|February 22, 2015
David writes, “Look upon mine affliction and my pain: and forgive all my sins”. Psalms 25:18 and the apostle John writes, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9. Forgiveness is one of the cornerstones of christianity. For the christian, forgiveness is more than just an amenity. Our salvation is based on the fact that God promises to forgive all of our sins. If we are willing to confess and repent of our sins, He will forgive us of our sins. When the sinner comes to Christ, God looks at him as if he never sinned. This is only possible because Jesus Christ took our sins and paid the penalty that we deserve. When we accept Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, he will set us free from the guilt and condemnation that sin brings to us. (See Romans 8:1)
Ironically, forgiveness is something that many professed christians struggle with. The reason for this is the sinful human nature that we all have. (See Romans 7:13-25) The converted and unconverted will have this nature until the second coming. Becoming a christian does not take away our human nature but the good news is that through Christ we can overcome this nature.
Many christians wrestle with forgiveness on two levels. First, many people have a hard time accepting the forgiveness that God offers us. They go through the steps of confessing yet they still don’t feel forgiven. We cannot base our experience merely on how we feel. We need to believe that God has forgiven us because He promised to. We, by faith, take God at His word. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” Isaiah 1:18
Secondly, many are not willing to forgive others. Jesus said, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14,15. Yes, confession and repentance are requirements of salvation, but forgiving others is also a condition for accepting God’s forgiveness. Many people are doing good things like feeding the poor, attending church, and striving for honesty and purity. Although these are good deeds and related to the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22,23), unless we are willing to forgive others, God will not forgive us. Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:22,23.
Forgiving others can be a very difficult experience. When someone has wronged you, it can be very hurtful and difficult. Of course, some things are easier than others. If someone that you don’t know is rude to you, usually it’s not difficult to forgive. If you are betrayed by someone that you care about, it can be very hard. The are also certain evil acts and atrocities that can be very difficult to deal with. Regardless of the wrong, whether small or substantial, God calls us to forgive. Our own salvation is involved.
Forgiving others can be a process. First of all, we need to pray for a desire to forgive others. Then, we need to make a decision to release that person of their debt. In other words, we can no longer hold this wrong against them. If possible, we need to attempt to reconcile with this person. Reconciliation is not always possible, but we need to do what we can. It is also a good practice, when possible, to communicate forgiveness to the other person. In all this, we need to allow God to bring healing and restoration in our hearts. “Come unto me, all ye that: labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
|February 17, 2015|
|Passing the Baton|
|We live in exciting yet perilous times. All of the signs point to the fact that we are living in the last days of earth’s history. With this in mind, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is facing a crisis. As a matter of fact, all the different churches and denominations are facing the same crisis. Studies have shown that most young people who grew up going to church are no longer attending when they become adults. There are different numbers and percentages but some studies show that close to 70% of young people who grew up going to church no longer attend. Some will return, praise the Lord, but most will not.
We at the Pewee Valley Seventh-day Adventist church believe in investing in our young people. We know that there are ways the church can keep our young people around. First of all, we believe in strengthening the family. Grounded, spiritual families, along with an active church family, have proven to be effective. We also have an active youth group and good Sabbath School programs that focus on training our children and young people to love and serve the Lord. We also believe in Christian education. Our school has affected so many different families and lives throughout the years. One young man, who is currently pastoring the Midwest, reflects with appreciation the time he attended our Junior Academy. “PVJA was such a good school! I really appreciate the opportunity I had to attend a Christian school as I was growing up.” It has cultivated many teachers and church members who have come back to lead here at home.
Studies have also proven that simply entertaining our children and young people does not keep them in the church. We believe in passing the gospel baton. We believe that one of the best things that the church can do for our youth is to teach and train them for service! Our school, our youth group, and our church really do focus on getting our young people involved in ministry. Conducting services at a nursing homes and volunteering at an orphanage are just some of the ways our children and young people are involved. During our worship services, we involve our youth on the platform and other duties like ushering etc. Training our young people! This is what we have been instructed to do by the word of God. For evidence of this, see Proverbs 22:6 and Titus 2:1-7.
Our Pewee Valley church is headed in the right direction with this endeavor, yet we need to continue to grow and improve. Pray for our young people, pray for our families, pray for our school and pray for our church! May many souls be saved for God’s kingdom as the Holy Spirit works through our witness and effort!
by Pastor John Johnston
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