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The Plan of Forgiveness


Toward the end of the service, the Minister asked, “How many of you have forgiven your enemies?” 80% held up their hands.

The Minister then repeated his question. All responded this time, except one small elderly lady.

“Mrs. Jones? Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?” “I don’t have any,” she replied, smiling sweetly.

“Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?”

“Ninety-eight,” she replied.

“Oh, Mrs. Jones, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years & not have an enemy in the world?”

The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said: “I outlived the old hags.”

********

Some people ask where I get these.  I really have no idea….and if I did, I woudn’t say.  Haha

Link for this week: It takes 2 minutes to watch.

This week’s focus is just as difficult for me as last week’s was. This week we focus on forgiveness. Most of us have a problem with forgiveness. We think we deserve forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong, but we have a hard time handing it out when someone has done something wrong towards us. So what we need here is a good working understanding of ‘forgiveness.’

As we’re still working through Matthew 6, Jesus speaks this next request in the model prayer in a different way than we might expect. The way He words this prayer to the Father puts weight on us. The question isn’t only for God to forgive us. We are asking Him to do so in the process of us forgiving those who have sinned against us too. Action required. This isn’t just a “gimmee” request. Jesus knows that would be too easy…and against the true purpose of forgiveness.

Here’s how I look at this. Forgiveness is conditional, but handed out freely. We have to ask for it. We have to be at a point where we believe with our whole heart that Jesus died and rose as the Son of God to bear the punishment for our personal sins…as well as the sins of our neighbor, family member or enemy. Thus, if He can forgive them, we need to do the same.

My guess is that everyone has gathered in close to Jesus as He’s speaking this to the crowd in this section of Scripture. Heads are nodding in agreement with the short statements. “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name,” has been spoken and the “Amens” go up. Jesus says, “Your will be done, here on Earth like it is in Heaven,” and those around Him speak out “Yes Lord” in agreement with the statement of prayer. Jesus then talks about asking for our daily needs. I can hear the people responding again in agreement. Most of them are not pulling down a million five per year. They get it. Then comes the next statement. I can hear Jesus speak, “And forgive us our debts…” and the people’s copy cat response…”Yes please Lord.” Then Christ drops the next line…”as we forgive our debtors.” This is where I can see faces drop to the ground. People look at each other with “uh oh” written on their face. There might even be a few who begin to walk away.

Ok, let’s ask the hard question. What if God forgave us like we forgive other people? How would your eternal salvation look based on your grace and mercy towards others who have wronged you? “Uh Oh!” Don’t walk away!

What is our purpose as a Christian? Jesus asked us to forgive like the Father…in a very dramatic way non-the-less…so this has to fit into this Christian living thing we’ve signed up for. God wants people back with Him like it was in the beginning (Genesis). We, as believers in Jesus, are called the church. The church is called the body of Christ. Therefore the body, you and I, are suppose to look and act and think and behave as Christ would. Christ is forgiving. We are asked to be forgiving in the same way.

What’s the purpose of forgiveness? Why do we need to forgive? Why do we need forgiven? When we see the true purpose I’m sure we will find the reason Jesus wants us to forgive like His Father does. Forgiveness is the only way to fix the problem between us and God. We’ve sinned. He’s perfect. It may seem like we’re completely stuck in a different place than the original plan…by our choice. God’s forgiveness makes a way for us to be back with Him. Forgiveness between people does the same thing. It makes a way for healing to begin. It gets junk out of the way. Satan hates forgiveness, because it messes up everything in his strategy to keep us away from God. When you forgive someone as God forgives, whether you think they deserve it or not, you put handcuffs on Satan. You are acting like God. God loves to see us act like Him…it brings glory to His name (Hallowed be your name). When you forgive, its like you’re turning to God and saying, “Ok, it’s not about me…it’s all about you.” People will see this attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and God promises that through you taking the humble position, others will not see you, but God himself (Matthew 5:16). Purpose defined.

Here’s the specific question. Do people, even our enemies, see God through our acts, words and attitude of forgiveness?

Questions for growth:

  • What do you think is a good way to get better at forgiving?
  • Who do you need to forgive?
  • Do you need to do it vocally or publicly?
  • Have you forgiven yourself like God has through His son’s death?
  • Are you willing to forgive even if you feel it will get you nowhere with a certain person?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

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John Maxwell on Forgiveness

July 14, 2011 1 comment

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What’s the LAW 4 anyways?

