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Love Like Jesus: Pastor Brandon

MESSAGE TRANSCRIPTION: 

Pastor Brandon: This morning, I talked with you guys about loving like Jesus, loving like Jesus. And there are many different things we could talk about when it comes to loving like Jesus. We could talk about Jesus and how he was a servant, and on the day that he would be arrested, he chose to serve his disciples and wash their feet, so wehh can talk about how Jesus was a servant. Or I believe this morning we could potentially talk about how Jesus was kind to everyone that he met, how he spoke kind words and uplifting and life, giving words to people. We could talk about how relational Jesus was. We could talk about how humble and spiritual Jesus was. But this morning, I actually want to share with you how I believe we should love, like Jesus, through a personal story of mine.

So I just want to start by asking this question How many of you have siblings, your sibling? Raise your hand. How many of you have siblings? Yes, many of you. All right. And now, whether you know this or not, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this as a sibling, but you have a birthright based upon your birth order. And some of you guys are smiling because you know exactly what I’m talking about. You have a birthright based on your birth order. And now I’m the youngest of three, so I am the baby. And so when I look at the birth order, I look to my oldest brother first. He was born first, and I believe his birthright was the hardest. All right. So I believe he had the most pressure to perform. He had the most pressure to not get in trouble. He had the most pressure to set an example. And let me tell you, he was the worst example. James, I love you. I’m so sorry. You know I love you. But he was the worst example growing up. And I promise you, he’s a thousand times better now. But if I were to went to him when I was a younger kid and ask for advice, I would have found a but what then at the other end of that advice? All right. So I never went to my brother, but I believe his birthright. He was kind of the leader he set and paved the way for the other siblings and me.

Then you got the middle child. And let me just go ahead and say this. You, middle children, believe you have a way worse than you actually do. Okay? And this was my sister. And now, my sister has this thing I like to call middle child syndrome. Now, if you do not know what that is, the middle child believes they have it so bad. They believe they have it worse than all the other kids. And so her mindset was, I should have just as many rights as the oldest, and I should be just as spoiled as the baby. And if I’m not, life is terrible, and then it’s out to get me. And not only that, she was my dad’s only girl, so she was daddy’s little girl. All right?

Then there was me. I was the baby. And what was the birthright that I was given? I did not give myself this. My brother and sister did. It was the golden child. And if you do not know what the golden child is, they never get into any trouble. They’re spoiled. They do everything right, and they do everything that mom and dad say. And let me just tell you this morning, I can’t deny it. That’s 100% true. It’s absolutely true. You can ask my wife after the service every time we go home. Still, they label me by my birthright. Oh, the golden child. And Mom’s going to do whatever for him since he’s there. And that’s absolutely true. But I tell all of you guys that this morning to kind of help you understand a little bit more about my siblings and me because the story actually comes back to that middle child, my sister.

Now, my sister got pregnant at a young age. She was 16 at the time. And I remember when I found out about my sister being pregnant, I remember exactly where I was at. I remember all the feelings leaving my body. And remember, I was 14 at the time when I found this out. And I remember when my sister found out when she’d gotten the news when she realized she got to tell her entire family the decision that she had made, that it shook her to the core. And now, after all these emotions had passed through my family after we had found out the news, we were finally able to rally around her and support her the best that we knew how with the situation that was given to us. And now she and her boyfriend at the time, we’ll call him Max. Won’t give his real name, but his name is Max for the sake of the story. They decided that they were going to make the decision to get married, and at the time, we didn’t believe this was a terrible idea because the only thing that was shaken in the relationship that we knew of at this point was that they were going to be having a kid at a young age. And so we fully supported them, and we encouraged them to do it. And so they get married. And it wasn’t long into their marriage, probably a year or maybe a little bit longer than Max had broken his trust with my sister. We had found out that Max wasn’t being fully faithful to her, and so they parted ways. And then soon later, we found out that Max was with the other girl. And probably six months into their relationship, they were pregnant with another kid.

