Forgiving and Forgiven

Practical Advice For Giving And Receiving Forgiveness

Dan Franklin
Oct 8, 2023    41m
Join us as we look to the Lord's Prayer to find practical advice for giving and receiving forgiveness. Forgiving others is a central characteristic of Christians, so it is important that we learn how to do this with those we have hurt or have hurt us in our lives. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Gwen: [00:00:27] I'm grateful that God has forgiven me because I, like everyone else, I absolutely don't deserve it. And when I see how much he has forgiven me, I feel loved. I think our natural state of things is to keep a record of wrong, you know, we like to remember what someone has done to us. Like, if you withhold forgiveness, you're really hurting yourself a great deal more than you're hurting probably the other person. Like with the instance of my mom, I am pretty certain she feels no need to apologize. You know, and that's hard. If I were to sit with that and keep that at the forefront of my mind instead of loving her, it would ruin our relationship. You know, but instead, I have to constantly go to God and say, you know, Lord, help me with this. You know, I'm so grateful that you don't keep things over me, that you don't weigh me down with things that I've done wrong. Let my hurts not be the center of this relationship, help me to have the strength to, you know, forgive her or whoever it may be. God is perfect, God is holy, and he is just, and sin has to be paid for. So when we sin and have not made that payment for it, we are in debt, and Jesus is the one who paid our debt with his perfect life. And now we get to revel in the grace that God has gifted us with, I am free, I'm no longer a slave to my sin. I mean, sin is going to happen, I'm so grateful that God has forgiven me for my past, present, and future sins, and there is freedom.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:36] "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.", that's what we're talking about today. If you've been around lately, we've been walking through the Lord's Prayer that we just read earlier. We've been walking through it phrase by phrase, and sort of beat by beat because Jesus gave us this prayer as a model for how we pray. And so we've been trying to really get our minds around each beat of this, and today we focus in on the part of the prayer in Matthew 6:12 where Jesus tells us to pray, "forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." And forgiveness is at the center of what we're going to be talking about, and forgiveness is obviously it's a heavy subject on both sides. And you heard Gwen talk about it in the video that there are really two ends of this, there's the bringing our sins to God for his forgiveness, which is difficult; and then there's the forgiving and extending that forgiveness to other people, which is also difficult.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:34] So actually, I thought we'd start with an informal survey just to kind of figure out where we're all at today. For you, which do you find most difficult? I think most of us find both of these difficult. Do you find it most difficult to ask for forgiveness or to extend forgiveness? So actually, let me do a quick survey here. How many of you would say between the two, for me, I find it more difficult to ask for forgiveness. All right, thanks for doing that. So some of you who raised your hands, just wherever you are, you can just kind of call this out because I think we'll all resonate with it. Why is it difficult to ask for forgiveness? Somebody said, not worthy? Not worthy. Pride, I heard somebody say pride. Somebody over here was saying vulnerable, that's the right word, we're very vulnerable when we ask for forgiveness. What else? It's very emotional, you're absolutely right.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:33] And we've talked about this book throughout this series, just as a great resource that we've recommended, Pete Greig's book, How to Pray. I wanted to read you what he says on this because it's right on the same line of what several of you said. He said, "Our greatest need and God's greatest gift are the same thing, forgiveness of sins. And to receive it, we only need to ask and pass it on. But to ask for it, we must first admit that we need it. Instinctively we wriggle, we want to pass the buck. The man blames the woman, the woman blames the snake, anything, anyone but us." This may be the part of the prayer that we get to and we're not so sure we want to do. We're not so sure we want to ask God to forgive us our debts because we're vulnerable, we're humbled, we're humiliated because we've committed sins, and we're not just asking God to sort of excuse it for us, we're asking him to forgive us our debts.