Unforgiveness

This is a subject we should all be familiar with. As Christians we are commanded to forgive each other directly from Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 18. Jesus’ conversation with Peter and the analogy he tells about the Kingdom of God shows the seriousness of unforgiveness in a believer’s life.

Matthew 18:21-35(NASB)(emphasis mine)

21Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23″For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
24″When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.
25″But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.
26″So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’
27″And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
28″But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’
29″So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’
30″But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.
31″So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.
32″Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
33″Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?”
34″And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.
35″My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

For most believers it seems like a given that we need to forgive each other, but I am surprised to find that many in the church still hold a grudge against someone that wronged them. Some blatantly say they can’t forgive the person and some are in the category of denial of holding bitterness towards someone, but it becomes apparent in the way they treat the person.

I can’t tell you how many times people come for healing or deliverance ministry, and they are afflicted by some ailment or even spiritual affliction. They come for prayer countless times and it seems like it only gets worse. After some experience in doing this kind of ministry, I know to ask the person about unforgiveness. “Is there anyone you need to forgive?” Initially many people are resistant to this question because they don’t want forgive. There are many horrible stories of things that people do to each other, that I won’t get into. And for many it can be difficult to forgive. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a sickness or spiritual affliction leave a person as soon as they choose to forgive.

Let’s look at what Jesus says about those who do not forgive in verse 32-35:

32″Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
33″Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?”
34″And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.
35“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

Jesus does not exclude any situation from this very broad statement. If you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven of the debt you owe because of sin. Your eternal salvation is at stake! Even the littleless thing counts.

I remember driving some years ago and someone cuts me off and almost hits me. I remember I was fuming with anger towards the person and was ready to chase the person down in my car. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me “it has been one second too many that you have chosen not to forgive this person.” I slowed down and repented of my sin and realized how easy it can be sometimes to hold onto unforgiveness. I then remembered all of the previous instances where I got mad at other drivers and how my attitude towards others on the road escalated to being rude and expecting people to be “stupid.” I was holding on to unforgiveness. I repented for holding on to this, and chose to forgive every person on the road that I felt wronged by. I remember in that moment this overwhelming joy and peace hitting me, and this uncanny patience and kindness that I immediately had towards other drivers.

I realized that I had allowed pride to keep me from forgiving people and repented for my pride. It seems so innocent sometimes when we hold on to a little grudge against someone, but Jesus takes it very seriously. Have you forgiven everyone who has wronged you? Ask God to show you if you are still hold a grudge or bitterness towards someone. For some of you it may be someone far in your past that you never chose to forgive. Whatever your situation knowing for sure if you have forgiven everyone may be one of the most important questions you can ask yourself right now.

Blessings,

Machew

Operation World

Operation World is an organization dedicated to seeing the world come to Christ by encouraging Christians everywhere to pray for the world. But not just the world in a general sense.  Operation world focuses each day on a different country or part of the world, and brings up needs that the people in those areas have. Both physical and spiritual needs.  It could be anything from a government that is against Chrsitanity, high illiteracy, or lack of missionaries.

We do not merely pray about the many points featured herein, we pray toward something, and that something is magnificent – the fulfilment of the Father’s purposes and His Kingdom come

Is it effective?

We have a global mission of reaching the lost with the gospel. While each Christian is tasked with the great commission to reach the lost that God sends into our lives, there is also a much greater need. One that we cannot do alone.  Jesus never placed this mission on just one person or one small group.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Matthew 9:36-38

Notice that Jesus did not tell the disciples that it was their job to do all of the work. They had their fair share to do too, but they were also to pray. Not just pray that each person comes to Christ, but for what? For workers.

So yes, this website has an exteremely Biblical context. Praying for workers and other needs in each and every country. One country per day.

A Quick way to draw closer to God

It only takes 5 minutes to do, but the spiritual impact these five minutes will have is enormous. It did not take long of me praying every day for a country before I started to have more of a burden for the lost.  And even better, it strengthened my relationship with God by a lot in a very short time.

So how do you get involved?  First got to their website, http://www.operationworld.org and sign up for the mailing list. You will receive a reminder every day to pray for the country of that day. The daily country is listed on their website as well and most have a short video prayer that you can watch.  And finally, you can get the book, which I highly encourage. The book has a lot more information on most of the countries and gives you more things to pray for.  Plus last year I did have a few problems with the website and mailing list not working as expected but the book is always there telling you what country to pray for each day.

So what are you waiting for? Go get praying!

Resources

Jesus does not need you, you need Him

Jesus does not need you, you need Him

I cannot count the number of times I have heard someone say to me “I would follow God if he would just show up in my room with blinding light telling me to follow him,” or if God would just miraculously give me a million dollars in my bank account or save me from this situation or do any number of extraordinary things.  God is capable of doing this, of course, so why doesn’t he?

The answer is simple, God does not need to beg you to come to him, he gives you all of the evidence you need, it is up to you to decide to follow him.

God never begs anybody to follow Him

Have you ever noticed in the Bible how Jesus never, ever, begged people to follow him?  Never once did Jesus say “please follow me, pretty please?”  Then why do so many people think God caters to us to try and entice us to come to him?

