> [APPLAUSE] >> It definitely deserves a round of applause, and I applaud all those in our church who give us a great example of strong marriages. So well they said, what do you want for your 50th anniversary? They said, we want everybody in our family, the kids and grandkids to all come to a cabin in Missouri for one week, and we'll pay for it.    We're like, we're there. All right? So we go to Missouri, near Branson, and my father-in-law is an avid fisherman, and he's learned how to fly fish, he's really good at it. And he thought it'd be fun for us to go to the river one day and teach us all how to fly fish. I was horrible.    I didn't catch anything out there. I caught some trees, things like that, but it was really a beautiful environment, so we had a blast. After we were coming off the river from a full day of fishing, as my father-in-law showed us all how to do it and caught all the fish. And we were getting our gear together and a guy from across the parking lot, true story, starts yelling at us.    And he says, hey! Wash off all your equipment! Wash off all your gear! Wash your waders! And he's just yelling at us, you gotta wash all that stuff before you put it away! And I'm thinking in my mind, look man, my mom can tell me to clean something up, but I don't know who you are, okay? And he's yelling, you gotta wash all the stuff! And then he points to this sign.    Now, just to make sure you, I knew you wouldn't believe me. I took a picture of this sign because I never heard of this, but this is the sign. And it says, Didymo warning and help stop Didymo. Okay? I didn't know what that was. But basically there's Didymo in Arkansas, and they don't want any of it to get into Missouri, all right? And the way they do that is that they have to wash their gear off because Didymo is everywhere in another state, they don't wanna get it across the border.    I'm like, well how bad could it be, and do I really need to wash this stuff? Then I looked up what Didymo looks like, and here it is. Yeah. Fishermen don't like the term Didymo. They actually use the term Rock Snot. And basically what Didymo does, is it gets all over the rocks, and the fishermen can't stand on it cuz it's slippery.    But worse than that, it actually kills the things that fish eat, and eventually Didymo will actually kill everything in an entire water source. All of a sudden when I saw that picture I was like, man we've gotta wash off our stuff! We gotta get rid of this, we gotta do something because we don't want any of that! In the same way, I want you to see today, when Jesus makes this hard saying about forgiveness, it's like Jesus yelling at us as his followers and saying, get rid of unforgiveness! Wash it away from your heart! Get rid of it because what does it do? It causes all kinds of things.   Unforgiveness It's an invasive species like Didymo. It causes anger, and bitterness, and resentment, and it takes you away from the life that Christ wants you to have. He's saying, get rid of the unforgiveness, it's like a poison in your heart. And if you are struggling with forgiving today, do I need to show you another picture of Didymo? Let's look at it one more time, here's what unforgiveness looks like in your hearts.    Get rid of it! Unforgiveness is like a poison. It kills the things that Christ wants to give you, and it robs you of the blessing of walking closely with the Father. And if you're not there yet, you say, I just don't know if I wanna forgive, did you know that unforgiveness is now a disease in medical journals? That doctors are actually told to ask you, not just about blood pressure and your temperature, they're supposed to ask you, have you forgiven everyone in your life? Let me show you this from this doctor, he's actually the Chief Surgeon at Cancer Treatment Centres of America, Dr.    Steven Standiford. He says this, I quote, refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way. End quote. Could it be that Jesus is making this hard saying, and making this statement because he wants to bless you? Could it be that forgiveness is not about just letting that person go, it's about setting your own heart free? Could it be that Jesus is making this hard saying to bless you, not just for eternity, but to bless you right now? We have to choose forgiveness.   Forgiveness Quotes Listen to this. According to Johns Hopkins medical website, I'll show you this one, this is crazy, choose forgiveness. It says, I quote, studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health. How many rewards? Listen to this. Lowering the risk of heart attack, improving cholesterol levels and sleep, reducing pain, blood pressure and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress.    End quote. Wow! Who's ready to sign up for forgiveness now? Come on, that's amazing! Now that's a great workout plan. Hey, what are you doing? I'm doing CrossFit. What are you doing? I'm forgiving people. I don't have time to workout, but man I got lower blood pressure and less anxiety, I'm sleeping better, and that's my workout strategy. Forgiveness  Forgiveness. Could it be that Jesus makes this hard saying because he's saying, listen there's a connection between you forgiving others, and not just your spiritual health, but your physical well-being. So let me give you the big idea today. If you're gonna take some notes, you can do that in the worship guide or not.    But here's the big idea, Jesus is saying, when something happens to you, you can do one of two things. When someone hurts you, you can either react with feelings, or you can choose forgiveness. And with this hard saying, he's saying it in an extreme way to say choose forgiveness, but you can react with feelings.    And here's the bottom line, somebody is going to hurt you. You notice I didn't say if someone hurts you, I say it's when they do. We live in a fallen world and people hurt us, they wound us. Somebody is gonna say something, somebody is gonna do something, somebody is gonna post something.    Somebody is going to hurt you, and when they do you have a choice, you can react with feelings or you can choose forgiveness. And notice I said you can react with feelings because you're never going to feel like forgiving someone. You're never gonna feel like, you know what? I'm just gonna decide to love them today.    You're never gonna wake up and say, you know what? It's a new day, I just think I'll, I feel like forgiving someone today. You're never gonna do that. How do you feel? I feel like slashing their tires. I feel like burning their house down right now. I feel like posting some very embarrassing things about them right now, and that's how I feel.    But we wanna realize that forgiveness is a choice. So, what does it look like? How does forgiveness work? Well, forgiveness is hard. It's really hard to do, and what I would like to do is give you three words that help you get some traction to forgiveness. Applying forgiveness, what does it look like? Three words and three questions because we have to wrestle with this hard saying.   Pray for those who hurt you So here's the first word. If someone's hurt you, the first thing you wanna do is pray. You wanna actually pray for them. Pray for the people who hurt you. I can already feel the the push back right now, I'm not gonna pray for them, you don't know what they did, you don't know what they said.    I'm not gonna pray for the people that hurt me, are you kidding me? Some of you right now are pushing back and saying, oh, I'll pray for them all right! Lord, strike them with lighting! How about that prayer? I'll pray for them all right! I love how real the Bible is because the people in the Bible struggled with it just like we do, even King David.    