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:36] Now, how many of you are on the other end of this, how many of you would say, hey, for me, maybe asking for forgiveness is hard, but extending forgiveness is the one that's harder for me. All right, a whole bunch, we're pretty split 50/50, I wasn't sure how that was going to go. Some of you that raised your hand and said, yeah, extending forgiveness is harder for me. Why is this one so hard? I'm angry. All right, anger, it's an honest word. When we have anger, we don't want to move on to forgiveness. What else? Lost trust, so there are trust issues to deal with, for sure. I heard somebody else say something, fairness. Fairness is a big one. We feel this sense, do you ever wrestle with this where you're like, I don't want to forgive him because then they'd get away with it and hey shouldn't get away with it? Which is a weird thing, because what we're really saying in the end is we're saying I need to make sure somebody pays for what happened to me. We have a hard time forgiving others, and I thank everybody for being honest about this because we're all in the same boat with this together, this is a heavy subject, this is the reason why I wore my brightest shirt today, and I'm only half kidding. So I was like, this is a heavy thing, there are some of you in here that right now you're wrestling with things because you're like, I know I have sin that I need to acknowledge, but I'm kind of trying to press it down or explain it away or justify it. And then there are some of you in here that this will be the most significant part of this whole series that you're saying, I know that there are people I haven't forgiven, and I'm still not convinced that I want to. Because if I forgive them, it almost feels like I'm letting them off the hook, and saying what they did doesn't matter.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:14] Forgiveness is a heavy subject, but it's one that in the Lord's Prayer, which Jeff talked about a few weeks ago, 53 words long in English, this is not a long prayer. Jesus gives significant time to the subject of forgiveness, and that's because if we're praying to experience union and togetherness with God, giving and receiving forgiveness is central to us experiencing that union. Jesus doesn't give us a prayer that facilitates that without the stomping ground of forgiveness. So what we're going to do is we're going to go through this verse real simple today, it's got two parts, so the sermon will have two parts. We'll spend some time talking about our prayer to be forgiven, and then we'll spend some time talking about our prayer to be forgiving. We're asking God to help us to be forgiven, and we're asking God to help us to be forgiving.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:13] And so we'll start with the first part of the prayer, "And forgive us our debts." And I want to make sure we don't take anything for granted, probably everybody in here would be able to say, yeah, I know what it means to forgive, but I'm not sure we do. I think we have some funky ideas about what is involved and what's not involved with forgiveness. So we're going to spend a minute here and make sure we understand biblically what it means and what it doesn't mean to forgive.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:42] And actually, I think we get some help with this because the Greek word used here by Jesus in both halves of the verse, when he says, forgive us our debts, and as we have forgiven our debtors, it's the Greek word that most frequently is used in the New Testament for forgiveness. There are two other words that are sometimes used, but 80 to 90% of the time in the New Testament, the word Jesus uses here, this is the word that's used for forgiveness. And the word is interesting because it's not only used for forgiveness, it's also used in a literal everyday sense throughout the New Testament to talk about leaving or leaving something behind.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:18] So there's a passage in the chapter right before this, Matthew chapter 5, verses 23 through 24. I'll put it up here for us to see, Jesus says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." So if you're in this scenario he describes here, leave your gift there. That word that's translated leave, is the same Greek word that's translated forgive in forgive us our debts. Leave the gift behind, in some sense, what we're asking God to do is God leave my debts behind. To put it a little bit more actively, and this will be a definition I'll come back to throughout, here's a definition for forgiveness, to forgive, when we ask somebody to forgive us...I think the slides aren't quite working, guys. To forgive, there we go, to forgive is to choose not to make the other person pay for their sin. So we're coming to God confidently, as we talked about last week, we're boldly coming to God and we're saying, God, don't make me pay for my sin. Which makes sense with what he says, because he doesn't say, forgive us our sins, he says, forgive us our debts. He relates sin to the idea of debt that we owe, which we all recognize, whether we see it or not, we all recognized at a young age that when somebody sins against you, you feel like they owe you. We still use this language today, you owe me an apology, you're indebted to me. You owe me an explanation. Or maybe some of you, when you're young, had an experience like me, where one of my siblings took one of my Star Wars figures who were very close to my heart and broke it. And after they broke it, I felt like they owed me a new Star Wars figure. When somebody sins against somebody else, they owe a debt.