Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Pathway of Forgiveness – The Process – Recall the Hurt

Peninsula Community Church

The Pathway to Forgiveness – The Process

January 29, 2012

Mark 11:25And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Dr. Everett Worthington, professor of psychology at Richmond University, has developed a process that will help individuals navigate through to forgiveness. It is from his book “Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to wholeness and Hope” that I take much of my notes today.

The first step to forgiveness is to recall the hurt. In some ways this may sound contradictory to what we have already discussed but to successfully navigate to a position of complete forgiveness we must recall or remember the hurt. Otherwise our forgiveness will be like my children when they were younger. When they would do something wrong we would require that they ask forgiveness and apologize for what they had done. The problem too often is that they would say a hasty apology without understanding why they were apologizing and what they were asking forgiveness for. When we would ask them why, they did not know. If we are not careful we will come to the place where we will find ourselves asking forgiveness without knowing why we are asking. But, if we are to navigate through the pain to complete healing we must understand the area of need and why we need to either forgive or receive forgiveness.

The Scripture we read this morning implies that in prayer the one praying realized that they had a specific issue with another person and Jesus issues a command that when we find a reason we need to seek forgiveness.

As we begin to seek forgiveness we must understand what kind of wounds we might have. Do you have nickel wounds, five dollar wounds or five hundred dollar wounds? You see a nickel wound is the kind that comes when the parking space you were sitting and waiting for was taken by someone else. It is an issue but it doesn’t require a confrontation other than dealing with the anger you might feel within yourself. It may hurt for a second but we quickly get over it. But if we don’t deal with 5 cent wounds they can become five dollar wounds.

On the other hand a five dollar wound might be the type when someone embarrasses us by saying something that hurts us but they quickly respond and attempt to make it right. Again this is a painful moment but we should be able to get over it and resolve the issue fairly quickly.

However, at the five hundred dollar level there has been significant pain and hurt involved. These wounds often leave a lasting impression on your psyche. In fact these wounds often begin to define or redefine who you are. For example if it is a wound of rejection you can begin to imagine that everyone is either rejecting you or that they will reject you. These wounds change you for ever. Perhaps it is a divorce. Perhaps it is the child who rebels and makes decisions that impact them but also your family. Perhaps it is sexual abuse that mars your trust in others from that point forward.

Let me just say that too often we reside in the nickel wound area rather than dealing with the big issues. My thoughts over the next few weeks relate to the five hundred dollar wounds but can also be applied to the five dollar and the 5 cent wounds as well.

We usually know that we have a wound or an area of our lives that needs forgiveness because of how we respond to the wounds in our lives. How do we respond to wounds? We usually respond emotionally in various ways. For example, we may respond in any of the following ways:

  • Fear – when we are hurt our brain and body tend to avoid future hurts. If similar events or actions occur the emotional alarms are set off. In Genesis 32:7 we see Jacob being fearful of his encounter with Esau.
  • Anger – When offended we can get angry. We will either respond most often with anger or with fear. We will be thin skinned and be offended by almost any thing. They expect hurt or injury because of the fear that is resident within them. Or people are walking around like volcanoes and waiting only for a place to spew their fire or venom.
  • Avoidance – Woundedness causes us to want to avoid the offender or anyone that reminds us of the offender.
  • Retaliation/revenge – Retaliation is striking back with little forethought. Revenge on the other hand is plotted, planned and executed in cold blood.
  • Attack – Some offenses cause us to go for the jugular.

 

The wages of chronic unforgiveness is eventual illness – physically, morally, relationally and spiritually.

 

As we look at this issue of forgiveness we must first understand how we are not to recall a wound?

  • Rumination – Rumination is the act of continuing to revisit the cause of the wound but refusing to do anything about it. By recalling we are called to act upon the issue.
  • Bitter unforgiveness – the second way to not recall a wound is to allow bitterness to set in. We are reminded in Hebrews 12:15 warns us about allowing a root of bitterness to spring up in our life. A root of bitterness causes us to do things irrationally and on a whim rather than from a position of strength and power in Christ. When I am weak, He is strong.

 

So how do we recall a hurt?