So when I found all this out, I was in high school at the time. And so keep in mind, in my young adolescence, I was angsty, and I was upset, and I was mad. And my initial instinct when I found all this out when I found out why they were splitting up. I said in my mind, and I had it committed in my mind, that I’m going to go find him, and I’m going to go whoop his butt. Hey, you guys thought I was going to cut you guys out? I was going to do it and not like Pastor Virgil. I don’t cuss from the stage. Some of you guys are laughing because you know exactly what I’m talking about. Some of you. Your eyebrows just raised, and you’re like, What are you talking about? Hey, don’t miss this Sunday, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, okay? But I had it in my mind that I was going to find him, and I was going to hurt him. And my mindset was, I’m going to bring him so much physical pain until it matches the pain of my sister. But I didn’t, and at the time, I didn’t choose to not go after him out of respect for my sister. But it was actually because I would hope to someday be an example for my niece that just because someone in your life makes an unwise decision doesn’t mean you have to follow an unwise decision.

This morning, I wish I could tell you that my sister’s life is in a better season today, but it’s not. I still believe, and I believe she would agree with me, that she is still in a very difficult season and that this was actually the domino effect of all the things that would happen and come into her life. And many of those heartaches that she would face were still because of Max, and she’s still recovering from those today. And so I had it in my mind at this time that I hated Max so much. I wanted the worst for him. I even took energy out of my day and out and out of my time. I would go and actually pray that God would wreck Max’s life. And I’m not talking about the good records like I’m not talking about. I hope he changes his heart. I hope he changes his mind. I hope he decides to be a better person. But I was actually praying. I was praying for the worst for Max. So much to the point that I was okay if he wasn’t here anymore.

So here I was. I was in this conundrum, too, where I was trying to follow Jesus, but I had so much hate towards this person. Along the way, I was reminded of Jesus and his words in Matthew Chapter 6,.

14 “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive others,[a] your Father will not forgive your offenses.

Matthew 6:14-15 CSB

And so I was so perplexed at the time, especially just being young. I was so perplexed. How can I follow Jesus and stop all this hate that I have in my heart? How could I follow Jesus? I know that the Bible had something to say about my heart towards Max, but I could not wrap my mind around the fact of how can I forgive something that felt so unforgivable to me and some of you? You’re here this morning, and you’re feeling the exact same way. You know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve been hurt. Some of you or your loved one has been hurt. Some of you you were abandoned, and some of you you were slandered by a friend. Some of you you were in a broken relationship that you thought would last forever. Some of you, this morning, were betrayed, and you stepped on. Some of you, you were looked down upon and made small. And maybe some of you, you were even hurt by the church. Are you hurt by someone who should act more Christlike?

I just want to encourage you this morning, I was once sitting in your seat, and I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that it was too far, it was too bad. They should have known better. There’s no way. I can forgive that person. There’s absolutely no way I can forgive that person. And I just want to stop, and I want to pause, and I want to say I understand. I understand exactly how you feel. I don’t understand your situation. And I’m not walking with your walk-through. But I understand what it means to have such hate and a hardened heart towards somebody. And I want to say that I’m sorry that that happened to you. I’m sorry that you were treated that way. I’m sorry that you were hurt. But I’m in full belief that God is so good that He can bring healing to you this morning and he can help you start a journey of forgiveness. Because I believe if we’re going to love the world like Jesus loves the world, we have to forgive others. And so this morning, before I share what it means to forgive like Jesus, I believe it’s very important to let you know what you will miss out on if you avoid a life of forgiveness. Or, better yet, I would put it this way If you avoid a life of forgiveness, there are two things I believe you’re going to forfeit. The first thing I believe you’re going to forfeit is joy. I believe that if you live a life of unforgiveness, it will hinder your ability fully to have joy. And how do I know this? It’s because the Bible tells us. It says in Proverbs 17 this.

22 

A joyful heart is good medicine,

but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 CSB

So what is this saying to us? It’s saying if you’re in a broken spirit, you’re going to have a broken perspective. You’re going to be bitter. You’re going to have hatred. If your spirit is broken, there’s no room for joy to fully exist in a broken spirit. And when I was walking, I remember when my sister was going through this, and they had split up her max. I remember when anyone would bring up Max’s name. I remember when Max would have to come to pick up my niece, his daughter. I remember if I would even see a movie that was even close to the plot that my sister had gone through. All joy, whatever little joy I had, was gone. And I would physically get angry. I mean, I was in such a dark place because of my hate towards Max. But the Bible says I could have had some kind of joy. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but the spirit could have actually filled me with joy with the adversity that I was facing. And it says in James chapter one, this is one of my favorite verses.

