He Chose The Nails by Max Lucado

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I just recently finished my Thomas Nelson complimentary copy of “He Chose the Nails” by Max Lucado.  (I am part of their blogger group called BookSneeze).  Anyway,  I love the way Max Lucado writes.  His books are so easy to read and they make me laugh and they make me think.  This one was no different.

It’s a wonderful book that tells the story of what Jesus did for me and for you and for everyone else.  He chose the nails.  He chose to die on a cross so that we could be forgiven and so that we could have a relationship with God.  A close and loving relationship with our creator.  

He dedicates this book to Jesus.  I love it.  In the front of the book where most authors dedicate the book to their wife, or their mother, or the children, Lucado has dedicated this book to “To Jesus Christ, Because you chose the nails”.  

The entire book is written to help you grasp and truly understand how much Jesus loves us. He tells some funny and entertaining personal stories along the way, but makes his points beautifully.  This would be a great book to read with your family right before Easter.  He even has a Study Guide in the back of the book.

This book is about redemption and understanding that no matter what you’ve done, Jesus died on the cross so that you are now forgiven (if you accept this gift and follow Him). It’s about using your mistakes, your tragedies and your struggles for good.  And it ends with a chapter titled “What Will You Leave at the Cross?”  

We are reminded that we can let go of past hurts, regrets and guilt and leave it all at the Cross where Jesus always intended us to leave it.  

I would highly suggest reading this wonderfully written book as a reminder of Jesus’ love for you.

 

Forgiving Others

Forgiving others who have hurt you isn’t always easy.   Especially if they never say they are sorry, do not ask for forgiveness, and actually are not sorry at all.   We feel we are owed at least a “sorry”.    I actually think we are not “owed” much at all.   God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, so we could be forgiven.  Now, do you think we really have the right to hold on to our own forgiveness of others? 

Jesus tells a parable in the Bible about a man who lends his servant 200 talents, and then when the servant cannot pay it back the master cancels the debt.  The servant is so happy, but he then goes out and tracks down someone who owes him money.  The amount  is pennies compared to what he owed his master.   The servant asks for his money back and when the other servant cannot pay him, he has him thrown in jail.    The master finds out about this and has the first servant beaten and put into jail until he can pay back his debt in full.  Ouch.    This parable is to explain forgiveness.  God gave us freedom from our debts (sins) when we could NEVER have paid Him back.   In return, God calls us to give others freedom from their debts(sins) by way of forgiveness.

Now, you might thinking that by forgiving others you are saying that what they did is ok.  That is not true at all.  Forgiving someone else is letting go of the grudge and anger.  Hanging on to past hurts is only hurting YOU.  It’s not hurting the other person. 

I know it is hard to forgive others, believe me.  Sometimes people do things that hurt us so deeply that we cannot imagine forgiving them because we feel like we are then saying it was ok.  Forgiveness is NOT saying it is ok.  It  also doesn’t mean you have to reconcile the relationship or hang out with this person again.  You do not have to tell the person you forgive them if you do not want to.  It can just be between you and God.  You do not even have to forget what they did to you.  You can remember it, stay away from them in the future, let them know it was wrong, and STILL forgive them.  It is very freeing and that is why God calls us to forgive others.  He never intended for us to carry any burdens and holding on to grudges and staying angry with other people is a burden only to ourselves.

Are there any people in your life that you need to forgive?  You will not regret it.  Forgiving others frees up your heart for more important things that God has planned for you!

The Power of Forgiveness

We started a new series at church yesterday called “Clean Slate”.  It’s a good message for the beginning of the year, and the beginning of a decade.  We all need the reminder that the minute we accept Christ as our savior, we are forgiven for all of our sins and we have a clean slate.  That’s a great feeling.  Sometimes the only problem is really accepting it.  Really feeling forgiven and most importantly forgiving ourselves.

If God can forgive us, then who are we to not forgive ourselves?  Right?  I mean, why would we hold back something God does not.  It doesn’t make sense, however many of us struggle with it.  The enemy wants us to hold on our regrets and to not feel forgiven, but that is not how God wants us to live.  We need to understand the TRUTH that is in the Bible, that we ARE forgiven.

Our pastor said yesterday that sin puts us in debt with God, but it’s a debt we can never repay ourselves.  Only a creditor can cancel a debt, and God is our creditor.  Jesus had to pay the debt for us.  Addressing the debt and covering it for us, is God’s way of showing his justice which reflects his love.  Once you accept Jesus into your heart, and you accept that he died for YOUR sins, then the debt has been paid in full and even pre-paid for the future.  Isn’t that great?  Now…just let it sink in and learn to remember that truth the next time you are feeling guilty for past transgressions.  It is already forgiven and you can move on and live the abundant life God has planned for you.

Do You Love Others As You Should Be?

Love-2Jesus gave us our two great commandments in Mark 12:30-31.  The first is fairly easy for me.  “…love the Lord with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind, and all of your strength. ”  I can do that.  He is so worthy of my love.   That one is easy for me.  The second command is to “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  Wow.   I will be the first to admit that I definitely need some work on this one.  The Bible even says that if you do not love others, then you do not know God.  Ouch. 

God is serious when He commands us to love others as ourselves.  We are to treat others exactly how we want to be treated. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31

The Bible doesn’t say you only need to love those that are easy to love, or those that deserve love, or those that are nice to you.  No, the Bible gives a blanket statement of “love others as yourself” and that is how God intended it to be.  It is for everyone. 

Now, if someone is untrustworthy, or mean, etc.  You must forgive them and love them as yourself, but you do not have to be friends with them or hang around them.  That would not be smart.  So God doesn’t expect you to blindly trust people.  That is not one of His commands to us.  He just wants you to forgive others who have wronged you and love them.  Do what you can for them, but if they treat you badly, then you can stay away from them as much as possible.  Do not get that confused.  You can forgive and love others from afar.  God does not want you to harbor any hatred in your heart.  It only ends up hurting you.  Loving others and forgiving others frees you of that hurt, but it doesn’t mean that you then allow those people to hurt you more.  I have struggled with this concept in the past so I want to make it clear.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2.   This verse is a call to not only love our neighbors, but to be patient with them.  Aren’t we all guilty of being harder on others sometimes?  I definitely have been guilty of getting frustrated or even angry with someone for doing something I myself have done.  How does that help anyone, including me? 

Start today and practice loving others, forgiving others and being patient with others.  Reach out to someone today, show that you love them.  Do not let others frustrate you today in line, or in traffic, etc.  Just love them, forgive them and realize they may be having a rough day today.  Be the smiling face that changes their day, not the frowning face that just adds to their pain or sadness.

Can you imagine what the world would be like, or even your neighborhood, if we all adopted this philosophy?

‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. – Leviticus 19:18