Holland Methodist Church

Month: April 2022

Walk in Forgiveness

“Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the churchsins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seventimes” Matt. 18:  21-22.

Forgiveness is a conscious, intentional decision to release feelings of bitterness or retaliation towards a person or group who has harmed you, irrespective of whether they really deserve to be forgiven or not. We often hurt or offend others, be it consciously or inadvertently. Consequently, one of the most urgent needs in communities, churches, families, offices, and workplaces, is forgiveness. This is a common need, irrespective of race, creed, age, or stage in life. 

Jewish rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offended them three times. It was a common subject in Jesus’ teachings and interactions. Considering this, Peter, wishing to be exceptionally generous, asked Jesus if he should forgive an offender seven times. Jesus said not seven but seventy times seven. 

In the parable of the forgiving master and the unforgiving servant, Jesus tells us that God, the master, forgives because God is gracious and compassionate. God will not treat us as we deserve. The Psalmist said: “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered” Psalm 130:3-4. What is required is honesty and repentance. John says: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:8-9. This demonstration of grace is limitless. We forgive seventy times seven and keep going. 

Unlike the recently-forgiven, unforgiving servant in the parable, who refused to walk in forgiveness, we should forgive those who hurt us not because they deserve it, but because we have been forgiven and must therefore show compassion towards others; it is also good for our spiritual, psychological, and physical health for us to forgive. I agree with Nelson Mandela that: “When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive.” Forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger and a festering wound. It empowers the forgiver to acknowledge the wound and pain suffered without allowing that hurt to define him or her, enabling reconciliation and the strength to move on. The forgiven must walk in forgiveness. 

Forgiving others who have hurt us is not easy, because it is much more than saying “I am sorry” or glossing over or denying the seriousness of the offence. For forgiveness to become a permanent attitude rather than an occasional act, we need the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to empower us. That’s why Alexander Pope said: ‘To err is human; to forgive, divine’. You and I need the grace and power of the Holy Spirit to be forgiving persons. 

As we go through this Lenten season, let us ask God to enable us to walk in forgiveness. 

Thought: An unforgiving heart displeases God.

Prayer Focus:
Gracious God, cleanse the depths of our hearts and eradicate all resentment, so that we can be reconciled with you and our fellow human beings, and that our lives can spread your peace.
For Christ’s sake. Amen

Looking Towards Resurrection

Sisters and Brothers,

We look forward to the grand Festival of the Resurrection with its ever-renewing message, its many reminders of the awesome power of God who gives us victory even over the grave and hell. Notwithstanding, as we ponder how awesome God is, we may still feel that nagging sense of inadequacy, that we are simply not good enough to do the good that the Lord requires of us. We are mortal creatures who have not fully experienced the power of Christ’s Resurrection. What can we, mere mortals do?

A whole lot, I say, if we take seriously the biblical assurance that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. In Christ, the weakest of us can say ‘I am strong.’ And in the strength of Christ, we can find grace enough to do exactly what the Lord not only requires of us but enables us to do. We can be God’s showpieces as we live out purposefully like the lights that we are called to be. As our stories show others what God can do with the weakest of persons, they are encouraged to let this same God work in their lives too.

This brings me back to our lent focus on sharing faith. We have been reminded of the value of our testimonies, telling our stories, that is, to make our boast of God. The idea is not to boast about ourselves, but about the God who raises us up, encourages the timid, lifts and transforms the fallen, renews the faithful – God who makes the weak strong.

Of course, when we pray for those to whom we testify, we start off on solid ground. That’s why, as we resume Operation Andrew with renewed vigour, we must start with prayer.  We pray for those whom we befriend as we recognise their need of that special relationship with the Liberating Lord. Operation Andrew is relationship-based evangelism. We can show others what real friendship is like; and while we speak to God about them, possibilities arise for us to share enriching fellowship. We can invite them to church – thank God the churches are fully open! Operation Andrew Lord’s days will resume.

So, are you still thinking that you can’t be an Andrew? If you have tasted the saving love of Jesus, then you must know that it’s worth sharing with others. The desire to share faith is what the Lord asks of us now. If we feed that desire by seeking God’s help, we will surprise ourselves. I recall my own timidity and fear of just speaking about God. I hated it! I wanted out of that state! I prayed about it. God changed me. God changes for the better everyone who seeks the courage to share verbally. You don’t have to be a preacher or teacher sharing faith with several persons at a time. Maybe you’ve been cut out for one- to-one sharing. Yes, you can be an Andrew. Pray about this. Seek God’s help and I know that if you do, God is going to wonderfully surprise you!

As a movement of believers who share faith in this way, we shall touch many lives including our very own. We shall get a stronger touch of Christ’s Resurrection power at work in and through us- and all this to the glory of God.

Oh that we may know and show the power of the Risen Christ to save!
God bless you

Yours in God’s service
Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor