Message Scripture: 1 Kings 8:22-61
And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven: I Kings 8:22 (KJV)
Greetings Christlike Ministries NWA Family,
We are just two messages away from wrapping up this series on “Forgiveness” by You Version and Dr. John Tonsend and Dr. Henry Cloud.
It’s fitting that we’re also a week away from sitting down around the Thanksgiving tables with our families. I have also been doing a series exclusively on Facebook also by You Version on “A Plan of Thanksgiving” which I’m also close to wrapping up.
The main hope of this series is that we’ll be able to finally let go of some of the bitterness and unforgiveness we may have against some of the very people we’re going to be gathering with next week.
Thus, the title of today’s message comes at a perfect time because the whole purpose of the Lord leading us through this series is so that we will understand that…
Forgiveness Brings Freedom:
Like I’ve done for a few of these messages, there’s a song playing in my heart and mind as I’m writing this message. So, I figure this song must be meant to accompany this message. This is one of my all time favorite Steven Curtis Chapman songs…and I’m sure that you’ll understand as you listen why this song is echoing through my mind as I pen this message. I’m sorry about the quality of the video, but this is the only version of this song available.
If you’re not a friend of mine on Facebook then you aren’t able to see the messages from the “A Plan of Thanksgiving” series, but even without that series I hope that you’re taking this one to heart and understand that the point of this series isn’t to scold you for holding on to bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness…it’s to help you understand that God wants to bring you freedom and healing over those things…but in order to get what God wants to bless you with you are going to have to be willing to let it all go.
I ended the last message The Surprise of Forgiveness by talking about praying for those who have hurt us with the same passion that we pray for ourselves with, and in this story here we read how Solomon did just what I was talking about.
A recurring theme in Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the temple is forgiveness. He asks God to hear the prayers of the people and forgive their sins. This emphasis on forgiveness is a key element in all our relationships.
Friends, Paul wrote this in Ephesians 4:26-32 (NLT)
26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,
27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.
29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
32 Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
We have to learn to stop allowing anger to be in control because when anger is in control of our lives that give satan all the free access to it he wants, and that allows him the freedom to wreak havoc on our lives. Bitterness and unforgiveness will absolutely destroy our lives, and it will eat away at our hearts (and bodies) like a cancer. I believe that most family problems have some form of bitterness and unforgiveness at the root. What has happened is that those things have been cultivated and allowed to grow for years and some for decades…and your wondering why God doesn’t do more in your life…and it’s because He doesn’t have the same amount of access the devil does because of the unforgiveness in your heart.
Look, this isn’t about the people who did whatever they did to you…it’s about the fact that if you want God to bless your life you are going to have to let that stuff go. It’s time that you stop holding yourself hostage to whatever happened. We have established over the last several messages that forgiving those who wronged you isn’t about them…but it’s about getting our hearts in the right place.
Praying for them with the same passion and fervor that you pray for yourself with will help you do just that. I’ve done it, friends. It is impossible to hold things against someone you pray for as passionately as you pray for yourself. That doesn’t mean the memories fade, or that the hurt of what happened doesn’t rear it’s ugly head from time to time…but what it does mean is I’ve set them free…and I’ve also set myself free from not just the unforgiveness and bitterness in my heart…but I’m set free of the yoke of bondage those things had over my life.
The longer you hang on to this stuff the longer the devil is going to have free access to wreak havoc on your life. If you want the devil to get out of your life…then you have to close his access off…and some of that is by forgiving not just the offender but the offense also.
It’s okay if you are having a hard time. It’s okay if you don’t know how. Just pray. Ask God. I’ve done that. I’ve said; “Father, I don’t know how to forgive this, and I need You to help me.”. He did. Do you know that there isn’t anything that I hold against anyone today!?! It’s because I have learned that holding on to unforgiveness isn’t healthy for me, and it also doesn’t do anything but make me miserable.
Aren’t you tired of being miserable? Aren’t you tired of the yoke of bondage that bitterness and unforgiveness have been around your neck? Aren’t you ready to be free from it? Then lay yourself at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to help you do just that…but do it.
To forgive is very difficult. It means letting go of something that someone “owes” us. But forgiveness brings freedom from the past; it brings freedom from anyone who has hurt us.
We’re back to this point about how we feel like the people who wronged us “owe” us some kind of debt. So, let’s look at this the only way I know how to drive the point home that isn’t what we should be doing…let’s bring it to the woman caught in adultery.
How many of us are like the Pharisees? We have all these people that we bring to God thinking that He’s going to side with us, and condemn them…but instead He stoops down and begins to write all of the things He could hold against us…and the debt we own Him.
Now, I know that this isn’t going to be very popular, but that person that did whatever he did (even if it’s sexual or physical abuse) is no greater a sinner than you or I. That person that killed a relative of yours because he drank too much and got behind the wheel is no greater a sinner than you or I.
No matter what it is that was done to us that doesn’t make the sin greater than what you or I did to deserve the same death, hell, and the grave they deserve. God doesn’t rank sin or offense like we do, and He doesn’t consider the things we consider to be the worst of offenses as such. God sees all sin the same, and while it may affect us differently…whatever was done to offend us in His eyes is still sin.
