A White Christmas, Part 3 – Sermon Notes

[These notes are from a sermon given at Church of the Four Corners in Independence, MO, as a part of the series “A White Christmas”. If you’d like to see the full message, you can watch it here.]

Christmas time magnifies everything, both the warm, fuzzy ones as well as the negative ones. Suicides between Thanksgiving and New Years are more than in the rest of the 11 months of the year combined. This series is to help people experience forgiveness and have a truly white Christmas.

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. – Isaiah 1:18-19 NLT

Previously, we reviewed the myths of what forgiveness is. We also talked about how much God has forgiven us and we must always remember to forgive as generously. Last week, Connor talked about viewing others through the lens of Jesus so that we can understand how to be willing to forgive.

Twisted Ways We Deal with Our Past

  1. We believe that time will remove our mistakes. Time doesn’t heal wounds. We know it’s the Holy Spirit that heals and helps us deal with them appropriately.

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. – Proverbs 28:13 NLT

We all need a community of others where we feel safe enough to share our past without the fear of feeling judged.

  1. We beat ourselves up over our past. We feel that we owe it to carry a heavy burden because of our choices, but it’s not true. King David tried this as well and here’s what it made him feel like.

My guilt overwhelms me–it is a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins. I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief. A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken. I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart. – Psalm 38:4-8 NLT

When we beat ourselves up over our past mistakes it can actually affect our physical bodies.

  1. Blaming others. We try to move the responsibility of the choice made of to other people instead of owning it ourselves. The first man and woman on this earth pulled this same thing when God talked to them about the forbidden fruit they’d eaten.

The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.” – Genesis 3:12-13 NLT

How do we get past our past?

How do we genuinely give ourselves permission to forgive ourselves and find healing?

Apostle Paul would have the right than anyone to beat himself up over the choices he’d made to kill Christians. Here’s what he thought on the subject.

Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. – 1 Timothy 1:13-15 NIV

If we want to truly find freedom this morning, we need to stop trying to earn our forgiveness. This is easier said than done, because everything in the world teaches us to do the opposite. To have good friends, be a good friend, for example. To have a good marriage, or to have a good career, we have to earn it and work for it. It’s even more deeply engrained in our American ideal. Because it’s so deep in our culture, it’s even permeated into our Christmas tradition. Think about Santa and all the ideas of being good to get gifts from him.

Because we so used to operating this way, we transfer this idea to the forgiveness of Jesus. But that is the opposite of what the Bible teaches us about the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. – 1 Peter 3:18 NIV

He died once, not over and over. God took on flesh and was born in a manger for this reason: so we could be brought back to God. He was put to death in the body, but He was made alive by the Spirit. When He died on the cross, he paid the price for our sins: past, present, and future. If you struggle with this temptation to try to earn the right to forgiveness, you don’t have a sin problem; you have an unbelief problem. If you believe on the name of Jesus, you will be saved. Do you believe what He is, what He’s done. Do you believe there’s a God who sent His son for your sins?

The next time your reluctant to worship because of your week or your choices, remember that it has nothing to do with you. It’s about Him, that’s why we’re acceptable to Him. You need to allow God to turn it around for His good. That’s not to say that bad things in our lives happened because of God, but it does mean that any situation in our lives can be redeemed by God.

What is that sin or situation in your past that you can’t seem to forgive yourself for? Pray for the belief to accept God’s forgiveness and accept that it comes freely and fully.


White Christmas, Part 2 – Sermon Notes

[These notes are from a sermon given at Church of the Four Corners in Independence, MO, as a part of the series “A White Christmas”. If you’d like to see the full message, you can watch it here.]

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. – Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)

We sin and others sin against us. We can be white as snow, with one clarification: we obey. If God points this out, it’s probably because it’s not something we would do on our own. If we do this, we will be at free.

When was the last time someone did something against you? These things are unavoidable. Matthew 24:10, many will offend, be try, hate you. The word offended in this passage means we’ve been baited in and trapped.

Proverbs 18:19 – We begin to build barriers to protect ourselves. We live by the mantra of hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me. We build up walls and we miss out on all these good opportunities in order to protect ourselves.

There are many types of hurts, including being taken advantage of, used, ignored, lied about, confidence destroyed, or even hurt by churches. There are many types of rejection, opportunities lost, abused whether it be emotionally, verbally, or sexually. Sometimes we feel offended when we’re humiliated, becoming the butt of someone’s joke. There are so many ways that we can be hurt, far more than what’s mentioned here.