He wrestled with it. People hurt him, and he had prayers like this, here's Psalm 3:7 and when someone hurt him, I love this, I love how real the Bible is. Arise oh Lord, rescue me! My God, slap all my enemies in the face, shatter the teeth of the wicked. Some of you are like, well that's a great verse! I'm gonna write that down, I gotta start praying that! I didn't even know that was in there.    I'm so glad I came to church today! No, that's not our model, okay? That shows you how real it gets, and the people in the scriptures are just like us, we all feel that way at times. But our example is not David, our example is Jesus. And he prayed a prayer, and it's a beautiful prayer to teach us.    And I love that Jesus didn't just tell us to forgive, he showed us how to do it. Here's how we should pray, Luke 23:34. I'd like for all of us, all of our campuses, read this with me, let's say this together. Here's a great prayer. Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing.    You see you, if you're not familiar with church and you're still struggling with Christianity, you may not realise when Jesus said this. You may say, well that's easy to say, hey let me teach you how to pray, say Father forgive them, and then he goes back off to a mountainside somewhere, and they go back and sit at the beach.    But remember the context of this prayer for Jesus, let me just take you back 24 hours from when he said this. He was literally betrayed by one of his 12 closest friends, and then the 11 other friends who said, \"we're always gonna be there for you\", they abandoned him. He was taken before all of these false witnesses and they said all these things that weren't true.    He was accused of things he didn't even do. You see, if you walk through the last 24 hours of Jesus' life, here's what you discover. You see, I don't know what's happened to you and you're saying, you don't know, I can't forgive. You don't know how bad it hurt. You're right, I don't.    You may say to me, you don't know how unjust it is, or how unjust it was that they did that to me, how much abuse I've been through. You're right, I don't. But I do know this. The most unjust thing that has ever happened to anyone on this planet, in the history of the world, is what happened to Jesus.    Because he didn't deserve it. He was the perfect sacrifice. He lived a perfect life, and he died an excruciating death. And those Roman soldiers beat him within an inch of his life, and they dragged that rugged cross outside the gates of Jerusalem and they nailed him to a tree, and they put a mocking crown of thorns on his head.    And as he was suspended between heaven and earth, with people yelling at him and screaming at him, and after crowds yelled, crucify him, that's when he said that prayer. And I promise you he didn't feel like it, but he chose forgiveness and he said, Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing.    Will you pray that prayer over those people who have hurt you? Because Jesus said it for us to do it, Luke 6:28, he told us to do it and he showed us how to do it. He says, bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. So Jesus says pray for them, and here's the second word, bless them.   Bless the people that hurt you Bless them. So you wanna pray for them, and you wanna bless them. Jesus says, wait and you say, okay, I was just getting over the fact that I'm gonna pray for them, now you want me to actually bless them? Yes. You say, I don't know if I can do that. Think about this, if you just pray God bless them, what is God gonna do? He's gonna show them where they're wrong because God can't bless someone until they open up their heart to who He is, and they get on the right path of where He wants them to go.    So you're praying for that to happen, God, bless them. All the way through the scriptures we get this very challenging, very challenging truth, and Romans chapter 12 talks about this very same decision. It says this, it says, do not take revenge. That just one phrase goes against every Hollywood movie we've ever seen.    Who's looking forward to Jason Bourne coming back out this summer? But he says, no, no, do not take revenge. Revenge is Hollywood, but it's not holy. It's not how you wanna live. He says, do not take revenge. And look at what he says, if your enemy is hungry, let him starve. No, no, my bad.    Hold on, sorry. If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If your enemy is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Now I've got everybody's attention, like oh, I like burning coals on their head, that sounds great! But how do you do that? Well the next phrase it says, do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.    You see if you have somebody in your office that's always giving you a hard time and they're always mean to you, and they're that person who's always saying something that discourages you. The next time you're gonna make a coffee run, go by their office and say, hey, can I get you a Starbucks? I'm going there right now, can I get you a coffee? It will blow them away! They will literally think in their mind, what are you doing right now? I am the mean person, you're supposed to mean back to me.  You see, it doesn't make any sense, but I love the great philosopher Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty. He was not a Christian for 28 years and he started reading the Bible, and he came across this verse, do not take revenge. When your enemy is hungry, feed him. And he just said, that doesn't make sense to me, but he said, I haven't tried it before.    But way before Duck Dynasty became a dynasty, he was just a fisherman on the river there in Louisiana, and he had people who would steal from his nets and they would take his fish. He had like 100 nets across the river there. And so from his house, before he was a Christian, he'd look out and see them stealing his fish, and he'd get his shotgun and take his boat and he'd go out there and he'd say, are you're stealing my fish? And shoot the gun in the air and they'd run for their lives, and don't steal from me.    That's how he did it. But he read this verse and he thought, well that seems really dumb, but I'd never tried it before. So he said, he looked out and saw these guys stealing some fish, and so he got in his boat and he said, he got his Bible this time. But he said, my faith was weak, so I got my shotgun too.    He said, I went out there, and went over to those, and he calls them river rats. He said, I went over to those river rats and said, hey, are you stealing from me? And they dropped the nets and everything, and he said, you know what? Go ahead and pull that net up. Just go and take all of those fish because if you ever need fish, listen I live right over here, you don't have to steal them anymore, I'll just give them to you.    You can have all the fish you want from my nets. And he says over the last 20 years, he has baptized over 100 river rats in that river because of that kind of grace that he's shown them. Yeah, it's amazing. Yeah. And he says, you know what? It didn't sound like it would work.    But I wanted to show you this quote, I love this, he says and only Phil Roberts who could say it this way, but he says, no matter how sorry and low down somebody might be, everybody is worth something, but you're never gonna turn them if you're as evil as they are. You see, how you forgive is actually a picture of the forgiveness God gives us.    