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Welcome to If Not For God, stories of hopelessness that turn to hope. Here is your host Mike Zwick. All right, If Not For God with Mike Zwick. I am glad to be back in the studio today.
I'm super excited. You know, when I was thinking about this, there is so much that is going on in the world today and so much confusion. I was actually reminded of a story of Helen and Bob. And one day Bob comes home from work and he says, honey, he says, I understand that your mother needs a place to stay. I understand that she's your mother. He said, but it's been 20 years since she's been in our house. He said, it is time that she got her own place.
And Helen says to Bob, she says, my mother, I thought it was your mother. And so there is so much confusion that is going on in the world today. But I tell you what, there is one thing in the Word of God that we are not confused about. And that is Jesus, Jesus, what he told us that we needed to forgive other people. And if you'll go to Matthew chapter five, starting in verse 32, he says, but I say unto you that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, commit adultery already.
And so you go down there and you go, wow. Again, you have heard that it has been said by them of all time, thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shall perform unto the Lord thine oaths. But I say under you, swear not at all, neither by heaven for it is God's throne, nor by the earth for it is his footstool, neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king. And so God is telling us to do things that are really tough.
Let me keep going on. I'll go to verse 42. He says, give to him that asketh thee and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away. Here it is in verse 43, you have heard that it has been said by them of all time that you shall love your neighbor and you should hate your enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be the children of your father, which is in heaven. For he makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good. And he sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love them, which love you, what reward do you have in heaven? For do not even the publicans and which is the tax collectors do the same? He says, and if you salute your brethren, which salutes you only, what do you have? What have you done more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? He says, but therefore you should be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect.
Isn't that amazing? I mean, sometimes we read the Bible and sometimes we see this stuff and we say, man, God, that must be for somebody else, but surely not for me, Lord. That is too difficult for me. But you know, I am reminded of what Jesus said, where he said that narrow is the gate that leads to righteousness and very few find it. But wide is the gate that leads to destruction and very few find it.
And very few go there in. And so what it tells me is that, you know, I was reading a book by Randy Alcorn on heaven. And he says that people think that the natural default in our life is heaven. So in other words, as long as we don't mess up really bad, then we're going to end up going to heaven because we're not that bad. And you've heard it and I've heard it all the time. Well, why are you going to get to heaven?
Well, because I'm a good person or because my good deeds outweigh my bad. But the truth is, is what Jesus told us. And he made it very clear to us.
And he made it very specific. He says, if you forgive men of their sins against you, he says, your heavenly father will forgive you. He says, if you do not forgive other men of their sins against you, your heavenly father will not forgive you.
If your sins are not forgiven because you will not forgive other people, according to that scripture, if you're not willing to forgive other people, you're not going to make it to heaven. Reminded of a story by Corey 10 Boom. It was a story on forgiveness. It was from a 1972 it was an edition of the Reader's Digest. And this is what she said. She says it was in a church in Munich that I saw him a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutch between his hands.
People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with a message that God forgives. It was truth that they needed most to hear in that bitter bombed out land. And I gave them my favorite mental picture.
Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander's mind. I'd like to think that's where forgiven sins were thrown. When we confess our sins, I said, God cast them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence.
In silence collected their raps and silence left the room. And that's when I saw him working his way toward, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat, the next a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush, the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister's frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin.
Betsy, how thin you were. Betsy and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland. This man had been a guard at Ravensbrück concentration camp where we were sent. Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out a fine message for all of them.
How good it is to know that as you say, all of our sins are at the bottom of the sea. And I who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness fumbled in my pocket book rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course. How could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. It was the first time since my release that I had been face to face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze. You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk, he was saying.
I was a guard in there. No, he did not remember me. But since that time he went on, I had become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things that I did in there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Frawling again, the hand came out. Will you forgive me? And I stood there. I whose sins had every day to be forgiven and could not. Betsy had died in that place. Could he erase her slow, terrible death simply for the asking?
It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, handheld out. But to me, it seemed like hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I ever had to do. But I had to do that. But I had to do what I knew that the message that God forgives has a prior condition that we must forgive those who have injured us. If you do not forgive men their trespasses, Jesus says, neither will your father in heaven forgive your trespasses. I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war, I had had a home in Holland for the victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able to also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars, those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids.
It was as simple and as horrible as that. And still I stood there with a coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion. I knew that, too. Forgiveness is an act of the will.
And the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. Isn't that amazing? Jesus, help me, I prayed silently. I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling. And so, woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one outstretched to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands, and then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. I forgive you, brother, I cried, with all my heart.
For a long moment, we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then. And having learned to forgive in this hardest of situations, I never again had difficulty in forgiving.
