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Posts Tagged ‘Forgive’

LOVE CONQUERS #3AMLove Conquers Combined 150 ppi

Love is the most powerful force on earth. If you have experienced God’s love that won’t be too hard for you to swallow! When we talk about God’s love and God’s love in people, we have a history of actions and world events that shape the destinies and lives of many. God’s love for mankind shown through the cross and resurrection of Jesus gives us the most powerful picture of God’s love in action.

Throughout life most people at some time will suffer in some way. We may suffer injustice and we may suffer the pain of circumstances beyond our control. The range of suffering is vast and for some the suffering is great in comparison to the majority. Nevertheless just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one’s own suffering is held to be more significant than that of others in many cases.

Have you suffered? My suffering is small compared to many. My first brush with suffering was when at 7 years old my dad died. For whatever reason I never considered it a kind of suffering. It was just life, process it, change and adjust to the new normal. Later at age 24 a sickness made me lose all my hair overnight. That seemed a bit more like suffering, although many others saw it as a minor distraction, it was tough on my self-image. Later experiences of betrayal and accusation in the ministry role were my real chance to love and forgive and make my suffering a place of growth. Over the years Christian brothers have defrauded me of large amounts of money and that felt like suffering. Yet I have always ended up stronger and more in love with Jesus through these experiences because Love Conquers. Have you suffered?

Listen to what Paul says about suffering; Phil 3:10

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.(NKJV)

Perspective is paramount in understanding suffering. When we see a young child trying to walk and they fall and skin their knee, the resulting cries portray a world of suffering that the baby may not understand. Yet the nurturing mother and the practical father say, “Come on, get up have another try. Soon you will be walking.” When the child grows, the pain that was suffered in learning how to walk is long forgotten in favour of the value of walking, running and winning a gold medal or whatever great things lie ahead to be achieved. Similarly we, as little children in God’s plan, may not have all the right perspective on the why and how of the suffering that we experience. God knows all things and His perspective is eternal and complete and His love is deep, forgiving and wise for our good and the His Kingdom to prevail.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

Let’s look at the story of Stephen – Stephen Is Arrested – Acts 6:8-15

8 Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. 9 But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. 10 None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke. 11 So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” 12 This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council. 13 The lying witnesses said, “This man is always speaking against the holy Temple and against the law of Moses. 14 We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth[c] will destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”  15 At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.

Chap 7

Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these accusations true?” ……

54 The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand!” 57 Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him 58 and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. (NLT)

The story of Stephen is about the very first Christian Martyr. He was so passionate about following Jesus and had served Christ and lived wholeheartedly for Him. But the Jews hated him and this new religion that had sprung up was a major threat to the Jewish Status Quo. Stephen probably had a wife and maybe children. Imagine the world of pain that his murder created. Many men and women have willingly laid down their lives for a cause. Perhaps Stephen was no different. But that doesn’t assuage the pain felt by those who suffer the stones or those left behind.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

If you want to talk about suffering, you better ask Jesus. He suffered greatly with the agony of the cross and the injustice of what happened to the Son of the Living God. This suffering was necessary and endured by love. As Stephen suffered a painful and early death his eyes were fixed on Jesus. His heart was filled with love for his accusers, as evil as they were. He overcame in death because love conquers. He could have died a bitter man and with no reward and no fruit, but Stephen died rejoicing and without pain as he saw the face of Jesus and those around him said his face was that of an angel. Right there at his death stood Saul the Christian killer who later would turn to Christ and become the greatest apostle of them all.

Would you trade your suffering for the will of God if you knew it would change the world? Yet sometimes we just don’t know; but love conquers.

As Jesus suffered on the cross, His agony was complete, yet he didn’t move from suffering to hate or retribution but cried out in love “Forgive them for they know not what they do”. He bore the whole weight of sin and sickness for mankind and he overcame because Love Conquers.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

Testimony – Corrie Ten Boom http://youtu.be/Ue8msG9HgDM

The story of Corrie Ten Boom is if a Dutch woman who, with her family, were Christians, and sheltered Jewish people during the Nazi occupation of Holland during WWII. Her whole family were caught and arrested. Corrie and her sister were imprisoned in a concentration camp where Betsy died only 12 days before Corrie was released.  Later when Corrie was moving around Germany preaching the Gospel in post war times, she encountered a former German guard who had become a Christian and approached her to ask forgiveness. Her suffering and injustice were palpable but Jesus enabled her to forgive and receive God’s love because LOVE CONQUERS.

Where have you been wronged? Who has robbed you and committed injustice against you? You can go to your grave a bitter person and gain no reward or you can love and forgive and change your future and maybe the future of many others. To suffer wrong or injustice is hard and painful but God turns the pain into a crown when you let love conquer.

Matt 5:11-12

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.(NLT)

I want to grab your mind and heart today, because some of you here have suffered and you feel it’s unjustified. You’re mad at God or you’re mad at people. But today there’s freedom for you if you hear my message. Love conquers.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

God uses suffering and injustice to bring about change and growth and His overall purpose. If it seems hard to understand or take it, remember Love Conquers.

Stephen loved his killers and accusers and his death a great victory in touching Saul.

Jesus loved His killers and torturers and it proved His obedience and gave the whole world the pathway for salvation.

1 Peter 3:13-18

13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong! 18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.(NLT)

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

Phil 3:10

10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!(NLT)

It’s extra hard to handle injustice when it’s meted out to you by your very own family or Christian brothers and sisters.

Love Conquers. Let God’s love soften your heart. You can go the grave bitter, angry and planning retribution; but if you do, you will suffer the loss of your own salvation and all the growth that comes from being like Jesus and walking in His footsteps. Let love Conquer today, let God’s love get in, forgive your accusers and your enemies. Bless them that do you harm, be like your heavenly father and live because love Conquers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Obviously suffering is painful, yet it seems so hard to endure, why do you think that is so?