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:34] And this is hard, I mean, this is like seven other sermons that we could do on this, but we live in a culture that is constantly trying to get us away from the concepts of sin and guilt and shame. And I get it, because no one wants to feel guilt and shame, those are horrible things to feel. Guilt and shame are helpful stop-offs along the way to get to where God wants us. And what our culture does is it says if you have guilt and shame, we've got to get rid of those, so let's just explain away the fact that you've sinned and say you only did what everybody else did, or you were trying your best at the time, or what you did wasn't that bad. The Bible doesn't say any of that, it says you knew what you were doing, it's worse than you think it was, you did it on purpose, and you have real guilt and shame. Some of you have guilt and shame over stuff that you shouldn't that's stuff that others put on you, but we all have real guilt and shame. And the answer is not to just say, let me convince myself it's not there, it's that we go to God, and we say, please don't make me pay for my sin. Now, when we think about the idea of forgiveness, I mean, this, in essence, is a passage about debt forgiveness.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:53] I don't know if you noticed, but in the last couple of years, there was a lot of talk in our culture about debt forgiveness, because there's been a lot of talk about college debt being forgiven. And people were arguing about it, and here's where the argument was. Most of the argument was surrounding this, people who were opposed to debt forgiveness, most were not opposed to it out of malice. Some were, I heard some people saying I paid so they should have to pay. If you think that, read Matthew 20 verses 1 through 16, Jesus has a parable that will rebuke you. But what most people were saying was asking the honest question who pays the debt? Because if the debt is forgiven, it doesn't just disappear, somebody has to swallow that debt. So is it the college that's paying the debt? Is it the taxpayer that's paying the debt? So that's why there is a question.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:40] So we get to actually ask a question here, when we're asking God to pay our debt or to not make us pay our debt, we're asking for somebody else to pay the price. And this is why forgiveness is so central to the gospel, God absorbed our debt in himself. Our sins were not forgiven because God said you didn't mean it or it wasn't that bad, or I know you won't do it again, our sins were forgiven because God sent his one and only son to the cross to pay the full price for all of your sins in the past and the present and the future. We are forgiven because God absorbed our debt within himself.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:25] Now, as a quick side note, some of you might be having this thought go through your head right now. You're like, all right, Jesus tells us in this prayer to pray, forgive us our debts. But if I'm a believer in Jesus through my faith in him, and all my sins past, present, and future are forgiven, do I even still need to ask? Like, aren't my sins forgiven? Like, if my sins are forgiven, why would I keep going back to God and asking for my sins to be forgiven? And it's a fair question. Some people have even said that we, as Christians, shouldn't ask for God to forgive us our sins, we should just thank him for already forgiving our sins. And we should thank him for forgiving us our sins, my only problem with those who say we shouldn't ask is that Jesus says in a prayer that he gives us to pray every day, we ask for God to forgive us our sins. This isn't because we need to keep asking over and over again for the same sins in our past to be forgiven, you don't need to do that, that's not what Jesus has in mind here. I think what Jesus has in mind here would be best understood as relational upkeep. If we are in a relationship with God, if we want to experience union with him, we've got to confess our sins. We've got to ask him to forgive us our sins because that's what you do when you're in a relationship with someone.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:55] Now, here's what I also want to say, the vision that Jesus has here is not that every night before you go to bed, you would try to itemize every sin that you committed, terrified that you would miss one, and then it wouldn't be forgiven. First of all, you are not up to that challenge, none of us are. If our forgiveness was dependent on the fact that we've named every sin, all of us would be lost because there are sins that we don't remember we committed, and there are other sins that we don't even think are sins that we've committed, that's not the burden that we have. The idea is that we're coming to God, we're acknowledging our sins, and we're sorry for the ways that we've sinned against him. We are coming to God because we want to be close to him, and confessing our sins and bringing them to him are part of the process in this. And as I already said, we're not asking God to understand. To just say, Dan, I get why you did that, no problem. We're not asking God to just ignore saying, Dan, I'll just pretend it didn't happen. And we're not asking God to excuse it, saying, Dan, you had a good reason for it. We're asking God to pay our debt and to not make us pay ourselves.