I wish I could say it. And so, what she's saying is, is yes, she was able to forgive this man in one of the most difficult positions that she's ever been in. But even after that, with the smaller things, sometimes, sometimes it was difficult. You know, I'm reminded of a story where there was a kid who said, once my father came home and found me in front of a roaring fire, he said, that made my father very mad, as we didn't have a fireplace. Some of you right now who are listening, you may be in the middle of a fire, and you may not know how to get out of it. But I tell you what, the first step to God getting you out of that fire is to forgive that person who has done you wrong. Well, you say, Mike, what about you in your own life? Oh, I know.
Oh, I know. I remember, it's funny, I remember years ago, probably 10, 15 years ago, years ago, probably 10, 15 years ago, I was selling insurance for an agency. And all of a sudden, the money that I was supposed to get from this agency, they were going to give me this money up front. And then they said, No, we're only going to give you a little portion of it.
And then you'll be able to get it on the back end. And it was a $15,000 commission that I was supposed to get. But what they did is, is I actually I left the company, went on to green greener pastures, but they said, we're still going to give you your money, they gave me the first payment. And I never got any of that money.
Now, at the time, 20 some year old kid, I was, you know, $15,000 was a lot of money to me. And it took me a long time before I ever really understood what I had to do and that I had to forgive these people. It was not an option. It was not something that I could feel like doing I knew I well, I could do this or that. It was something that I had to do. But just because you know, something is something that you have to do doesn't mean that it's going to be easy.
It does not mean that it's going to be easy. He reminded of a story. A pair of cows were talking in the field and one says, have you heard about the mad cow disease that's going around?
Yeah, the other cow says, makes me glad I'm a penguin. You know, I mean, it's funny, so many of us are Christians. But what we do is we look at what the world is doing. We look at the worldly literature, and we want to follow the world.
And then we wonder why we have all these problems. You see, I'm reminded of a guy named years ago, a guy named Jack Neville, Jack and Evelyn Neville, who lived in Carrboro, North Carolina, and they've since passed away. But when I was talking to Jack about this, one of the things that he said is he was talking to me about somebody who had a vision of hell. And I was asking him about hell and this and that, whatever. And he said it was awful. It was something that was eternal.
It was something that once you're there, you can't get out. And he said, because, Mike, he says, when you're on this earth, the time to repent is right now. If you haven't forgiven anybody, right? If you haven't forgiven that certain somebody right now, right now is the time. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation.
I tell you what, we're offered, we're promised a lot of things. One thing that we're not promised is tomorrow. And, you know, the Bible makes it very clear that we have to forgive people. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation.
You say, well, I'm not saved right now, but someday, I'll give my life to Christ. I'm reminded of the story of David Wilkerson. David Wilkerson, one day after preaching a sermon in Times Square, he had this young man come up to him who was severely burned.
I mean, severe, like 90 some percent of his body was burned. And he came up and he said, David, he said, I've traveled all across the country to tell you this story. He said, I had been talking to a coworker of mine about giving his life to Christ. I was talking to him and talking to him and talking to him. And he said, the guy kept saying, I'll do it.
I'll do it someday. But he never did it. He said, one day, he says, as you can see with me, I've been burned up. He said, one day we had a, there was a terrible fire at our workplace. And he said, this guy was actually dying. He was taking his last breath. And the last thing that he did not say, he did not say, God have mercy on me, a sinner. He said, do I still have my nose?
And then he died. You see, today is the day of salvation. If you've been putting off surrendering your life to Jesus, do it today.
If you've been putting off forgiving that person, do it today. You know, and it's funny, we talk about all of these other people who need to forgive people, but you know, in Christian circles and conservative Christian circles, I hear the names Joe Biden going around a lot. I hear something about Brandon. I hear, you know, in North Carolina, our governor, I hear the name Roy Cooper. I hear the name Kamala Harris. I hear the name Barack Obama.
I hear the name George Soros. I hear a lot of people talking about these people in a very bad way. And I do understand that there are a lot of bad things that are going on. There are a lot of things that we need to do to stand up as Christians that we need to, we need to stand up to fight for the truth.
But at the heart of the gospel, it says, we still need to love these people. And we need to pray for these people. Are you praying for Barack Obama? Are you praying for Roy Cooper? Are you praying for Joe Biden?
Are you praying for Kamala Harris? Well, Mike, I don't want to do that. It doesn't matter if you want to do it.
The Bible says that we must do it. That's what we're to do as Christians is to forgive and, and I know it's tough. I know it's difficult. I get it. I get it. I get it.
I get it. But sometimes what we have to do is we have to stand firm because, you know, I was reading about CS Lewis and CS Lewis was saying, yeah, like I was talking about earlier, the natural default is not, is not heaven itself. If we do what comes natural to us, that's the wide gate.
