Author Archives: Joe Fornear

Fear NO Evil

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.Hebrews 2:14-15

It may not be pleasant, but it is always wise to face fears. With God on our side, even the fear of death is conquered through Jesus Christ! Jesus took on a human body, tasted death Himself, and then returned to prove His command over man’s ultimate enemy. So if and whenever we walk through that valley of death’s shadow, we need fear no evil.

When diagnosed with cancer, many are unnerved by how their battle might end. With some cancers, doctors often predict the length of our duration – eight months; two months. In May of 2003, I was told I had just days to live. Masses had locked up my pancreatic ducts, and Stage IV melanoma had spread to multiple sites, including other vital organs – my lung and kidney. So I looked death square in the eye, and marched forward without a single doubt. Well, not quite. I had always fancied myself so full of faith, but for two days, my very foundations were rattled by fear of the unknown. How bad could this get? I was humbled to realize my trust had been in my own courage and resources, and those resources had run dry. I had thought I could handle anything; I was very tough, you see.

Yet true to His nature, my Stronghold held me up during my wavering. I looked to Him in my weakness and I became strong as He provided supernatural resources to cope with dying. He infused me with confidence that His grace would match any trauma of my final days. He promised me grace to die, you might call it, “dying grace.” Then I found myself not only prepared to die, but eager to die. For now He obviously still has work on this side for me to do. Still I learned an invaluable lesson for my future, and perhaps for yours as well.

Hebrews 2:15 reveals the source of fears of death – the devil, an evil, spiritual being. Like it or not, we are always engaged in an invisible spiritual battle, which is heightened by life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Yet the devil’s power is dwarfed by the Lord’s AWESOME power. The Lord carries us through any struggle, including everyday problems; relational conflicts; or a rough cancer fight. Certainly He will usher us through that final gate to everlasting life.

If you have a life threatening cancer, we fervently pray He will heal you to live a longer, fuller, more abundant life! Yet eventually we’ll all leave this earthly realm, and that is a grace in itself. Who wants to live here forever? As your time draws near, be unflinchingly courageous in Him, knowing He will carry you each step of the way. Isn’t God good? He has a plan for everything.

How can we be so sure that God will even welcome us into heaven? Click here.

Rest Stop

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. -Matthew 11:28

Everyone gets weary because of life’s day to day demands. So it’s not surprising we’re overwhelmed by life-threatening crises. So where do we turn? I’m glad Jesus meets us when we slide down to the end of our rope. He asks, “What took you so long? Let go of the rope and grab hold of My hand.” He offers serious relief in Matthew 11:28, and gives two directives which together lead to genuine rest.

1) Come to Him.

Sometimes we allow pain and exhaustion to turn us away from the Lord. We nurse a low-grade anger towards God. “I don’t remember signing up for this.” We’re afraid to question or vent at God, so we drift away, growing increasingly indifferent to Him. It’s never too late to turn back to Him. He always gladly receives us. Throw the weight of your burdens, fears and concerns on Him. Go to Him.

2) Take His yoke upon you.

A yoke is a leather and wood harness fastened to an oxen to pull a plow. When Jesus tells us to take His yoke upon us, He’s speaking of a double yoke. He teams up with us to tackle the day’s work. Older, stronger oxen are often partnered with clumsy, young ox and the older ox does the heavy lifting. He promises to make our lives “easy” and the pulling “light”. We were never designed to pull solo, especially in a crisis. So let Him lighten your load.

Sometimes independence is our greatest enemy. Perhaps we wish to take credit for going it alone. This is probably why He emphasizes meekness and humility in this passage. Meekness is towards man; not seeking to be someone special. Humility is towards God; not wanting to control our own lives, but yielding over to Him, Who knows much more than us. Many of our burdens are self-imposed. So rest in Him. We’re thinking about you!

It’s Supernatural

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. –2 Corinthians 4:7.

At one point during my cancer fight in 2003, I finally acknowledged the battle was too much to bear alone. Believe me, I resisted the admission as long as I could. Early on, my mantra was: “Be strong, you can beat this.” At age 44, I was relatively young and in decent physical shape. I figured I was prepared as anyone. I felt I could master physical pain after years of pushing my body in sports and construction work. I could certainly handle the emotional stress because I was a tough guy from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Steel City of Champions. Plus I had been a pastor for 12 years, teaching others how to handle the most difficult trials. My natural strength held up well until the metastatic melanoma spread beyond the lymph nodes under my arm to several internal organs. Rough chemo treatments, three surgeries in a month, and a steady barrage of Stage IV complications took their toll. My illusions of strength faded to pleas for mercy. Like Peter sinking in the Sea of Galilee, I desperately reached out for help.

