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Summary: How to work towards forgiveness and reconciliation among Christians in community

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Beginning a new series today… “You Asked For it”… Desire is to let God speak to some of the needs that you help identify… either because topics that you find challenging… or needs that you are facing.

Explain: Some of the top most noted themes are being developed into series that will follow the next 6 designated weeks of You Asked for It.

The Ministry and Gifts of the Holy Spirit – This Summer

Cultivating Our Intimacy with God

Discovering How God can Use our Work and Workplace to Change Us and Others

Sexual Wholeness

Parenting – planning some seminars seminar

Beginning today we will address 6 of the topics that we felt were most appropriate to address within a morning’s focus.

Begin this morning with maintaining relationship …

Restoring relationships when conflict lies unresolved.

Some of the actual statements noted from those among us include…

“Confronting others in love”

“Real forgiveness”

“Getting along”

“Friendships”

“Reconciliation”

“Bitterness and division in the Body of Christ”

“How to bring peace”

“Relationships with other people, confusion, lack of understanding between us, lack of forgiveness, how do we walk in a spirit of forgiveness all the time?”

“Forgiveness, reconciliation and real community”

This is a question and issue that we as a pastoral team have found vital to healthy community…

Not surprisingly… it is an issue which Jesus sees as vital…

Read together…

Matthew 5:9 (NLT)

“God blesses those who work for peace,

for they will be called the children of God.”

Powerful words to hear… ‘God blesses’ … God moves with favor upon… ho? Those who have peace with evertone? No… those who WORK for peace. (More common translations say ‘peacemakers.’) It is about ... but notice the word “WORK”…

> God is calling us to join a Divine Peace Movement…Divine Peace-Keeping Force tha involves a commitment not to a concept but to a working pattern..

From the very start… given a picture of human relationships apart from God… insecurity… Cain kills Abel.

Today despite all our progress…. the cost of conflict is telling of our need.

The total amount all countries spend on arms now exceeds $1 trillion a year, and about $140 billion of that is spent by Third World countries where those funds could better be invested in social programs for the poor, agricultural development, and educational improvements. ("The human cost of the small arms trade" by Larry Wilson. World Vision, Oct/Nov 1993. Pages 2-7.)

Cost of conflict in our courts…

Consider these statistics from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). Between 1984 and 1991, civil caseloads in U.S. courts rose by 33%, yet the national population only rose by 7%.

In 1990, "new cases filed in state courts exceeded 100 million--about one court case for every three persons in the United States."

Conflict has a power that can control us… and cost us…

Many of you may have heard about what recently came out in the building of the long awaited new stadium for the New York Yankees… taking place this year. Behind the scenes lies the longstanding rivalry with the Boston Red Sox.

Gino— Castignoli. - a Red Sox fan—was a construction worker on the project. He decided to do his part for his team by placing a Red Sox jersey of Boston star David Ortiz in the cement foundation of the new ballpark…to attempt to put a jinx.

He couldn’t keep quiet about it. In fact, he told the New York Post, and they reported the story. Yankee management ordered construction workers to dig up the shirt. Crewman who worked alongside Castignoli told the workers where they thought the shirt was buried, and after five hours of pounding their way through two feet of cement with a jackhammer, they discovered the Red Sox jersey among the gravel and displayed the tattered Ortiz 34 shirt for the gathered photographers.

The cost of retrieving the shirt ….$30,000. ( source: Karen Matthews, "Boston Jersey Dug Out," USA Today (4-14-08), 4C)

> What’s even more fascinating … is how much we may try to bury… and how much it will end up costing. The greatest cost is not the military… or the courts… but the human soul.

Christ isn’t setting forth simply an ideal…. Peace isn’t just an idea; it’s a way of life.

Not just about racial harmony… but real neighbors…

Not just about Rwanda… but rifts between friends, family, co-workers, ….

Not just about Middle East… but marriages….

Not just about political rhetoric…. but personal relationships. …. with the hurt they can experience.

> This becomes clear in what Christ goes on to speak of…

Matthew 5:23-24

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, [24] leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

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