Showing your Light through Forgiveness

 

matt 6 14 15

Yesterday I talked about being the light to the world around us, and how we are to point people to Jesus and to the glory of God. Today I will be talking about a simple way that we can be the light to others and to just be different from what the world and our natural desires tell us to be.

 

Forgiveness: this one can be really tough for a lot of people, myself included at times. But the Bible makes it clear for us, as Christians, as to what we are supposed to do at those times when we feel like we have been mistreated or cheated by someone. The world tells us that when someone does something to us we need to get them back. But when we choose to follow Jesus we need a new way of thinking. Jesus calls us to forgive, but Jesus doesn’t just call us to forgive once, but to forgive over and over again.

 

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! Matthew 18:21-22

 

Forgiving others shows the world the light we have inside us, and if we forgive others the world will notice. Forgiving others shows that we have accepted and embraced the forgiveness that God has showed us. I can speak for myself that God’s forgiveness is a lot more than seven, seventy-seven, or seventy times seven times. Paul reminds the Gentiles of this very thing in Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” It’s also a great reminder verse for us today. So show your light today by forgiving someone who you have been holding a grudge against, and acknowledge and accept the forgiveness that God has shown to you through Christ.

 

Matthew chapter 6 —- 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 

-Luke Elwell

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Lessons from the Wilderness: David

Wilderness Wandering Lesson #3: When the desires of our heart lead us away from God, true repentance leads us back.

Psalm-51-Prayer.jpg

At the heart of our lessons from the Israelites and Elijah is a focus on trust. We need to trust that God knows best for us and will lead us in the right direction as the Israelites learned. And, we need to trust that God will provide and protect us according to his will like Elijah learned. Elijah, in our previous lesson, was not lead into a wilderness season by any failing on his part. Instead, the wilderness for him was because of circumstances outside of his control. By looking to God and remembering those past successes with God, he was able to overcome trying circumstances.

The wilderness story that we will look at today also concerns a man that could remember past successes with God. In his story, he had stood against giants, mad kings, had been through the wilderness once and overcame it. David was a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). We see in the book of 1 Samuel David’s victories. He was blessed by God, and because of this blessing, he was able to overcome his enemies. The book of 2 Samuel then describes what happened to David after he overcame these things and became King of Israel. During the first 10 chapters, David is set on the throne and receives the Davidic covenant, where he is told that Jesus will come from his lineage. If David could have just stayed in these moments where his focus was on God, he would have dwelt securely in the land and set up his children to do the same.

Instead, we see David drifting down a path that led him to devastation in 2 Sam. 11. In this chapter, we see the story where David, without questioning his actions for how they would reflect God, sleeps with Bathsheba and sends her husband to her death. After this, David is told that he would lose the baby Bathsheba just bore and that his house would be destroyed. David’s actions here lead toward the hurt that he faced with his son Absalom in 2 Sam. 14-15. The first sin that we see in these chapter 11, lusting after Bathsheba, began the sin cycle that led David into a wilderness period that was a time of intense pain that David never really got over.

So how did David get to this point? During this time, he had stayed back at his palace idle instead of going with his armies to fight in the wars he wanted them to engage in. At this moment, his desires began to be misaligned from the desires of God. And from here, his actions lead him away from God.

We see some of David’s reactions in 2 Samuel as he mourns his son and repents of his sin. But, at this time, we don’t see his feelings about this time in the wilderness. In Psalm 38, a psalm written by David, we see the danger that comes from drifting too far from God. We see the desperation in David’s voice as he says, “There is no health in my body because of Your indignation; there is no strength in my bones because of my sin. For my sins have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear. My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness” (Ps. 38:3-5). Because of David’s sin, he had to experience terrible pain, a trying wilderness experience. We can look back at the lessons of the Israelites to realize this time in the wilderness was for purification, but still, if David had aligned the desires of his heart with the desires and character of God, he could have saved himself from this pain.

