Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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Pandemic Perspective – Part 18 Forgive or forgo

Matthew 6:12-15

“12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. 14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

When we look at the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11, we see Jesus disciples coming to Him and asking Him to teach them to pray. They saw Jesus not only communicating with God but communing with Him and they wanted what He had. So, Jesus taught them to pray and in Matthew 6 we have what we call the Lord’s prayer. Our problem is that we have turned the Lord’s Prayer into a formula for results when in reality it really provides a framework for relationship. The power is not in the words but in the One who hears them. Now for many a formula may not look that different than a framework, but there is a definite difference. Where a prayer formula focuses on the words we say, a prayer framework focuses on the One we say them to. Where a formula for prayer focuses on what we do, a framework focuses on who God is. Instead of the focus being on our action it’s on the Almighty where His character becomes central not our effort. How do you know when you are treating the Lord’s Prayer like a formula, you start using it as a means to get something rather than to get God. Getting something from God is not nearly as great as getting God. Some believe that saying the same thing over and over again somehow helps their prayers become more holy and reverent. But it’s not about repetition it’s about real conversation. When it comes to repetition there is only one part of the prayer that is repeated, that of forgiveness. This one concept was so important that Christ not only mentioned it in the Lord’s prayer he went back to comment on it, using three times more words to define what he said then he used to say it. When we come to the forgiveness piece of prayer, we need to understand that just like prayer forgiveness is not a formula it’s a process. The opposite of forgiveness is trying to make people pay. Right now, our country has become divided over the destructive and deadly disease of racism. We are supposed to treat everyone regardless of their social standing, economic status or skin color with dignity because all people have been created in God’s image. Yet there are those who chose to discriminate and put others down. Our nation has shifted from focusing on the future to looking at the past. What was once a melting pot is now a boiling pot. The question is are we going to be a nation of hatred or one of healing? That depends on whether we chose to focus on our feelings or on forgiveness. Forgiveness looks to the future where trying to make people pay looks at the past. Forgiveness is not about ignoring the hurts of the past it’s about not living there. Where forgiveness frees us trying to make others pay causes us to become stuck in the past. The problem is that revenge never satisfies it just leads to more hurt and pain. It tells us that we will feel better but in truth it leaves us stuck in the prison of our pain. What will we chose the freedom of forgiveness or the prison of making people pay, one is about the pain the other the possibilities. So how do we forgive, especially if those we are forgiving are unrepentant? We look to the Lord and His example. In Luke 23:34 as Jesus hung on the cross of Calvary He prayed: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing” Jesus forgave in the face of unrepentant hearts. Jesus understood why they were doing what they did and understanding why people do the things they do can help us as we take that big step towards forgiving them. The people that were bruising and abusing Jesus were broken, and just like us they suffered from the sickness of sin. When Jesus forgave His focus wasn’t on their faults it was on His Father. Instead of punishing people He prayed for and paid for them. How do we forgive, by focusing on the Father and His forgiveness. You see it’s when we seek His forgiveness and see the serious sickness of our own sin soaked hearts that we realize to withhold His forgiveness would be hypocritical. We forgive by and because of God’s grace. We may never forget, and it might not be good to but over time the memories will, through forgiveness and the Fathers faithfulness lose their power over us. At first forgiveness may not seem to make sense, but we need to remember that it will make a difference. We have a choice, we can forgive or hold onto the hurt and harbor the hate, but when we refuse to forgive, we need to remember that we also forgo the Fathers forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t easy but it’s not as hard as hating, because hating consumes the heart while forgiveness cures the heart. Are you going to put your energy into releasing or resenting? I have learned the hard way that when you have a hurt that needs to heal its best not to pick at it. Many of us carry more spiritual scars than we should because instead of prayer we turned to picking. Today the process our world presents us with for dealing with our disappointments and hurts revolves around revenge and retaliation. But hurting never brings healing, instead of bringing closure it brings chains. It not only adds fuel to the fire but pain to our prison. Seeking to right the wrongs with revenge is like trying to pacify the pain by drinking poison. What the world needs is the radical reconciling love of the Redeemer, and nothing represents our faith and points people to the Father as powerfully as forgiveness. The answer to the continual cultural conflict isn’t more money, education, or legislation it’s the Fathers forgiveness. We are a fallen people that first need to experience the Fathers forgiveness and then seek to extend it. 2000 years ago, Jesus entered and ended the debate on which lives matter when he died for all. Our greatest witness to the world probably isn’t going to be our words but our walk of forgives. Today as you petition the Father for forgiveness who are the people you need to present with His forgiveness? Because the practice of forgiveness is the most powerful and precious present that we can present to the world.