Psalms 103:8 says it this way, it says, the Lord is compassionate and merciful. He's slow to anger and He's filled with unfailing love. He does not punish us for all of our sins, He does not deal harshly with us as we deserve. Are you compassionate? Are you merciful? The question I'd like for you to write down is, what is on the other side of forgiveness for me? What is on the other side of forgiveness? I believe there's so many of us missing out on what God could do because we're not forgiving.    What do we need to do? We need to pray. Are you praying for the problem people in your life? And we need to bless. What's on the other side of forgiveness if you do? And I can feel the push back, you're saying, listen, it's not about a mean person at the office for me. It's not about somebody stealing my fish.    You don't know what they've done to me, you don't know how bad it hurt. You're right, I don't. But I appreciate Linda giving me permission to share this story, she's actually from the Rockwall Campus, and she's been through a lot of abuse. And I hope it helps you to understand that she knows what it's like to be extremely hurt over and over again, and how to pray and bless, and when you choose that, it actually brings blessing back to you.    And you can get more of the story on the Facebook page of our church, and just read and let it sink in, but I'll just share a brief, just a little clip of that. Linda got married, and like all of us had dreams and hopes of life and living happily ever after, but very soon her husband started abusing her physically.    So much that so that she tried to run away several times, and finally did get away from that abuse, but it was so excruciating for her that she got so angry at God. She was angry at God, she was angry at her ex-husband, and she just lived in decades of bitterness, and resentment, and darkness.    Finally, she met a guy named Ken. Ken was a strong Christian, and showed her compassion and mercy, and tenderness of Christ. And not only did she come back to Christ in her own heart, but eventually knew that she needed to forgive her ex-husband. And so she didn't wanna do that over a letter, she actually convinced her husband Ken, to go with her and they found out that he was in prison.    They went to go see her ex-husband in prison, and she looked at him across there with his garb on from being a prisoner and said, listen, I forgive you. And that started a relationship where her and her new husband Ken, started to correspond with her ex-husband, and they started to send him Bible verses and just bless him.    They started sending Bible studies and sermons, they started to go visit him more. And for 13 years, they went to visit him, corresponded with him, and blessed him, and encouraged him. Not only did he come to Christ, but once he got out of prison he found a new home, they got him re-adjusted to life outside of prison, and they found him a church.    And now he's free, not just from prison, but he's free and he knows Christ because of her forgiving him. Can we just give God a hand for that kind of power? That kind of choice. >> [APPLAUSE] >> The story that you'll find online just gives you more details, but I wanted to share that with you because you say, well that's great, she chose forgiveness.    But I don't want you to miss this. She really says, and I wanted to quote some things from her because she says, that choosing that forgiveness didn't just bless her ex-husband, it blessed her. And choosing to forgive her ex-husband actually freed her, and blessed her marriage with Ken.    Here's what she says and I quote, she says, I would not be able to love Ken, her new husband, the way God wanted me to love him without forgiving my ex-husband because bitterness and anger had weaved into every part of my life. And without releasing those chains, I never would have been able to love Ken, and never would have been able to have a relationship with anyone else, even with God.    And Linda admits, forgiving my ex-husband has blessed me and it's blessed my marriage with Ken. End quote. What is Linda saying? Linda is saying, let go. She's saying, let go. She's saying once you pray for them, once you bless them, you've gotta let go, and it hurts. And you say, I don't know if I wanna let go, but we've got to.    Forgiveness is a choice to let go, and forgiveness is a decision that you make once and then it's something you do everyday of your life. Listen, people have hurt me. And as best I can tell you, I didn't wanna do this message with having any of this in my own heart, I have forgiven everyone that's hurt me.    I've made that decision, but then I've let go. But then I forgave them yesterday, and I'll forgive them today, and I'll forgive them tomorrow. You see, if you held your place in Matthew 6, I just wanted to show you this. It's interesting that Jesus makes this hard saying right after he teaches us what's known as the Lord's Prayer.    And in Matthew 6:11, he shows us that forgiveness isn't just a decision, it's a lifestyle. He says, pray this to the Father, give us today our daily bread and today forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. You see, we must daily thank God for the food, but daily let go.    Make the decision to forgive, but then daily do that decision. I wanna give everyone a 30-day challenge. I wanna ask you to for 30 days, to everyday you wake up to say the Lord's Prayer, and when you get to this part, to release the person that you say owes you because they hurt you.    And just say, Father forgive me as I've forgiven them. And just for 30 days, experience the freedom of resentment and bitterness, the freedom from anger and hurt, and to you see what it's like for 30 days, the month of July, just pray this prayer and release them everyday. It just starts with a decision.    It starts with a decision, and then becomes a lifestyle. You see I can remember back when I was a child, learning how to ski. And there in North Georgia, on Lake Hartwell, it was great, there were great teachers. I'd get into the water, put the skis in between the rope and just kinda hold on, and you got the lake right here in Rockwall, so you guys experienced this.    But when the boat is kinda jerky, you just stay up keep your knees bent, and so I got all that, and the very first time I got up, the very first time I was like, I am awesome, okay? I was eight years old, it was an incredible experience, very exhilarating. I'm behind the boat, I'm like, life is good.    And we get out in the lake, I'm looking around, I was like, wow! This is amazing, look what I've missed all my life. And then as I'm enjoying this experience, for some reason the boat driver, who will go anonymous at this point, the boat driver decided it would be really funny to gun the acceleration and to turn the boat really hard to the left, while I'm skiing.    And so when they did that, of course you guys know what happened, I got outside of my comfort zone into this wake, outside of that wake and it was really bumpy and my skis literally went out from under me. And I fell and hit the water, and it hurt bad. I'm eight years old, and it hurt really bad.    You know what happened next? I was so mad, it hurt really bad. I was so mad, I'm like, I'm gonna hold on to the rope, and I held on to that rope. I was so mad at that boat driver, I'm gonna get him back. I'm gonna hold on to this rope, but I'm gonna teach him lesson. I'm gonna hold on to this rope.    