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:07] And so here's what I want to do. In a minute, we're going to move on to the second part of this. But I want to pause because this whole series is meant to be very practical, we want to be a praying people. And part of being a praying people is that when we pray, we take time for confession and to ask God to forgive us of our debts. So I've got just four things, I'm going to put them up here on the screen, four suggestions of how we should ask when we get to this point in our prayers. So you can see it up there, first of all, ask specifically. In the prayer, it's general because in the prayer it's for all of us. But ask specifically, ask specifically only about the sins that you remember committing. Name them, bring them to God, don't leave it vague, bring the specific sins that you feel weighed down to you, to God, so that you can deal with them before him and ask specifically.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:05] And then also, to go along with that, ask thoughtfully. For some of us, if we have a point in our prayers where we're doing confession, it might kind of go like this. All right, God, I want to confess for every sin I can think of. I can't think of any, I'm moving on. Just sort of like we don't like to dwell there, so we just might move on too quickly, confess thoughtfully, ask thoughtfully. Take time, pause, and ask God to search you. This is a time where God is not giving us a burden to confess our sins, he is giving us an invitation to be unburdened when we confess our sins. So ask thoughtfully, and ask remorsefully, this is not flippant, this is not what some people kind of picture with confession of like, well, I'll just say all the things I did wrong and then I'll move on because I'm cleansed. It's about us with sorrow, coming to God with our sins, because we want to repent and we want to change, and we are genuinely sorry. Sorry because we love God, and we don't want to keep sinning against him.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:09] And then finally ask optimistically, which I kind of it's a little bit too weak for where I'm going here, but what I mean by ask optimistically is you already know the answer when you go to God. If you're a believer in Jesus and you're saying, God, please forgive me for the way that I treated my friend this week, you're not wondering what God's going to say. Paid in full by the blood of Jesus, so ask optimistically, knowing God's answer and that he is a God who loves to forgive sins. Forgive us our debts.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:16] And then the second part of the verse is, "As we have forgiven our debtors." We ask God because we want to be forgiven, and then we also ask God because we want to be forgiving. Forgiven people forgive people, which is a theme of the New Testament. I'll put a couple of verses up here on the screen, this is a theme from beginning to end of the New Testament, that forgiven people forgive people. Ephesians chapter 4, verse 32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." And then similarly, you see the end of Colossians 3:13 up there which says, "Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

Dan Franklin: [00:20:32] Now I wish I had put it up there, I didn't put it up there. But let me read for you the first part of Colossians 3:13 because I love this also, Paul says, "Bear with each other and forgive each other." That's two different things, bear with each other and forgive each other. Do you know what is another way to say bear with each other? Put up with each other, which is different than forgiveness. Some people are just going to annoy you, they just are, it's actually one of the mantras in our family when one of the kids is like, ah, he's annoying. I'm like, everybody's annoying. Like, are you kidding me, of course, he's annoying, everybody is annoying. Some of you are more annoying than other people, but everybody's annoying and everybody is annoyed. And so part of what we do is we put up with those things about other people that annoy us, just as other people are putting up with the annoying things about you, we all do this. He says, put up with each other and forgive each other because if somebody's voice just bugs you, you don't have to be like, I forgive you, that's not a thing to forgive, it's a thing to put up with. But sometimes there is real sin against you, and at that point you don't just say, hey, I know you didn't mean it, or hey, you were doing your best, or you don't say it's no big deal. Maybe it is a big deal, maybe they weren't doing their best, you say I forgive you. And when you say I forgive you, you're saying I am no longer going to make you pay for your sin against me?

