Shoes, Punches & Curse Words | ONE 02

You know that feeling when you put on your new shoes for the very first time? They look so clean and the whole world shines a little bit brighter. It’s wonderful. Until something happens and your new kicks get scuffed, or muddy. Then the feeling is gone. You work hard to keep those shoes looking good.

Sam was a seventh-grader who, by all accounts, was a nice guy. Perhaps he occasionally stood too close to people, but all in all, he was a good kid. That day he was standing next to Desmond, who was brandishing a brand new pair of sneakers. Naturally, Sam, standing too close accidentally stepped on Desmond’s shoe. The sound of desmond shouting, “My shoes!” caught the attention of the whole class.

It was at that moment that everything went into slow motion as Desmond began throwing a fury of punches in Sam’s direction. Sam instinctively threw his arms up to protect his face and shouted, “What the–“. Well, I won’t repeat exactly what he said, but he may have referenced a place full of burning flames and fire.

His curse drew the attention of the teacher who immediately stood and shouted, “Stop this now! There will be no profanity in my classroom” The teacher then wrote Sam up for cursing and sent him off to the dean’s office. Desmond simply returned to his seat.

I sat there in my twelve-year-old mind as perplexed as I had ever been.

Is cursing a greater sin than throwing punches at another student? It wasn’t even one of the bad ones?! (Not that any cursing is ok.) How can the mild profanity deserve greater punishment than punching someone? I couldn’t wrap my mind around the injustice of the situation!

How do you feel when someone deserves punishment and doesn’t get it? I find it very frustrating when someone does not get what they deserve. Unless it happens to be me. I expect people to be understanding of myself, but don’t always offer that same understanding to others.

Maybe you can relate.. Have you ever been angry when someone did not receive the punishment they deserved? Have you ever known a Christain who for sure didn’t deserve to be forgiven? Maybe you’re reading this and there have been moments when you were certain you didn’t deserve to be forgiven. Next week we will be addressing these thoughts.

Here is the big idea.

Jesus shows mercy instead of judgement, even to the one who deserved to die.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  1. Have you ever felt like you weren’t good enough to be forgiven? Why did you think that?
  2. Is it easy for you to show others mercy? Why or why not?

PRAY: Lord, help me to recognize Your mercy in my life and extend that mercy to others.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Hebrews 4:12-16 (NLT) For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (NLT) Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.[a] He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us longago.

 

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You Matter | ONE 01

Have you ever wondered if you matter? We have a tendency to belittle ourselves, thinking we might not be very valuable. Maybe we have some insecurities. Perhaps we are overwhelmed by our many mistakes. Maybe I really don’t matter, after all, I’m just one person.

But let’s not belittle the significance of just one person! I believe that one person matters! I believe that even just one person is valuable. I believe that even just one person has the power to change the world.

Remember that you are created by God. Not only that but of all creation, humans were the only beings created in the very image of God. He made us look like Himself. Not only that, but when God created man He breathed His own breath into the man to give him life. It is the very breath of God flowing through your lungs.

That alone is enough to give you an incredible amount of value! Every single person is important. Every single person has value. Even you. You’re important and you matter.

It is also important to remember that the moment we begin our relationship with Jesus, we are filled with His presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. Not only are we incredibly valuable, but we have the very power of God dwelling within us! Next time you don’t think you can accomplish very much, remember that God can do all things and He dwells in YOU!

Throughout this series, we will be looking at three different examples of Jesus revealing the importance of just ONE PERSON.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  1. How does knowing you were created in God’s image change the way you see yourself? How does it change how you see others?
  2. When you don’t feel very important what can you do to remind yourself of your value?

PRAY: Lord, thank you for creating me in Your image and filling me with Your Holy Spirit. Help me to remember the value You have placed on me.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Ephesians 2:7-10 (MSG) Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT)  Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Genesis 2:7 (NLT) Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Romans 8:9 (NLT)  But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.

 

Release the Debt | Sinking Ships 20

“I’ll forgive them when they apologize.”

Well, what if they never apologize? Are you willing to hold on to the anger and weight of the offense even if the other person never seeks to make things right? Unforgiveness is a heavy weight to bear. I am convinced that forgiveness is better for us than it is the offender. What is forgiveness?

I believe that whenever someone offends us, a debt is created. We feel like they owe us something in order to be made right. Forgiveness is simply releasing the debt. Saying, you don’t owe me anything, I will no longer count this against you. This is not always easy as powerful emotions, and deep hurt compete for control. We think that we have to get over it in order to forgive. We have to stop being angry, or we have to experience healing first. I disagree. I believe that forgiveness is the first step toward releasing that anger and stepping toward healing.

Meaning to say forgiveness is not something that happens to you, you choose it. The choice is not always easy, but it is yours to make. When we make the decision to forgive something inside of us begins to change. It doesn’t mean the hurt or anger instantly goes away. Healing is a process that takes time, but I believe without forgiveness healing is impossible. Do not put control of your healing on someone who may never give you what you’re looking for. Don’t wait for other people to make things right. Extend forgiveness today.

