Today was laity Sunday in the Methodist church world. What that means is that a lay speaker delivers the message.....and at our church that was me. I prayed over my message and worked hard on it....and then realized....it was not the words God wanted me to share with the congregation.....so I thought why waste a good message....I will use it on my Sunday blog. So here is the sermon that wasn't. I am glad I listened to God on this one....the one I did deliver was so powerful. I truly felt an out of body experience with it.....so I know the Holy Spirit was in the house for sure. Whenever I have to apologize for something I need to hear the person I have wronged say, “I forgive you.” I don’t just do this just because I need to hear it….but because the other person needs to say it….to be completely released. Did your parents ever make you tell someone, “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you?” I have to admit...mine did....and I did the same thing as a parent. I remember my son mumbling the words, "I'msorryIdidn't meanit" to his cousin Brandy once. He was right...he didn't mean it and you probably didn’t even mean it at the time either – or say it whole heartedly….but eventually it worked its way to your soul. It is best, of course, when we do mean it….and say it without someone telling us we need to say I am sorry….but that doesn’t always happen and it is far better to say, “I’m sorry” half heartedly and grow into it…than to do nothing and wait for forgiveness to occur. “Forgiveness is a choice you make” and if you don’t forgive it brings death into your life in some form or fashion. The best way to become forgiving is to pray for the person you need to forgive. Even though it may seem hard at first, once you get into it and discover more things to pray about you will discover your heart becoming soft toward that person. I’ve discovered the hard way that in families there are those who wait for forgiveness to happen. You know the ones who don’t forgive until they feel like forgiving. The result is more often than not serious rifts between family members. When this happens hurtful things are said to or about each other, or even worse – SILENCE! In Ephesians 4: 31-32 tells us to "31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Matthew 6:14-15 follows with "14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." I don't know about you....but I like the fact that God is going to forgive my sins....and who am I to think I am better than God and don't have to forgive. Lack of graciousness and appreciation occurs and THIS undergirds ever word and deed because of unforgiveness. Whole families can suffer because of one persons unforgiveness. I am a Christian and part of a church family (one small nuclear family) – part of one extended family the United Methodist Church organization. We have all kinds of families in our lives, our church, our community, and our work place. Forgiveness is the key to all these areas. We need to forgive those in all our families for their imperfections and things that have been done….hurtful things. This may even involve forgiving ourselves. If we are not forgiving the consequences can be serious. I know of a woman who had a horrific fight with her mother.....about her mother's lifestyle choices.....the mother was going on a trip and left right after hateful/hurtful words had been exchanged by the two. Somewhere during the trip a semi-truck T-boned the mother and she died instantly. The daughter carried this guilt with her for years. Unforgiveness can so easily become part of our lives that we take it with us wherever we go. We never even notice the excess baggage we are carrying. Forgiveness does not make the other person right – it makes you free. Forgiveness is trusting that God is the God of justice. He says He is and saying, “Father, I won’t hold that person to myself with unforgiveness anymore.” It is acknowledging that God knows the truth and allowing Him to be the judge, because He is the only one who knows the whole truth. Is. 30:18 says, “The Lord is a God of justice, blessed are all who wait for Him.” We are blessed when we confess our unforgivenss to Him – pray for deliverance – and then we can sit back and wait for God to do the right thing while we enjoy His blessings. Doesn’t that sound more enjoyable?....Ok…So now I am sure you are asking....or at least thinking in your head, “How does a child forgive an abusive parent? How does a family forgive the drunk driver who killed their daughter? How can anyone show mercy for the merciless?” Well, without coming into the presence of the Lord, they can’t. In the presence of the Lord one understands complete forgiveness. This understanding is sweet release – it’s life giving because it renews our entire being. In Phil. 3:13-14 we are instructed "13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." We cannot get on with our lives and all that God has in store for us as long as we are tied to past injustices. I learned the hard way that you have to give it up and let it go. You cannot be an effective person....much less and effective Christian if you are carrying around this kind of baggage in your life. Matthew 5:7 – takes it even a step further with, "7Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." This verse instructs us that we need to show mercy so nothing limits us or God’s mercy towards us. We need to say , “I forgive you, “ whenever the opportunity arises. We need to prevent bitterness and unforgiveness from becoming a wall between us and God – hindering our prayers or our walk. We don’t have time for this because there is too much praying to be done. – I don't know about you....but I don't need anything hindering my prayers. How about you? Is there someone you need to tell you are sorry to today?....and mean it? If so...get on it! There might not be a tomorrow.
I am a woman who wears many hats and loves them all. I am a singer - I sing with the group Still Magnolias. I was part of the original First United Methodist Church Arbor Praise Team until we moved. After 24+ years of teaching English 11 and Spanish I - II at Benjamin Russell High School I decided to take a job closer to home. I now teach Spanish I & 2 at Randolph Co. High School and Wadley. I thought I was getting close to retirement and looking forward to it, but decided to move my cheese and try something different. I am a preacher's wife and a preacher myself. My husband Frank is the pastor at Rock Mills United Methodist Church and I am the pastor at Midway (Wedowee). It has made our conversations interesting, to say the least.