of the Lost Son (the heading in my 1992 NIV)and, more importantly, the Parable of the Forgiving Father! In keeping with what I’ve shared above, I’ll call it the Parable of the Wise Parent.

Actually the whole chapter is about losses – sheep, silver and son – bringing great joy when found. Let’s consider the son and his parent…

1. Wilful Child – Wise Parent
Verses 11-12 tell of a witless son demanding what was not his to ask for: he was a second son and legally and culturally would only receive his inheritance after his father’s death, the first son having received his.

His father could have denied him, but instead allowed his wayward son to have what he wanted. I have no doubt that this parent was deeply upset… but he lets it all go. Sure there was much he could have said, but obviously saw the determination in his son’s attitude and this parent ‘shut up’ as it were. No doubt he realised his son had to learn some lessons the hard way.

Verses 13-14 tells us this wayward son would lose everything on wild living. Message Bible calls him a wastrel ‘… undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had.’ 

A severe famine hit the country he moved to and, moneyless, suddenly he’s in big trouble! He, a Jew, even hires himself to feed pigs and was so hungry he would have eaten swine food! But no-one offered him a thing. He’s trapped!

Jesus tells of the turning point in his wasted life… ‘He came to his senses’ (v17). I like how the NIRV puts it ‘… he began to think clearly again.’ Can you trust God that your wayward kids will come to their senses?

Let’s talk about this wilful son’s warm-hearted dad.

2. Wanderlust Child – Waiting Parent
Having sorted things out in his own mind, the wastrel son becomes a woeful one. He admits he has faulted not only before his earthly father but, first and foremost, his heavenly Father, and determines to return to safety and security (v 17b-20a).

What an amazing scenario verse 20b paints! ‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.’ 

How can I fully describe what I sense happened here? I can only put it this way…

  • His father hadn’t given up on his child (or on God, the only one who could do what he couldn’t): I like to think he’d always been looking for him, praying for him, caring for him and that’s why he saw and recognised him so quickly.
  • In the original language ‘A long way off’ means really distant… yet his dad saw him! Our heavenly Father sees us – all the way from his throne in heaven. God too is a waiting Father.
  • Before his son can say a word, his loving father doesn’t wait till his boy greets him with a meaningful embrace – he hugs and kisses his son! This is an affectionate embrace and when his boy tries to apologise, he’s cut short because his father is so happy he has returned.
  • As for the depth of this parent’s compassion… the Message Bible bests explains this almost unpronounceable Greek word (splagchnizomai) as ‘His heart pounding…’ Have you ever sensed the depths of God’s compassion for you? It’s an incredible sensation!
  • What compassion he had! He ran – that’s trekh’-o – to move hastily. If this son had been in a rush to leave, his dad is in a bigger rush to welcome him back!

3. Worthless Child – Welcoming Parent
This ever-so-warm greeting isn’t over!

The remaining verses of this chapter are a message in themselves. I’ll nutshell them by pointing out that this repentant child who admitted being unworthy is made worthy… by his parent!

Note the interruptive — dash in verse 21 of the CJB (Complete Jewish Bible): ‘I am no longer worthy to be called your son—’ 

If you like he’s now told to ‘shut up.’ Note too the welcome his parent gives him… the best robe, ring, and footwear! Plus the best feast! Verse 24 sums it up – ‘For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate.’ Message Bible calls it ‘a wonderful time.’

Wrap-up
There it is… what Jesus thought about wayward kids. Can you understand and accept this and be at ease, giving God time and doing our part – praying and expecting?

The heart of what I’ve written is this: At times no matter what wise advice we give to anyone, let alone our children, we can’t change them, can’t make them turn around – unless they decide to change.

And so there will be times when we have to shut up! We should back away slightly… still caring and praying especially for any wayward children we may have. And relying on the Holy Spirit to get through to them.

In all that Jesus taught here, He was emphasising His Father’s incredible, extensive, wide-ranging love.

Some scriptures about how wide, long, high, and deep is the Father’s love

  • ‘… the Father Himself loves you’ (John 16:27).
  • ‘… what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!’ (1 John 3:1).
  • ‘He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers’ (Malachi 4:6).

One last thing… in the end forgiveness is so important. This wise father didn’t condemningly comment on his wayward son’s faults. Neither does our heavenly Father when one asks forgiveness for sins committed! God is an encouraging Father, not a heart crusher!

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Pastor Maureen McQuillan’s link for questions and encouragements is
OnlinerConnect@gmail.com __________________________________________

BARNABAS – ‘SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT’

(September 4, 2022) Brian Bell reflects on Barnabas’example…

‘Son of encouragement’ is a tremendous accolade for anyone to receive from their contemporaries. Not that it means a person is without imperfections, but it says something special about how other people find them to be in the general demeanour of their character and daily living.

As with other biblical characters, the life and witness of Barnabas has profitable lessons for us all to consider, and I share with you those which have spoken to me.

