—Baptism Sunday = Next Sunday, November 15th
*I remember getting baptized right here in this baptism tank on May 22, 2010. My old life
and sinful ways went down under that water under the name of Jesus Christ, and I rose
out of that water as a new creation in Christ! Changed my life forever!
*So, if you have never been water baptized, or you were so young you don’t remember
your baptism, or you simply need a fresh start and want to get baptized again, you can
make next Sunday your moment, where you can invite your family and friends to
celebrate your new birthday right alongside you.
Are you ready to receive the Word God has for you today?
Turn to your neighbor and tell them “prepare your heart”. Turn to your other neighbor
and tell them “it’s about to get real.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and
slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Matthew 6:14-15 NLT: ““If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father
will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Two of the greatest challenges we will ever face in this life: forgiving someone and
The title of this message is “Forgive the Unimaginable.”
Let us pray…
I have a scenario for us this morning with a multiple choice question attached:
Picture this: You’re walking down a hallway and your hands are completely full with stuff
you’re carrying. Someone bumps you in the hallway, causing you to lose balance and
fall, and everything you were carrying is scattered across the ground. The person looks
at you, sees all of your stuff on the ground, and continues walking away. How do you
A) Ignore the person, pick up your stuff, and continue on.
B) Say something sarcastic like, “Hey, a little help here!”
C) Stand up and push the other person in retaliation
I remember, while we were living in New York City last year, the sidewalks were so jam
—Lord, forgive that person. But also, forgive me for having even an ounce of anger and
revenge in my heart.
Forgiveness is something all of us want to receive but most of us hesitate to give.
—We all know Christians are supposed to forgive. But many of us Christians think that
there are exceptions to this rule. Sure, we should forgive most of the time---maybe even
almost all of the time. But to forgive that person? Forget about it.
That person may be someone you confided in who betrayed your trust. Perhaps a close
friend gossiped about you or cheated you out of money. Maybe your significant other
lived a secret life and crushed you. If you’re like many, one or both of your parents did
something that deeply disappointed you. Perhaps right now you’re reeling in pain from
being trampled by someone you loved and trusted. Even still, the Bible says:
Hebrews 12:14-15 NLT: “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy
life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none
of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness
grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
The root of bitterness grows in the soil of hurt that has not been dealt with properly.
Love keeps no record of wrongs, but bitterness keeps detailed accounts. Bitterness is
extremely easy to justify.
—“Since I’ve been wronged, I have a right to feel this way.”
—The longer we allow the root of bitterness to live, the harder it is to kill. The root bores
deeper, and the poison spreads. When you pull a weed from the ground, if you don’t get
the roots, the weed will return. So it is with bitterness.
—The only way to eliminate the root of bitterness is forgiveness.
Matthew 5:43-44 NLT: ““You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and
hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”
—This a command from Jesus Himself, not a suggestion.
—this is a mindset shift folks
When we’re told to pray for those who’ve hurt us, our prayers are as much for ourselves
as they are for the offender. Your prayers for others may or may not change them. But
your prayers will always change you.
—God has forgiven us freely and completely, without any strings attached. And that’s
how we’re supposed to forgive others. In what’s now known as the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus
taught us to pray, “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against
us” (Luke 11:4). Nothing in you may feel like forgiving, but we must make the choice to
We Christians may try to rationalize as many excuses as we need to avoid forgiving.
But as children of God, we can find in our Heavenly Father the complete strength to
battle through the feelings of anger, hatred, and bitterness, and fight our way back to
the cross. That’s where Christ forgave us. And that’s where, by faith, we can find the
ability to forgive those who’ve wronged us.
Jesus is asking us to do something that is humanly impossible. In and of ourselves we
don't have enough forgiveness to go around. But God does. So when our limited
resources run out and we are unable to forgive, we can ask him to forgive others
through us. In doing so, we take one more step of obedience and allow ourselves to
become a channel of God's grace.
Romans 12:18-19 NLT: “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends,
never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I
will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.”
Right there,you can see, God is going to take care of it. You will be avenged for the
wrong they’ve done. But for some of us, that’s not enough. Some of us still have some
doubts, confusion, and even frustration with some things.
