Forgiveness

The Gift of Forgiveness

By Michael M. Cook

Jesus doesn’t make bad people better; He makes them new.

The forgiveness of Christ is remarkable. It extends beyond all sin. Our mistakes and shortcomings don’t define us. He is eager to meet us where we are. Have you experienced the magnitude of His forgiveness? Spend time today thinking about these five characteristics of forgiveness.

Gracious. Romans 3:24 says, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Grace is not earned. It is truly a gift.

Complete. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7) I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name. 1 John 2:12 There is nothing missing in His forgiveness. Nothing.

Ready to Forgive. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86:5 that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 His goodness and love are evident in His forgiveness.

Certain. “… to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:18

Unequaled. Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  Micah 7:18 There is nothing like the forgiveness that comes through Christ. It is life-changing, life-giving and the ultimate gift.

If you’ve never accepted His gift of forgiveness and new life, simply say to Him: “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my debt. I accept your gracious gift of forgiveness and want to follow you.” If you’ve already done this, thank God for this gift. Want to talk to someone? Call us at 505.247.3611 or email kevin@fbcabq.com

Forgiveness Does Not Mean Forgetting

By Karla Mcghan-Barthel

Sunday we started a new sermon series called Dumb Things Christians Say. I thought it was an interesting topic and I felt compelled to write about it because the message was so profound it hit my very soul.
We hear people say, “You forgive and forget,” and God knows I am guilty of saying those words too. But that is not something we do. Let me explain, when someone hurts you, whether physically or emotionally, you always remember. Just like you remember the fall you had that skinned your face and knees (yes, that was me) It doesn’t hurt anymore and it’s healed but I still remember it.
I used to think, you don’t forgive until you forget. I was reminded it’s not true. You CAN forgive without forgetting. However, by forgiving you are making a choice of not ever bringing that transgression up again with the other individual or other individuals. You have made that choice.
I once heard “forgiveness is easy, until you have to do it yourself’ and boy isn’t that the truth? Yet, the power of forgiveness is immense. Really, forgiveness is not about the other person. Even when you think it is or the other person needs to apologize, it is still not about them. When you forgive, you are letting go of the power that transgression has on you, regardless of the other person.
From a theological standpoint, God all knowing, omnipresent, all powerful doesn’t “forget”. How scary that would be if He forgot the covenant he made with Noah and wiped us out with rain again right? He remembers all of our transgressions, yet…wait for it…HE CHOOSES NOT TO BRING IT TO OUR ATTENTION OVER AND OVER AGAIN. As forgiven, saved, and believers He has already forgiven our sins; those we have made, are making, and are about to make. On that faithful day we meet Him again, He will not be like,”Hey that gum you stole, that was very bad and I want you to feel guilty for it forever and ever”.
“If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.” – Mother Teresa

Forgive and Forget

By Karen Polich

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until there is someone in your life to forgive;” – C.S. Lewis

Life is full of hurts. Some we cause, some we are the victims of. We spend a lot of time saying “I’m sorry”, or wishing someone would say it to ease the pain they have caused.

Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Dumb Things Christians Say, takes an honest look at why the concept “Forgive and Forget” is ridiculous and why forgiveness matters. Listen to the podcast here. (Matthew 18: 21-35)

Three truths about forgiveness:

  1. God specializes in unfair trades. 2 Corinthians 5:21, Psalm 103:10
  2. Forgiven people forgive people. Matthew 18:33, Colossians 3:13
  3. Forgiving does NOT mean forgetting.

Our God forgets nothing. He chooses to leave past sins buried.

It is hard to deal with pain, bitterness, abandonment, betrayal and every other kind of hurt. Beyond dealing with the wounds, we are called to forgive. Easy right? NO! Forgiveness can be a real challenge          .

“Our relational success is dependent on our ability to give and receive forgiveness.” – Michael M. Cook

Forgiveness is a process. It takes time to unfold and requires us to seek God. True forgiveness doesn’t come from us alone. We need God to help us and heal our hearts.

Forgiving does not mean we are accepting what was done as being okay. We can forgive and not put up with bad behaviors. We can forgive and maintain protective boundaries. Forgiveness will not include forgetting, but it does come with freedom.

Are we forgivers? Is there anyone you haven’t released from hurting you?

Unforgiveness is like a debilitating disease. It’s a prison of pain and bitterness that could be unlocked if I would walk the path leading to forgiveness. The person who hurt me carries none of it. I wear it like shackles, bound and destroying my best self. There is no freedom.

“If we really want to love, we must learn to forgive.” – Mother Teresa

God can do anything. He is bigger than any hurt. It may take time, but hearts heal. It starts with a willingness to forgive. Let God, who so freely forgives us, help us forgive.

Forget about it and move on? No. Forgive and move forward.

Freedom in Forgiving

By LuAnn Edwards

Why is forgiving others so hard? We know it is what the Lord desires – what He asks us to do in His Word. We know this, but the hurt is real; the pain is deep. How can we let go of it and truly forgive?

Apparently we can, for the Bible says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another” (Col. 3:13a). Forgiveness is our choice. We may choose to forgive from our heart or choose to hang on to our bitterness and resentment which often leads to anger and hatred.

I have been hurt many times over the years. A friend’s snide remark behind my back, deceitfulness on a job, a supervisor who thought I was incompetent, and a friend not wanting me in her life any longer are just a few of the times when I needed to forgive. These events were painful and forgiveness did not come immediately or easily. I had to pray and ask the Lord to soften my heart so I could forgive them. I asked Him to allow me to see them through His eyes of love.

