Sermons

Summary: We cannot harbor love and unforgiveness at the same time

I pray that you have power back on by now or will in the VERY near future. We are all very blessed to have survived this severe storm with the truly light damage that we received. Being off from work and held captive by having no power rank high on the discomfort level. Cooking on the grill or eating peanut butter and jelly gets old quick. Cold showers! Now there’s something to scream about.

But overall, we are extremely blessed and should each acknowledge such in our own way to God.

Before I continue with the weekly message overview, let me share one humorous anecdote: Edna’s sister stayed with us because she lives in a low-lying area near Crescent Beach. Like us, she heated water on the grill and poured that in a bucket to take to the shower for a warm lathering and if careful enough to rinse fairly well after. She came out a little later complaining that her hairdryer went on the blink. She even tried plugging it in several locations. When we could no longer stifle a laugh, she realized that sometimes we think we are connected but being connected doesn’t always mean to the power source, (THERE’S a good message there, think about it.)

Sunday Reading and Message Overview

Matthew 18:21-35

Let Your Heart Be A Safe Harbor

Storms and Hurricanes continue to rage in the Leeward Islands, The Caribbean and Coastal Florida, Alabama, Mississippi. Louisiana and Texas. Texas is still coming out from under the ravages of Hurricane Harvey and here in Florida, thousands of homes are without power. One cannot drive anywhere and avoid seeing massive piles of downed trees, limbs and yard debris. Boat owners were advised to drydock their boats or seek safe harbor. The Navy sent most of their fleet from Mayport out to sea, to avoid the approaching violent storm. The local news outlets did a magnificent job of keeping everyone informed of the storm’s approaching progress and giving advice on how to best prepare, if not evacuating.

It is not even a stretch to see a comparison of the preparations for the oncoming storms and recovery afterwards and the storms that come our way in daily living with roaring hurtful acts and words coming at us from any number of sources. Some of the hurts that we

“harbor” are carry overs from years past.

We try and try to forgive yet some hurts are burrowed so deep that they sprout anew at the most unexpected and inopportune times. Don’t they?

In the reading, Peter asks the Lord, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

To understand the point and force of St. Peter's question, it is necessary to know the rabbinical rules of forgiveness with which he would be familiar. It was a settled rule of the rabbis that forgiveness should not be extended more than three times. Edersheim says, "It was a principle of rabbinism that, even if the wrong doer had made full restoration, he would not obtain forgiveness till he had asked it of him whom he had wronged, but that it was cruelty in such circumstances to refuse pardon." It says much for St. Peter's apprehension of his Master that he was sure he would not limit forgiveness to the rabbinical "three times." Copied and pasted from THE BIBLE HUB-The Christian Limit of Forgiveness by R. Tuck

I sometimes think that I am picking on Peter, but I believe that Peter comes closer to portraying the human weaknesses that we all do and thus is a good candidate to learn from. If the Rabbis of the day taught to forgive only three times. Where did Peter come up with the number seven to ask of Jesus?

But the Lord answers Peter saying (verse 22) “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

If we can grasp what Christ is saying, we can keep right on forgiving and divesting the historical hurts and those who hurt us in our past.

Forgiveness is absolutely an act of love. Saying, I love you doesn’t really mean a whole lot unless I also show you that love. Saying that I forgive you doesn’t really show you that I forgive you unless I also show you forgiveness.

I’ve shared before about the time I was driving my elderly mother for a day’s outing. In the course of conversations, the subject of forgiveness came up, she finally just blurted out, “Howard, do you actually think God has forgiven you for all the mean, dumb, rotten things you’ve done in your life?”

I answered without hesitation, “Yes, and He doesn’t remind me every time we have a conversation.”

We bring on storms in our lives by harboring ill will and unforgiveness in our hearts. Won’t you take stock of what you harbor and make your heart a safe harbor for God’s love.

We love and serve God by loving and serving each other!

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