The Promise of Forgiveness

1 Preparation

Before the communion message, several songs should be sung with the topic of Forgiveness in Relationships. For example…
-Love, Love, Love, Love
-We Are One In The Spirit

2 Scripture

Matthew 6:6-15
6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9″This, then, is how you should pray:  ” ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us today our daily bread. 12Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

3 Synopsis

This communion focuses on Christ’s promise to heal our bitterness.

4 Digging In

1 Corinthians 11 tells us that Communion is about remembering Christ. And Matthew 6 shows us how Christ prioritized and valued healing in relationships.

What prompts change?
Beth Moore points out that “CONFLICT + COMMITMENT prompts CHANGE “.

I would add then, that Conflict without Commitment leads to hopelessness — which eventually leads to bitterness.

God allows massive conflict in our lives to shape us, just as He allowed King Saul to be the molding force in King David’s character. But David was committed to trusting God.  And he deeply believed that God was committed to fulfilling his promise to “stoop down to make David great” (2 Samuel 22:36).

Yet when we experience the CONFLICT and forget God’s COMMITMENT and our own COMMITMENT, we do not CHANGE.

Instead, we can tend to grow bitter.

Guarantee
Matthew 6 is good news (your sins will be forgiven) as well as bad news (your sins won’t be forgiven). But the real power in Christ’s prayer here is that he is declaring a guarantee to you:

You are able to forgive!

Medicine
If I combine this scripture with 1 Corinthians 10:13, which tells me that God never expects something of me that I cannot fulfill, then this passage becomes the true medicine for my wounded soul.

Not only am I supposed to forgive…I am also able!

Getting even
A book I read recently [1] points out the high cost of getting even. If you are out to settle a score, you will never rest.  In fact it is likely that your enemy may never really “come to their senses”, let alone repent enough to satisfy you.

Here are a few perplexing questions:
-How much justice is enough?
-How many lashes are enough?
-How much blood must flow for you to start feeling good again?
-How much groveling is enough for justice to be served?
-So are you now happy?
-Do you feel better?
-Are you at peace?”

And a few more:
Who is next now?
Who else needs to grovel now?

5 Personal Sharing

[your personal sharing]

6 Upward Call

Could it be that you have refused mercy to certain people in your life?

If so, then this passage becomes a curse to you rather than a blessing.

I sometimes wish that Jesus would get more psychological in passages like this. I wish he would get into personality types and childhood abuses.

But he doesn’t. He seems to oversimplify it.

That’s bad news to me, if I feel like a victim.

But it is liberating if I understand that he is telling me that the choice lies with me – that I am not a victim.

7 Prayer

Lord, we thank You that although You provide us the liberating promise of choice. Father, we don’t take this promise for granted. In the world, we  accepted our weaknesses, our flesh and our sins as part of our identity. But now our identity is with the cross and with You.  We thank you that the body of Christ reminds us of His choice to take captive every thought in the Garden. And His blood reminds us of His choice to endure way beyond discomfort. We truly are blessed to know the truth about Jesus and the cross! Through the power of Christ and His ressurrection, Amen.

Reference

[1] Max Lucado, The Great House of God (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1997), 119ff

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