Summary: Prayer is what makes forgiveness possible.

Title: Grace Is Greater than Your Bitterness

Place: BLCC

Date: 1/28/18

Text: Hebrews 12.15; Acts 7.57-60

CT: Prayer is what makes forgiveness possible.

[Screen 1]

FAS: Craig Groeschel said, my biggest struggle with bitterness started when my family discovered the awful truth about someone we had trusted in a position of authority over my little sister…. Most kids in our small town junior high school took at least one class from [a man named] Max on their journey through the sixth grade. To many kids, Max was a favorite teacher—always cutting up, telling jokes, and handing out easy As. To me, he became the object of the deepest bitterness that I've ever known.

Throughout the years, Max developed special relationships with his favorite students. Though none of us were aware of it at the time, we discovered years later that all his favorite students "happened" to be cute, young girls. My little sister, whom I treasured and loved, became one of Max's victims….

Some studies show that as many as one out of three girls and one in four boys suffer some sort of sexual abuse. Whatever the numbers, this tragedy must crush God's heart. I know it crushed mine as a brother.

I remember trying to absorb the painful truth. How should I respond? Should we track him down? Have him arrested? Beat the life out of him? Make no mistake; I was furious the moment that I heard about his abuse. But the more I thought about to a full-blown briar patch of revenge. I prayed that Max would suffer eternally in hell, and I vowed to make him suffer on earth before facing God's judgment.

My plan for revenge wasn't necessary. To my bittersweet delight, we found that Max was suffering in a hospital, fighting for his life against a crippling disease, muscular dystrophy. I remember thanking God for his justice in giving Max what he deserved.

Most would agree that my bitterness toward Max was justifiable …. [But] no matter how justifiable my feelings were, in God's eyes my self-righteous hatred was just as sinful as Max's crime.

Even writing that statement all these years later remains difficult—how could my desire for justice be considered as sinful as this monster's lustful actions? The vast majority of people would agree that my hate and judgmental rage were more than justified.

In the course of time, however, I learned that bitterness never draws us closer to God. Bitterness is a nonproductive, toxic emotion, usually resulting from resentment over unmet needs …. I wanted [Max] to suffer …. [but] I was punishing no one but myself and those around me who experienced the scalding spillovers of the acid churning inside me.

Craig Groeschel, Soul Detox (Zondervan, 2012), pp. 92-94

LS: How do you deal with people who have hurt you or someone you love? Your bitterness turns your life inside out and keeps you from living following Jesus.

[Screen 2]

This is my fourth week on Grace. In this sermon we will deal with he problem of releasing our feelings of anger, bitterness and rage over to God.

Our emotion can tie us up and keep us from being able to resolve or to forgive. They block the road we have to travel down to give forgiveness.

For some of us it is time to grow up and do something we really don’t want to do. Instead of relying on our emotions and our own resolve, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help clean out our souls and get rid of the anger and bitterness that have piled up and made us fall short of the forgiveness and grace we must give.

I’ve got three ways we deal with our hurts and anger. [Screen 3]

1. Repression. This too often is the way we deal with hurts we receive. Instead of surrendering them to God, we push them down and try to repress our anger. We feel like we win by doing this. Nobody sees our issues. We don’t let them surface. We keep them hidden. To repress something means to “suppress something by force.” So we spend our energy suppressing instead of letting it come to the surface where it can be dealt with.

This is probably the way many of us learned to deal with our emotions and anger. We don’t let it out so no one sees what we are upset about. We put it all in a closet and shut the door. The problem is when we repress these emotions they don’t go away—they go toxic.

It’s like the time I cut my finger really bad. I told everybody it was fine and didn’t go get it seen about. Two days later my finger felt like it was going to come off. It got badly infected and I was really messed up. Finally got some antibiotic on it and got the infection out of there.

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