Listen, we like to think there is a special place in hell for people who can harm children (I’ll admit I wouldn’t be sad if there was), but the truth is the worst places in hell are reserved for those who blaspheme the Holy Ghost, and false preachers who lead God’s children astray.
The truth is Jesus can write any one of our history’s in the dirt, and demand that we pay Him the debt we own Him. Unfortunately, the only acceptable payment for the debt we owe God would require us to die…and die the way of a martyr’s death…but you want so and so stoned for whatever they did to you.
What could the towns people bring you before the Lord to be stoned for? But Pastor Bryan, you don’t understand. Yes, as a matter of fact I do understand. I may not have gone through the same things, but I know what it’s like to go through something and have the right to be unforgiving and have bitterness in my heart about…and I also know that having that junk in my heart didn’t do anything to the other person…and it allowed the devil access to destroy my life…but you want to hold stuff against people thinking it’s them your hurting…you aren’t hurting anyone but yourself for holding on to the bitterness and unforgiveness.
To forgive means to write it off. Let it go. Tear up the account. It is to render the account canceled. “[God] forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13–14). He asks us to forgive others in the same way that he has forgiven us (see Matthew 18:21–35).
Have any of you ever had someone forgive you of a debt? I mean it was a huge amount of money, you knew you couldn’t ever repay it, and the person knew that you couldn’t repay it…and because of that they completely wiped out and wrote off the money you owed them?
That’s what God did for each and every one of us through the Cross, and quite frankly that’s what God expects us to do with those who have wronged us. He says that we will be forgiven in the same manner in which we forgive others.
Look, let me bring this home right here, and I’ve said this before.
What if God forgave you NOW the way you forgive?
No, friends, we need to learn to forgive others the way God forgives us. It’s not easy, but I can promise you it’s a lot better than carrying around bitterness and unforgiveness and allowing the devil free access to wreak havoc upon your life.
We simply have to learn to leave stuff at the foot of the Cross, and trust God with the results of what we lay there…including the things that are hard for us to do. Our part is being willing to submit and obey God’s Word, and when God’s Word says that we’re to be forgiving and pray for our enemies then that’s what we should do.
To forgive means we will never get from that person what was owed us. What is done is done and can’t be undone.
We will never be able to repay the debt we owe Jesus. There isn’t any currency that’s valuable enough to pay what Jesus’ life cost God because there’s nothing more valuable than the Blood of Jesus. It’s the most precious commodity the world has even been given, but we trample on it all the time.
The point is. No matter what it is or was that happened to us…what’s done is done. Holding the resentment or grudge or unforgiveness isn’t going to change what happened, and it’s not going to bring better results for what’s going to happen. It’s also not going to do anything in the here and now other than leave you vulnerable to the devil’s attacks upon your life, and it’s going to leave you with burdens and yokes of bondage that Jesus never meant and doesn’t want for you to carry.
But the result of forgiveness is freedom from that reality and the chance to have a future unfettered by resentment and grudges from the past. It takes the power away from others, and we get our lives back. It is an arrangement that cannot be matched.
As we draw closer to Thanksgiving Day, I sincerely hope and pray that we will all find the freedom from unforgiveness and the bitterness that has held many of us captive for decades. I am praying that this series will touch you at the very core of our hearts, and I hope that we will all be able to find that holding that person captive isn’t holding them captive at all…it’s holding US captive and hindering US from being free from the very thing that has held us captive…which is our own inability to let go and let God take what has happened…and free us from the chains that have shackled us for so long.
And, I believe with that I’m going to close with the previous point which is…
To forgive means we will never get from that person what was owed us.
It’s time to stop being imprisoned by the prison of unforgiveness. Amen!?!
Lord, as we prepare to wrap this series up and gather with our families this Thanksgiving I ask that You would give us the strength to lay down all the hurt, all the pain, all the memories, all the thoughts, and all the scars that have been left. Lord, we don’t want to be controlled by anger, but by the very love of God that’s shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Lord, we ask You to loosen us from the bondage of bitterness, unforgiveness, and free us once and for all from the things that have shackled us and allow us to experience the freedom that comes from being unhindered in our relationship and walk with You. I ask You to heal each and every area of our hearts and the wounds that are not just in our hearts but have cut us to the very core of our souls. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen & Amen.
Friends, we are one message away from wrapping up this series on Forgiveness. However, just because it’s about to be wrapped up I hope that you will remember above anything I’ve written that the only people we imprison by harboring bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts is ourselves.
Forgiveness is the key that will unlock the shackles that have been around our hearts and lives. Forgiveness is the key to the freedom we have been seeking.
If we will allow God to help us…then we too can sing like the man in this song:
I’m free, yeah, oh, I have been forgiven
God’s love has taken off my chains and given me these wings
And I’m free, yeah, yeah, and the freedom I’ve been given
Is something that not even death can take away from me
Because I’m free
Jesus set me free
Thank you for your patience and joining for this series. We have one more message left, and we’ll have this series completed. I know that it’s taken longer than we would’ve liked, but I appreciate everyone that has been patient and followed along.
As mentioned, the hope isn’t that I’ll be famous or popular, but that you will find the healing and deliverance you need from the wounds and scars in your hearts, lives, and souls.
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Blessings & Grace to you!
Pastor Bryan Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA
“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Corinthians 16”24 (NASB)