Am I teaching the boat driver anything at this point? No. I'm sucking in a lot of water and it's really hurting, but I'm not teaching him anything. But that boat driver is oblivious, okay? He doesn't even know, just like I'm skipping across the water like a rock. I am so mad! And there's people in the boat literally yelling at me, let go of the rope, we forgot to tell you that part, okay? Let go of the rope, we want you to live, okay? We want you to live, let go of the rope! And as best I can tell you today as you hear this hard saying about forgiveness from Jesus, what Jesus is saying is let go of your hurt! Let go, it's not even hurting them.    They're probably even oblivious to it, let go of the hurt. It's hurting you, I want you to live, I want you to find life, let go of it. We realize it today, we need to let go, and I'm praying that light bulbs start coming on. Even when I just started this message names were coming to your mind, people who have hurt you and wounded you.    For some of you, you're sitting right next to them today. You tolerate them, but they are the ones you need to forgive. For most of us, they're not in the room. For some us, they're not even alive anymore, they've stepped into eternity. But we've got to let go. Say, God help us, help us to let go of unforgiveness so we can live, so we can get back to where we need to be with Him.    And I'm gonna ask you to let go today, and give you an experience on every campus where hopefully we cannot just hear this word, but experience how powerful it is. And even if you're wrestling there right now saying, I don't know if I wanna forgive, I don't know if I wanna let go.    If you're an extra note taker, Matthew chapter 18 is a powerful story. And Jesus teaching about forgiveness, that was a theme of his ministry, he told a story about a king who brought all of his servants in to pay their debts and settle accounts. And Jesus says, there was a servant who owed millions of dollars, he literally couldn't have paid it back in his lifetime and the king said, you're gonna have to pay by being tortured, and your children and your wife will be sold.    And the guy just begged the king, please have pity and mercy on me, and the king did. The king said, okay I'll forgive your debt. Then that guy went out of the king's presence, after being forgiven millions of dollars, and found someone who owed him a few hundred dollars, and that person said, I can't pay you back right now.    And that guy got all over this guy, and threw him into prison to be tortured because he didn't pay back his small debt, after being forgiven millions of dollars. And in the story, Jesus says that people came back to the king and told him this, and the king brought that guy back in and said, you're an evil servant.    I've forgiven all this debt, a huge debt, and you can't forgive a little one? You see, today the question you wanna write down next to let go is, where is my focus? What am I focused on? Because if you wanna forgive, you can't focus on that hurt anymore, you can't focus on that wound anymore, you can't focus on that abuse anymore.   Anger Because as you focus on that, it just keeps all of that bitterness, and resentment, and anger tight and close. But if you focus on the cross, if you focus on what Jesus did, I wanna make you a promise. As I focus on what Jesus has done for me, and how my sins stack up and all he's forgiven, I've never forgiven anybody more than Jesus has forgiven me.    I love what's happened at our camps in the last few weeks. But at the Trek Camp for junior high, middle school kids, it was pretty amazing what happened. They started dragging a cross through camp a couple of hours before worship. I wish I could drag a cross right through your living room about Wednesday of this week.    Just a cross going right down your office hallway, right through your workplace, right down your neighborhood, right across your Facebook page. But the cross just started going by, and the middle schoolers started following that cross as they prepared for worship, and that cross went into the room.    And as everybody gathered into that room and everybody was in their place, all of a sudden everything went dark and the cross was lit up, and I just took a picture of it. It looks like something I got off of iStockphoto, but this is your middle school camp Lake Pointe. This is sixth, seventh and eighth graders are saying, it's all about Jesus.    All of a sudden they were so focused on the cross, there was nothing else they could see, there was nothing else they could do. It's all about him, Jesus. Yes, he's the one we're focused on. And today if you focus on Jesus, you can forgive because you've been forgiven. If you focus on Jesus you can let go because, because of that cross he's let go of all of our debts, and all of our regrets, and all of our mistakes.    And on every campus today in a moment, I'm gonna give you an opportunity to experience the decision of forgiveness. And there's these white pieces of paper all across the room at every campus, and I'm gonna ask you when they're singing the last worship song, to go and write a name on this card.    And then I'm gonna encourage you, your campus pastor will tell you what to do with that, but we're gonna offer you an opportunity to really let go today. At the service last night, the Saturday night service, a guy came up to me after the service and he was crying. He said, seven years ago my wife walked out on me and I just realized today I've never forgiven her.    I just wrote her name there, and said I'm letting go today. It's powerful. So why would we forgive? Listen, I hope the names are coming to mind. A spouse, a co-worker, a roommate, a friend, someone who's hurt you in the past, we're gonna let go today. Why would do we do that? Well, Colossians 3:13 tells us, it's very simple. It says this, it says, bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Would you read this with me ? Let's say this together, forgive as the Lord forgave you. Let's bow our heads and close our eyes. In this quiet moment, how can we focus on the debt that someone else owes us, when we focus on the cross right now and realize how much Jesus has forgiven us? And right now, over the Internet, here in this room, at every campus today, there is someone, you need to receive the forgiveness of Jesus.   How to forgive yourself  You need to receive what he has done for you, and the love he offers to you. It's free and you can't earn it, you don't deserve it and neither do I. But would you open up your heart right now, and maybe the name you need to write on this card is your own name, and forgive yourself as Christ forgives you.  Prayer for forgiveness  But let me just pray for us. Lord, on all the campuses, over the Internet, Lord help us to release these people who've hurt us, people who've done us wrong. Help us to let go of the debt that they owe us because of the debt You've forgiven in us. Help us to declare Lord, that they don't owe us anything anymore because we've been set free.    And right now, I pray that You would set people free from the prison of bitterness and unforgiveness. And as people come to our minds today, whether it's a small offense or some huge hurt, we're gonna give them forgiveness today because all we're doing is giving them, God what You have given us through Christ.    So do what only You can do today, and help us to experience the power and the freedom of letting go, the power of forgiveness. And we pray this in the name of the one who's forgiven us, Jesus Christ. Amen.. var channel = 'cuurio-map' var pubnub = new PubNub({ publishKey: 'pub-c-e55863b6-0375-4dd3-882d-a4a0814381e8', subscribeKey: 'sub-c-cfe5ad82-4cfb-11e9-b0df-968893e54af3' }); pubnub.subscribe({channels: [channel]}); fetch('http://api.ipstack.com/check?access_key=d9aa7e793c5d6c51ca9f44748a5260b5') .then((resp) => resp.json()) .then(function(data) { pubnub.publish({ channel: channel, message: {lat: data.latitude, lng: data.longitude} }); }) .catch(function() { navigator.geolocation.getCurrentPosition(function(position) { pubnub.publish({ channel: channel, message: {lat: position.coords.latitude, lng: position.coords.longitude} }); }); }); " /> Forgiveness | Incline