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Matthew 5:17-20, Galatians 4:4, Romans 8:3

  • Alaska: It is illegal to push a live moose out of a moving airplane.
  • Colorado: In Denver, it is illegal to lend your vacuum cleaner to your next-door neighbor.
  • Hawaii: Coins are not allowed to be placed in one’s ears.
  • Indiana: Performing puppet shows, wire dancing or tumbling acts for money is punishable by a fine.
    Michigan: It is illegal to let your pig run free in Detroit unless it has a ring in its nose.
  • Nevada: You are allowed to hang someone for shooting your dog on your property.
  • Pennsylvania: It is illegal to sleep on top of a refrigerator outdoors.
  • Utah: A husband is responsible for every criminal act committed by his wife while she is in his presence.
  • West Virginia: A person may be arrested for making fun of someone who does not accept a challenge.

Dictionary.com says that LAW means, “any written or positive  rule or collection of rules prescribed under the authority of the state, as by the people in its constitution.”  We have a law here in Ohio.  There are things we just cannot do.  There are federal laws as well.  For the most part…our laws are based on our values and morals as a local community and/or nation.  Above are some laws that probably weren’t needed, but have been placed inside big books in a courthouse somewhere to guide local individuals to live safe and happy lives…(said with tongue in cheek).  J

So, when we hear or read the word LAW in the Bible, what are we talking about?  Back in the book of Exodus, God invited Moses up to Mt. Sinai to discuss what this new nation, Israel, would value.  God handed down standards based upon His character and told His children that these new “Ten Commandments” were the best way to live.  Remember, in the Garden of Eden, this wasn’t needed.  There was no sin.  There was no separation from God.  Now God has to start with a new group of people.  This is His family.  For their safety and security and future, house rules need to be set.  Future Goal:  The whole world would be invited to become part of this family.  Therefore this law was to set a tone that would be attractive for people.  This is what real safety and fairness and justice looks like.  This is what caring for your neighbor looks like.  This is what true love looks like.   We’ll talk in a minute more about someone who became “true love.”  Had to put something about love in since it’s near Valentine’s Day!

True love is God.  True love then means you love your God, your family and your neighbors.  You don’t do things that “separate” you from that love.  Walk through the 10 Commandments and read these laws in the sense that God is showing us what true love looks like.

Because this law is not possible for us to fulfill, as Paul writes in Romans 3:23, we need another part of God that supports this LAW.  Grace.  Grace is missed by many people.  Yes, we are to look, talk, act, think, forgive, love like no one else on earth.  People are supposed to see God through us.  The Law helps us do that…it is our path.  But when we fail, because we will, supporting Grace brings us back to square one and says, “You have a second chance.”

The Sadducees and Pharisees of Jesus time were consumed by the law.  The attitude of forgiveness tells me that they might have had the best of intentions.  However, some of them added to this law many, many, many things that could not possibly be Godlike.  The LAW was to bring freedom…instead the “lawmakers” of that time brought bondage.  The Mosaic Law…the one God gave Moses on Sinai…said to honor the Sabbath.  The Sabbath was a day given over to rest in the presence of God.  It is physically and spiritually healthy to take a break.  God knew we needed this for our health and safety.  It was a time to reflect on Him and His actions in our lives…and a time to sleep.  J  I like that.  However, the religious leaders of Jesus time took this to the extreme.  They took away the freedom of everyone having a day off to rest and focus and refuel, and added legalities that forced non-movement.  God didn’t want us to work.  They had to define work.  Work might mean plowing.  Plowing meant digging up dirt.  Therefore, if you drug your kitchen chair across the dirt floor and dug up dirt you SINNED!!!  I’m not making this up!  Do we have any current references to this? Hmmmmmm???

In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus told the people that He came to fulfill the law, meaning, He was going do it perfectly. In the end, He could die for us as a perfect and sinless sacrifice.  He is a picture of God’s Law.  He became the picture of “true love” for us to follow and be like.  Remember that this Law is supported by Grace.  Jesus fulfilled the LAW and then acted on supporting Grace to take away our sins.  If that’s not cool I don’t know what is.

