How to Forgive…

Col 3:13a “bearing one another and forgiving one another…”

How to Forgive…

One day a while back, a man, his heart heavy with grief, was walking in the woods. As he thought about his life this day, he knew many things were not right.

He thought about those who had lied about him back when he had a job. His thoughts turned to those who had stolen his things and cheated him. He remembered family that had passed on. His mind turned to the illness he had that no one could cure. His very soul was filled with anger, resentment and frustration.

Standing there this day, searching for answers he could not find, feeling this entire world had failed him, he knelt at the base of an old oak tree to seek the One he knew would always be there. And with tears in his eyes, he prayed: “Lord- You have done wonderful things for me in this life. You have told me to do many things for you, and I happily obeyed. Today, you have told me to forgive. I am sad, Lord, because I cannot. I don’t know how. It is not fair, Lord. I didn’t deserve these wrongs that were done against me and I shouldn’t have to forgive. As perfect as your way is Lord, this one thing I cannot do, for I don’t know how to forgive. My anger is so deep, Lord, I fear I may not hear you, but I pray that you teach me to do this one thing I cannot do – Teach me To Forgive.” As he knelt there in the quiet shade of that old oak tree, he felt something fall onto his shoulder. He opened his eyes. Out of the corner of one eye, he saw something red on his shirt.

He could not turn to see what it was because where the oak tree had been was a large square piece of wood in the ground. He raised his head and saw two feet held to the wood with a large spike through them.

He raised his head more, and tears came to his eyes as he saw Jesus hanging on a cross. He saw spikes in His hands, a gash in His side, a torn and battered body, deep thorns sunk into His head. Finally, he saw the suffering and pain on His precious face. The impact was so great it was as if he could hear Jesus say; “Have you ever told a lie,” he asked?

The man answered, “yes, Lord.”

“Have you ever been given too much change and kept it?”

The man answered, “yes, Lord.” And the man sobbed more and more.

“Have you ever taken something from work that wasn’t yours, Jesus asked?”

And the man answered, “yes, Lord.”

“Have you ever sworn, using my Father’s name in vain?”

The man, crying now, answered, “yes, Lord.”

Many more times, “Have you ever”? The man’s crying became uncontrollable, for he could only answer “yes, Lord.”

Then Jesus turned His head from one side to the other, and the man felt something fall on his other shoulder. He looked and saw that it was the blood of Jesus. When he looked back up, his eyes met those of Jesus, and there was a look of love the man had never seen or known before. He now understood, Jesus didn’t deserve this either, but He willingly went through it for lost sinners.

And that was him!

Col 3:13 “bearing one another and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you must do so.”

The 10 Commandments….

Exodus 20:2a-6 “I am the Lord your God…

  • “You shall have no other gods before
  • “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

The 10 Commandments….

When you hear of someone worshipping an Idol you usually picture some statue with people praying to it and even making offerings to it. So when you are asked if you worship idols you immediately think that you are not in with those folks.  You see yourself as being good at least on the first two commandments of God having to do with idol worship. If we truly are keeping the first two then the other eight noted below should be easy. But if you are breaking the first two then the next eight are usually a product of that sin of idolatry. Look at them and you will see that if you are worshipping anything, person or statue and not worshipping God then breaking the other eight automatically in process. And remember that says we can sin with the mind as well as our hands. An example is anger. We can murder with the mind, commit adultery with the mind and sadly so it goes.

  • “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
  • “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  • “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
  • “You shall not murder.
  • “You shall not commit adultery.
  • “You shall not steal.
  • “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  • “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

So, the real question is whether idolatry is simply the worship of some statue or can it be the worship of other items or people including self. A preacher some 300 years ago gave the following list of 7 questions as a test to folks to see if they were worshipping idols. When you read it you will see that our nature or humanity is the same today as it was then so the test is as relevant today as it was then. I have added the verses that help me on each question and hopefully you also.

  1. What are you most disappointed with right now?
    1. Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”
  2. What do you sacrifice your time and money for?
    1. Mat 6:21 “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”
  3. What do you worry about? What scares you?
    1. 2 Tim 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
    2. Mat 6:33-34 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
  4. Where do you go when you hurt?
    1. Mat 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
  5. What makes you mad? The following is an example of righteous anger…..
    1. Mark 11:15 “So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.”
  6. What brings you the most joy?
    1. Romans 14:17-19 “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
  7. Whose applause do you long for?
    1. 2 Tim 4:7-8 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

 

So, how did you do on the quiz? And if you did not like some of your answers what are you going to do about it?

 

I John 1:8-10 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

 

It’s never too late to change your worship patterns.