The disciple
We are introduced to Barnabas by Luke the writer of Acts, who tells us that the early believers were of one heart and mind. They freely shared their material possessions not considering what they each owned to be their own! Some even sold land or houses and gave the proceeds to the apostles to give to others in need (Acts 2:44-45).

Among those who sold land was a disciple named Joseph nicknamed Barnabas which means the Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36-37). Luke also tells us Barnabas was a Jew from the tribe of Levi and came from Cyprus. Clearly the Holy Spirit had done a wonderful work in the life of Barnabas since he had come to faith whether it was before or even among one of those 3,000 who responded to Peter’s message (Acts 2:41).

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MY ‘HEART’ MAY FAIL… BUT GOD IS MY STRENGTH!

(August 6, 2022) Brian Bell reflects on the ‘heart’ …

My thoughts turned recently to Asaph’s Psalm 73:26 which says, ‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart…’ 

Just as we also may do today, the psalmist was struggling with what we might call apparent ‘injustices’ of life.

My flesh
‘Fail’ seems to be in the sense ‘to falter in weakness’ and this suggests to me not simply a failing as in a sudden moment of pressure, or by reason of sustained pressure – think of an elastic band – but a weakness which is a tendency, having always been there and always will be.

‘Flesh’ in its literal sense refers to our physical bodies. I’ve known many people familiar with weaknesses of their physical body to a greater or lesser degree; some who were born with or acquired a disability, and more recently those with cancers which have destroyed their formerly healthy bodies.

Even those of us who may not presently be affected by a specific disability or illness and are fortunate to enjoy general good health, realise the experience of others is a sufficient testimony to the fact that our physical bodies can falter in weakness!

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PRIORITISED 2022 RESOLUTIONS

(January 01, 2022) Brian Bell shares afresh on some of his December thoughts as we move for Jesus into this new year…

Christmastime is over and 2022 is here!

Like some others, maybe you too are looking back on difficult 2021 life experiences. Amid the uncertainties of life perhaps some situation injured you, people may have hurt and or disappointed you.

Perhaps you had failed the Lord in some way, or you made poor decisions and thought He won’t forgive you. Well, a December Features was on the very spirit of Christmas… forgiveness (Christmas – Perfect Time for Forgiveness).

There is a wrong tendency with Christians to feel difficult circumstances must be an indication of sin in our lives, or that we have displeased and or failed the Lord… and this can hinder us from moving ahead, especially into every God-given new year.

Now there may be times when we have made choices that have contributed to our certain circumstances. But we need to remember that varied, changing and indeed difficult circumstances of life are common to everyone, believer and non-believer. So, I encourage you to deal with whatever needs dealing with, perhaps putting things ‘right’ with another believer… and resolving to move on!

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CHRISTMAS – PERFECT TIME FOR FORGIVENESS

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(December 23, 2021) Mercy Health’s #MomentsofHealth shares a great Christmastime insight on why forgiveness might just be the best gift you can give yourself this season

The holidays can be stressful. But what can make the holiday season even more stressful? Tiptoeing around family members, harbouring resentment, or picking and choosing holiday gatherings because you’re avoiding someone.

Holding a grudge toward a loved one can be exhausting. The good news? There’s no better time for forgiveness than the holidays.

We get it. You might not be convinced just yet. There was likely a reason you became angry with this person to begin with, and if they had apologised this would already be over. But while there will always be a reason not to extend forgiveness toward someone, there will also always be an even better reason to forgive. Here are our best tips for mending fences this holiday season.

Here’s three reasons to extend forgiveness at Christmastime…

1. Conflict leads to physical stress; forgiveness lessens panic and anxiety
First things first – forgiveness is not about doing a favour for the other person. It’s about doing a favour for you.

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Whether it’s a small argument with your significant other or a decade of not talking to a sibling, conflict is bad for your wellbeing. The stress associated with conflict can increase your risk for a heart attack, raise blood pressure, reduce sleep quality and more. Turns out, forgiveness is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Instead of refusing to forgive because you don’t think someone deserves forgiveness, choose to forgive because you deserve to live with less stress. Quite simply, forgiveness is practical.

2. Choosing to forgive sets the right example for your kids
Modelling behaviour is one of the best ways to teach our children how to behave.

Forgiveness helps us better respect and understand others. While it doesn’t always mean forgetting, it does mean letting go.

We all want our kids to grow up and be successful, which is a lot harder when we’re holding on to feelings of negativity. Teaching our kids to let go helps them excel in the areas of their lives that matter most.

3. Forgiveness is what the holiday season is all about
Many of us have heard the adage ‘Jesus is the reason for the season.’ Jesus may have been born on ‘Christmas’, but he died for the forgiveness of our sins.

Jesus died on a cross so that we could all experience forgiveness from God. God wants us to live a life of forgiveness, and he gave us that gift through Jesus. By choosing to forgive, we are embracing a gift greater than anything that could be put under the tree this season.

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Forgiveness might not always be easy, and it might not always go as planned. The lesson in forgiveness isn’t the reaction from the person forgiven, it’s the change that takes place in you.