The Lord had been waiting all along, ready to lift me from the unstable sea of self-trust.  Now years after recovering, the Lord must still continually remind me of my limitations. Perhaps my greatest deception is I prefer to fancy myself strong. In Ephesians 6:10, Paul seems to prod us past human power, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Fighting cancer and facing so many hurdles in life requires great strength. So why settle for natural strength, when we can tap the limitless supernatural strength of God Almighty, our Stronghold? When we embrace our weakness, we experience His strength. So turn to Him for the all of the strength you need. He is waiting.

Three Doctrines To Buoy the Spirit and Anchor the Soul

Nothing makes Bible doctrines come to life like desperation. While I was fighting cancer, I was reassured by three facts about God that buoyed my spirit and anchored my soul.

1) The Sovereignty of God

Despite pain, oppression, and confusion, it was comforting to know He was in absolute control over my life. Nothing was or can be stronger than Him, or stand in His way. Though man was powerless over the Stage IV metastatic melanoma which ravaged my pancreas, lung, kidney, stomach and lymph system, I knew God could remove every trace of cancer at any time. He would have the last word, because He always has the last word. Jesus expressed The Sovereignty of God this way, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” – Luke 18:27. Does this begin to lift your spirit?

2) The Goodness of God

God is good all of the time. He proved this forever when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for me while I was a sinner and enemy (Romans 5:6-8). After becoming a son and heir through Christ, how much more will He cause His goodness to sovereignly flow to me? Paul summarized The Goodness of God in this way, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” – Romans 8:28. He pours out goodness so we can conquer anything.

3) The Incomprehensibility of God

A big word, but there is much we don’t understand about His ways. Asaph, the Psalmist, described His Incomprehensibility in this way, “Your way was in the sea and Your paths in the mighty waters, and Your footprints may not be known” – Psalm 77:19. As with Israel at the Red Sea, God may carry us to a place that confuses and upsets us. We don’t always see the way through on this side of heaven, and He doesn’t always explain why He allows painful seasons. But we don’t have to trust blindly. We can be so certain of His Sovereignty and Goodness that we don’t need to understand now! We’re just confident He will produce a good outcome. We don’t need to figure everything out! This lifts a heavy burden from us. We can let Him navigate and focus on relaxing!

These truths work together to provide a supernatural peace and stability no matter what happens. So when in pain, don’t turn away from Him, turn to Him!

Can You Help Us Spread His Comfort?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The beauty of God’s comfort is that it is transferable! Stronghold Ministry thrives on spreading the comfort we received during my cancer battle. As a non-profit organization, Stronghold relies on donations to operate. So in this edition of In His Grip, we are asking for a favor from you. Our financial supporters are encouraged when they see how the Lord has used us to encourage people fighting cancer. If you are a cancer patient or a caretaker, and have been touched by Stronghold Ministry, we would love to know how. We are putting together a video montage of short comments and pictures from the people we’ve served. We also want to encourage those who do not know us yet to contact Stronghold Ministry for support. But we need your permission to include your comments or image.

Here is how to help us spread His comfort:

1) Send us a brief note describing the impact Stronghold has had in your life.

One or two sentences is the perfect length. Simply share how Stronghold has lifted you. In today’s world, testimonials of third parties are often used to motivate people to action. If you have already sent us comments, you could grant us permission to use portions of anything you’ve already sent.

2) Send us a picture of you and your family.

To add a more personal touch, we prefer to include your image with your comments. You can send us recent pictures, or pictures from before you were diagnosed. If your pictures are not digital, please mail to: Stronghold Ministry PO Box 38478 Dallas, TX  75238. We’re sorry, we will not be able to mail them back, so please send a copy. Perhaps a tech savvy friend could scan and email them for you.

Send your comments and pictures via email to: [email protected] Thank you so much! We could really use your help.

Victory March In The Wilderness, Part 4

Fourth in a series on journeying through life’s desert places.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Selah. – Psalm 68:19

No one likes to walk through the desert. We may plead, or even beg God to escort us to the nearest exit. Still our path does not change. Psalm 68 reminds us of a life changing fact. He never deserts us in the desert. If He allows a wilderness journey, we can find Him out ahead of us, leading triumphantly, and generously providing everything we need.

In Psalm 68:19, we’re promised His provision can be found on a daily basis. He “daily bears our burdens.” If you’re fighting cancer, or in some crisis, the nature of your burdens probably changes daily. You know the list all too well: physical pain; financial stress; relational letdowns; negative thoughts. Some days these burdens stack together to form a load too heavy for us to bear … alone. Yet as we turn them over one by one to Him, He never fails to lighten our load. But He only lifts today’s load.

