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Monday, October 17, 2011

Receiving Forgiveness without Punishment

Matthew 10: 29 - 31, Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. NKJV

The creation of God is a wondrous sight to behold. The Lord has created so many types of creatures that it could take years to discover and learn about all of them. Nevertheless, our heavenly Father knows when one of His smallest creatures falls to the ground. God is so meticulous that He has numbered the very hairs on your head.

If you study creation and pay close attention to the smallest details, you can begin to appreciate the painstaking lengths that God has gone through in order to make sure that creation is not only beautiful, but functional as well. It wouldn't be just (or right) for God to create so many creatures and then not be willing to watch over each and every one of them. This is the very message in Matthew 6 that Jesus conveyed to the people who were consumed with worrying over their lives.

I began this devotion with thoughts about God's provision so that we might look at a graver issue with a deeper realization of God's unsearchable love for you and me. Although God created the world to live in harmonious balance, man's sin has disrupted it with acts of violence and wickedness. Even so, in spite of God's plan being derailed from its original course, God has still managed to give life and to protect life.

The Lord has a plan for your life on earth. However, even though God has a plan for you and I to follow while living in this corrupt and sometimes violent world, we must be willing to suffer in order to fulfill it. I was speaking with someone the other day that has worked in the judicial branch of our local government for years. He began to tell me of a story about someone's rights that had been violated by another person. The perpetrator was originally charged with three felony charges and four misdemeanors. After a couple of years of waiting for the trial, and in order to settle the case, those charges were reduced to only two misdemeanors and a fine. When I heard how these serious charges were reduced to much lesser ones, I became concerned for the rights of the victim.

I quickly asked if the person who had been violated could have any further recourse, seeing that the person who violated their rights got off with little repercussions. He told me that the person who has the grievance isn't allowed to try the case. That statement is the very reason I am writing this word for Christians today.

Even though you may have a dispute between you and a relative, neighbor, or stranger, neither of you will be allowed to handle the process of justice except for the accused defending themselves. We must allow the retribution for wrongs or crimes against us to be carried out by someone other than ourselves in the judicial system.

The judicial process got me to thinking about what God has said many times in the Word about vengeance belonging to Him, and how HE will repay HIS adversaries. As Christians, we will have many offenses in this world; Satan will use people like weapons to try and hurt us or at least discourage us from moving on in our walk with the Lord. If and when this occurs, we must be willing to allow our heavenly Father to be our Judge and Jesus to be our Advocate. If we should try to seek vengeance, then we negate the JUSTICE process of God, and this can cause us further grief and even greater loss. Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 10 that though we're in the world, we don't fight as the world. The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God. We must be willing to seek vengeance through our God, and He will repay.

If we should harden our hearts because of unforgiveness and pursue the person who has wronged us in order to satisfy the hurt in our lives, we are choosing to cross a line with God. You see. God has laid the punishment for our sins upon Jesus and has forgiven us, even though we hadn't paid for our past sins. God doesn't require us to go to hell before He forgives us of our sins. When we choose not to forgive others and allow God His proper place of getting vengeance on our behalf, then it reminds God of the sins that He has forgiven us. This vengeful action can cause us, the victims of the original offence, to become violators of God's law and bring us into judgment before God. It's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God as the writer of Hebrews tells us. If you want to learn more about the principle of forgiveness, you can read about it in Matthew 18: 21 - 35.

Vengeance Belongs to God and Not Me,
Pastor Asa Dockery

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