The Bridegroom is coming.

Have you ever taken a “spiritual gifts test”? They have become quite popular in many churches. Basically, it’s a test where you answer numerous questions about your attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. At the end of the test, you are told what your main spiritual gifts are, thus helping you to know how to better serve the church you are in. I guess since I’m a curious person I’ve taken this test several times, each time in a different church or denomination. Since I’ve moved many times in my life and lived in many places, I’ve been everything from a Pentecostal to a Southern Baptist. That’s quite a range of different beliefs. Since I’ve taken the test numerous times, I began to notice an interesting phenomenon: My gifts changed according to the church I was attending at the time. At first this confused me, because I was pretty sure what my gifts are. I thought perhaps I was mistaken in what I felt God was calling me to do. But then when it kept happening, I saw a pattern. Please understand that I’m not trying to suggest that these tests are bad. They are not. But I do want to suggest that you take them with a pinch of salt. 

So what was the pattern I saw? The questions and therefore the different gifts were slanted towards the beliefs and doctrines of the particular denomination or even church that I was attending. For example, one church we attended, although they believed in the 5 fold ministry gifts and claimed to be Pentecostal, had taken every single question out of their test that related to prophecy. How did I know? Two reasons. I was familiar with the test they were using and they had been sloppy. Every question related to prophecy, although the number was there, was left blank. They couldn’t change the number because that would have changed the outcome of the test results, so they simply deleted the question. When I pointed this out to the woman who was leading the church growth class, she appeared shocked. They had a prophet as their leader and I guess there wasn’t room for any other prophets. Another church we attended had a pastor who also didn’t like the prophetic gifts. It was a charismatic church by the way. When he saw my results, which were slanted towards the prophetic, he told me point blank that those gifts were not needed at his church. I should have walked out right then and there, but I didn’t. Another church we attended simply changed the test so completely, that they made up their own version. Their questions focused only on certain gifts talked about in Romans 12:4-8, namely Shepherd, Exhorter, Teacher, Giver, etc. The gifts discussed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 which deal with the spirit realm, such as word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, faith, speaking in various tongues, were conveniently left out of their test. These people were leaving nothing to chance.

So what is my point? Why am I sharing my observations? I am sharing this because the church is asleep and needs to wake up. Paul tells us plainly in 1 Corinthians 12:15-21 that each of the gifts represent different parts of the body of Christ. He tells us that the eye cannot say to the hand that it’s not needed. Nor can the head say to the feet, I have no need of you. But that is exactly what the churches have done. They don’t like certain gifts. They don’t like gifts that see, or hear, or perceive what’s going on, and so they silence them. It is now the hands and the feet that are telling the eyes and the ears, we have no need of you, be quiet. Consequently, the church is fast asleep! No one is able to call out sin, no one is able to correct or admonish people. No one is able to say, “this is what the Spirit is saying to the churches” because we don’t believe in “ears that hear” or “eyes that see”. If anyone tries to use those unwanted gifts, they are called critical and unkind. 

How do I know that the church is asleep. Because Jesus tells us so in Matthew 25:1-13 in the parable of the ten virgins. Jesus shares this parable right after telling His disciples about end time events and what would happen before His second coming. The Greek word used here is “tote” which translates as “at that time”. At the time of the end, the call will go out that the Bridegroom (Jesus) is coming. I’ve been hearing this since the day I became a Christian back in the 1970’s. He’s coming back soon, has been the clarion call for decades now. But then life happened, and I, like everyone else in the church, fell back asleep. Not that long ago, the Lord woke me up. He told me He’s coming soon. He told me to look up, that my redemption draws near. And He also told me that He still has things He wants me to write before He comes to get us. I’ve been pondering on this parable for days now and I noticed something I had missed in the past. Matthew 25:5-7 tell us “But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.” Did you see it? All 10 virgins arose, all of them woke up! Every single one of them. I also noticed that the cry came at midnight. It came at the last minute, when it was already too late. The 5 foolish virgins did not have enough oil and while they were busy getting it together, Jesus came and they were left behind. Do you see why it’s important for the church to wake up now, before it’s too late? 