The purpose of parables

After Jesus told the parable of the sower (Matthew 13) the disciples asked him why Jesus told parables (Matthew 13:10). Jesus’ answer was probably a little shocking to the disciples, I know it is shocking to me.  Jesus answered and said

Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.  For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘ Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’ (Matthew 13:11-15)

Is the Bible telling us that Jesus did not want them to understand?  Yes, that is exactly what this is saying.  But why? Because the people would not respond correctly. “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15)  Jesus had just said in Matthew 13 that people will be judged based on how much knowledge they are given, so Jesus speaks in parables out of compassion, not giving too much information to those who will not respond properly but giving enough to peak the curiosity of those that really want to know God.  Jesus only wants those to come to him who will respond properly.

Jesus wants everyone to be saved, right?

Yes, God wants everyone to be saved (2 Timothy 2:3-4) “God our Savior,  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God wants everyone to come to him in the same way I want my son to follow God and never stray, never get hurt. But I know that my son will stray despite what I want for him, just like God knows not everyone will come to him despite God wanting everyone to come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus knocks on the door for all of us, he does not beat down the door or force his way in. Those that answer the door Jesus dwells with, those who tell Jesus to go away, get a silent door.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks (John 4:23)

Those who seek

God wants you to seek him, not be lazy and wait for everything to come to you.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6)

Jesus is a treasure worth sacrificing everything

Today it is so easy to get caught up in what the society thinks. We think God is nothing more than something else we add to our life, an hour or two a week and try to avoid sin and then we are good, we have our ticket stamped ready to go to heaven.  But that is not what God wants. God is more valuable than that! God is not a trinket we wear around our neck along with everything else in our life. He is our life.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44)

Jesus, treasured above everyone

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

What? We are to hate everyone in our life? Jesus has to be number one in your life; your love for him must be so much more than any other relationship that everyone else is put to the side for Jesus, you do not put Jesus to the side to serve your family!

No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

Do you get it yet? Jesus is not someone who begs you to follow him.  Jesus is so awesome, so wonderful, you need to come seek Him.  Jesus already paid the ultimate price to free you from your bondage in sin, and he created you (John 1:3), what else do you need?

References

Why did Jesus speak in parables?

The Humanity of Christ

It is well known that Jesus came in the form of man, and He experienced life on earth, going through all of the problems we go through, all of the hurt we go through, and experienced pain, suffering, and loss just like the rest of us.  We all know this, but in the back of our minds is a thought that since Jesus is God made flesh, He really did not, or could not have gone through as much pain and suffering as we go through.

Great Loss

When thinking of how Jesus went through loss of personal relationships, two people come to mind.  First is Joseph, his father.  We do not know for sure what happened to Joseph, but we do know that Joseph was there when Jesus was twelve in the temple (Luke 2:28), then we never see him again in scripture. When Jesus was dying on the cross he tells John to take care of his mom, something Jesus would not have to do if his father was still alive (John 19:26-27).  This also shows that Jesus cared about his mom, he wanted her to be well taken care of, something any of us would want.

Another powerful passage in the Bible is when Jesus’ close friend, Lazarus, died.  Jesus got word that Lazarus was not feeling well and then after he died Jesus made his way to visit.  Seeing the women weeping over Lazarus and then seeing the grave himself was too much for Jesus, and “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).  This simple verse showing that Jesus had compassion, felt pain, even though he knew Lazarus would not be dead for much longer, it was still painful to him.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Great Suffering

I think it is downright impossible for us to understand the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.  All to often I hear others, or even think in the back of my own mind, that what Jesus went through was bad but at least he knew the end result so it was not that bad.  How wrong can we get? Not only did Jesus get tortured and executed, but his status with God was, for the first time in all existance, severed from the Father (Mark 15:34).  Can you imagine what this would have been like? Do you think Jesus was anxious at all, or wished that he could avoid what was ahead?

Jesus did not want to go through with what was ahead and prayed for God to remove this trial from his only begotten son (John 22:42).  Jesus, “being in agony, prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (John 22:44)

Yes, Jesus was human, he had compassion, felt the pain of loss felt great anxiety. Jesus went through the pain that we went through, even more so.

So why did He do it?  Jesus prayed “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (John 22:42).  Do you not think that the loving father would take such trials from His only begotten son? But he did not, why?  Because it was the only way.

Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

“He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever.” (Hebrews 10:12)  Jesus died, do you really understand that? Jesus, our creator, was beaten, tortured, betrayed, and executed for you!

Acts 3:19
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

John Piper, in Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ writes

Therefore, this man of indestructible joy was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). This “great high priest” is not unable to sympathize with us in our weakness, becasue he was tested in every way as a man like us (Hebrews 4:14-15). He wept with those who wept (John 11:35) and rejoiced with those who rejoiced (Luke 10:27, 21). He was hungry (Matthew 4:2), he was weary (John 4:6), he was forsaken (Matthew 26:56), betrayed (Matthew 26:45), whipped (Matthew 27:26), mocked (Matthew 27:31), and crucified (Matthew 27:35).

Jesus can and did relate to us, he felt pain suffering and loss.  Why did he go through all of this pain and suffering?  Because only through Jesus can we be reconciled with God.  Jesus went through all of that, only for you, what do you do for him?