Thursday, March 15, 2012

Forgive Again... and Again

"What do I do when a friend keeps hurting me and I have to keep forgiving them? I feel like I'm getting trampelled on."

Perhaps you have asked this question at some point. Most likely you have. Well, this question was asked a couple times last week, and as I thought about it more, I had to come back to it this week. Forgiveness is tough. No matter how you slice or dice it, it is not easy. To answer the question though I had to come back to Matthew 18 where Peter asks our Savior, "Lord, who many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Peters question sounded very familiar when I re-read it. The problem I find in both of the questions is that they both focus on a limit of forgiveness. Aren't we glad that Jesus didn't put a limit on what He did on the cross? What a sobering thought! The parable that follows Peters questions goes to explain how great a debt that humanity owed that was paid by Jesus Christ, and how silly it is for us to not forgive such small infractions against us. After teaching last week and preparing for the weeks ahead I am starting to see how big of a role forgiveness should play in all of our relationships.

After bringing the topic of forgiveness back to the surface we went through a great story found in 1 Samuel 18-20. In this story, although the word "friend" is never used, we see a very deep friendship between Jonathan and David. There is so much in these three chapters but I wanted to tell the whole story for just one reason, that being chapter 24. Before I get to chapter 24, here is the brief overview I gave of the three chapters.

Chapter 18-
  • Jonathan and Davids friendship is shown by Jonathan giving David his military tunic, sword, bow, and his belt. 
  • David is victorious in battle, so much that when he returns woman from Israel sing a song going like this "And the women answered [one another] as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands."
  • King Saul grows very bitter towards David and attempts to murder him by thawing his spear. (attempt #1) Yes, you have to keep tract of the murder attempts.
  • David marries King Saul's Daughter Michal.
Chapter 19- 
  • King Saul decrees that David should be killed. (attempt #2)
  • Jonathan goes before his father King Saul on behalf of David.
  • King Saul says he will not lift his hand against David.
  • King Saul again throws his spear at David. (attempt #3)
  • David flees from his home and wife to save his life.
Chapter 20- 
  • David returns to his friend Jonathan to see if Saul is still angry and murderous. 
  • Jonathan comes up with a plan to tell David whether he needs to flee again or if it safe for David to stay. 
  • King Saul still holds bitterness in his life towards David, and Jonathan tells David the news. 
  • David leaves behind his wife, job, friends, and home to save his life. And is on the run till we see an end to the story in chapter 24. 
In the chapters following the story here, we see David on the run and many more attempts to murder him from King Saul. Chapter 24 starts out with what seems to be a break in the action. Saul has to use the bathroom and so he goes into a cave to relieve himself. The catch is that David and his men are in the back of that cave. Davids men try to convince him that this is the time that he should kill Saul, but instead David cuts a piece of Saul's robe off and goes back to the back of the cave. After Saul is done and leaves the cave, David goes out of the cave and calls out to Saul. What happens next is the answer to the question raised by our grow last week, and Peter in Matthew 28. David walks out of the cave and calls to Saul and proceeds to show him the opportunity he had to kill him yet he spared his life. David doesn't say that Saul was warranted in him actions towards him, but says that God will have the vengeance on him, Saul listens and weeps in sorrow. He tells David of how righteous he is for denying the opportunity to kill Saul. 
Now this seems like a crazy story, but it shows how intense forgiveness should be. Saul had tried to kill David many times and David had to leave everything behind so that he could live, and David has the chance to kill Saul, he says no. Whatever your friends have done against you, Im sure it has not reached this magnitude. Think about the great hatred David could have had towards Saul, but yet he forgave him and gave the whole situation to God. What an amazing story of forgiveness! After reading Matthew 28 and then this story, I was so convicted of how much i have lacked a forgiving spirit, and how much I personally need to grow in this area. There is no better way to live than how Jesus, and we see his example in Colossians 3:12.