Jesus Was Hurt

Jesus knew these. He was betrayed by his own disciple for about half a year’s wages. The authorities falsely accused and misunderstood what he said. His friends scattered into the night. One of the closest disciples,Peter, denied him three times. Jesus was rejected and abandoned. Then, he was abused and beaten, whipped, stabbed and then nailed alive to wooden beams due to losing a popularity vote.

Experts say Jesus would have been unrecognizable due to the beatings and hanging naked in front of everyone. Jesus took on all these things for us and because of what we needed. Hebrews 2:17-18 says Jesus became a mediator (think modern day lawyer) that truly knows what we’re going through because he experienced it first-hand. Jesus is the authority on what it looks like to respond to offenses in our lives. Because of this, we can come boldly because He knows what it is to be abused, broken, hurting.

Responding to Unavoidable Offenses

1 Peter 4:1 says Jesus understood what you’re going through, learn to emulate him. While he was dying on the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what their doing.” Jesus made a choice that we should mirror. Maybe the person who has offended you really is a bad person, but it does your heart no good to choose to believe that. We need to try to remember that others who are causing us problems or issues may be suffering in a way that we cannot imagine.

“Remind us each day that the greatest gift you give us is love. Let us open our hearts to all humanity, not just our family. Let us be patient and loving.”

Jesus didn’t enjoy what he suffered, but he made a choice to keep his heart clean in the face of evil. And that’s a choice we can access today. We can chose to pray the same prayer that others will be forgiven, just like Jesus did. We have to start doing this: learning to see people through the eyes of Jesus.

3 Steps to bring Healing Godly Forgiveness

  1. Remember that we need forgivness, too. We’re not angels; we have sin on our hands just the same as everyone else. Romans 3:23, all have sinned and fallen short. You have received, so freely give. You’re never going to have to give out more forgiveness that Jesus had to give on the cross.
  2. Acknowledge and focus on the real enemy. Jesus saw the people that were killing him as victims of the real enemy. Hurting people hurt people. It doesn’t make what they did right, but knowing that helps people begin to have compassion on them. Ephesians 6;12 says we’re fighting against powers that are not of this world.
  3. Receive God’s love. Some of us haven’t truly accepted the unconditional nature of God’s love. We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John says we can’t love God and hate our brother or we are a liar. Don’t leave today burdened by unforgiveness.

Don’t be afraid to find someone to pray for you, either for past offenses that you are struggling to forgive or for strength to keep from being offended.


A White Christmas- Part 1, Sermon Notes

[These notes are from a sermon given at Church of the Four Corners in Independence, MO, as a part of the series “A White Christmas” . If you’d like to see the full message, you can watch it here.]

As a culture, we believe things about forgiveness that aren’t true.

Myth 1: Forgiveness is minimizing the seriousness of the offense.

Myth 2: Forgiveness requires reconciliation. 

  • Forgiveness is between me and God more so than me and the person who wronged me.
  • For people who wait for the other person to start the process, that is handing over control of your life to the person who hurt you.

Myth 3:Forgiveness is forgetting what happened. Unfortunately, we will never forget what happened, especially true the more hurt-filled the situation was.

One reason that often keeps us from forgiving is that we think it’s not fair. Life isn’t fair and we should be grateful that God’s not fair. In the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35), we see a man who was forgiven a large sum of money, valued today at approximately $5 billion. Instead of offering that same extravagant forgiveness to others, he demanded repayment from one of his debtors of a sum of money equal to about $10,000-$12,000. The one who had forgiven him the $5 billion heard about it and threw him in prison until the money was repaid. We are the person who has been forgiven an amount that is impossible to repay, which is completely unfair. We need to be just as unfair in our response to others.

In order to forgive this way, we need to acknowledge two important things.

  1. This will not come easily or naturally.
  2. Waiting till you feel like forgiving means that you will never do it.

People who walk in freedom don’t rely on their emotions to determine their actions. Instead, they use the scriptures to guide and train their choices.

The scriptures tell us how we are to respond to those who have wronged us.

  1. Pray for them (Matthew 5:43-44). This doesn’t mean praying they will get “in trouble” with the Lord. It means honestly putting them before the Lord. You can’t pray for someone and hate them at the same time. Eventually, one of them will give. We must be guarding our hearts against hate taking hold in our hearts. Prayer is how we do that.
  2. Bless them (Romans 12:14). This is specifically referring to words. If you say that you’ve forgiven, and then speak badly about them every time they come up, you’re undoing any benefit of forgiveness (assuming you’ve actually forgiven them).
  3. Do good to them (Luke 6:27-28). Doing good things for those who have wronged us sounds crazy. No one operating out of the natural would do this. We’re spiritually transformed, meaning we will be lead by the Spirit of God and the truth of God’s scriptures. The only way these kinds of actions are possible is by the knowledge that God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).