C.S. Lewis wrote these words: “Forgiveness is a lovely idea until you have to forgive someone.” Nothing could be truer, right?
Corrie ten Boom has one of the most amazing stories about forgiveness. Her book The Hiding Place is about how her family housed Jews running from the Nazis in Amsterdam. The Nazis eventually caught up with them and put her whole family in the concentration camps. Every one of them died, except Corrie. She went on for 30 more years to preach the gospel.
One day, Corrie said, she was preaching in Munich, Germany decades after the days of the concentration camp. At the church where she was preaching, she saw a familiar face. It was a guard who had routinely mocked her and put her in a shower nearly every day, pretending that he was going to exterminate her, and who was responsible for her sister Betsie’s death. He was sitting there in front of her.
Now, suddenly, forgiveness is not so lovely of an idea, is it?
She recognized the guard, but he didn’t recognize her. After the service, the ex-guard came up and said, “Fraulein, I heard you mention Ravensbrück. I was a guard there. But since those days, I've become a Christian. I know that God forgives me, but would you forgive me?”
She said, “I stood there paralyzed. This man was a monster. He’d killed my family, and he’d killed my sister.” She said that as she sat there, this was her prayer: “Forgive me, Father, for the inability to forgive.” Then she said that the power of the Holy Spirit surged through her. She felt her hand go out, clasp his and heard herself say to this man, "You are forgiven."
Later, she said, "That day, not only was the man set free, but I was set free.”
When you forgive, you're not changing the past, but you are changing your own future. This is what the gospel is all about. That's the glory of what we believe; the way Christianity conquers its enemies is by forgiving its enemies.
“Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:11-13, ESV).
After pastoring an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years, Pastor Tim served at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years and pastored in Lafayette, Louisiana, for five years. He became Senior Pastor of Times Square Church in May of 2020.
Here is the cry of the apostle John in the Bible’s final book: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20, NKJV). It may seem strange that would John pray for this, though, knowing that Jesus himself told his followers, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14)? Can we have any impact on when Jesus returns?
When was the last time you prayed, “Lord Jesus, come quickly, come soon”? Personally, I can’t remember praying this prayer. I never knew I could hasten Christ’s coming by allowing myself to long for this and pray these words.
Yet Peter gives us proof of this incredible truth: “Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:12). In Greek, the phrase “hasting…the coming of (that) day” means “to speed up, to urge on.” Peter says our expectant prayers are hastening, speeding up, urging the Father to send back his Son quickly.
The Lord’s merciful patience dictates the timing of his return. So, does this mean we shouldn’t pray for his coming? Not at all. Christ himself tells us, “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days” (Mark 13:19-20). Imagine what might happen if, all over the world, Christ’s bride were to wake up and pray in the Spirit, “Jesus, come.”
So, where do we hear this cry of the Spirit today? It comes through those who live and walk in the Spirit, their bodies the temple of the Holy Ghost, who are filled with a longing to be with the Lord. The Spirit cries in and through them, “Hasten, Lord, come.”
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.” (Psalm 46:1-7, 9).
What a marvelous word. I’ve read this passage over and over, dozens of times, and I’m still overwhelmed by it. God’s Word to us here is so powerful, so immovable, he tells us, “Never again do you need to fear. It doesn’t matter if the whole world is in turmoil. The earth may quake, the oceans may swell, the mountains may crumble into the sea. Things may be in complete chaos, a total uproar all around you.
Right now, the whole world is in a fearful time. Nations are trembling over terrorism, knowing no region is immune to the threats. Personal troubles and sufferings are mounting. Yet, in the midst of it all, Psalm 46 echoes to God’s people the world over: “I am in your midst. I am with you through it all. My people will not be destroyed or moved. I’m going to be an ever-present help to my church.”
God knows we all face deep needs; we all encounter turmoil, temptations, times of confusion that cause our souls to quake. His message for us in Psalm 46 is meant for just such times. He is saying that if we give in to fear, becoming downcast and full of despair, we’re living absolutely contrary to his reality in our lives.
It’s vital that you grasp what the Lord is telling us in this Psalm. Our God is available to us at any time, day or night. He’s continually at our right hand, willing to speak to us and to guide us. And he’s made this possible by giving us his Holy Spirit to abide in us. The Bible tells us that Christ himself is in us, and we are in him.
The apostle Paul instructs us, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Then he says more specifically, “For in fact the body is not one member but many” (12:14).
Paul is telling us, “Take a look at your own body. You have hands, feet, eyes, ears. You are not just an isolated brain, unattached to the other members. Well, it’s the same way with Christ. He’s not just the head. He has a body, and we comprise its members.”
Paul drives this point home, saying, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Simply put, we’re all fed by the same food: Christ, the manna from heaven. “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33).
Jesus often spoke to his disciples in parables and each parable contained a hidden truth of God. These secrets have been shared by Father, Son and Holy Ghost from before creation: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13:35). Jesus testifies that these hidden truths are revealed only to those who take time to seek them.
Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life…I am the living bread which came down from heaven… he who feeds on Me will live because of Me” (John 6:35, 51, 57). The image of bread here is important. Our Lord is telling us, “If you come to me, you’ll be nourished. You’ll be attached to me, as a member of my body. Therefore, you’ll receive strength from the life-flow that’s in me.” Indeed, every member of his body draws strength from a single source: Christ, the head. Everything we need to lead an overcoming life flows to us from him.
This bread is what distinguishes us as members of his body. We are set apart from the rest of humanity because we dine from a single loaf: Jesus Christ. “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).
I believe that Psalm 46 is a picture of the New Testament “promised land.” Indeed, Psalm 46 represents the divine rest referred to in Hebrews: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). This Psalm describes this rest to God’s people. It speaks of his ever-present strength, his help in time of trouble, his peace in the midst of chaos. God’s presence is with us at all times, and his help always arrives on time.
Israel rejected this rest: “Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word” (Psalm 106:24). Sadly, the church today is much like Israel. In spite of God’s great promises to us—his assurance of peace, help and full supply—we don’t trust him fully. Instead, we complain, “Where is God in my trial? Is he with me or not? Where is any evidence of his presence? Why does he keep letting these hardships pile up on me?”
Today, I hear the Lord asking his church, “Do you believe I still speak to my people? Do you believe I desire to give you my help and guidance? Do you truly believe I want to speak to you daily, hourly, moment by moment?” Our response has to be like David’s. That godly man shook all hell when he made this statement about the Lord: “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:9).
Here is God’s promise to every generation who would believe his Word that he desires to speak to us: “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations” (33:11). The Creator of the universe wants to share his very thoughts with us!
Scripture make it clear: Our God spoke to his people in the past, he’s speaking to his people now, and he’ll continue to speak to us till the very end of time. More to the point, God wants to speak to you about your problem today. He may do it through his Word, through a godly friend, or through the Spirit’s still, small voice, whispering, “This is the way, walk in it.”
No matter what means he uses, you will recognize his voice. The sheep know the voice of their Shepherd. And, “He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10).