ps. 51

The wilderness is not always caused by our sin, as we’ve seen. But, at times, it is. And during these times, we can look to David’s example to see how to overcome those moments in the wilderness that were caused by our sin. Psalm 38 is an example of a penitential psalm, that shows both David’s true repentance and his desire for God in his life. Psalm 51 is another example of David writing in repentance. He says, “Be gracious to me God, according to your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot away my rebellion. Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against You – You alone – I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight. So you are right when you pass sentence. You are blameless when You judge” (Ps. 51:1-4). In this psalm and the other psalms, we see how David takes responsibility for his sin and also recognized what is required from him if he sins. He needs to be purified with a new heart that reflects the desires of God to be placed within him. This is key to accomplishing what David asks God in v. 12: “Restore the Joy of Your salvation to me and give me a willing spirit.” When we are in a wilderness of cause by our sin, we may be tempted to harden our hearts in anger against God. But, that is the path that leads us away from God and further into the wilderness. When we truly repent, we can receive back the true joy that comes from the salvation of God. After we have made it through the wilderness, we can use this time to bring others back to God (v. 13). If you are in this time today, choose the right path and come back to God. It may be painful to soften your heart and feel the weight of your sin, but that we’ll lead you towards the true joy that comes from God.

~ Cayce Fletcher

Joseph: More Pain

Genesis 44 34

Joseph, from the Old Testament, was a very godly man.  He endured many hardships, but held onto his faith. But along the way, he picked up some bitterness and resentment toward his brothers.  When he had the chance, he tormented them, exacting some measure of revenge.  At that time there was such severe famine that Joseph’s brothers were forced to go back to Joseph a second time and buy grain.  This time, Joseph started by being kind to his brothers, and then he veered off, continuing to emotionally torment them.

In Genesis 44, everything finally came to a head.  Joseph deceived his brothers further, and made it appear that he was going to force the youngest brother, Benjamin, to stay there with Joseph in Egypt.  This plan may have seemed like another fine way to punish his brothers, but there was a huge problem.  His brother Judah approached Joseph, and said, “If you keep the boy Benjamin here, our elderly father will die from sorrow.”  Perhaps Joseph hadn’t considered the pain he was about to cause his own father–or the pain he had already caused him.  At this point, Joseph just about had an emotional breakdown (read it for yourself in Genesis 45).  All along Joseph had been trying to hurt his brothers, but he was the one who was hurt the most.  The pain he wished for them turned out to be the pain he felt.

At some point in your life, you may have someone really hurt you.  Maybe you already have.  And maybe at some point you will have a chance to hurt them back.  Maybe even hurt them back really bad.  Consider this: it will come with a huge cost to you.  You may want to hurt them back, but it will cost you something very real and something very big.  It would be better for everyone involved if you can somehow forgive them, and not pay them back in the way they deserve.

-Jason Turner

Forgiveness

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Society is filled with people who have no forgiveness.  We judge, ridicule and try to come up with the next sarcastic zinger to roast someone.  Escalation of situations that could have been resolved in their infancy are full blown Hatfield and McCoy level feuds because people did not possess the unceasing ability of Jesus to forgive.  Jesus was able to forgive even in the midst of extreme situations like being on the cross:

Luke 23:34 NIV Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Jesus found the strength to forgive even though he had been mercilessly mocked, beaten and ultimately murdered!  Meanwhile we struggle to forgive people for minor infractions like not liking our outfit, or denying the fact that we are the greatest spike ball player on the planet.  Seeing how Jesus was able to forgive his persecutors who had done much more to him than anyone else has experienced convicts us as Christians to be able to forgive others who have wronged us regardless of our situations because Jesus was able to forgive in situations worse than us.

-Zack Dylewski

A Good Conscience

1 Timothy 1 5 (bike)

Back again to 1 Timothy 1:5…it also states that we must have a good conscience, but what is that? In Hebrews 13:18 it says that the people are desiring to conduct themselves honorably in all things. The word desire is very specific in this verse, desire means a want or a wish, this shows since they wish to do it, there can be another option. We have to choose God, he gave us free will to do so. If he had wanted people who worshiped him because there was no other option he could have made that happen, but he wanted us. People who could have a choice and still choose him. But sometimes we do mess up, but we have a second chance, and a third chance, and fourth, and on and on again. In 1 John 1:9 it says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us. God gave us a choice, and even when we mess up, he gives us a way out. A good conscience is the desire to do God’s will, and when we mess up ask for forgiveness and repent.