Because up to this point, you might be like okay Steven, that’s great and all, but it is so
much easier said than done. I mean, you don’t know what I’ve been through. I mean, I
believe in God, but I don’t think he’s fair all the time. If God is fair, then why do the
unrighteous seem to prosper so often, while the faithful are suffering? If God’s fair, why
doesn’t he do something about all the injustice in the world?
Perhaps you’ve had some painful experiences in your life, or you’ve lost someone very
close to you, and perhaps you’ve wondered where God was when all of that was taking
place, or you’ve asked God or are still asking God “why?”
—“God, you have limitless power, and yet you still let that happen when I needed you
the most. Where were you when I needed you God?”
***Hand in front of eyes illustration***
—podium = Jesus (the Great I AM, the one true living God...)
—your hand = pain (hurt, loss, pain/suffering, past and present hurt)
—When all we see is our pain, we tend to lose sight of God.
—So we may say, God, even though you say you will never leave me, I felt like I was all
alone, as if you left me all by myself.
—Just like you did to your own Son, you left Jesus to die on the cross.
—Many times we misunderstand the mystery of God. Love always leaves a mark. God
was right there with Jesus, because God also has the same scars of the nail pierced
hands. He was right there with Jesus on the cross, and he was right there for you in
your moment of pain, in your moments of doubt and frustration, in your moments of
feeling all alone, He is still there.
But Steven, you don’t understand, it was so painful, it rocked me to my core. Doesn’t
God know how I feel?
—When we’ve been hurt, let down, deeply disappointed, we wonder if God is there. And
if he is there, does he even care? And if he cares, why doesn’t he do anything about it?
God understands when we ask these questions. We don’t have to be afraid to ask
questions of God. The problem is not with God and his ways but with our limited
understanding of Him.
—God does know how you feel. God also feels the pain that we feel.
—God can orchestrate incredible good out of unspeakable, unimaginable tragedies, but
God does not orchestrate the tragedies.
***Story of PFC Jamal Britt***
—setting of boot camp
—invitation to Bible studies
—passing away, why?
—a family just loss their son/brother, we loss a soldier and a comrade
—Certainly, when times get really rough and painful, we ask questions like: Why would
God allow this? Why didn’t God answer my prayers? What did I do to deserve this?
Where is God in my pain and loss? Even in the middle of our pain, especially at the very
center of our pain, God is good. If you are hurting and can’t see his goodness now, I
pray you will one day soon, in Jesus name.
—There is no promise of a pain-free life. You might be saying “There’s gotta be a better
way.” There is...the better way involves trusting in God, trusting that He knows best,
trusting that even when you don’t see Him, He’s working, trusting that He never stops
working on your behalf. His love is unfailing, His love never fails.
Ephesians 1:11 NLT: “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have
received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes
everything work out according to his plan.”
God is committed to loving us even though he knows our stubbornness and our fixation
So, we’ve talked about the tough challenge of forgiving others, forgiving the
unimaginable. But then we have the other challenge of forgiving ourselves or even
recognizing that we need forgiveness for the unimaginable things we have done, said,
thought, or the unimaginable things we continue to do, say, or think.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and
desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their
—Sometimes we like to ask for forgiveness, while still keeping our hands in the sin
—What God is looking for is true repentance, physically/mentally/emotionally/spiritually
turning away from sin and pursuing Jesus.
Unconfessed sin brings God’s full punishment. It is useless to blame anyone else for
our sin; we are accountable to God before anyone else. We must answer to him for how
Some of us may have a list of all the things you should do to be considered a good
Christian, go to church most Sundays, maybe participate in a small group, maybe invite
one person a month to church, pay your tithes when you can, and be a decent
—You may think to yourself, well I’m not necessarily righteous, but I am “right-ish”
—You sing that song I surrender all, but in reality you surrender “all-most”
—Imagine doing all the things on the “good person” checklist only to get to the actual
gate of Heaven and Jesus asking “do I know you?”
“An almost Christian looks right but lives wrong, can’t stand the conviction in Romans so
they sit down to be comforted in psalms.”
Proverbs 28:13 NLT: “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess
and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”
Two sins that many of us struggle with the most are hatred and lust:
These two are so serious, Jesus speaks about them specifically:
Matthew 5:21-22 NLT: ““You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not
murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even
angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are
in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in
danger of the fires of hell.”
Just a few verses later, Jesus continues:
Matthew 5:27-28 NLT: ““You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not
commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already
committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Loving sin vs loving God, which is the greater love?