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials,

James 1:2 CSB

See it said here. Even in my hardest moments, even when I’ve been betrayed, I’ve been forgotten about. I’ve been left stranded. I’ve been broken in a relationship. The Bible says there is a joy I can obtain and how and why I can obtain that joy. It goes on to say because, you know, the testing of your faith produces endurance. It produces endurance. It keeps you going for the next thing. And it says and let your endurance have its full effect. Don’t stand in its way. Let it have its full effect so that you may be mature and completely lacking in nothing. Even in the worst situations, the Bible reminds us that joy is still possible, and we shouldn’t get in the way of what God is trying to show us and do in us because it’s producing things, producing endurance, it’s testing our faith is the thing that’s going to help us run this race because we’re in a messy world and we will be broken, and we will be hurt again, and we will have to forgive again. But the Bible reminds us that we can have joy. And so if you’re going to live in a void, a life of forgiveness, you won’t only forfeit joy, but you’re going to forfeit peace. And I believe peace is heavily needed today. I believe peace is so necessary in the world that we live in, with how harsh and how hateful and how rude and how to mean the world is. Peace is something that we truly need. This morning, I fully believe, and I promise you, if you avoid a life of forgiveness, you will never fully feel settled in your self it said in Romans Chapter eight.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him,

Romans 6:8 CSB

The mindset of the spirit is life, and it is peace. But the mindset of the flesh, the part of you that doesn’t want to forgive, the part of you that doesn’t want to show mercy, the part of you that doesn’t want to extend grace or to show love. That mindset is death. And so we have to remember this morning, yes, you’ve probably been cut real deep by someone, but I want to remind you of the unforgiveness that you’re hanging on to this morning. It is not affecting at all the other person. It is not hurting them. It is not harming them. It is not keeping them up at night. But it is robbing you and forfeiting you from the all-in life, the most abundant life that Christ calls us to.

Jesus says I’ve come to give life and to give it more abundantly. You have to forgive. Or You’re going to rob yourself of the peace and joy that Christ can provide and the all-in life. And so maybe this morning you’re a little bit more convinced. You’re like, I want to have joy. I want to have peace. I’m tired of this weight in my life. I’m tired of walking this life, hanging on, fully gripped onto the things that people have done to me. You’re like, I want to start this journey of forgiveness. Like, how do I take this step? How do I learn to love as Jesus did and to start forgiving? And I’ve broken it down into four steps of what I believe are the steps to forgiving others. These steps are sequential. They’re in the order that we have to take them. I believe if we follow this process, we stay the course. I believe Jesus will help us arrive at a place. Help us have a heart of forgiveness. So the first step to being able to forgive others, and I believe the most important is we have to remember that God has forgiven us.

We have to remember that God is forgiving me, and God is forgiving you. God is forgiving us all. And I want to remind you this morning in case. You forgot Jesus. When he was hanging on the cross, he’d been spit upon. He had been betrayed. He had been abandoned. He had been lied about. You’ve been talked about. He had been beaten. And what was his response? Well, he hung on a cross. When the Book of Luke. This is what Jesus says.

34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided his clothes and cast lots.

Luke 23:34 CSB

In Jesus’s greatest time of betrayal. He takes time to pray to the father on our behalf and to ask for forgiveness over us. I mean, come on. As Christians, we have to remember that we have to extend unconditional love and forgiveness. And I know that it’s hard. I know that it’s painful. And let me tell you, it won’t always make sense. And it might not never make sense. But we have to approach people with the heart and the kindness that Jesus gives to us daily. See, this morning, we have to come to a place and understand that if God can forgive us of all that we’ve done wrong to him, maybe, maybe, I can forgive that person. Maybe we can fully humble ourselves, fully humble ourselves to a place to understand that we do not deserve God’s grace. God’s mercies, God’s love, God’s forgiveness. Maybe if we can fully humble ourselves to that place, maybe we can start a journey of forgiveness. So if we’re going to start to forgive others, we have to remind ourselves that God has forgiven us.

