Jesus at the Center of Prayer
Peace • Message 5
November 12, 2023
Matthew 6:12 (NLT)
“and forgive us our sins,as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”
A Texas man sued his date for the $17.31 he spent taking the woman to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. She checked her phone 15-20 times in 15 minutes to read and send text messages. He accused her of adversely affecting the viewing experience of moviegoers and said her behavior was a threat to civilized society.
The stakes are high for this talk because if you don’t get this, it’s possible you jump from church to church, or relationship to relationship, and carry with you a string of broken relationships…
But if we get this it will create a freedom, freedom from bitterness, to be someone who can handle offenses when they come…
People say they can live life siloed. That what happens in one area of my life doesn’t carry over to the next… Let me show you… if you become a listener as a father, do you think that carries over… bitterness carries over… This will bleed into your life.
This is why daily forgiveness is so important. Jesus knows how much this affects you.
We have a tendency…
- Peace in Forgiveness
- We naturally forget God and remember others’ debts.
The Lord’s Prayer is an invitation to live a counter-culture life, how? Well, in a secular culture that forgets God, we choose to remember Him, and in a culture that remembers the debts of others, we forgive…
Remember debts and forget God.
Remembers God and forgets debts.
And I find it interesting if you focus on others’ mistakes it will naturally push you further from God, while if you remember God, you find a supernatural strength to forgive.
I think debt is a good word choice here because when the Bible speaks about sin, this is how it’s often described, as a debt.
One of these examples is in Matthew chapter 18, the story of the unmerciful servant, which says this…
Matthew 18:23-28 (NLT)
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.”
In the ESV it says this was 10,000 talents you owe… it’s suggested to be about 1 billion dollars…
And here’s the thing, be honest, how many of you read this and think this guy in the text is ridiculous? Like, I read this, and I had some anger and wanted to spiritually slap the guy upside the head…
But then it hit me… I’m this guy and so are you…
How many times do you make a mistake or do something, then I hold onto it… but then I forget that every sin past, present, and future has been forgiven by God and at a very high price… His son Jesus…
Do you know what Jesus is illustrating here?
That we have a tendency to forget God and remember the debts of others…
The ONLY WAY TRUE FORGIVENESS IS POSSIBLE IS BY REMEMBERING GOD…
You need a greater force than bitterness and that’s the grace of Jesus…
Think about it... I find it interesting that Paul said that he was the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-16). Why would he say that? Because he was so focused on God…
And he had come to feel the weight of his debt… He saw his debt to God.
He stopped comparing himself to others, and he saw all his sins, his mistakes, the darkness in his heart and he knew only one thing could save him… falling on his knees and receiving the forgiveness of God.
Listen, I tend to highlight others’ mistakes and minimize mine… Isn’t that what we do?
Luke 7:47 (NLT)
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
The point is simple when we feel the weight of the debt we have to pay, we feel deeper the gift of grace we’ve been given…
Let me show you something that theologically is very helpful for us to understand…
Image of God (Everyone is made in the image of God.)
Child of God (Not everyone is a child of God. You have to follow Jesus to be a child. This is why spiritual adoption is so important.)
Adoption is such an amazing thing… Seeing children with broken families get to step into a loving family is such a beautiful thing... it’s a picture of the Kingdom and that is what God is doing.
If you are involved in foster care, adoption or volunteer with a ministry, or even if you have been adopted… such a rich picture of church…
I wanted to share with you some of the ways Brookwood is involved with Foster Care and caring for the orphaned.
- We’re a family visitation facility. DSS workers can request to hold family visitations in our South Campus gym.
- Brookwood is part of the Coalition of Churches that meets quarterly.
- This group has partnered with Comfort Cases to ensure foster kids have backpacks to carry their belongings in instead of a trash bag.
- They assisted in acquiring a grant to standardize the type of car seat used by caseworkers in Greenville County.
