Today we are continuing in our series on the Lord’s Prayer: Spiritual Sustainability. You’ve been hearing the word sustainability, that new go green word that talks about you know anything that’s sustainable from fabric to architecture to foods to anything, and it means something that can be renewed and continue to grow, that is sustainable.
Well don’t we want that for our spirits as well? To be spiritually sustained? And the trick to that is, the secret is found in the Lord’s Prayer. There are principles in the Lord’s Prayer that will give you spiritual sustainability. And so today is number four in a series of five and let me just review for those of you who haven’t heard them, and even if you have, lots has happened between there.
We begin the Lord’s Prayer with praise. “Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed, hallowed be Your name.” Praise. Beginning your praise, beginning your day and continuing throughout the day, living and praying with a God can do anything attitude.
And then move on to permission, giving God permission. Those tug of wars, those clash of wills. But ultimately we talk about Thy will be done, my will versus God’s will. I can give God permission. I can say to Him Thy will be done with my life. And so we pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,” in my life “on earth as it is in heaven,” and we say what are You up to today, Lord? I want to be a part of it. So praise, permission and then we have petition. And Jesus said “Give us this day our daily bread.” It doesn’t say give us this day our day old, moldy, stale bread, but give us this day our fresh from the oven artisan bread. God says ask and it will be given to you.
So praise, permission, petition. Today we get to pardon. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” And I’ve brought with me today to help illustrate this Sunday’s message, this is a restoration bucket is what I call it. I’ll put it right here. And I have lots of little illustrations in there on how this verse works. Two parts to this. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” First part, and again the order is really important. Asking for forgiveness, and the second part is giving forgiveness.
And that’s why I love the fact that you pray the Lord’s Prayer every day. Every day you praise God. Every day you give Him permission, every day you ask Him for what you need for today. And every day, you do your housecleaning in your soul and in your relationship with God and with other people. And you do it by asking for forgiveness; pardon, pardon.
You know one of our biggest fears is the fear of failure. I truly believe that and you’ve heard dad and others talk about the fear of failure: failure to live up to your potential, the fear of failure to do the right thing, failure to pay what you owe other people, to pay your debts, failing your family, friends, failing God. How many of you have ever dealt with the fear of failure? I have. I have, I do. And yet you know I have to tell you every single one of us have already failed. Every one of us will fail. Probably we fail a little bit every single day. And you say Sheila, that isn’t the positive message. Oh yes it is because what if I were to give to you the antidote for failure. What if I gave you the antidote for the fear of failure? Would you love to have that, the antidote to failure, to the fear of failure? Well its right here in the Lord’s Prayer. The antidote to failure is forgiveness. Forgiveness. Jesus gives us the antidote.
And you may think oh I failed. Oh, I wasn’t successful like I wanted to be. And I want you to know you’re in good company if you feel that way. You know, King David was known as one of the greatest kings, if not the greatest earthly king to ever walk this earth. Remember, he was the little shepherd boy who took on the big giant Goliath and he built this great big empire for God. And David is revered; people talk about him as this wonderful, successful king. Oh to be a David, right? And yet David failed. Let me tell you about David, how he failed. Here he was as a king and back then this was okay. He had multiple wives and he had multiple concubines, many beautiful women that were his. And yet, he looked and he saw this one woman, Bathsheba and thought wow, she’s good looking. He desired her. But she was married to Uriah, another man, a soldier in David’s army. And when Uriah was away, David took her. He took her and she got pregnant. Now wouldn’t this make headline news in the newspaper that the king took somebody else’ wife while the husband was away and got her pregnant. Would you say that that’s a failure on David’s part? Absolutely. He failed God, he failed his country, and he failed Bathsheba and he failed Uriah.
So what was his response? What do you think he did? He continued to fail because when he found out that Bathsheba was pregnant, he decided to cover up his failure. Now have any of you ever tried to cover up your failure? Or do you know anybody else who’s tried to cover up a failure? Absolutely yes.
But what David did was he sent Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, to the front lines where he knew he would be killed. In essence, he murdered Uriah to cover up his adultery. So here he is, this great king David, who has committed adultery and now covered it up with murder. A failure. And yet the bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart, and when Nathan the prophet came to David and he said David, look what you have done, David said oh. This is why David was a man after God’s own heart. David said, yes, I failed. Yes, I messed up. So Father, forgive me. And he wrote this beautiful Psalm, Psalm 51. If you ever feel like you’ve failed, this is David’s Psalm because the antidote for failure is forgiveness. And he wrote “Have mercy on me, oh God. Have mercy on me. Because of Your unfailing love, because of Your compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sins and I will be clean. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.”
