Time for a Course Adjustment?

When sailing in the ocean, one cannot simply set a certain compass setting and kick back for the next few weeks until the destination is reached. Winds and currents change. One needs to adjust their heading regularly or the destination will not be found.

This is so very true in life as well. The spiritual breezes (or winds) and the currents of life can easily get us off-course. We need to regularly take a look at our spiritual compass to make sure we are on the right path. The Lord encourages us to pay attention to where we are going. Often, we need to readjust our direction and get back on the right course.

An extreme example of this is found in the story of Cain and Abel found in Genesis chapter 4. Cain worked the soil growing crops and Abel kept flocks. When it was harvest time, we are told that Cain brought “some” of his crops as an offering to God. Note that word “some,” meaning that it wasn’t the first fruits of his harvest. Abel brought the firstborn of his flock to offer to God. It was Abel’s offering that was accepted by God.

Cain headed off in the wrong direction with his thinking and emotions. He needed a course adjustment or he would crash. God, in His mercy, warns Cain with these amazing words:

“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)

The counsel was simple: “Change directions Cain!” But Cain was too caught up with his anger. Instead of making a course adjustment, he continued on the wrong path and ended up committing murder.

This extreme example can be a head’s up for all of us. It is so easy to find ourselves on the wrong path spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically…you name it. The Lord has many, many ways of speaking to us when we get off-course. Regardless of how He lets us know, the message is the same: “Change direction now before you crash!” Warning signs can be found in our thoughts and in our actual words: “I have a right to be angry!” “Come on, it is just a little sin!” “I will never forgive that person!”

A daily checking of our spiritual compass will truly help keep us on-course as we journey toward our ultimate destination: The Kingdom of God for all eternity. May your journey be blessed.

The Revelation of Sin

One day in making my rounds as a prison chaplain, I met a new prisoner. He told me that he had become a perfected Christian that he was without sin and in fact, could no longer sin. He would not accept any discussion on this topic from me (I was imperfect and sinned every day). I knew he would eventually have a spiritual crash and it came sooner than later. In a few months, he told me that he no longer believed in God.

In the Gospel of Luke 18:18-27, there is a story about a man who comes to Jesus with what seems like a good question: “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus knows this man’s heart (as He does each of our hearts) and begins to list the Commandments. He lists five of them when the man interrupts Him: “All these things I have kept from my youth.” In other words, “I have kept all the commandments of God; therefore, I am perfect.” It is generally agreed that there are 613 commandments in the first five books of the Old Testament (the Torah). Wow…maybe this guy is perfect! Then again, no one was able to keep the Law and all have sinned and fallen short.

Jesus reveals this man’s imperfection with these words: “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The man goes away sad because he was clearly guilty of the sin of the love of money, which is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). His imperfection was laid bare.

“I don’t need to confess anything because I haven’t sinned!” Yes, I have heard those very words come out of the mouths of folks before. Sometimes folks have dealt with some big sins in their life and think that’s the end of it. This illustration has always helped me:

Let’s view our sins like fruits and vegetables stacked on a big truck that needs unloading. When we first get serious about our commitment to the Lord, we are throwing these giant watermelons off the truck. We get that whole layer of watermelons unloaded and think that we are done with our sins only to discover a layer of smaller cantaloupes. We get that layer of cantaloupes unloaded only to find a layer of zucchinis. Thank God that all of our sins are not revealed to us at one time! As we grow in Christ, we find ourselves recognizing sins that we didn’t realize were in our lives. This is especially true with what goes on in our minds with being judgmental, hateful, envious, prideful, and so on.

In my own life I have been unloading that truck for a long time and still know that I am not even close to the bottom. I am convinced that if I ever reach the bottom of that truck, I will find a layer of thousands of little peas that need to be unloaded one at a time. Seeking to grow in Christ should also include asking Him to reveal another layer of sins to us. If anyone still doubts that they have sins in their life, let us listen to the words of the Holy Apostle John who understood this truth well:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)

Journey to the Summit of Thanksgiving

This morning my mind drifted back to a solo climb I had done of Kit Carson Peak.  This is a remote peak in the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountains.  It was a tough trek, made more difficult by a chest cold I had been fighting.  After being up above 13,000 feet for a few hours, my body and my mind were saying: “Let’s climb this one another day!!”  They weren’t just suggesting it, they were shouting it.  I do confess that I was ready to call it quits when I decided to stop and take time to pray, giving thanks for the awesome beauty stretched out before my eyes.  Soon after that prayer, I began to regain my strength and determination to reach the summit.  Before I knew it, I reached the summit at 14,165 feet.  It was glorious (as most every summit is)!

