For(GIVE)ness - The Command!
The Story / Genesis to Revelation / One central concept each week for 32 weeks / The Story starts September 7 & 8 and will end in May of 2014! The Story is coming to Westerville Christian and the Adult, Student, Child experience will help you and your family GROW! So SAVE the Date! Sept. 7&8, 2013!
I have a question for you. Have you ever prayed a funny prayer? This one might qualify? You have this boy and his dog. Bless Mommy and Daddy and Grandma and smite the cat next door. Smite is a solid King James word! A soon to be older brother or sister prayed, “Dear God, thank you for my baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy!” Clearly divine shipping got that one wrong! I wonder if any adult here would claim credit for this prayer. Dear Lord, Help me to relax about insignificant details, beginning tomorrow at 7:41:23 a.m. EST. Help me to consider people's feelings, even if most of them are hypersensitive. Help me to take responsibility for the consequences of my actions, even though they're usually not my fault. Help me to be more laid back, and help me to do it right now! Keep me open to others' ideas, misguided though they may be. Help me to not try to run everything - but, if you need some help, please feel free to ask me. Amen[i]
I wonder how many of our prayers end up telling God what to do? I’m not sure how many of you pray. I hope you do, but I’ve found the practice of prayer to be quite challenging! First of all, prayer is supernatural, NOT natural. We are not drawn to pray naturally. It’s when we realize that God has made us and Jesus suffered for us that prayer starts to be a personal encounter. Last Thursday morning I woke up and headed out to Westerville about 7:15A.M. I started my day with some oatmeal, read my Bible and then prayed. Or at least I tried to! But I struggled. I said to God something like… “God, I am grateful for you, but truthfully, I don’t know what to say. Would it be okay if I just sat here with you for a while?” So I did. I just sat there for a while and then God said to me, “Pray the prayer! Just pray the prayer.” So I did that too. I invite you to pray it with me right now! "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'
Jesus said in Matthew 6:9 (NIV) 9 "This, then, is how you should pray…” This is not the Lord’s Prayer but Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray! It’s a prayer template or blueprint! Prayer should include the following. Prayer should include Praise! We praise him as our Father. Prayer should include Reverence. His name is “hallowed” or holy. He is our God not our “buddy, head honcho or the big guy in the sky!” Prayer should include Requests! Dr. Mark Moore said, “We request that God’s reign, purpose and plans be realized completely on earth as they are in heaven.”[ii] We request God provide our daily needs. That might be food. That might be a job to buy food. This is a prayer of trust. We often want answers. God wants us to trust!
Prayer should include three Humble Appeals! God, please forgive me. God, please help me to forgive others. God, please help me to overcome the evil one’s temptations!
If you are ever struggling with – God, I just don’t know what to pray, think – PRRA! Praise, Reverence, Requests & Appeals! And two of the three appeals deal with forgiveness. It’s imperative for us to realize that Jesus made forgiveness part of our daily prayer life. Do you know who this? This is Pauline Phillips or Abigail Van Buren better known as Dear Abby. Pauline died on January 16 at the age of 94. She said this, “Fear less, hope more. Eat less, chew more. Talk less, say more. Hate less, love more, and never underestimate the power of forgiveness.”[iii] Why? Because forgiveness changes everything! Open up your Bibles today to Matthew 6:12! Do you need a Bible? You can pick one up as you walk into the FLC. You can also pick up a message outline. They are in the racks on the walls opposite the Bible bookcases. If you still need one or both just raise your hand!
Let me give you a number – 300! We have nearly 300 children B-5th grade on any given weekend. Summer is almost here. Lisa & Becky are planning a shift in how they are going to staff our children's ministry this summer. They want to give our regular volunteers time off to renew and refresh for the fall. So they are asking every parent to sign up for one weekend children's ministry slot. Tables are up by Central Park where you can pick a class and a date that fits your summer calendar. I have already signed up to help on July 13 & 14. Please follow my lead! Thank you for giving to Serenity Street. Items just keep pouring in. Thank you! Let’s read Matthew 6:12a! That word “debts” means “that which is owed such as an offense or sin!”[iv] In Luke 11:4 Jesus says “Forgive us our sins!” And I’m so good with that! Aren’t you? God, I love the fact that you forgive me of all my sins! I see this as a win-win situation. You forgive me and sometime down the road when it’s convenient I’ll forgive others who’ve sinned against me! That’s NOT how it works. Let’s read ALL of verse 12!
