Tag Archives: forgiveness

Ash Wednesday – An honest Appraisal

Reblogging this from last year – a moment to pause and reflect

Ash Wednesday is a time for reflection, for confession, for honesty before God.  It is an opportunity also to seek God’s forgiveness – and receive it, deep into our heart and mind; to know that those things that trouble us, and those we are barely aware of but effect us deeply, can be dealt with by God; and to receive his peace.

Ashes are a way to show sorrow, a physical sign of an inner reality.

2014-02-27 12.12.10

Ashes mark penitence and mourning, an acknowledgement of and sorrow at our wrongdoing.

Daniel 9:2-4 (CEV)
Daniel Prays for the People

1-2 Daniel wrote:

Some years later, Darius the Mede, who was the son of Xerxes, had become king of Babylonia. And during his first year as king, I found out from studying the writings of the prophets that the Lord had said to Jeremiah, “Jerusalem will lie in ruins for seventy years.” 3-4 Then, to show my sorrow, I went without eating and dressed in sackcloth and sat in ashes. I confessed my sins and earnestly prayed to the Lord my God:

Our Lord, you are a great and fearsome God, and you faithfully keep your agreement with those who love and obey you.

We go through life.  We think we’re doing ok – not a bad job all things considered.  Or we don’t even have time to stop and think about it.  We are busy just surviving, getting to the next thing, trying to hold everything together.

But sometimes we are pulled up short.  We realise we have got something badly wrong, or just a little bit wrong, and we have to stop and think.  We need to apologise, put right what we have got wrong and receive forgiveness.  Often the hardest person to forgive is ourselves.

Ash Wednesday is a specific opportunity to do that thinking.  To take the time to purposely reflect before God on the reality that is our life.

Burning,
cleansing God,
I come before you today;
I want to take this time
to remember,
to honestly recall,
to examine my life
in your presence;
to ask my self
if I live up to all you ask of me,
day by day,
heartbeat by heartbeat,
in every corner of my life.

We know the Ten Commandments:

The Ten Commandments

20 God said to the people of Israel:

I am the Lord your God, the one who brought you out of Egypt where you were slaves.

Do not worship any god except me.

Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. Don’t bow down and worship idols. I am the Lord your God, and I demand all your love. If you reject me, I will punish your families for three or four generations.But if you love me and obey my laws, I will be kind to your families for thousands of generations.

Do not misuse my name. I am the Lord your God, and I will punish anyone who misuses my name.

Remember that the Sabbath Day belongs to me. You have six days when you can do your work, 10 but the seventh day of each week belongs to me, your God. No one is to work on that day—not you, your children, your slaves, your animals, or the foreigners who live in your towns. 11 In six days I made the sky, the earth, the oceans, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That’s why I made the Sabbath a special day that belongs to me.

12 Respect your father and your mother, and you will live a long time in the land I am giving you.

13 Do not murder.

14 Be faithful in marriage.

15 Do not steal.

16 Do not tell lies about others.

17 Do not want anything that belongs to someone else. Don’t want anyone’s house, wife or husband, slaves, oxen, donkeys or anything else.

Read them slowly, thinking not just about the letter of them, but the spirit too.

Talk honestly to God about where you are with them and with him.  How have I lived out what God wants me to do?  How have I shown love, his love and mine, to those around me?  Not just the lovely people, but those that annoy me too?

I worship God, but are there other gods in my life?  Things I do rather than spend time with God or do what he requires of me?  Are there things I put in God’s place?

Am I free and easy with God’s name?  Do I do or say things that make me sound like I am closer to God than I am; or when I use his name to validate what I say, when it is actually my opinion that I have to say?

Do I make space, real space, for God, for myself and for those I love?  Or am I busy cramming my life with things that don’t really matter?

Do I truly respect those that I should?  Those who have experience and wisdom that I don’t?  Those who have sacrificed much for me and cared for me?

Of course I’ve never murdered anyone, but have I done and said things that have made people die on the inside?  Have I wished ill of people?

Am I faithful?  Do I always give the honour that is due?  Am I focussed, or do other things distract me?

I may not commit robbery, but do I look for short-cuts, loopholes or the cheapest rather than the best way?  Do I take others time, take them and all they offer for granted?  Am I looking for an easy ride through life, or willing to give as much as I get?

Am I honest in character?  Do I stretch the truth when it suits me?  Avoid the question?

Am I easily jealous, wanting what others have?  Thinking it will answer my problems?

There is so much I do that I shouldn’t do, and don’t do that I should…

Lord,
I come before you in shame,
in penitence,
to say that I am truly sorry.
My life is not what you would have it be,
I have not lived as the person you called me to be,
I have got some things very wrong
As I think of the ashes,
the dirt and the dust,
I see the darkness in my life;
I rub my hands in it
and see and feel the stain
Forgive me,
I pray.
Thank you
that you promise forgiveness
and give it freely.
This day may I go,
marked by you,
forgiven,
restored
and free
in and through
your love

How Many Times

How many times Lord?
How often?
How long for?

Do I have to forgive?

But they’ve done me wrong,
cheated me,
hurt me.