  • Start with prayer. We begin like Jesus commands in the verse above. When we pray and ask God will show us where we need to seek forgiveness. He will give us a plan.
  • Create an accurate
    picture of what the wound is. We also need to be careful and not imagine things that are not real. Perhaps this is where Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. It is at this stage that we need to have a true and authentic picture of what has offended us and why.

  • Begin to step towards a lifestyle and act of forgiveness. Write it down and develop a plan.

 

Where do you need God’s forgiveness? Would you pray with me that God will help you move from a place of woundedness and hurt to a place of healing and hope.


 

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The Pathway to Forgiveness – The Benefits

Peninsula Community Church

The Pathway to Forgiveness – The Benefits

January 22, 2012

 Psalm 139:14 – I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

David realized that we are a creation of God. In that creation we were created for a purpose and for a reason. In the creation of mankind it was God’s desire that we align ourselves with His purposes and plans. When we step outside of God’s divine plan we experience hurt and woundedness as illustrated by life itself. When we fail to follow the Ten Commandments for example we find ourselves plagued by guilt and shame. We worry about someone finding out about the real us and therefore we try to hide even more. When we are not aligned with God’s will and His purpose we will lie, kill, covet our brother’s wife and so on. Rather than bringing life this brings death, fear and ongoing issues.

Because we are ­­fearfully and wonderfully made we must learn to walk in forgiveness. Walking in forgiveness is God’s design so that we do not live with fear of reprisal. We live with a short list of wrongs against our brother, family and friends. When we walk in forgiveness and we align ourselves with God’s will in this matter we will experience God’s grace.

It is interesting to note that until the 1960’s and really not until the mid 1990’s that psychologists and sociologists began to exam the benefits of walking in forgiveness. Since that time some amazing facts have been revealed. Of course it is interesting to me that God knew this long before 1960 or 1990 for He challenged believers in the New Testament to live a live characterized by forgiveness. It is for that reason that Jesus would not allow Peter to get away with the minimum requirement for forgiveness.

You remember the story of Peter in Matthew 18 who thought that he was being spiritual by saying that one should forgive seven times. A historical contextual reading of this passage reveals that Peter was saying that if do the minimum amount required have I been successful. Jesus’ reply was no you need to forgive and continue to forgive until your heart is at peace with the other person. This is not as much a verbal forgiveness as it is an inward act of healing and restoration.

Here are the words of the text. Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. In essence Jesus was saying that you will be confronted by reasons to not forgive the other person but you forgive because it is the right thing to do. And every time a reason presents itself to walk in unforgiveness you resist and let God heal you.

Sometimes the only way we know that we have forgiven the other person is when we are confronted by the same person or the same issue. You know that you are walking in forgiveness when you see the person at the end of the grocery aisle and you do not burn shopping cart rubber trying to get down another aisle.

Jesus understood what we are only beginning to find out and that is that when we walk in forgiveness we realize benefits that affect us physically, emotionally/mentally, relationally and spiritually.  By walking in forgiveness we realize the benefits of experiencing the grace and mercy of God in our lives. Let’s look at some of the benefits of forgiving others:

The first of these are the physical benefits of forgiveness. Studies have shown that when people walk in hostility and anger toward others that their blood pressure becomes elevated and that those who are chronically hostile toward another individual has a raised potential for coronary disease. A lack of forgiveness can cause other physical issues such as fatigue, ulcers, loss of memory, misplaced anger and other such issues. However, these studies have shown that when one begins to deal with the issues that have created unforgiveness one’s blood pressure and heart rate are lowered and many of the other physical ailments are either drastically reduced or completely eliminated.

The second benefit is seen in the area of emotional and mental benefits. Paul Meier discovered that those who allow anger and bitterness to rule and reign in their life had a higher potential for chronic depression. One of the primary drivers of this is the fact that the brain communicates by way of electrical impulses. The vehicle used to transmit these impulses is a chemical in the brain called serotonin and dopamine. When one is chronically angry or bitter research has shown that these chemicals are depleted. Because we are fearfully and wonderfully made when we live outside of the will of God in this area of our life there are adverse affects. The most common treatment for this issue in the psychological world is to administer drugs that will help supply these chemicals to the brain. However, as we all know these drugs have side effects that create and cause other issues and symptoms. While these drugs can be good to help someone get there life in balance, drugs alone are not adept at bringing healing. What Meier and others have found is that when one can fully forgive the one that they are angry with or the one who has caused the bitterness in their life the brain begins to reproduce the chemicals it needs again. In fact, studies have shown that if a program of forgiveness intervention is administered many of those currently institutionalized could be released. 

The third benefit is seen as social and relational benefits. This is somewhat easier to understand as we have all experienced the pain of hurt and the wounds that come from others. When we do not forgive or we do not seek forgiveness we feel the anxiety of being near the other person. We feel the need to avoid the other person to the degree that we will avoid them at all cost. We also begin to let out imaginations run wild and we begin to expand our reasons for not liking them some of which may be real and others which may be imaginary.

But when one is walking in forgiveness they will find that they are united with people emotionally. They do not feel the pain that they once felt before. It is for this reason that Jesus gave strict commands on how to handle issues that cause broken relationships. “You are to go to that person and seek forgiveness.” Over seventeen times the scriptures of the New Testament speak of our forgiving others who we have wronged or that have wronged us.

You see the unity of the body of Christ is an important issue for Christ. How many times do you see church’s broken and split by unforgiveness? How many times have you seen families destroyed because one of the parties if not both fail to walk in forgiveness? How many business partners have stopped working together because of misunderstandings that could have been easily resolved by the act of forgiveness?

Does forgiveness bring a benefit to our relationships? The answer is a resounding yes.

The final and most important benefit are the Spiritual benefits that come from forgiving others. In fact this was such a critical component for Christ that on a number of occasions Jesus stated that for God to forgive you must forgive. This seems so counter to what we have learned about God unconditional love. But rather than an indictment against God’s unconditional love what we see here is that when we realize the greatness of God’s love and forgiveness we can’t help but forgive others.

David realized the need of forgiveness and the benefits of forgiveness in Psalm 51. David cried out to God to cleanse him and wash him of his iniquities (v2). In verse 10 David cries out for God to create in him a new heart and to renew a right spirit in him. What David recognized is that when God forgives us we have a greater understanding of what it means to forgive others and how refreshing it is to be forgiven. In verse 12 David recognizes the pain of a broken relationship with God when he asks God to restore to him the joy of his salvation. When we have broken relationships we have a broken spirit that can only be restored through the power of God’s forgiveness. In forgiving others or by being forgiven by another we discover the mercy and grace of God in a new dimension.

God’s plan from the beginning was for us to forgive and keep a short list of wrongs committed against us and by us.

You know how it feels to be forgiven. You feel clean and refreshed. You feel renewed. God wants us free and not bound by past wrongs or evil. How’s your list today? Do you need to seek forgiveness from someone, from God? Perhaps today your issue is not with the church or anyone else but you are angry with God because you feel He has let you down and has failed you in some way.

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The Pathway to Forgiveness Part 2

Peninsula Community Church

The Pathway to Forgiveness

January 15, 2012

Ephesians 4:26 & Hebrews 12:15 – Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil …. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…

When we fail to walk in forgiveness we give room for the enemy of our souls to cause a root of bitterness to grow and once this root has found its place it effects us physically, emotionally, spiritually and relationally. It is interesting to note that in ancient times a “root of bitterness” was equated to “poison.” Enemies would use poison roots as a means to make their enemies sick or even have them killed. It is for this reason that Paul admonishes us to deal with our anger and fear immediately so that we are not poisoned by our negative emotions which can lead to the death of our emotions.

When we fail to walk in forgiveness there is a process that brings us to unforgiveness:

  • Someone commits a transgression against us. It might be an act, a sin, a word spoken or a broken promise that bring us pain.
  • There is a perception of offense or hurt. This can be real or imaginary. Rather imaginary or real these issues can be just as hard to deal with.
  • Hot emotions are felt. – anger, fear resentment.
  • We begin to ruminate about the events. We rehearse the events over and over and each time the pain of the event grows stronger.
  • The result is unforgiveness

When this occurs we can play a game in our minds and begin to think of all of the reasons we should not forgive or take this action toward forgiveness.

