““Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”” (Jeremiah 31:31–34 ESV)

“Is the evidence of having forgiven someone forgetting what he has done to you? Jeremiah 31:34 is often quoted, where God says, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

There are at least two problems with this understanding of forgiveness. First, it is not realistic. Trying to forget a sin someone has committed against you will only encourage you to remember it. Completely erasing an offense from your memory is not realistic. Second, it is not biblical. Our omniscient God does not forget anything! The word “remember” in Jeremiah 31:34 is not a memory word, but a promise word, a covenant word. God is promising that when we confess our sins, “I will not treat you as your sins deserve. Instead, I will forgive you.” Forgiveness is a past promise you keep in the future. It is very important to understand these two dimensions of forgiveness. If you don’t, you will veer off in one of two equally wrong directions: (1) You will be plagued with doubts about whether you have forgiven someone because you think that forgiving equals forgetting.

Or (2) you will give in to bitterness because you think that, since you have forgiven someone in the past, you are allowed to hold onto the vestiges of hurt in the present. Neither reflects the way God has forgiven us.”

by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp, May 26, p 147.  From Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives by Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Copyright © 2012 by Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Used by permission of New Growth Press.


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Sabbath: Remember, Reflect, Rely, Rhythm Rest

“‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.  You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:12–15 ESV).

This command applied to everyone that lived within their borders – family, foreigners, servants and animals included.  The reason for the Sabbath was multifaceted, we’ll explore a few of them in this post.

REMEMBER.  Remembering is not passive, but active – they were called to REMEMBER that they were slaves in Egypt and the LORD brought them out from their oppressor with His mighty hand.  As Christians, God has brought us out of the oppressive domain of darkness and delivered us into His kingdom.  He has freed us, we need to actively work on remembering this not only with our heads, but in our hearts.  You were powerless & dead, but God, being rich in mercy, called you out of the darkness and brought you into His kingdom of light.
REFLECT.  All of their lives were to reflect that they were a people in relationship with the living Creator who is not far from any of us.  Jesus has set up His kingdom in the hearts of those whom He has delivered from the domain of darkness.  The rule & reign of Christ in our hearts causes us to be increasing reflectors of His glory.
RELY.  The people were called to stop one day every week and rely upon the provision of their covenant keeping God.  In a subsistence lifestyle, this is very hard to do; it required sacrifice and trust in God, not just in themselves.  Though we may not live a subsistence lifestyle like the Israelites did over 3000 years ago, we are still recipients of God’s bountiful provision to us; all things are a gift from His hand.
RHYTHM.  The Sabbath pointed back to creation and Eden and created a rhythm for the people – work six days – rest, remember & reflect for one.  God modeled this by working six days and resting on one.  There is a rhythm to life that is God wrought.
REST.  This is much more than just physical rest.  This is the restoration of the ultimate rest found in the the garden of Eden; Jesus invites everyone who is weary & heavy laden to find rest for their weary souls (Matthew 11:28-30) in relationship with Him as He reconciles all things to Himself.  We know that the Exodus generation failed to enter God’s rest (Hebrews 3:7-19), but this rest is available to those of us who acknowledge that we need the rest that God is offering (Hebrews 4:1-13).

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:27).  It is a gift for us to enjoy, not to make ultimate or legalistic.  Life constantly pushes back on us in all areas as our souls long for peace, rest & deepest satisfaction that is not found under the sun.  The sabbath is certainly about physical rest in the here and now, but is ultimately pointing us to an eternal seventh days rest that offers total soul satiation:  a kingdom that is already being establish.  Are you experiencing this rest are are you still striving to make life work on your own?

Making the Holy Lowly

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” (Deuteronomy 5:11 ESV).

We should never utter the name of the Lord worthlessly or deceitfully.  God prohibits using His name in oaths or vows when intentionally left unfulfilled; some take deceptive oaths and tack on God’s name as if to convince others that they are serious.  We should never make the Holy lowly and common by disconnecting His name from His majesty, power and person.  The name of the Lord is sacred & majestic and should conjure up worship and appreciation in us.  It should never be part of our commonplace vernacular like slang.

The mention of God carry’s glory (weight) with it; it should evoke reverence.  We should be aware of using it in a flippant or manipulative way; the Hebrew word for vain is also translated as false, empty, worthless, or lie.  God, and His name, are holy (different, separated & morally pure) – are you approaching Him that way or has He (and His name) become common and mundane?

Abandoning Idolatry

“‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Deuteronomy 5:8–10 ESV).

God’s revelation to His people was audible, and therefore they should not create a physical image of the Almighty.  He is not physical and nothing that we could craft would accurately represent His glory and majesty.  He is eternal, infinite and almighty – nothing created can capture this.  Carved images were common to represent other gods (especially in Egypt and Canaan).  God is not limited or created, He is eternal and outside of the created order and is not only in one place at one time.  God had dramatically demonstrated that He is so far above competing deities by the plagues in and deliverance from Egypt that the people would likely have recalled this.  See Deuteronomy 4:12, 15–19, 23.  Additionally, God is a jealous God, visiting iniquity to the 3rd and 4th generation.  This is not God punishing, rather this is feeling the effects of our ancestors sins.  But, God is so benevolent because He shows steadfast love to those who are His in heart and showers them with love, mercy and grace for thousands of generations!

How often do we look to created things instead of the Creator of all things?  How often does the weight of our worship (think worth-ship) fall upon these created things.  This seems to be one of the central battles of the human heart.  To what are you looking to provide you with value, significance, worth, safety, security, meaning or love?  What do you dream about happening that you think will make life work or that you can’t live without?  That is the idol that you worship.