Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thanks For Visiting

Dear Friends, I have been blessed that so many people from the USA and around the world have been visiting this site. And I have appreciated your emails and comments. If you are a visitor to this site, and we have not yet been introduced, please consider sending me an email and introducing yourself. You can write to me at blong8@sccoast.net 
It would be great to hear from you.
Thanks again,
Billy Long

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Part Six: Dealing with Anger

Our ability to forgive involves gaining victory over anger.

Anger can be useful or destructive. It is like a weapon with purpose in the hands of a policeman but destructive in the hands of a criminal and dangerous in the hands of a fool. It can be an instrument in God’s hands or a tool of the devil detrimental to our spiritual life. It can give courage to overcome insecurity and fear, or it can be a harmful instrument for venting selfish attitudes and inflicting pain on those who have injured us. Anger can be a response to perceived injustice or it can cause an irrational loss of control in those feeling victimized. Righteous indignation has its place, but human nature easily uses it as an excuse to justify bad behavior. It becomes an obstacle to unforgiveness, and hinders our ability to gain victory over the past. The Bible says we should “be angry and sin not” and not let the sun go down on our wrath. The wrath of man deceptively gives the individual a false sense of being an instrument of God. But the Bible warns us that the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. (James 1: 20; Ephesians 4:26).

The Wrath of Man
When in conflict we must remember that the wrath of man does not do what is right, nor does it desire to. When we walk in God's ways, we make room for God to work by the Spirit. When we walk in the flesh and vent anger we hinder God's righteous judgment, we hinder the redemptive process for others, and we choke our own spiritual life.
Below is a list of principles associated with “the wrath of man.”
1. Man's anger is an inducement to thoughts and actions that are displeasing to God. Galatians 5: 20
2. Man's anger usually stirs up strife. Proverbs 29: 22
3. Man tends to sin in his anger. Ephesians 4: 26
4. Man's anger tends to be without godly reason and is usually driven by revenge, filled with resentment or hate. It wants to hurt rather than redeem. Matthew 5: 22
5. We try to deceive ourselves into thinking our anger is accomplishing something in behalf of truth and justice; but in reality wrath pursues its own ends, not God's.
6. Some people get a "high" out of being angry, and are disappointed when they discover their “enemy” is innocent of the charges.
7. There is something inside people that derives some twisted pleasure from anger and enjoys the excitement of it.
8. Don’t expect a person who is controlled by anger to be reasonable. A person controlled by anger has no rule over his own spirit. Proverbs 25:28. This might explain why Balaam argued with the donkey instead of being surprised that the donkey was talking.
9. A person controlled by anger and resentment will seek to condemn. He will make others feel they are always on trial, always having to prove themselves, yet always expected to fail.

Joseph’s Example
“And when Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘Perhaps Joseph will hate us…’ and they sent messengers to Joseph saying ‘… I beg you please forgive the trespasses of your brothers.’”
“And he [Joseph] comforted his brothers, and spoke kindly to them.” Genesis 45: 1-8; 50: 15-21)
By human standards Joseph could have become the “poster child” for anger and unforgiveness, but the scripture gives no indication that he ever embraced these attitudes. We never see Joseph angry. Instead, his life epitomizes the redemptive work of God in the face of mistreatment and adversity. He forgave everyone who betrayed or harmed him.

The primary determining factor in his life was not the mistreatment he received from people, but the hidden purpose of God which overshadowed everything else until it was revealed in due time. Unforgiveness derails us into a world of hurt and irresolution, but forgiveness joined to faith and perseverance moves us inexorably to the purpose of God.

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ ” Luke 23: 34.





Sunday, February 12, 2012

Part Five: FORGIVENESS

In continuing our study on “Burnt Stones” we now look at the subjects of Forgiveness, which is a foundational  aspect of spiritual health. –Billy Long

Forgiveness
“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Matthew 6: 12.
One basic requirement for spiritual health is forgiveness. Conversely, unforgiveness is a major cause of spiritual derailment. The Biblical command is clear and simple and yet one of the most difficult to obey. A person does not have to be spiritually "deep" or intellectually brilliant to understand the verses relating to forgiveness, but there is something in human nature that tends to embrace unforgiveness and receives some perverted sense of satisfaction in harboring resentment.
Conflict and mistreatment bring wounds and pain, and so victims feel they have a right to be angry and bitter. People who have been victimized will go to great lengths to customize scripture to fit the inclinations of the moment in order to justify their wrong attitudes. And those who do want to be free often struggle for months or years to gain victory. It should not take so long, but the weakness of the flesh can prolong the process. A person must cultivate his daily walk with the Lord to gain victory. If he neglects this, his heart will harden and he may never be free.