The second thing we have to do, and I believe one of the hardest, is we have to pray for that person. Because Jesus says, in Matthew Chapter five, he says,.

44 But I tell you, love your enemies[a] and pray for those who[b] persecute you,

Mathew 5:44 CSB

See, Jesus tells us not only to love our enemies but what true love looks like is going to your throne room and praying over them. Come on. That’s hard. I mean, that is absolutely hard because the reality is, I would say that this was the hardest thing I had to do when it came to forgiving Max. See, I remember when I was reminded of this verse. And I had to start that journey of prayer for Max. I was just praying at first to be able to say, I’m checking that box. I’m doing what the Bible tells me. I’m doing what Jesus commands. I’m checking the box. I prayed for him even though I was speaking with my lips. My heart was not in a posture to actually mean it. It wasn’t until I humbled myself that I understood that loving him like Jesus was praying for him in a way that God would actually encounter him and change his heart and change his perspective. See, I wasn’t only humbled by that, but there was something that shook me to my core and humility. See his daughter, my niece. She’s nine now, and she loves Jesus. I mean, she loves Jesus. And I was reminded God said, Brandon, don’t you think she would love to see her daddy in heaven with her? I mean, when God revealed that to me, man, it humbled me even more that I’m going to pray for Max in a real and deep, and passionate way. I’m going to have to actually pray for him in love and see if we’re going to live a life of forgiveness. If we’re going to start moving on a journey toward forgiveness, we have to be reminded that God has forgiven us. But not only that, we’re going to have to pray for that person.

The third thing we’re going to have to do this morning is we’re going to have to ask God for help. We’re going to ask God to help you. And what are you going to ask him to help you with? It is to extend forgiveness. You had to ask him for help, to extend forgiveness. This is what it says in James chapter one. It says,.

5 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.

James 1:5 CSB

See, this morning, I know that you’re going to have days like, man, I’ve prayed for that person for months now, just like I did when I was praying for Max. It took months and years. It took months and years. And I was still in a place where I was like, God, I’m praying for this man. But my heart is still hard. My mind is still calloused to what he did. And I think some of you this morning just need to pray a prayer of forgiveness towards that person. And this morning, I believe this is a holy moment because I believe from the moment that you heard me say, hey, today we’re going to be talking about forgiveness. At that moment, you instantly thought of your person. You thought of your situation. And this morning, you’re hearing me say all these things about how we should love, like Jesus, and how we should give. And you’re like, Brandon, I’m ready to pray that prayer. I’m tired of hanging on to this person. I’m tired of hanging on to this situation. I’m tired of being tired. You just, like, I just want to pray that this morning.

Here is a moment. They’re going to bring up a prayer on a screen. And maybe you’re in a place. You’re just like, I’m ready to feel the weight come off my shoulders. I’m ready to feel freedom. I’m ready to pray this prayer. I’m ready to let them go. So I want to encourage you. This is you as I read this. I just want you to pray this in your heart. I want you to whisper this under your breath. And I want you to believe that God can actually release you and give you a heart of forgiveness today. And now, this is a long prayer. So you might want to capture a picture of it so you can have it for later. But this is what the prayer reads says.

Father, only you understand how much I’ve been hurt by this person. I don’t want to carry the pain for another second. I don’t want to be a bitter person. But I need your grace and the power of the cross to release my hurt and to forgive those who’ve hurt me. This is the turning point. First, I need to experience your forgiveness. You know all the ways I’ve hurt others, and I’m so sorry for my sins. Jesus, thank you for dying for me. I accept your grace and forgiveness, and I need it daily. Today I’m turning to you, and I’m choosing to forgive the way you have forgiven me. Every time the memory comes back, I’ll forgive that person again until the pain is gone. Heal my heart with your grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This morning. I know some of you you actually prayed that prayer with me, and you’re like a weight has been lifted. You’re going to walk out of here with a different step in you. You will walk out of here excited because you have finally released your person. You finally prayed the prayer, and you’ve said, God, give me hard forgiveness. And at this moment, you felt that way. You lifted it. But now, for some of you, you weren’t able to pray that prayer with me, and that’s okay. You’re like, I’ve tried to understand and remember that God has forgiven me. Brandon, I’ve tried praying for that person. I’ve tried praying the prayer. I try to pray the prayer of forgiveness. It’s still not gone. And that’s why I believe the last step is for you. The last step is you’re going to have to try try and try again. You’re going to have to try. Try and try again. It says in Philippians four six says,.

