“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)
I was so confused. I was talking to God, but it seemed He wasn’t talking to me. There seemed to be a barrier between us. I was a single 20-year-old who needed to make an important decision about my future, but I wasn’t hearing from God.
Mr. Thorp was an older, godly gentleman who mentored my Christian friends and me in our teen years. After a Bible study meeting, I asked him to pray for me.
“Let’s read some Scripture about prayer before we pray,” Mr. Thorp suggested.
First he turned to Matthew 18:19-22, which says:
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”
Then to Matthew 6:8-15. Then Mark 11:22-26.
Every passage Mr. Thorp turned to regarding God answering prayer had verses about forgiveness either before it or after it. He stopped reading, looked me in the eye, and said, “Sharon, I sense that God is telling you that you have unforgiveness in your heart. Have you forgiven your father for what he did to you and what he withheld from you?” (Mr. Thorp had walked with me on my spiritual journey and knew very well what had gone on in my home.)
I was stunned. “Mr. Thorp,” I respectfully replied. “I came here to pray about my future, not talk about my past.”
“But, Sharon, God can’t talk to you about your future until you obey Him regarding your past.”
It was a rough morning, but a good one.
At that time, I’d been a Christian for seven years. My father came to Christ six years after I did. He’d been a violent, heavy drinker with a rage disorder who gambled, indulged in pornography and had affairs. Dad hit my mom, terrorized my brother and treated me as if I were non-existent.
When he gave his life to Christ, he was truly a new creation.
The change was (and still is) one of the most miraculous transformations I’ve ever seen. Only Almighty God could have orchestrated the twists and turns that led my father to the cross.
However, I had a nagging resentment toward my dad, which I clung to with a closed fist. Yes, I saw the change, but no, I didn’t trust him. I didn’t even like him. I still had nightmares, fits of fear and trigger points of panic. Whenever Dad made a mistake — because he still wasn’t perfect — the bitterness of my childhood rose up. God was speaking to me through Mr. Thorp, saying, “Now’s the time to let it go.”
Mr. Thorp and I spent hours talking through the pain of my past and the purpose of forgiveness. We prayed. I cried. Finally, in my heart, I could sense myself releasing years of hurt and anger. In turn, God filled my heart with a tender love of a daughter who saw her dad through the lens of grace. I was free.
Amazingly, after forgiving my father, my inability to hear from God was lifted. I knew exactly what I was supposed to do. I’m not saying that once you forgive, everything in life falls into place. However, my refusal to forgive my earthly father hampered my communion with my heavenly Father.
So here’s what God’s asking you and me today … Is there someone in your life you haven’t forgiven? It’s time to let it go. Forgiveness isn’t saying that what the person did was right, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you reconcile. But forgiveness does mean you’re going to let go of the angry resentment, give the person to God and live free. Remember, the only person we hurt when we choose not to forgive is ourselves.
Jesus didn’t tether our forgiveness to the caveat that someone we forgive has changed or asked for forgiveness. Why? Forgiveness really isn’t about the other person at all … it’s about what we choose to do to forgive as Christ forgave us, and set ourselves free.
Talking Things Out With God
By: Peter Hoytema, today.reframemedia.com
Scripture Reading — Luke 24:13-35
We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. — Luke 24:21
The encounter between Jesus and the disciples from Emmaus has much to teach us about prayer. The day Jesus rose from the dead was the most glorious day in history. But later that day, the risen Lord assumed the role of an anonymous traveling companion. It’s striking that the Lord of glory would so humbly seek out two discouraged individuals.
This assures us that when we feel abandoned by God, he is still present with us. Perhaps we don’t recognize God’s presence because a difficult situation has taken up all of our attention. But God is with us nonetheless.
Consider too how patient Jesus is as the two disciples talk about the events that took place in Jerusalem over the past few days. As if Jesus didn’t know these details! Sometimes in our prayers we pour out everything in our hearts to God. And God listens! But it’s not as though we are telling God anything he’s not aware of. He simply lets us express ourselves. God is incredibly interested in hearing all we have to say.
When Jesus finally revealed his identity to the two disciples at Emmaus, they were filled with joy. It’s the joy we feel when we realize that God is walking with us, listening to us, and sharing his time with us. The Lord who has come to us with humility and grace is the one to whom we can always pray.
Thank you, Lord, for always being with me. Thank you for being so interested in hearing my prayers. When I walk with people who are hurting, help me to lead them to you. Amen
Talk To God About Everything
HEBREWS 4:13-16 NLT 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. 14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
You should talk to God just as you would to a very respected friend. Don’t worry about using any special form of words. Just talk openly, honestly, and sincerely from your heart. (This is what “prayer” is supposed to be.)
God knows what you are thinking anyway. You can’t fool God or hide anything from Him. God knows you better than you know yourself. And the wonderful thing is that God still loves you!
Nothing that concerns you is unimportant to God. Remember, He even keeps count of how many hairs you have!
God is not too busy to hear about every detail of your life. I have no idea how God can listen to all of us, but He can. God is not bound by time like we are. However He does it, we don’t have to be concerned but can just trust Him.
JEREMIAH 33:3 NKJ 33 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’
What a privilege to have the input and counsel of God who knows everything! Don’t fail to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity.
We are called into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ! That means we should share everything with Him.
1 CORINTHIANS 1:9 NKJ 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
God invites us to fellowship with Him. That would include just discussing things. Just visiting. Just “hanging out” together. This is what God desires. So don’t disappoint Him!
Don’t talk at God, talk directly to God. Prayer should not be a spiritual exercise you have to get through. It’s a conversation with Someone who loves you, and is very smart.
“But what can I say to God?”
“Thank You!” would be a good start. What would you say to any friend who was with you? You wouldn’t have any trouble figuring out what to talk about with them would you?
“But,” you say, “God doesn’t talk back.”
Yes, that is a difference you have to get used to. True, God does not usually speak back to us in the normal human fashion. The main way He “speaks” to us is through inward impressions or ideas, all of which will line up with His written Word, the Bible. We have to learn His way of communicating.
SAY THIS: God wants me to talk with Him about everything, so I will.