Three Sources for Forgiveness

Each of us have experienced wounds in our lives, which were caused by other people. Sometimes these actions were accidental and other times they were purposeful acts driven by the wicked sin nature that resides in everyone.

Freedom from these wounds can only occur through forgiveness. Forgiveness is not based on the works that a person does so as to earn it. Otherwise it would not be forgiveness, but instead the payment of debt that was met. Forgiveness means to send, to leave or to put away. When a person forgives, they are breaking the tie between themselves and the person who sinned against them. In other words, they are leaving it or letting it go.

What gives a person the ability to forgive or release someone from a debt against them? There are three sources: the source of pain, the source of mercy and the source of one’s love for God.

Countless people have been hurt by someone and after carrying the burden of hurt for so long, finally decided to forgive the offender and let the issue go from their lives. This decision resulted from their pain. It was not caused by faith or any virtue, but merely from pain and the desire to be free from the source of it.

The two other sources for forgiveness are the spiritual virtues of mercy and love. It is by these virtues that the Psalmist petitions God for forgiveness. (Psalm 51:1) Forgiving out of mercy comes from recognizing the struggle of the offender and reaching out to them in forgiveness because of it. The forgiveness is not condoning the wrong, but recognizes the person’s fallen state and releases them from personal debt because of it. Those forgiving out of the source of mercy have insight into the needs of the offender and are moved to meet that need. This type of forgiveness occurs most often among friends, family and spouses, but will also be manifested towards others by individuals filled with the Holy Spirit’s power.

The final source of power for forgiving is love for God. The pain a person has may continue to hurt and never get to the point where it moves them to forgive, let go or move on and they may never develop the insight necessary to forgive in mercy. These occasions require another motive or source for forgiving and this source is love or specifically love for God.

God, in his tender mercy, has forgiven us. It was his love that moved him to create, implement and submit to his plan for redemption. Although it would be extremely difficult and very rare for a person to forgive because they love their offender, it is possible to access this great motivation to forgive someone who has been wounded greatly. Since the greatest of qualities that a person can have is love, the same love can move a person to forgive. The difference is that the focus of love is on God and not the offender. Love for God will create a desire to be in his will, an obedience to his leading, a yielding for him to receive glory, and a submission of faith. A heart in this condition can forgive because the focus is not on the event or the offender, but on God. When they forgive, they are putting the care of the matter into the hands of a righteous and just God and are able to let go and finally leave the matter behind them. However, this love can only come about by abiding in God. When we abide in him, we as a branch tap into the vine of his strength and enable it to produce the love that can move someone who has struggled for years to finally forgive.

Forgiveness is never easy, but God has provided all that we need in order the be victorious and conquerors in life. (1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 8:37)

Can’t Meet the Criteria (Psalm 51:1)

Forgiveness from a human perspective, it is usually based on the person meeting some type of behavior or expectation. Forgiveness might be based on the person being sorry, expressing sorrow or performing some act of penance.

However with God, it is a different story. God‘s forgiveness hinges on two aspects of his character: lovingkindness and tender mercy.

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. (Psalm 51:1)

Both of these traits stem from the love of God. The former relates to his actions toward men and the latter-meaning womb-reflects his emotional bond with us.

The remainder of Psalm 51 conveys attitudes and promises to declared by David, but without loving kindness and tender mercy, forgiveness would not even be considered.

Therefore, when you find yourself needing forgiveness don’t try to follow a pathway of penance or self restoration to a God of lovingkindness and tender mercy, but instead run to the throne of grace whereupon your loving and merciful God sits. From there, he will forgive and lead you to a place of restoration.

Protect Yourself !!!

Protect yourself! You hear it all the time. Protect your identity, protect your vehicle, protect your home, get a flu shot. But do you hear anybody talk about protecting your heart from being caught in a snare?

Jesus spoke of this in Luke 17. He tells his disciples that offenses will come. When he spoke of offenses, he was referring to situations that would cause them to stumble or fall. Offenses are traps or snares that take our hearts captive. Much like the branch of a tree is pulled down and attached to a rope so that it can snare rabbits or other small animals.

Each of us could become ensnared and one major way for that to occur would be by refusing to forgive. Right after Jesus’ warning of offenses (snares), he talks about the brother sinning against them and then repenting: not only once, but even seven times in a day. His advice or counsel was for them to forgive each time.

Refusing to forgive can lead to anxiety, anger, depression and a host of physical elements. It would be wise for us to forgive and by doing so, we are not setting the offender free: we really are freeing ourselves.

Forgiveness is not explaining away the offense or allowing the person to be free from the consequences of their wrong. It is simply freeing them from owing you anything.

I remember a conference speaker referring to a situation when he was the principal of the school. He explained how a student brought a firearm to school. When he was caught, he was very sorry and in tears asked the principal for forgiveness. The principal told the boy that he forgave him, but that he could not speak for the law which he also offended. With that, he picked up the phone and called the police. When we forgive, we are acting in the same manner: forgiving them of a debt owed to us, but still having them answer to God concerning their offense against him.

