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July 5, 2022 8:00 pm
Well as you know we are universe by versatility of the book of acts, and last week we looked at what happened in Damascus after the apostle Paul had met the Lord Jesus on the road. There and if you missed last week, I want to urge you to go back into our website and download the message and catch up with this word to up now where we left off last week. So are you ready okay. The title of my message today is the beauty of forgiveness. Here we go we begin in acts chapter 9 verse 22.
The Bible says, but Saul increased all the more in spring and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah and we said last week, the way he proved it is by taking people back to the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament and showing how Jesus had fulfilled every one of these ancient prophecies are.
That's verse 22 now would pick up at verse 23 and after many days were passed, the Jews plotted to kill him. That is Paul, but their plots became known to Saul and you know, by comparing Scripture with Scripture, we learn that actually between verse 22 and verse 23 there's a three year. We learn about this by looking at the book of Galatians chapter 1. Let me show you.
Verse 11 Paul says I want you to know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it by man, but it came to me by revelation of Jesus Christ.
For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it, but when God, who set me apart from my mother's womb and called me by his grace when he was pleased to reveal his son in me. Where did that happen. Tell me on the Damascus Road. That's right. When he did that so that I might preach Jesus among the Gentiles. Watch now. I did not consult with any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to to Damascus still having never gone to Jerusalem yet.
Now when Paul says that he went into Arabia here in Galatians 1. He does not mean the Saudi Arabia he means the Arabic or the Arabian kingdom, of the Napa TMs.
Let me show you a map. The Napa TN kingdom was an Arab kingdom that was a mighty kingdom, a wealthy kingdom. At the time of Christ, and you see where it was not far from Damascus, and so Paul went into this area. Arabian kingdom and it was while he was here that second Corinthians 12 four happened where Paul says I was caught up in the paradise and I heard inexpressible things up, which a man is not permitted to speak. It was here in the Arabian desert that the risen Lord Jesus personally taught Paul, the gospel message what it Paul say I wasn't taught the gospel by man.
I was taught the gospel by the Lord Jesus himself did he say that without were to happen, and this is also where Jesus taught him all the other great theological truths that he wrote in the books of Romans and first and second Corinthians and Ephesians and Colossians and first and second Thessalonians, and so forth. Folks, this was the Arabian theological seminary. There was one classroom in heaven in paradise.
There was one professor. The risen Lord Jesus Christ and there was only been one graduate from the seminary and that was the apostle Paul himself prays Lord yeah and then Paul says after I graduated I came back to Damascus and began preaching again where the Jews wanted to kill me.
All right, verse 24 and they, the Jews were watching the gates day and night to kill Paul what the Bible says his disciples took him by night, and let him down over the wall, lowering him in a basket and when Saul had come to Jerusalem. Remember in three years since he gave his life to Christ he tried to join the disciples but they were all afraid of him and did not believe that he was a disciple, but Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how long the road he Paul had seen the Lord who spoke to him and how at Damascus he Paul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.
And so Saul stayed with them. That is the Christians at Jerusalem, coming in and going out among them. But he did more than that. Verse 29 says, and he Saul was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews, but they also tried to kill it now. I hope you remember that these fellows from acts chapter 7. These were the fellas these Hellenistic Jews who stole wound up Stephen to death. You remember these guys hello okay good and that means it. Paul knew these guys because Paul was in on that lynch mob. Paul records that he was standing there watching their cloaks, their roles while they were stoning Stephen to death. Paul was friends with these guys.
These guys knew the apostle Paul. Well, and yet look at this. These guys hated Jesus so much that their previous friendship with Paul was irrelevant to them. They tried to kill him to because he stood for Jesus that you know what man got to love the apostle Paul's chutzpah, don't you, I mean look. He knew these guys he knew how they felt about Jesus. He knew how they felt about the gospel and yet he went there anyway and preach Jesus to them. They praise the Lord for this God praise the Lord for this dark now the Bible goes on to say, when the brethren learned of it, that they were going to try to kill him. They brought him down to Caesarea.