During my desert journeys, I felt overwhelmed when I carried the loads of future days. Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). The Lord is your daily companion in the wilderness. Practice walking with Him every day, and today cast today’s burdens on Him. You’ll get better at it every day. No worries. Really, NO WORRIES!

Victory March In The Wilderness, Part 3

(Third in a series on journeying through desert places in our lives).

O God, when You went forth before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness, Selah. The earth quaked; the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God; You confirmed Your inheritance when it was parched. -Psalm 68:7-9

The Lord reigns everywhere; deserts are no match for Him! Psalm 68 is David’s reminder that God was faithful to Israel in the wilderness, so He would be faithful to him, and us as well. In Part 1 of this mini-series, we dispelled the fear of going the wrong direction in the desert. Part 2 focused on God’s ability to march us victoriously; we are not overwhelmed in Him; we are stable and assured, even if our physical body or our circumstances are falling apart.

Another common desert fear:

  • Will there be sufficient provisions, like water and food?

In other words, what if I don’t have enough resources to handle my wilderness journey? Desert travelers are often loaded down with worries. “What-if” questions tend to focus on resources.

1) Spiritual Resources – “What if I come to the end of my strength – will I be able to cope?”

2) Material Resources – “Will I/we/they have enough money?”

3) Relational “Resources” – “What will happen if my kids grow up without a mother/father?”

Psalm 68:9 reveals that God “confirms His inheritance when it was parched.” No matter how horrible our conditions, His inheritance, or resources will be sufficient. Don’t let pain, stress, or bad news cause you to panic. Simply rest in Him and trust Him for ALL resources you or your loved one(s) need. He is committed to take care of ANY concerns you have. Twice this passage stresses His “Presence” provides a “rain” or even “plentiful rain.” He provides. During my brutal cancer fight with Stage IV metastatic melanoma, there were several times I feared running out of strength, but my anxiety was  unnecessary. When I needed something, He was there. I’m not saying it was easy to cope; it was really hard. But His presence and inheritance made the journey so much more manageable. Many times, He even made my journey pleasant. Drink the rain.

Victory March In The Wilderness, Part 2

(Second in a series on journeying through life’s desert places).

O God, when You went forth before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness, Selah. The earth quaked; the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God; You confirmed Your inheritance when it was parched. -Psalm 68:7-9

The Lord reigns everywhere, including the desert! Psalm 68 is David’s remembrance that God provides riches for Israel even in the wilderness. Since God was faithful to Israel, He would be faithful to him and us as well!

In Part 1, we dispelled the fear of going the wrong direction in the desert. Especially when the stakes are so high, we want His guidance to be all the more certain. We can rest assured that He is leading. He promises to lead, so no fear (James 1:5-8).

Another common fear in the desert and God’s provision:

  • Will the conditions totally overwhelm and overcome me?

In Psalm 68, God “marched through the wilderness.” This march is that of a Victorious King. Paul “saw” this too: “He always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Do you see it? Meditate on these verses. Keep in mind, Paul endured vast stretches of desert places, in the form of cruel persecutions and constant sufferings. He was whipped, beaten, betrayed, stoned and imprisoned. Like Paul, our bodies and emotions may be banged and bruised because of illness or trials. Yet he rose above all of his circumstances. His secret: “I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). We are spiritual beings who overcome through His supernatural strengthening of our spirits. “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Even if your body is weakening, let Him strengthen your inner person. Ask Him to open your eyes to the reality of His victory in the wilderness. God is our Stronghold.

Victory March In The Wilderness, Part 1

(First in a series on journeying through desert places in our lives).

O God, when You went forth before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness, Selah. The earth quaked; the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God; You confirmed Your inheritance when it was parched. -Psalm 68:7-9

Journeying through life’s deserts can be very frightening. Thankfully, the Lord reigns everywhere, including the desert! Psalm 68 is a proclamation that the Lord provides riches in the wilderness, where David found himself in literal and figurative dilemmas. He wrote to comfort himself and his readers: If God was faithful to Israel in the wilderness, He will be faithful to him too. And He will be faithful to us as well!

A common fear in the desert, and God’s provision:

  • Will I become lost and disoriented in the desert?

When we are fighting cancer or in some major crisis, we travel high stakes roads. Our decisions seem to make the difference between life and death. So we cry out to God to lead us. We hope we’re making the right decisions. We hope He is guiding. Glory to God that even in the wilderness, He leads. God “goes forth before His people” through the wilderness (Psalm 68:7). In other words, He already is leading us though the harsh conditions! The Hebrew word at the end of verse 7 is “Selah,” which is an inspirational literary device. It means to pause, reflect, wonder and worship. So, Selah!

