Day 27: The Forgiveness is Real

Center Down

Before we begin today’s spiritual excursion, please take a few moments to breathe!  Take three slow, deep breaths, expanding from your abdomen; try not to raise your shoulders. As you inhale, whisper, “We are free… As you exhale whisper, “…when we forgive.”

Slowly read aloud the following Scripture

(Feel free to pause at any time during your reading to reflect on, thank, praise, or acknowledge God’s stirring in your thoughts and emotions.)

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love….

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven. “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market. “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’ “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, we were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king. “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt.

And that’s exactly what My Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.” (Matthew 18:15-17; 21-35, MSG)

For further exploration:

Video: http://bit.do/HolemanForgiveness

Kingdom Prayer

Our Father, we honor You, and we bless You.  With all our souls and all that is within us, we bless Your holy Name.  It is You, Father, who crowns us with love and tender mercies, and You fill our lives with good things. We give thanks to You and proclaim Your greatness. Lord, we will let the whole world know what You have done.  We will sing to You the praises due Your Name and tell everyone about Your wonderful deeds. Thank You, Father, for loving us, forgiving us and saving us. Thank You for being patient with us. Your compassion towards us is unfailing and Your mercies are new every morning. Lord, Your faithfulness is great towards us.

Father, Your Word tells us that if we forgive those who have sinned against us, then You, our Heavenly Father, will forgive us.  But, if we refuse to forgive others, You will not forgive us of our sins.  Today we choose to forgive. We declare that we will be patient with people and forgive those who have offended us.

Holy Spirit, help all of us to forgive people who have hurt us. Heal our emotions that have been wounded and teach us how to love unconditionally.  Continue to extend Your love and mercy toward us. Please remind us daily to use Your power that is living on the inside of us, which helps us in all things.  Lord help us to forget the past so that we can move forward to the future as we press toward the mark of our higher calling in Christ Jesus.

Father, please forgive us for not being forgiving. Forgive us for thinking evil thoughts, and seeking revenge against people who have offended us.  Forgive us for hatred and for not walking in love.  Forgive us for gossiping, lying and for rehearsing in our minds what was said or done to us. I forgive____________________________________for____________________________________, and I release them and let it go.  Father, forgive me for my sins.  You said that if I confess my sins to You, You are faithful and just to forgive me and to cleanse me from all wickedness. Therefore, Father, please forgive me for:

Holy Spirit, remind us of those persons we need to forgive, and help us to forgive.

Holy Spirit, help us not to yield temptation but deliver us from the evil one.

God, You are a mighty fortress. You are subject to none, yet, all are subject to You.  You are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  You are the God who is, and was, and who is to come.  To You, the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture References for the written text Psalm 103:1-5, I Chronicles 16:8-9, Lamentations 3:22-23, Matthew 6:14-15, Ephesians 4:2, I John 1:9, Philippians 3:14, Matthew 6:13, Revelation 1:8, I Timothy 1:17

Concepts to Consider

From Rev. J.D. Walt, seedbed.com (http://bit.do/Walt-Forgiveness)

If ever I have taken a verse out of its context it is this one:

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything we ask for, it will be done for us by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19-20)

And frankly, I think it may be okay. There is a universal principle articulated here that has particular application in this context. Remember, we are talking about the situation where a person has confronted a lost member of the community to no avail. We next took two other witnesses to attempt to bring the person back from the brink of our waywardness, again to no avail. Finally, the church essentially excommunicated the person from our fellowship.

Let’s remember back to the Old Covenant and how it prescribed treatment in this kind of scenario:

“On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.  The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”  (Deuteronomy 17:6-7)

The two witnesses who were brought into the proceedings were actually ordered to be the ones who cast the first stone. Jesus is essentially saying that the two witnesses should be the ones to cast the first prayers—to agree in the presence of God for the redemption and restoration of the offender. That’s quite a reversal, isn’t it?

Still processing all of this, Peter turns his thinking from the wayward sinner to his own relationships and asks this question:

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventyseven times.’” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Peter thought he was keeping with the program with his idea. Jesus blew it out of the water. He’s telling Peter and us that his followers do not conform to conventional teaching. We are to be like Jesus, which means, when it comes to brothers and sisters sinning against us, we are to become people of unlimited mercy.

I struggle with this. How about you?

So is God’s forgiveness unlimited? If so, doesn’t that mean the same should be true for our forgiveness toward others?

Yep, this is a struggle.

Reflection Questions

Personal Reflection:  Remember, Biblical forgiveness is a process, not a moment.  Don’t allow unforgiveness to hold you hostage through anger or bitterness. Who needs your Holy-Spirit enabled forgiveness today?

Kingdom Reflection:  Forgiving frees us for Kingdom work and Kingdom living. How could releasing injustice and hurt allow you to focus on joining God and His Church in the ministry of reconciliation for the wider world?

Optional Time of Centering/Soaking

If possible, take some time, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to get into a comfortable position and simply allow the Lord to minister to you at a deep level (Psalm 42:7).  Turn off or put down all distractions. Close your eyes. Hold in your thoughts a meaningful word,  phrase,  or image from the Scripture you read today. Release all other thoughts and concerns into the Presence of the Lord.  If your thoughts wander, that’s okay, just gently return to your Biblical word, phrase, or image.  You may want to set a timer.

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