Pastor's Notes. Hello

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1 Pastor's Notes Hello We're going to look at an aspect of mercy that promises to bring freedom to every corner of your life. It's the truth that mercy forgives. God's mercy brings forgiveness into your life. It's one of the most awesome truths you can get hold of. Jesus talks about two sides to this truth; that mercy forgives. Look in Matthew 6:12 (NLT) in the Lord's Prayer he taught us to pray, "Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us." He taught us that the miracle of mercy brings freedom into our lives in two specific ways. One, when you say God forgive me. And second, when you say, I forgive you. So, this week and next week we're going to be looking at these two different types of forgiveness. Remember, the definition of mercy; Mercy is undeserved forgiveness and unearned kindness. I need that from God and others need that from me. That's the truth; mercy forgives. So how does it work? This week we're looking at how God applies this to us and next week we'll look at how we apply it to other people. Mercy means God forgives you. That is the greatest Good News ever. God is willing to give you a completely fresh start; a completely clean slate. He's willing to remove your debt. He's willing to set you free. That's better than a ten-billion-dollar inheritance because it's about you and not just about money. That's better than a cure for every disease on the planet because it's about eternity and not just now. That's how good this Good News is. It is incredibly good. But you don't have to be in church very long, to realize there's a problem. The problem is we get used to this Good News. After a while it seems like, oh yeah I already knew that. Could you tell me something I didn't know yet? Rather than getting stuck on this one thing that changes everything, we get used to it. Forgiveness is not merely a theological fact. It's a personal gift. It's a gift from God to you. So to get into the personal side of this let me ask you a question: Do you feel forgiven? I know forgiveness is a fact, but I'm asking you right now, do you feel forgiven? I understand forgiveness is a fact. Whether you feel it or not. But a lot of people simply do not feel forgiven. Here's the thing; you feel guilty. And there's a problem when you feel guilty but you don't feel forgiven. You hear people all the time say, I just feel so guilty. Have you ever heard anyone say, I just feel so forgiven today? We don't say that. But we should say that. Because that is what

2 God has done for us in his forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is not just an emotion. It's this genuine experience of God's forgiveness in our lives that creates an emotion when it sinks deeply into our hearts. When you feel guilty it actually usually draws you away from God. Because who wants to be close to the one who makes you feel guilty? But when you feel forgiven it draws you closer to God because you know his love, you know his grace, you know his mercy. There are some truths about forgiveness you need grasp. Truth #1 - God wants to forgive you. He wants to forgive you. He isn't being forced into it. He chooses to do it because of his love. One of the ways to feel forgiven is to recognize how God feels about forgiving you. He wants to forgive you. He doesn't have to forgive you. He chooses to forgive you. Nehemiah 9:17b (TLB) says, "You are a God of forgiveness, always ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and full of love and mercy." He is always ready to forgive you. God is not reluctant to forgive you. He loves forgiving you. He wants to forgive you. He is full of love and mercy. It is overflowing from him and he wants it in your life. Micah 7:18b (NIV) talks about it; about God. It says, "You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy." Did you know that showing mercy, showing you forgiveness is one of the things that God delights in? It's one of God's favorite things to do. It's one of the things that makes God's day, just to forgive you. He wants to forgive you. It just delights him. God looks forward to forgiving you, the Bible says, from before the world was created. That's how long he looked forward to forgiving you. He delights in forgiving you. That's how God feels about your forgiveness. That's how God chooses your forgiveness. God wants to forgive you. You start to get a hold of that and you start to feel what it means to be forgiven. Truth #2 God freely forgives you. He wants to forgive you and then he freely forgives you. There's no way to earn forgiveness because it can't be earned; it's such a great gift. God freely gives it to you. Romans 3:23-24 (TLB) talks about that, "All of us have sinned [We all know that part of the verse. We've all experienced that but not everybody knows the next part]...yet now God declares us 'not guilty' of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who freely takes away our sins."this verse reminds you that you can never earn or deserve God's forgiveness. It's a gift of grace. Just because it's free doesn't mean it cost nothing. It cost everything. It cost God everything. Jesus Christ died on the cross in order to offer us the gift of forgiveness. He paid the price we couldn't pay so we wouldn't have to pay that price. That's what the cross of Christ is all about.