If there were eyes that were allowed to see in the church, if there were ears that could hear and warn the church, perhaps more could be saved. Yes, I said saved. Jesus tells the 5 foolish virgins, left behind, “I do not know you”, verse 12. Maybe I’m a dreamer. Maybe I think that my feeble voice can make a difference. Only God knows. But I do know this. Someone in that parable was shouting, get up, get ready, be ready, He’s coming back. If you’re awake, if you see Him coming on the horizon, use your gifts. Warn people. Don’t let the leaders silence you. Don’t let a test silence you!

Has God given you a gift?

I had a dream this morning that made little sense to me. However, since God likes to talk to me in dreams, I have learned to pursue their meaning and not just dismiss them. A few years ago He nudged me to buy a book called “God’s Prophetic Symbolism in everyday life”. It can be found on Amazon. I have found this book to be quite helpful in at least getting me started in figuring out my dreams, but I do believe the interpretation of all dreams ultimately belongs to God Himself. In Genesis 40:8 we are told about Joseph, who being in prison, finds both the baker and the cupbearer, who are also in prison, sad, because they have each had a dream that no one can interpret. So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God?”

Obviously, the enemy likes to give us false dreams as well, but I’m not talking about those in this post. At any rate, I took the symbols in my dream and looked them up in my book. It still made little sense to me, so I went to the Lord and asked Him what He was trying to tell me. Let me make clear here that the God that I am referring to here is the God of the Bible, whose Son Jesus Christ came to earth and died on a cross for our sins and then rose from the dead on the third day. He now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He’s alive and therefore He hears my prayers.

I dreamed that on the ground floor of my house was a train station. There was a train track running through it and there were even little rooms where people waited for the train to come. I saw two small trains, each with just one car and an engine slowly come through on the tracks. I remember talking to two different groups of people, one was a man with his partner and their child. Another, was a woman who offered to pay me a dollar to get on the train. I told her that if she was local, the train ride was free. My little train station was very rough around the edges, with stone walls and floors, and not the slightest bit fancy. 

As I sat at the Lord’s feet and asked Him what He was trying to tell me, I heard Him say the same thing to me that He has told me several times in the past. Let me explain. The train represents ministry, and the house represents me. This little blog of mine is my ministry. I reach people all over the world with the words that I write. Unfortunately, as easy as it is for me to write, it is also very hard. 

I’ve had several people tell me that my ministry is useless and just entertaining, or even more sadly that I’m boasting when I share what the Lord tells me. I hear that my blog really has no value. I know in my mind that this is not true, but my heart wants to believe it. My greatest desire is not to entertain. I want to share with others what God is teaching me and pray that my words change lives, like His words have changed mine. But I am also lazy. I will admit it. Writing takes effort and time. So I come up with excuses for not writing this week, or even this month. 

So what did the Lord show me this morning about my dream? He repeated what He has told me numerous times in the past. I have been called to write. So write already! He has given me this gift to share with others. The funny thing is that at first I thought the dream was just another admonition to write. Some encouragement if you will. But as the morning wore on, and I was coming up with yet another excuse not to write, I realized something that frightened me. The dream was also a warning. Just as with the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, I was in fact, burying my “one”talent. The symbolism of the woman offering me one dollar in my dream was not lost on me. Perhaps I don’t have the same bad attitude that the wicked, lazy servant had. I certainly don’t believe that the Lord is “a hard man, reaping where (He has) not sown, and gathering where (he has) not scattered seed.” But nonetheless, regardless of my attitude, I was lazy and wasting my talent. Does that make me wicked? I doubt it. I know the Lord loves me and I certainly love Him. But He also makes it very clear in scripture, that if we love Him, we will do what He commands us to do (John 14:15). He has commanded me to write, regardless of how others feels about that or even how I feel about that. 