There were awesome views to take in and food to munch, but the one thing that stands out above all the rest is when I took time to give thanks to God.  There was surely much to give thanks for at that moment…including my physical well-being.  I pulled out my pocket-sized Bible and read Psalm 8.  That psalm begins and ends with these words: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”   Looking out from the top of Kit Carson Peak brought that psalm to life!  There were several 14,000 foot peaks nearby that brought back memories of other climbs I had made…Crestone Needle (my first 14’er), Crestone Peak (flying a kite from the summit), Challenger (another solo climb), Humbolt (the first 14’er for some of my family), and there far below was the mystery of the Great Sand Dunes National Monument that we had rolled down together as a family. Stretching out to the horizons were 1,000’s of miles of awesome beauty waiting to be explored.  It was indeed a “thankful” and worshipful moment.

Times like that seem natural for giving thanks to God.  Times of deliverance from some great fear or experiencing some great excitement can bring out the thanksgiving in us.  Yet, truth be known, God desires and delights in our giving of thanks at all times.  Ephesians 5:20 tells us to “always give thanks to God the Father for everything.” We are all asked to make that journey to the summit of thanksgiving.

Hopefully, you will be reading this in the days before Thanksgiving Day.  It’s wonderful to have a day set aside for all of us to give thanks.  It is good to have a Thanksgiving Day, but it’s even better to give thanks each and every day.  Today is a good day to focus on the journey to the summit of thanksgiving and make it a regular part of our daily lives.  Even in the midst of what seems to be the absolute worst of times in our lives, pausing to give thanks to our Lord can truly strengthen us for life’s journey.  It can change our perspective in ways we may not have been thinking about.

God has indeed blessed us with so many different blessings.  Most all of these were given as gifts from Him, so that we might be able to bless others.  On this Thanksgiving Day, as you journey to the summit of thanksgiving, may you not only give thanks to God for all His blessings, but may you also use those blessings for His Glory!!

The Holy Apostle Matthew and me

Back in 1982, I was a Protestant pastor on my way to becoming Orthodox. I had never asked a Saint to pray for me in my entire life. I worked up the courage to do this and took a hike out in the desert. After much prayer, trying to make sure this would be okay with the Lord, I asked the Holy Apostle Matthew to pray for me and my wife as we journeyed toward the Holy Orthodox Faith. From that moment on, Saint Matthew would play an important role in my life and ministry. So much so that my dad took the Holy Apostle Matthew as his Saint when he became Orthodox. The Icon for this devotional was my dad’s Icon. Side note: My wife and I became Orthodox in July of 1983 and continue to thank God for this amazing treasure.

Today, November 16th, the Orthodox Church commemorates this amazing Saint of our Faith. Let’s take a moment to look at his life and how it speaks to us now.

As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So, he arose and followed Him.

(Matthew 5:16)

And there you have it. The Holy Apostle Matthew has just described his own conversion to Christ. There is no doubt a whole lot more to the story, but for Matthew the tax collector, this summed it all up. At some point in time, most of us have committed our life to Christ. We have decided to get serious about our faith and how the Lord would have us live. Your story no doubt has many details as does my own story. Yet for each of us, it could be boiled down to something like this: 

“And Jesus said to me, “Follow me.” So, I got up and followed Him.”

Jesus may have spoken to you through the Holy Scriptures, through another person, or some event in your life. However it happened, the message was the same: “Follow me!”

For the Holy Apostle Matthew that was the beginning of “the race that was marked out for him.” After proclaiming the Gospel in Syria, Media, Persia, Parthia, he finished the race in Ethiopia in a glorious fashion, dying as a martyr for the faith. You can read the rest of his story at:

https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2007/11/16/103313-apostle-and-evangelist-matthew

Each of us has a “race” marked out for us to run as well. With the Holy Apostle Matthew as our example, may we run our race with perseverance. Here is our encouragement for staying strong to the finish line:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

The Holy Apostle Matthew is just one of the Saints of God that make up that “great cloud of witnesses” who pray for us and cheer us on. There is much in this world that can hinder and entangle us as we run our race. These Saints are there to help us. Today is a great day to call on your Saint. If you don’t have a Saint yet, pick one out and ask for his or her help. I began with Matthew and now have many Saints who help me make it through each day keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. May our Lord help us to be faithful all the way to the finish line of our lives, through the prayers of Saint Matthew and all the Saints.