You know, there's a story about a, uh, in Denver, there was a Sunday school class who were asked to set down their favorite biblical truths and one youngster laboriously printed, do one to others as they do to you. And honestly, that's kind of what we do, right? I mean, we want to treat other people the same way that, that they treat us. But see, if we do that, Jesus is saying in Matthew chapter five, verse 43 through 40 through through 48, he's saying that you're just like the world. What separates you from anybody else? He says the publicans, the non-Christians in our world today, they like people who like them. Everybody does that. But the truth is, is that when they see us loving people who we have, who we seem to have no business, no business loving, they say, where do you get that from? Where is that love coming from?
Because it's not normal. And guess what? As a non-Christian I'm unhappy and you seem happy.
If you're able to do that, I want what you've got. You know, the Bible says that God's word will not return void. It says it in the book of Isaiah, but I wonder if you're out there sharing the gospel with other people and you're seeing it return void, you're not seeing the success and the results that you want. I wonder, is there somebody that you haven't forgiven? Is there somebody that you need to forgive right now?
I'll give you some random examples. Susie was a member of the church. She sang in the choir, but her husband had done her wrong 15 years ago. He was running around with other women. He was beating her. He was cheating her and it was absolutely wrong what he did. But Susie has a spirit of unforgiveness against her ex-husband.
And you say, yeah, that's his problem. Well, this is probably, it was wrong of him what he did, but the Bible says to us that Susie is the one who needs to forgive him. Now, I didn't say it was easy, but narrow is the road that leads to righteousness. And very few find it.
Why does the gate that leads to destruction? See what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable is that when we're able to forgive people and love people who want to do us wrong, that's not normal to the world. They don't understand that, but that is the way of the cross.
Well, that's tough. How tough was it when Jesus was beaten? Jesus was mocked. Jesus was whipped. He had to carry his cross. He was crucified, half naked in front of all these people, spit on, mocked, everything. Let me ask you this, have you been crucified lately? No. Well, don't give me that Jesus stuff. Have you been crucified lately?
No, I don't think so. Finally, there's another category of people who I believe may be angry at God. You know, my wife's mother had passed away at the age of 60 or 61 of brain cancer. My wife was 17 years old, almost 18. And she, for a while after that, she said, God, why did this happen?
I don't understand. And I don't know if she was angry at God or mad or whatever, but some people have a tough time forgiving God or they're angry at God. Out of all the people that you could be angry at, I wouldn't be angry at God because God is the one person who could turn around your situation. Ted Turner started CNN. He was actually going to be a missionary. But before Ted Turner did any of that stuff, when he was a young man, his younger sister was dying of leukemia. And so Ted said, he said, God, if you heal my sister, I will serve you all the days of my life.
Lord, please heal my sister. And when his sister was not healed, he said, I'm going to give up on this whole God thing. He said, how could a loving God allow something like that to happen?
Well, have you ever read the book of Job? Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and we don't understand why that happens, but we do live in a sinful world. But I started to pray, and I started to pray for this man who had done these horrible things to his wife at a young age. And we started to pray for his family and this and that and the other. And when we were finished praying, he had, him and I had tears in our eyes, and he looked at me and he said, Mike, he said, that's the narrow way. That's the narrow road.
And very few find it. Are you on the narrow road that leads to righteousness or are you on the broad road? Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to forgive somebody who you wonder, how can I forgive this person? The final thing, have you forgiven yourself? You know, sometimes we have, we're able to forgive everybody else who's done us wrong. Everybody else who's done us wrong. Yes, Lord, I'm going to forgive them.
I'm going to forgive them. But we allow the devil to keep reminding us of stuff that we've done in our past. I'm reminded of a story of Martin Luther. Martin Luther was, you know, obviously, he's the, he was one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. But one night he was in bed, and one night he was in bed, and he woke up, and the devil was actually in his room. And what happened was, was the devil had this long list of sins that Martin Luther had committed. And he started reading them out. And after he read a sin, he pointed his finger at Martin Luther and he said, sinner, read another sin, sinner, read another sin, sinner.
And all of a sudden, in the middle of that, Martin heard a voice. And the voice said, tell him to read the end of the list. The devil, and he said, read the end of the list. The devil said, no, I got to get going. And Martin said, read the end of the list.
No, I'm kind of busy right now. Martin Luther said, in the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to read the end of the list. The devil went to the end of the list. And the end of the list said it's all been forgiven. Let me ask you today, have your sins been forgiven? Do you know that if you were to die today, do you know that you would go to heaven? If not, the Bible says that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
John 3 16 says for God to love the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish that have everlasting life. If you don't know if your sins have been forgiven, I want you to surrender your life to Christ right now and pray with me. Dear Lord, I know I'm a sinner. I've messed up.
I've done things that are wrong. Jesus, I asked you to forgive me of my sins. I completely surrender my life to you. Thank you, Jesus, for forgiving me of my sins. In Jesus name. Amen. If not for God. So you'll be alerted when we have our next video. This is the truth network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-11 19:11:26 / 2022-12-11 19:21:39 / 10