Please understand that I am not trying to base my salvation on whether or not I am writing enough. I do not believe that I am saved by my works. Paul makes that very clear in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Nonetheless, I felt that this morning He was warning me to stop being lazy and use my gift. If you’ve come this far and are still reading this, what gift comes to your mind, that you have buried? What gift are you too lazy or perhaps too afraid to use to bless others with? Not all the gifts make people feel warm and fuzzy. Sometimes we are called to speak truth, when no one wants to hear it. Not all the gifts bring us the praises of men, for then we would already have our reward. Some gifts require courage and stepping out in faith and are met with resistance because they don’t make people feel good. No one wants to have their “mail read”, if you will. I’ve been told that the reason why people don’t share my blog, is because my writing is “edgy” and makes them uncomfortable. It convicts people and therefore they don’t feel good about sharing it. But at the same time I get all kinds of private messages telling me that I’m spot on. So, I will repeat, I cannot use the bad responses or my own laziness as an excuse to stop. How about you? 

Why do we have to “close the door” when we pray?

A couple of months ago my husband and I decided to adopt/rescue an 11 year old cat that had lost its owner and ended up in the shelter. She spent months in that little box they kept her in and took quite a while to adapt to her new home. At first I thought she was just anxious and nervous because she didn’t know us. But as the weeks have gone on, she has settled down. There are two things that have not changed with her, however. She has not gained weight from her original 7 pounds, no matter how much I feed her, and she sleeps very little. Unlike our other cat, Jack, who is a total couch potato and spends his days sleeping, Penny, likes to roam the house. She hates closed doors like most cats and seems to never stop moving. No doubt it’s why she is so thin. As I sat here this morning, reading my Bible and praying, I couldn’t help but think about how distracting she is. She wants into my room, she wants out of my room. She eats, then chases Jack, then eats again. Never ending commotion. To say it is difficult to focus on the Word and spend time in prayer is an understatement. But as I persevered, the Lord brought a scripture to mind that I had never really thought much about. 

In Matthew 6:6 Jesus tells us:  “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Truthfully, I’ve always focused on the part about rewards, although I wasn’t really sure what He meant by all this. Well today, He opened this scripture to me in a new way and showed me what He was referring to. 

The word that is translated as “room” in this scripture is actually referring to a secret chamber. I don’t have any secret chambers in my house, but I do have a room that is quiet and free of distraction. At least it was until Penny came into our world. Before she came, I would go into my room, close the door and spend time with the Lord. It was our “secret” place, if you will. Most mornings, I had no trouble focusing on Him and the Bible. But no more. I realized that if I was going to regain my secret chamber, where I could focus on Him and Him alone, I would have to train my cat. That sounds almost funny, if you know cats. But nonetheless, if I want my peace to return to me, she needed to stay out of my room and learn not to knock. Yes, cats knock on doors. It’s quite annoying. 

As I pondered on all of this, I realized that what was happening to me, happens to all of us. This world is full of commotion, distraction and activity. We have phones, iPads, computers etc. etc. to endlessly distract us. These distractions will continue, unless we do something about them. If I cannot focus on the Lord, then I need to remove distractions from my life. It’s my responsibility to go into my secret place and shut the door. No one will do it for me. 

There is something that I have learned however, from life before Penny the cat. The Father has rewarded me over and over again, when I make the effort to be alone with Him. Because I take time to read His Word, I know His Word. When someone tries to deceive me by twisting the Word of God, I usually can spot the red flags. Because I take time to pray and to listen, I have learned what His voice sounds like. Jesus made it very clear that we are to know His voice. (John 10:27)  “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” 

There are rich rewards in knowing the Lord. But we can only receive those rewards if we take the time to be with Him and get to know Him. Just as with any relationship, this requires time and effort. If you are struggling to focus on the Lord, if you are having trouble reading His word, may I suggest that you “close the door”? Turn off the distractions, get up earlier when the world is still quiet and resolve to spend that time with the Lord. He has promised that you will be richly rewarded!