3 Forgiveness, for Jesus, cost him his life. Cost him his death on the cross. But for you and me it is absolutely free. When we freely trust in God, God freely forgives us. And because we're human, forgiveness is our greatest need. Jesus Christ because he's God decided he would give us the greatest gift. This gift, this incredible gift of forgiveness. Look at this gift. God is willing to absolutely wipe the slate clean in your life. To totally forgive everything in your life. What would keep anyone from receiving that kind of a gift? There are two major reasons. One is you don't believe it. You just simply don't believe it could possibly be true. How could something that good be true? Even though billons of people's lives have been changed by it, you don't believe it. But Jesus dying on the cross says, it is true. God does love you. There is forgiveness for you. The second reason people have a hard time accepting this truth is not that you don't believe it. It's that you think you don't deserve it. You go to church and look around and you think all these nice church people here if they just knew what I've done, they'd know that this part of the message is not for me. I don't deserve that kind of forgiveness because of what I've done, because of what I've said. I absolutely do not deserve it. So let me just say for a moment if you're feeling that way, those people you see in that church, those nice church people, they're not nearly as nice as you think they are. The truth of the matter is we all have our stories. In fact, the next time you see them just ask them to take five minutes and tell how not nice they are. I'm guessing they won't. And that tells you they are not the nice people you imagine they are. You are not alone. We all struggle. I'm not minimizing the struggle that you've had. It may be greater than anyone elses. But that doesn't matter. Because God's forgiveness is greater than any sin. It's greater than any past. The grace of forgiveness is for every one of us. It is for you. No one deserves to be forgiven. It can't be deserved. It is a gift that God wants to give; to you. Maybe you're not sure if you're forgiven. Maybe you're thinking, I'm not sure if I've ever been forgiven. You can be sure right now. You can be sure because it's a gift that's given freely. Right now you can just accept that gift. How do you get the gift? By trusting God. By trusting Jesus Christ. Just trust him right now. You don't even have to bow your head and close your eyes. You can pray with your eyes open. So just say, Jesus Christ, I accept the gift of your forgiveness right now. Thank you for loving me enough to give your life for me and so you could give this unbelievable gift to me. So Jesus in your name I trust you right now for your forgiveness. A very simple prayer. It's a prayer that changes everything. It's a prayer that changes your eternity because it gives you this gift of

4 forgiveness. You can trust him to give the gift that he said he would give. He freely gives this gift. Then as he freely gives this gift, he sets you free. Colossians 1:14 (TEV) says, "...by whom we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven." So as we talk about feeling forgiveness, my question is, are you enjoying your forgiveness. In him we enjoy our freedom. Are you enjoying your forgiveness? It's part of what it means to be forgiven. Just take a minute to enjoy it right now. You can stop having to pay the price for the wrong things you've done. Enjoy your forgiveness. You can stop letting shame and guilt push you into their mold. Enjoy the forgiveness that God has given into your life. The freedom that he wants to give. You can stop feeling judged by God and by others. Right now. Enjoy the forgiveness he's given. You can stop letting that shame, that memory from your past haunt you about what you did, about what you said. And enjoy your forgiveness. Here's what God does. Shame, guilt, and fear are replaced by peace, grace, and love. That's what he does. That's the freedom that he gives you. So enjoy that freedom. That's part of feeling, of enjoying the forgiveness that God has given. So you recognize that God wants to forgive you and he freely forgives you. Truth #3 - God immediately forgives you. You want to feel your forgiveness, recognize that he immediately forgives you. It's not like God says, that particular sin, that one was pretty bad. I'd like you to suffer a little while first and then I'll forgive you. So could you get back to me next Wednesday and then we'll talk about it and then I'll forgive you. No. he immediately forgives you. There's no sin in which he says, wait a little while on that particular one. It was so bad. And then I'll forgive you. The reason it's immediate is because Jesus has already died on the cross. And because Jesus died on the cross immediately you are forgiven no matter what. He immediately forgives me. Isaiah 55:7b (TEV) says, "God is merciful and quick to forgive." God quickly forgives you. So as someone who has been forgiven, as a follower of Jesus Christ, should you ever feel guilty? And the answer is yes, maybe for about a half a second. As long as it takes for you to recognize that God has forgiven you. Recognize what God has done for you. Guilt in your life is like a warning light on your car's dashboard, a red light that says, warning, something's wrong in the car. When the warning light comes on you don't sit there and stare at the warning light. No. You get out and you do something about what's wrong. And when the warning light of guilt comes on in your life you don't sit there and stare at the guilt. No. you turn your eyes to the cross of Jesus Christ. Every time you sense the feeling of guilt, turn your eyes to the cross of Jesus Christ. Because that's where the forgiveness is. That's where the

