Who Do I Follow?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24 NLT

The news in my little corner of the world over the last week has highlighted for me the importance of our choices. We concentrate on the big choices, those we consider for days or months. Those we see as life-changing. But, I’ve come to see that what seems small defines us. That it is the one tiny act of kindness, love or self-sacrifice that changes lives. It is the adding up of all those small, seemingly insignificant choices that make a life.

It is the adding up of all those small, seemingly insignificant choices that make a life. Click To Tweet

I see a line of strangers who, in an instant, joined hands in the ocean to form a literal lifeline for a drowning family in Florida. No time to consider. Just grab a hand and become a nameless, faceless individual in a long line of others who offer life. I was proud of my fellow man, I thought, that is what we should all do, just jump in and save a life. Of course, I would do that. Of course!

Then, in my news feed, the driver who hit a bicycle rider on a road not far from home. In an instant, the driver decided to swerve into a bicycle rider. After hitting the rider he sped away. As I read the comments on Facebook I saw anger and selfishness from dozens of individuals. Many comments could be summed up as “if you are in my way you are in the wrong and you deserve whatever happens for inconveniencing me.” I am shocked! I am saddened. I am convicted. How many times have I considered myself and wish to brush away any roadblock, even if it’s another life?

All those small choices we make are really an indicator of who we are and who we serve. I’m coming to the conclusion that the only real decision we must often make is will I serve God or will I serve myself? Christ reminds us that serving God means to deny ourselves. And that is not our natural reaction in many situations. Christ’s call to take up our cross follow him never lets us do as we please.

All those small choices we make are really an indicator of who we are and who we serve. Click To Tweet

The Tuesday ladies and I were talking about this last night. How it seems easier to serve God by doing the one “Big Thing”. We want to excuse those small, daily, inconvenient choices that are set before us. We read in James 4:17 that it is a sin to know what we ought to do and not do it. And sure, we believe this! After all, it’s written in God’s word. But do our lives reflect that belief?  Ummmm, we all hung our heads a bit. We challenged one another to work harder on this. And so I challenge you now, as you make all those small daily decisions, who will you serve? Will you serve the Lord, or will you serve yourself? Attitudes are not excused any more than actions. When our world revolves around us, it does not revolve around Christ.

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NLT

 

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Five Reasons Forgiveness Leads to Freedom

Forgiveness is hard. Most of the time I don’t want to forgive. I’ve been hurt, I’m sad or angry or maybe even afraid. My brain screams, don’t let them get away with this, fight back! But experience tells me otherwise. Faith demands a different response.

1. If I don’t forgive, my faith is weak. We believe the offender should pay, and if we forgive, then payment will not happen. The offender will just do it again. Newsflash! If a penalty is due, the offender will pay. You many not see it, but it will happen. God promises us He will be our defender. Don’t let your faith be weakened by relying on yourself rather than your God.

I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. Exodus 34:7 (NLT)

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. Proverbs 20:22 (NLT)

2. By not forgiving, I weaken, rather than growing stronger. Wrestling with yourself and your attitudes produces growth. Wrestling with the ‘offender’ just offers another opportunity for hurt. It wears you out. The only growth you experience is growing more exhausted.

Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil; joy fills hearts that are planning peace! Proverbs 12:20 (NLT)

Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. Proverbs 29:11(NLT)

If I don’t forgive. I can’t heal. Open wounds will fester. Click To Tweet

3. If I don’t forgive I can’t have a healthy relationship. In fact, the damage done to us by holding on will often damage other relationships as well. In our mind’s eye, we have walled off the one who hurt us. We aren’t going to let them do it again. In reality, you can’t wall off another person, they just keep moving away. The only way you can build a wall is to wall in the cooperative, and girlfriend if we are bent on building a wall that means walling off ourselves. When we isolate ourselves, all our relationships suffer.

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1 (NLT)

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9 (NLT)

4. If we don’t forgive, eventually, we will regret it. Our lives will revolve around the hurt we’re continuing to nurse. It becomes a focal point in life. That’s a sad life to live. We give the offender the power to continue to attack us over and over. Break free! Forgive!

And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11(NLT)

5. I did not deserve forgiveness, but I got it anyway. So I have no right to think that forgiveness is only for the worthy. We are commanded to forgive. God does not do this to punish us further, he does this to set us free!

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6: 13-14 (NLT)

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Col 3:13 (NLT)

O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. Psalm 86: 5 (NLT)

Girlfriend, we have many good reasons to forgive. Forgiveness is a gift. God not only gives us the gift of forgiveness but He gives us the gift of being able to forgive no matter how badly we have been hurt. People are watching. Forgiving freely is not common. The ability to offer forgiveness proclaims our faith and gives us a life that is free of the burden of anger and resentment. This my friends makes our faith most attractive. Is there anyone you need to forgive today?

God not only gives us the gift of forgiveness but He gives us the gift of being able to forgive. Click To Tweet