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Forgiveness

> [APPLAUSE] >> It definitely deserves a round of applause, and I applaud all those in our church who give us a great example of strong marriages. So well they said, what do you want for your 50th anniversary? They said, we want everybody in our family, the kids and grandkids to all come to a cabin in Missouri for one week, and we'll pay for it.    We're like, we're there. All right? So we go to Missouri, near Branson, and my father-in-law is an avid fisherman, and he's learned how to fly fish, he's really good at it. And he thought it'd be fun for us to go to the river one day and teach us all how to fly fish. I was horrible.    I didn't catch anything out there. I caught some trees, things like that, but it was really a beautiful environment, so we had a blast. After we were coming off the river from a full day of fishing, as my father-in-law showed us all how to do it and caught all the fish. And we were getting our gear together and a guy from across the parking lot, true story, starts yelling at us.    And he says, hey! Wash off all your equipment! Wash off all your gear! Wash your waders! And he's just yelling at us, you gotta wash all that stuff before you put it away! And I'm thinking in my mind, look man, my mom can tell me to clean something up, but I don't know who you are, okay? And he's yelling, you gotta wash all the stuff! And then he points to this sign.    Now, just to make sure you, I knew you wouldn't believe me. I took a picture of this sign because I never heard of this, but this is the sign. And it says, Didymo warning and help stop Didymo. Okay? I didn't know what that was. But basically there's Didymo in Arkansas, and they don't want any of it to get into Missouri, all right? And the way they do that is that they have to wash their gear off because Didymo is everywhere in another state, they don't wanna get it across the border.    I'm like, well how bad could it be, and do I really need to wash this stuff? Then I looked up what Didymo looks like, and here it is. Yeah. Fishermen don't like the term Didymo. They actually use the term Rock Snot. And basically what Didymo does, is it gets all over the rocks, and the fishermen can't stand on it cuz it's slippery.    But worse than that, it actually kills the things that fish eat, and eventually Didymo will actually kill everything in an entire water source. All of a sudden when I saw that picture I was like, man we've gotta wash off our stuff! We gotta get rid of this, we gotta do something because we don't want any of that! In the same way, I want you to see today, when Jesus makes this hard saying about forgiveness, it's like Jesus yelling at us as his followers and saying, get rid of unforgiveness! Wash it away from your heart! Get rid of it because what does it do? It causes all kinds of things.   Unforgiveness It's an invasive species like Didymo. It causes anger, and bitterness, and resentment, and it takes you away from the life that Christ wants you to have. He's saying, get rid of the unforgiveness, it's like a poison in your heart. And if you are struggling with forgiving today, do I need to show you another picture of Didymo? Let's look at it one more time, here's what unforgiveness looks like in your hearts.    Get rid of it! Unforgiveness is like a poison. It kills the things that Christ wants to give you, and it robs you of the blessing of walking closely with the Father. And if you're not there yet, you say, I just don't know if I wanna forgive, did you know that unforgiveness is now a disease in medical journals? That doctors are actually told to ask you, not just about blood pressure and your temperature, they're supposed to ask you, have you forgiven everyone in your life? Let me show you this from this doctor, he's actually the Chief Surgeon at Cancer Treatment Centres of America, Dr.    Steven Standiford. He says this, I quote, refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way. End quote. Could it be that Jesus is making this hard saying, and making this statement because he wants to bless you? Could it be that forgiveness is not about just letting that person go, it's about setting your own heart free? Could it be that Jesus is making this hard saying to bless you, not just for eternity, but to bless you right now? We have to choose forgiveness.   Forgiveness Quotes Listen to this. According to Johns Hopkins medical website, I'll show you this one, this is crazy, choose forgiveness. It says, I quote, studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health. How many rewards? Listen to this. Lowering the risk of heart attack, improving cholesterol levels and sleep, reducing pain, blood pressure and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress.    End quote. Wow! Who's ready to sign up for forgiveness now? Come on, that's amazing! Now that's a great workout plan. Hey, what are you doing? I'm doing CrossFit. What are you doing? I'm forgiving people. I don't have time to workout, but man I got lower blood pressure and less anxiety, I'm sleeping better, and that's my workout strategy. Forgiveness  Forgiveness. Could it be that Jesus makes this hard saying because he's saying, listen there's a connection between you forgiving others, and not just your spiritual health, but your physical well-being. So let me give you the big idea today. If you're gonna take some notes, you can do that in the worship guide or not.    But here's the big idea, Jesus is saying, when something happens to you, you can do one of two things. When someone hurts you, you can either react with feelings, or you can choose forgiveness. And with this hard saying, he's saying it in an extreme way to say choose forgiveness, but you can react with feelings.    And here's the bottom line, somebody is going to hurt you. You notice I didn't say if someone hurts you, I say it's when they do. We live in a fallen world and people hurt us, they wound us. Somebody is gonna say something, somebody is gonna do something, somebody is gonna post something.    Somebody is going to hurt you, and when they do you have a choice, you can react with feelings or you can choose forgiveness. And notice I said you can react with feelings because you're never going to feel like forgiving someone. You're never gonna feel like, you know what? I'm just gonna decide to love them today.    You're never gonna wake up and say, you know what? It's a new day, I just think I'll, I feel like forgiving someone today. You're never gonna do that. How do you feel? I feel like slashing their tires. I feel like burning their house down right now. I feel like posting some very embarrassing things about them right now, and that's how I feel.    But we wanna realize that forgiveness is a choice. So, what does it look like? How does forgiveness work? Well, forgiveness is hard. It's really hard to do, and what I would like to do is give you three words that help you get some traction to forgiveness. Applying forgiveness, what does it look like? Three words and three questions because we have to wrestle with this hard saying.   Pray for those who hurt you So here's the first word. If someone's hurt you, the first thing you wanna do is pray. You wanna actually pray for them. Pray for the people who hurt you. I can already feel the the push back right now, I'm not gonna pray for them, you don't know what they did, you don't know what they said.    