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Tragedy in my life  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:10
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I repented.

For those of you that don’t know repentance is a spiritual word, it’s really a Christian word that means to feel sorrow for a wrong that was done or a good not done - a sin, ask God for forgiveness for the sin, and commitment to obey Christ in that area again. Like when an addict admits that they have hit rock bottom, apologizes to God and to others in their life for what they have done and then enters into treatment with full surrender commitment to recovery. Sorrow and apologies are not repentance, but sorrow, seeking forgiveness, and surrender are repentance. We are all in recovery from sin but in a very true way we have conquered it through Christ. The first step of becoming a Christian, a follower of Jesus, is to repent to Jesus of the sin you have committed and give your life to him. And if we do sin again, which we will do, well the Bible tells us:
1 John 1:9 CSB
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So that’s what I have done in a certain issue and I am going to share it with you today, because I think you might need to join me in this repentance plus I get to share a hilarious absurd story with you, much later but first I have to start with something that the Holy Spirit really guided me into this past week.

I need to repent about my lack of forgiveness.

I try to be a forgiving person but this week I experienced something at worm were for 30 minutes I was criticized, lied about, degraded, it was a brutal dressing down and it wasn’t even a fair verbal fight because I was at work and was so limited in what I could say.
In a normal week this might have been a thing where I would have my wits about me but not only was this an unfair fight but when this occured, it was Tuesday, for those of you that don’t there is a LOT going on in my life. My mom is know in treatment for her leukemia at UC Davis,(Hi Mom!, she is watching) she began on Friday. Also when this occured, I planned to put our wonderful dog Golden of 15 years to sleep, which I did on Friday. We all know that we are still grieving from Bobby’s passing and this past Tuesday, in the midst of all this grief, a parent of a student verbally attacked me at work. In the midst of a meeting just criticism, mis-characterizations.
The meeting ended for me when I raised my voice. I finally got to leave. When I left, I broke down. Too much. I didn’t know if I could go on. Remember when I said a few weeks ago, I don’t got this, God got this. At this moment it felt like no one got this. Have you been there?
You see my friends when you are under going all kinds of accusations, criticisms that you know to be untrue, that are unfair, that are ridiculous, recognize from whom they come.
Revelation 12:10 (NLT)
10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,
“It has come at last— salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them before our God day and night.
The one who accuses us before God day and night is the Devil. The one who will be thrown down by God is the accuser himself. Be careful to criticize others yourself, as no one should want to join the devil in his work. This criticisms ripped at me, and the thought that I didn’t respond because I was at work.
Have you had something like this happened to you? Have you been attacked and wondered how could you have won? Or looked better in the moment, or said that right thing. Perhaps you might say that you have a story way worse than this and I am sure that you do. it’s not a competition. It’s a life moment that all of us experience and all of us are called by God to do something about. This is what God showed me that he wants to do something special in forgiveness
On that day, I thankfully was given the rest of the day off. My whole life changed after that. I am not sure when God brought all the next things to mind but he certainly did to me during the rest of the day.
This is not a simple deal. You know how there are those sins where people are like, whatever, and we mistakenly think God is like whatever, that everyone struggles with forgiving people. Some of us struggle when with the person who cut us off, changed lanes without using a turn single, and others with forgiving our exes, bosses, neighbors. We say we are “working on it” or something nice. But this past week, was just the worst, and I in the midst of the worst, I came face to face with Jesus and what he told me.
Jesus told us
Matthew 6:14–15 NLT
14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Get that?
An author I’ve been reading Ed Cole labels what happens with forgiveness as the principle of release. If you keep it, the sins that those have done against you stay with you.
When this happened, God heard my prayer and I began a process of forgiveness that I should have begun earlier, even before the meeting. Forgiveness requires an acknowledgement that something else should have been done.

Forgiveness begins with accepting that God forgives you and has a different new way.

I realized very quickly that this should have never happened. I felt stupid for not walking out. Immediately thinking oh if I would have done this or that. But then, God got a hold of me. God told me - release it, give it to me. this pain is for giving to God.
So I rejected the coulda shoulda woulda, I am obeying Jesus, I will forgive. This sin, this sinful encounter is forgiven. Some will say easier said than done. Yes and no, when you say you forgive someone it isn’t like you cleaned your entire house or ran a marathon. There is no physical act right? It is a mental choice. God tells us to do it and the question is will we have faith in God with the wrongs committed?

Forgiveness is a choice of the mind to trust God with our pain.