 

 


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Pandemic Perspective – Part 17 Tongue Talk

Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

At 29:45 past 5 AM on July 16, 1945, something spectacular happened. In northern New Mexico, the still dark early morning sky became as bright as the noonday sun. In that one blinding flash, the Atomic Age had begun. The atomic fireball shot upwards at 360 feet per second destroying everything around it. J Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who oversaw the building of the bomb, famously said this about his creation after the first test detonation: “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” On December 20, 1951, something else spectacular happened. In Arco, Idaho, the still dark sky was also brightened with light. It was brightened by light bulbs powered by the first electricity produced from nuclear energy. The uranium used to produce that electricity, is the same uranium that is used in the atomic bomb. The exact same science is used in the reactor and the bomb, the same atoms and electrons, the same reactions and physics. So, what’s the difference? It’s in how they’re used. When used one way, atomic energy powers homes and lights up the dark. But when used another way, it produces death and destruction. Like atomic energy, the tongue is capable of life and death, are your words like a power plant that lights up lives around you or a bomb that levels and destroys life? Looking around at our country it is sad to see how many people are trashing each other with their tongues. Jesus said that what is in a person’s heart inevitably comes out of his mouth. Just like water flowing from a well, the words that come out of the mouth reveal the purity of the source. So, what lessons are your lips teaching? Are your words criticizing and condemning? Are you manipulating and control people like chess pieces or moving people toward God? Do you light fires of gossip or fan their flames? Are you spreading righteousness or rumors? Does your language glorify God or sound like garbage? Because people who walk in truth don’t talk trash. Does your speech compromise God and put others down so you can look good? Do you speak words of praise or spit wounding poison? So, what do we do if our speech is more harmful than helpful? Let me give you several principles that if put into practice will moved your mouth from misery to ministry:

  • Confess your sinful speech.

Admit your sin and seek God’s forgiveness as well as the forgiveness of those whose hearts you have hurt. You can’t tame the tongue it comes when we submit to the Holy Spirit. It starts with Salvation and continues with submission. Its more than just trusting Jesus for eternal life its letting Him be the Lord of your life. Because either Satan or the Holy Spirit is controlling your speech.

  • T-H-I-N-K….. before you speak.

“T” Is it True? – “H” Is it Helpful? – “I” Is it Inspiring? – “N” Is it Necessary? -“K” Is it Kind?

Thoughtless tongues react, but tongues trained in truth respond. Learn to filter your thoughts through truth before they hit your tongue. Why do we react instead of respond because we are filtered things through our feelings instead of our Father.

  • Let your life do the talking not your lips.

Learn to exercise your life more than your lips. Don’t mouth what you don’t model.

  • Learn to muzzle your mouth

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. Lean on wisdom more than words. Because wisdom doesn’t just know what words to use but also when to use them.

  • Use you Lips for Love

THE POWER OF THREE LITTLE WORDS

Psalms 19:14 May these words of my mouth & this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

If you want to HURT someone, the tongue is much more effective than THE FIST is. If you want to APOLOGIZE to someone, all the flowers in the world won’t accomplish what three little words like, “I AM SORRY’ can do. Some of the most significant messages people mouth can come in just 3 words. Words have the power to forge new friendships, deepen old ones and restore relationships.

I’LL BE THERE – Being there for another person is the greatest gift we can give. When we are Truly Present for other people, important things happen to them and to us. We are renewed in love & friendship. We are restored emotionally and spiritually.

I MISS YOU – More marriages & friendships could be Salvaged and Strengthened if people Simply, Sincerely said to each other, “I miss you.” This affirmation tells partners they are wanted, needed, desired & loved.

I RESPECT YOU – Respect is another way of showing LOVE and the feeling that another person is a TRUE EQUAL.

MAYBE YOU’RE RIGHT – This phrase is highly effective in diffusing an argument & restoring frayed emotions. The flip side of “maybe you’re right” is the humility of admitting “Maybe I’m Wrong.”

PLEASE FORGIVE ME – Many broken relationships could be restored & healed if people would admit their mistakes and ask for forgiveness. All of us are vulnerable to faults and failures. A person should never be ashamed to admit they have been in the wrong, which is by saying that they are wiser today than they were yesterday.

I THANK YOU – Gratitude is an exquisite form of courtesy. People who enjoy the companionship of good, close friends are those who don’t take daily courtesies for granted. They are quick to thank their friends for their many expressions of kindness. Do you have an attitude of gratitude?

COUNT ON ME – “A FRIEND IS ONE WHO WALKS IN WHEN OTHERS WALK OUT.” ” Loyalty is an essential ingredient for true friendship; Those who are rich in their relationships tend to be steady and true friends. When troubles come, a good friend is there, indicating “You Can Count On Me.”

LET ME HELP – The best of friends see a need and try to fill it. When they spot a hurt, they do what they can to heal it. Without being asked, they pitch in and help.

I UNDERSTAND YOU – People become closer & enjoy each other more if they feel the other person accepts and understands them. Letting others know in so many little ways that you understand him or her is one of the most powerful tools for healing your relationship.

GO FOR IT – Some of your friends may be non-conformists, they may have unique projects and unusual hobbies. Support them in pursuing their interests. Rather than urging your loved ones to conform, encourage their uniqueness, everyone has dreams that no one else has.

I LOVE YOU – Probably the three most powerful words on the planet. We all desire to be loved and to belong. Are you loving others with your life and your lips?