Summary: A sermon moving towards Advent that discusses forgiveness. Uses a number of illustrations that i used from Sermon central
The season we are in at the moment is advent.
Advent kinda means anticipation - expecting something.
When we think about what we are expecting it is of course the celebration of the coming of Jesus.
If we were to think of what the coming of Jesus ushers in for us - high on our list would be forgiveness.
Colossians 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
That forgiveness is of course freely given if requested by the believer because Jesus has won it for us.
The pre-condition of such forgiveness is of course recognising our deep sinfulness - many never really do this.
The story is told of Prussian king Frederick the Great who was once touring a Berlin prison.
The prisoners fell on their knees before him to proclaim their
innocence-except for one man, who remained silent. Frederick called
to him, "Why are you here?"
"Armed robbery, Your Majesty," was the reply.
"And are you guilty?"
"Yes indeed, Your Majesty, I deserve my punishment."
Frederick then summoned the jailer and ordered him, "Release this
guilty wretch at once. I will not have him kept in this prison where he
will corrupt all the fine innocent people who occupy it."
The celebration of Christmas and the coming of this wonderful gift of forgiveness is celbrated by the exchange of gifts - over the next few frenetic days - the less organised among us will spend many moments carefully choosing gifts for each other as an act of generosity towards those we love and respect.
But christmas to be authentic has not only to be a time of receiving forgiveness but should also be a time of extending forgiveness.
Jesus once said:-
MT 6:14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Here we see - as Christians we are not only called to receive forgiveness but we are also called to extend forgiveness.
The extension of forgiveness is not a luxurious extra but is a pre-condition for salvation.
You see when we become members of God’s family we are throwing in our lot with an incredible God.
Jesus when he hung on the cross was in the process of dying in the midst of incredible pain and rejection. His enemies had thrown the worst they could at him and now in incredible agony he hung from the cross - stripped - of all he had - dying whilst his enemies jeered and laughed.
Looking up from his pain Jesus cried out to God the most incredible words ever heard:-
Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.
The truth is most people are not aware of the cost or effect of their sins. Most of us have an extreme tendency to undert estimate the cost of our sins on ourselves, on others and on God Himself.
How then can we learn to forgive anything like Jesus did?
If we can achieve a depth of forgiveness anything like that - that Jesus extends to us we indeed shall find an incredible freedom that will acompany us all our days.
Indeed we may liken it to having a beautiful aroma or perfume follow us whereever we go.
John and Paula Sanford in their book "Choosing forgiveness"
list six steps we can make to choose forgiveness.
Perhaps this Christmas you can take these six steps in order to discover a new freedom for yourself and to truly have a happy and meaningful Christmas.
The first stepthat they mention is:-
Honestly desire to become free of the burden of unforgiveness and prepare to forgive.
No-one can make you forgive, and forgiveness is not likely to happen if you are motivated only by feeling you"should" or "ought" to forgive. You must genuinely want to experience forgiveness. If possible, clearly identify what is causing your anger, disappointment, frustration or hurt. Identify who and what it is that you need to forgive and be able to say openly and honestly, "I choose to forgive."
I well remember a family member who had been swindled out of money some thirty years before still complaining about it. Even though I had nothing to do with it I was told about it so often that Until this day I still know the offenders name. That person had chosen to bear the grudge rather than to forgive.
Leonardo Da Vinci, just before he commenced work on his "Last
Supper" had a violent argument with a fellow painter. Leonardo was so
bitter that he determined to paint the face of his enemy, the other artist,