Joy & Forgiveness

Joy is that deep settled confidence
that God is in control of every area of my life.

                                                                    – Paul Sailhamer

The Passage – Psalm 51

This morning’s reflection is so simple, so central, and impossible without God’s grace.
Forgiveness is the essential ingredient to joy. Not “an” essential element – “the” essential ingredient. Resentment or shame are joy killers.

Remember David’s profound moral failure against Bathsheba and Uriah? Psalm 51 is the prayer David wrote seeking God’s forgiveness. One line is a prayer I repeat over and over again: “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation”. The conditions for this joy? That God forgive, creating a clean heart in us and renewing a right spirit.

I wonder if you have fully accepted the forgiveness of God in the cross of Jesus?
I wonder if you have forgiven others as Jesus has forgiven you?

Because in a season of high stress, it is super easy to allow resentment to build up against God or others – it is very easy, to our shame, to treat others badly.

The Prayer

In the presence of God, nothing stands between Him and us –
we are forgiven.
But we cannot feel His presence if anything is allowed to stand
between ourselves and others.

                                                                          – Dag Hammarskjöld
Allow Psalm 51 to guide your prayers today, asking the Holy Spirit to bring to mind areas that cry out for forgiveness in our own lives – places we are compelled to ask for forgiveness from others – and the grace to forgive others as God in Jesus has forgiven us.

The Practice: Forgive and Remember…

In the shadow of my hurt,
forgiveness feel like a decision to reward my enemy.
But in the shadow of the cross,
forgiveness is merely a gift
from one undeserving soul to another.

                                                               – Andy Stanley 
We hear “forgive and forget” – I wonder how that works for you? Here is something to put into practice today. This joy practice is not a focused amount of time later in the day. It is intentional pauses throughout the day.

When we are wronged or slighted by others, or when we act or speak in ways that trespass against God and really need forgiveness, first – remember. Remember the story of the Prodigal Son – or Jesus’ words from the cross – or someone who forgave you when you flat out did not deserve it. Train your heart and mind to take a turn into remembrance immediately when resentment or shame surface, and then ask God’s forgiveness or ask for the grace to forgive. That turn into remembrance is the way of salvation – the turn to restored joy.
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