Posted on Sat, May 25, 2019
Ruling Elder Eli Reyes
Every morning, my wife Jennifer and I have had a ritual… we drink coffee together in the quietness of the early morning and start our day with God in his Word and in prayer. I recall several years back, those brisk mornings in Tucson, we would sit in our backyard facing Mount Lemon and watch God paint a new day. We would be challenged by Scripture and pray together, especially about Jen’s daughter Alyssa. I remember that for months we would say: “Change her heart Lord, help her to respond to your love and to our new life together.” It felt like our prayers were falling on deaf ears. I was wrestling with anger and resentment, I was becoming bitter – not better. I felt harmed and wronged. “Change her heart Lord” I would pray, and I believed that God would… except that I was unaware of the barrier to my prayers. One morning I was reading Matthew 11 while Jennifer made coffee, verses 25, 26. Although verse 26 does not appear in older manuscripts, they pierced my heart. Listen to what Jesus says: “25And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, (that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.) 26But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” I pondered, could this be true? I looked a little deeper and I again heard the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:12,14-15: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” That morning in our devotional, I shared with Jennifer what the Lord spoke to my heart. I confessed my unforgiveness as sin and asked the Lord to release me from all bitterness and resentment. As we prayed together, I asked the Lord “Please Lord, change my heart so that Alyssa may know your love through my life. Help me to show her how much I love her.” As my heart was changed by the Lord… so was Alyssa’s. We started to see the subtle changes that God was doing in her life and ours. That was five years ago, and He continues to strengthen, heal and restore those broken areas in our lives and in our relationships for His glory. I can’t help but think about how God forgave us… forgave me. Despite our sinful nature, God demonstrated His great love for us and through Christ, reconciled us to Himself. Listen to what St. Paul says in Romans 5:6-11: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Chuck Colson told the story of a prison camp where 20 men came in from digging and lined their shovels up on the wall as they always did for the counting. When they were counted, the officer found only 19. He demanded that the one who didn't bring his shovel step forward. None did. Then he threatened that if no one stepped forward, he would choose ten men at random and shoot them. A young man of about 19 stepped forward and was immediately taken a few paces away and shot as an example to the others. But then as they were dismissing, the shovels were counted again and there were 20 after all. The officer had miscounted. The difference between what that boy did for his friends and what Jesus did for us is that Jesus knew which ten men he was dying for and he knew that we were all unworthy. But he did it anyway, He forgave us and redeemed us because he had a very special covenant love for us… that is far above human love. Ruling Elder Eli Reyes
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