Honesty and Forgiveness

Steve Arterburn

Emotions are a funny thing. We all know what they are, but where do they come from? They seem to flow from the core of your being, from deep down inside. And if you’ve developed the pattern of denying or hiding your feelings, you’ll lose the very sense of who you really are—who God created you to be.  Don’t believe me?  Consider the prophet Jeremiah.

When you read the Old Testament book of Lamentations, which Jeremiah wrote, you’ll see that you have nothing to fear about bringing even your most raw or maybe what you think are embarrassing emotions to God.

Jeremiah was intensely honest in sharing his broken heart with God.  But what follows his grief?  When Jeremiah finished his grieving, he turned to God to seek forgiveness.  The book ends with a question of remorse: ‘Are you angry with us still?’ the prophet asks.  Have you ever asked that question?  Behind this question is Jeremiah’s humility, coupled with his hope that God will start the process toward reconciliation and forgiveness.  Jeremiah knew God’s heart, so he knew that God would forgive.  If you truly repent of your sin, you can be sure that God will forgive you too—no matter how great your sins and failures.  You need to come humbly before him and place your life in his strong, gentle hands.

Hope For Change

Steve Arterburn

Simon the fisherman was reckless, vacillating, and often thoughtless.  He friends could probably think of some apt nicknames for him, but I doubt any of them came close to what Jesus called him: Peter, which means ‘Rock.’  What greater evidence could there be that Jesus accepted Simon as he was but also had a vision for the man he’d become?  And what an amazing transformation took place in that burly fisherman!

Most men can readily identify with Simon Peter.  His intentions were usually good, but he was impetuous in speech and impulsive in action.  When Jesus revealed that his divine mission would involve a painful death, Peter rashly told Jesus to stop talking that way.  At the last supper he brazenly objected to Jesus washing his feet.  When Jesus was arrested he cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant.  And we all know how he denied knowing Jesus three times.

Later in Simon Peter’s life, however, we see what Jesus saw when he called him ‘Rock.’  He was used by God to perform miracles, he preached publicly about Jesus despite opposition, and exhibited strong leadership in the early church.  

In Simon Peter’s life we see hope for our spiritual renewal and transformation.  He wasn’t perfect, but he grew in his life in Christ and God used him to have a profound effect on the world.  

Jesus has the power to transform even the most unlikely people.  Keep this in mind for yourself and for others.

Isaiah

Steve Arterburn

God called Isaiah to be a prophet.  His ministry extended for more than forty years.  
All we know about this prophet indicates that he was one of the greatest people of his time.  His name means, ‘The Lord is salvation.’ This meaning is especially appropriate since he speaks throughout his book of God’s gracious promises of comfort and deliverance for his people.  His book is a masterpiece, suggesting that Isaiah possessed considerable intelligence and education.  But that’s not all; Isaiah was also a husband and a father.  

So what can modern men learn from this prophet of old?  Although Isaiah had many gifts, his success was primarily a result of his humility and faithfulness to God’s will for his life.  When God called him, Isaiah had an overwhelming sense of his own sinfulness.  He started where all men need to start:  He admitted his sin and sought God for cleansing and renewal.  Then, when God revealed his will for Isaiah, the prophet pursued God’s plan with determination.  He spoke and lived out God’s will for him despite the opposition he faced.  As a result, God used him to confront his people with their sin and to comfort his people as they faced a painful future.  Through his words and life, Isaiah has blazed a trail for the spiritual growth of all men.  

If you’re a man, you’re called to lead well’to lead well you need to begin with humility and faith.