Surely they have to pay?

But then the penny drops.
How much have you forgiven me?
How often?
How many times?

You forgive me,
lift my burden from me,
allow me to walk away,
with the weight lifted,
the blame gone.

Surely that
is how I should treat others.

To pay back what I owe you,
in freeing others,
lifting their weight,
setting them free.

Not once,
twice,
seven
or even seventy
times.

But forever
and always.
Without counting the cost
or the number of times.

And as I forgive,
I find myself freed anew,
freed from the burden of
holding tight
and counting

Forgive me Lord,
when I have clung to grudges,
or felt I have been over-generous.
Yours is the generosity Lord,
I long to live in it
and share it.

Forgiving By scem.info CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Matthew 18:21-35 (CEV)

An Official Who Refused To Forgive

21 Peter came up to the Lord and asked, “How many times should I forgive someone[a] who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?”

22 Jesus answered:

Not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! 23 This story will show you what the kingdom of heaven is like:

One day a king decided to call in his officials and ask them to give an account of what they owed him. 24 As he was doing this, one official was brought in who owed him fifty million silver coins. 25 But he didn’t have any money to pay what he owed. The king ordered him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all he owned, in order to pay the debt.

26 The official got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you every cent I owe!”27 The king felt sorry for him and let him go free. He even told the official that he did not have to pay back the money.

28 As the official was leaving, he happened to meet another official, who owed him a hundred silver coins. So he grabbed the man by the throat. He started choking him and said, “Pay me what you owe!”

29 The man got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you back.” 30 But the first official refused to have pity. Instead, he went and had the other official put in jail until he could pay what he owed.

31 When some other officials found out what had happened, they felt sorry for the man who had been put in jail. Then they told the king what had happened. 32 The king called the first official back in and said, “You’re an evil man! When you begged for mercy, I said you did not have to pay back a cent. 33 Don’t you think you should show pity to someone else, as I did to you?” 34 The king was so angry that he ordered the official to be tortured until he could pay back everything he owed. 35 That is how my Father in heaven will treat you, if you don’t forgive each of my followers with all your heart.

Taking the Blame

You didn’t do it.  Do you protest your innocence?  Pass the blame to the person that did?  Or calmly take it, for the sake of the person that did?

1 Peter 2:19-25 (CEV)

19 God will bless you, even if others treat you unfairly for being loyal to him. 20 You don’t gain anything by being punished for some wrong you have done. But God will bless you, if you have to suffer for doing something good. 21 After all, God chose you to suffer as you follow in the footsteps of Christ, who set an example by suffering for you.

22 Christ did not sin
    or ever tell a lie.
23 Although he was abused,
    he never tried to get even.
And when he suffered,
    he made no threats.
Instead, he had faith in God,
    who judges fairly.
24 Christ carried the burden
    of our sins.
He was nailed to the cross,
so that we would stop sinning
    and start living right.
By his cuts and bruises
    you are healed.
25 You had wandered away
    like sheep.
Now you have returned
    to the one
who is your shepherd
    and protector.

This letter is written to encourage the Christians who were suffering and being persecuted for their faith.  Peter acknowledges that they are largely suffering for doing nothing more than following the way that Jesus had shown them.  Their treatment is unfair.  But, he reminds them, they are not the first to suffer unfairly – that is the way that Jesus went – and he really had done nothing wrong – ever!

They are suffering abuse and threats.  What they have to stand firm in, is that Jesus has been there, to the ultimate end.  He did it so that they, and we, know we are not alone.  Whatever we may be subjected to in the name of our faith, Jesus has been there.  His wounds, his scars offer us healing and his presence.

In the UK, we do not suffer for our religion.  Yes we may get the occasional funny look or be challenged, we may even be required to remove a cross as jewellery or a badge, but that is not suffering or persecution.  If we think it is we do a huge disservice to those who truly are suffering for their faith, places where people’s lives are in danger for what they believe.  In fact I think we do more persecuting of one another than we receive from others!

Yet there are things we have done, that we will not be punished for.  They are things we have got wrong, but yet we take no blame, because Jesus, the blameless one, has already done it.  We have wandered, we do deserve punishment, but we are saved from it.  He suffered and died, so that we might know life, freedom, a new hope and a new start.

So perhaps any time we think we’re suffering unjustly and feel like moaning; perhaps we should remember, not the things we haven’t done that we’re being condemned for; but the things we have done that we haven’t taken the blame for – quite a sobering thought.  And then thank God, that Jesus did.  The one who had never done any wrong took the blame of the whole world, of everything I have ever done wrong and offers me forgiveness, life and hope.

Unfailing Love

Forgive me Lord,
when I feel badly done to,
unfairly treated,
wrongly accused;
yet happily accept
not taking the blame
for things I’ve got wrong.

Thank you for Jesus,
who took the blame
for all I’ve done,
took the pain,
the insults,
the abuse
that rightly are mine.

Thank you for forgiveness
for freedom
for love
and for hope,
offered freely to me
at such great cost to you.

I pray for those who truly are persecuted today
for following you,
for safety,
security,
for strength
and hope