Forgiveness- #LentExp2017

bolt-986437_960_720I hesitantly write this because I know that this topic requires much more than a brief article.  This article is my attempt to provide enough information and motivation for participants to effectively engage with this week’s challenge.

Keeping “Short Lists”-  I’ve learned over the years to forgive immediately.  It’s a much better way to live.  Therefore, this week’s challenge is pretty easy for me.  I know that is not true for everyone.  This week’s challenge might be as simple as a good refresher for you OR it may cut to the heart of unresolved issues in your life and require the best you’ve got and then some.  Either way…I’m praying for you this week.  Forgiveness is a core issue in the life of the every believer. Think of forgiveness as the key that unlocks the door to freedom.

 

I NEED FORGIVENESS

This world is a messed up place.   That’s pretty easy to recognize.   What’s the problem?   I’m not talking about a list of symptoms.  I’m asking about the root cause.  What makes this world so messed up?  God diagnoses it as a sin problem.  Each one of us has an internal “sin” problem.  The world is messed up because we are messed up.  Wanna change the world?  Start with you.  There are so many ways that we ignore, offend, rebel against, speak badly about, mistrust, and disobey our Creator God.   Jesus endured the punishment that all of that deserves.   We, in exchange, are offered forgiveness and reconciliation with God.

Read Matthew 6:12 and 1 John 1:8-10.

 

A BIG thanks to Freedom In Christ Ministries for permission to provide the pdf in this blog! Check out their bookstore at ficm.org!

A BIG thanks to Freedom In Christ Ministries for printing the Young Adult version of the “Steps To Freedom in Christ”.  Check out their bookstore at ficm.org!

I NEED TO FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE SINNED AGAINST ME

Once we recognize God to be forgiving, patient, and gracious it requires something of us.  We are supposed to extend that same grace to others.

Read Matthew 6:12-15, Luke 6:27-36, and Matthew 18:21-35.

If someone has done something and you are still carrying anger, bitterness, resentment or some other negative and destructive emotion, then you need to know that forgiveness is the way to freedom.  You don’t necessarily need to talk to the person who sinned against you to forgive them.  You need to talk to God about it.  The emotions attached to these issues are real.  This kind of praying is gritty, honest, emotional, and tough.

How do I know when I’ve really forgiven someone?  Good question.  For me one of the answers has always been- If that person needed help, would I be willing to help them?  If I can’t honestly answer “yes”, then I’ve got more work to do between me and God.

Here is a downloadable PDF excerpt from Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil Andersen.  It’s as helpful a summary of how to actively engage in forgiveness as I’ve ever seen.  The particular excerpt is taken from the Young Adult version of the workbook.  It will walk you through this week’s challenge step by step!   

PDF download material originally taken from The Bondage Breaker®. Copyright (c) 2000 by Neil T Anderson. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 97402. www.harvesthousepublishers.com. Used by Permission.

 

I NEED TO RECONCILE WITH THOSE I HAVE SINNED AGAINST

If you’ve wronged someone and have never apologized and attempted to restore the relationship then this week is your week!  The longer you wait, the less likely you are to do it!  There’s no guarantee as to how the person will respond to you.  They may forgive you.  They may not.   You may become friends again.  You may not.  Their response is not the point.  The point is that we, as Christ followers, are obedient to God.

Read Romans 12:18 and Matthew 5:23-24.

Eric Ferris is the Executive Teaching Pastor at Vineyard Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio. Eric grew up Roman Catholic, attended a Pentecostal bible college, and has been on staff at churches with both charismatic and reformed theological leanings (and probably likes you more if you have no idea what that means). Eric created the Lent Experience to "help those of us who grew up observing Lent ritualistically to discover the meaning and heart behind Lent and for those who grew up in evangelical churches or no church at all to discover how valuable it is to get in touch with some of these practices that Christians have observed for hundreds of years."

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