Dan Franklin: [00:22:12] Now Jesus says something, actually in the direct follow-up to the Lord's Prayer, that ties into this very closely. And I want us to look at these verses for a couple of minutes, this is Matthew chapter 6, verses 14 and 15. So right after the Lord's Prayer, he says this, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Now, in these verses, two things are happening here. On the one hand, what Jesus says here is super simple and straightforward. On the other hand, what Jesus says here is very confusing to us.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:57] So let's start with the straightforward. We're reading these verses and we're scratching our heads a little bit and we're like, so am I reading this right? Is Jesus saying, if I don't forgive other people that God won't forgive me? Is that what Jesus is saying here? Yes, that's what Jesus is saying here. Like you read that right, it's right there. He says if you don't forgive other people, your Father will not forgive you. It is straightforward, it's not even the only time he said it. In fact, if you want to read further on this whole subject of forgiveness, in Matthew 18, verses 21 through 35, Jesus gives an extended parable about this subject, and he ends with basically saying the same thing, if you don't forgive others, God will not forgive you. So on the one hand, super straightforward, Jesus says, if you don't forgive others, God will not forgive you.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:44] The reason it's confusing to us is that we're looking at this and we're saying, but we're saved by grace, not works. We're saved by our faith, not because we did something or jumped through some hoop. So did Jesus just add a condition here? Did Jesus say that you need to do this, and only then are you in; and then if you stop doing it, you're no longer in? This is tricky for us. And so here's the thing that I want to do with this, we don't ever want to cast aside the words of Jesus, so we want to take this very seriously. We don't want to emasculate the words of Jesus and say, nah, it doesn't really count. Jesus said this, so we're going to take it very seriously. And at the same time, we want to understand this in the larger context of how this fits into the Christian life. And I think a simple way of putting what Jesus is going for is this, Jesus is showing that forgiving others is a central characteristic of Christians. If you want to recognize a Christian, or if you want to be able to tell, maybe this person is, maybe this person isn't, one of the central ways to recognize a believer in Jesus is that they are somebody who forgives others.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:59] I've got to do just a quick story on this. This happened, well, this happened long enough ago that it happened in a Borders bookstore. So, you know, it's an old story, you know, so 15-20 years ago, I was in a Borders bookstore, which, if you don't know what it is, I'm sorry, but we have Amazon now, so we can still get all the books. But I was in there, and I was sitting across from a guy who was sort of reading and writing stuff and looked like he was very engaged, and so I decided to start a conversation with him. He was super into philosophy, and it was a really weird philosophy too. He kept saying, you know, he started off well, he said, God is love. And I was like, okay, good. And then he said, and love is God. And I was like, whoa! And then he said, and we are God, and God is us, and we are love. And it was a weird conversation, but I was trying to reach out to him, and I was trying to reach out to him with the gospel. And I'll just say, I felt like I was giving him the best I had. Like everything he brought up, I had a good argument and response for. And I'll just tell you, I was getting nowhere with this guy, like nowhere. Nothing I said, as brilliant as I thought it was, was getting through it all. I had given up on the conversation. I was like, all right, I don't know what's going to happen here, but there's nothing more I can do, and we just sort of started chatting more casually. And as we started chatting more casually, the subject of forgiveness came up in the conversation. And I talked a little bit about something in my past that was very difficult for me to forgive, and how I'd had to work through it and get to the point that I really did extend forgiveness to somebody and how it was hard to do, but I felt a lot of freedom in all of that. I looked across at the guy after I got done telling the story, and he had this look on his face that was like a mix between admiration and confusion. And then he said this, he said, wow, I wish I could be like you. And the reason I tell you that is because all of my clever, apologetic arguments about why he should follow Jesus wasn't really getting through, but when he found out that I was somebody who forgave others that stood out to him. Forgiven people forgive people. It's a central characteristic of us as believers.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:21] And let me bring some more clarity, forgiving somebody does not mean you're saying what they did was okay, it's actually the exact opposite of that. If it was okay, you would just say, that's okay. When somebody asks your forgiveness, don't say that's okay, say, I forgive you, which is very different. I forgive you is saying there is a debt, there was a sin, but I'm not going to make you pay for that sin. Forgiveness also, though, doesn't mean that things are automatically fixed in the relationship. For those of us who are believers in Jesus, God forgives our sins. Amen? He does, he forgives our sins, he does not make us pay. God still disciplines us, and he doesn't discipline us to make us pay, he disciplines us because that is the outworking of our sin that we need to be disciplined and shaped.