Thankfully I had time to allow God to work on my mind. After I left the school I was immediately grateful. Grateful that I got to go home and talk with my parents. A gift that should never be taken for granted. These accusations and falsehoods are the actions of our enemy, the devil and demons, but more importantly than that attack is our counter-attack, gratitude changes everything.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 CSB
18 give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

When everything is falling down, GIVE THANKS

Friends this is a lesson in repentance, and I realized that when I thought I was at my lowest, God showed me that I was in His hands. Even with all the real stressors in my life, and this horrible moment. I went home with encouragement from all who saw me as I walked out the school gate and grateful to a principal who just said, “can I talk you into taking a mental health day. We can cover everything. Then to my mom who gave me a great big hug, and shared with me her great advice.
I realized something while talking to her. First, God tells us
Galatians 6:7 CSB
7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap,
Sowing is a planting term, like if you put seeds in the ground, that’s the plant your going to get. What you work on doing in life, what your thinking about, what you plan, what you dream up, what you look for, that’s what you are going to get. I repent this day because I didn’t seek peace in this relationship in my mind. In the days prior to this meeting I dreamed of the ways I was going to correct this person. I thought about the exact words to say so I could finally get my point across. But my hopes were not on leaving the meeting in peace, but in being heard.

Forgiveness acknowledges in all situations we can seek redemption in Christ.

Redemption in Christ that God can and constantly changes us, if we follow Him we become more of what He created us to be. This doesn’t mean that I am taking any guilt for the actions of another person. What was done was wrong.

When we forgive we are never saying, “What happened is ok.” We are giving what happened to Jesus.

So yes I didn’t pursue peace in my mind but being heard. Yet it seemed so horrible because I was being yelled at work, the fight wasn’t fair, and the my wonderful mother and I talked about Jesus.
The guy, Jesus, and I can focus on his humanity for a second even though he is also God, the guy was surrounded by people who saw his healings, heard his teachings, loved by him and yet still when Jesus was brought to trial the people he got yelled at too:
Matthew 27:22–23 CSB
22 Pilate asked them, “What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?” They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 Then he said, “Why? What has he done wrong?” But they kept shouting all the more, “Crucify him!”
They yelled crucify Jesus, when Jesus had done nothing wrong. Crucify him when he couldn’t get away, And then actually did it! Yet I am all upset because someone yelled at me. yeah it was awful but my next thought was about the forgiveness that God calls us too.

We always need to look to Christ when we are in a Crisis

After the people yell at Jesus and Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified, Jesus is beaten, he is made to carry wood to a hill and then he has spikes driven through his skin. And in the midst of all of that Jesus says this,
Luke 23:34 (CSB)
34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”
I became more and more aware of how much Jesus knows what I feel like because He knows WAY MORE than what I know about dealing with grief and being attacked. God understands what he is asking for when he tells us to forgive. If you think, Bill, this is nothing, the stuff I went through is way bigger, true, look to Jesus for yours.
In the midst of all of the betrayal Jesus asked for his enemies forgiveness. “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”
When I read this, I just imagine, like the people around him, like the guys who hung him up on the cross, the soldiers standing there, when they heard this, it doesn’t say what they said, but I imagine them saying,
Hey I know what I am doing, we do this all the time. You can talk with my manager but I am pretty good at crucifixions.
After all these guys most assuredly knew how to crucify people and most likely knew they were mistreating people. Certainly the people who conspired to put Jesus on the cross knew what they were doing. Then why does Jesus say they do not know what they are doing?
What they couldn’t have known because God didn’t reveal it to them was they were part of the greatest event in the history of the world. The moment when your and my sins, the punishment was paid.Forgiveness with God becomes possible.
1 Peter 3:18 CSB
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
They couldn’t possibly have known that Jesus became the perfect sacrifice, the right one for us who are not right. He took my punishment for me.
I put him on that cross. No, I wasn’t alive 2000 years ago, but he died for my sins just as much as yours and theirs. We put him on that cross. We were the ones yelling, the ones denying, and so now today, when I stand after someone has so viciously been mean, Jesus says to me,
Matthew 5:43–47 NLT
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.
We are called to be different. We are actually called to love our enemies. People of Jesus, those who follow Jesus, really radically love our enemies. We can’t give lame statements like I love them but don’t like them, and no you can’t say I don’t want to kill them so I love them. Please. Love is defined by Jesus.
1 John 3:16 NRSV
16 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.
Jesus forgave people who were actively crucifying him.
Why would we do that? Because we trust Jesus.
I told my father I wanted to forgive this and experience forgiveness. I didn’t want to think about it anymore. My father gave me an amazing piece of advice. He asked me about my situation, what do your supervisors think? Once you know that, you can move on. My supervisors would give me advice about a next time. That’s what I did. I didn’t dwell on the individual but on next time. When others in the days came to encourage me it wasn’t time to tear down the other person, people love to come and talk down another person, I accepted the building up of me and the encouragement but it’s over and if I have forgiven someone I can’t be part of talking bad about them.
As far as this time went, it was over.
The thing about not forgiving someone is it is never over. It lives in your head, in your conversations, in your secrets. It lives in how you protect yourself from others. It lives on when you don’t even think about because we have spiritually retained the sin. We didn’t forgive it.
Yet as I confronted this wrong done to me, the fact that Jesus himself forgave others and told me to do the same, I’m confronted with the fact that forgiving others is an act of faith. Faith is belief without seeing. It is trust.
Similar to the faith you currently have in your chair.
If I act on the faith of forgiveness I am believing that God is a just God.
Romans 12:17–19 CSB
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.
If I have faith that Jesus saves me from my sins, If I have faith that the Holy Spirit is in me and guides me, than will I have faith that God can handle justice.

