Too Big to Forgive?

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Lord, how many times do I need to forgive a person who’s hurt me?

Relationships can be difficult. People don’t always speak to each other in charitable ways and people don’t always treat each other kindly. We can’t really expect the relationships in our lives to be “perfect” because people aren’t “perfect.” And what that means is that we’re all going to need to have healthy boundaries that we create to protect ourselves, and we’re all going to need to find ways to rebuild relationships after we’ve been hurt.

In this week’s message, “Too Big to Forgive?”, we’re challenged to ask ourselves two huge questions: (1) How do we know when the sins that people have committed against us are too big to forgive? and  (2) How do we decide when someone’s hurt us too many times?

When we’re hurt by others, we usually step back and do an inner “damage assessment” to determine the magnitude and the severity of the hurt. The decision to forgive doesn’t always come easily. We may, in fact, need to talk with other people and to process what has happened to us. But, on the bottom line, forgiveness is always going to involve the decision to forgive. Forgiveness is always going to be about learning to open our hands and let go of something that has happened to us that was real. And sometimes, what we need to release may be little. And sometimes, what we need to release may be huge.

Has someone done something to you that’s “Too Big to Forgive?”

Let’s open our Bibles to Matthew 18:21-35 and explore that question together as people of faith.

 

That We May Be One

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What does “unity” look like to you?

I suspect that most people believe that “unity” is created when people share similar ideas and perspectives. The “unity” of the Church is centered upon the saving message of Jesus Christ. The “unity” of the Church is created by God as people gather to worship with each other, to pray with each other, and to join hands with each other in ministry.

But “unity” and “uniformity” are very different, aren’t they? We can be “one” with each other when we agree about specific things, but we can also be “one” with each other in times when we disagree about specific things. The “unity” that God creates in the Church is not a “unity” of absolute uniformity; and thus, Christians are called together in a spirit of love even when they are moving through times of disagreement and struggles.

In this week’s message, “That We May Be One”, we explore the difference between unity and uniformity; and, perhaps just as importantly, we learn that we need to learn how to distinguish between “those who are for us” and “those who are simply for the things that we are for.” That distinction is important because “those who are for us” will continue to be “for us” even when we aren’t in 100% agreement about “what we are for.”

Blessings!

 

Reading Through the Bible – Week 11

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Welcome to Week 11 of “Reading Through the Bible.”

We’ve already finished several books of the Bible, and I’m hoping that the wide variety of daily readings has kept you from becoming bogged-down in the more difficult sections of God’s Word. The Bible is a fascinating! The people that we discover in the pages of God’s Word are “real” people who faced the same joys and sorrows that we face. We can learn about life and about faith in the pages of God’s Word because the people that we meet in the Bible were people just like us.

We read an entire book of the Bible last Tuesday!

The book of Ruth is a story of devotion and I’ve always been struck by the words: “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Just imagine that kind devotion! Can you think of somebody who needs to hear those words from you? How are those words reflected in your love toward others? Have you met someone, or perhaps even spent a lifetime with someone, who needs to hear those words from you today? Loyalty and devotion often exist in our relationships; but it’s, sometimes, helpful for us to express our commitments and feelings in words. Why not take some time to do that today?

And now, here are the readings for the next week:

Sunday: 1 Corinthians 5-6 – Monday: Genesis 40-43 – Tuesday: 1 Samuel 1-5 – Wednesday: Psalms 30-32 – Thursday: Job 21-22 – Friday: Isaiah 56-61 – Saturday: Mark 1-2

 

The Gift of One Another

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Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day!

I’ll be stopping at the Hallmark store on my way home from work today. My wife told me that she’s already purchased some special treats that she’ll prepare for tomorrow night’s dinner, and I’m looking forward to a quiet night at home. The relationships that we share with other people are important, aren’t they? Whether we are married or not – we all have people who are important to us, and who share our joys and sorrows.

Did you know that relationships with others are a gift of God that are created to satisfy one of the deepest longings in the human soul? In the Beginning, God created rivers and birds and beasts and trees. The Bible tells us that God created ADAM from the dust of the earth and that God filled ADAM with “spirit” – the “breath of life.” And then, there was a great, big parade. The Bible tells us that God marched elephants, tigers, bears, zebras, giraffes, pygmy goats, chipmunks and even some raccoons in front of ADAM; and God asked ADAM to give each of them a name. And God did that because God was hoping that ADAM would be so delighted with one of the animals that it would become his “partner.” But it didn’t happen – and a great, gray sadness came over the earth.

It is not good that the man should be alone,” God said. (Genesis 2:18) God knew that “it is not good” for any of us to travel through life alone. And so, God decided to give all of us the “gift of other people” who celebrate the best moments in our lives, and who hold us in their arms and bear us up when life gets tough. God decided to give all of us the precious “gift of other people” because God knows that we all need to feel a sense of connection to something other than ourselves.

But, it’s not always easy to live with those “other people,” is it? We, sometimes, take each other for granted and argue about things that aren’t really important. Many of us bury our faces in our Smartphone these days – while time that we can never get back trickles away.

In this week’s message, “The Gift of One Another”, we’re called to think about that – and we’re invited to explore what “real love” looks like in human relationships. We’re going to explore what it means to share life with other people that God has brought into our lives to become members of our “team.”

I wish you many blessings as you celebrate St. Valentine’s Day tomorrow. And I hope that you’ll all take some time, tomorrow, to think about the relationships you share with ALL of the people that God’s brought into your life. It is not good for any of us to travel through life alone – and that’s why God gives us “The Gift of One Another” in order to satisfy one of the deepest longings in our soul.

Blessings!