THE PASSOVER AND GOD'S FORGIVENESS AND GRACE
From the book "Nelson's complete book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes"
GOD'S FORGIVENESS and GRACE
Someone Once Said:
It is indeed amazing that in as fundamentally irreligious a culture as ours, the sense of guilt should be so widespread and deeply-rooted as it is.—Erich Fromm, psychologist
When I bring my sins to the Lord Jesus He casts them into the depths of the sea—forgiven and forgotten. He also puts up a sign, "No Fishing Allowed!"—Corrie ten Boom. 1
1. Corrie ten Boom, Not Good if Detached (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1957), 19.
The word "grace" is a kind of shorthand for the whole sum of unmerited blessings which come to men through Jesus Christ.—Alexander Maclaren
The frustrating thing about time is that is always moves forward. There is no "R" on the stickshift, no reverse in the gears. Time never moves backward, not an inch, not a step, never. The hands of the clock always move clockwise, and the pages of the calendar are torn off in only one direction. Therefore a deed once done can never be undone. A word once spoken can never be unsaid. An opportunity missed can not be reclaimed in exactly the same way. As a result, all of us live with certain regrets.
Only the blood of Christ can remove them from our hearts and send them as far from us as the East is from the West. 2
2. From a sermon by the author.
There is a story that one night Martin Luther went to sleep troubled about his sin. In a dream he saw an angel standing by a blackboard, and at the top of the board was Luther's name. The angel, chalk in hand, was listing all of Luther's sins, and the list filled the blackboard. Luther shuddered in despair, feeling that his sins were so many that he could never be forgiven. But suddenly in his dream he saw a pierced hand writing above the list these words: "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." As Luther gazed in amazement, the blood flowed from the wounded hand and washed the record clean.1
1. W. Hershel Ford, Simple Sermons for Saints and Sinners (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1954), 9.
What I Envy Most...
The well-known secular humanist and novelist in England, Marghanita Laski, said just before she died in 1988, "What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me."
Rosalind Goforth was a well-known missionary to China who, along with her husband Jonathan, enjoyed an illustrious career and ministry. But for many years, even having labored for the Lord in China, Rosalind often felt oppressed by a burden of sin. She felt guilty and dirty, nursing an inward sense of spiritual failure. Finally one evening when all was quiet, she settled at her desk with Bible and concordance, determined to find out God's attitude toward the failures, the faults, the sins of his children. She put these words at the top of the page: What God Does With Our Sins. Then as she searched through the Scriptures, she compiled this list of seventeen truths:
1. He lays them on his Son—Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53:6
2. Christ takes them away. John 1.29
3. They are removed an immeasurable distance—as far as East is from West. Psalm 123:12
4. When sought for, they are not found. Jeremiah 50:20
5. The Lord forgives them. Ephesians 1:7
6. He cleanses them ALL away by the blood of his son. 1 John 1:7
7. He cleanses them as white as snow or wool. Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51:7
8. He abundantly pardons them. Isaiah 55:7
9. He tramples them under foot. Micah 7:19 (RV)
10. He remembers them no more. Hebrews 10:17
11. He casts them behind his back. Isaiah 38:17
12. He casts-them into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19
13. He will not impute us with sins. Romans 4:8
14. He covers them. Romans 4:7
15. He blots them out. Isaiah 43:25
16. He blots them out as a thick cloud. Isaiah 44:22
17. He blots out even the proof against us, nailing it to His Son's Cross. Colossians 2:14. 1
Rain, Wind, Blood
Frank I. Stanton wrote:
The rain beat on my window pane;
I said, Come in, O rain, O rain;
Come in out of the dark, deep night,
And wash my soul and make it white.
But the rain replied,
For the soul that died,
There is only One, the Crucified.
The wind beat on my window pane,
I said, Come in, O wind, O wind;
Come in out of the wild stormy night
And waft my soul to realms of light.
But the wind replied,
For the soul that died,
There is only One, the Crucified.
To those two verses, D. E. E. Barton of Montgomery, Alabama, added another:
The blood beat on my window pane;
I said, Come in, O blood, O blood;
The blood came in from Calvary's night,
And washed my soul and made it white.
