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Monday, January 16, 2017

490 Times

These last few weeks have been pretty rough on me.  There are just a lot of things going on.  Some of these things are positive while others don’t look so promising.  In the midst of all this turmoil, it can become very easy to find oneself reflecting back on the negative influences around you.  But you know… every time I find myself slipping in that direction, the Lord always sends someone with a message of the goodness and faithfulness of God and the need for me to stick to my confession of faith.

Take for instance the principle of “seventy times seven” that seemed to have come out of nowhere and invaded my mind one night a few days ago.  I had gotten up to check on my wife and when I returned to bed I heard those words bouncing around in my head.  I even remembered the story in the scriptures where Peter asked the Lord “How often do I have to forgive a believer who wrongs me? Seven times? And “Jesus answered him, I tell you not just seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22 God’s Word ©)

If you do the math and complete that equation you’ll discover that Jesus was telling us that we need to forgive someone up to 490 times if necessary!  Over the past few years I have come to discover the fluidity of that command and have realized that it is not necessarily talking about a set number of times that we are forgive someone… but is instead teaching us to have an attitude of forgiveness.  

So instead of getting angry with myself because a new offense triggers a reaction of disbelief and hurt, I now know that all I need to do is to forgive them again… and again (and as many times as is necessary) and Papa God is free to continue His work in the midst of the situation.  But through that middle of the night experience I did some more study on Jesus’ lesson and learned another important point.  Many of you probably know this already but after a little research I noted that the number seventy has a sacred meaning in the Bible.  According to the website biblestudy.org this number “is made up of two factors of 2 perfect numbers, seven which represents perfection and ten representing completeness and God’s laws.  As such it symbolizes perfect spiritual order carried out with all power.”

The number seventy pops up in various places throughout the written Word, for instance, when Jesus appointed the seventy other disciples to go out and evangelize (Luke 10:1) and in the Old Testament when Daniel prophesied “seventy sevens” given to Jerusalem as a time for the people of God “to make an end to their sins.” (Daniel 9:24)

After reading this it dawned on me that the attitude of forgiveness also lends itself to the power of God to work in and around the situation whether it keeps repeating itself or not!  It is all about keeping yourself disconnected with the judgement of the offense and keeping God in the middle of it!  Besides, there is most likely nothing that you or I could do about the situation except make it worse if we introduce our frustration and anger into the mix.

Whew… what a relief!  So… no, I am not a bad person because I have to forgive repeatedly as I deal and re-deal with repeated short comings… as long as I keep releasing them back into God’s hands by my quick attitude of forgiveness!  One of the MANY things I have learned through this difficult time in our lives is that Papa God is very much in tune to the practicality of what we are seeing, feeling, thinking and reacting to all that is being thrust upon us.  And He continues to shower His grace, His lovingkindness and His peace and emotional healing over us throughout it all!

He is not there with a judgmental hammer to beat us down but with His hands reaching down with a gentle, knowing smile in order to pick us up, dust us off and embrace us with His love and compassion.  So where do I focus my attention when times get shaky… I keep looking to Him and discover over and over again that my expectations of Him are always satisfied!

So… Have a great week ahead, and as you do, continue to ask yourself… “Whose expectations am I expecting to have satisfied today?”

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