Elevate 28 - A 28 Day Challenge to Intentionally Engage with God's Word
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace.
"The Forgiveness Cycle"
By John Piper
“And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
Who forgives whom first?
On the one hand, Jesus says, “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4) On the other hand, Paul says, “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13)
When Jesus teaches us to pray that God would forgive us, “for we ourselves forgive,” he is not saying that the first move in forgiveness was our move. Rather, it goes like this: God forgave us when we believed in Christ (Acts 10:43). Then, from this broken, joyful, grateful, hopeful experience of being forgiven, we offer forgiveness to others.
This forgiving spirit signifies that we have been savingly forgiven. That is, our forgiving others shows that we have faith; we are united to Christ; we are indwelt by the gracious, humbling Holy Spirit.
But we still sin (1 John 1:8, 10). So we still turn to God for fresh applications of the work of Christ on our behalf — fresh applications of forgiveness. We cannot do this with any confidence if we are harboring an unforgiving spirit.
Remember the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:23–35. He refused to forgive his fellow servant who owed him ten dollars, though he claimed to be forgiven ten million. He showed by his unforgiving spirit that the king’s mercy had not changed him.
Jesus protects us from this folly by teaching us to pray, “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Luke 11:4). That’s why Jesus says we ask for forgiveness because we are forgiving. This is like saying: “Father, continue to extend to me the mercies purchased by Christ, because by these mercies I have been forgiven, and I forsake vengeance and extend to others what you have extended to me.”
May you know God’s forgiveness afresh today, and may that grace overflow in your heart in forgiveness toward others. And may that sweet experience of grace in your life give you added assurance that, when you go to God to experience fresh, blood-bought forgiveness, you will know that He sees you as His forgiven and forgiving child.
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons. Learn more at desiringgod.org
REFLECT & RESPOND Teen Edition
1. Check in with teens in your home or one that you know and appropriately share a story of your brokenness with them – a time when you did something that went against God's law. A time you hurt someone, betrayed, lied, dishonored, committed an unlawful offense, etc...
2. Explain that we are all sinners - we all make mistakes.
3. Look over the Ten Commandments with them and ask if they think certain sins are worse than others. Guide a discussion about that.
4. Explain that all sin is equally offensive to God - that a lie is as bad a stealing in God’s eyes.
5. Explain that God knows we are imperfect – all of us. He knows we will make mistakes and yet, He loves us so much regardless of our sin - that is unconditional.
6. Explain God give us free will to make choices - and because we have free will we might make a bad choice. God can't control us only we can control us.
7. Tell them God give us free will so we can choose Him fully. Making that choice is the one God wants us to make more than any other because He loves us, He wants us with Him, and with Him and through His son Jesus, we all can life the most happy and peaceful life.
8. Explain that when we make mistakes - small ones and big ones - all we must do is accept our responsibility and ask for God’s forgiveness and we will be forgiven – completely free to learn from the mistake, ask others for forgiveness, be better than before, and move forward without carrying any shame.
God is Love! God is Hope! God is Forgiveness!
God gives us another chance every day to be better!
This activity was provided by the Teacher Love Project - a Why Not Charleston community education initiative. The Teacher Love Project aims to provide love and encouragement to teachers that will elevate their wellness and care and therefore, enhance student achievement. We must care for those who care for our children - we must love each other because God loved us first.
"We love because he first loved us."
1 John 4:19
"I Am Forgiven"
by Taraea L. Griffith
Father you are merciful and forgiving and good abounding in love toward us all.
And because of such kindness and compassion I share your love and forgiveness to others as you have loved me and forgave me in Christ Jesus.
I am blessed because my transgressions are forgiven. My sins are covered by the blood of Jesus.
Just as the woman with the alabaster box came and washed your feet with her hair and her tears, I am reminded of how even in her sinful life, you for gave her. You loved her and you spoke peace over her.
This shows me that I am forgiven.
I am loved.
I am walking in the peace assured by the forgiveness I have in you.
Today, Lord God, this prayer I offer in faith because I was sick and your forgiveness made me well.
Lord you raise me up, now I know in my heart I am FORGIVEN!
Sources: Daniel 9:9, Psalms 86:5, Ephesians 4:32, Psalms 32:1, Luke 4:36-47, James 5:15
Taraea L. Griffith lives in Charleston with her husband, children, and grandchildren. She is a poet and writer, and making an offering of her special gifts and talents as a Why Not Charleston 2020 contributor.
THRU THE LENS - FINDING YOURSELF IN GOD'S WORD
A blog by regular men and women about finding themselves in God's world
" The Gift of His Amazing Grace"
By Melanie Jager
As a mother, I am confronted these days with God’s word that says, I am forgiven. For myself - but more so, as it relates to my sons. My boys are beautiful young men of God who do believe in the power of prayer and that God walks with them daily. However, they are enduring their teen years – which are filled with confusion, angst, and missteps with the potential for self-imposed shame.
Hebrews states, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” I have told my sons the truth, that God promises to always forgive - anything. All they must do is ask for His forgiveness and know they are forgiven. Then move on freely and carry no shame, but rather – learn from the mistake and be a better person going forward.
Isaiah 43:18 states, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. I remind my sons there is no point in dwelling on those things that we cannot change – such as past failures and wrong-doings. I confirm that we cannot go back and change any of it. I tell them to repent to God – apologize with a pure heart if necessary – then leave it – and move forward. I assure them this is God's plan for them.
I know that they will make choices in childhood which will yield outcomes that can evoke shame if they do not know and accept that our Heavenly Father forgives us. Forgiveness frees us from shame. As adults we must also accept this this truth as mistakes do not end in childhood.
As a mother, I am compelled to make sure my boys understand this truth and this promise from God - as shame is a terrible burden from which strongholds form – the terrible self-imposed beliefs that grip us and block us from moving forward.
I pray that my boys understand that no one is perfect – only Jesus was. I pray that they accept making mistakes will be part of life – especially a big part of growing up. I pray that they find comfort and confidence in believing that God forgives them, and that He expects them to move forward - completely restored by accepting His gift of amazing grace!
Thank you for this day – for the opportunity to be better than I was yesterday.
Thank you for my beautiful sons and for their sweet hearts and bright minds and good health. Please continue to put a great hedge of protection around them always
as they are out in the world. Keep them from danger and harm –
both physically and emotionally.
Lean in and whisper into their ears a message they will forever remember which is -
I love you – and you are forgiven.
In Jesus Name.
Melanie Jager lives in Charleston, SC with her husband, Sean. The couple have two teenaged sons, Michael and Gabriel. Melanie has been a career educator for nearly 25 years. She has also worked on numerous community development projects since 2010 - from education to business to non-profit. She has served as a project/concept developer and systems implementer for Why Not Charleston since 2015 and currently oversees and manages operations for the organization. Melanie enjoys blogging about her family life and the Gospel-Rich experience that she and Sean are seeking to create in their home for themselves and their boys.