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Oct 15, 2017

Forgive Us as we Forgive

Forgive Us as we Forgive

Passage: Ephesians 2:1-10

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Lord, Teach us to Pray Sermon Series

Category: Forgiveness

Keywords: confession, forgiveness, sins

Part of your prayer life needs to include a regular practice of confession.

Devotional

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:8-10

There is not a time I can remember when I didn't know about Jesus. I grew up in a Christian home. I attended church. I had a set of six 45 records that accompanied picture books that told me Bible stories. I spent many days sitting on the shag carpet in our family room listening to them on our record player. I've logically understood for a long time that Jesus loves me and that He died for my sins just as I understood that the sky was blue and that the University of Texas at Austin was the best university in all the land. 

I think that we who have been brought up in the faith tend to tell ourselves that we should know better and be better. In essence, we strive with all our might to be above sin. We guilt ourselves into pushing away feelings that are anything but gratitude and pleas for the healing of the pain of others. I might resist confessing or grumbling to God because surely there are greater needs than mine. And if I'm honest. Really honest? I'll tell you something that I probably wouldn't admit to you if I was staring you in the face. There are days I tell myself that there are greater sins than mine, too. (Ouch.)

There was a day this past summer when I woke up steeped in sin. I was full of sadness, anger, resentment, jealousy, pride. You name the sin. I was walking in it. And these feelings were all due to a disappointment so mundane, so wholly unimportant in the scheme of things, that the overriding feeling I was carrying around was shame that I couldn't move past these completely human emotions on my own power. How could I feel like this? A "good" Christian? (Insert eye roll here.)  How could a woman who had friends who needed prayer for devastating loss, for truly significant struggles and pain dare to pray to my God about my ridiculously selfish feelings? I tried all morning to pray "appropriate" prayers for other things and to push away my humanness because I did not need to bother God with matters such as these. 

And do you want to know what the Lord thought of that? I'll tell you what I heard from Him while I was sitting at a stoplight with a scowl on my face that morning. 

"Exactly who do you think you are? And exactly who do you think you're fooling? You cannot talk yourself out of sin. And you cannot hide your sin from me. You have zero power to push away your feelings by throwing up more "important" matters to me. Your friend who needs me? I've got that whole deal figured out already. So, you might as well start confessing what you really feel and what you really need because here's the thing: I already know. And furthermore, I already took care of that nonsense. Just spill it, Sister."

So I told Him. I told Him what I thought wasn't fair and what had made me angry and what had made me jealous and what I thought I deserved. And right there on that day, I understood the most important message of the gospel: I am a sinner. A plain and simple sinner. No better and no worse than the murderer, the robber, the adulterer. And that I am forgiven. We sinners? We're all in this thing together. We're all carrying around a huge burden of shame that He has never asked us to carry. And as today's scripture says, we simply cannot work our way out of it. God in His infinite grace reminded me that day of what the cross meant. The gift of Jesus was that He hung there and forgave every last one of my sins - no one more ugly than the next - flooding the ground with them in every drop of his blood. And they were washed away.

I will surely have to learn this lesson again on another day about another sin. Because no matter how many Bible Stories I read, verses I memorize, or "good" Christian prayers I pray, I will never stop being in need of a Savior. I will never have an occasion when I will not need to whisper in earnest, "Forgive me my sin so that I might forgive those who've sinned against me." And there will never be a moment when He won't give me grace and mercy and love. It will be available for me for every sin, every day, forever and ever.

Prayer

Holy, merciful, gracious God. We are humbled and grateful that You will not give up on us. You will not stop finding moments to teach us the truth of the gospel whether we are sixteen or sixty years old. Thank you for reminding us that there are no levels of sin and there are no ways that we can cancel them out on our own power. Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned. We will never deserve Your grace and mercy, but help us learn to accept it. In the name of Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

Written by Jennifer Skinner, member of Arcola Church and a Texan (Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient, funny husband, and three very impatient, funny boys/ball players. She is also a blogger, The View From Behind Home Plate, who writes about finding extraordinary grace and blessings among the cleats and dirt and testosterone that fill her ordinary days.