Sunday, 18 December 2016

Love and Forgiveness

MCF Life Church - Christmas Message 2016

…if we refuse to forgive, even our enemies, then they will always have a hold on us and continue to hurt us even after they have passed from this earth. But if we choose to forgive them with God's help, then they lose their stronghold over us and we receive God's peace….

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In October this year I finished a series of talks on the 'Fruit of the Spirit'. I looked at each fruit starting in reverse order. I therefore started with 'self-control' and then worked my way backwards until I got to the first fruit in the list which is 'love'. I'd prepared and preached on each of the other eight parts of the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’, but when I came to Love I realised that this couldn't be preached in one message as it was too big a subject. After all, the bible tells us in 1 John 4:8 that ‘Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love’. As I prayed about this I felt led to prepare not just one but three messages on Love; one from the viewpoint of the Father, one from the viewpoint of Jesus and one from the viewpoint of the Holy Spirit. (You can listen to the Fruits of the Spirit messages by clicking on this link, you may need to scroll down to find the start of the series). 

I soon realised that Love was the greatest virtue and the part of the Fruit that binds all of the rest together. Colossians 3:12-14 ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity’. The bible also tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:13 'And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love’. Jesus also commands us to love one another in John 13:34-35 ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’.

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As we look back at 2016, some major events have happened around the world. Some good, some bad, but I wonder; do we actually see much of this love, if any at all, in these events?  For instance we had a great 'gold rush' in the Olympic games, with Great Britain winning 27 Gold medals, 23 Silver and 17 bronze, coming 2nd in the overall medal table to USA. Then came the Paralympic games where team GB won 64 Gold medals, 39 Silver and 44 Bronze again coming second in the overall medal table, but this time to China. The 'Brexit' vote followed soon after which resulted in the UK deciding to leave the European Union. In addition to all of this we've had the horrors of the war in Syria, with the mindless bombings of hospitals, civilians and aid convoys and around the rest of the world we've had terrorist bombings, shooting of children and young people in schools across America and the loss of life at sea as desperate people flee war torn countries in the hope of a safer future, only to be met with more hostility.  

In the newspapers and on the TV we continually hear about the depravity of this world and its people. So I ask again, 'do we see much, if any, of the love described above?’ It does not seem so does it?  But there is however 'good news'we can make a difference! Why don't we start to make a change and to make a choice today to show God's love to one another? In Mark 12:28-31 Jesus didn't just command us to love one another He also reminds us of the command to firstly Love God and then to Love our neighbour as our self; 'One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important? The most important one’, answered Jesus, ‘is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these’

In Luke 6:27-36 Jesus goes one step further and tells us to love our enemies. To love your enemies’ means you have to forgive your enemies, and this for many is a major stumbling block. How can you forgive someone who has hurt you, abused you, or has devastated your life? Well, on your own this is very difficult and may seem impossible, but with God all things are possible. When you want to forgive and find you're unable to do so, ask God to help you, and He will. We don't have to do this under our own strength, Jesus promised us a helper. In John 14:15-17 Jesus says; ‘If you love Me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth’. God gives us the Holy Spirit not only to guide us through life, but also to help us in the hard times and in the difficult decisions we sometimes have to make.

When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13 part of the prayer in Matthew 6:12 tells us; 'Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us' (Good News Translation).  He finishes in Matthew 6:14 by telling us; ‘If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done' (Good News Translation). This may seem harsh but Jesus knows that if we refuse to forgive, even our enemies, then they will always have a hold on us and continue to hurt us even after they have passed from this earth. But if we choose to forgive them with God's help, then they lose their stronghold over us and we receive God's peace and His forgiveness towards the things we've done wrong as we repent of them.

If we start to love our enemies and forgive them we really can impact the world. So let's not think about it, let's make a decision to put others before ourselves, and see what transformation we can effect in other people's lives in the areas where we live who knows, we may even start to see transformation in our own lives as we love and forgive one another in 2017.

Author: Kevin Hunt

May God bless and enrich your life

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  1. 'but with God all things are possible', what an amazing thought. There is nothing the we cannot do, no barriers that cannot be broken down, no relationship that cannot be reconciled, no situation that cannot be resolved. If we hand everything over to God then we can experience true peace, knowing that we are loved so much. Thank you Father for your amazing love and thank you for the amazing gift of your Son Jesus. A fantastic message of love and forgiveness as we go into Christmas and the new year. Thank you and God Bless

  2. Thank you Brother for taking the time to share this important message with the body of Christ. All the Glory to God ALWAYS.
    Jesus Christ, never done anything wrong but he was spat upon, brutally beaten, mocked and hung on a Cross and JET he never said a word other than "forgive them for they know not what they do"
    God Our Father forgive me for holding on to hurts and refusing to forgive especially when I claim Jesus is my role model. I pray as a new year begins that with the help of the Holy Spirit I truly will be a new creation Amen

  3. Thanks so much once again to remind us the command of our Lord Jesus Christ to Love one another and also our enemy sometime it's difficult to forgive and love those that have done us wrong but if we don't it can be a burden that we carry it is more better to follow the command of Christ and set ourselves free may the peace and blessings of our Lord be with you all

  4. this blog gives us a lovely message for this Christmas season . For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved AMEN out of a truly loving heart forgiveness flows and the hardest person sometimes to forgive can be ourselves . but when we are assured the power of sin over us was broken at the cross of Calvary? we can never again condemn ourselves or others but walk in the freedom of forgiveness. Thank you for this insight into our Saviours love a truly wonderful message x