Sisters and brothers,
Happy Monday to all! I pray your week has started well. Yesterday as we looked at Matthew 18, we learned that God’s children live lives of continual forgiveness because of the great forgiveness we have experienced from God. We saw how God’s grace awakens us to our utter bankruptcy before God. We considered the devastating effects of sin on us and all those around us. We contemplated the marvelous grace of God that offers forgiveness to us for the debt of sin we could never pay. We learned that God’s forgiveness is not arbitrary but just. God can forgive because God Himself absorbed the penalty for our sins. God the Son took the loss Himself. When Jesus died, Jesus was being punished in our place for our sins so that we can be forgiven. Our sins have been paid for, justly atoned for, in Jesus alone. As the old hymn states, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.
But we also learned that unforgiveness towards others ultimately shows that we have never truly experienced God’s forgiveness. The message I hope helped us all see that even though some have experienced horrific wrongs, even criminal acts against them or those they love, God’s Holy Spirit can enable any person to truly forgive those who have wronged them. We often misunderstand forgiveness as if it meant the wrongs or crimes committed were nothing and the wrong effects were not life-altering and long lasting. Forgiveness does not mean we would place ourselves in places of danger or vulnerability. Forgiveness does mean that we are going to trust God to vindicate us, to right the wrong and to deal justly with our abuser. We are going to stop trying to get back at them and trust God to ultimately right the wrong. We are going to believe that vengeance is God’s and that vengeance should have no place in our lives and hearts. We will choose to forgive by an act of the will, and then when our emotions bring back the hurt of the incident, we will remind ourselves that we have chosen to forgive and ask God to help our emotions catch up with our obedience. We will forgive that those who wronged us so that they would no longer have any power over our minds and hearts. We will forgive that we might be like our Savior, who when He suffered horrific abuse and violence, prayed for forgiveness over the ones who crucified Him. May we truly be like Jesus in forgiving!
The ladies Bible study of Philippians continues Wednesday evenings at 6:30 PM. If you have any questions, contact Carla.
Next Sunday evening, October 13, we will have hymn sing, sharing of testimonies and campfire beginning at 6:00 PM. The last time we did this, it was a wonderful time of worship, sharing and getting to know each other. We are asking everyone to bring some supplies for roasting marshmallows and making smores around the fire. I hope you will make plans to attend.
Love being your pastor!
Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church