Paul and they sent him away to Tarsus which was of course his home city will show you map so that you see where Tarsus was in southern Turkey today and the apostle Paul ends up spending somewhere between six and 10 years here in Tarsus until in acts chapter 11. Barnabas comes looking for Paul and entices him to come back and help Pastor. The new church that had formed a in Antioch so will pick up when we get there and will see Paul again. Verse 31 last verse.
So the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peas and was built why pay because the one man wrecking machine.
The apostle Paul was gone and walking in the fear of the Lord in the comfort of the Holy Spirit is the church multiplied well that's the end of our passage. What a great passage of Scripture. Yeah, wonderful passage of Scripture.
But it's time now for us to ask our most important questions are you ready are you guys in our campuses ready okay this needs to be big, warm because it's cold outside. Are you ready, here we go. Now come on, want to go through a hello house we did is yeah you salon okay look that is you write is a great passage, and boy am I proud of the apostle Paul in manner that guy have God's but I'm not really sure I see how all this relates much. Well, let's talk about that because it does relates to you and me look I want you to see that something incredibly important happen between acts chapter 9 verse 26 and acts chapter 9 verse 28 CPC all right, here's verse 26 and when Saul had come to Jerusalem. He tried to join the disciples but they were all afraid of him and did not believe that he was a disciple and now here's verse 28.
So Saul stayed with them. The believers at Jerusalem, coming in and going out freely among them as a companion as a compatriot as a friend. All right, now what happened between these two verses do you see it. Let me just tell you what it is the Christians in Jerusalem forgave the. The apostle Paul, do you see that you say it all right. Let me know that you see and let's not forget what the apostle Paul had done to these Christians in Jerusalem, and to the people that they love he had arrested them. He had tortured them. He had abused her them. He by his own confession had tried to get together them to blaspheme the name of Jesus he brutalized them, and again by his own confession he killed them without pity man and women. In fact, it was probably not a Christian in the city of Jerusalem, who had not either themselves or in the case of one of their loved ones been in some way negatively impacted by the apostle Paul. We understand that, and yet, in spite of that in all the hurt that he caused day forgave Paul the friends I want to say to you, brothers and sisters of forgiveness is a beautiful thing when it's empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is one of the greatest healing forces in the universe. I read a quote recently by a British psychiatrist who was running a psychiatric hospital. And here's what he said and I quote, listen to this. He said I could dismiss have of my patients today if I could only get them a to forgive." You know, this is why God calls you and me as Christians to a lifestyle of forgiveness why he wants us to forgive other people, brothers and sisters, because he wants us to be free to be free in our souls to be free in our minds. Debris free in our hearts to be free in our spirits and the path to that freedom is the path of forgiveness and that brings me to three very important questions about forgiveness.
I want us to ask and answer number one what is the greatest hindrance to forgiveness and the answer is that the greatest hindrance to forgiveness is our stubborn human pride. You know what it sounds like, well, she started this well he did it first. Well, they were the one who were losers in the wrong. Not me. Well I want them to hurt some after the hurt that they caused me any of this sound familiar your human it should sound familiar nephew Mr. Spock then maybe not, but if your human pay.
This is what we do all of us have been guilty of this. Can we be honest and admit that I cannot get a man all right and you know some of us walked in here today like this feeling like this, toward some personal maybe you can walk in here consciously thinking their name, but if I were to come up to you and mentioned their name, you would immediately go to choir. Could charter got on the inside. Now this is charts only outside and on the inside your heart would be doing backflips.
Can you relate any of this that you can I can to so that leads to my second question, which is why should I forgive this person court is my motivation come from to forgive this person well if you're a follower of Jesus.
If you're not a follower of Jesus. I don't know what to tell you honestly. But if you're follower of Jesus I can answer that question. It's real simple. Ephesians 432 because I'm the one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, I want you to say the next seven words out loud with me ready jaws as God is and cries for gave you there's your motivation.
Folks Colossians chapter 3 says the same thing, bearing with one another and forgiving each other, jaws as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye listen the Bible says that experiencing God's forgiveness is where we get the motivation to grant other people. Forgiveness now you're here and you've never experienced the forgiveness of God.
We need to start their first before we worry about you.