6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6 CSB

Some of you this morning. You’re carrying a lot of hurts, and you’re asking the question. We’ll actually be able to let this go. Will I actually be able to let this go and forgive that person? Maybe you have been hard for you to hear from me this morning because maybe your hurt didn’t come from the world, but it actually came from the church. And you’ve been cut to your core and you’re asking the question. And the one place where I was supposed to feel the safest and the one place where I thought I would be the most loved and accepted. How can I forgive them? How can I forgive the church?

This morning, I want to invite my friend Stacy to the stage because her story is, is that she struggled and that she had a story, too, where the church actually hurt her, but God gave her the freedom and the ability to start her journey of forgiveness. So, Stacy.

Guest Speaker (Stacy): Good morning. On each side, as Bunch said, my name is Stacy Saddle. And my husband Neil and I have been coming to Eastside for about two and a half years now. But if you don’t recognize me, don’t worry. It’s because I’ve purposefully been avoiding all of you for the last two and a half years. I’ve been running straight into the church and then back to the car scene. His church is over. Sometimes running the other way. If I saw one of you that I knew that I wouldn’t have to talk to you. One time I even went as far as to make my very extroverted husband wait in the car with me when we accidentally arrived at church 10 minutes early because I knew if I got here that early, one of your very friendly people would talk to me. I wanted to get in, do church and get out.

You see, several years ago, I experienced some really deep church hurt, resulting in me leaving a place that I called home for almost a decade and spending my most formative years. I lost a lot of relationships in the process, and I was hurt. I was confused and I was grieving. Unfortunately, I know a lot of you here can probably relate to this, and you know that there’s no hurt quite like church hurt. After that happened, I told my husband I just needed a break from church, and honestly, Eastside is the last place I thought I would end up. In fact, the first Sunday that my husband and our good friends convinced me to come to visit, I sat with my arms, crossed the entire service, and after we left, I told my husband that the music was entirely too loud. Sorry, worship team, but the Holy Spirit must have convicted me of my very critical attitude because here I am standing almost three years later. But I think God knew exactly what I needed, and he knew I needed something radically different from where I’d grown up.

Regardless of how different it felt, I’ve still been very skeptical. And so I’ve kind of held everybody at arm’s length for all this time, running away from life group leaders, turning down service opportunities, dodging social invitations, and never once having gone to the My People Lounge, when Virgil has told me to. Honestly, I was just trying to fly under the radar because, in my mind, if I didn’t get involved, then I couldn’t get hurt again. But this week, Carla approached me and asked me to speak, which showed me that despite my best efforts, I could not hide forever. And in my hiding, perhaps I was missing out on some really awesome blessings that Eastside had to offer. I learned that perhaps if I could embrace my past and the hurt that had happened, open up. Forgive that. Then maybe I could see what all God had to offer for my future. So what does forgiveness look like? And how in the world do you forgive when it wasn’t just one person, but an entire church that you feel had wronged you? I think I’ve been on this forgiveness journey that Bunch has been talking about for several years, but I didn’t know that I really had a name for it until this week. But as I’ve been reflecting on what I was going to say today, I kind of saw where I’ve healed and where I’ve grown and where I still have some work to do. As much said, we can’t forgive others without first realizing that we’ve been forgiven. Ephesians 4:32 says.

32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you[a] in Christ.