In the midst of trials, He promises to lead every step and grant us wisdom along the way. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1). Since He is leading, there is no reason to fear any destination! Do not doubt that He is leading you. Don’t let your emotions overrule His word. He is faithful, just trust that He is leading you and don’t fear the desert.

More about God’s desert provisions next time.

Power Shortage Resolved

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;  we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. -2 Corinthians 4:7-9
Coping with cancer is not hard; IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. Most people (and their primary caretakers) who have a major battle with cancer eventually find themselves at the end of their natural strength. Have you felt that yet? Ever been physically and mentally zapped and exhausted? Yet if our life’s goal is to glorify God, then this absolute helplessness is a necessary step to being filled with “the surpassing greatness” of His power. Notice the previous verse in this section referenced above, 2 Corinthians 4:6,
“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
If God’s light is to shine through us to this dark world, we must tap into and radiate the only source of true light, God Himself. Our outer man, our physical body might be afflicted and crushed, but we need not despair, because this is God’s way to unveil the amazing Treasure within us… Him. Then, the power and light source will be of Him. So shift over to a conscious dependence on Him, living off of His power. Your power has been spent for a reason. Thankfully, this concept helps me make sense of suffering. How about you?

The Hardest Person to Forgive

We have highlighted God’s liberating forgiveness and the importance of forgiving others. Yet the person most difficult to forgive might be you. Self-imposed guilt is common as we muddle through life. When coping with life’s upheavals, like cancer, the tendency to be rough on ourselves usually increases. Regrets, disappointments, bad choices, unmet goals, and past sins trouble our souls and wear out our bodies. David wrote of the effects of guilt, “My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (Psalm 32:4). When I was in the throes of my battle with cancer, I continually struggled with guilt, real and false, even though I was quite sure the Lord was holding nothing against me. So how do we overcome this self-imposed menace? Three suggestions:

1) Don’t set our righteous standards above God’s.
If God has forgiven us, who are we to continue to beat ourselves up? Are we more holy than God? Paul refused to try to establish a righteousness of his own. He resisted any suggestion of his own goodness. He was grounded in God’s mercy and grace, which is undeserved favor. “Not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:9). So forgive yourself completely, as God in Christ already has! (This is true only if you have received Christ as Savior – more here).
2) Embrace the fact that we’re flawed.
I’m not providing an excuse for past sins, or permission for future sins. Instead this is a confession of reality: you and I are very imperfect. We’ve blown it, messed up, sinned, and misplaced our priorities. Paul repeated his admission of imperfection, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect” (Philippians 3:12), and, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet” (Philippians 3:13). We need to let go of pretending that we have it all together, and become comfortable admitting to ourselves that we are very much a work in process.
3) Live in the present.
Paul forced himself to let go of the past and move on to live passionately for Christ TODAY. We are powerless to change the past, but the present and future are another matter. “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14). Imagine the folly of driving a car down the road while constantly staring at the rear view mirror! When we constantly look back we crash into things in the present. So start over today!

Let’s leave our mistakes, shortcomings and sins behind. Punishing ourselves cannot atone for our sins, only Christ can. So enjoy the exhilarating forgiveness of God, extend it to yourself!

Tear Collector

God has allowed some of His closest servants to suffer greatly. David was a magnet for suffering, attracting multitudes of enemies, yet God called him, “A man after my own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). David was chased around the wilderness by Saul, whom God allowed to usurp David’s throne. God also allowed Saul to seek to take David’s life. As David hid, he was often forced into the hate-filled Philistine’s territory. His soul had no rest from legitimate fears. He found himself exhausted and alone in the wilderness. His memoirs in the Psalms reveal the depths of his distress, and the sheer volume of his tears. Evidently, real men cry.

“Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears” (Psalm 6:6).

Did God notice David’s tears? Does God care about our tears?

Tears are deep and wholehearted prayers to God. He captures and collects them. He knows the journeys of those who wander in the wilderness and in the enemy territory of cancer. He is noticing and watching and mapping our steps.

“You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8).

It was many years before God completely consolidated David’s kingdom. In the meantime, David trusted God. Psalm 56 is often called a “trust” psalm. David told himself the truth; God is always worthy of our trust.

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid” (Psalm 56:3-4).

God is always for you, even when you’re wandering in the wilderness. He is definitely for you when you’re fighting for your life. So, like David, say to yourself,

“This I know, that God is for me.” (Psalm 56:9).

Pardon Me!