I'm not gonna pray for the people that hurt me, are you kidding me? Some of you right now are pushing back and saying, oh, I'll pray for them all right! Lord, strike them with lighting! How about that prayer? I'll pray for them all right! I love how real the Bible is because the people in the Bible struggled with it just like we do, even King David.    He wrestled with it. People hurt him, and he had prayers like this, here's Psalm 3:7 and when someone hurt him, I love this, I love how real the Bible is. Arise oh Lord, rescue me! My God, slap all my enemies in the face, shatter the teeth of the wicked. Some of you are like, well that's a great verse! I'm gonna write that down, I gotta start praying that! I didn't even know that was in there.    I'm so glad I came to church today! No, that's not our model, okay? That shows you how real it gets, and the people in the scriptures are just like us, we all feel that way at times. But our example is not David, our example is Jesus. And he prayed a prayer, and it's a beautiful prayer to teach us.    And I love that Jesus didn't just tell us to forgive, he showed us how to do it. Here's how we should pray, Luke 23:34. I'd like for all of us, all of our campuses, read this with me, let's say this together. Here's a great prayer. Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing.    You see you, if you're not familiar with church and you're still struggling with Christianity, you may not realise when Jesus said this. You may say, well that's easy to say, hey let me teach you how to pray, say Father forgive them, and then he goes back off to a mountainside somewhere, and they go back and sit at the beach.    But remember the context of this prayer for Jesus, let me just take you back 24 hours from when he said this. He was literally betrayed by one of his 12 closest friends, and then the 11 other friends who said, \"we're always gonna be there for you\", they abandoned him. He was taken before all of these false witnesses and they said all these things that weren't true.    He was accused of things he didn't even do. You see, if you walk through the last 24 hours of Jesus' life, here's what you discover. You see, I don't know what's happened to you and you're saying, you don't know, I can't forgive. You don't know how bad it hurt. You're right, I don't.    You may say to me, you don't know how unjust it is, or how unjust it was that they did that to me, how much abuse I've been through. You're right, I don't. But I do know this. The most unjust thing that has ever happened to anyone on this planet, in the history of the world, is what happened to Jesus.    Because he didn't deserve it. He was the perfect sacrifice. He lived a perfect life, and he died an excruciating death. And those Roman soldiers beat him within an inch of his life, and they dragged that rugged cross outside the gates of Jerusalem and they nailed him to a tree, and they put a mocking crown of thorns on his head.    And as he was suspended between heaven and earth, with people yelling at him and screaming at him, and after crowds yelled, crucify him, that's when he said that prayer. And I promise you he didn't feel like it, but he chose forgiveness and he said, Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing.    Will you pray that prayer over those people who have hurt you? Because Jesus said it for us to do it, Luke 6:28, he told us to do it and he showed us how to do it. He says, bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. So Jesus says pray for them, and here's the second word, bless them.   Bless the people that hurt you Bless them. So you wanna pray for them, and you wanna bless them. Jesus says, wait and you say, okay, I was just getting over the fact that I'm gonna pray for them, now you want me to actually bless them? Yes. You say, I don't know if I can do that. Think about this, if you just pray God bless them, what is God gonna do? He's gonna show them where they're wrong because God can't bless someone until they open up their heart to who He is, and they get on the right path of where He wants them to go.    So you're praying for that to happen, God, bless them. All the way through the scriptures we get this very challenging, very challenging truth, and Romans chapter 12 talks about this very same decision. It says this, it says, do not take revenge. That just one phrase goes against every Hollywood movie we've ever seen.    Who's looking forward to Jason Bourne coming back out this summer? But he says, no, no, do not take revenge. Revenge is Hollywood, but it's not holy. It's not how you wanna live. He says, do not take revenge. And look at what he says, if your enemy is hungry, let him starve. No, no, my bad.    Hold on, sorry. If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If your enemy is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Now I've got everybody's attention, like oh, I like burning coals on their head, that sounds great! But how do you do that? Well the next phrase it says, do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.    You see if you have somebody in your office that's always giving you a hard time and they're always mean to you, and they're that person who's always saying something that discourages you. The next time you're gonna make a coffee run, go by their office and say, hey, can I get you a Starbucks? I'm going there right now, can I get you a coffee? It will blow them away! They will literally think in their mind, what are you doing right now? I am the mean person, you're supposed to mean back to me.  You see, it doesn't make any sense, but I love the great philosopher Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty. He was not a Christian for 28 years and he started reading the Bible, and he came across this verse, do not take revenge. When your enemy is hungry, feed him. And he just said, that doesn't make sense to me, but he said, I haven't tried it before.    But way before Duck Dynasty became a dynasty, he was just a fisherman on the river there in Louisiana, and he had people who would steal from his nets and they would take his fish. He had like 100 nets across the river there. And so from his house, before he was a Christian, he'd look out and see them stealing his fish, and he'd get his shotgun and take his boat and he'd go out there and he'd say, are you're stealing my fish? And shoot the gun in the air and they'd run for their lives, and don't steal from me.    That's how he did it. But he read this verse and he thought, well that seems really dumb, but I'd never tried it before. So he said, he looked out and saw these guys stealing some fish, and so he got in his boat and he said, he got his Bible this time. But he said, my faith was weak, so I got my shotgun too.    He said, I went out there, and went over to those, and he calls them river rats. He said, I went over to those river rats and said, hey, are you stealing from me? And they dropped the nets and everything, and he said, you know what? Go ahead and pull that net up. Just go and take all of those fish because if you ever need fish, listen I live right over here, you don't have to steal them anymore, I'll just give them to you.    You can have all the fish you want from my nets. And he says over the last 20 years, he has baptized over 100 river rats in that river because of that kind of grace that he's shown them. Yeah, it's amazing. Yeah. And he says, you know what? It didn't sound like it would work.    