Ephesians 4:32 CSB

Forgiveness is hard enough when it’s one person, but it can feel more daunting when it’s an entire church. When it’s the church that was supposed to love you as Jesus does, and you feel like they’ve let you down. The church that was supposed to encourage you, support you, protect you, and I became the one to cast stones. And ultimately you feel like they cast you out. That was a tough pill to swallow. And walking away was quite possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I often wondered if I was the one in the wrong or if something was wrong with me. But now I can see that it was part of God’s plan in growing me and stretching me and getting me to where I needed to be in my journey. Forgiveness can be easier when people admit that they’re wrong or they ask for your forgiveness. But sometimes, and especially with church hurt, people believe they’re in the right. They believe they’re doing what God wanted them to do. And so I had to come to the realization that I may never get that apology because they believed they were in the right. But I had to forgive because I couldn’t hang on to that pain anymore. I had to let it go. Because as Bunch said earlier, sometimes that forgiveness journey is more about your heart than it is about theirs. I had to forgive, so I didn’t and hang on to that ill will, that hatred, those hard feelings or resentments. If I wanted to be able to love them like Jesus, then I’m in for giving them even though they didn’t ask for it.

The last thing I’ve learned is that forgiveness is not a linear process. It doesn’t really have a start line and a finish line. I think it’s a lifelong journey. Most days I’m doing just fine, but every once in a while I’ll see something or hear something that brings up a bad memory or a feeling. And I’ve learned to just pick those up, pack them with me, and go on my way. And I’ve got to give myself a little bit of grace. Just like I give grace to those that I’m still learning to forgive. You got to keep going. You got to keep trying. So maybe today you have someone that you need to start a forgiveness journey with. Or maybe you’re like me and that someone is a whole church just now. Wherever you are, whoever it is, it’s okay. It’s okay if you want to start today. It’s okay if you’ve been carrying that hurt around for years. But I promise you’ll feel a lot lighter if you can lay it down. And now that I’ve publicly told all of you that I’ve been running and hiding from you. If you want someone to talk to you about your forgiveness journey, I would love to talk to you. And I will not run and hide anymore. Thank you all!

Pastor Brandon: I mean, isn’t that so good? I mean, because some of you you’ve been sitting here this whole morning, and you’ve heard the words of Jesus, you’ve heard my forgiveness story, and you still be skeptical. Can I actually let this go? Can I actually move on? Even to the point that some of you maybe have hurt in the one place you thought you would never be hurt, never Majeure by Stacy’s story that God can give you freedom, that God can release you, that God can change your heart and help you start the journey of forgiveness. And I believe today, as I’ve been talking this entire time, that situation in that very specific situation has been stirred up inside of you. When I brought up Max’s name, you thought of your person. You thought of your situation. You thought of your heartbreak and your heartache. And I believe there are many of you here. You just need to take one step. You just need to start. You just need to get back on the journey. Or you need to start the journey. Let’s start moving in the direction that God has called all of us to. And so this morning, I’ve made it really simple. I’ve given you four steps that you can take today. Take this week. To help you start loving like Jesus. Start your journey in your process of forgiving.

The first thing that I believe some of you need to do is you just need to ADMIT. You need to Admit that You have a Heart of Unforgiveness. See, some of you, you’re like, No, it’s not me. Some of you, you make those sly jokes when there’s an opportunity about the things that people have done in your life. Oh, I’ve let it go. I’m not worried about it anymore. I’ve forgiven them. But then you make a remark. You make a joke. You’re like, I’ve let them go. You just got to be honest with yourself this morning. The truth is, God knows it, and you know it. You’ve got to let it go. You’ve had a heart of unforgiveness. You just need to approach God in his throne room this week. You just need to make time, to be honest. See some of you. 

You need to take the step and you need to begin to Pray for your Offenders.Need to begin to pray for your offenders. I think that there is nothing more humbling than praying for your enemies. Pray for those that have hurt you. And some of you this morning, you need to start praying that prayer, and you might be like me. I prayed for ten years, ten years over max because my heart was that hard towards him. My mind was that cow sort of. And so I want to encourage you. You might start praying, and you might not mean it right away, but you just need to keep praying. You just need to keep praying, and you need to pray for your friend. There’s just like Jesus said, you need to love your enemies. And what does it look like to love them? You need to pray for them. 