Did I do something to deserve this suffering? This is a common and distressing question for many who find themselves in a fiery trial. After all, who can look back on their lives and declare themselves sin free? Hint: only the helplessly self-righteous. Even “friends,” like Job’s friends, can accuse the suffering person of some open or hidden sin. They only want to help the sinner repent, you see, so that God will stop punishing.

But this is not how God deals with those who have received the Savior, Jesus Christ! This is the reason Christ came to earth: to TAKE AWAY our sin and punishment so that we could “walk”! Isaiah 53:5-6 puts it like this:

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities. The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

In the American justice system, Presidents can “pardon” those accused of crimes. They can release criminals from prison, and even clear their records, as if they had never done anything wrong. This is what God does for us in Christ. Both Paul the Apostle and King David were murderers, yet God pardoned them and cleared their records. They rejoiced in the awesome blessing of being released from punishment for their sins. Here are two more powerful promises of His mercy and forgiveness:

I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me (Jeremiah 33:8).

I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:25).

He doesn’t even REMEMBER our sins, so why would He still punish us for them? Of course God can recall our sins, He is promising He won’t punish us for them. These promises apply to all of our sins: past, present and future. Could it be any other way? Certainly we will all sin in the future. Thank the Lord God Almighty for His incredible plan to pardon me and pardon you!

Find out more about receiving God’s plan of salvation here.

Did God Punish Me With Cancer?

Several people have called or written to ask if God gave them cancer because he is mad at them. I’m delighted to confidently proclaim that Jesus Christ stepped in to take our punishment for sin, therefore God does not punish us now with cancer. It is important to note that to apply for this benefit of forgiveness, one must simply receive the free gift of forgiveness through receiving Christ as Savior. Find out more here.

For verification on this important matter, we consult a letter of Paul the apostle, and a Psalm of King David. These two men were especially anointed by God to speak on His behalf. They both testified that God does not punish us for sins that He has forgiven. In Romans 4:7-8, Paul quotes David’s Psalm 32:1-2, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

We suspect Paul and David were both relieved to experience God’s gracious forgiveness, because BOTH MEN WERE MURDERERS! As such, they would have been prime candidates for being punished by God through cancer or some other severe punishment. Yet both appear to have lived cancer free lives. Think about it – how blessed we are when the Lord passes over our sin!

Check back next week for more on God’s amazing forgiveness.

To Forgive Or Not To Forgive

I don’t believe the Lord heaps rules on people fighting cancer. But if I could venture one requirement, it would be this: forgive those who hurt you. If your battle is anything like mine, there are many opportunities to forgive. People say and do some insensitive things when they try to “help.” Some have no clue what you are going through, but they say they do. Some tell you about their third cousin who just died of the cancer you have. Gee, thanks for sharing that! Others simply stay away. During my battle, I expected more of close friends. I really needed them, so when they let me down, it hurt more. My primary doctor dropped the ball several times. Twice he said during appointments, “Whatever it is, it isn’t cancer. It’s too soft to be cancer. It’s just a cyst.” Later, I was assured by his receptionist that the results of a critical test were great, that I had nothing to worry about, when the exact opposite was true. I didn’t find out the correct results until almost a month later, when I took my sick daughter to this doctor. From a human standpoint, my doctor’s compounding of errors almost cost my life.

So I have a choice, to hold things against those who have hurt me, or let it go. Here are our motivations to forgive:

1) Imitate Christ in being forgiving.
We can look to Jesus Christ Himself. He set the tone for forgiveness for all time as He hung on the cross and said, “Forgive them Father for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:24). If He could forgive those who crucified Him on that humiliating cross, then we can forgive anyone, for anything.

2) Forgive because we’ve been forgiven.
If Jesus can forgive us, then we can forgive others.“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

3) Forgive because we’ve been forgiven so much more by God!
In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus told a long parable about a guy who was forgiven an outlandish amount of money ($6 billion in our money today), but did not extend that forgiveness to someone who owed him a tiny sum ($10,000). It’s humbling to think how overwhelmingly indebted we are to Christ for forgiving our multitude of sins. It is a small thing to follow Him in forgiving others.

4) We hurt ourselves when we don’t forgive.
Maybe a consequence of unforgiveness will inspire us to forgive. We hurt ourselves when we don’t forgive. Notice in this verse that it is not wrong to be angry, only allowing anger to linger. Let it go, Joe. Let it go. Don’t give the devil a foothold. “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 3:26-27).

5) We’ve been insensitive ourselves.
Honestly, I have said and done some really insensitive things to those who are suffering, including staying away. Who am I to cast stones? Can you relate?
For more on forgiveness, we have a new resource on our website – A free Bible Study on forgiving others. Click here.