Summary: Turning towards forgiveness is something we need to do in two dimensions – first, we need to turn vertically towards God and accept His forgiveness offered to us, and second we need to turn horizontally towards each other and choose forgiveness in our rel
Turning Towards: Forgiveness Ps 103:1-18, Luke 23:34
Lent Series; March 12, 2006
Imagine starting your week out with a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes. For each person that wrongs you, you must take a potato and write that person’s name, date and what the wrong was onto the potato.
And then you must put that potato into your clear plastic bag. It must stay in that bag until you have forgiven them for that wrong. How long would it be before your bag filled up with potatoes?
Imagine next that not only do you fill the bag up with all of the ill will and resentment and bitterness you have from these unforgiven incidents, you must also carry that bag with you everywhere you go. It sits next to you in your automobile on the drive to work, sits in your lap as you dine out at your favorite restaurant, and it nestles close to you as you sleep in bed at night.
Everywhere you go, it goes with you.
Imagine how it begins to stink after a while. Imagine carrying those same potatoes (and adding new ones too!) with you day after day, week after week... ...month after month, and year after year. After a while those heavy potatoes of unforgiveness will start weighing you down, don’t you think? They will become hard to bear. And they sure will cause a stink! (adapted from Jimmy D. Brown, http://www.sermonillustrator.org/illustrator/sermon8/unforgiveness_stinks.htm)
Turning Towards Forgiveness:
Today is the second Sunday in Lent, the season during which we prepare to re-live the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. I want to re-iterate my challenge from last week – that during the days of Lent we would give up noise, and find places of silence that might enable us to hear the voice of God. I challenged us all to 30 minutes of silence, every day, so that we might listen for God’s voice rather than the other voices all around us.
Our theme for this year is “Turning Towards.” Lent is a journey of repentance, and this year I want to focus not so much on the sins that we need to turn away from, but more on the life in Jesus that we need to turn towards.
In this first sermon, I want to talk about turning towards forgiveness.
Vertical, and Horizontal:
Turning towards forgiveness is something we need to do in two dimensions – first, we need to turn vertically towards God and accept His forgiveness offered to us, and second we need to turn horizontally towards each other and choose forgiveness in our relationships. I want to talk about both.
Turning Towards God’s Forgiveness: Ps 103
Psalm 103 Of David.
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children-
18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
Breaking it Down
That is a long passage, with a lot in it. Back in seminary, I learned a helpful trick to dissect long passages, which I want to show you on the screen. It is pretty simple, very much like an outline of the ideas, and is just a matter of writing the passage out and breaking up the ideas into a little chart. The most important ideas go on the left, and the ideas that all go together get lined up underneath. It works really well with this passage, and helps us see the main points.