And the blood replied,
For the soul that died,
I am thine own, the Crucified. 2
1 Rosalind Goforth, Climbing (Wheaton, IL: Sword Book Club, 1940), 90.
2 Robert G. Lee, Heart to Heart (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1977), 66.
Portrait in White
God paints in many colors,
but he never paints so
gorgeously as when he paints
—G. K. CHESTERTON
A Father's Letter
In November 1991, Jerry Jenkins wrote a bizarre true story about a man awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call. He was groggy. The girl on the other end was weeping. "Daddy," she said, "I'm pregnant."
Though stunned beyond belief, he forgave her and prayed with her. The next day he and his wife wrote her two letters of counsel and love.
Three days later the man received another phone call. His daughter was shocked by the letters. She was not the one who had called earlier. . . . Apparently some other girl had dialed a wrong number.
"These letters are my treasure," the daughter later said, "real love letters written by a godly father who never imagined he would have to write them to his own daughter."
Here are a few excerpts:
Part of me seemed to die last night. Not because of what it means to me as much as what it means to you. You were free to make all kinds of choices. Now you are shut up to a few, and none of them to your liking. But God will see you—and us—through.
Though I weep inside, I can't condemn you, because I sin too. Your transgression here is no worse than mine. It's just different. Even if my heart did not shout out to love and defend and protect you—as it does— the New Testament tells me I can't take forgiveness myself and withhold it from others.
We think of sin as acts. But sin is a package, an attitude that expresses itself in different ways and to different degrees. But it all comes from the same sin package you inherited through us. Christ is the only difference.
God forgives this sin as well as others—really forgives and cleanses. David was a man of God when he went into his experience with Bathsheba and in the grace of God he came out a man of God. And his sin included murder!
Satan has no doubt tried to tell you that this affects your standing before God. It doesn't, but it will affect your relationship till you bring the whole matter to Him. There will be a coolness, a separation, an estrangement, until you open the problem by confessing and asking forgiveness.
I will not reproach you or [your boyfriend]. I will not even dare to look down at you in my innermost heart, but it is not because the issue doesn't matter. The responsibility is his no less than yours. This is not an ideal basis for marriage. You want a husband who takes you by choice. But if you face the issue and God so leads, He could build a solid marriage. We stand ready to do whatever we can.
We're praying much. We love you more than I can say. And respect you, too, as always. Saturday I was very downcast. I tried to sing as I worked outside, and then, increasingly, I seemed to see a calm and loving face I knew was Jesus. It was no vision—I didn't see details— but it was a strong reminder that He is with us and waiting for us to remember this. He loves us and will help us through, especially you. It's great to know Jesus is walking with you.
While we can't say that God causes failures, He does permit them, and I think it's clear He uses them to build character and beauty that we'd never have without them. Remember, God's love is in even this, maybe especially in this.
We're glad that in a measure; at least, we can help the daughter we love so much. This is a day of testing, but hold our ground we must. God will give us the victory. That's wonderful. We're looking forward to your being at home. Love, Dad. 1
OH MY….. SHED A FEW TEARS I DID READING THIS….. THAT IS TRUE LOVE FROM PARENTS TO A DAUGHTER - IT CONTAINS THE TRUTH OF THE BIBLE - Keith Hunt
1. Jerry B.Jenkins, "Treasure By Mistake," Moody Magazine, September 1991, 6.
Fished from the Trash
In his book, How To Be Born Again, Billy Graham refers to a story that Corrie ten Boom used to tell of a little girl who broke one of her mother's treasured demitasse cups. The little girl came to her mother sobbing, "Oh, mama, I'm so sorry I broke your beautiful cup."
The mother replied, "I know you're sorry, and I forgive you. Now don't cry any more." The mother then swept up the pieces of the broken cup and placed them in the trash can. But the little girl enjoyed the guilty feeling. She went to the trash can, picked out the pieces of the cup, brought them to her mother and sobbed, "Mother, I'm so sorry I broke your pretty cup."