Understanding God's Forgiveness. 
Understanding God’s forgiveness releases God’s love and enables us to forgive others who mistreat us. We forgive because God has forgiven us and commands us to forgive others (Matthew 18: 3; Luke 7: 47; Matthew 6: 12). We often fail to forgive because we fail to recognize the magnitude of the forgiveness we have received from God. Unforgiveness, therefore, is rooted in self-righteousness and ingratitude.

Knowing that God is the Righteous Judge.
People refuse to forgive offenses because they do not have faith in God as the Righteous Judge.
Righteous men love justice (freeing the innocent and punishing the guilty) and cry out for it in society. Carnal men, however, confuse revenge with justice. Justice cries out for a man to be dealt with according to truth based on God's law and God's ways. Revenge simply wants to satisfy our lower nature by inflicting pain in return for an injury received. Revenge is indifferent to mercy and to justice. Revenge cares not for God's ways or God's purpose. Revenge is a selfish lack of faith and love. People seek revenge because they do not trust God to be the Righteous Judge. They do not think He will adequately punish their enemies.
We must always remember that God is the righteous judge. We are commanded to forgive and leave vengeance to Him.
“Who…when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously…” 1 Peter 2:23
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to [God’s] wrath;for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12: 19

Following Christ’s example and command.
God showed His love toward us in that Christ died for us while we were still sinners and in rebellion (Romans 5: 8). Jesus taught His disciples to love those who mistreat them (Matthew 5: 39-49), and to forgive offenses seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-35). We must forgive even when the offender does not repent.

Forgiveness and Trust
This brings up an important point. Forgiveness and trust are two separate issues. You can forgive someone but still not trust him. If a person apologizes, you can forgive him, but you are not required to trust him unless he repents and changes.
For example: Let’s say you are riding in a car with a neighbor who is breaking all the traffic laws, speeding, running red lights, passing on curves, and refusing to yield right-of-way.
You appeal to him to change his ways, but he refuses to listen to your warnings. Then he wrecks his car and injures you in the accident. Later you are standing beside the road with casts on your broken arms and legs, still in pain from your injuries, and your neighbor drives up and stops along side you. He says, “I am so sorry that I hurt you.” You respond, “I forgive you.” He then opens the car door and says, “Hop in and let’s go for a ride.” It would be very acceptable for you to say, “I forgive you and love you because I am a follower of Jesus. I hold no resentment toward you. But I will not get in the car with you again until I know you have changed your ways and attitude about driving and obeying the traffic laws. I forgive you, but I do not yet trust you.”

Mercy
Mercy is benevolence, mildness, and tenderness of heart which disposes one to overlook injuries and to treat an offender better than he deserves. It is the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, to forbear punishment, or to inflict less than law or justice will warrant. It acknowledges the offense but wants to help the offender.
Mercy is with a view towards repentance (2 Peter 3: 7-10) and is a companion of justice. Mercy and compassion will walk with a person to the last mile in trying to help him gain freedom and deliverance. Mercy is given to the repentant. It forgives, but follows through with all the requirements of Biblical love and integrity. Mercy has strength to speak the truth in love. It forgives the offender, while acknowledging the offense and recognizing its harmful effects. Mercy will give correction and rebuke when necessary, but will do so in love and will forgive.
Matthew 5: 18; Luke 6: 35-36.

Conclusion
Forgiveness is so important to our spiritual health. Unforgiveness, however, is an element in the rubble of the past that must be removed in order to build again and move forward with healthy spiritual growth and life. We have a Heavenly Father who loves us and who has forgiven us of all our sins. As we trust Him and follow in obedience in the arena of forgiveness, we will experience anew His grace and strength, and the hidden treasures that are ours in His kingdom.