2. How often have you considered a tough time and thought maybe God doesn’t care?

3. What if the real reason for suffering or injustice was to see a big change like the change Stephen saw as Saul came to Christ?

4. How is it that Stephen could love the Jewish leaders who killed him?

5. How can we receive God’s love and so obtain strength to love and forgive our enemies?

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REALationships # 2 –  16th June 2013 AM – LOVE FLOWS DOWNREALationship

This month the theme is – REALationships

In APRIL we spoke about being baptised with, filled with the Holy Spirit. Then later in MAY we continued that theme by sharing what it means to be led by the spirit. During that theme, we spoke about walking in the Spirit which means our behaviour follows the nature and character of God and of course the way we treat others is guided by how we love each other as Jesus loves us. This month JUNE we are expanding on that theme and focusing on REALationships.

Last week we spoke about the Divine Embrace, which is God’s great passion to have a people. 11 times in the bible He says about His people, “I will be their God and they will be my people.” What a blessing to host a real wedding right here in the service last Sunday to illustrate the great love Christ has for the Church amply demonstrated in every marriage as a type of Christ and the Church.

Being SPIRIT FILLED means being SPIRIT LED, and to be a really great church, we will love one another unconditionally. Our relationships will be a picture to others of the love of God that is shed abroad into our hearts. For us as DISCIPLES OF JESUS – IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME! When we are born again we have a new perspective (Phil 2:5) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. That is the way of humility and serving others. Our joy comes from serving others because we have a new heart, and we are filled with a servant heart and a desire live for others. If we are ever offended we look to Jesus to heal us; and then to the offender and wonder, “How has the enemy or the destructive paths of life messed this person up, so that they are reacting badly to my detriment.” We love and forgive, and duly consider how we may be in error in some way or maybe we have not seen a need that needs to be met.

When you and I receive a Revelation of the love with which He loved us, then we are filled with that love, it is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5) and we are full of the love that overflows and enables me to love my enemy, love the unloveable (which I was to God) and forgive my brother.

With PRIDE the FOCUS IS ON ME; with HUMILITY the FOCUS IS ON OTHERS

PARABLE OF THE TWO STEWARDS. – MATT 18:23-35

In this story the King who is owed a vast amount of money calls the steward who owes him and says, “Pay up!” The servant has no money so he begs for more time. The repayment is impossible, so the King makes a hugely gracious gift of forgiving the debt totally and wiping it out! (Do you get it?) The forgiven steward then goes out and accosts another steward who owes him a mere pittance and demands he pay up! When he to asks for more time, the first steward says, “No.” and puts him in jail! When the King hears of this he is rightly indignant and asks of the first steward, “Could you not have had mercy on your fellow steward as did for you?” and he casts the first steward into jail until he will pay out the reconstituted debt that he originally owed!!

The punch line is verse 35 where Jesus says that God will do likewise to us if we do not forgive our brother his trespasses. READ Vs 35 – Mat 18:35  So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses. (Matt 6:15; Mar 11:26.)

IMAGINE Your shock when, after you die, having lived a life as a Christian – you’re in hell and you realise that your enemy is in heaven!  Why? Because you did not forgive your brother his trespasses, and he, having trespassed against you, he is actually forgiven because he found Christ and held no grudges against his brethren.

Notice that your forgiving of your brother is “from your heart” so it’s not enough to mouth the words or even try to live above it, you must deep in your heart forgive, let go and love your brother who has sinned against you.

The IDEA is NOT that we all become perfect, BUT that we all become mature.

Mat 5:48  You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect. [Lev. 19:2, 18.] The word Perfect in the Greek language of the Original New Testament is – G5046 – Telios = Complete, of full age, like a machine having all the parts for effective working.

MATURITY – means loving one another despite our imperfections. In fact we reach maturity by practicing forgiveness.

LOVING ONE ANOTHER IS THE MOST OBVIOUS EVIDENCE THAT WE ARE CHRISTIANS.

Joh 13:34  I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.

Joh 13:35  By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].

God’s plan is for your development (Ephes 4:14-16). He allows, even plans offences, to see if you can forgive and love. One story that illustrates this is Jesus and John Baptist in John 11. John asks, “Are you the one?” I suppose that John may have expected Jesus to visit him in jail since He expected others to do the same. (Matt 25:44) Jesus replies, “Blessed is he who is not offended in me.”

In Matt 18:21 Peter asks a question that we all wonder about, “How many times do I have to forgive my brother? 7 times?” Jesus replies, “Not 7 times; 70X7.” We need to understand what kind of love we are filled with.

If we are SPIRIT FILLED then let us go on and be SPIRIT LED and as the HOLY SPIRIT leads us He will enable us to WALK IN THE SPIRIT, which produces the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – LOVE, KINDNESS, PATIENCE, LONG SUFFEREINNG, SELF CONTROL.

These are all essential elements for loving one another.

WHY should we love one another?

–         By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples – it’s the way to win lost people.

–         Being in One accord means The Holy Spirit moves – He is the spirit of unity. Ps 133 – Unity blessing commanded. Acts 4:24 When the church were in one accord the place where they were praying was shaken. Shaking is no big deal but it demonstrates that God shows up big time when His people dwell together in unity.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Have you ever stopped to consider just how much you have been forgiven of?
  2. The parable of the two stewards in Matt 18 gives us the very clear message: Although our sins are great, God freely forgives them and the offences committed against us by our brethren are comparatively small – discuss this.
  3. Can you as a Christian hold any grudge or bitterness or unforgiveness against anyone and still be forgiven yourself?
  4. How can one forgive when they are deeply hurting from an offence?
  5. Discuss how sinners view the church when it practices loving one another.

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