So many are stuck in prisons that they could so easily escape. Forgiveness is difficult, perhaps among the hardest things to do. But we have let the Spirit give us the capacity to forgive and we’ll be free. (Matthew 18:23-34)
Speaker(s): Pastor Schaller, Roger Robbins
Sermon # 11279
7:30 PM on 6/14/2017
Roger Robbins (Turkey)
This is so incredible. This place. What we just heard. It’s so great to be here. We’ve been in Izmir, Turkey, a place God lead us to. When away from the church, you really get to appreciate these moments when you see so many believers in one place. It’s a real miracle. When people say in church I see God, that’s what this is. Your testimony and your faith is what the world is looking for in this day and age more than ever. People are watching us. I’m so thankful from the bottom of my heart for your support and prayers. It’s a very sensitive thing to be up here growing up in this church. I reflect a lot of things. I count myself so lucky to have been here. To go to this school. To know someone like Deighlene Colby and Mrs. Paragella. She led me to the Lord. I’ll never forget it. Do you have a problem every once in a while in your C. walk that you can’t seem to fix it? That’s happened to me and happens to all of us. Going to Turkey has been a solution for many of my personal problems. You have to throw that away and disregard all that. Paul in Philippians is for the men and women and young people of God. This book is. He teaches us how to live.
Php 3:11-12. If you have a problem it’s possible that it’s because you need to be apprehended. Paul says to go on. God comes from behind us and apprehends us. I thought possibly maybe Turkey could be a turning point and maybe a low point, a point of failure, rejection, and loneliness. When I got off the plane and by no standards was I perfect with three children and my wife, I got off saying God is here and he has been waiting for me at that moment he catches up to you. Paul is saying in your life, go. In your life in Baltimore, at your job, raising kids, in your marriage walk in this faith and you will be apprehended. The word is like a possession like a father. It means to be surprised. In this day and age of information, we need to be surprised. The Lord does this through the work of his H.S. We go, you go, and we are apprehended. If we have problems, look for apprehension. Go, do something. It could be not for the right reasons but God will surprise you. That’s what he does. Paul goes on to teach us. Don’t look behind. Go forward, press on and he will apprehend you. The world is looking for this type of life, for this real thing going on. Paul says we shine as lights in the world. I come back here and see God. We are that light. I now saw in a group of five people in a house in Turkey with new believers that the same thing is happening. This same light, power, surprise, and the same deliverance of my own problems because God apprehended. If you have a problem, maybe you’re not apprehended and find that. He is waiting to apprehend you. He will surprise you and say I love you.
Jesus in Luke 11 broke all the rules. He went to the Pharisees house and ate and didn’t wash his hands. He surprised everyone and everyone is flipping out. He is surprising us. This changed everything and it’s changing us every day.
Thank you again. Me, my team, my wife, my kids, P. Matt and Morgan, thank you for praying for us and believing in us. This is a personal testimony. My kids go to a Turkish speaking school now. I realized I had no place there. I thought it was going to be a great way to connect with people. One day Paige said today we had a singing contest. You can’t sing in Turkish. The teacher said in Turkish to her stand up and sing your song. Paige sang “Jesus loves the Little Children” and the teacher said it was the greatest song she ever heard! I was so blown away God uses my little daughter to give the gospel. There it is again. God apprehending and surprising us.
What we saw in the shooting this morning at the baseball field, what can happen when people hate and are angry. And also alone. If someone is alone and they have something boiling up inside in their heart and mind. Maybe that happens to believers, too.
We read in Eph 4 the importance of forgiveness.
I’d like to speak in Mt 18 on the subject of forgiving. All of us have problems with it. I’m not saying the assassin this morning, I think he had serious problems. I don’t know. I’m just saying it to get your attention and make you think with me. The problems people have. They have problems with themselves, other people, family, their neighbors, and of course some with the government. Forgiveness is hard. Extremely hard. Maybe it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do in your life. God has told us in this parable that he has forgiven us of something that is offensive to him, which is sin.
A few things to say about the word “sin.” It’s not commonly spoken about in psychology or on the street. People say in counseling and in talking to people I have a problem with my boss, my children, my husband or wife, but never hardly do they say I have a problem with my pride. I have a problem with my selfishness. I have a problem with my attitude. That’s like not so immediate. It may get around to that point. This is very important. I have sinned. My sin has damaged my soul. I’m not happy anymore. I don’t have freedom. I’m not joyful or loving. I’ve become crusty and miserable.
When Jesus came into the world he came with this gift to take our sin away. Those are two things you hardly ever talk about. My sin and God taking it away.
This is the source of our joy in Ps 32. Blessed is the man…forgiven.
In this parable, we’ll read from vs. 23 (Mt 18:23-24). This is millions of dollars. This is not a small debt.
