Jesus mandated that His disciples and followers learn and practice forgiveness. Not only are Christians to forgive repeatedly (e.g. Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 17:3-4), but also to practice forgiveness in order to be forgiven by God (Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25-26; Luke 6:37). But for many people, true forgiveness is a difficult task. Webster defines 'forgive' as "1, grant pardon for (something) or to (someone). 2, remit (a debt) 3, cease to resent." I suggest that the third definition may be the most difficult to accomplish. How many times do we hear someone unhappily say, "I'll forgive you, but I won't forget." Is that the forgiveness our Lord taught? So how does one go about truly forgiving someone? I believe there is a wonderful lesson on forgiveness in the words of Joseph, who was one of the Old Testament figures who foretold of Jesus' life and nature. (There is a wonderful book, Joseph: Loved, Despised And Exalted, by F. B. Meyer, in which Christ-like aspects of Joseph and his life are repeatedly pointed out.) After Joseph was wrongfully sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, then wronged again by his Egyptian master's wife, but through his God-given ability to be blessed in all situations, and to interpret dreams, he rose to the second-in-command position over all of Egypt. In that position, Joseph then had a chance to have power over his food-seeking brothers in a severe famine. Would Joseph get his revenge? But Joseph's own words told about his heart for God, and give us a lesson today on forgiveness. It was in the names of his two sons, beginning with that of his first son:
Genesis 41:51 [NKJV] Joseph called the name of his firstborn Manasseh, "For God has
caused me to forget all my toil and all my father's house."
That statement alone gives us a formula for forgiving in our own lives, as broken down this way:
As Jesus overlooked Jerusalem on His last trip into that city, He openly wept for Jerusalem, and said, among other things, "If you had known, . . . the things that make for your peace!" (Luke 19:41-42). The implication was, of course, that the chosen people of Jerusalem and Israel should have known from the Scriptures that Jesus, as the Messiah, brought them everlasting peace, but they missed it. To their devastation! And that peace seems still to be getting missed today.
Of what was Jesus speaking? We know that peace was a common Old Testament word. But there were prophesies in The Prophets which specifically referred to Jesus' coming: 1) one of His names was the "Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6); 2) when "the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, . . . the work of righteousness will be peace" (Isa 32:15-17); 3) "the chastisement for our peace (NIV: the punishment that brought us peace) was upon Him" (Isa 53:5); 4) there would be future rejoicing in Jerusalem, who would be "extended peace like a river" (Isa 66:12) 5) the LORD told captive Israel that He had good thoughts for them, "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer 29:11); and 6) the LORD promised Israel one Shepherd, through David, and a "covenant of peace" (Ezek 34:23-25). These are just some of the examples of Old Testament promises of peace for God's chosen people, often through the coming of the Messiah.
I (Grover) read an article this morning that I just have to share. J. Lee Grady wrote this article in Charisma Magazine defining "four fatal flaws" of the charismatic movement. This probably applies in spirit to other movements as well, and certainly is a warning as we all pray for the "next move of God." Anyway, here's his take on this subject:
FOUR FATAL FLAWS that RUIN MINISTRIES
by J. Lee Grady
I spend a lot of time investing in young leaders-and I constantly urge them to learn from the mistakes we made in the previous move of God. I appreciate the positive things the Holy Spirit did during the charismatic movement, but we made a mess because we didn´t lead with integrity.
1Cor. 14:26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
Years ago I was part of a group of men who spent several years together praying, seeking the Lord and studying piles of books and literature (and the Word) believing that if we got all the New Testament patterns and procedures down that our church would be in a position to be able to demonstrate the fullness of NT church life. We diligently studied the first century church, church fathers, the pre-Constantine church history, Catholic church, Reformation church, and every other historical or traditional movement we could find. I have to say that I learned a bunch in that time, but that much of it had little to do with spiritual life. Of course God used it to change and form my Christian paradigm and, hopefully, to contrast the difference between Christianity the religion and Christianity the life.
The scripture above is the only New Testament window that we have where we see what a NT meeting looks like. Seems strange that the Holy Spirit would only describe such a meeting once in the entire book, leaving so much to be speculated on. But I believe that this was entirely by design. If God had described it in detail, most of us would cast it in concrete and make THIS meeting the standard for every meeting of His church!
So... what does the New Testament meeting look like? Let's move through this scripture and make a few notes:
Each day requires fresh manna from heaven which the Holy Spirit makes available to us. This forum is a place to post scripture, insight and wisdom from God which might be manna to you and others.