It is also important to recognize the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. While many times forgiveness will lead to the restoration of the relationship, it doesn’t always. In fact, in some cases, it shouldn’t. Some examples might be continually breaking trust, cheating, abuse, and rape. In those situations, most of the time reconciliation may not be what’s best. I believe it is foolish to put yourself in a position to continue to be hurt, but forgiveness is still necessary for healing. Forgiveness is about you and your journey to become the whole person God has created you to be.

Thank you for following along in our sinking ships series! I pray that you will have strong relationships with your friends, family, and most importantly with God. I pray you will find the freedom and healing that follows forgiveness to others. 

Amen.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  1. Think of ways that not forgiving has added heaviness to your life.
  2. Are you ready to begin the process of forgiving?

PRAY: Lord, help me to forgive others as You have forgiven me. I pray that you would do a healing work in me as I release the debt. Thank You for loving me.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Luke 6:27-36 (NLT) “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

 

Choose Forgiveness | Sinking Ships 19

Godly love is given without expectation of return. Meaning it is without condition. God’s love is offered without the contingency that we are without fault. When we do make mistakes we can come to Him and ask for forgiveness and He gives it. Every time.

The challenge is that is then how He commands us to love. Command is such a strong word, but we must remember that His commands are not a flex of His authority over us, but rather a loving push to live the way in which is best for us. Living the way God requires us is the path to living the abundantly full life He offers. Again, this does not mean that life is not without difficulty, but that through difficulty we have the grace, supernatural strength, to carry on the midst of anything without losing our sustaining joy and perfect peace that comes from God. Meaning to say that following His commands do not lead to restriction, but true freedom.

Extending forgiveness to others is one of God’s commands. Jesus actually goes so far as to say that if we refuse to forgive others, God will then not forgive our sins. 

I think we have to be careful so that we do not get the wrong image. The phrasing almost makes me think that God is an angry toddler folding His arms in a fit saying, “If you don’t do this, I won’t do that,”  which is absolutely not the case. I truly believe that when we fail to forgive others it changes something inside of us. 

God is so serious about forgiveness that He said, if you are in the process of trying to get right with God and remember someone who has something against you, stop what you’re doing and go be made right with them and then come back and be made right with God.

It’s important

When we harbor unforgiveness and become bitter, rehearsing hurts over and over inside of our minds, our hearts become hardened and unable to receive God’s forgiveness. We know that we are not being Christ-like and like all sin we separate ourselves from God. Choosing not to forgive is choosing to remain hurt, rather than receiving the healing that comes with forgiveness.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  1. Who in your life have you struggled to forgive?
  2. How has that unforgiveness affected your life?

PRAY: Father, forgive me of any unforgiveness in my life. Today give me the courage to begin to love like You love and learn how to forgive others the way that You forgive me.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Matthew 6:5-15 (NLT) “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
    may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
    as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,[a]
12 and forgive us our sins,
    as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,[b]
    but rescue us from the evil one.[c]

14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

John 10:11-18 (NLT) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again.18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

Matthew 5:21-24 (NLT) “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 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.

23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

 

The Relationship | Sinking Ships 18

 

Imagine going to school everyday. Sitting beside the same group of people everyday.  Yet, everyday, not one ever says a word. Do you think anyone would ever make sustainable friendships? I imagine not. Communication is such a key component to developing relationships and keeping them afloat. The more time you spend with a friend, talking about what really matters, the closer you become. The more you begin to understand their personality, sense of humor, what they mean when they say certain things.

It is the same with our relationship with God. We will never get a close relationship with Jesus if we never spend time talking with Him. This is why we pray. I know when you’re starting out trying to pray that it can feel a little uncomfortable, but isn’t it usually uncomfortable when you spend time with someone you don’t know very well? In the case of God sometimes it is challenging because we’re not even sure if He’s there. However, if we can have the faith to begin we will eventually discover He is present, always.

Prayer doesn’t have to be some big super spiritual skill. You don’t have to have the right words. Simply talk to God. Tell Him what you’re grateful for. Tell Him what you’re going through. Ask Him for help. Ask Him to help your friends. It doesn’t have to be long either. He hears all prayers, especially the short ones. It is also helpful to have a journal to write down what your thoughts are, what you feel like God might be speaking to you and Bible verses that stand out.

Ahh, the Bible. We want to hear God’s voice, but learning to hear God’s voice starts with His Word. Spend a few minutes everyday reading the Words He gave to us. Start in John and read about who Jesus is. Recognize the character of God. Recognize who Jesus is and how He loves us. When you read the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, remember that God is love. This is not just a description of love, it is a description of who God is and how He loves us.