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:23] Some of you are in situations where there's something that needs to be forgiven, but it's not going to automatically fix the relationship. Maybe there was a betrayal of some kind, and you need to stop making that person pay for what they did, but that doesn't mean things are automatically fixed, that doesn't mean trust is automatically restored. Some of the forgiveness in this room, some of the people that you need to forgive are people who are no longer living, and right now it's not about you and them, it's about you and God. It's about you bringing yourself to the Lord and deciding you're no longer going to make them pay. And if anybody here is like, well, how could I still make them pay if they've died? I promise you; we have ways. And if you don't know how to do it, then you're probably not as petty a person as I am, because I promise you, I have made people pay in my head without them ever knowing I was making them pay. Every imaginary argument that I've ever had in my own head, I have won, they never have anything to say back to it. Man, we can hold a grudge, we can make people pay in our own hearts and in our own minds, even if they're not aware of what's going on.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:44] You know, one of the most profound things I've ever heard about bitterness and sort of refusing forgiveness is that somebody said bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Which is so accurate, bitterness just eats us up from within and somehow, we're like, got to hold on to this because I've got to make them pay. They don't even know, they're living rent-free in your head, they're not even aware this drama is going on, but you are being eaten up from the inside by bitterness. This invitation for Jesus that Jesus gives us to forgive other people, this is not a burden, this is a freedom that we would no longer be consumed by our bitterness. But by forgiving, you're not saying it was okay, you're not saying that everything is fixed, you are saying you are no longer going to in any way make this person pay.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:37] Now listen to me on this. Jesus doesn't say, if you find it difficult to forgive others, your Father won't forgive you. He doesn't say that. Some of us are going to find it difficult. He doesn't say if you forgive somebody, but then later on you find that you're still angry with them, and then you have to work through those feelings again, then God won't forgive you. He doesn't say that that's a part of life. What Jesus is saying is, if you absolutely refuse, then God will not forgive you. And I don't think that the picture here is of somebody who came to faith in Jesus later on decides not to forgive, and then Jesus kicks them out, I don't think that's the picture here. I think the picture here is of somebody who is showing their true colors. Maybe this is a person that raised their hand, walked the aisle, prayed the prayer, and they're like, well, I'm good. I prayed the prayer, I got baptized, I'm good, I'm saved. And their fruit, the evidence of their life is being shown, and one of the key characteristics of a believer in Jesus is that they forgive.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:38] So I want to say something that's going to sound like a big deal. If you right now are refusing, if you're saying, I don't care what Dan says, I don't care what Jesus says, I am not forgiving this person, then it's not simply that your closeness with Jesus is at stake, it's that according to Jesus, your eternal soul is at stake. Forgiveness, lacking forgiveness keeps some people out of heaven because we're unwilling to leave behind our anger and quest for revenge of some kind. We are playing with real bullets here; we need to forgive.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:22] And so, just as I did with the section on asking for forgiveness, I want to go through four ways that I think that we can extend forgiveness to others. And once again, they're up on the screen.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:35] Number one, reflect on God's forgiveness of you. I'll say this is number one for a reason because, for me, I almost don't need to go beyond number one in my life with this. If I spend time reflecting on all of the sins that God has forgiven me of, of all of the things that I should have been wiped out from, and yet he still loves me and he forgives me. It becomes incredibly difficult for me to say, yeah, but that person should pay, I don't have it in me anymore. So reflect on God's forgiveness, and then fully acknowledge the hurt. Don't try to forgive by downplaying the fact that you're hurt or that you were sinned against, you get to give full range to the hurt, but then you stop making them pay. You bring your hurt to God, you ask him to bring healing through all of this, and you're patient with yourself because it's a process, but you stop making them pay. Whether it's in your head, whether it's out loud, whether it's other people, you stop making them pay for their sin, even if there's a road to recovery of trust.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:45] And then finally, you see number four up there is to get help. For some of you in here, this is the biggest part of the whole Lord's Prayer series, is going to be that God is calling you to forgive somebody that you have held out on forgiving, and the idea that you're just suddenly going to do it is unrealistic. You need help, you need a brother or a sister or a small group, you need people praying for you, you need people walking with you, you need people reminding you like, hey, remember you said you were going to forgive them. You need help, and don't be embarrassed to get help. I promise you, the people that you go to with help, 99% of the time, they are going to admire what you're looking to do. They are not going to think less of you, they're going to say, how can I walk alongside this sister or this brother as they look to forgive? Get help where you need it.