When we hold on to unforgiveness, we make it an idol in our lives. It becomes more important than God and honoring His Word. We feed it by justifying that we have the right to hold on to it, but does holding on to it ease the pain or fuel it? Our unwillingness to forgive keeps our past alive, and the bondage of bitterness can destroy us and our testimony for the Lord. When we fail to forgive, we allow the person who hurt us to continue their control over us.

There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). One truth is that forgiving others sets us free!

When we forgive, we are set free from the painful emotions that rob us of our joy. We can then let go of the past, the hurt, and the anger so we can move forward in faith, love and healing.

Whether your pain came through rejection, abandonment, abuse, or betrayal, forgiving those responsible for your pain will bring healing to your hurting heart. Forgiving those who have hurt you brings you freedom!

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:31-32).

The Lord’s Supper – Preparing Your Heart

Sunday brought the observance of The Lord’s Supper. How will you prepare your heart?

Focus on a very important implication rooted in the phrase “new covenant”; accepting God’s forgiveness. In the Old Testament, Proverbs 4:25 suggests we are not to be followers that hang our heads in shame but who look straight ahead with confidence.

God wants to forgive you. Part of the new covenant in Christ is anchored in the blood sacrifice for our sins…to cleanse every one of them. Imagine a giant blackboard with all of your sins written across it and God comes along with a giant eraser and erases it all. It’s like an Etch a Sketch: you turn it upside down and shake it; turn it back up and the slate is clean. That’s good news, isn’t it?

WE NEED ONLY TO ACCEPT GOD’S FORGIVENESS. We may know about God’s forgiveness intellectually, but we need to believe it, deep down inside, accepting in faith that it is true, because it is!

Our problem is that we want to keep reminding God of things He’s already forgotten. It’s forgiven and forgotten. You’ve already dealt with it. Someone once asked Eleanor Roosevelt, “How did you accomplish so much with your life?” She replied, “I never waste time with regrets.”

Why would a person continue to carry a burden that God has removed forever? If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9

Why would someone take up what has been forgiven? As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

Why would someone remember guilt when God has buried it completely? Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

How wide and how deep is God’s grace? His grace is beyond measure. There is rest and restoration in God’s forgiveness.

Don’t waste time with your regrets. Accept God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself.

We have a God of greater encouragement than any discouragement or struggle we could ever have. – Pastor Michael Cook

God has a plan and purpose for your life. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. He desires for you to be successful and will cleanse you from all sin. Will you choose forgiveness today?

 

 

Days of Suffering – Aftermath of Suffering

By Karen Polich

A faith that is untested is really no faith at all. – Pastor Michael Cook

Concluding his Days of Suffering sermon series with Job 42, Pastor Michael Cook examined Job in the aftermath of all he had been through. Looking at Job’s life, we really have no excuse but to praise God in every circumstance.

In his repentance, Job recognizes God’s sovereignty. He knows that God is bigger than any struggle. When God sets His will on something, Satan cannot thwart it. Nothing can stop God’s purpose. Job sees God’s incredible power and the intimacy of his walk with God is deepened.

God was finished hearing from Job’s “friends”. He let them know He would listen to Job’s prayers on their behalf. These men had not spoken truth about God when they came to Job, yet Job shows forgiveness without bitterness. Job prayed FOR them, not for any punishment against them. He shows us what it looks like to extend the forgiveness God has given us to others. Without this kind of forgiveness in our own hearts, we miss the fullness of God’s forgiveness in our lives.

Job’s repentance and forgiveness brought about the reward of restoration. God restored everything to Job. His ability to see God in the suffering deepened his walk with Him.

Often we are more impressed with and focused on ourselves. An encounter with God gives us the opportunity to know Him with greater depth. It may mean being brought to our knees to bring our focus back to Him.

Big faith says, “God, I am going to trust you no matter what.” (See Psalm 34)

Can you praise God today in the midst of your circumstances?

Listen to the entire sermon series via podcast here.

Intimacy in the Lord’s Supper

By: Karen Polich

Experiencing the Lord’s Supper always astounds me. Knowing that we have the opportunity to partake in the intimate worship of our Lord Jesus Christ through something that He did with His disciples deepens the moment. It is an honor that comes with responsibility. An extraordinary gift bestowed upon us because of God’s grace.

The Lord’s Supper brings me to a place where I can experience Christ in the past, the present and the future. It is time for reflection within my own heart. Have I given everything to God? My sins, fears and failures, hopes and desires? I can rejoice in His glory as we await His return.

My worship is deepened knowing that God might do something in me that only He can do.

There is beauty in the intimacy of communion with Him through the Lord’s Supper, remembering His broken body and the blood He shed.

What awaits my eager heart as I worship Him with sincerity?  Do I seek Him boldly? Do I hesitate? He who makes each day new seeks me. All that is required of me is that I bring myself to Him with a pure heart. Not a perfect heart, but a forgiven one.

His presence is unmistakable. Lavishly He reveals Himself. Jesus gave us the ultimate gift of salvation, reconciling us with God. We read the words of John the Baptist, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29. Jesus was without sin, but about to take on the world’s sin as He sat with His disciples celebrating the Passover meal. In those moments He was still teaching. Honoring Him through the Lord’s Supper, I too have the opportunity to put my trust in Him and learn, seeking Him with gratitude and a heart of worship. His love, forgiveness and grace are waiting to be received.

What about you? What intimate moments do you experience through the Lord’s Supper? We would love to hear from you in the comments section.

The Lord’s Supper is recorded in Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26 and Luke 22:7-20.