Reasons we don’t forgive:

  1. Seeking forgiveness requires that we humble ourselves. It is humbling experience to seek for forgiveness. This especially true when it is an issue that hurt or wounded us deeply.
  2. We have been misled by the phrase forgive and forget. Forgiveness is not forgetting. This is a mistake to think that when we forgive others that we automatically if ever forget the action that occurred. The fact is we never forget. Only God does that and if then the idea that is presented here is that there is not a function of memory lapse but rather we now move to a place where the transgression is not held against the other person or we no longer feel the pain associated with the transgression. The reality is that even God does not forget but He changes the way He deals with us. This is what happens when we forgive others, we in essence change the way we deal with the other party.
  3. Forgiveness obstructs justice. The key here is that we realize that the act of forgiveness does not in any way stop the process of the other person receiving there reward for the wrongs they have committed. There are consequences to people’s actions. For example, you might forgive the other person of murdering a family member or robbing from you but that does not mean that they we not should go to jail for what they have done. There are consequences to sin and transgression. Another example would be a spouse that abuses their spouse. While the wife may forgive their spouse, wisdom would be that she not lives under the same roof with him until he receives the necessary counseling and subsequent healing he needs to be restored. I have seen spouses who stay in a home where they have been physically abused endlessly. There answer for not dealing with the situation is that they love him.
  4. We fear that by walking in forgiveness that we present ourselves as being weak or a coward. To forgive is a cowardly act. To forgive by some is a sign of weakness. Meekness and humility must never be confused with weakness. This theory was born out of the belief that to forgive others was a sign of weakness.
  5. We feel that forgiveness is a one time event. But forgiveness is both a decision and it is a process. We can all ask for forgiveness and get an immediate response but the fact is that emotional we do not feel forgiven or like forgiving.

When we consider the pathway to forgiveness we must recognize that there are two types of forgiveness primarily:

  1. Decisional – immediate
  2. Emotional

The first of these is forgiveness as a decision. Decisional forgiveness is just what it appears to me. We have made a decision that we will forgive or accept the other person’s apology. For example, “I forgot about our meeting, will you forgive me?” In decisional forgiveness we might be hurt and disappointed but we act quickly to assure the other person that we do not intend to hold the mistake against the friend. We also agree whether we are aware of it or not to control our behavior toward the other person and to restore the relationship to where it was before the transgression. The problem is however that while decisional forgiveness might be immediate one’s emotions usually take longer to navigate.

The second type of forgiveness is emotional forgiveness. This is the type of forgiveness that changes the heart. While decisional forgiveness is immediate emotional forgiveness takes time. We must go back to the place where we have made a decision to forgive over and over again.

 


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The Pathway to Forgiveness

 

Peninsula Community Church

The Pathway to Forgiveness

January 8, 2012

 

Mat 6:12 …. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Defining Forgiveness – In the writings of David Augsburger, he suggests that forgiveness requires a process of letting go. The root meaning of forgiveness in biblical terms refers to “releasing” or “letting go.” The literal meaning of forgive is “to send away” or “dismiss.”

Before we begin this study there must be an understanding that forgiveness is not dependent on the other person. In fact, I can forgive and walk in forgiveness regardless of what the other person does. Therefore, we must not confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. And yet, forgiveness does not mean that we forget or ignore the pain that the wound has caused, it simply means that we forgive so that we can deal with the issues that brought unforgiveness in a positive and genuine way.

The first step in this pathway to forgiveness is for us to realize that we all have opportunity to forgive and be forgiven and that we are all affected by both unforgiveness and forgiveness.

Theme of Forgiveness runs throughout Scripture – In this discussion we must understand that forgiveness is one of the many themes that run throughout Scripture. From cover to cover the Bible shows the way of forgiveness and it gives its readers multiple illustrations of what effective forgiveness means and how it is to be transacted in one’s life. It also shows us ultimate forgiveness as seen in the death of Christ on the Cross. You see forgiveness and the redemption of mankind has always been the goal and at the heart of Christ.

We have all experienced a need to negotiate forgiveness. Everyone one of us have been in that place where we have either wounded or hurt someone else or we have been wounded or hurt. There are no exceptions. The degree of to which you have been wounded may differ but there has been woundedness in all of us and it is that wound that requires us to forgive.

Antidotal stories – We have all been impacted by the need to forgive or be forgiven. We could share a whole list of antidotal scenarios to understand this. You may remember the story of the Amish in Nickel Mines, PA. It was in this tiny community that a man stormed into a one-room schoolhouse and shot 10 young girls, killing five of them. Since the tragedy, people around the world have been amazed and inspired by the way the Amish have expressed forgiveness toward the killer and his family. Charles Roberts was not Amish. He was the milk truck driver but the Amish collected money for the family even in the midst of their own tragedy. Donald Kraybill, is a sociologist at nearby Elizabethtown College and co-author of Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy. “I think the most powerful demonstration of the depth of Amish forgiveness was when members of the Amish community went to the killer’s burial service at the cemetery,” Kraybill says. “Several families, Amish families who had buried their own daughters just the day before were in attendance and they hugged the widow, and hugged other members of the killer’s family.”

We can also include other such times where forgiveness may have been needed in our lives:

  1. The mom who was murdered by intruders.
  2. The brother who stole money from the family.
  3. The sister’s drug problem and her abandonment of her family and children.
  4. The cutting and biting remarks of a parent.
  5. The rejection of divorce or the shame of abuse.
  6. The betrayal of a friend in whom you have confided.
  7. The wrongs and sins committed against others.

We all stand in the need to give and receive forgiveness. The reason for this is multifaceted for the following reasons.

  • We have a carnal nature. We have a propensity to sin and to hurt others. Even in the best of us there something that brings out hurt and wounds. We do not intend to. For most us we do not wake up in the morning and say “what a great day to make someone mad at me.”
  • We interact with other people who are different from us. The fact is just because we are created differently we are candidates to hurt and wound those around us and to be hurt or wounded by those we encounter.
    • We have different personalities that form and shape used determine how we respond to the issues of life.
    • We have different temperaments that cause us to react to various stimuli in totally different ways.
    • We also have a difference in the experiences that have shaped us. How we saw others respond to issues of conflict will most likely be the way we respond.
  • We live with ourselves. Too often we have not learned to forgive ourselves much less forgive others for the wrongs we have committed. James 4:1-3 says it best –What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. The problem that exists too often is that we love to use our wounds and hurts to our advantage because we feel justified in our anger toward others.
  • We cannot forget that we have an enemy who loves to bring division, hurt and pain into our lives and our relationships. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour

     

When we walk in unforgiveness we allow others to dictate how we live.

  • We avoid others. We will change our seat in the sanctuary to avoid sitting next to the person that has hurt us. We will leave a church because of an offense.
  • We falsely transfer our hurt to others. Instead of dealing with unforgiveness we often transfer that hurt to others and in the process we end up hurting others. The fact is that hurt people hurt people.
  • We spend an inordinate
    amount of time thinking about the person and in considering ways to get even. Our focus becomes “how do we get even?” or we focus on the pain to the point that we cannot get anything else done.

But what release comes when we walk in forgiveness and release others and ourselves from the pain. Where do you hold unforgiveness today? Who controls you today because you have not released them from their failures? Remember that forgiveness is for the one forgiving and not you.

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Making Resolutions that Count

Peninsula Community Church

Making Resolutions that Count

January 1, 2012

 

Philippians 3:13-15 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

It is always interesting to me as to how many people make New Year’s resolutions and then never keep them. Most resolutions made are broken by February. Of course, I have been just as guilty as anyone else. I make a positive and genuine gesture to make a change that will benefit me either physically, emotionally or spiritually. For example for a number of years I would make a resolution to read through the Bible in that year. If I read three chapters during the week and five on Sunday I could accomplish the task. Everything would start well but on day three or four I would end up missing a chapter. On the following day instead of reading four chapters, I would only read two chapters. Now I am behind two chapters. But on over the weekend I will catch up but something happens and I only read three chapters over the whole weekend. Now I am behind eight chapters and as the week goes on this gets worse so eventually I give up.

The same thing happens to us whether it is losing weight or trying to stop smoking or drinking less. We do well but then we have a failure of some sort and soon we give up. It is not by chance that advertisers increase their advertising dollars for weight loss programs, and other such programs at the beginning of each year because they know that people will inevitably make a weight loss resolution.