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:33] And again, Jesus talks so much about this in the Lord's Prayer because forgiveness is central to the gospel, this is right at the center of our message. We don't have a message of God telling us all, you guys are all okay, you guys are all fine. We have a message where we get to fully acknowledge our sin and our guilt and our evil, and then we get to fully revel in God forgiving us and wiping it all away through the sacrifice of Jesus. Forgiveness is central to the gospel, which is why it's so significant that day by day, we continue to go before God, acknowledging and asking for his forgiveness and day by day going before God and asking him to empower us to forgive others.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:20] And so here's what I want to do now. We've been doing this throughout the prayer series, but we're going to take some time right here in the service to be able to pray, to pray what we've just talked about. And as we prepare for it, I'm going to invite members of the prayer ministry team to go ahead and come up to the front. Don't be shy, people need to know that you're up here and this will be for afterward, after our time of prayer. And the reason that these folks are going to be up here is because even when we're done with this personal time of prayer that I'm going to lead us through, for some of you, you need a next step. This time will be good, but maybe it will just be getting the ball rolling a little bit, and you now need some prayer support. Some of you are going to come forward because you're going to say to one of these people, hey, I have a sin I have not been dealing with, and I've confessed it before God; but man, I'm afraid it's just going to take right back over, and I need some help. And some of you are going to come forward and say, God has really convicted me on a person that I need to forgive, and man, it's going to be hard, it's a hard road ahead and I need some prayer support.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:26] And as a fair warning, here's what the members of the prayer ministry team are probably going to do if you come forward, they're probably going to encourage you to pray first, and then they're going to pray along with you. Because they are not here to be your mediators to God, you get a direct line to him through Jesus. They're going to be partnering with you because God is at work in your life, and they're going to be praying alongside you. And then for anybody else, there might be some of you that you have something that you need to come forward about that has nothing to do with what I'm talking about right now, but God is just at work in some way in your life and you need to respond. They're going to be here afterward, and they would love to partner with you in what God is doing.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:10] But for the next few minutes, what we're going to do is going to be really simple. We're going to spend a little bit of time praying to ask God to forgive us our debts, and then we're going to spend a little bit of time praying for God to empower us to forgive others. And I put these back up here again, just in case you want to reference this, as the ways that we ask forgiveness specifically, thoughtfully, remorsefully, and confidently. And the fact that when we forgive others, we reflect on God's forgiveness, we acknowledge the hurt, we stop making them pay, and we get help where we need it.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:10] So I'm going to invite you right now, you can just go ahead and bow your heads where you are, this is going to be just a time for us to bring ourselves before the Lord. I will cue us into some prayer time right now, and we'll have some quiet prayer time after I pray, and then I'll move us to the next time afterward. But Father, we come to you now, banking on your grace and your kindness, and we pray forgive us our debts. Father, we thank you for your grace, thank you that through the sacrifice of Jesus, you have removed our sins as far as the East is from the West. And Father, we pray now that through the power of the Holy Spirit, you empower us to forgive our debtors. Father, thank you that you not only forgive us, but you love to forgive us. We don't deserve it. We pray that you make us a people who will confidently approach your throne of grace to receive grace and mercy and help in our time of need. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:36] I'm going to invite you to stand now, we're going to close our service in a moment. I'm just going to read a couple of verses, but you can go ahead and stand now. And I just want to say again, now, for some of you, your next step in this is going to be something that you do when you get home. But for some of you, even before that, your next step in this is going to be something that you do in this room by getting some prayer support as you look to go where God is going to lead you on this.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:03] But as our benediction, I just want to read some of my favorite verses out of the book of Micah. Micah 7, verses 18 and 19 as our closing benediction, Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. 19You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." Amen? Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:41] God bless you the rest of this Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848