This time her mother spoke firmly to her. "Take those pieces and put them back in the trash can and don't be silly enough to take them out again. I told you I forgave you so don't cry any more, and don't pick up the broken pieces any more." 2
2. Billy Graham, How To Be Born Again (Waco: Word Books, 1977), 129.
What to Do with Guilt
Many people deal with guilt by drowning it. Some drown it in alcohol and drug abuse. Marijuana use among teenagers increased 37% between 1994 and 1995. The use of LSD and other hallucinogens was up 54%. And the use of cocaine increased by 166%. Over fourteen million Americans are in 12-step programs. Why are Americans drinking and drugging themselves to death? We're trying to escape ourselves and drown the pangs of our own guilt. Marlon Brando was once young, trim., and handsome. A million girls dreamed of having him. But now he weighs over four hundred pounds, and he told someone, "I'm sorry for all the harm I've done and for all the troubles I've brought to others in my life. I've never been a good parent or a good husband. I've been too busy with my own life to have time for others. Now I'm a guilty old man who's ashamed of the kind of life I've led. There's nothing left for me except eating."
Other people deal with guilt by denying it. As our society has become increasingly secular, it has lost respect for the authority of the Word of God, and that has led to a dangerous and destructive moral and spiritual chain reaction. If there is no authoritative Word of God, then there are no moral absolutes. If there are no moral absolutes, there are no ultimate standards of right and wrong. If there are no ultimate standards of right and wrong, then we can base our rules and standards on societal consensus. If we base our rules on societal consensus, then we can adjust them to our own shape and size. We can adjust them downward. We can live any way we want to, and there is no such thing as genuine guilt before God. Guilt is just a nagging relic of Puritanism, a Victorian antique, a psychosis to be denied.
Some people deal with guilt by deflecting it. They blame other people for their failures and faults and shortcoming. They blame their parents or their environments. This technique goes all the way back to the garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.
But sooner or later, all these techniques fail, and we find we can't escape the consequences of our own sinfulness and guilt. Jeremiah 2:22 says, "'Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is before me,' declares the Sovereign Lord."
Guilt is the corrosion of the soul. How can we get rid of it? We can't drown it, deny it, or deflect it. We can only dissolve it in the blood of Jesus Christ. 1
1. From a sermon by the author
FROM SWINDOLL'S "ULTIMATE BOOK OF ILLUSTRATIONS AND QUOTES"
A cartoon in the New Yorker magazine showed an exasperated father saying to his prodigal son, "This is the fourth time we've killed the fatted calf." God does that over and over in our lifetime.
—Bruce Larson, Setting Men Free
Beginning Anew (Also titled in some poetry books "A New Leaf")
He came to my desk with quivering lip;
The lesson was done ...
"Have you a new leaf for me, dear Teacher?
I have spoiled this one!"
I took his leaf, all soiled and blotted,
And gave him a new one, all unspotted;
Then into his tired heart I smiled:
"Do better now, my child!"
I went to the throne with trembling heart;
The day was done.
"Have you a new day for me, dear Master?
I have spoiled this one!"
He took my day, all soiled and blotted,
And gave me a new one, all unspotted;
Then into my tired heart He smiled:
"Do better now, my child!"
—Kathleen Wheeler, quoted in John R. Rice, Poems That Preach
John D. Rockefeller built the great Standard Oil empire. Not surprisingly, Rockefeller was a man who demanded high performance from his company executives. One day, one of those executives made a two million dollar mistake.
Word of the man's enormous error quickly spread throughout the executive offices, and the other men began to make themselves scarce. Afraid of Rockefeller's reaction, they didn't even want to cross his path.
One man didn't have any choice, however, since he had an appointment with the boss. So he straightened his shoulders and tightened his belt and walked into Rockefeller's office.
As he approached the oil monarch's desk, Rockefeller looked up from the piece of paper on which he was writing.
"I guess you've heard about the two million dollar mistake our friend made," he said abruptly.
"Yes," the executive said, expecting Rockefeller to explode.
"Well, I've been sitting here listing all of our friend's good qualities on this sheet of paper, and I've discovered that in the past he has made us many more times the amount he lost for us today by his one mistake. His good points far outweigh this one human error. So I think we ought to forgive him, don't
--Dale Galloway, You Can Win with Love
We are most like beasts when we kill. We are most like men when we judge. We are most like God when we forgive.
—William Arthur Ward, Thoughts of a Christian Optimist
Forgiveness is surrendering my right to hurt you for hurting me.
—Archibald Hart, quoted in James Dobson, Love Must Be Tough
There's a great ministry in our generation. It's called Prison Fellowship, directed by Chuck Colson. After his time behind bars, he realized the awful lifestyle that's facing the criminal who now is out, pardoned, and trying to get his or her life back together. I found these words in one of Colson's pieces of hterature: "Nothing is more Christian than forgiveness ... demonstrating trust in one who has fallen."