When we learned the definition of mercy earlier in this series, we learned that it’s all about showing compassion toward those whom within it’s our power to punish. Forgiveness is one of the best ways to show mercy. How will you show your moment of mercy this week?

Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to share with the hashtag #MomentsofMercy on social media. We promise – this is one thing that can truly put you in the holiday spirit!

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Mercy Health is an extensive caring American organisation that states ‘Our Mission drives us to provide the highest quality health care possible to our patients and communities. Our exceptional team of doctors, nurses and caregivers whose expertise and talent help make a difference in our patients’ lives every day. We extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities and brings good help to those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved.’ Link: https://www.mercy.com/

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I DON’T KNOW ABOUT TOMORROW, I JUST KNOW…

(July 26, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring a timely challenge…

Every day TV news in our state of Victoria (and worldwide for that matter) announces more new covid-19 cases and people are talking either about the next stage of lockdown, the loss of business, revenue and jobs.

And the big questions: ‘Where’s it all going to end, what’s next, and what will tomorrow bring?’

Tomorrow?
It’s a matter of living one day at a time – and making the best of every day! The reality is that none of us what tomorrow will bring.

Oh we can make plans for each new tomorrow and believe we can/will accomplish them… and most times we will without any hassles, especially when we rely on the Holy Spirit’s help.

But… life is life and every now and then something goes amiss and we can get thrown for a sixer, sometimes a catastrophe, some horrible disaster that can ruin us in some or several ways hits us.

And when that happens to Christians, our faith can be so shattered that we could easily lose confidence in ourselves, even our trust in our caring God. We can even feel that life isn’t worth living or caring about, that we don’t want to go on because we can’t work it out. (more…)

CLEAN YOUR HOUSE AND RENEW YOUR SPIRIT

(June 7, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to ensure our ‘inner house’ is clean…

Psalm 51:10 TLB speaks of ‘being cleaning’ – being filled with clean thoughts and right desires.

I like a clean house. But, as I grow older, it seems to take me longer. But what used to take me three to four hours on a Saturday morning, now takes all day – and then some. I attribute it to my wandering mind, or should I say forgetfulness.

Here’s how it works
I start in one room, usually the master bath, with intentions of working my way from north to south.

However, while wiping the bathroom mirrors clean, I remember something I need to do in the kitchen, like thawing a frozen chicken for my supper. After taking care of that task, I see something else that needs doing while I’m there.

Then I notice the trash is overflowing, so I remove the bag and deliver it outside to the garbage can. (Some of you can probably relate).


By the time I return to the master bath, I’ve wasted time. It also requires me to refocus on my original task. Now where did I put that bottle of Windex?

Cleaning out the unnecessary
In the process of a recent house cleaning, I decided to go through cabinets, drawers and closets to rid myself of things taking up space. I’m blessed with an abundance of storage in my house. I’m also a coupon clipper and redeem them to stockpile items I need before the coupons expire. (more…)

THE GOSPEL – THE BEST NEWS ON EARTH!

(March 19, 2018) George Forbes, missionary spokesperson, reflects on the real Easter message…

The gospel is the best good news on earth!

It has been so since Jesus died on a cross at Calvary and rose again from the dead on the third day. The Easter holiday season exists because of the gospel.

I’m wondering: How will you celebrate Easter this year?

All-important declaration
The apostle Paul puts the key events of that first Easter clearly and powerfully in chapter 15 of his first letter to the Corinthians.

  • He opens with the all-important declaration of what he called the ‘gospel.’
  • Reminds the Corinthians that he had preached the gospel to them.
  • That they had received it.
  • Were believers who not only received this gospel but believed
  • Then warns them that they should continue in this faith – or they would have believed in vain.

Paul then repeats the gospel he had taught them some time before, beginning with the fact that the death of Jesus Christ was according to the scriptures.

In other words, it was a fulfilment of prophecy that Christ would die for our sins, be buried and rise from the dead on the third day. (more…)

THEBUZZ

GLEANINGS (May 19, 2017):

  • ALBANY, OR – Healing power of prayer
  • GROVE, OK – Forgiveness and healing
  • VIETNAM/ENGLAND – 25 years of caring for orphans
    _____________________________________________________________________________________THE STUNNING SCIENCE BEHIND THE HEALING POWER OF PRAYER
    Dr Don Colbert (https://drcolbert.com/the-stunning-science-behind-the-healing-power-of-prayer/) shares good news…Even a mere 30 seconds of prayer, acknowledging God and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, can have a powerful effect on your body, mind, and spirit.If you have a regular practice of prayer, then you are well aware that benefits are very real and wide-ranging. Many people who engage in these activities report psychological and spiritual benefits such as a sense of greater clarity, purpose, gratitude, presence, sense of connection, and overall well-being. However, these sorts of subjective benefits can be hard to measure scientifically.A beneficial ancient practice
    Interestingly, despite the difficulty in quantifying the spiritual effects of prayer, there have been many studies looking at the physical benefits of this ancient practice. (more…)