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Getting Past Your Past - Week 2

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Well that was intense, ha? A little fight before church! We are doing a series called, Getting Past Your Past. If you missed last week, we talked about overcoming the labels that bind you. I want to encourage you to go check that out online. All of our messages are available free at Next week, we are going to deal with something that really is important. I don't know if I've ever heard a message on this subject. I've already prepared it, I'm very passionate about sharing it. We are going to talk about apologizing to those that we've hurt. It's often easy for us to see ourselves as the victim, somebody else wronged me; but it's more difficult, and in many ways more important for us to recognize how we've hurt others and own up to our part in making things right. Then, in the fourth week we are going to talk about overcoming our own mistakes. So many of us, we've failed in one way or another, a sin or even maybe something that wasn't a sin; but we may recognize God's grace in our lives and yet we're not giving ourselves grace. I believe that God will use that message in a very powerful way. Today, what I want to talk about is how do we forgive those who have hurt us? For example, at all of our different churches, if I just ask you, How many of you have had someone that's hurt you? If you're above the age of three or four, everyone of you are going to say, Absolutely, someone has hurt me. And what I've found is that sometimes it can be something as simple as a misunderstanding or a miscommunication, and our spiritual enemy uses that misunderstanding to drive a deep wedge between two people that can affect relationships to the negative for years and years and years. Other times, it can be an outright intentional betrayal; where someone else just does something that's very, very cruel. I've also noticed in years of working with people, that just basically by the odds, there would be those of you who are here right now that at the front of your heart there is a hurt. Someone has wounded you, lied to you, taken advantage of you, and even just hearing this subject brings up emotion because you think, Oh great, this is going to be difficult! Because there's a very fresh wound. For others of you, you were wounded in the past and you've managed to kind of bury it at the bottom of your heart so that you can function in everyday life. And you kind of go on acting as if everything's okay until something sparks the anger or the bitterness inside. You may be at a family holiday and you see that family member and they say something. You're like, Oh! And you're like, where did that come from? And you didn't realize that you haven't dealt with it. Or you may bump into someone or hear something about them and out of nowhere, there's just this rush of negative emotion because you really haven't dealt Biblically with the hurt. I will give you an example, there are a couple of things you don't ever want to do to me. One is, don't ever tell me to chill out; not even jokingly, it's not funny because I'm not going to chill out, it's just not going to happen! Two is, please don't ever flip me off! I know that you probably wouldn't, but you might some of you! Just don't do it, because the reaction I have is not going to be beneficial for any of us. I don't know why, but that, you know the 'peel-the-banana' thing has always set me off into an ungodly rage. Back when I was in college, one time I was driving to my fraternity house. I drove by another fraternity house and there was this guy, evidently he didn't like me. He stood out on the front porch and as I drove by he just gave me the bird and he followed my car all the way as I went by. Evidently he didn't know the rules that you just don't do that. And so, I wasn't a Christian, I just stopped my car, got out and ran as fast as I could toward him. He panicked, he ran inside his fraternity house hiding, like was probably the wise thing to do. I ran in the front door of this other house, ran up the stairs and said, Where is he? And there were about five guys sitting there playing dumb like, Who are you talking about? I don't know what you're talking about? I'm like, Where is the guy that flipped me off? And they go, There's nobody in here. And evidently he was hiding and so, I realized I was outnumbered with all of those guys. And so I just vowed that whenever I found him to take his finger, break it off and put it where the sun doesn't shine! It's just kind of what I vowed to do! I just promised myself that next time I saw him he was dead! And so, it was toward the end of the school year and I looked for him and looked for him. The next year the guy didn't come back to school. I don't know if he graduated or if he transferred schools or heard word of what I was going to do or what, but he didn't come back. And so, I buried that, kind of forgot about it. I became a Christian, I became a pastor. I was preaching at First United Methodist Church, downtown Oklahoma City, filling in for my Senior Pastor on a message he assigned me, which was forgiveness. I read this verse, God as my witness this is true, Mark, Chapter 11:25. I was wearing a robe at the time looking very holy when I read this and I read it in a very Methodist kind of godly way: And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone... Help me out, I said: ...forgive him so that your Father in heaven may forgive your sins. And if I'm lying I'm dying! I looked up in the balcony and there at First United Methodist Church during my forgiveness sermon, was