On Faith: Take a break from bitterness
By: Pastor Jim Joseph, Living Waters Fellowship, Lake County News Chronicle
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Jesus, in Luke 23:34
This first utterance of the Lord Jesus as He was being nailed to the cross
reminds us of the point of it all– the depth of our need for forgiveness and the immensity of His love for you and me.
Judas, who betrayed Him, the Sanhedrin that condemned Him, and the Romans who drove the nails in His hands and feet were all guilty and so are we. The awfulness of our sin and His desire to have a relationship with us compelled Him to provide the one sacrifice that would be sufficient for our need – Himself.
The Son of God condescended to become a true man who fully experienced our humanity and yet remained without sin in order to become our substitute. Ultimately He died on the cross in our place bearing the full brunt of His Father’s wrath. Because of His sacrifice, we can be forgiven and brought into right relationship with God. The blood that He shed provided atonement (covering) for our sinful acts and redemption from sin’s penalty.
Such love stands in contrast to the violence, hatred, and malice that abound in our world today. The Middle East is a powder keg waiting to explode. The West stands on the brink of economic and social collapse. The East flexes its economic and perhaps soon its military muscle.
The very fabric of human society is unraveling and it seems there is nothing that can be done to stop it. In our darkest hours the answer is still the same – call on the Lord Jesus Christ. He died to save all who come to Him in faith believing that He is who He said He is and that He took our place on the cross.
The prophet Joel declared, “All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Jesus also sets the standard for real forgiveness. He asked that His enemies be forgiven and then did what was needed for that to happen.
Has someone hurt you? Really hurt you? You have a choice: to nurture a grudge and look for revenge or to forgive. Forgiveness means we pay the debt someone else owes us. We bear the pain. We release the offender and set them free. It is not easy, but necessary. As Jesus taught us to pray, Father … forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
In this Lenten season, let us fast from bitterness, hatred, and unforgiveness. Let us embrace joy, love, and a forgiving spirit. Let us open our hearts to the Savior in a new way.
May the words of this song ring true in our lives:
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me;
All His wonderful passion and purity.
O, Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine,
‘Til the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.
Rev. Joseph is the Pastor of Living Waters Fellowship (Assemblies of God) in Two Harbors.