It is a wonderful thing to see a prodigal return and to applaud it. I know a pastor who went through the horrors of public discipline of a brother in their church and it was dreadful. In fact, it made the news. Many of us heard about the discipline of this well-known Christian who had shipwrecked. And that brother walked away from God for several years. Finally he turned around and came back. He wrote a letter of apology ultimately. He said, "You were right. I was in sin. You put your finger on it. I rebelled and I rejected. But I want you to know, I see the wrong of my actions and I've come back."
You know what the church did? They had a party—-this same church that had disciplined him. They bought him a sport coat and a new pair of shoes. They put a gold ring on his finger. And they served him prime rib. It was an evening of praise as this brother was brought back into fellowship. And that also made the news. There's not enough of that kind of news.
Once president Lincoln was asked how he was going to treat the rebellious Southerners when they had finally been defeated and returned to the Union of the United States. The questioner expected that Lincoln would take a dire vengeance, but he answered, I will treat them as if they had never been away."
—William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke
THE BIBLE IS A PHOTO ALBUM FILLED WITH THE PICTURES OF GOD'S GRACE. One striking example is found in the pages of 2 Samuel. The setting is the palace of King David. Gold and bronze fixtures gleam from the walls. Lofty, wooden ceilings crown each spacious room. In the banquet room, David and his children gather for an evening meal. Absalom, tanned and handsome, is there, as is David's beautiful daughter Tamar. The call to dinner is given, and the king scans the room to see if all are present. One figure, though, is absent.
Clump, scraaape, clump, scraaape. The sound coming down the hall echoes into the chamber. Clump, scraaape, clump, scraaape. Finally, the person appears at the door and slowly shuffles to his seat. It is the lame Mephiboshefh seated in grace at David's table. And the tablecloth covers his feet. Now the feast can begin.
Grace in a Barren Place
I was that Mephibosheth Crippled by my twisted pride and hiding from you in a barren place where You could not find me where You would not give me what I deserved. But somehow You found me and I don't understand why but You give me what I do not deserve. You not only spared my desolate life but
You made it bountiful And here at Your table I will thank You, my King.
Humpty Dumpty had an unsolvable problem. We have a problem too, but our shas a solution.
Jesus Christ came to our wall,
Jesus Christ died for our fall;
So that regardless of death and in spite of sin,
Through grace, He might put us together again.
Several years ago my family and I were enjoying an evening at a restaurant. We looked over in the corner and saw a couple from our church. We waved at 'em and they winked back in our direction. And just before they left they came by our table, shook hands and said "Hi." When our meal was over, I got up and walked to the cash register and said, "I didn't get a check for our meal." They said, "Oh, well, you don't have to worry about it because someone else paid for it." I asked, "Who paid for it?" They said, "Well, we don't know who they are, but they were the couple that walked over and said 'Hello' to you." I was astonished, but said, "Well, why don't I take care of the tip?" "No, that was all taken care of too." It was paid in full. I had the hardest time accepting that. I wanted to go home and call them up and say, "Hey, why don't I split it halfway with you?"….. It's difficult to accept something absolutely free. We think there's a gimmick or we think there's something we must do to pay our way.
God's grace says, "I've picked up the tab. I'll take care of everything inside and out. Accept it. Believe it. It's a declared fact."
"Do this and live!" the Law demands,
But gives me neither feet nor hands.
A better word God's grace does bring,
It bids me fly and gives me wings.
—Kenneth Wuest, Romans in the Greek New Testament
He Giveth More
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure;
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
—Annie Johnson Flint, quoted in John R. Rice, Poems That Preach
FROM THE BOOK "750 ENGAGING ILLUSTRATIONS"
According to the Chicago Tribune, in the summer of 1994, Marcio da Silva, a love-struck Brazilian artist, was distraught over the breakup of a four-year relationship with his girlfriend, Katia de Nascimento. He tried to win back her love by a gesture of great devotion. He walked on his knees-for nine miles. With pieces of car tires tied to his kneecaps, the twenty-one-year-old man shuffled along for fourteen hours before he reached her home in Santos, Brazil. He was cheered on by motorists and passersby, but when he reached the end of his marathon of love thoroughly exhausted, the nineteen-year-old woman of his dreams was not impressed. She had intentionally left her home to avoid seeing him.