As we stay consistent in pursuing this relationship with God, we not only learn how He loves us, but how His love and grace empowers us to love other people. As we come to know His love, the way we love will naturally begin to change to become more like Him, much like we naturally become more like our friends.

Two closing thoughts about Godly love.

Godly love is given without any expectation of return.

Godly love is sacrificial.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  1. How can you apply these lessons to begin a deeper relationship with God?
  2. Do you love all people or only those who you know will love you back?

PRAY: Lord, help me today to know You. I want to have a strong relationship with You. Speak to me today.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Revelation 3:20 (NLT)  “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

James 4:7-8 (NLT) So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (NLT)  If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT) You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.  If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

John 15:9-17 (NLT) “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.17 This is my command: Love each other.

The Recognition | Sinking Ships 17

There is no more important relationship than our relationship with God. It starts by recognizing what He did for us! Do you even know how much He loves you? Everything God has ever done has been motivated by His love for you and me. There is no end to the incredible depths of His love.

Let’s think about who Jesus is. He is God. Supremely powerful, unknowing the pain of humanity. Yet, because He loves us, He stepped out of Heaven and stepped into humanity. He stepped into the hurt, the anguish, the betrayal and everything that goes along with being human. He lived a blameless life, yet He was accused of crimes He did not commit. He was spit upon, whipped, mocked, betrayed and abandoned by those closest to Him.

He died one of the most horrific and painful deaths a man could die. In doing so, He took upon Himself the punishment for sin. Not His sin, for He knew no sin. Our sin. All of it. He bore upon Himself the weight of all our sin. He Himself, felt forsaken by His Father God. Cut off because of our sin.

However, with His resurrection He defeated sin. He defeated death and in doing so, He freed us from sin’s power. We no longer suffer under the penalty of sin. Instead, we are invited into relationship with Him. Pause there for a moment. God created everything. Every person, every animal, every star, everything big and small. Yet He knows your name and invites you to spend time with Him and get to know Him. He finds great joy and delight in who you are. So much so that He decided to adopt you and call you his son our daughter.

That is a kind of love that is beyond the natural love of humanity. It isn’t anything we deserved or earned, yet He gives it to us freely, inviting us to accept Him to be a part of our lives. When we decide to enter into that relationship with Him, everything changes. It’s beautiful. While we will still walk through challenging times, we can experience, freedom, peace, and joy like we’ve ever known because we aren’t walking alone, but instead, we walk with Jesus. We carry the presence of God into every room and every situation.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  1. Take time to think about the wonderful things Jesus did so we could have that relationship with Him.
  2. Have you made the decision to enter into that relationship with God?

PRAY: Jesus, I thank You for all you’ve done for me. For the great love you offer. I choose today to receive that love and to enter into relationship with You.

SCRIPTURE READING:

John 1:10-14 (NLT) He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT) You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;

    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God

    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

1 Peter 3:18 (NLT) Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit

Romans 8:1-17 (NLT)  So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

The Response | Sinking Ships 16

One day a banker was looking at his accounts and discovered a man who owed ten million dollars and hadn’t paid! The banker demanded to be paid, but the man said he didn’t have the money. The banker’s response was, “I will take everything you possess until you pay me back!”

The man begged, “please don’t do this. Be patient, give me time. I will pay you back, every cent.”

The banker took note of the man’s sincerity and had pity on him. He decided to cancel the debt completely and let the man go.

The man was grateful, however, he then ran into a friend who owed him a hundred dollars. He grabbed him and began to choke him, demanding, “Pay me back what you owe me, RIGHT NOW.”

His friend begged, “please don’t do this. Be patient, give me time. I will pay you back, every cent.”

The man refused to hear it and instead had his friend thrown in Jail.

The banker heard of this and was outraged.  He called the man in, “I canceled your debt when you begged me to be patient with you to pay your great debt! Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your friend who owed only a little? I showed you great mercy and you refused to do the same!” In his anger, the banker had the man thrown in prison to be tortured until he paid back everything he owed.

That ending though.

I didn’t make this up. Jesus told a similar story in Matthew 18 in response to Peter’s question about forgiveness. The moral here is that because God forgave us of all our sins He expects us to forgive others in the same way. We see here by the way the banker responded at the end that the way we treat others affects our relationship with God.

Of all the relationships in your life, there is one more important than any other. Your relationship with Jesus. It is my goal that we learn not only how to love people, but to LOVE God, having a strong and thriving relationship with Him. We must receive His forgiveness, but also extend that forgiveness to tohers. By seeking the Lord, we are able to learn how to love and forgive people better, however when we fail to live out of that love we create barriers between ourselves and God.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  1. How did you feel about the man who treated his friend so harshly after receiving such mercy?
  2. When considering what God has forgiven you of, do you think you have ever been that man?

PRAY: Lord, help me to love others the way you love me.

SCRIPTURE READING:

1 John 4:20-21 (NLT)  If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

Matthew 18:21-35 (NLT) Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.

26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”