finger boy sitting there in church! And all of a sudden, this sense of, I'm going to wait for him by the door where everybody comes out and justice will be served today! And then, I mean you know, it's weird how like in a split second you can have all of these thoughts! Wait no, I'm a pastor and a Christian, I'm preaching on forgiveness, I need to forgive him! This must be a God thing! I'll stand at the door, he'll walk by, I'll say, 'You remember when' if you'd meant me then, you'd be dead, but now you came to church; I forgive you, it's all good!' And so afterwards, I went to the door and I waited there and there was only one legitimate exit at this church where everybody came out. And I waited and I waited and I waited, and he never showed up! He snuck out a side door! To this day, I've never had a chance to tell him! If finger boy, you're watching this message today, it's all good man, I forgive you! How crazy is that, that the day I'm speaking about that, he happens to be there, the day! I'm telling you, for some of you, you just walked into one of those divine appointments. There's something inside of you; maybe a hurt that's fresh, maybe one that's buried, and God is going to deal with you today. Now, let me just say very plainly, that anytime I talk about a message like this, every time I get some push back. It'll be email, or someone I talk to, and every time it's someone and their not mad, but they're legitimately hurting. They will always say, But Craig, you don't know what so and so did to me. You're going to tell me that I'm supposed to forgive, but you don't know what so and so did to me. And the truth is, I don't know. Someone might have gossiped about you and it hurt you, they might have lied about you. Someone may have taken advantage of you in some way, someone may have betrayed your innocence. You may have had a spouse that cheated on you, you could have had a parent that abandoned you. I found that sometimes it's as difficult, or even more difficult to forgive someone that hurts a person that you love. I mean, they could hurt me and I can get over it relatively easy, but you hurt someone in my family or someone I'm close to, and man, it's very difficult to get over that. And so, when you perhaps push back today and say, But, but, but, but, but you don't know... I just want to acknowledge, I don't know. I do know there are a lot of very tragic things that go on today. I will tell you this, that I do know what it's like to be hurt and I know what it's like to watch someone that you love be grossly mistreated. It's with the permission of my little sister, Lisa, who is a very active part of this church, with a great husband and kids, that I tell you this story, she blesses me to. When she was in the sixth grade, she had a teacher that I'll call Max; it's not his real name but I will call him Max. And Max took a special interest in some of the little girls. And we didn't find out, my family or any of us, until years later that my sister was one of many that this sixth- grade teacher sexually molested. And to tell you that I felt rage and hatred and anger that was overflowing, that's the understatement of the decade. I can't even put into words how much hatred I had for a man who took advantage of sixth-grade girls. So, I don't know what's happened to you, but I do know a little bit and other instances in my life where I've been hurt, or those that I love have been hurt. What I pray that you'll do and this will be for many a very challenging message, I pray that you'll let come to the surface of your heart someone that's hurt you, if you haven't dealt with it yet Biblically. It could be there was someone at work that betrayed you, I know a lot of people that, You know, we were in this business deal and he said, or she said, and they didn't. It could have been that you had a close friend that betrayed a trust. It could be that a mom or a dad did something that really hurt you, maybe even over a period of years and years. It could be that your child has rejected you or said some things to you. It could have been that you've got a spouse and you're still aching over your spouse's sexual past and you just can't let it go. In your mind there's images and fear and insecurity, and you just can't forgive your spouse for something that happened even before you were married. Or maybe it's in the present, maybe your spouse betrayed you by looking at pornography, or lied about something, or strayed from his or her marital vows. For some, you maybe angry at someone who is no longer living. They're gone and yet you still hurt and there is bitterness and there is a grudge. For some of you, it may be quite honestly that you are a little angry with God; you are a lot, you prayed for something and you know God could have done it and He didn't and you are kind of like, 'Why didn't you?' For some of you, it might be you're angry at yourself and you just can't forgive yourself. What I've been praying all week long is that what is impossible with man will be possible with God. If there is unforgiveness in your heart, that the power of the Holy Spirit through the Living Word of God will give you the ability to do something supernatural, and that is to forgive those who hurt you. Let's talk about it today and let's let the Bible speak to us in what I pray is a life-changing way. Let's start with the why. Why in the world should I forgive someone who hurt me or hurt someone I love? Lots of reasons, let's look at two Biblical reasons. The first one is: Because unforgiveness hurts me. Let's just start there. Why should I forgive? Well first of all, unforgiveness hurts me. The writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews 12:15 said: See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no... No what? All of our churches: bitter root grows up to.... To do what? cause trouble and to defile many. So many of us, we are living with a bitter root, with a root of bitterness. We're not even completely aware of it because we've learned to function with a grudge. We've learned to continue with a root of bitterness that grows deep down in the soil of a hurt that was not dealt with properly. Scripture says that love keeps no records of wrong, but bitterness keeps detailed records doesn't it? Well, He did and she did, and she said, and they had, and did you see the way they're walking around and the way they carry themselves? And there's this root of bitterness that literally it's like a cancer to the soul, it eats away at us, it hurts our relationships with other people and it hurts our relationship with God. Why should we forgive? One reason is because unforgiveness is like grabbing broken glass and squeezing it in our hands, it hurts us. For example, how many of you have played the game, Angry Birds? All of our campuses, how many of you would say yes? If you've got an iPhone, if you've got an iPad; it's one of the top most downloaded apps in the world! Why? I don't know! I can't figure it out! I mean, honestly I don't know! If you haven't played, you're a little bird and you're an angry bird and you're angry at pigs. Why? I don't know! But the pigs have built themselves into a structure; sometimes a wooden structure, sometimes a metal structure. But you thank goodness, have a sling shot; where you can put yourself in the sling shot, pull the sling shot back, and take your angry bird and fly through the air! And if you tap on the screen you can become three angry birds, where you try to destroy the pigs! But what happens when you land? Your little bird lands and rolls and then....blows up! Why do you want to be an angry bird? Seriously? Why would you want to go around holding a grudge that only hurts yourself? Anne Lamott said this, she said: Unforgiveness is like drinking rat poison and hoping it kills the other person. That's what unforgiveness is like. Why should we forgive? Well, let's just start with a basic and more selfish reason, because unforgiveness hurts me. Another reason if you're taking notes is this: Because I will need forgiveness again. Why should I forgive? Because I will need forgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus says very directly: For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Verse 15: But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will... Will what? Everybody: ...He will not forgive your sins. As if to get this point over again, Jesus told another story. He told a parable about a master who had a servant and the servant owed the master 10,000 talents. Now, if you just read through this in the Bible that may not mean much to you. But I did a little research and 10,000 talents according to one article, is the equivalent of about 150,000 years of labor. Translated into our day, it would be a little over two billion dollars. Basically, this guy owed another guy two billion dollars. And everybody would be going, 'Wow! He could never repay that!' And the text even says that he could never repay it. And so the guy, the servant, begged for mercy and the master showed him mercy. And the servant then immediately went back to his little village and there was another guy that owed him basically a day's worth of wages. And the guy said, 'Will you forgive me?' And the servant said, 'No, not happening!' And the master found out about the unforgiveness of the servant and here's what the Bible says, Matthew 18:32 and following: Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' Verse 34: In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all that he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart. Very direct. It's interesting to me in my own life, how I really embrace God giving me mercy, but how I'm often slow to give mercy to someone else who wronged me. Why should I forgive? Well, first of all it's really bad for me. Secondly, it's really important that I forgive because God says that if I forgive others He will forgive me. So, most of you will probably at some point if you're Christians, you're probably going to say, I should forgive, I just don't know how. How do I forgive someone who ripped my heart out? How do I forgive someone who, for years did such and such to me? How do I forgive someone who hurt someone that I love? Okay, if I'm supposed to do it, how do I do it? I want to give you a couple of thoughts and Scriptures that I pray will land in your heart. The first thing that's very helpful to do if you're taking notes, is to pray. Start with prayer and pray for those that hurt you. Now, don't pray they get herpes or hemorrhoids or something like that! That's not what I'm talking about! You may be tempted to do, you know, God, I pray they get hit with lightening or whatever! No, we pray like Jesus prayed on the cross when the creation was mocking the Creator and Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed: Father forgive them. What's interesting, right while they were hurting Him He prayed. And Jesus taught very plainly in Matthew 5:43, He said: You've heard it said... In other words, this is kind of popular teaching. You've heard it said, 'Love your neighbor....' And do what to your enemy? Hate them, that's normal right? This was totally normal then because the Romans, they actually worshiped revenge as one of their gods. So, it's very normal, 'Revenge is one of our gods so we hate those that have hurt us.' The Jews taught an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, life for life. Someone cuts off your arm, you cut off your arm. You've heard that said, Jesus was saying that is pretty normal, that's where most people live. But then He says something that would have been shocking and revolutionary, that would have floored them. He said in verse 44: But I tell you, love your enemies and... Do what? ...and pray for them, pray for those who persecute you. Chances are pretty good some of you may say, I don't want to pray for them, I don't feel like it! And I understand that. What I have found is that often times it takes right actions to trigger right feelings. That sometimes the right actions have to come first; because truthfully, if you wait for the desire, you may be waiting a long time, you may never have the desire. You may never ever want to, but if you start praying, the want to may often follow the right actions. In fact, this is what happened in my heart toward the guy I'll call Max. I actually heard a pastor teach a message on praying for those that have hurt you. And I felt like, hopefully what some of you feel like, that God was speaking directly to me. And so I thought, okay this is what I have to do, I have to pray for this guy. But I'm not going to tell you I wanted to. Everything in me wanted to pray his life gets worse and that he dies miserably and goes to hell and stays there forever. That's what I wanted to pray. And so, I started with what quite honestly was a halfhearted, I didn't even feel it and didn't even mean it prayer, and it was two words; basically, bless him, bless him. That's all I could do and I didn't even mean it. And over time, I was able to pray it with just a little bit more sincerity, Okay, bless him. And over time here's what I noticed, my prayers for others may or may not change them, but my prayers for others always changed me. Pray, just start and pray and this may be very difficult at first. I don't want to minimize the pain, but you start there and God can start to do a work in your heart. And for some people it can be like a switch, I choose to forgive. Others, it might be a process, but I'm telling you, work on the process. Start with prayer. The second thing: How do I forgive someone who hurt me? You start by praying for them however you can. The second thing I want to encourage you to do is this, and that is: To forgive as you have been forgiven. How do you forgive? I mean, how do you do it? Well, the same way God has forgiven you. How do you forgive? The same way Christ has forgiven you. Christ has forgiven you completely, Christ has forgiven you constantly. You forgive in the same way. And here's what the Bible says, I love this verse, it's so personal and powerful to me. Colossians 3:13 says: Bear with each other... Notice, there's times you may have to bear with somebody. In other words, it might not be easy, it might not be clean, there might still be some mess, you still might have to hang in there and work through some things. There still might be some pain on the other side. Hang in there, bear with them, fight for it, and the Bible says: ...and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another... Well, how do I do that? The Bible says very clearly: forgive as the Lord forgave you. That's how you forgive. You forgive as you've been forgiven. I like when ever Peter asked Jesus one time: 'Well, how many times should I forgive, up to seven times?' And Jesus said, 'No, ye forgive seven times seventy times.' Which was a picture of, you just keep on forgiving. Now some of you right now, you may be in an abusive situation. I heard about a husband recently that was hitting his wife and she said, Should I forgive him and stay in there? No, get out of the house and forgive him from a distance. Get out of the house and protect yourself. Forgiving doesn't mean you go back into someone in an abusive relationship; I'm telling you, if you're a lady and there's a guy hitting you, get to a place of safety, tell someone at the church, because I promise you, we've got some men that are barely saved! For fifty bucks, they'll do anything their pastor tells them to do! I'm sort of joking, but not much! I'm telling you, I'm telling you, forgiveness doesn't mean you go and you put yourself in a place where someone is going to keep..., but you forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. The principle would be this: The forgiven forgive others. That's what we do. I am forgiven by Christ and did not deserve His grace, therefore because I belong to Him, I offer the same forgiveness that's been given to me. So, here's what happened with Max. It's kind of a tough story. He had Muscular Dystrophy, and my first thought honestly was, well that shows you, don't mess with God's people. And you know, God's punishing you. And I got over that and I realized this guy was suffering and had most likely limited days left on earth. I was on kind of the...into the process, my heart was starting to change, my family's heart started to change. We had dealt with the shock and then the anger, and then the guilt and then the grief, and then we were at the place where we really realized as followers of Jesus, we needed to forgive him. And so, on behalf of my family, I wrote him a note when he was under the care of a hospice nurse on his last days, and I said: Dear Max or his real name, I have been forgiven my Christ. And I wrote some things I had done and said I didn't deserve His forgiveness. And what you did to my sister was wrong and you don't deserve our forgiveness; but because we've been forgiven, our