Spending Time with Jesus

One of my favorite things about spending time with the Lord is that I never know what He’s going to tell me. It kind of reminds me of the story in Exodus 16 where God sent the Israelites Manna every single morning and they looked at it and said “What is it?” As I reread the story this morning I noticed something new that I had never seen before. They didn’t just eat this Manna, they actually baked and boiled it so that it become something else. (Exodus 16:23) They ground it up and turned it into bread, for example. To sum up the story, they had to go out and gather it. Then they had to grind it up and bake or boil it to create some kind of “processed” food. The more I pondered on this story, the more I realized that I can in fact apply what they experienced, to my own life today. Every morning I have to get up and gather fresh Manna from the Lord. I never know what it will be. Sometimes I even ask Him “Lord, what is this?” So what is this “modern day Manna”? It’s His Word, His Spirit, His presence, His voice. He provides all those things for me if I am a believer. But it is my job to get up and gather His “Manna” every morning. After I read His Word, I have to “process” what He is trying to tell me. That takes time. It takes effort. Just like bread takes time to prepare and bake, it takes time to eat the Bread of Life, Jesus. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 25:2 “God conceals the revelation of His word in the hiding place of His glory. But the honor of kings is revealed by how they thoroughly search out the deeper meaning of all that God says. (Passion Translation) Why is it so important for me to do this every day? The Lord tells me in Exodus 16:4: “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not”. Obviously, we do not walk in the law anymore. But I do believe that God tests my heart, to see how much I am listening to Him, to see how much I am obeying His Word. Jesus tells us in John 6:53-58 that He is the bread that came down from heaven and that “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in Me, and I in him”. Jesus was not just referring to communion, which he had not even taught His disciples yet. This is about getting up and spending time with Him every single day, reading His Word, and listening for His voice. Did you look for Manna this morning?

Are you recovering from a narcissist?

Ending a narcissistic relationship is very hard as anyone who has ever done so will tell you. However, in some ways, recovering from the abuse caused by the narcissist is just as hard, if not harder. I recently ended what I can only describe as the most important friendship of my entire life, lasting over 25 years. She was my best friend, the bff that I truly thought would be my friend forever, and yet, I walked away. I won’t go into the details. If you have dealt with a narcissist, you will know their behaviors are like a broken record. They all do the same things.  The pain, the broken heart and the struggle to overcome and allow my heart to be healed is what I want to deal with here today. 

We all grieve in different ways, but the stages are similar to all of us; Shock, denial, anger, depression and finally, acceptance. However, I find that when dealing with the left overs of a narcissistic relationship, even acceptance can be painful. How do you trust your gut again? How do you trust people again? I trusted her with my whole heart for many years. I believed she had my back. How do I go on and not allow it to happen again? As a Christian, I find this particularly hard. I have chosen to forgive. Forgiveness is a huge part of the process when it comes to healing. I chose to accept my part in this toxic relationship. I knew she was unhealthy from the beginning. I made the fatal mistake of believing that my love could heal her. I believed, as so many of us do, that if she could encounter unconditional love from just one person, me, she could find the healing she needed and become whole. Again, if you’ve tried this, you probably know it doesn’t work. 

I thought I had put the relationship behind me, I thought I had found acceptance. It’s been over 2 months now since I walked away and in my foolishness, I thought I was ok. But I could tell that things were not right in my heart. I find myself close to tears a lot these days, often for no reason. So I asked the Lord this morning during my prayer time, what I need, since apparently I don’t know. He told me what I guess was obvious, I need healing for my broken heart. He also told me that I have worked too hard over the course of my life for a heart that is whole. I’ve come too far, and honestly, that’s no doubt the reason why I was able to finally see this relationship for what it really was, and walk away. He then told me that I should not allow the enemy to steal from me what I have worked so hard for over these many years. Let me explain.

There is a passage in Matthew 10:16 where Jesus warns His disciples: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” I want to show you what the Lord showed me in this verse, that helped me to understand both the trap that the enemy lays for us, and how the Holy Spirit helps us to overcome. Being wise as a serpent is not hard these days. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:1 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come”. He goes on to tell us in verses 2-7 the terrible attributes that people will have during these last days. 

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

I think his description could easily be summed up as “in the last days, there will be many narcissists”. 

When I look at these characteristics, I have to realize that evil people are everywhere and it will not get better. Scripture warns us that in the latter days, things will get worse. Now here’s where understanding comes in. I have to be wise enough to see how the enemy will bring these kinds of people into my life, over and over. Why does he do that? To make me angry, bitter and offended. If you think about it, that’s the trap he lays for us. It would be easy for me to fall into that trap, I’ve done it before, I can do it again. But if I realize that it is a trap, I can ask the Lord for help to avoid falling into it. How do I do that? Look at the second part of the verse: “innocent as doves”. Who is the Dove? The Holy Spirit! It is the Holy Spirit who is innocent and loves unconditionally. Here’s what I mean. The enemy will bring these types of people into our lives to make us angry, bitter and offended with both people and God. We need to have wisdom to recognize that the enemy’s entire goal is to trip us up and make us walk away from the Lord. However, if we allow the Holy Spirit to heal our hearts, if we put our hearts into His hands He will help us to walk in healing and consequently in love. Again, how do I do that?

It’s always been my understanding that unconditional love is not unconditional if you don’t see the other person in all of their flaws and shortcomings. If I look at someone and all I see is perfection, then I love them conditionally. I will love them only as long as they are perfect, because as soon as they sin, as soon as they fail to be perfect, my love will wane. It is only when I know who they are, when I see their sin, that I can choose to love them unconditionally. Perhaps this is the reason why James 5:16 tells us to “confess our sins, one to another”. If I know your sins and you know mine, and we still choose to love each other, then it becomes unconditional love. That’s the kind of love God has for us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) That is unconditional love! 

Now here’s the tricky part. It’s easy to have the serpent’s wisdom. Sin abounds in our world. There are many, many people who are all too aware of evil people because they have been hurt by them, and they have chosen to be angry and bitter their whole lives. It’s also easy, believe it or not, to have the innocence of doves. There were many years, when I could not, would not, believe that people choose to be evil. I gave people the benefit of the doubt over and over and over. I could not believe that they would deliberately hurt me. That is the innocence of a dove. But, what it really is, is naivety! I was naive. It is only when we have the knowledge or wisdom of who people really are, what people can be, and then pair it with the Holy Spirit’s innocence, that we can love people as Jesus did. He knew people’s hearts. He knew who would betray Him and who would deny Him. (John 2:24-25) Yet, He loved them. 

The Lord showed me that I must do what Peter tells us to in 1 Peter 5:7. I must cast (Greek word to throw) my cares upon Jesus, because I know that He cares about me. Make no mistake, broken hearts, anger, bitterness and offenses are cares of this world. The word cares, used in this passage is the exact same Greek word that Jesus used in the Parable of the Sower. (Matthew 13:22, Mark 4:9, Luke 8:14) It is the “cares” of this world that cause us to walk away from Jesus. 

Finally, knowing people’s hearts and realizing that people will hurt us even deliberately, but at the same time, choosing to love unconditionally is like walking a tightrope. It is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that we are able to walk it. I am not suggesting that we stay in toxic relationships. As a matter of fact, when I struggled with whether or not to walk away from mine, it really helped me that Paul told Timothy (and us), while describing people in these last days, “And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:5) I have turned away from her, but I must choose to allow the Holy Spirit to heal my heart and love others through me, again. 

Why did Jesus command us to wash other people’s feet?

When Jesus died on the cross, one of the last things He said was “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. I always took what He said for granted, somehow thinking that it was all part of His dying for our sins, and indeed, it was. However, in Acts 7:56-60 we are told the story of Stephen being martyred by the Jewish leaders, and interestingly enough, Stephen uttered almost the same words.  “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep”. 

As I pondered on these two scenarios, I began to wonder if perhaps they had a deeper significance than just words spoken at the end of a life. I would like to suggest that Jesus gives us a strong clue of their importance in John 13, when He washes the disciples feet at the last supper. 

As I meditated on what took place during that last evening before the crucifixion and the things that both Jesus and Peter said, it became clear to me that what Jesus was doing was not just a physical act of washing their feet. If it had been, then Peter’s refusing to have his feet washed by Jesus would have made more sense, since only slaves washed the feet of others, and Jesus was clearly not a slave. However, Jesus actually tells them that what he was doing was not about the physical: “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter then responds to this statement in verse 9 with: “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Peter is still not sure what is going on, but Jesus quickly corrects him in verse 10 with this: “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you. He is of course referring to Judas in this statement.

