How Many Times Do I Have To Forgive Em?

Posted in: Faith | By: Dean Smith
August 1, 2011

In our frustration toward someone who keeps sinning against us, we might find ourselves, saying, “How many times do I have to forgive this person? They're driving me nuts!”
I’m sure most married people have thought it toward their spouse at one time or another. The question is actually flawed in nature. See, if we understood the true nature and power of forgiveness then we would never ask how many times we HAVE to forgive.
Jesus explains this the best when he is confronted by Peter with the question, “...Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."
(Matthew 18:21-22)
Although, I don’t believe He wanted us to take it literally, let’s look at the numbers just for fun. He said, to forgive 70x7 times. 70x7 = 490. If you sleep eight hours each day, you’re awake 16 hours. How many minutes are in 16 hours? 960. Jesus taught us to forgive 490 times in 24 hours. 960 divided by 490 is 1.95. This means that we are to forgive the same person for the same offense once every minute and 50 seconds of every day. Jesus was letting us know that forgiveness needs to occur continually around the clock without thinking about an end. We need to live to forgive.
Matthew 18:35 says that we are to “forgive from our heart,” or we will be turned over to the tormentors. To be turned over to the tormentors has been explained by theologians as everything including: physical ailments, mental illnesses, demons, addictions, and self-condemnation. You may have read or spoken the Lord’s prayer, where you ask, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
It is God’s law that He will forgive us as we forgive others. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Every time someone sins against us they injure our soul. God wants to heal us but He can’t unless we give him permission by practicing forgiveness. Jesus was trying to let us know that if we don’t forgive then He won’t be able to do the work in us that He so desperately wants to do. 
God expects us to put our lifestyle of forgiveness on automatic so that He can work in our life without any blockades. We trust that we can forgive anyone for anything because of God’s Holy Spirit working in us. We know that we should because it’s what He commands and because it’s the best thing for us. The more we forgive the more God can work in our life.
So, the question is not “how many times do we HAVE to forgive em” but how quickly, effectively, and powerfully do we want God’s Holy Spirit to be able to heal us of our own sin and give us the strength to live a blessed life of joy, peace and love.

Not Guilty

Posted in: Faith | By: Dean Smith
July 1, 2011

I did some really bad things. I drank a lot of alcohol and inhaled a lot of drugs. I cheated. I stole. I lied. Then, I got out of bed and started my day. I’m writing this article to let you know that no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, there is a God who loves you, forgives you, and wants to bless you.
I grew up in a strong Christian family but when I got to college all hell broke loose. Literally! For the next ten years I lived a regrettably fast and sinful life.. When I returned to church and rededicated my life to Christ, I found myself with a heart full of guilt and a mind riddled with shame. I conceded to the fact I’d have to feel at least a little guilty for the rest of my life. Many Christians feel this way today. We feel that we will never really be able to totally forgive ourselves for all of our mistakes. This is one of the greatest lies of all time.
In 2005, I felt God prompting me to step into the ministry. I prayed to God and said, “Um, uh God, don’t you remember all those horrible things I did?” I waited for an answer but it was almost like He didn’t remember. I knew God wasn’t stupid, but I wondered how in the world he could effectively utilize someone who had committed so many sins. Then I started reading the Bible to see what it said about this issue. Evidently, God throws our sins into the sea of forgetfulness.
I tried for years to make up for my sins. I read the Bible more. I went to church more. I was nice more often than not. I was attempting to be in right standing with God by doing good works. God wanted me to know and now wants you to know that it is exclusively by our faith in Jesus that puts us in right standing with God (Romans 3:21-22). He didn’t want me to do more stuff.  He wanted me to have more faith in Him. Then, I found myself doing more good works for God out of a love for Him, not because of a guilty conscience.
Are you feeling guilty as a parent for making mistakes with your children? Do you feel tormented by your downfalls as a spouse or former spouse? Is there a friend who may never forgive you for the problems you caused?
God wants you to know that you don’t have to feel guilty about your sins once you have confessed and turned from them (1 John 1:9). If you sin and feel guilty, it may just be God convicting you in hopes of leading you to repentance. That’s called good guilt because it is intended to lead you back to an intimate relationship with God (John 16:8-10). If you feel guilty over a sin you’ve already confessed and turned from, then you are experiencingghost guilt. It may seem really scary and make you fearful and shameful, but it’s not based on the reality of God’s promises. It’s based on your experience on this earth.
 We feel guilty after repentance because we put our faith in our feelings and not in Jesus. It’s time for Christians around the world to stop allowing our ghost guilt to have power in our life. Those who have accepted Christ as their Savior should no longer live with self-condemnation (Romans 8:1). Ghost guilt could be the very thing that’s hindering you from prospering in God. It could be the barrier that keeps you from an intimate relationship with Jesus, with others, and with yourself.
When I started putting my full faith in Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross it allowed me to live free from guilt, which empowered me to be utilized for His glory. I contacted the man who murdered my mom and helped him to receive freedom through Christ for his agonizing guilt. Now, through our ministry about forgiveness, we’ve had the opportunity to inspire thousands of people around the world to do the same. If you’re living with ghost guilt, I encourage you to pray right now that God will help you surrender it to Him. When you are free from ghost guilt, you will be able to receive more of God’s love and accomplish more for His will. This will lead you to a better life of joy and peace.

Prioritize Your Resolutions

Posted in: Faith | By: Dean Smith
March 1, 2011

Ok, Christmas is now officially behind us, and here we are mapping out what our 2011 is going to look like. We’ve got some resolutions we know we want to set, you know the usual:  lose 10-20 pounds, make more money, etc, etc.

As Christians, we often make some spiritual resolutions too: read the bible more, go to church more, pray more, etc. It is a good thing to want to be closer to God and to set up some structure to help facilitate that desire. However, when we’re making our plans this year we should strongly consider a very important thing God has for us to do.  Here’s what Jesus says in the book of Matthew."This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and you are about to make an offering and you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God."   (Matthew 5:23-24 Message).Jesus, himself is letting us know that before any gift is made to Him, we need to make things right with our fellow man.Dangit, why can’t we just pray a little longer, won’t that be enough? As far as Christ is concerned, unity and love are a top priority.To make things right among friends who have been offended is a tough resolution, indeed.  It takes a tough inward look.  Who have I ticked off? What relationship is currently at a standstill due to bitterness and unforgiveness?Who is at fault is not the question. The question is this:  how long will I delay obedience to make love and unity as important to me as it is to God? Sometimes we justify and rationalize why we shouldn’t have to be the person who takes the initiative in reconciliation: “They started it.”  “It was their fault.”  “They haven’t said they’re sorry.”The Apostle Paul’s instruction is so clear and concise: “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 NLT).Why should we have to step out of our comfort zones to make things right with the people we have an issue with? The reason is because we are the one’s who understand that Jesus took the initiative when we were yet still sinners. He made the first move to make things right with us. When we truly understand the grace He gives us on a daily basis, it empowers us to pass that same Christ-like grace and love on to others.Keep in mind that when you forgive people you can be healed and free to receive God’s best in your life. However, you aren’t asking someone else for forgiveness so that you can be helped, but so they can be helped.  If they tell you to take a long hike off a short cliff, well then; it’s now between them and God.This year, as you sit down at the table and write out your resolutions, I would encourage you to make reconciliation a top priority. Greater than losing ten pounds or making ten thousand more dollars is the reward of making things right with someone you have been at odds with.Ask God for wisdom and guidance and allow Him to give you the right words and the right timing. When you do all that and try to live at peace with everyone, you will receive a blessing and sense of accomplishment like no other. Happy New Year!

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