Friday, January 7

Jesus' Prayer - Forgiveness

If you think through the major seasons of life (early home life, elementary school, jr. high, high school, college, marriage, work, children, etc.) there are many memories. Some good, some bad. Maybe you remember a particular Christmas or a special friend or a great vacation to the beach.
However, when you look back at the major seasons there might also be key events that require us to forgive someone else: a particular argument, a broken friendship, a harmful word spoken or a trust violated. Can you remember any of these?

I had a really good friend for a number of years. We did many things together and made a lot of cool memories … until something happened. We had a disagreement that seemed really big at the time. It separated us. Shortly after that my parents moved us away. My friend and I never reconciled, never asked each other’s forgiveness. That relationship was locked up right there …. 30 years ago in 1979.

Many times I wondered what happened to him. There was an unclosed chapter in our lives. Do you have any unclosed chapters in your past? Do you have anyone you might need to forgive?

Last week I found him on Facebook and sent him a “friend request”. It was risky but I wanted to know what happened in his life and what happened to our friendship. He not only accepted my friend request, he wrote me the following:

“Oddly enough, I tell my girls about you from time-to-time. I tell them of my old friend Kevin who I got mad at one day and lost contact when he moved to Irvine. I tell them that I regret being stubborn over some small & silly slight that I imagined at the time. I try to teach them to cut their friends some slack, and don't worry if their best friend pisses them off one day. To not say things that would make a good friendship sour beyond saving, for good friends can be hard to come by.. and are greatly appreciated later.

So, although it was long ago, I am sorry for getting mad and being such a thick-headed jerk.”

Itfeels good to be forgiven and to forgive! I am released! He is released! That chpater is closed and a new one is beginning. We are not made to live in tension with one another. Do you have any unclosed chapters in your past? Do you have anyone you need to forgive?

Read: Matthew 6:9-13
9Pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10Let your Kingdom come. Let your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. 11Give us today our daily bread. 12Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. 13Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.’
To “forgive” means to set free, to release. This is a prayer of mercy to God. It is a time to confess our sins and ask His forgiveness and restoration. This is a command. Jesus expects us to forgive and to be forgiven.

This is the only conditional part of the prayer, “forgive … as we forgive”. In other words, if I choose to not forgive someone I will not experience the forgiveness of God requested in my prayers. He takes this seriously.

Forgive is not forget! Forgive is not pretend it didn’t hurt! Forgive is not saying what they did was ok! Forgive is releasing the person to God! Forgive is letting go of your right to seek revenge or to get even!

Forgiveness in the New Testament is never measured in terms of what happened to me but what God did for me in Christ. Consider the words of the old hymn,

“My sins, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought--my sins, not in part, but the whole, are nailed to the cross and I bear them no more. Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, oh my soul!"
Do you know God’s forgiveness for your sins? Have you been “released” from His claims on your life? Have you been set free? If you want to know for sure, read the post:

Do you have any sins that need to be confessed? Take them to the Father but know that He is expecting you to forgive others and He just might bring someone to mind and ask you to forgive them. Are you willing? Release them! Be free from your cage of unforgivenss and experience the release of God in new ways!

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