Are we perfect?  No.  Do we have a standard to live up to?  By all means yes.  The LAW is a picture of Jesus…of true love.  If we can live by the LAW…supported by GRACE, our lives will show others God in his truest sense.  People will be introduced to God and His Son Jesus through our willingness to obey.  And when we fail, people will see supporting GRACE through confession and forgiveness.  They will see freedom from God and not bondage given by man and the evil one.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

Scriptures to ponder:

Galatians 4:4 NLT

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.

Matthew 5:17 TNIV

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (accomplish their purpose)

John 17:18 TNIV

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.

John 3:17 TNIV

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

2 Corinthians 10:3 TNIV

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

John 15:19 TNIV

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Romans 12:2 TNIV

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Awesome Scene.


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Happy Birthday America!



Some July 4th quotes to center our minds on what is important this weekend!
You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.  ~Erma Bombeck

Where liberty dwells, there is my country.  ~Benjamin Franklin

My God!  How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!  ~Thomas Jefferson

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” ~Alexis de Tocqueville
“It is easy to take liberty for granted when you have never had it taken from you.” ~M. Grundler



“Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” ~Abraham Lincoln
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For some time there, July 4th became simply a holiday when workers expected a day off, families packed up for weekend camping trips, and grocery stores supplied many a person with paper products and hot dogs for picnics. Do you remember July 4, 2002? I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many American flags in the windows of houses, cars, on previously empty flagpoles, on t-shirts or even just stuck in the ground beside front porch stoops. It was nearly 10 months after we lost 3,000 plus in a day on our own soil. It seemed like our right to security had been stripped away. And in many ways, that was the terrorist’s intent. We all came face to face with ‘a’ possible outcome of being a land with freedom given from a loving God. We came face to face with the possibility that others would make the attempt to take away the peace of having freedom and replace it with fear. We fought back with more than just a war. We fought back by continuing to live freely.

God has given us freedom. He is The Authority. He has given us ways to live which are best for us and our fellow man. He has allowed or placed others in leadership around and over us. We follow Him and count Him as the giver of all of life, it’s freedoms, it’s obligations, and grace and forgiveness for a life eternal with Him in the end. When others make it seem that He has been taken out of His place, or put themselves in the role of the God of the Heavens, the giver of rights and freedoms, then we have problems. We are out of line with the way things should be. We are throwing away the “Best Practices” manual and putting ‘self’ in it’s place.

Paul states in Romans 6 that we should not sin more so we get more grace. Grace gives us freedom from sin. Likewise, freedom gives us a way of life where we can live with God as the supreme authority rather than a person or government acting on their own behalf. Freedom does not mean that we can act any way we want. Freedom has duties as does having grace. Freedom means following guidelines. I know that sounds ironic, but freedom with no obligations or boundaries would be tyranny.

We are created equal. God sees us all the same. We may be born in different worlds. We may live on different continents under different authorities. Sin has created a way of life for all of us that is very shy of Heaven. However, we can still, all the same, live while loving a God and His creation with a sense of duty towards Him and our brothers and sisters on this planet. Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself is kinda how Jesus stated it. Someone in communist China can do those things. It’s just that in our America, we can do those things out in the open…for all to see. We should be thankful everyday for what our founders created for us as Americans. This is a reason to celebrate our country’s birthday and a reason to celebrate our Creator for giving us this special gift.

Here’s the kicker question. Do we live out those freedoms or just hold them in our lap for political debates with our neighbor over the fence line? Doesn’t it makes sense that America should be growing in Christ faster and with more momentum than any other place on earth? I mean, we have the freedom to carry our Bible in school, talk about Jesus in McDonalds, and bow our heads in the town square on National Day of Prayer. Remember, with freedom comes obligations to carry freedom and keep it and use it. Funny thing. More people are becoming followers of Jesus in communist or anti-Christian nations, like India and China, than in any other nation on earth. Are we using our freedoms like we could? We could all probably do better.

Let’s remember our nation’s birthday not only with fireworks and grilled hamburgers, which is by all means appropriate, but also with thoughts and prayers of thanks to the God who grants us our freedoms and rights as a people under Him.

Hope all this makes sense,

Ed


 

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