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Raise the White Flag - A Devotion

Raise the White Flag
Raise the White Flag
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Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

On Father’s Day weekend, we were blessed to have all of our children together. It is not often with two grown men, an adult daughter and two who strive to act like they are just as big as the other three all get together except on holidays. Our oldest son was around the house most of the weekend rather than out conquering the world in his usual manner. Our younger son came home from college. Our oldest daughter arranged her schedule so that she could spend time at home. The two youngest girls also stilled their overactive social life to be together. Now usually with everyone at home, our house grows very small very fast. When you add our soon-to-be third son, there are not enough seats to accommodate everyone. Yet the peace that reigned in our house was incredible. Our children actually enjoyed being together without a single spat and no bickering. Even perfect children will often fuss now and again especially when right on top of each other, just seatbelt three in the backseat of the car. Somebody will cross the line. But not this weekend, something was different. Was it a coincidence? Was it an episode of instant maturity? Or could it be that they decided love was more important? For a moment in time, they realized that love was more important than any difference that they had. They embraced one another tightly. They sat together, laughed together. They were united by love.

Isaiah 38:16-18 (NLT)
Lord, your discipline is good for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness.

When our children were younger, they were highly competitive as most siblings are. They would pick at one another and poke every now again. The closer the proximity the more issues we would have. Four of the five shared two bedrooms so obviously personal space was at a premium. Sometimes I wondered if they truly loved each other by the way that they would emotional torture one another. However, if someone else tried to mess with one of them they would immediately “circle their wagons” ready to fight for their loved one. I believe that on Father’s Day weekend this is what we witnessed in them. They put their differences aside to fight for our family as a whole. Our younger son had to have medical clearance to come home for the weekend. He is preparing to receive a bone marrow transplant to eradicate cancer from his body. He is currently undergoing high dose chemo in preparation for this procedure. It is a very dangerous but absolutely necessary as he is currently in his fourth relapse. The kids put aside their differences to love one another and be together to unite in this battle. I believe that the Lord will honor this as they pray for their brother.

“Lord, your discipline is good for it leads to life and health.” “Yes, anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins.” I will be the first to admit that this ordeal has definitely taught me what is important in this life. It has also emphasized the many unimportant things that I once gave credence to with my time and attention. Would I want any one of my children to have a devastating disease? Of course, not. Has the Lord used this horrible time to teach me a thing or two? You better believe it. God uses every detail of our life for good. (Romans 8:28) He takes everything the enemy tries to use to destroy us and turns it into something useful that will bless and prosper us by faith in the confident hope we have named Jesus Christ. This would be no different. Nothing breaks my heart more than to see families and friends torn about by “bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” The Lord reminds us to get rid of it yet most of choose to hang on to it tightly with a sense of entitlement. By grace we are saved through faith and not of ourselves. (Ephesians 2:8) So as our family has learned, I will share with you. It is time to raise a white flag in our family, with our friends, in our churches and to every other person who the Lord allows us to cross paths with. It is vital to spiritual productivity and supernatural prosperity that leads to all things eternal – faith, hope and love. (I Corinthians 13:13)

Matthew 6:9-15 (NLT)
Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Unforgiveness is the elevation of ourselves above God. Think about this for a moment. It took me a whole day to chew on this Truth. When we are unwilling to forgive another person, than we are in theory saying that we are entitled to more honor than God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Imagine the insult of such a thing when considering the Cross. There is nothing more heinous that anyone can to do us worse than what we did to Jesus Christ on the Cross when He bore the full weight of every transgression and sin that once bound us to death. As it that were not enough, He gives us a new life NOW. We do not have to wait to enter the Kingdom of God but through the grace and mercy of Jesus – we can have it now. God is READY to forgive us. (Psalm 86:4-5) He does not make us come begging and pleading. We call on the Name of Jesus turning away from our sin and it is forgiven. No need to grovel or make it up to the Lord. Just do what He says and walk in His Way to prevent further disruption in our relationship. It is all about coming closer. When we come to the Lord, He not only forgives our sin but heals our diseases. (Psalm 103:2-3) Could it be that our lack of forgiveness for others is hindering the activation of God’s Kingdom in our natural life? Not maybe, but absolutely. When Jesus was teaching us how to pray, He emphasized our need to be forgivers. God will not tolerate rebellion or treachery in the Kingdom of God. There is no other god greater than our God. I am humbled by the Grace and Mercy extended to me through Jesus Christ. When I am unwilling to forgive others I forfeit my right to His Grace and Mercy in my life. It hinders the blessings and promises that He has for me from making it to me by my own doing. God is ready to forgive me. Am I ready to forgive other is the question!