5 grace is. That's where God's love is. The truth is, there's this myth out there that somehow feeling guilty makes you a better person. It does not make you a better person. It makes you a miserable person. Grace makes you a better person. So you turn your eyes to the cross. You turn your eyes to what Jesus Christ has done. God immediately forgives you. Truth #4 - God completely forgives you. Completely. Absolutely. Totally forgives you. When God forgives there is no part of the sin that is not forgiven. There's no part of you that's not forgiven. He completely forgives you. Colossians 2:13-14 (NLT) makes this abundantly clear. Listen to these verses "...God forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross." Look at that. He canceled the record. Completely annulled it as if it never happened. It's canceled. If you have a bill that's been paid, how long do you remember it? You don't remember it at all. It's canceled. God has canceled the record of our sin. Look at what this verse says. He destroyed it. It's not like God took the file of your sins and put it in some locked file drawer for future use, just in case you get out of line, he's going to bring it back up. He destroyed it. He took the file and he shredded it. Then he incinerated that shredding. Then he atomized that incineration. Whatever your CSI mind needs to go through to realize there's no evidence left, go to that place. Because that's what God has done. God has absolutely, totally erased the record of your sin. It's amazing Good News. It's amazing forgiveness. Micah 7:19 (NCV) says, "You will have mercy on us again; you will conquer our sins. You will throw away all our sins into the deepest part of the sea." So let me ask you: If God has forgotten your sins, if God has put them in the past, shouldn't you? If God has completely annulled them, shouldn't you recognize that forgiveness? The problem is until you understand complete forgiveness, what we're talking about here, every time something bad happens in your life as a follower of Christ, you think God's out to get you. God's punishing you. Because we've all done wrong things in our lives. We still struggle with sin in our lives. Forgiven sin. So we think God's out to get us. God is not out to get you. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." So stop feeling that God's punishing you and recognize that God has forgiven you. The longer you think he's punishing you, the farther you're going to want to be away from him. The more you recognize his love for you the closer you're going to want to be to him. This truth of forgiveness is in many ways the most basic truth of following Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ paid for your sin. You are forgiven. And if there's still something in you and maybe

6 right now there's this feeling that something doesn't seem right; I know what I've done. I know what other people have done who have been forgiven. This does not seem right. If you're feeling that way, that's good. Because the truth of the matter is, it's not right. Because we're not talking about justice. We're talking about forgiveness. We're talking about mercy. And God has decided. He could have exercised justice on every one of us. But instead he decided to choose forgiveness. He chooses to show you mercy because he loves you. He chooses love over justice. He chooses mercy over justice. James 2:13 (NIV) says, "Mercy triumphs over judgment!" Mercy wins. God forgives you. What wonderful Good News. Get a hold of it in your life. Mercy Forgives - God Forgives You! Blessings, Scott

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