Forgiveness is faith that God will take care of us including our enemies.

Forgiveness means I wouldn’t spend another waking minute thinking about the right thing to say, I’m not going to relive this. I only shared with you my brothers and sisters because I couldn’t tell you what Jesus did in my life without sharing it.
I was grateful that on the day it happened I got to go to Maximized men’s group I am a part of on Tuesday nights, we have been reading books by Ed Cole and he talks about what happens when we forgive as God tells us to forgive.
So as we began our meeting I shared about what Jesus was showing me in forgiveness. Then my brother shared a story that I asked special permission to share with you. I gave him every out but he said in his own sense of humor, “he loves to be used.”
One of our brothers thought he had been blessed by God and his very high power bill with the city of Lodi had been paid off by someone he didn’t know. Last Wednesday he learned he was wrong because the power got shut off. He just hadn’t read the website correctly. That wasn’t the only thing he had done, he had called the city of Lodi previously when he thought his bill was at zero and they told him it was paid. They had made the same mistake and now his power was off. When he called to get it corrected, he was accused of being a liar. Told that no one said that, and he was a liar. He was treated so rudely. He couldn’t get anything fixed Then when he went down to the office because they said they couldn’t do things over the phone he was treated rudely and with poor customer service again!
As a group we heard him share more and I ended with can you forgive?
He was like “oh man!” and struggled in his seat. The other guys said he shoud go back and wear a kilt because he loves kilts. Then we started talking about how much he wanted to learn how to play the bagpipes. Now I used to sell bagpipes on Ebay, another story for another day, but one thing I quickly learned from the manufacturer was learning to play bagpipes is one of the most painful experiences for everyone else around you. Bagpipes are hard in themselves but really hard when you don’t know how to play them. I roared in my laughter as we discussed wearing a kilt and practing and learning to play these bagpipes at Lodi power. In other words vengeance.
I think absurd and stupid and funny but in seriousness vengeance is not forgiveness.While I would roar in laughter if it was on tv, in real life this would be time away from his kids, time in rage, time reliving every painful moment and creating new painful moments. What a waste it is to spend time trying to punish people. We can’t possibly punish people in a way that is correct or equal to what they have done to us. It will always be too much or too little and always takes us away from the freedom Jesus intended for us to be from the pain, free from the sorrow, free from having to plan the vengeance or the vindication. Instead to walk in the grace of God knowing that he forgave us, so we can forgive others

(When you forgive) “You may retain the memory, but you’ll never hold it against anyone anymore. You don’t retain the pain. You don’t retain the sorrow. Your don’t retain the regret. You don’t retain the desire for vengeance or vindication. You just release it. You may have the memory of it, but the hurt is released.” - Ed Cole

Some of you have been destroyed by others. People have done unspeakable things to you, criminal things, awful things. Harder than anything I have shared yet, I know, God would like you to experience release. By trusting him with your justice and pain and obeying him by forgiving.

Would you trust Jesus and release the hurt by forgiving others?

It is not ok. Instead they are God’s to deal with. You aren’t going to plot anymore. You are going to beat yourself up anymore. You are going to live, choosing to love and that this is for giving to God.

This pain is for giving to God, will you give it?

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