Forgive and anybody else you need to experience that forgiveness by just surrendering your heart and your life to Jesus Christ and once you've experienced his magnificent forgiveness of you than that will open the door for you to be able to forgive other people, I hope you'll do that and you know folks as Christians. Let's admit that Jesus just didn't forgive us one Supercross right now. No listener first John 19 if we confess our sins daily. God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins daily and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Daily look.
As a follower of Jesus, God's forgiveness is every moment of every day of every year of your life and our forgiveness of other people needs to be the same praise Lord. They know whatever anybody does something to me that I like and I start to get center happens to you as a pastor I'm still human right.
Of course it happens to me I can say the right. Now I can say this honest with you. Romans chapter 12 as far as it lies with me. I am at peace with all men, but that may not last for the rest of the afternoon. You understand what I'm saying okay now. Whenever that happens and I got start just I can feel that unforgiving, bitter, angry spirit. You know the verse that God always puts on me. It's in Matthew chapter 7 is the verse that says and why do you worry about the speck in your brother's eye.
In light of the beam. A plank that's in your own eye see boy have I got a plank in my life friends I got a beam as big as a railroad tie in my because I do so much wrong. I mean, I'm always saying something I shouldn't say about other people are thinking sup much of think about other people you know or doing something I shouldn't do.
I mean, I'm terrible. I mean, you talk about God for giving me it's like it's like a whole railroad track. It is like to live like railroad tie after railroad ties the railroad tie. You understand and then I have the nerve when somebody does something to me that by comparison is a spec I got the nerve to not forgive them. That's what the Holy Spirit says to me your your kidding right on this what he says to me you Your kidding you, not for real that you're not going to forgive him after all that I forgive you of our use areas are not serious like well I was brought now in light of that, I guess I'm not and I have no choice but to forgive people folks got the beam they got the speck and you got to be right is there are a long idea which, let's say I even wanted to forgive this person where my going to get the power to do it. I mean, they hurt me so badly I don't even if I wanted to.
I don't think I can well wait a minute now. That's the third question is where do we get the power to forgive and the answer is friends only the power of the Holy Spirit can do this inside of us. When we been hurt the been friends. It takes deep power to overcome it and that deep power goes beyond your human power. It goes to the power of the Holy Spirit in your life as a follower of Christ and listen to what God says. He says Ezekiel 36 I will give you a new heart, not like the unforgiving heart towards this person you have and I will put a new spirit of forgiving spirit within you and I will remove from you your heart of stone towards this person and I will give you a hard flesh. Listen, if we truly want to forgive somebody even a Rabbi Saul in our life and we beseech God to give us the power we will get that power and I say that categorically because I had to forgive my mother and some of you know the story that I hated her with a biblical passion my whole life and I didn't think I could forgive her. But you know what when I said God, I'm willing to if you give me the power he did my mother and I she died. We were friends.
Praise Lord we were friends. So don't you tell me you can forgive the body. I don't want to hear it because I'm telling you that the power of the Holy Spirit can give you the power to do it in their dawn that and I know it's true. Now it made it may not happen in one day you may have to pray about it for a month or two so you can do it but if you wanted you'll get the power to do it because God will give you the power to obey God, he will give you the power to obey God hallelujah. All right, now let me just say two important things before I am number one that forgiving a person does not mean we automatically reenter a close relationship with pay. If a friend betrayed you.
You can forgive him, but it doesn't mean you go back and be there bosom buddy hey, if a coworker sold you out. You can forgive them. But it doesn't mean you have to make them your confidant again if you're a teenager if your best friend at school did you dirty and started dating her boyfriend. Hey listen, or you girlfriend you can forgive him and be kind to them without them being your best friend anymore. Besides, you know that the best way to get over an old boyfriend is get a new one is dead and no one praise Lord. Well, it's true. Hey, this is what forgiveness means. It means that we let go of it. What they did to us.
We let God have it and we began moving on with our life and stand and that leads to the second thing I want to say and then were done and that is forgiving a person does not mean that we're granting them immunity for what they did you say yeah I forgive them was that mean I need to get away. They get away with what they did know know you're just transferring the responsibility for their repayment from you to God lesson Romans 1219.
