Sermon Illustrations: Forgiveness
A psychology student said to his father, "One thing we learn in psychology is how to deal with people's guilt. We try to convince them they shouldn't feel guilty. But no matter how much we try it doesn't work." His father was a Christian and said, "Of course it doesn't work son. They are guilty."
Micah 7:19 "He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." A song says there's a sign on the edge of that sea which says, "No Fishing".
A very big thumbs down to the person or persons who invaded our privacy on September 18, in the early hours of the morning. Thieves are not welcome in our house. Not only did they invade our privacy but they stole a cream nightie from the washing line. I wish only bad karma to you and hope that the bear which is on the front of my nightie, urinates all over you in your sleep. One day someone will steal from you and then you will know just how it feels. Letter to Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down column, The Reporter 3-10-01, p 10
Ps 103:12 "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." God said He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. Why not as far as the north is from the south? Because you can only travel north for a limited distance. Once you hit a certain point, you will be going south again. But it doesn't matter how far east or west you travel, you will still be travelling east or west.
A minister had sinned very badly and even though he had confessed his sin, he never felt forgiven. A lady in his church was always saying, "The Lord said to me …" It wasn't that he didn't believe her, because she was usually right, but she really irked him. One day he said, "If God is speaking to you, ask Him to tell you what it was I did years ago." A few days later, she came back to him. "Well?" he demanded. "Did you ask Him?" "Yes," she replied. "And what did He say?" asked the minister. "He said He doesn't remember."
The true story of Elisabeth Elliot. Her husband, Jim Elliot was a missionary to a South American tribe of Indians. After only 27 months of marriage he was murdered by the Indians he was trying to help. Years later, she remarried and her second husband died of cancer. At one point while she was a widow she actually went back to share God's love with the same tribe of Indians that had murdered her husband. How was she able to do that? Because she found it in her heart to forgive.
Evangelist Charles Finney preached on 1 John 1:7 "....The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." A stranger asked him to walk home with him; against all advice he did. Ushering Finney into the rear of a building, he locked the door and pocketed the key. "Don't be afraid," the man said. "I just want to ask you some questions. Do you believe what you preached tonight?" "I most certainly do," replied Finney. "We're in the back of a saloon and I'm the owner. Mothers come in here lay, their babies on the counter and beg me not to sell liquor to their husbands. I turn a deaf ear to their cry. When a man leaves here we see to it that he's well under the influence. More than one man has been killed on the railway tracks after leaving here. Can God forgive a man like me?" the man asked. "I have only one authority. 'The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin,'" said the evangelist. The stranger wasn't satisfied yet and asked, "If a man doesn't spend all his money on liquor, we take him to our gambling hall and fleece him of his last dollar with marked cards. Can God forgive a man with a heart like that?" "I have only one authority. 'The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin,'" Finney replied again. The stranger still wasn't finished. He said, "Across the street is my wife and daughter. Neither has heard a kind word from me in five years. Their bodies bear the marks of my brutal attacks. Can God forgive a man with a heart like that?" Finney lowered his head and said, "You've painted one of the darkest pictures I've ever seen. But still I have only one authority. 'The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.'" That night that man became a new creature in Christ.
It was the last weekend of the 1964 baseball season. Bill Valentine was umpiring a game between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees. Dave Wickersham was pitching for Detroit, and he had 19 victories for the season. One more would be a sign of stardom. But it wasn't to be. After a close play, Wickersham tapped the umpire on the shoulder to ask for a time-out. Touching an umpire is against the rules, so Valentine tossed Wickersham from the game - depriving him of his chance for a 20-win season. For the next 39 years, Valentine lived with a gnawing regret for booting the pitcher in the split-second decision. But he doesn't carry that regret anymore. Last year, Wickersham wrote the umpire a note, telling him he was right in his decision and that he held no hard feelings. That note lifted a weight from Valentine's shoulders. Our Daily Bread 1-10-04
When someone hurts you, you've been robbed. Because that's what the enemy does (Jn 10:10), and that person is acting as an agent of the enemy. But if you don't forgive, you will continue to be robbed. Picture this: Someone comes and knocks on your door in the middle of the night. You're sound asleep so you don't hear it. But you have a guest, and they hear it and answer the door. "I want to rob your house." "Sure", says the guest. "Come on in." And the guest goes back to bed. In the morning, you wake up and find out that the thief has taken all your electrical goods. And worse, you find out that your guest is responsible. Would you be angry? Of course! You kick your guest out, and the next night, you're still so angry that you can't sleep. There's another knock at the door. This time you answer the door. "I want to rob your house." "Sure," you reply. "Come on in." Then you go back to bed. In the morning, you wake up and find out that the thief has taken all your jewellery. Who's to blame this time? You are. If someone hurts you, it's not your fault you've been robbed of your goods, your reputation, your innocence. But when you refuse to forgive, and by doing that you open the door and let the enemy just keep robbing you, then it becomes your fault.
Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other guy to die.
When I was a kid we had what we called a "magic slate". I loved my magic slate. You could start doing a drawing, make an absolute mess of it, and that was okay. Because you just pulled the sheet up on the magic slate, and it all just disappeared, and you could just start again. God gives us the opportunity to have a clean slate with Him every day of our lives.
Ernest Hemingway tells the wonderful story of a father and his teenage son who lived in Spain. Their relationship fell apart and the son ran away from home. After some years the father began the long journey in search of his lost and rebellious boy, finally putting an advert in the Madrid newspaper as a last resort. His son's name was Paco (a very common name in Spain). It simply read, "Dear Paco, meet me in front of the Madrid newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven. I love you." The next day at noon, in front of the newspaper office there were 800 Pacos all seeking forgiveness! Word for Today 24-1-08
A soldier made it his practice to end each day with Bible reading and prayer. As the others gathered in the barracks and retired for the night, he'd kneel by his bunk. Some of them saw this and began to mock him. But one night the abuse went beyond words. As he bowed in prayer one soldier threw his boots and hit him in the face. The others jeered, looking for a fight, but there was no retaliation. The next morning when the boot-thrower woke up he couldn't believe what he saw. There at the foot of his bed were his boots - polished and returned. Word for Today 24-6-08
People who say they don't want to go to church because they went once and someone hurt them, are like the person with diarrhoea who says, "I had a bad experience in a toilet once, and I'll never darken the door of a toilet again."
In June 1966, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a celebrated boxer, along with an acquaintance, was convicted of murder in a highly publicised and racially charged trial. The boxer maintained his innocence and became his own jailhouse lawyer. After serving 19 years, Carter was released when the verdict was overturned. As a free man, he reflected: "Wouldn't anyone under those circumstances have a right to be bitter? … I've learned that bitterness only consumes the vessel that contains it. And for me to permit bitterness to control or infect my life in any way whatsoever would be to allow those who imprisoned me to take even more than … they've already taken. Our Daily Bread 10th July, 2008
There's no revenge as complete as forgiveness.