But I wanted to show you this quote, I love this, he says and only Phil Roberts who could say it this way, but he says, no matter how sorry and low down somebody might be, everybody is worth something, but you're never gonna turn them if you're as evil as they are. You see, how you forgive is actually a picture of the forgiveness God gives us.    Psalms 103:8 says it this way, it says, the Lord is compassionate and merciful. He's slow to anger and He's filled with unfailing love. He does not punish us for all of our sins, He does not deal harshly with us as we deserve. Are you compassionate? Are you merciful? The question I'd like for you to write down is, what is on the other side of forgiveness for me? What is on the other side of forgiveness? I believe there's so many of us missing out on what God could do because we're not forgiving.    What do we need to do? We need to pray. Are you praying for the problem people in your life? And we need to bless. What's on the other side of forgiveness if you do? And I can feel the push back, you're saying, listen, it's not about a mean person at the office for me. It's not about somebody stealing my fish.    You don't know what they've done to me, you don't know how bad it hurt. You're right, I don't. But I appreciate Linda giving me permission to share this story, she's actually from the Rockwall Campus, and she's been through a lot of abuse. And I hope it helps you to understand that she knows what it's like to be extremely hurt over and over again, and how to pray and bless, and when you choose that, it actually brings blessing back to you.    And you can get more of the story on the Facebook page of our church, and just read and let it sink in, but I'll just share a brief, just a little clip of that. Linda got married, and like all of us had dreams and hopes of life and living happily ever after, but very soon her husband started abusing her physically.    So much that so that she tried to run away several times, and finally did get away from that abuse, but it was so excruciating for her that she got so angry at God. She was angry at God, she was angry at her ex-husband, and she just lived in decades of bitterness, and resentment, and darkness.    Finally, she met a guy named Ken. Ken was a strong Christian, and showed her compassion and mercy, and tenderness of Christ. And not only did she come back to Christ in her own heart, but eventually knew that she needed to forgive her ex-husband. And so she didn't wanna do that over a letter, she actually convinced her husband Ken, to go with her and they found out that he was in prison.    They went to go see her ex-husband in prison, and she looked at him across there with his garb on from being a prisoner and said, listen, I forgive you. And that started a relationship where her and her new husband Ken, started to correspond with her ex-husband, and they started to send him Bible verses and just bless him.    They started sending Bible studies and sermons, they started to go visit him more. And for 13 years, they went to visit him, corresponded with him, and blessed him, and encouraged him. Not only did he come to Christ, but once he got out of prison he found a new home, they got him re-adjusted to life outside of prison, and they found him a church.    And now he's free, not just from prison, but he's free and he knows Christ because of her forgiving him. Can we just give God a hand for that kind of power? That kind of choice. >> [APPLAUSE] >> The story that you'll find online just gives you more details, but I wanted to share that with you because you say, well that's great, she chose forgiveness.    But I don't want you to miss this. She really says, and I wanted to quote some things from her because she says, that choosing that forgiveness didn't just bless her ex-husband, it blessed her. And choosing to forgive her ex-husband actually freed her, and blessed her marriage with Ken.    Here's what she says and I quote, she says, I would not be able to love Ken, her new husband, the way God wanted me to love him without forgiving my ex-husband because bitterness and anger had weaved into every part of my life. And without releasing those chains, I never would have been able to love Ken, and never would have been able to have a relationship with anyone else, even with God.    And Linda admits, forgiving my ex-husband has blessed me and it's blessed my marriage with Ken. End quote. What is Linda saying? Linda is saying, let go. She's saying, let go. She's saying once you pray for them, once you bless them, you've gotta let go, and it hurts. And you say, I don't know if I wanna let go, but we've got to.    Forgiveness is a choice to let go, and forgiveness is a decision that you make once and then it's something you do everyday of your life. Listen, people have hurt me. And as best I can tell you, I didn't wanna do this message with having any of this in my own heart, I have forgiven everyone that's hurt me.    I've made that decision, but then I've let go. But then I forgave them yesterday, and I'll forgive them today, and I'll forgive them tomorrow. You see, if you held your place in Matthew 6, I just wanted to show you this. It's interesting that Jesus makes this hard saying right after he teaches us what's known as the Lord's Prayer.    And in Matthew 6:11, he shows us that forgiveness isn't just a decision, it's a lifestyle. He says, pray this to the Father, give us today our daily bread and today forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. You see, we must daily thank God for the food, but daily let go.    Make the decision to forgive, but then daily do that decision. I wanna give everyone a 30-day challenge. I wanna ask you to for 30 days, to everyday you wake up to say the Lord's Prayer, and when you get to this part, to release the person that you say owes you because they hurt you.    And just say, Father forgive me as I've forgiven them. And just for 30 days, experience the freedom of resentment and bitterness, the freedom from anger and hurt, and to you see what it's like for 30 days, the month of July, just pray this prayer and release them everyday. It just starts with a decision.    It starts with a decision, and then becomes a lifestyle. You see I can remember back when I was a child, learning how to ski. And there in North Georgia, on Lake Hartwell, it was great, there were great teachers. I'd get into the water, put the skis in between the rope and just kinda hold on, and you got the lake right here in Rockwall, so you guys experienced this.    But when the boat is kinda jerky, you just stay up keep your knees bent, and so I got all that, and the very first time I got up, the very first time I was like, I am awesome, okay? I was eight years old, it was an incredible experience, very exhilarating. I'm behind the boat, I'm like, life is good.    And we get out in the lake, I'm looking around, I was like, wow! This is amazing, look what I've missed all my life. And then as I'm enjoying this experience, for some reason the boat driver, who will go anonymous at this point, the boat driver decided it would be really funny to gun the acceleration and to turn the boat really hard to the left, while I'm skiing.    And so when they did that, of course you guys know what happened, I got outside of my comfort zone into this wake, outside of that wake and it was really bumpy and my skis literally went out from under me. And I fell and hit the water, and it hurt bad. I'm eight years old, and it hurt really bad.    You know what happened next? I was so mad, it hurt really bad. I was so mad, I'm like, I'm gonna hold on to the rope, and I held on to that rope. I was so mad at that boat driver, I'm gonna get him back. I'm gonna hold on to this rope, but I'm gonna teach him lesson. I'm gonna hold on to this rope.    