Outside of being persecuted for Christ, you are not required to be a doormat and allow people to wound and hurt you. But you are required to forgive. Remember, when you forgive, the person you freeing is yourself.

Propped Up (Psalm 37:23-24)



A number of years ago, my son came to me for help. It seemed that through a series of wrong decisions, he had found himself in a very poor state spiritually: sin seems to do that. Although I was greatly disappointed, I willfully stepped in to help. My support was not based on the severity of his situation, but instead on my love for him.   

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. Psalms 37:23-24

From this passage, we can see that good men, walking in the direction of the Lord, will fall and it is not of their own volition that they get back up and continue on for the Lord. They don’t get up: in fact it is the Lord who lifts them up and supports them to stand again.

You have seen card board cut outs of people, which contain a prop in the back to keep it standing. This item illustrates what the Lord does for us. When we can’t get up, he picks us up. When we cannot stand, he props us up. Whatever victory we get, it will not be based on our self will or determination. It will be based on the goodness of God and his support and strength in our lives.

When you fall, instead of trying harder, look to God for the support and strength you need. He will be there for you and do the work that only he can do.

As for my son, he too found strength that only God could bring to him. He stood him up, established his feet and has been guiding him to victory ever since.

He Touched Him (Matthew 8:3)


Many times, there are behaviors that people do that are overlooked by most. Some people wring their hands as they think about something that disturbs them. Others may brush their hair from their face when they are nervous. The behavior isn’t really important, but what is important is the motivation behind the behavior.

And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, … Matthew 8:3

As I consider the passage recording Jesus healing the leper, I cannot help but ask my self questions in regard to Jesus’ behavior. One question is why did Jesus touch the leper? He didn’t need to touch him in order to heal because the next few verses record Jesus healing the centurion’s servant who was some distance away.

Consider this. When do you think was the last time the leper was touched. I don’t mean being pushed as he fought for food or random interaction among lepers, but when was the last time the leper experienced a tender affectionate hand rest upon the side of his face? When did he last feel a grasp on his should like that of a loving father who rests his hand upon the shoulder of his son? It had probably been an extremely long time. I believe that after years of rejection from society and solitude living, the touch was God’s display of affection to the leper. It seems that as Jesus’s hand gently rested on the leper, a part of the leper revived and his heart filled with the experience of God’s love.

Did you know that God wants you to have that same experience of his love. Regardless of whatever is in your past, God wants to have a relationship with you. He loves you dearly and has done–through Jesus’ work on the cross–everything that is necessary for that relationship to occur. Come before and ask as the leper did and ask. The relationship is greater than you can imagine.

It’s All About Christ (Psalm 25:7)


Many years ago when I had first come to Christ, I was working in a steel mill in eastern Pennsylvania. I was working at the electric furnace and met another Christian, Butch, with whom I fellowshipped daily. One day, he asked how I was doing. I was not joyful as I had been on previous days. I had recently sinned and had lost my joy. My life was overcome with guilt and I was being pulled down by the enemy. The further my heart sank, the more I was convinced that God was mad at me and I no longer had his love. It was at that point that Butch pulled me to the side and reminded me that the Christian life was not about me, but that it was all about Christ.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. (Psalms 25:7)As we talked, I began to understand that my life could never be lived to the standard of being acceptable to God and that him accepting me would always be based on his mercy and loving kindness. For me, confession was still needed, but that would never warrant acceptance. Even when I confessed, I knew that being acceptable and pleasing in his sight would be based on his mercy, loving kindness and goodness.

So many people are trapped into trying to repent, confess or surrender enough to reach a point of acceptance. What they fail to see is that because of God’s mercy and goodness, he accepts us and then gives us the ability to repent, confess and surrender.

If your Christianity focuses on you and your performance, then you have it all backwards. Take the advice from my friend, Butch who told me many years ago, “It’s all about Christ! It’s all about Christ!”

The Big Choice (Hebrews 12:2)



Each of us make an unnumbered amount of choices each day.  Some of the choices are big while others are somewhat insignificant.  When it comes to major decisions, we greatly desire to make the right decision, because if we don’t, the consequences are unpleasant and usually long lasting.  Some decisions are easily made and others may be very difficult.

The scriptures record two major decisions that Jesus made: one being when he faced Satan and was tempted.  We love the account of how he refused to bow down to Satan in exchange for all of the kingdoms and the glory associated with them.  For us, we know that his decision was a major one, but most people do not know that it was not the first recorded time that he made the decision to deny granting pleasure to himself.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

This passage records that at some time, Jesus had the option of granting himself joy or redeeming man.  It is my opinion that the decision occurred in Heaven.  Can you imagine Jesus experiencing the joy of a heaven and all that he was entitled to as God and then being offered a choice of having that joy which was was set before him or going to earth and redeeming mankind?  And what does he choose?  He chooses you.  Think about it.  You were more desirable and important to him than the joy that he was having in heaven.  You the struggling sinner away from God or you the person who would trust Christ and still struggle with sin.  You the person that would continually fall short or fail God.  He chose you.  This definitely would not be the right choice if he focused on self love, but with his love focused on others, it would be a different story.  For God, it is the right choice.  It is the best choice.  For a God who is love, it is the only choice.