“I am sorry you got offended by what I said (or did), but…”

“I am sorry you got offended by what I said (or did), but…”

When was the last time you did or said something wrong and then immediately found a way to justify your actions or words? If you are like me, it is not a very long trip into the past to find an example. “I am sorry you got offended by what I said (or did), but(add your favorite justification).” It is early in the morning as I write this so I haven’t done it yet today. We are actually following in a long line of folks who try to excuse their actions or words. It began with Adam when God confronts him over doing that which was forbidden: “…but it was the woman you gave me that is the one to blame.” Adam not only justified himself but managed to blame God and Eve. Nice try, but you just can’t get one over on God.

In the amazing story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), an expert in the Law asks Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asks him how he reads it and he answers: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus tells him that he nailed it; “Do this and you will live.”

We are then told that this man wants to justify himself. His heart is not right with God as we find out he is unable to love certain people because of their ethnicity and their religious beliefs. So, he asks the question: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus knows his prejudice and his bigotry toward the Samaritans. He tells him the story of the Good Samaritan. The priest and the Levite were both people that the expert in the Law would have admired and accepted as being the heroes of the story. But the punch line comes when it is a Samaritan that is the hero. When Jesus asks the man who is the “neighbor” to the injured man, he cannot even use the word “Samaritan” and says: “The one who had mercy on him.”

The main point of this story is to reveal the inability of the man to love his neighbor because of his own dislike for a whole group of people known as Samaritans. Jesus doesn’t tell this man that he needs to become a Samaritan or even agree with their religious practice, but that he needs to love the Samaritans because they are his neighbors. The issue of the religious and ethnic hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans is far removed from us. If we just take race as an example, it becomes obvious: If someone has hatred toward a race of people, the hero would surely be that race of people.

Perhaps the impact of this passage of Holy Scripture can become more relevant to us if we look at the world we live in today. We don’t have to look far to see the tremendous anger and even hatred being expressed by people on various issues. Let’s look at a few examples from today if Jesus were telling this story. Who would be the hero of the story?

If you are a staunch Trump supporter, who would be the hero of the story? It would be a far-left Democrat.

If you are a far-left Democrat, who would be the hero? A staunch Trump supporter.

If you are a person who angrily demands everyone to be vaccinated? It would be an angry anti-vaxxer.

If you are an angry anti-vaxxer? It would be those people angrily demanding everyone be vaccinated.

You get the idea: The hero toward anti-maskers would be those demanding everyone wear masks and vice-versa. One last one for us to consider: Who would the hero on either side be if the issue was sexual preference?

Our society seems to be seething with anger (even hatred) toward those with whom we disagree on certain issues. Instead of loving our neighbor, we mock them, yell them down, or even worse. God doesn’t ask us to become those whom we disagree with, but He does call us to love them. They too are made in the image and likeness of God and they are in every way our neighbor.  

Did anyone just say: “I know my social media posts may offend (you name the group), but…(add your favorite justification).” No “buts”… We need to begin to love our neighbor now.

Even a Dumb Dog Don’t Lick a Hot Stove Twice (My tongue is seared from too many licks)

Growing up, did your parents ever tell you to avoid certain things? How many of us did it anyway? “Don’t touch the stove son; it is hot.” One burned finger coming up! I found my life governed by the old saying: “Even a Dumb Dog Don’t Lick a Hot Stove Twice.” Indeed, my tongue has been burned so many times. The only good that can come from such stupidity is to pass on my mistakes with the hope that others will learn from my scorched tongue.

We are living in a time of controversies. Confusion is abounding everywhere as various people grab hold of an issue and do their best to convince everyone else to join their position on it. Every issue has extremists on both sides using social media and videos in their attempt to draw people to their side, leaving most folks in confusion and/or fear. I lived through such “hot stoves” back in the 70’s and here is what I learned:

There is only one “author of confusion and fear” and it is not God (1 Cor 14:33). The enemy of our souls does not care about the issues involved. The powers of darkness simply want people to go to extremes on either side. This is what brings about division, confusion, and fear. You can see the “fruits” of such extremist views in our world today and especially in the Church.

Extremist “pastors” are calling people to leave their own church and come follow them in their extremist views. Divisions are happening throughout Christianity because of the “seeds sown” by extremists on either side of various issues. Those who sow the seeds of schism and division are not from God. St. Paul was dealing with extremists when he wrote the Epistle to Titus. He asks Titus to remind people where they came from and who they have become through Christ (Titus 3:3-7). Here are a couple of those verses, but please read it all:

“For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another…according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit…that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

St. Paul then tells Titus to insist on these things so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds; these are excellent and profitable to men.” Then he tells Titus four things that are futile and unprofitable and exhorts us to avoid them (Titus 8-9): 1 – Stupid controversies, 2 – Stupid genealogies, 3 – Stupid dissensions, 4 – Stupid quarrels over the law

I can remember being involved with controversies back then. Honestly, I didn’t realize they were “stupid” until after they were over. It seemed like it was noble at the time. But those controversies didn’t lead me or anyone else to a closer relationship with our Lord. It led me toward a gnostic type of vain glory, thinking I knew something that others didn’t know. Yes, this kind of stupidity leads to a “blistered tongue” if one fails to learn from it.

So, I pass this on to you: Don’t get caught up with the stupid controversies of today. Focus on growing in your Faith and in your love for our Lord Jesus Christ. If you find yourself in an extremist view, put it aside and seek to live a life pleasing to the Lord: “Let our people learn to apply themselves to good deeds, so as to help cases of urgent need, so that they may not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14).

Weighing Out Mercy

This summer, Colorado once again suffered from a lack of rain. Some of the springs out in a wilderness area where we have trail cameras had dried up. This photo is a pool of water that has gone down, but is hanging in there. The mother bear and her two cubs are certainly being refreshed in it. As I watched the video of them, I was reminded of God’s wonderful mercy and His provision for all His creation.

Everyone of us has experienced God’s mercy in some way. In fact, how many of us would not be alive today except for the mercy of God? I know that certainly applies to me more than once. If we stop and ponder it for a while, we might recall many instances of God’s mercy in our lives, not just matters of life and death, but in so many other ways. If it has been a while since you pondered God’s amazing mercy in your life, it would be worth a few minutes of your time today.

What does God ask of us in return for all the mercy He has shown us? It is pretty simple: Go and do likewise to the people we cross paths with. There is a beautiful story that puts mercy in its right place in our lives.

There was a tax-collector that was selfish, ungrateful, and mean. He would be unkind to beggars and never gave them anything. One day a beggar persisted and persisted with this man. The man was carrying a bag of bread loaves home and got so angry, he finally threw one at the beggar. Later in the night, he had a horrible dream in which he had died. He was in a room with a giant set of scales. On one side, the demons had piled on all his sins and it was weighted to the ground. On the other side, the angels of God couldn’t find one thing to put on the good side of the scale. Finally, in desperation, one of the angels pulled out a loaf of bread and said: “This man once threw this bread at a beggar and showed him mercy.” He put it on the scale and that one loaf of bread brought the scales back to an even balance. The man woke up and thought to himself: “Wow, if that one loaf of bread could do that, what would it be like if my life were filled with acts of mercy?” His life was transformed from that day forward. He became a saint of our Faith. You can read his whole story by looking up: Saint Peter the Tax-collector.

“God is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish” (Luke 6:35). Such was the case with this man and such can be the case with us no matter where we might be on that spectrum of “ungrateful and selfish.” Perhaps you, like me, can honestly say: “I would not be alive today except for His mercy!” Recognizing His mercy and the gift of life we still have, may each of us: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful! (Luke 6:36).

“Let mercy outweigh all else in you!” ~~St. Isaac of Syria

From Son of Thunder to Apostle of Love – Impossible?

The one word that would seem to best represent the Holy Apostle John would have to be: LOVE. His first letter (1 John) is filled with that word: God loves us, we should love God, and we should love others (repeat several times). He could easily be called the Apostle of Love. But that is now…what was he known as in those early years with Jesus?

When Jesus appointed the 12 Apostles He called the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). That does not bring to mind any “Apostle of Love” type of person. In my mind, I picture a couple of huge “Hulk Hogan” type of men that weren’t to be messed with. Their actions early on with Jesus would support their being Sons of Thunder.

