Fellowship and Forgiveness

June 18, 2020

 Matthew 6:9–15

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘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.’

14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

What if we don’t forgive others? How does that effect our fellowship with God? Does this mean we can never be forgiven by God if we are unwilling to forgive others?

This whole question of forgiveness is very important. Our relationship with God is established the moment we place our faith in Jesus as our savior. It is a free gift, not based on any conditions. We had a debt we could not pay, but Jesus paid it for us.

We are in fellowship with God because our sin has been forgiven the moment we trust Jesus as our savior. As we continue to confess our sins we remain in fellowship. Don’t think you can live in rebellion with God and remain in fellowship with him. Not forgiving others is a subtle form of rebellion. We are setting ourselves up as the judge who decides who can be forgiven and who is not worthy. This is God’s job and we are taking it over. That is rebellion.

When we understand this, when we see this for what it is we can begin to forgive. Here is what I suggest: Start with a list. All the people you feel have harmed you. Greatest sin against you to the smallest. Here is what happens: The people to whom you feel the greatest resentment will come to mind right away. As your list grows, it will be more difficult to remember the smaller sins against you.

At some point you stop and say, “If I can’t even remember how they have hurt me, they don’t need to be on the list. I forgive them all, only God knows how to settle their accounts.”

One by one you work your way to the top of the list, to the worst offenders. One by one you release them to God for his judgement, only God can bring justice, only God can settle accounts. When you release them, when you forgive them, they are no longer your responsibility. They never were… only God can bring justice.

What a relief it is to clear the books! The person who caused me great harm will one day stand before God and be judged, I can rest in his judgement. In the meantime, I can enjoy fellowship with God knowing that my bitterness and my resentment has finally begun the healing process. Those individuals have no power over me any longer, I am free.



Forgiving Debtors

June 16, 2020

 Matthew 6:9–15

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘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.’

14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Last week we talked about debts. We ask God to forgive our sins and remove the debt we owe God or our disobedience. The reason we can ask these to be forgiven is because Jesus paid for it all with his death on the cross. It is all because of what he has done.

But notice there is a connection between being forgiven and forgiving others? People have sinned against us and they also need to be forgiven. The reason I can be forgiven is because of what Christ has done, the reason I can forgive others is also because of what Jesus has done.

Forgiving debts is not the default position for human beings. When someone owes you a debt, we expect payment and that is, in fact, the correct way to look at it. This is called justice. Justice demands payment.

If someone has hurt you, sinned against you, the debt must be paid. But often the individual who caused the pain is unwilling to make it right. The will not ask to be forgiven, they don’t even care they have hurt you. They can ignore it but you still feel the pain… the debt remains. This is a huge problem for the human heart.

Here is what typically happens. You want that person who hurt you to suffer a loss equal to the pain they have caused you. We think that might somehow be justice. How much pain? Maybe a bit more than what you suffered? That seems fair, suffering plus a little interest.  So, we watch them and we root for failure, we hope for bad things to happen to them. And what is happening to us during all this? We are becoming bitter and resentful and hateful. Who wins in this scenario? Certainly not us.

Another way to deal with people who sin against you and accumulate debt against you is to forgive the debt. The person who was ugly to you owes you kindness, so you give them kindness… you are paying the debt. You are releasing them from their debt by doing the very thing you require of them. A debt that is ignored will never disappear but debt that is paid is gone forever. Jesus said to love your enemies, do good to those who spitefully use you. How can we do that? We follow the example of Jesus. Because he paid our debt we can forgive others.



True Repentance

June 12, 2020

Matthew 6:9–15

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘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.’

14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

 Don’t forget that you’re confessing your sins to a Father. If you go and just feel crushed under the weight of your sins, you’re forgetting this is a Father. Luke 15 tells us what it means to go to a Father. It means to go confident of forgiveness. If you say, “I just feel too small and too wicked for God to forgive me,” that is arrogance. Do you really think your sins are any match for his mercy? Really? Are they that big?

When the prodigal son in Luke 15 comes back to see the father, don’t you see what happens to the father? Fathers love us even when we sin. Fathers don’t stop being fathers. Fathers can’t wait to receive us back.

The Father’s love is not based on your perfection or your beauty. It’s based on his perfection and his beauty. It doesn’t spring from what you are. It springs from who he is, and that’s perfect.

Are you being specific? Are you taking responsibility? Are you looking at his mercy? Are you remembering he’s your Father? Repentance is bittersweet. You know, only a Christian can know how great and sweet tears can taste. That sort of statement makes no sense to you unless you know repentance. Real repentance. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

There may be some of you, perhaps, who have never repented. That is, you may have said your prayers, you might have done formal repentance, you might have engaged in self-pity or regret. You might have been hating yourself because you haven’t lived up to standards, but you’ve never actually repented of your real sin.

Your real sin is never having trusted God to be in charge of your life. He is not your father because you have never trusted in Jesus as your savior.  

You have never gone to God in prayer and said, “God I know I am unworthy to be your child. My sin is great and it has separated me from you. I am turning to you for forgiveness, not because I deserve it but because Jesus died for me and paid the debt for my sin. I trust in him as my savior because I believe he is your son and he is my only hope.” If you have said a prayer like that from your heart, everything has changed.

The Bible says the day you do that, that’s called repentance unto life and you’ll know what it means to have God say to you, in your heart, “Go…Your faith has healed you.”

 

 

 




Daily Devotions 2020