Rejoice is the decision that Christ made. Praise him for his unending love for you.  Live a life of thanksgiving.  It is the least that you could do for him choosing you.

Forgiveness: The First Work (Psalm 130:4)

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Have you ever been hurt by someone? I mean really hurt. Maybe you were used, abused, attacked or rejected. Has this ever happened to you? Chances are that everyone who reads this can answer yes to the question. How did you feel when this occurred? Did you feel hurt, anger, shame, disgust, confusion? You aren’t alone. The entire world knows how this feels. But even better than that, God knows how it feels. We did these same wrong things to God and brought some of those terrible emotions upon him as well. We can trust that God knows where we are and how we feel.

However in light of our terrible actions, God chose not to act with vengeance. Instead he chose to re-establish a relationship with each of us. He did not desire a God-slave relationship, but a love relationship. This relationship never would or could be established by man. If it was going to occur, it had to be started by God. Man was unable and unwilling to change, but God who is rich in love was willing to do whatever it would take for us to return to him. God needed to provide for man a way of salvation from his condition.

But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. (Psalms 130:4)

Fear of judgement could not bring about the desired change in man’s heart. That type of fear only creates a self righteous sinner who sees himself this way because of what he does right, but at the same time blindly fails to see the abounding sinfulness of his ways. What man needed was a love relationship. Forgiveness was God’s first step towards accomplishing and establishing that love relationship.

With that work being done, man’s heart would have a fear of disappointing the God that he loves. God accomplished this condition in man’s heart through forgiveness. His forgiveness did more than remove the guilt and penalty of sin. It brought about a relationship that would change man forever. Forgiveness from God brought the right kind of fear in man. Love sought the relationship and forgiveness accomplished it.

…the greatest of these is charity (love). 1 Corinthians 13:13

Another Way To Happiness (Psalm 32:2)

Are you happy? I mean are you really happy? The Lord wants you to be happy and he has declared ways for you to find and enjoy this happiness. Many times when God speaks of happiness, he uses the word blessed. Probably one of the most familiar places in scripture which speaks of the believer being blessed is found in Psalm 1 which reads: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. This is a wonderful passages which highlights actions which bring to the believer the happy or blessed life as well as that which will bring judgment.

However, there is another passage in scripture which promises happiness to the believer and states that happiness is experienced when your sins are forgiven and covered. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:2)

Remember how happy you were when you first trusted Christ? Your sins had been removed as far as the east is from the west and you had been forgiven. The burden of sin was removed from your heart and for the first time you experienced true happiness. God wants us to continue having this happiness, but when we sin, we are robbed of it. The longer you remain in sin, the more deeply you will experience the loss of happiness. Possessions and experiences will not change your condition and make you happy because happiness is never found them. The way to regain the happiness is to acknowledge and confess your sin to God. (Psalm 32:5). If sins removes your happiness, then getting forgiveness will bring it back again.

As you find yourself struggling through life and seeming to have lost your happiness, you would be best to ask The Lord to show you if there is any hidden sin in your heart that needs to be confessed.

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His Hand Is Stretched Out Still (Isaiah 5:25)

The book of Isaiah contains writings of the prophet’s messages to the people of Israel. They drifted away from God and had become idolatrous. Their idolatry caused God to become angry and to smite them because of it. The scriptures are clear that he was angry. However, we must ask ourselves, “Was that the only emotion that he felt towards Israel?” Could God feel another emotion or even one contrary to anger? Thankfully we can see from the scriptures that God with love was still reaching out in mercy. This may be confusing to some people. They may question, how can God be angry and love at the same time? How can he smite his people and still love them?

I John 4:8 tells us that God is love. It does not say that he has love, but that he is love. Because he is the Self Existing One, then he exists to love. Because he exists to love, he must love. Isaiah 5:25 shows us that even though God was angry with Isaral, he still wanted them to come to him and his hand was still stretched out to them.

Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (Isaiah 5:25)

This principle applies to us today. What we must recognize is that regardless of what sin we may have done and how angry the sin makes God to become, he still wants us. He will always be reaching out in love, because God is love. Over the years, I have heard people say that there is a line to be crossed and if you do, you have gone too far and God will not reach out to you. We must shun such thoughts because they are unscriptural. For salvation, it is only death that stops God’s calling work. For the saved who have wandered away from God and chose the world, God will continue to work at bringing them back to himself. Remember, the works and callings of God are without repentance and he will continue to perform them until the day of The Lord Jesus (Romans 11:29; Philippians 1:6).

If you are away from God, he wants you back. There is no sin that you could commit that would be able to turn his love away from you. When he found you at salvation, you were worse off than you could ever be after salvation. He wanted you then and he wants you now. Your loving father’s hand is stretched out still: waiting for you to respond. The question is, will you respond.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

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