The more we intentionally sin in our hearts and minds, the more we sin through our
words and actions, in essence we crucify Jesus over and over again, spit in his face
over and over again as if we don’t care that he sacrificed his life for us.
James 4:17 NLT: “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”
—We tend to think of sin as doing what is wrong. But James tells us that sin is also
failing to do what is right (These two kinds of sin are sometimes called “sins of
commission” and “sins of omission”).
—For example, it is a sin to lie; it can also be a sin to know the truth and not tell it. It is a
sin to speak evil of someone; it is also a sin to avoid that person when you know he or
she needs your friendship.
—So just remember, sin is doing what is wrong, and sin is also failing to do what is
You might be facing a dilemma in your mind about all this stuff about sin and
forgiveness, because you may be thinking, if I always fall short of God’s glory, and even
at my best, I’m still a filthy rag in comparison to the righteousness of God, why bother? I
mean, He will forgive me anyway, so what stops me from taking advantage of his grace
and just sinning now and asking for forgiveness later? 2 reasons why you should strive
for excellence even though you won’t reach perfection:
1) God will hold us accountable for everything we do/say/think
Romans 14:10-12 NLT: “...Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of
God. For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to
me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God. ’” Yes, each of us will give a
personal account to God.”
2) The sin is forgiven but the consequence remains
Galatians 6:7 NLT: “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will
always harvest what you plant. (In other words, you reap what you sow, you get out
what you put in).
—***For example, if I murdered someone...
Jesus crucified himself for us, so we must crucify our flesh for Him. Dying to the old
ways, old habits, old sins, and allowing the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to renew
our minds, purify our bodies, and cleanse us from the inside out.
You see, the Gospel is simply this:
—All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, the wages of sin is death, but the
gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
—John 3:16 NIV: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that
whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
—the one who lived a perfect life without sin, the perfect sacrifice to pay the full price for
all of our sins, was crucified, buried, and was resurrected 3 days later, and now has
paved the direct path, the only path, to God Himself
“Jesus died on the cross as his duty, to pardon me of my iniquities that I committed so
rudely. Then, Jesus resurrected from the grave just to tell death to excuse me”
***Somebody ought to give God some praise for his sacrifice. Come on, if you are
thankful for what God has done for you, dying for you, defeating death so you can have
eternal life through Christ! Clap your hands and let him know how thankful and grateful
you are for his love, because you are now able to live in victory in Jesus name!***
That’s the Good News, and so essentially, God has put all of that wonderful news into
an invitation and offers it freely. So with this invitation, the Good News, the Gospel, we
can respond in 1 of 3 different ways:
***Prop = invitation/envelope***
—tear up the invitation out of anger/doubt
—toss it aside out of arrogance, lack of conviction, or not wanting to give up sin
—fully embracing with excitement and childlike faith
Everyone knows about Judas right, the guy that really messed up, betrayed Jesus
Himself, right? What’s wild to fathom is that despite all that he did…
Judas ate too...In that room, hours before the death of Jesus, Judas ate too. Jesus fed
Judas too. Jesus prayed for Judas too. Jesus washed Judas’ feet too. Can you imagine
that kind of love? A love that would feed the mouth that deceived you. A love that would
wash the treasonous feet of the traitor. A love that could forgive even the most wicked
of betrayals. I honestly struggle to comprehend that kind of love. And then, suddenly, I
realize that I’m Judas. And in that moment, I’m so thankful and altogether overwhelmed
that Judas ate too.
Just for a moment, I want you to picture Jesus Christ on the cross...he had just been
severely beaten and tortured, His skin and flesh falling off of his body, blood
—Jesus, I feel like I am the thorn in your crown. Lord, with all of my sins that hurt you I
feel like I am the nail in your wrist. God, with my constant rebellion I feel like I am Judas’
kiss, and yet you love me anyway.”
—Romans 3:25 NLT: “For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are
made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.
—Despite all you have done and all that you will do, Jesus still loved you enough, with
this unfailing, reckless love that won't stop pursuing you, loved you enough to die for
you to save your forever. There is no greater love.
Psalms 103:8,12 NLT: 8 “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry
and filled with unfailing love...12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is
from the west.”
If you are here at a church service for the first time, or this is the first sermon you’ve
ever listened to, it is no accident or coincidence that you are here today. If you have
reached a point in your life where you have either hit rock bottom or you feel like you’re
unsure of your purpose here on earth, God sees you, he knows you by name, and he is
calling you right now.
