Recently our family was gathering to celebrate a huge milestone, the 88th birthday of my mom. Just before our event was to begin, we all received a text from a family member that was not happy. It gave details of accusations held against mom and other family members going back for years! Hebrews 12:15 came to my mind..

Be careful that no one falls short of the grace of God, so that no root of bitterness will spring up to cause trouble and defile many.

I read the text and then immediately deleted it. “Love keeps no record of wrongs,”  (1 Corinthians 13:5.) At least I was trying to move in a righteous direction. But wait. There’s more… I knew the Spirit was nudging me to pray for and bless the one who had just shared their unhappiness with us. Eventually, I did do that too.

I remembered a text from a close associate. She received it on her phone and didn’t know where it came from or how it got there. It is so good, I decided to post it to my family. I wanted to ‘shift the atmosphere’ so we would all arrive at the restaurant ready to celebrate the life of a truly amazing woman, my mom! Here is what I posted. Feel free to copy this and use it.

Jesus is always enlarging His family circle. He opened up His family circle to include not just His physical family, but His spiritual family as well. Family members are awesome, each so uniquely wonderful with their own beautiful personalities. Family members are also very imperfect. It takes courage and effort to learn to work through hurt, misunderstanding, conflict and resolve. Yet working through the pain of these issues leads to healing, understanding and intimacy. Be willing to work the work. To love someone is to understand them. Don’t seek agreement. Seek understanding. Understanding is more important than agreement. Don’t ever believe the devil’s lie that there is no hope. No matter what your family has been through, God is still in the restoration business. Don’t ever believe that there has been wasted pain in your family. There are no wasted sorrows in God’s economy. Families are messy. It’s where Jesus shows up best.

Memory Verse
“For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Matthew 12:50.

Declaration Prayer
God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? He will not change His commands to bless. No misfortune or misery is seen for my family. Our God is with us; the shout of the King is among us. God brought us out of bondage with strength and confidence. Our dwelling places are beautiful, spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the LORD, like cedars beside the waters. Water will flow from our buckets; our seed will have abundant water. We will not discourage our children; instead we will take them by the hand and lead them in the way of Jesus. We will live in the unforced rhythms of His grace. We make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends us. We remember that just as the Lord forgave us, we forgive others.

I really enjoyed receiving this from a friend. Can’t wait to celebrate mom’s 88th birthday with the best family I’ve ever known. Love, Bill

It brings tears to my eyes as I read it again. Thank You, Father, for sending this message to us.

This morning I woke up with this gentle, loving thought: “If you don’t forgive, you won’t be forgiven.” I take that very seriously. I KNOW it applies to those who hold something (a debt) against others. When you refuse to forgive and release an issue (debt others owe you,) you become like the unrighteous servant in Matthew 18. It is unrighteous to seek collection of a debt that is paid. Jesus paid all the debt of mankind. He was made to be sin with our sinfulness! (2 Cor 5:21.)

You can become a captive by the offense of others. I didn’t want to become a captive or a prisoner, so I prayed:

Father, thank You for showing me Your loving kindness and helping me to receive it when I did not deserve it in any fashion. Thank You for the cross. Thank You for the blood of the Perfect Lamb of God, Your only begotten Son, Jesus. Thank You for holding no record of wrongs against me or anyone who calls on the name of the Lord. I now take this abundant mercy and grace and choose to fully forgive my family members for dishonoring mom and the rest of the family yesterday. I bless them and ask You to forgive and bless them too. Thank You for cleansing all of us in the blood of Jesus and restoring our souls. Thank You for shedding Your love in our hearts such that we would seek to be reconciled with each other and with You. Amen.

 Shalom, y’all,