I counseled a man in Eastern Europe who had 4 million stolen from him by his business partner. I think he was connected with the mafia so maybe he deserved to have it taken away! His wife was a believer. We went for walks and he was very angry and planning to do something serious about it. I begged him. I said you can’t kill that man, kidnap him, torture him, and hurt him. You have to forgive him. You can look for justice. There is immediate justice and postponed justice and ultimate justice. Immediate is when something is done wrong to you and paid retribution immediately. Then justice that may come later in some years or decades. Then ultimate with God where we stand before God one day.
Here in the parable a man that owes a lot. Look at what he does to him.
vs. 25. Do you know the meaning of that? It’s a serious debt. The guy is not fooling around. He is looking for justice. You will pay everything. I will take you and your wife and children and you will pay. I will require of you and you will pay your debt. No, no, please.
vs. 26. He said have patience. I will pay you. They are in the realm of justice, two words: justice and mercy. It’s very hard. You cannot imagine how hard it is when you’re looking for justice. And you cannot give mercy. We say things like it’s not fair what you did to me. It’s not right. You will pay.
I read a story about this man in Texas and they got in a fight arguing with his wife over soap. You never buy enough soap. I have showered for a week without any soap. She got offended and they argued. Eventually years past and he took a chain saw and went down half the house and moved one half of the house on the other side of the trees and they lived that way for 30 years never talking and each one saying I am right.
One theologian said, “I often said I forgive you but even as I said these words my heart remained angry or resentful. I still wanted to hear the story that tells me that I was right after all. I still wanted to hear apologies and excuses. I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving some praise in return. If only the praise for being so forgiving. But God’s forgiveness is unconditional. It comes from a heart that does not demand anything for itself, a heart that is completely empty of self-seeking. It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice in my daily life. It calls me to keep stepping over all my arguments that say forgiveness is unwise, unhealthy and impractical. It challenges me to step over all my needs for gratitude and compliments. Finally it demands of me that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged and wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and the one I’m asked to forgive.”
Another one says I never find forgiveness easy. Rarely do I find it completely satisfying. I forgive but I’m not satisfied. Nagging injustices remain and the wound still causes pain. I have to approach God again and again and yielding to him the residue of what I thought I committed to him long ago. I do so because the gospels make clear God forgives my debts as I forgive my debtors. The reverse is also true. Only by living in the stream of God’s grace will I find the strength to respond with grace towards others.”
We are starting our Convention season. People are coming from different countries. We gather and love it. We rejoice to see each other…this is one lesson that you’ll never master it. You’ll never really get to know it. Really have it and say I know forgiveness and I got it down. I know forgiveness and it is easy for me. No, there will be times in the past year or years and it will happen in the future and we’ll be called upon to do something extraordinary. It’s called forgive. Forgive.
Bonhoeffer said, “through the medium of prayer – and he was in Nazi Germany in prison. They were going to execute him. He lived under the shadow that maybe he would be. And I believe it was six days before the allied troops took the prison and set the prisoners free that he was hanged by the Gestapo and he wrote, “Through the medium of prayer we go to our enemy and stand by his side and plead for him to God. Jesus does not promise that when we bless our enemies and do good to them they will not despitefully use and persecute us.”
Let’s think about that. I stand beside my enemy and I plead to God for them. Wow. We are in the world in an extraordinary way. To pray for people. To go to God. What did that assassin have in his life today? Did he have a relationship with God? Did he have hatred? Was he in despair, lonely? What was eating in his soul? Was he under the influence of darkness, murder of innocent people?
We are not like that because we have a walk with God. The Spirit of God teaches us. We stand next to someone we hate or can’t forgive or say it’s not fair or not just or that isn’t right. We are understanding that J.C. came into this world and he had this ministry of the H.S. where he would say. – By the way, it wasn’t easy for him. He said in the Garden of Gethsemane take this cup from me. Jesus, you’re going to be on the cross saying forgive them. He could say I’m feeling it. The pressure is coming. The darkness is there. How can I say forgive when the justice of God people pay for your sin. You people pay for your sin. I didn’t sin. You sinned. You pay for your sin. Jesus is there, no. God wants to pay for your sin. God wants to forgive you. God wants to take the hit and hang on the cross. It pleases Him to bruise his son. He saw what forgiveness would do. He saw the new life that would happen through forgiveness. God would have a people, a brand new people. God saw what would happen. It would take our sin away. We’d be made like new people. In the Muslim faith, if he steals according to sharia law, the penalty is take his hand off. Now he is standing there. What is that called? Justice. Now God comes, have you stolen? Yes. I give my Son for you. Now how many hands does he have? [He added more hands.] You know what it means? Justice, we understand it. Lincoln said mercy is a lot better. Mercy rejoices over judgment. This is a log jam. Log jam, justice and mercy. I want justice. I want the penalty.
vs. 27. Those are words of emotion, compassion. Forgave him the debt. He was moved with compassion. He loved him. He saw the thief could become an apostle, a good man.