If you have never accepted Jesus into your life and in your heart as your Lord and
Savior, you can do that today. All you have to do is repent of your sins, in other words,
tell Jesus that you are sorry for all the wrong you’ve done in your past, ask him for
forgiveness, and let him know you are ready for him to be in control of your life. Believe
that Jesus died on the cross for you, and resurrected from the dead, is alive today, and
wants to be with you.
1 John 1:9 NLT: “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us
our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
God still transforms people by changing their hearts. Each of us can have assurance of
a new heart by repenting of our sin, trusting Christ to save us, and loving God.
If you already accepted Jesus into your heart, and your next step is water baptism, you
can get baptized today.
If you have already repented of your sins, been water baptized, and you want to receive
the baptism of the Holy Spirit, all you have to do is surrender to God today. You can lift
your hands up, open your mouth, and tell Jesus you want His Spirit to live inside of you.
He will fill you with this free gift in Jesus name.
Praise Team and Musicians would you come. Let’s all stand.
At this time, we are going to apply God’s Word in a practical way. With every head
bowed and every eye closed, I want everyone to identify someone you want to forgive
and get them clearly in your mind. It can be someone living or deceased, someone you
have not seen in years or someone you see every day.
Picture their name and their face in your mind. Now, I want you to bring up all of the
thoughts, feelings, judgments, and attitudes you have about them. This can be painful
and maybe you would rather forget it. However, if you are remembering it right now, it is
still there inside you, festering away, and maybe has been there for a long time. It needs
to be brought to the surface where the light of your awareness can shine on it. If you
see it and acknowledge it, you can consciously give it to God fully. Trying not to think
about it will only keep it around longer.
If you have chosen a person to forgive, please take a moment to realize that you have
taken a huge step in the healing process. Like Pastor Buddy said before, time does not
heal all wounds, but what does heal all wounds is forgiveness.
You see, whoever you have had hate or bitterness towards, that person is also God’s
child, like you, and no matter what they did, God still wants to redeem them as well, just
like he redeemed you.
—Nobody gets away with anything. God is not asking you to excuse what they did. God
is asking you to trust Him to do what’s right and to know what’s best. Forgiveness
doesn’t establish a relationship, it just allows you to essentially let go of their throat.
As you remember every thought and feeling toward that person, be sure to bring it all to
the surface. This is just between you and God, and God can handle it all. When you
think you have it all brought to the surface, just in your mind and heart, just say “and
everything else.” This signifies you are including anything you may remember in the
For some of you, the person you need to forgive the most is the one in the mirror. There
may be some very dark sins that remain secret that you have tucked away, yet it still
eats you from the inside. Today, right now, is the time to bring it all to the surface, so
you can allow God to pour healing in that part of your soul.
This altar is open for everyone right now.
Any time there is an altar call at a worship service, your first step is to physically make
your way to the altar. This is your opportunity to physically and spiritually respond to
God. You might have a mix of emotions right now, a vast array of different thoughts.
Bring all of that with you to the altar, because God wants to sort all of that out with you.
That’s it, come on up to the front, this is your opportunity, this is your moment.
Then just begin to talk to God. This is all between you and God. He is here, ready to
listen, ready to speak to you.
With everything that person did to you, just tell God:
“Lord, I forgive them. It still hurts, but I forgive them. I may need to forgive them a
thousand times before it gets any easier, but Lord I am willing to begin this journey
Today, right now, is the time to forgive the unimaginable…(Praise Team sing)
All of the bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness you had before today, give it to the One who
reaches out to take it from you with His nail-scarred hand, a hand that was torn and
bloodied as He forgave you.
The debt is no longer in your hands but the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ. The loss is
still real. The wound is real. But as you dust your hands off—newly emptied hands—you
breathe in deeply and exhale with the release of knowing you no longer carry it around.
And you’re not going to try to collect on it somewhere down the road. Time does not
heal all wounds. But what does heal all wounds is forgiveness.
One more scripture before you go, Numbers 6:24-26
As you begin to intentionally forgive each and every day...
“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to
you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’”
One more time, let’s clap our hands and give God some praise!
God bless you, have a wonderful week, we will see you next Sunday. You are
dismissed in Jesus name :)