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather leave room for God's wrath, for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Forgiveness means we release people from our desire to repay them, and instead, we entrust them to the Lord who promises that he will repay them. He will repay them when the time is right. He will repay them in the way that's right. And he will repay them appropriately and righteously for what they did and he will do a much better job than you will you not letting people off the hook nobodies get away with anything. Folks, there is a sovereign holy God watching everything here.
You're just releasing the responsibility from your cell which does nothing but produce malice, bitterness, hatred, and bondage in your given it to God, so you can go walk free body and stand what I'm saying all right now. Let me just give you a caveat and say we are not talking about criminal behavior here God provides. In the Bible chapter after chapter. The punishments for criminal behavior and if someone commits a crime against you, that you have every right in the world all to prosecute that crime right.
We understand that we are talking about personal hurt here. Is that clear. All right, so let me close by saying brothers and sisters. What I want you to take home today with you here it is. If the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem, to whom the apostle Paul had committed far more hurt than anyone's committed to you. If Jesus could give these early Christians the power to forgive the apostle Paul that he gave them then there is not a person alive. As a follower of Christ that you can't forgive, if you will depend on the same power of the Holy Spirit that these early Christians did. That's it. That's it. That's it.
God, it all right now my question is are you ready to ask God to give you this power are you prepared today to say Lord all forgive, if you help me I want to get free today from this bondage of my heart. Remember, you're not hurt them. You hurt yourself. Your bitterness is not affecting their life is your life God want you free, and I want to give you the opportunity today all of us to get free. So just a minute.
All of our campuses.
I'm going to ask those of you who are willing today to say Lord Jesus, I will forgive.
If you give me the power I will. I'm ready to you. Help me I'm good ask you just a moment to get up from wherever your seated and come down front at each of our campuses and get on your knees and say, oh God, I'm here because I mean business. I'm here. God, because I want to be set free from my bitterness and malice you say will on. I'm not coming down front crazy people to think I'm a bad person if I come down front know they won't friends listen having trouble forgiving people doesn't mean you're a bad person. It means you are human being. Yeah, major human being. And unless you don't want to be human being is no reason not to come down, so please don't let your stubborn pride keep you from doing what you need to do.
That's how you got in this mess. Start with and listen to me. Family is the hardest to forgive out a guy in the other servants who when I was shaking hands down front. He said to me was on his knees and said you know families the worst message brother it is.
So if you got a brother or sister, a mother or father that I mean you been carrying it for years. It's time to let it go and let Jesus have.
I'll be down here to greet you. I'll be down here to shake your hand and tell you I'm proud of you for coming your campus pastors will be down front at your campuses so come on now, let's get rid of that pride. Let's come down and do what we need to go tomorrow. Wait for you.
What would a beautiful sight. This praise Lord is a beautiful sight, praise the Lord I can get all the way over there. You guys way over there but I'm proud of you guys honestly I'm so proud of you over here. Come on everybody let's go stubborn pride not let that stop you going to leave here in Salem are not wanted not go now Mirage on not one brother who came up to be just a moment ago and said you know, my mother, God, for you will that happen sometimes I come on here to forgive, or anyone in your day and giving anyone that's in publishing, and anybody else before we close on now leave soon to come down the thinking Lord Jesus, I thank you. The Bible says that if the Son of Man make you shall be free. Yet Lord Jesus. There are so many of us down here on our knees.
Bondage days for months people with murderous we've held it against them. We have refused to forgive them we implanted in our prideful scene in Winston, no way to know God as a result, we minimum on Jesus I pray for everyone down there on their knees and for people sitting in their seats. We decided to forgive but not come down or Jesus. Today's a day of freedom. Today's a day of liberation today is the day the jail cell opening in us walking out bondage is over. Lord we given these folks to you and you will repay.
We need to go on with our life with freedom.
So Jesus help everyone of these folks on give them the power of the Holy Spirit forgive from the declarant ancient history. Let's go on with life. Thank you that you are the great God of power and you can do did in my life. Pray this in Jesus name all God's a preserve assignment directions are more information on research and check on our last night in my mind on that island things really mean anything in between line answers. One of life missed an important question