Psalm 25:10-11 (NLT)
The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands. For the honor of your name, O LORD, forgive my many, many sins.

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2) To truly imitation our Father God, we are required to walk in unfailing love and faithfulness to God and other people. To keep the New Covenant made with Jesus Christ when giving our heart and life to Him requires laying down our life for others just as He did for us. To whom much is given, much is required. I have some people in my life that I must bring to the Lord daily. I struggle with forgiveness for these people. Three years ago, this list was much longer. Yet now in a time when I want the Lord, I need Him, I cannot survive without Him, forgiveness is no longer optional in my life but absolutely necessary. I have to know that God hears my prayer and is unhindered in answering them. “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:24-25) When Jesus was teaching about prayer just after He talks about forgiving others, the Lord says, “Don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one”. The enemy hears your words and accusations against those people that have come from your mouth and more than willing to use them against you. I will not list those who I struggle with out loud for this very reason. Consider this. Remember the last time you mentioned someone to another person and said, “I haven’t seen them lately” and then you see them right after that. Makes me think about it, too. When you begin talking about how mad someone has mad you or the like, don’t you think the enemy works to make your paths cross? Of course, he does but the enemy can only operate in the here and now. He only knows what we tell him. When we walk in unfailing love and faithfulness to God, it means getting rid of all malice and speaking words of affirmation and blessing. You can only do this if you are imitating God because the good Lord knows it is not human nature.

Galatian 5:22-23 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Unforgiving people cannot produce spiritual fruit. It is contradictory to the things that God wants to grow in our life. It is the opposite of everything He is doing. Unforgiveness does not represent love but hate. It doesn’t offer joy but sorrow. It is impatient. There is no kindness found in such a thing only anger and meanness. There no goodness in unforgiveness because it is not of God. Faithfulness requires forgiveness to resolve all division. Gentleness is not hostile but unforgiveness is just that. The only way to begin to consistently and constantly forgive other is by learning some self-control. Why? Faith in Jesus Christ requires placing our expectancy in the Lord. Faith becomes confident hope as we move our expectation from the people and things of this life into the Kingdom of God for His Satisfaction and Completion. When we expect another person to apologize or right their wrong against us, we have removed expectancy from God and put it back in people. You will never be satisfied. They will never be able to do enough. Without grace and mercy, love cannot prosper. (Proverbs 28:17) Love grows when we learn to forgive others the moment we feel the sting of pain. Imagine what would happen if we learned to reject every root of bitterness and refuse to be offended. (Hebrews 12:15) Love would grow. The Body of Christ would begin to reproduce the Fruit of His Spirit. We would be renewed, revived and restored by the Glory of God according to His Unfailing Love and Faithfulness.

Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT)
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Forgiveness is not a “you” thing, it’s a “me” thing. I must be ready to forgive. Every single time I am tempted to be offended, hurt, mad, angry, bitter or the like, it is my choice to refuse such things. When the cashier at the grocery store was rude, I could feel angry comments rising to my throat and frustration welling up. I had to force a smile and prayed blessing over her all the way home. When that person cut me off in traffic, I had to ask the Lord to grant him traveling mercies in his haste as I held the wheel tightly not be tempted to lay on the horn in frustration. We must raise a white flag in our life surrendering our pride to fully accept the forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ. The Blood of Jesus flowed wide enough to cover every offense ever committed. We must learn to live in the overflow of grace and mercy granted to us extending it to other people as if our very lives depended on it. This is not a call to allow people to abuse and harm us, but it is our responsibility to love them humbly and extend God’s Mercy through forgiveness even when the offense is unthinkable and seemingly heinous. The reminder we have is the Cross which is the ultimate symbol of forgiveness driven by Great Love. The banner over our life is love. Is your prayer life lacking? Is your miracle tarrying? Is your connection to Jesus distant? Is there someone you need to forgive? Give all your burdens and cares to the Lord today. He is more than capable and willing to satisfy your soul! Raise the white flag of forgiveness. It will open the windows of Heaven in your life again. You will be healed. You will be renewed. You will be restored. The Body of Christ will once again be revived by the Power of His Love.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT)
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!