" Therefore, as [the] elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also [must do]."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Relationships: A Mess Worth Making

"I had such high hopes for our relationship. What went wrong? I thought I had finally found someone I could trust."

"Why does it always go here? We can't even have a discussion about the weather without it ending in an accusation."

Ever heard these, or maybe even said something like them? Relationships and trouble usually go hand in hand, but is that what God intended? Or did God intend for relationships to be a great gift that teach us and constantly refine us?

As we enter March, OSBC youth is starting a new series. The series is called Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. It is based of two books; A book by Tim Lane and Paul Trip called Relationships: A Mess Worth Making (see or buy the book here...) and the Holy Scriptures. The book gave me the ideas but the Scriptures gives the truth to back all of its claims. God is the perfect example of true relationship. He Himself is in constant community, relationship, with the Son and Spirit. Because we are made in God's image, we are made to be in relationships. But as we all know relationships are hard. They usually frustrate us and can sometimes lead us to be bitter against the people we love most. The people that bring us the most joy can most often frustrate us the most. In this series we are aiming to locate the scriptures that tell us what is to be found in our relationships.

Tonight's message (first of 4) was about the three things that should be found in any relationship.

First, Colossians 3:12-14 says " 12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. " FORGIVENESS: really easy to talk about, ten times harder to put into action. This verse is so key to us understanding what forgiveness means in our relationships. To understand the point better we looked at Jesus' parable in Matthew 18:21-35 where one man is forgiven for a 100,000 debt but refuses to forgive a debt of 10 dollars to another man. This parable is gold b Jesus to answer Peters question on how often to forgive. After Jesus answers "seventy times seven", He goes on to tell this parable. When I read the parable preparing for this series I was heavily convicted. Who are we as Christians to refuse forgiveness to others? Christ paid the ultimate price for our forgiveness. We are in turn to forgive because Christ first forgave us! If this was implamented in each and every one of our relationships, think how different our youth group, church, and world would be!

Second, we talked about unity. You might say, what does this have to do with relationships. I took the idea from the end of Colossians 3:14, "the perfect bond of unity." Who are we to unify with in relationships. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says "14 Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?" Does this mean all relationships with those who are unsaved is bad? Can we be around the world? This is a tough verse! The King James uses a word that helps us to understand this verse. It says "do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers." This yoke is a farming tool used to hold two oxen together. The idea that scripture is giving here is that believers should not be in a place where an unbeliever can begin to guide them in a direction away from what God wills and desires for us. The beauty about christian relationships is that neither person has to guide the other. Its not a two person yoke because Christ is in the center of that relationship. By pursuing Christ we will inevitably forfeit the reigns of all our relationships to His leading. That's a weight off the back, huh? We cannot do it on our own! Which leads to the last point...

Lastly, we talked about hope. The scripture I used for this is found in Galatians 2:20. "20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body,[a] I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Colossians 3 and this verse have to work together. Colossians 3 seems to be filled with impossible tasks of the christians, but then Galatians 2 puts it all in context for me. Those things, like patience, kindness, and forgiveness are not possible unless we die to ourselves and Christ lives through us. Imagine if Christ had control over all our actions for a day. Would that radically change how we reacted to people? I think so! We have to realize that we cannot do this on our own. The only way our relationships are going to be Christ-Like and God-honoring is if we die to ourselves and let Christ live through us. This is the great hope we have. This hope binds christians together and allows us to keep going through the tough times. Also, in the relationships we have with those who are unsaved this hope will be something that draws them to Christ. If we die to ourselves and let Christ live through us, this hope we hold will draw them to Christ. What a great hope we have! This hope allows us to see all of our relationships in a new way! 

In the next three weeks we are going to looking at different relationships and friendships in the Bible. My goal is to see our relationships radically change, and God be glorified through it. We have a great gift in relationships, and God wants them to be holy, Christ-Like, and redemptive. 

-John Snavely