Our Provincial theme for 2009 is a continuation of the 2008 focus, Blessed to Bless with an added feature—a posture of forgiveness. During 2008, there was the posture of Faithfulness and Fruitfulness. The theme called upon us to be faithful to God’s promises for and to us. As we understand and come to grips with God’s faithfulness then this leads to fruitfulness. Faithfulness is the foundation of anyone who would follow Jesus Christ. To be faithful means to be: loyal, devoted, trustworthy, stanch, dependable, reliable, dedicated, committed, truthful and believable. It calls upon us to abide in the God of our salvation.


Fruitfulness comes as we abide in God’s faithfulness. God’s fruitfulness challenges us to dig deep; to search our hearts; to examine our lives; to see where God has brought us from to where we are today. Our fruitfulness is not so much of our doing, but God’s. It is John who puts it best when he writes:


4  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15: 4-8).

The level of fruitfulness that we experience is not for us to decide, but for God to determine.  Repentance brings blessings. It is the Prophet Hosea who had the opportunity to share the good news to his people when he challenged them to repent:

4 "I will heal their waywardness and love them freely,  for my anger has turned away from them.

5 I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots;

6 his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive  tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.

7 Men will dwell again in his shade. He will flourish like the grain. He will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.

8 O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?  I will answer him and care for him. am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me." (Hosea 14: 4-8).


The word Forgiveness means: pardon, excuse, let off, absolve and exonerate. You and I are alive today, only because Christ Jesus has forgiven us. He has forgiven us, not because of our goodness, but out of his grace and mercy. He took the initiative and pardon our transgressions long before we recognized that our lives were messed up and we needed His help. Indeed, He came on a rescue mission to redeem and reclaim us as His own. The hymn writer C. Frances Alexander brings us face to face with the reality of what that forgiveness means when she wrote in her hymn:


He died that we might be forgiven,
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to heaven,
Saved by His precious blood.

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate
Of heaven and let us in.


She wrote this hymn at a time when her daughter lay seriously ill and as she reflected on what Jesus has done on our behalf.

Having experienced the forgiveness of God, the theme challenges us to reach out the hand of forgiveness and touch the lives of others. The people of God ought to be the first ones to reach out in the spirit of forgiveness, but alas, the people of God who make up the Church sometimes are the last ones to forgive. Someone has said that, the Church is a hospital for sinners and not a museum for Saints. The saying is true for many times persons forget the real reason for the Church. The Church should be there as a beacon of hope to win souls for the Master, however, no one will be won or converted until and unless there is real forgiveness. It is the key that unlocks the gate to bitterness, anger, hatred, malice, revenge, disrespect, fear and Joylessness.


There is an evil spirit of un-forgiveness that pervades the atmosphere. This spirit robs the child of God of the blessings He has in store for us. Unforgiveness cripples us. It imprisons us. It makes us angry. It makes us bitter. It robs us of Joy and happiness. It robs us of freedom. Un-forgiveness puts a stumbling block between us and our deliverer, Jesus Christ.


As we focus on the posture of Forgiveness, we need to be assured of what it means and what it does for us and how it helps us in our daily walk with God. Forgiveness delivers us. It brings freedom. It drives away fear from our hearts. It takes away anger and bitterness. Above all, forgiveness HEALS mind, soul and body, and makes us healthy. This I consider to be resurrection power. The Bible describes resurrection power as the power to Cancel the past, the power to Conquer our problems and the power to Change our personality.


It is in the Scripture that we find the power of forgiveness. The book of Genesis carries one of the most powerful stories of forgiveness. It is the story of how Joseph forgave his brothers after all the evil, wicked, immoral things they had done to him. Joseph still had the strength, the love, the will power and a forgiving spirit to reach out to them, now that they were in a crisis of major proportion. He finally said to them as he was overwhelmed by his emotions and moved to tears, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50: 20).


Let this passage from Genesis 50: 15-21 close this article on forgiveness. 


15 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?"

16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, "Your father left these instructions before he died:

17 'This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.' Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father." When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God?

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

21 So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.


As we seek to forgive, may we be reassured of our own forgiveness in Jesus Christ.




From the Information Newsletter, February 15, 2008