The Joy of Forgiveness

“The Levites calmed all the people, saying, ‘Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.’ And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.”
Nehemiah 8:11,12

The Joy of Forgiveness
In the days of Nehemiah, as the Israelites returned to Jerusalem, they found that there was much work to be done. Homes needed repairs, the city walls needed to be rebuilt, and traditions and practices had to be reinstituted. When Ezra read “Old Testament” Scriptures, those listening were learning how God had revealed himself in the past and His expectations for how they were to live their lives.

As they recounted their history, one theme likely emerged. People tend to wander from the Lord. At one time or another, even great leaders were guilty of disobeying the law. Each suffered through difficulties due to their decision and each “re-surrendered” to the Lord.

It doesn’t take too long when you read the Old Testament laws, to see how we all need forgiveness and a re-surrender to the Lord.

In Luke 741-48, Jesus tells the story of two people who each owed a debt, when their debts were canceled, the one with the larger debt loved his moneylender more than the one who had only a small debt. After the story, Jesus said, “he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Could it be that the more we understand how much we are forgiven, the greater our love flows back toward God? The realization of our forgiveness from God for our sins will likely have some obvious results.

Nehemiah helped the Israelites to understand the law. We read in Nehemiah 8:12 “all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing because they had understood the words that were declared to them.”

Imagine being described as someone full of joy, and you knew it was joy shining through because you understood how much you have been forgiven! Our forgiveness is only through faith in the sacrifice given by God. In the days of Nehemiah, the lamb took their place of punishment. For you and I, Jesus took our place of punishment. Jesus paid it all. In Luke 7:50 Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

It reminds me of a Hymn – Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
O to grace, how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

May this and every day be filled with the joy of salvation and the remembrance of forgiveness.

Pastor Tom
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