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“…as I forgave you.”
I want to start off with a verse this morning that is not in the text that we will be studying today. It will be the guiding principle for our services for the next several weeks, so pay close attention. The verse is Colossians 3:13 – “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
We began the year as a church last week with the challenge that I put out for all of us to put ourselves in a position where we could hear the Word of God so that our faith might grow. Almost all of you accepted the challenge to listen to the audio NT for 19 minutes a day for 60 days beginning Jan. 26. Any of you who were not here or have made up your mind since last Sunday can join us in that challenge today. As you listen to your Bible, you are going to hear a theme that runs through the Bible and ties it all together. That theme is forgiveness.
How many of you struggle with the issue of forgiveness? Probably over the course of 2002 maybe even already in 2003, there are some things that have happened or some words that have been said that hurt you. You may be harboring some resentment, anger or bitterness. Maybe you did some things that you have not yet sought forgiveness for, and you are feeling the burden of guilt and broken relationships. One of the first and most important steps to preparing for the future is to get rid of the negative things in the past. Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal” (Phil 3:13-14) I come to you this morning to give you hope. It is possible to receive release from the past and to gain and give forgiveness. It is possible to get rid of that heavy weight that you bear.
We are not the first generation to struggle with this issue of forgiveness. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, came to him one day and asked Him how many times he should forgive someone for something that they had done to him. Jesus answered that our forgiveness toward someone else should be limitless. And then, as Jesus did many times to illustrate the truth of what He was saying, he told a story. That story is going to be the focus of our attention this morning.
Through this story, we learn about two things. First, we learn about the kind of forgiveness that God has given to us. You may be a person here that has already received the forgiveness that provides an eternal place with God in heaven. If so, this message will be nothing new to you. But rather than shutting down your brain, pay attention to the message so that you can be reminded of what was done for you. You need that reminder planted firmly in your brain so that you will live in a constant state of thanks to God for His greatest gift to you and so that you will never take for granted His forgiveness. There may be others here who have never received this forgiveness. Pray for them that today will be the day.
The second thing that this story teaches us is about the proper response that we must give when we experience the forgiveness of God. We must forgive other people for the offenses that they commit against us. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” That will be the focus of the message next week.
Let’s take a look at our story and see what we can learn.
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