Am I teaching the boat driver anything at this point? No. I'm sucking in a lot of water and it's really hurting, but I'm not teaching him anything. But that boat driver is oblivious, okay? He doesn't even know, just like I'm skipping across the water like a rock. I am so mad! And there's people in the boat literally yelling at me, let go of the rope, we forgot to tell you that part, okay? Let go of the rope, we want you to live, okay? We want you to live, let go of the rope! And as best I can tell you today as you hear this hard saying about forgiveness from Jesus, what Jesus is saying is let go of your hurt! Let go, it's not even hurting them.    They're probably even oblivious to it, let go of the hurt. It's hurting you, I want you to live, I want you to find life, let go of it. We realize it today, we need to let go, and I'm praying that light bulbs start coming on. Even when I just started this message names were coming to your mind, people who have hurt you and wounded you.    For some of you, you're sitting right next to them today. You tolerate them, but they are the ones you need to forgive. For most of us, they're not in the room. For some us, they're not even alive anymore, they've stepped into eternity. But we've got to let go. Say, God help us, help us to let go of unforgiveness so we can live, so we can get back to where we need to be with Him.    And I'm gonna ask you to let go today, and give you an experience on every campus where hopefully we cannot just hear this word, but experience how powerful it is. And even if you're wrestling there right now saying, I don't know if I wanna forgive, I don't know if I wanna let go.    If you're an extra note taker, Matthew chapter 18 is a powerful story. And Jesus teaching about forgiveness, that was a theme of his ministry, he told a story about a king who brought all of his servants in to pay their debts and settle accounts. And Jesus says, there was a servant who owed millions of dollars, he literally couldn't have paid it back in his lifetime and the king said, you're gonna have to pay by being tortured, and your children and your wife will be sold.    And the guy just begged the king, please have pity and mercy on me, and the king did. The king said, okay I'll forgive your debt. Then that guy went out of the king's presence, after being forgiven millions of dollars, and found someone who owed him a few hundred dollars, and that person said, I can't pay you back right now.    And that guy got all over this guy, and threw him into prison to be tortured because he didn't pay back his small debt, after being forgiven millions of dollars. And in the story, Jesus says that people came back to the king and told him this, and the king brought that guy back in and said, you're an evil servant.    I've forgiven all this debt, a huge debt, and you can't forgive a little one? You see, today the question you wanna write down next to let go is, where is my focus? What am I focused on? Because if you wanna forgive, you can't focus on that hurt anymore, you can't focus on that wound anymore, you can't focus on that abuse anymore.   Anger Because as you focus on that, it just keeps all of that bitterness, and resentment, and anger tight and close. But if you focus on the cross, if you focus on what Jesus did, I wanna make you a promise. As I focus on what Jesus has done for me, and how my sins stack up and all he's forgiven, I've never forgiven anybody more than Jesus has forgiven me.    I love what's happened at our camps in the last few weeks. But at the Trek Camp for junior high, middle school kids, it was pretty amazing what happened. They started dragging a cross through camp a couple of hours before worship. I wish I could drag a cross right through your living room about Wednesday of this week.    Just a cross going right down your office hallway, right through your workplace, right down your neighborhood, right across your Facebook page. But the cross just started going by, and the middle schoolers started following that cross as they prepared for worship, and that cross went into the room.    And as everybody gathered into that room and everybody was in their place, all of a sudden everything went dark and the cross was lit up, and I just took a picture of it. It looks like something I got off of iStockphoto, but this is your middle school camp Lake Pointe. This is sixth, seventh and eighth graders are saying, it's all about Jesus.    All of a sudden they were so focused on the cross, there was nothing else they could see, there was nothing else they could do. It's all about him, Jesus. Yes, he's the one we're focused on. And today if you focus on Jesus, you can forgive because you've been forgiven. If you focus on Jesus you can let go because, because of that cross he's let go of all of our debts, and all of our regrets, and all of our mistakes.    And on every campus today in a moment, I'm gonna give you an opportunity to experience the decision of forgiveness. And there's these white pieces of paper all across the room at every campus, and I'm gonna ask you when they're singing the last worship song, to go and write a name on this card.    And then I'm gonna encourage you, your campus pastor will tell you what to do with that, but we're gonna offer you an opportunity to really let go today. At the service last night, the Saturday night service, a guy came up to me after the service and he was crying. He said, seven years ago my wife walked out on me and I just realized today I've never forgiven her.    I just wrote her name there, and said I'm letting go today. It's powerful. So why would we forgive? Listen, I hope the names are coming to mind. A spouse, a co-worker, a roommate, a friend, someone who's hurt you in the past, we're gonna let go today. Why would do we do that? Well, Colossians 3:13 tells us, it's very simple. It says this, it says, bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Would you read this with me ? Let's say this together, forgive as the Lord forgave you. Let's bow our heads and close our eyes. In this quiet moment, how can we focus on the debt that someone else owes us, when we focus on the cross right now and realize how much Jesus has forgiven us? And right now, over the Internet, here in this room, at every campus today, there is someone, you need to receive the forgiveness of Jesus.   How to forgive yourself  You need to receive what he has done for you, and the love he offers to you. It's free and you can't earn it, you don't deserve it and neither do I. But would you open up your heart right now, and maybe the name you need to write on this card is your own name, and forgive yourself as Christ forgives you.  Prayer for forgiveness  But let me just pray for us. Lord, on all the campuses, over the Internet, Lord help us to release these people who've hurt us, people who've done us wrong. Help us to let go of the debt that they owe us because of the debt You've forgiven in us. Help us to declare Lord, that they don't owe us anything anymore because we've been set free.    And right now, I pray that You would set people free from the prison of bitterness and unforgiveness. And as people come to our minds today, whether it's a small offense or some huge hurt, we're gonna give them forgiveness today because all we're doing is giving them, God what You have given us through Christ.    So do what only You can do today, and help us to experience the power and the freedom of letting go, the power of forgiveness. And we pray this in the name of the one who's forgiven us, Jesus Christ. 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