It is here, with this last phrase that I began to gain a better understanding of what Jesus was doing. In Numbers 19, the Lord gave the priests a ritual of cleansing commonly called ablution. The word “wash” that both Peter and Jesus use in the above scene is the word ablution in the original Greek language. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, “Ablution must not be confused with washing for the sake of cleanliness. This is evident from the requirement that the body be entirely clean before ablution.” In other words, you have to take a bath first to wash off the dirt and dust. They go on to tell us that “In the Jewish tradition there are three types of ablution according to the type of impurity involved: complete immersion, immersion of hands and feet, and immersion of hands only.” 

John the Baptist taught complete immersion when he called Israel to repent and be baptized in the Jordan River. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time taught that you cannot eat without ceremonial washing of the hands. Yet here was Jesus, washing only the feet of the disciples. No wonder they were confused. And on top of that, Jesus told them that they were ceremonially clean because they had already bathed. He tells them in John chapter 15:3 that the reason why they were clean was because of the word that He had spoken to them. In other words, the reason they were clean is because they believed Jesus! Their faith in Him had cleansed their “whole body” spiritually. 

However, even with their faith in Him, even while they were “spiritually clean” they needed to have their feet washed. The feet represented the “dirt and dust” of each day. Every day we encounter situations or attitudes that might cause us to sin. Hence, we must keep what is commonly called a “short account” with God. We must come to Him on a regular basis, whenever we feel convicted of sin, and allow Him to wash our feet, or cleanse us from our sin. 

Repentance is not a one time activity that occurs when we first came to faith in Jesus by saying a prayer of salvation. Repentance is an ongoing lifestyle that we must practice regularly.

Jesus makes that very clear both to the disciples and to us during this scene. 

But what about washing the feet of other people? What does it represent when we wash the feet of others? How do we even do such a thing, if it is not about the physical? And how does this whole foot washing scene at the last supper have anything to do with what both Jesus said on the cross and Stephen cried out, right before they died? Remember what Jesus told the disciples after He had washed their feet? He told them to go do it to others. “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14) 

It is my opinion that both Jesus and Stephen were giving us an example of what to do when people sin against us: we must “wash their feet” by forgiving them.  In John 20:33, Jesus told the disciples “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” This verse just seems so powerful to me because it suggests that I have the power to forgive sin and I have the power to hold onto other people’s sins. Not only does it appear powerful to me, but even more, it seems to come with a lot of responsibility.  1 Peter 2:5,9 tells us that we are a royal priesthood, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices to God. If I am considered a priest, then my number one job it would seem to me, is to intercede for others. The priests of the Old Testament offered sacrifices for the sins of the people. They interceded on their behalf. I am not suggesting that I have the power to save people. I don’t! Only Jesus saves. But I do believe that when I intercede on behalf of others and forgive them their sins, I can release something in the supernatural that will allow them to come to faith in Jesus. 

Although I cannot prove my theory, I do believe there are examples of this in Scripture. I think that perhaps one of the reasons why Paul the apostle repented and came to a knowledge of the truth is directly related to Stephen’s last words. Why? Because Paul was there watching him die. “Then they cast him (Stephen) out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.” (Acts 7:58)

I believe that we have the power to release people from sin, not for salvation, but for them to come to Jesus for salvation. In other words, I think that because Stephen forgave his killers and asked the Lord to as well, that that sin was not held against Saul and somehow allowed him to eventually be apprehended on the road to Damascus.  

Do I understand all of this? Absolutely not. I think there is a mystery here! But I do believe that we are called to do what Jesus did and sometimes that involves washing the dirty feet of others by forgiving them. If you think about it, is that not the ultimate example of loving others? Forgiveness is never easy. Especially not when the person has sinned against us personally.  But that’s also the beauty and the power of forgiveness. It involves sacrifice, which is exactly what Peter told us to do in 1 Peter 2:5: we are to “offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 

I would add just one thing more here. We all fall short, we all have sinned. We all have dirty feet.  If we want to be forgiven for our sin, we must forgive others their sin. Jesus made that very clear in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” 

If you are struggling to forgive others, ask the Lord to help you. Forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a choice. It also does not mean that you have to allow that person back into your life so they can hurt you again. But commands it.  If you need to understand how forgiveness benefits you personally, read my blog post called “The hidden benefits of forgiveness” from October 2018. May you find peace for your soul as you forgive others. 

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