- Renovated the family visitation rooms at DSS with new paint, furniture and equipment.
- As part of Christmas Outreach, we collect gift cards for the Greenville County Foster Parent Association. In 2021, $4,005 in gift cards were donated. Last year, we collected $5,655.
- We also host the annual Christmas Party for the Greenville County Foster Parent Association. Last year, about 350 people attended. We are expecting about 250-300 people this year.
- We hosted a 7-week training program for families who have been court-mandated to participate in classes in order to reunite with their children. This is the only state-approved Christian training that is part of the DSS process.
- We’ve held Guardian Ad Litem Interest Meetings to assist the program in getting volunteer caseworkers.
- Brookwood provided 40 local teens in foster care with the book Fostered by Tori Hope Peterson.
Romans 8:15 (NLT)
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, “Abba, Father.”
God takes me, a sinful person, and He forgives me and adopts me to be a part of His family…
In fact, before this, we are enemies of God… Listen to Romans 5
Romans 5:10 (NLT)
For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.
Jonathan Edwards wrote there are a few reasons we are God’s enemies without grace…
- God is holy and we aren’t. (People who are not holy do not appreciate a standard that reveals their debts. If God weren’t so holy and we weren’t so sinful perhaps we could get along
- God is all-knowing. (We love to hide but we cannot hide from God. I remember growing up my parents would say a phrase like God is always watching to scare me.)
- God is all-powerful. (If God were holy and knew everything but was weak, we would have nothing to worry about, however, there is no force in heaven or earth that can subdue Him.)
I’m not trying to minimize any of the hurt and pain you have gone through, and neither is Jesus. He is near to the brokenhearted... But when we remember God, we understand that God forgave our debts which are far greater than what others have done to you and me. This is what helps us become free to forgive.
For the first time in my life, I have never been more confident in my indebtedness to God… I am more aware of my heart’s tendency to forget Him. To follow my own selfish desires. I’m more aware of my stubbornness and pride.
So, this part of the Lord’s Prayer isn’t to feel sorry for ourselves, or to become aware of our sin… It’s about letting go of those things and awakening to a deeper life and grace in the Spirit of God…
- Unresolved debts grow and poison our faith.
In the bank, if you just leave money in an account, it will grow with interest… Depending on the account and interest, it will grow larger than others.
Part of the reason we have to deal with bitterness is that when it’s left undealt with it will grow and take over more and more of our thoughts and feelings.
Go back to the picture I showed… [Identity Chart] This will bleed over and poison every area of your life… you can’t keep bitterness siloed, it’s an invasive sin.
And nothing drives the presence of God away like unforgiveness. Or said another way your level of anointing is dependent on your level of forgiveness.
Think about it, when you forgive, you are pulling heaven down… But when you harbor unforgiveness and bitterness, you are pulling hell up…
Think about Joseph. Perhaps no one was more wronged than him, but he kept forgiving… and I would say he was one of the most anointed people around.
Because he chose to remember God and forget other debts…
Genesis 50:19-21 (NLT)
But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.
He could only do this by focusing on God.
But let me be clear this is hard stuff. It’s why Jesus says pray daily about forgiveness…
CS Lewis says…
Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have someone to forgive.
Think about it, it’s called the AVENGERS, not the Forgivers. Because we love vengeance and getting even…
LOTR Frodo? (carried this ring the whole time and he didn’t destroy it) Why? Because I think he got so used to carrying it for a while…
Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
What Jesus is saying is you can’t experience forgiveness and then not forgive others… forgiveness isn’t forgetting, it’s just choosing to not hold people hostage… it may take a journey, but we must move towards forgiveness.
Do you know what started the Asbury revival several months ago, where there was just a sense of the Lord’s Spirit and His presence falling in a mighty way? It was a girl who had offended half the campus because she was dealing with some family drama, she stood up and said, whoever I’ve offended, I’m sorry… and then people came around and God showed up…
Moment to pray…