A few years ago I spoke to the director of the YMCA at Smith Mountain Lake and she said that every year in January that there is a huge increase in the numbers of people who join the YMCA because they have made a resolution to lose weight. But, by the end of February their numbers are down and people end up paying for a service they never use. The first few weeks of the New Year are extremely busy but by mid February the numbers of people coming into the center are down.

A survey has shown that there are some common resolutions made every year. A number of these show up on every list:

  • Lose weight
  • Become better parents
  • Work less
  • Enjoy life more
  • Take up a hobby
  • Become debt free

 But here are some resolutions that I am sure that you will never hear:

  • Spend more time watching TV / movies.
  • Chat more over phone / Internet.
  • Read less.
  • I want to gain weight. Put on at least 30 pounds.
  • Stop exercising.
  • Waste time doing nothing.
  • Procrastinate more.
  • Spend more time at work.
  • Stop bringing lunch from home: I should eat out more.
  • I am going to be a bigger pain in the neck.
  • Go deeper in debt.

The idea of being circumspect and reviewing our life is critical to our growth as believers. But we do this evaluation with an understanding that we cannot change the past but we can certainly impact and make a difference in the future. As we look back, we can learn both positive and negative lessons that will benefit us for the future. As we look back, we also walk forward to a new day with a sense of forgiveness for wrongs committed by us or to us and an inner gratefulness for all that God has done for us and in us. This does not mean that we forget about the past or what has happened to us or what events have transpired but we allow these things to shape us and make is into the person who has greater strength, wisdom, patience and understanding of life.

 

Paul uses an Olympian symbol here. In the days of the Greek games the winners of the games would be brought forward and have a prize placed around their neck. It is similar to our Olympic games today where the name of the athlete is named, his country an d the event he won is announced. The prize that he was looking to was the recognition of a greater understanding of who Christ is and a deepening relationship with Christ.

Paul in Philippians 3:13-15 understood this process. Paul understood that the greatest resolution that could be made is to press forward in our understanding of Christ. He had a goal that was in front of him and he was pressing toward that goal. Paul says here that we forget that which is behind us and we press on to the prize of God. This is not an implication that there is a lack of forgiveness but a realization that nothing can be changed about the past.

Lessons we should learn:

  1. We must not allow our past to dictate our future. We have all made mistakes and have failures.
  2. We must never become stagnate in our growth in Christ. This is why Paul states that we should forget the past for the past will usher in guilt and despair as we look at the failures and mistakes made.
  3. We must never stand on past laurels and victories or successes. We must never consider ourselves to have arrived at some spiritual place that exempts us form any further growth.
  4. We must keep our focus on getting to know Christ in a greater way. the prize and not on those who are running the race or on the competition.

But what is the prize that Paul is looking to receive. To understand this we must go to the previous verses for it was Paul’s desire that whatever else he had attained would be counted as rubbish when compared to his every growing understanding of Christ. Paul in the previous verses open the door for us to understand that his greatest desire was to know Christ more. This was not just knowledge of Christ but that deep understanding of who Christ is and an understanding of his character. The problem is that too often we look for his hand and not his character.

So what is the greatest resolution we can make. It is this that in 2012 we would make it priority to know and understand Christ and His ways even more than we have in 2011 or any year prior to this one.

As we consider our resolutions for this year let us consider a couple of things. Resolutions we can make:.

  1. Commit to pray for one another and for the church
  2. Consider sharing
    Christ with someone at least once a WEEEK.
  3. Consider inviting one or more families to join you at church.
  4. Look to do something for someone in the name of Jesus.
  5. Develop a regular Bible reading and study habit in order to understand his character. Look for ways in the scriptures that God’s character is revealed.
  6. Begin a journal where you record the ways you see God’s character in action in your life and the revelation of who He is.
  7. Learn something new this year. Pray for God to show you what that might me.

     

As we close the service today we are going to gather around the Lord’s Table. Because there is no greater place to accomplish this and to come to an understanding of God’s character than around the Lord’s Table where we can repent of past wrongs and begin a new year filled with hope and the idea that I do not have to repeat the failures of the past.

 Pause for a moment of meditation. What would you change about your life? What regrets do you have from 2011? Are there areas of guilt or shame that overtake you? Are their people in your life that you need to forgive or need to seek their forgiveness?

 Let’s pray.

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