-Blair Simon

Forgive(n)

Jesus answered, _I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times-2

Matthew 18:21-35

If you’ve ever sat down and had a conversation with my dad, he’s probably told you about a restaurant he’s been to. He loves to research unique restaurants in every city we visit. When he falls in love with a new restaurant, whether it’s the hole-in-the-wall diner with the best burgers and apple pie or the breakfast place with cinnamon rolls bigger than your face, he wants to tell everyone about it. When you discover and experience something so special, you have to share it. Forgiveness is the same way.

Being forgiven has got to be the most joyous and freeing thing you have ever experienced. God, through the sacrifice of Jesus, freed you from your bondage, your sin, your shame, and your death. Now, it’s your job to give away that same forgiveness (warning: it’s not quite as easy as talking about giant cinnamon rolls)

Jesus tells a story about a master and his servants that resembles an episode of Downton Abbey, but lacks really good music. A servant owes his master 10,000 bags of gold, a debt he is not able to repay, so the master orders that he gives up everything, including his wife and children, to be sold. The servant begs for forgiveness, and the master cancelled the debt and let him go.

The story takes an unfortunate twist.  The servant encounters a fellow servant who owes him 100 silver coins. The newly freed servant violently chokes the other servant and demands that he pay back his debt. The indebted servant begs for forgiveness, but he was thrown in prison. Those who witnessed the hypocrisy were outraged and reported everything they saw to the master. The master calls the servant he forgave in and says, “You wicked servant, I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” The master then handed the servant over to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back all that he owed.

We’re the first servant. We were forgiven by our master for a debt that we could never repay. We’re free, and now a choice is before us: will we forgive those who have done wrong to us? Tread carefully because the consequences of this situation are severe. If we don’t forgive, we will not be forgiven. Jesus says that if we don’t forgive our brother or sister, we will be subject to the same treatment as the servant. Forgiveness is hard, but it’s our responsibility to share the joy and freedom that comes with forgiveness.

Think about someone who has hurt you. Maybe they haven’t even sought out forgiveness, but it’s up to you to make the first step. As you experience how hard forgiveness can be, thank God for forgiving you because it wasn’t easy for Him either—He watched His son die for you.

Forgive as you have been forgiven.

-Mackenzie McClain

God is Still Our Healer

matt 11 5

“The blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:5). This was true when Jesus said it 2000 years ago and it is still true today. God is alive and active in our world. I hope I have made that clear through my stories this week. He still heals the blind, he still makes the lame man walk, He still cures the leprous, He still makes the deaf hear, and of course we know that He will raise the dead to life.

From the story of the blind man, we learned that God still heals our physical afflictions and healing shouldn’t be our end goal. After you are healed, you need to tell people about it! Our memory verse from Matthew says that the Good News was preached to the poor. We can’t neglect that part of our healing. We need to let others know how Great our God is and let them know that they can receive healing, too.

From the story of legion, we learned that God still heals our mental afflictions. If you have a demon in your life, something that has taken over your every action, God can take that away. Maybe He intends to do that through prayer, like in my story, or maybe He intends to heal you through the knowledge that He has placed in doctors. Once again, we need to be sure to share the good news of our healing once it happens.

From the story of being devoured by a lion, we learned that God still heals our emotional afflictions. God can lift the burdens of this world of our shoulders. Sometimes God doesn’t follow the timetable that we want him to, but that doesn’t mean he has forsaken us.

From the story of regeneration and renewal, we learned that God still heals our spiritual afflictions. Finding forgiveness from God is easy in concept but hard in practice. The Truth will set us free so long as we know the Truth and we continue in the teachings of Jesus. This means turning away from past sin and moving in the right direction.

From the story of the Law, we learned that God still heals us through the observance of His Law. God gave His law to Moses in order to protect the Hebrews from disease. Even though we don’t follow the law of the old testament, the principles still apply in modern medicine. Get check-ups and listen to the doctors that have the knowledge of nature bestowed upon them by the One who created nature.

God is Still Our Healer.

Nathaniel Johnson