family chooses to forgive you. Then I explained the Gospel of Jesus, who Jesus is and what He had done and explained to Max the offender, that he could have that same forgiveness from God. And I wrote in there a prayer that he could pray if he chose to pray it. Well, I never heard anything, and he died. Then later, I heard from the lady who was his hospice nurse who had the return address from the letter I sent, and wrote our family a letter saying that he was unable to read the letter because of his condition and she read it to him. He teared up and cried and cried and cried and cried and cried and cried. And she was a Christian and actually read the prayer to him and he prayed that prayer just days before he died. And on that day that I forgave him, God set a prisoner free and the prisoner was me. So, I pray as I have all week, that if you're in bondage to bitterness, that the Spirit of God would touch your heart and God would do a miracle and that there would be healing in relationships, because the foundation of the Gospel and the message of Jesus is forgiveness. As we have been freely forgiven, so we freely forgive those who have wronged us. Alright, let's pray. God we ask that you would do a deep work in deep wounds and that the miraculous power of your Son Jesus would be evident through the lives of your people. All of our different churches, today as you're praying, let me talk to those of you that are committed Christians. You are disciples and followers of Jesus and there may be at the top of your heart a wound that is just, as soon as I started to talk about this subject, you're like, Okay, buckle your seat belt, this one's going to be a rough ride. Others of you, you recognize you've kind of pushed a hurt down to the bottom of your heart, but you know if the right situation came up, there would be a challenge. You may not even want to yet, but you know the right thing is to forgive. You may not feel like it, but you want the power of the Spirit to do a work. Some of you, the light is going to come on and you are going to choose to forgive and there's going to be healing and tears. Some of you, it may take a day or it may take two days, or it may take a week, but you want God to bring your heart to the right place. All of our churches, those of you who would say, Someone hurt me, by the power of Christ, I want to forgive. Would you lift up your hands right now? Just lift them up! All over the place; my goodness, there's so many hands. God I pray, I pray for the miraculous power of your Spirit. God, I thank you that your Word is Living, that it can lead us to do things that we could never do on our own. God, I pray that you would do a work, I pray for healing in relationships. God, I pray for marriages that would fail without your power, I pray they would be healed and restored. God, I pray for parent and children relationships, I pray for friendships, I pray for relationships between brothers and sisters and other Christians. God, I pray that your Spirit of healing would move through this place, through our hearts, and God that you would give us the ability to forgive. And God, even through next week, God that your Spirit would work and we would see restoration in relationships that we never thought possible. God, we thank you in advance for what you're going to do. Give us, oh God, the power to forgive. As you keep praying today at all of our churches, many of you are going to recognize, You know what? I really need forgiveness from God. I have sinned against a holy God, I feel guilty for what I've done. Here's the great news, the Bible says that if we confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God sent His Son Jesus, who was without sin so He could become sin for us on t he cross; to shed His blood, to die, and to be raised again. Now, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come. There are many of you that God has brought here for this moment, you know you need forgiveness, you know you need a fresh start. Today, turn from your sin, turn toward Jesus, call on His name. When you do, He will forgive every sin you've ever committed. He will make you brand new. If you know that's you today, at all of our different churches, you'd say, Yes, I need forgiveness, I need a Savior; I want to follow Jesus, I want to belong to Him. Today, I give Him my life. If that's your prayer today, at all of our different churches, would you raise your hands high right now, just lift them up high. Right here, praise God for you. Others of you who would say, Me too! Right back over here and over here as well. Others of you who would say, Me too! Right here sir, God bless you. Church Online, you click right below me. Others of you who would say, Yes, Jesus save me, I give my life to you. Be the Lord of my life! Right back over here in this section, over here on this side, thank you, God bless you! Others today who would say, Me too! Would you pray with those around you everybody aloud. Pray, heavenly Father, save me from my sins. Jesus, make me new, be the Lord of my life. I give my whole life completely to you. Fill me with your Spirit so I could serve you for the rest of my life. My life, it's not my own, it belongs to you. God, thank you for new life, in Jesus' name I pray. All of our churches, would you get a little bit loud? Would you worship God? Would you welcome those today born into God's family?

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Duration: 35 minutes and 21 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on May 17, 2011

Getting Past Your Past - Week 2 - - Craig Groeschel

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