At one point, Jesus and His Apostles were heading to a Samaritan village. The people didn’t want them in their town. The two Sons of Thunder, James and John, in anger asked the Lord: “Do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?” We are told the Lord rebuked them and told them that He had come to save people’s lives, not to destroy them (Luke 9:51-56). Wanting to kill people doesn’t sound much like an Apostle of Love.

Another time, James and John come to Jesus and plainly tell Him: “We want you to do for us whatever we ask.” Again, I picture in my mind, two huge men towering over Jesus in this conversation. When Jesus asks them what they want Him to do for them, they answer that they want to sit one at His right hand and the other at His left hand. In other words, they wanted positions of power and prestige in this new kingdom the Lord would establish. Jesus corrects them and explains that if anyone wants to be great in His Kingdom, they must learn to be the servant of all. That incident is found in Mark 10:35-45. A hunger for power and prestige doesn’t fit the picture of an Apostle of Love.

Truly the Apostle John was a work in progress. By the time we get to the crucifixion of Jesus, we find a different John at the foot of the cross. He is the only Apostle that follows Jesus all the way to the cross. Jesus tells His mother that John is now her son and He tells John that Mary is now his mother. John cares for Mary the rest of her life. Jesus saw something in this Son of Thunder from the beginning and John’s life is slowly transformed into becoming a great man of God…indeed, the Apostle of Love.

All of us are still “works in progress” as we journey with our Lord. Jesus didn’t quit on John because of his botch-ups and He doesn’t quit on us as we botch things up in our lives. Some of us may still be wanting to call fire down on certain people we know or we may be caught up with a desire for power and prestige. The Lord rebukes us for such thoughts, but He doesn’t give up on us. He sees us as we could become and He continues to mold and shape us each day.

Some folks may think it is impossible to love certain individuals, but our God is the God of the impossible. Even though we might not be there now, God is able to do an amazing work in us as we journey on with Him. The life of the Apostle John should give all of us hope. We too can grow and become all that we can be in Christ. We can become more and more like our Lord. That journey with Him continues right now.

“We love, because He first loved us!” (1 John 4:19)

So Just Who Is This Jesus?

This morning, I received an email from a member of our parish. This person was reading Hebrews and found a great similarity between Hebrews 1 and John 1. This got me thinking about some of the passages of Holy Scripture that would fit well with John 1 and what would it look like to put them all together. I found it so very powerful and certainly answers the title question. Here’s the result (taken from John 1:1-18, Colossians 1:10-20, Philippians 2:6-11, Hebrews 1:1-4, Revelation 1:8, and Isaiah 44:6):

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.”

He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, Whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. He, Who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;  that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;  strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. He, Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Wow!

Having Received Mercy from the Lord

This photo of a mountain lion came from a full video. The mountain lion came into this spring for a cool drink of water. In the midst of quenching his thirst, something caught his attention. He immediately crouched down facing the unsuspecting animal. He stayed in that position for quite some time and then began stalking his prey.

Predators, like this mountain lion, will usually go after the weak, injured, or sick animal in a herd. Those are the ones that are easiest to bring down. This got me thinking about the spiritual realm and how the enemy of our souls is referred to as a “lion stalking its prey, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Like the mountain lion, he, too, loves to find the spiritually weak, spiritually injured, or spiritually sick.

This past Sunday, we heard the incredible story the Lord speaks about a man who had received great mercy and then refused to show another man any mercy at all (Matthew 18:23-35). The Lord brings home His point with these words for all of us: 

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

If we belong to the Lord, then we have experienced His great mercy. When we confessed to Him, He forgave us for all the wrong things we had done in our lives. We are called to walk in that forgiveness and to have that same mercy on others. But we can find ourselves hurt or angered by the words or actions of someone else. In that hurt or anger, we can refuse to forgive them or to show them any mercy. We may want to hurt them back, but in reality, the only one being hurt is us.

When we refuse to forgive and have mercy on someone, we injure ourselves spiritually. We are the ones who then become spiritually weak, spiritually injured, and spiritually sick. The enemy of our souls (that lion) is stalking such prey constantly.

One of the absolute worse things that could come out of our mouths is: “I could never forgive ______ for what they did (or said)!” With God’s help, we can forgive others. It always helps me to remember the depths of God’s forgiveness toward me when I committed my life to Him. He had great mercy on me for which I am forever grateful.

May our Lord give us strength each day to walk in His forgiveness and mercy, and to show that mercy to others.