In Les Miserable, Hugo’s famous classic, the Tale of Two Cities and the whole story about justice and mercy. The convict in the prison came to the bishop’s house to stay one night. He was homeless and had no future. The thief got up in the night and stole the silver and ran away. Police captured him and brought him back to the house. The bishop said you forgot the silver. He whispered to the thief use this money to do good in the world. Mercy changed the thief’s life.
When you are forgiven, it changes you. When you should be judged and you are not, it affects you. This is the message of the Gospel.
Roger said it. Apprehend. Another way we could say is let the transcendent life of God govern your life. I was with a brother talking for an hour and he has been in this church 4 years and God is speaking to him and moving in his heart. He said I’m hungry. I never had this happen to me before. I’m excited about it. I can read the Bible and understand things. Being apprehended. Roger and the family what a beautiful walk of faith. He said do something.
I don’t necessarily move but do something in my heart. I make a decision in my heart and it may be very hard. It may be forgiving. It could be changing my attitude about the Bible. There are people who have stumbling blocks about reading the Bible or walls about the Bible. They maybe feel there is something wrong with them they don’t understand it. If ask them do you read the Bible they say I read the Bible but I don’t know if it’s the same. The Spirit of God anoints you and moves you and starting in weeks or months of time and say I read it but don’t get anything out of it, keep reading it. Keep reading it. It will change your life. The Word of God is living and quick and powerful. What do I do about my problem? God is real and he transcends our world. Come on, follow me. Trust me, draw near to me.
vs. 28. Pay me the 72 cents you owe me! Pay up. I forgive you all your sin and you can’t treat each other with the same grace and mercy then I will put you in prison. You are going to prison. What is a prison? I think it is psychological. May as well put my hands on the bars. God is not letting me out. It’s invisible. It is a prison that has bars. It’s a prison cell. And I go this way and boing! And that way, boing! Why don’t I get anywhere? You don’t forgive. You don’t have the excitement with God. The clarity of mind and thought and simplicity and peace and unction. The clarity of joy. You’re in a prison and we didn’t put you there. You put yourself there. God forgave you of a debt but because you couldn’t deal with 72 cents I’ll let you cook there for a while. How long? Ten years. I’m sure I‘ve seen it. People in prison for ten years. I know of at least 8 years. I asked the woman how long? 8 years. She said I’m back. Please forgive me. I don’t know what I did but that’s the thing about us. You have offended people and don’t know it. 9 out of 10 times someone has a problem with you and not aware of it. How many are angry at me or P. Scibelli? How many can be angry with us and you don’t know? Your attitude. Our pride. We are people that are wrong and offend and all those things. We are sinful people. We are not perfect. Jesus was. And we crucified him. Even if we were perfect it wouldn’t be the answer. The problem is in me. I need to learn to give grace to myself and others. It’s hard to get to the end.
vs. 29-34. Not only was the prison a prison but it was tormenting him. A small world. You can hear it on the death bed when a man can’t forgive and is dying on his death bed. He might say the person’s name. For 30 years and still angry about it. Billy. Breathing his last, Billy. May God judge him! You are blind. You have lost your mind, your way. You are a believer and this is eating you up because you can’t forgive.
Two people laying in bed. This is another story. Husband and wife. One corridor down, two bedrooms. She is waiting for him to come down the hall and say sorry. He is waiting for her to come and say I am sorry. And this goes on. There is a story about it. Years go by. They eat together. They live separate lives. Is that crazy? Is that the nature of man? That is what we are capable of.
People say I’m waiting to see in their face when they really are going to be sorry for what they have done. I know they are really going to receive it from me and respect it and recognize it. Are you sorry? I forgive you. I forgive you then. Then their face changes a little. The person goes you’re not sorry. I don’t forgive you. I changed my mind. Are we crazy? I will forgive you if you never do it again.
What does Jesus say about that? If they do it 70 X 7 times you forgive them. In the same day. This is being apprehended from above. This is God chase pursuing us. God getting ahold of our hearts and teaching us something that will change our life.
How about this convention. We hear messages that bite into our lives and teach us how to live. We get out and go on our way and we say I’m going to apply that. I want God to visit me this year. I want God to be real in my life. No matter how much you study the Bible, if you can’t forgive you will end up in a prison. Are you Spirit filled? Maybe. You don’t look like it. You got a problem? Can you stop and recognize that your life is messed up.
Get right and follow God. Be released from the garbage and the attitude and get on in a deep life with J.C. in reality. Halleluiah! I have something going on in my heart that I’m really thankful for.
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