I pray that all the time. Thank you God for forgiving me, but rarely do I include and since you’ve forgiven me I’ve also chosen to forgiven those who owe me big time! Let me provide you with a tremendous resource. It’s a book by R.T. Kendall called Total Forgiveness. According to Kendall, here’s what total forgiveness is not… Approval of what they did / Excusing what they did / Justifying what they did / Pardoning what they did / Reconciliation / Denying what they did / Blindness to what happened / Forgetting / Refusing to take the wrong seriously / Pretending we are not hurt! Here’s what total forgiveness is…
Being aware of what someone has done and still forgiving them /
Choosing to keep no record of wrongs / Refusing to punish / Not telling others what they did / It is an inner condition / It is the absence of bitterness / Forgiving God / Forgiving ourselves / Being merciful / Being gracious! Go to verse 13. There are lots of temptations. One being – the temptation not to forgive. The evil one does not want us to be gracious but rather be consumed with a spirit of unforgiveness. Go from Matthew 6 to Mark 6:14. Read 14-19. A grudge is “a feeling of resentment or ill will normally lasting for a long time.” Are you holding a grudge against someone right now? I am. I hold a grudge against the two brothers who set off two bombs that have forever changed the lives of four families. Truth is, I deserve to feel this way. In God’s eyes my sin is not near as bad as their sin!
Do you ever use abbreviations? Allow me to give you the following abbreviations and you tell me the whole word. Abbrev. – Abbreviation / Mich. – the place up north / Mex. – Mexico / Gen. - General or Genesis / n. – noun / N. North and one more - P.S. P.S stands for Post script[v]. Jesus gives us a huge P.S. in verses 14 & 15. (Read 14-15) Now what is Jesus saying here? Forgiveness is a command, not a suggestion. (UDF story) Forgiveness from God equals salvation, but unforgiveness will not take away our salvation! Forgiveness means we have calculated how much debt we owe. But we’ve repented. We know we’ve been cleansed from our past sins! A parable is an earthly story and when applied produces heavenly results. Jesus tells such a story in Matthew 18. There’s a king.[vi] The king wants to settle accounts with his servants. One owes him allot. $10K talents. The largest number in the Roman vocabulary was 10K[vii] so Jesus uses the largest number. To me it would be 1 billion. One servant owes $1 billion. The king demands payment, or the servant’s family will be sold to repay the debt. The servant begs the king to give him more time and believe it or not this touches the king’s heart so he forgives the entire $1 billion debt! That same servant leaves and finds a fellow servant who owes him a measly 100 denarii. That is a really low amount of money and a really low amount of money to me is $1. The forgiven servant demands his one dollar. The other servant begs him to be patient with him, but he won’t. No, you owe me money and if you can’t pay off to prison you go. All the other servants take notice of this and go back to king and tell him what happened. The king calls the forgiven servant wicked. I cancelled your debt because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on him as I had mercy on you? I forgave a billion and you wouldn’t forgive $1. And that’s what our sin looks like to God. We owe God a billion and others owe us a dollar. In light of Jesus’ story go back to verse 15. The word for forgive is this word aphiemi which is pronounced af·ee·ay·mee! Afeeaymee means to send away, to bid going away, to let go, to give up a debt, or forgive.[viii] I want God to send away my sin, but I do not want God to send away his blessing. Unforgiveness will create distance between us and God and others.
There is a restaurant in Las Vegas called the Heart Attack Grill. Apparently men like to frequent this restaurant because girls where skimpy outfits and they serve burgers like this. This is their 10,000 calorie burger. They promote it as the world’s most calorific burger. John Alleman liked this place, ate there, left and then died of a heart attack just outside the restaurant.[ix] That was his choice. The place is called Heart Attack Grill.
If you won’t forgive it’s your choice, but you won’t grow. If I won’t forgive why would it surprise me that God has sent away his favor and blessing! I hate this person but I don’t get why God and I are so distant! We’re distant because we’ve forgotten about our $1 billion debt. Pray every day – God, I’ve forgiven others because you’ve forgiven me!
If you knew walking through this door would grant blessing, would you do it? That door is the door of forgiveness.
[ii] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 186
[iv] James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Logos Bible Software
[vi] Matthew 18: 21-35 (NIV)
[vii] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 331
[viii] Logos Bible Software, Strong’s Enhanced Words of the Bible
[ix] PreachingToday.com /News that Illustrates: 2/25/13