 

Heb 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Compromise and Soul Erosion…

Psalm 4:5, “Offer right sacrifices, and trust in the Lord.

Numbers 32:23b “…and be sure your sin will find you out.”

Compromise and Soul Erosion…

Some great places have been really damaged by the slow process
of erosion. So have some great people. That’s why you’ve got to make the
choices that will stop the erosion in your life.

And we’ve all got a powerful example for that in the Word of God in
the Book of Daniel, chapter 1, beginning with verse 5. Daniel is one of a handful
of promising Jewish young men who have been taken to Babylon after
King Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of their land. The king includes them with
some of his own Babylonian “first-round draft picks” in a leadership
development program that will ultimately propel them to greatness in the kingdom.

Everything was fine until the king, “assigned a daily amount of
food and wine from the king’s table.” This was a special “training table
diet” designed to make them into the best physical specimens possible. But
that kind of food was totally out of bounds for Jews back then, as defined
by the laws of their God. A tough choice here! You’re on your way to
greatness, and right here at the beginning you’re being asked to
compromise a little. At stake could be your whole future and maybe even
your life if you defied the most powerful man in the world.

But the Bible says, “Daniel resolved not to defile himself with
the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission
not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show
favor and sympathy to Daniel. This official was afraid he might be
executed if Daniel and his Jewish comrades ended up looking worse than
the others. So Daniel persuaded him to allow a ten-day test of an
alternate diet of vegetables and water. Long story short, Daniel and
company,  the Bible says, “looked healthier and better nourished than
any of the young men who ate the royal food,” and “the king found none
equal to Daniel” and his friends.

God may be asking you to risk everything right now on what
looks like a very expensive faithfulness. It could really cost you to do
what’s right, to hold to your convictions, to refuse to compromise your
integrity or your purity. You’re risking everything on the faithfulness
of our God. It’s tempting to give in to get ahead … to get that need
met … to get out of that jam. But with your compromise goes a huge
piece of you and the blessing of Almighty God. Resist that eroding tide.

And remember that God’s favor is for God’s faithful. You may,
like Daniel, find yourself in different environments, pressured by
different expectations, but you’ve got to be sure that it’s always the
same you. You have to “resolve not to defile yourself” – to build an
uncompromising wall against even the first step that would take you
outside the ways of your God.

Mat 6:33a “But seek first of all His kingdom and His righteousness…”

Joshua 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

A City without Walls…

Proverbs 25:28 “He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

A City without Walls!

How is your temper this morning? Do you find yourself saying things that hurt others and then regretting what you said? Many times after you have spouted off you wish you could take those words or that event back but of course you cannot. So, the challenge is, how do I keep from doing it, so I don’t have to try to correct the results? Our tempers are controllable with the right source of strength.

When the stress, pressure and aggravation of the day build up, too many of us become a human volcano and take it out on those around us. Unfortunately it comes naturally. Please do not view that as an excuse. You see, it comes from the flesh and if you are a Born Again believer you have the power to control the flesh. That power is called the Spirit or Holy Spirit and at salvation He comes to live within you. How do I know that? The word of God tells us so. In fact, scripture says if we do not have the Holy Spirit we are not saved.

Rom 8:9 “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

With the Holy Spirit can I keep from losing my temper? The answer is yes. Our dark side, called the flesh can be controlled. That control comes when I present myself to Jesus as His servant and allow Him to mold and develop me.

I Cor 10:13 “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

Does that mean I will never sin again by losing my temper? It may be the devastating things that we say and do when we’re angry, or our selfishness that continually wounds and crushes people, or a sour negativity and bitterness that poisons our life and the lives of people around us. It’s all deadly sin that keeps spewing out of our life while often hurting the people we love most. While we have no excuse for sinning we still are overcome by that flesh at times. Fortunately our God is faithful in forgiving us when we recognize our sins and confess them.

I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

That daily spiritual battle we fight with our explosive dark side is not new. That same flesh created the first sin and all have that same flesh (Rom 3:23). Jesus is the only one to walk this earth without sin (I Cor 5:21). And fortunately He is the very One that will make intercession for us for our sin. Our need is to recognize it and ask for forgiveness’. The request can only go through one person.

I Tim 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”

That is the good news for today, because the Bible now shows us how to move from despair to deliverance. We can move from that “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me…?” to a sinner cleansed by the blood of Christ.

Jesus wants to bring that victory into your life – to forgive every sinful hurtful thing you’ve ever done and give you a new beginning. He stands ready to actually move into your life and to control what you have never been able to control; to beat what has always beaten you. He’s the Rescuer, reaching for you. Now it’s up to you to reach back and accept His offer.

Rev. 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”