Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Archive for February, 2013

God Forgives

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

One of the most amazing Bible stories is Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers for hating him so much that they sold the 17 year old into slavery. For the next 20-some years, Joseph lived as a slave in Egypt, experiencing both success and hardships, but always recognizing God’s presence and providence. Years later, Joseph had risen to the Egyptian pharaoh’s second in command and finally had the opportunity to punish his brothers. Instead, he chose to show mercy to his cowering brothers and declare that God had sent him to Egypt to save the lives of his family. (Gen 37; 39-47)

That kind of maturity and forgiveness is not a natural occurrence, in human terms. God showed His forgiveness when He took on human skin and became the man, Jesus Christ. He lived among us with the specific purpose of offering Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for all the wrongs humanity had ever committed and will ever commit, with the exception of the sin of unbelief. Jesus allowed mankind, His most precious creations, to beat him beyond recognition and then nail Him to a cross. Jesus lovingly repeated “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they do,” during that gruesome ordeal.

The Bible provides some other great examples of what forgiveness looks like, both to forgive and to be forgiven. The two are interdependent as Jesus weaves them together in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matthew 6:12) Forgiving others frees us from the burden of holding another’s sins against them while accepting God’s forgiveness frees us from the impossible burden of justifying ourselves before God – the righteous judge.

Have you asked God to forgive you? It’s as easy as saying, “God, I have done wrong before you and I ask that you will forgive me. Please help me to forgive those who have done me wrong as well. In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, I ask this, Amen.”

Now, as Jesus would say, “Go and sin no more!” (John 8:11)

Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother or four, pastor’s wife and has worked in the garment and customer service industries in southern California. Besides writing, Lisa enjoys cooking, sewing, organic gardening, hiking, skiing and doing most anything outside.

Lisa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Design from Woodbury University and an MBA from California State University at Northridge. Lisa, her husband and their youngest child now live in central Oregon.

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The Judge

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

It is quite intimidating to think that the Creator of the Universe is both our Lawgiver and our Judge. God expects perfection from us all, even though He knows that we are incapable of living up to His standards. That is the ultimate problem of humanity. We stand guilty in front of the perfect Judge, with no way to redeem ourselves. Why would a loving God intentionally set humanity up for failure? That question is answered in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians, where he explains that the Law was like a tutor intended to reveal humanity’s need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:24)

Humanity’s response to this problem goes in one of three directions: atheists decide to deny the existence of God. This settles the problem in their minds for the time being, as long as the pesky Christians leave them alone. Unfortunately, denial of the truth does not change it at all, but rather leaves them in the position of trying to stamp out all evidence of God around them.

Another response is to try to redeem oneself through religious experience or good works. This is a popular belief these days; that our good works and bad actions are held in some cosmic balance and if we just have more good than bad, we will get to go to heaven. The big dilemma here is that by whose standards are the good and bad balanced? Most people compare themselves to those whom they judge to be really bad, thus creating a scale skewed in their favor.

In Romans 3:23, Paul states that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” God’s expectations are not a slightly unbalanced scale on the side of good, but perfection. Fortunately, He made a way for us to find salvation even in our imperfection, as Paul goes on to show in the next verse: ”being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

The final response to the human problem of sin is to embrace Jesus the Savior that God himself sent to bear the penalty of our sin. Although the Lawgiver and the Judge, He is also the most loving redeemer who welcomes all who accept Him as their Savior. There is no better time than now to ask for God’s redeeming grace to bless your life!

Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother or four, pastor’s wife and has worked in the garment and customer service industries in southern California. Besides writing, Lisa enjoys cooking, sewing, organic gardening, hiking, skiing and doing most anything outside.

Lisa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Design from Woodbury University and an MBA from California State University at Northridge. Lisa, her husband and their youngest child now live in central Oregon.

The Loving Lawgiver

By Lisa Nordell-Detres

What is your vision of a perfect world? Most visualize a civilized life where nobody hurts anyone else, where everybody works for the common good, where there is no poverty, crime or injustice. Interestingly, that is the way God made the world to be. He also built free will into that Utopian dream, because He didn’t want us to be robots incapable of love.

The only law at the beginning was that the man and woman were not to eat a certain fruit. Breaking that only rule seemed pretty harmless; after all, the fruit was not even poisonous. The first people who lived in the Garden of Eden chose freely to disobey the only decree, thus creating an unfortunate chain of events that led to the chaos in which we now live.

Many years later, God delivered to the ancient nation of Israel the most perfect set of laws, the Mosaic Law, which included the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). If God’s people followed these laws, they would enjoy a civilization that, while imperfect, could be like Paradise . The interesting thing about The Law is that God knew when He gave them; humanity would be incapable of keeping the laws perfectly. After all, the first couple couldn’t even obey one simple rule!

When asked what was the greatest of all the commandments, Jesus boiled it all down to love: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37, 39) Keeping this law of love seems simple enough and will surely make the world a better place.

The key is that you can’t love your neighbor or even yourself until you learn to love God. That is why we are here, learning about God so that we can enjoy a closer relationship with Him and love Him for who He is. After you start loving God, the ability to love others and yourself will come along.

Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother or four, pastor’s wife and has worked in the garment and customer service industries in southern California. Besides writing, Lisa enjoys cooking, sewing, organic gardening, hiking, skiing and doing most anything outside.

Lisa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Design from Woodbury University and an MBA from California State University at Northridge. Lisa, her husband and their youngest child now live in central Oregon.

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