70 X 7
 This will be a short study this week, i know i tend to include a lot of facts and not a lot of encouragement in these studies. I'm a fact oriented kind of guy and it really doesn't take a lot of encouragement to keep me going so i, like most other people give what i have most of. The Father however has begun to deal with me in this area of encouragement so i'll work on it. And you people get to watch me grow in this area, what fun : ). This week there will be a little of both, to challenge you to be forgiving and for those of you like me who tend to forgive everyone but yourself to show you a lesson the Father used to help me get over that.
   Matthew 18:22,23  Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
    Luke 17:3,4
 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
     Forgiveness is very important to God, in fact Jesus said if you do not forgive people the Father will not forgive you Matthew 6:14,15 and Mark 11:25,26. This would be easy if we only didn't have to live together but whenever people live close enough to each other conflicts will arise. For me, unless i am in a situation where someone is abusing me in some way and i can't avoid it, it is easy to forgive others. When i find myself in those unavoidable situations at the workplace, or elsewhere even at home for many, i have to choose to forgive and sometimes it's not easy. Having experienced the alternative however, i know that it is the best way to go.
   You see when you don't forgive, you are usually not hurting anybody but yourself. Unforgiveness can turn to bitterness and both separate you from God's best that He wants for you. The longer you let it go the harder it is to rid yourself of it, so deal with it as soon as you realize it. Before we go any further, let me add a few thoughts here.
   First of all, if you are in a situation where you are in danger, or where someone will not acknowledge their abuse you need not remain in the situation to prove anything. Just because you are commanded to forgive does not mean that you are expected to stay in the situation. Before Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven He said this; Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Matthew 18:15-17
     Secondly, i realize that some of you may be in a situation where you have no choice and i pray that God will reach into your situation and carry you either out of or through your trials, but you must forgive. In Romans 12:19-21 it says  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
   There will come a reckoning and nobody who refuses to repent will escape it, if you really love someone, you don't want them to be there. Who knows whether your patience might be the key that unlocks their heart, besides if you don't have a choice of whether to be in the situation or not you do have a choice of how to act in the situation.
     For those of you who find it easy to forgive others, and believe others are forgiven, yet find it hard to do the same for yourselves, this section is for you. If you are like me, people can take advantage of you occasionally and you forgive without being asked, which is good as long as you don't let it get out of hand. If you think about it you are doing neither of you any good by letting that situation continue, unless you have no choice. By letting someone take advantage of you on a regular basis you are encouraging them to sin and causing yourself to fight a battle to forgive them when you could be doing something more constructive. I'm not saying don't forgive them but i am saying that it is not a sin to confront them or even stop associating with them.
  Remember the passage in Matthew 18:15-17. The other part of that is you find it hard to forgive yourself or believe that God has really forgiven you. This verse is pulled a little out of context but the Lord used it in my life to help me get over this so i will tell the story and you can take it for what it's worth.
  Malachi 2:13   And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.  When i chose to follow the Lord, i had been a believer for years but not serious about it, i couldn't worship in church without the tears flowing. This in itself is not bad and still happens. In fact some people would say that repentance without tears is suspect and i'd have a hard time arguing with them however like all good things there is a limit. If your child came to you and admitted to some wrong, and demonstrated that they were willing to learn to do right, the next thing you want is for the tears to stop and the learning to begin.
  It's the same with God and He had a hard time getting that into my head. He used the above scripture to start the process but it took the passage in Matthew 18: 22,23 and this reasoning to cure me. He asked me one day if i thought He was a liar, shocked i responded of course not. He said if I asked you to forgive 70x7, don't you think I would do the same or better. If I said that your sins would not be remembered {Psalms 103:12, Ezekiel 33:14-16} why don't you believe Me?
   Well from that time i began to understand that if i repented (and i try to keep a very short list with God) of a sin then i am fully forgiven and have an unhindered relationship with God. If that is so then rather than tears, i should be filled with joy, though tears of gratitude do flow sometimes as well as tears when i let the pains of this life get to me sometimes. Moving beyond the tears allowed the learning to really take off, it is also a sign that you believe God and trust that the blood of Jesus is able to cleanse your garments Revelations 7:14
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Hallelujah!  
   If  you've asked God to forgive you He is bound by His own word to do it. John the Baptist said this of Jesus in John 3:31-36 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.  Believe the Son, forgive and you will be forgiven.
   I pray that the Father gives you a wonderful week and until next week the Lord bless and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace.  
6/22/01
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