Some people try similar acts of devotion to impress God and earn salvation. Like Katia de Nascimento, God is not impressed. The only thing that brings the forgiveness of sin is faith in Jesus Christ, not sacrificial deeds.
Pilot William Langewiesche writes in Atlantic Monthly:
In clouds or on black nights, when they cannot see outside, pilots keep their Wings level by watching an artificial horizon on the instrument panel. The artificial horizon is a gyroscopically steadied line, which stays level with the earth's surface.
Langewiesche says that pilots sometimes become confused about what the instruments are telling them. He says:
As turbulence tilts the airplane to the left, the pilots, tilting with it, notice the artificial horizon line dropping to the right. Reacting instinctively to the indication of motion, they sometimes try to raise the line as if it were a wing. The result of such a reversal is murderous. Pilots steer to the left just when 'they should steer to the right, and then in confusion they steer harder. While cruising calmly inside clouds, I have had student pilots suddenly try to flip the airplane upside down.
The same kind of disorientation can happen when we seek God's acceptance. When we see how far short we fall of God's will, we can try harder and harder to be good, hoping that if we become almost perfect, God will accept us. But that's precisely the opposite of what we need to do. Instead we, should trust in God's grace.
Lillie Baltrip is a good bus driver. In fact, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram of June 17,1988, the Houston school district nominated her for a safe-driving award. Her colleagues even trusted her to drive a busload of them to an awards ceremony for safe drivers. Unfortunately, on the way to the ceremony, Lillie turned a corner too sharply and flipped the bus over, sending herself and sixteen others to the hospital for minor emergency treatment.
Did Lillie, accident free for the whole year, get her award anyway? No. Award committees rarely operate on the principle of grace. How fortunate we are that even when we don't maintain a spotless life-record, our final reward depends on God's grace, not on our performance!
FROM THE BOOK "1001 QUOTES, ILLUSTRATIONS AND HUMOROUS STORIES"
David Seamands ends his book Healing Grace with this story:
For more than six hundred years the Hapsburgs exercised political power in Europe. When Emperor Franz-Josef I of Austria died in 1916, his was the last of the extravagant imperial funerals.
A processional of dignitaries and elegantly dressed court personages escorted the coffin, draped in the black-and-gold imperial colors. To the accompaniment of a military band's somber dirges and by the light of torches, the cortege descended the stairs of the Capuchin Monastery in Vienna. At the bottom was a great iron door leading to the Hapsburg family crypt. Behind the door was the Cardinal-Archbishop of Vienna.
The officer in charge followed the prescribed ceremony, established centuries before. "Open!" he cried.
"Who goes there?" responded the Cardinal.
"We bear the remains of his Imperial and Apostolic Majesty, Franz-Josef I, by the grace of God Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Defender of the Faith, Prince of Bohemia-Moravia, Grand Duke of Lombard, Venezia, Styrgia . . ." The officer continued to list the Emperors thirty-seven titles.
"We know him not," replied the Cardinal. "Who goes there?"
The officer spoke again, this time using a much-abbreviated and less-ostentatious title reserved for times of expediency.
"We know him not," the Cardinal said again. "Who goes there?"
The officer tried a third time, stripping the emperor of all but the humblest of titles: "We bear the body of Franz-Josef, our brother, a sinner like us all!"
At that, the doors swung open, and Franz-Josef was admitted.
In death, all are reduced to the same level. Neither wealth nor fame can open the way of salvation, but only God's grace, given to those who will humbly acknowledge their need.
Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out, and your dog would go in.
Mark Twain (Favor, Works)
Those who would avoid the despair of sinfulness by staying far from God find they have also missed the forgiving grace of God.
Charles E. Wolfe (Sin, Forgiveness)
Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Repentance, Discipline)
Remember the great need you have of the grace and assistance of God. You should never lose sight of him—not for a moment.
Andrew Murray (God, Vision)
Saving grace makes a man as willing to leave his lusts as a slave is walling to leave his galley, or a prisoner his dungeon, or a thief his bolts, or a beggar his rags.
Thomas Brooks (Repentance, Change)