See, some of you need to take the step and you need to Ask God to Help you, Forgive a Person, and Let Loose your Fears. You just need to go back to that prayer that we just prayed, and you need to ask God that he would give you a heart of forgiveness to finally let them go, to finally let them loose because you’ve had a tight grip on that situation and on that person for such a long time. As I said, it took me ten years to release Max. Took me ten years. So I don’t know what your journey looks like. But I can tell you, the longer that you stay in it, the more tired and the more exhausted you become. Some of you need to pray that prayer. And let me just encourage you. I’m going to say something tough, but you need to stop making excuses. You need to stop making excuses that you can’t pray that prayer because in your mind, well, they hurt me. Too bad they went too far. But this is the reason why I can’t pray. This is the reason why I can’t go to the Lord in prayer. Do you know what they have done to me? You see, they start making excuses. Because, again, the journey of forgiveness is not for them. It’s for you. So some of you need to ask God to help you forgive and to let loose your offenders. Some of you, you need to take God at his word. And what do I mean by that? Some of you guys. You Need to Take God at his Word

Because you’ve been on this journey just like I was, and you’ve grown tired, and you’ve grown weary, and you’re exhausted, and you’re like, God, will you actually let this pass? Are you actually going to help me let this go? Is that actually possible for me? Like, I hear stories of people being able to forgive and to let go and move on and love like Jesus. But it doesn’t seem real to me. Some of you, you take God at his word. You go home this week to open up your Bible, and you need to remind yourself of the promises and the truth that God has said over you and over me. You need to be reminded that it is not in your timing. But it is in God’s timing. Some of you need to take God at his word.

So I just want to invite you right now, just about your head where you’re at. Just want you to buy your head. You don’t have to close your eyes. But I want you to think about your situation. And I believe fully many of you, you’ve been thinking about that situation already. You’ve been thinking about that person. You’ve been thinking about that church, that group of people that have hurt you. This week. Today, you just need to take a step. You just need to take a step in the right direction. Some of you just need to admit this week, you’re just seeing that you’ve had an unforgiving heart. Some of you, you just need to start praying for that person. You might not feel it right now, but you just need to start. Some of you just need to ask God to help, give your heart forgiveness, and finally let your grip loose on that person. Some of you just need to be reminded of God’s truth and its promises in your life and take him at his word that he is as faithful as he’s always had been and always will be. So this morning, I’m just going to pray over you. And as I pray. I want you to think about that person. I want you to think about that situation. I want you to think about that one step that you know you need to take this week. And we’re just going to pray that God would give you the courage and the strength and the energy and the ability to take the step in the right direction.

Father, we came to you this morning. And God, we just pray right now for the people that just need to admit they need to be honest. God, they’ve been joking around it. They make jokes about it all the time. They act like it’s no big deal. They act as if they’ve moved on to God. But their heart has been calloused. Their mind, their body, and their soul are tired of carrying this way. And God, I just pray that this week that, God, would you give them the ability to be honest, that God the safest place to go and to be honest is in your arms. So, God, I just pray for the people who just need to be fully honest that God, a lot of times that omitting is the first step of the process. God. I pray for those who need to pray for their offenders. God, this was the hardest step for me, and I can only imagine situations that are far worse than mine. And God, I just pray that you would give us the heart and the strength to start praying for that person. God, we might not mean it right away, but God, it might be difficult right away. But God, I pray that we would just keep going, that we would keep praying. It says in everything to keep praying to God. We would just keep praying for our person. God.

I pray that for the people this week, they just need to ask that you would give them a heart of forgiveness and that God, you would help them let loose the person in their life that got some people in this room. They didn’t pray that prayer with me, and that’s okay. But God, they need to go back this week, and they need to find a place and a quiet place to go pray that prayer that God, you would give them the heart and the ability. To start praying so they can let loose of that person in their life and God, for maybe many of us. We’ve been on this journey for a long time. God, I pray that we would be reminded that we can take you at your word that God, you are faithful to God, you are truly a God. You are consistent. You are honest. You are faithful from age to age. And so, God, I pray this morning that you would remind us of that this week and the guy that we would not be lazy about it, but the guy, we would approach your word with an open heart and an open mind, and God, we would be able to to receive and be ready to receive what you have for us. Got to prove to all these people that God would help them walk and strength and comfort, that God would give them joy, and you would give them peace this week as they start and move into their journey of forgiveness. We say this in your name Jesus. Amen.