Next time you feel like you’ve failed or maybe today you feel like you’ve failed, I want you to know that that’s just a sign that you’re alive. That’s just a sign that you are a child of God and all you need to do, the antidote for failure and fear of failure is forgiveness. And when we say God forgive me, He cleans our heart. He’s the great Mr. Clean, if you want to ask me.
I hate debt. I do hate debt, personal debt especially, and I bet you, most of you have debt of some sort or another, either to a credit card or a car payment or a mortgage or maybe student loans for your child. And wouldn’t you love to just be able to take this pink pearl eraser and erase that debt once and for all and get rid of it? This bible verse says forgive us our debts, forgive us our debts. Wipe us off, clean up that heart, make me whiter than snow, oh Lord. And God will do that. It’s a gift. You don’t have to pay for it, when you accept it, there’s no monthly payments. It’s just a gift. No interest accrued, it’s just a gift.
The first part of the Lord’s Prayer is where we ask God to forgive us, to clean us up, to clean our hearts, and the second part is we ask God to help mend and fix our relationships with others. We take the give-ness that we’ve been given from God, we accept that forgiveness that we’ve been given by God and we give it on to others who hurt us.
When Jesus was asked how many times am I supposed to forgive my brother, most of you have heard this. Am I supposed to forgive him seven times? And Jesus said no, you’re supposed to forgive him seventy times seven. That’s how many times you’re supposed to forgive him. And many, many more times, but beyond that, Jesus didn’t stop there in that passage. He went on and told this parable. There was a master who had a servant. And the servant owed his master ten thousand talents, a lot of money. And the master called the servant in and he said to him, the master said to the servant, you owe me this money, now I want you to pay me. And the servant didn’t have the money. He couldn’t pay his debt. And the master said, where’s the money? The servant said, I don’t have it. I don’t have it. And the master finally, he said to him, if you don’t pay me back every penny, you, your wife and your children will be my slaves. You will work off your debt. I don’t care how long it takes you; probably take you the rest of your life. You will be my slaves for life. No longer will you be my servant where I pay you, you will be my slave.
Well the servant bowed before the master and he said please, please, please have mercy on me, he said to the master. Forgive me my debt. Forgive me my debt. Well the master did, he showed him mercy and he forgave him completely. He said because you’ve asked for mercy, I’m going to give you mercy, you may go. You’re completely forgiven and off went the servant. Free. Imagine. He returned home and he was looking at his own books and he realized that one of his sub servants, who worked for him, owed him a hundred denarii, not near as many as ten thousand talents. And so he called his sub servant in and he said you owe me money. I want it right now, I want it right now. In fact, it says in the bible he took him by the neck and choked him and said give me my money, pay me back immediately. And the sub servant said, I don’t have it, I don’t have the money.
So what do you think this servant did, who had been graciously forgiven, his debt erased by his master, what kind of response do you think he had for this man who owed him money? He threw him in jail. He threw him in jail. Well, Jesus said, God has forgiven you. He has completely forgiven you. He has erased your debt. You don’t owe Him a thing. And all He asks for you in return is to take that forgiveness and give it to others who will hurt you, who will hurt you.
So we ask for forgiveness, and we give forgiveness. That is the antidote for all of our failures in life, and especially our failure in relationships. And yes there is many of you who have either strained relationships or you have ruptured relationships and the antidote for that is forgiveness.
Well I also have in here, I have this trowel. And this trowel is in my restoration bucket because it says in Hebrews 12, see to it that no one misses the grace of God, and that no bitter root grows up to trouble and defile many. Meaning, bitterness. Ooo bitterness. Bitterness. Bitter root. If you’re not careful, if you, like dad likes to say, nurse and rehearse those hurts and you go oh I have every right to feel mad. I have every right to feel angry. I have every right to feel resentful and you probably do. And I have every right to be bitter. Be careful because that bitter root will just wrap its tentacles around your heart, and choke the love and the joy right out of you. Bitterness is a spiritual and an emotional cancer. And so we say God, take Your trowel and lovingly, carefully, tenderly dig out that bitter root from my heart.
I want to ask you how you would feel if this was your experience. Imagine someone murdered your entire family. Imagine that someone broke into your home and before your eyes, you saw your children tortured, you saw your husband murdered and you were raped. And that murderer was captured, put in jail and then the warden sets him free, gives him pardon and says go home. And he moves in right next door to you. You see him walk his dog. You see him when you go to the grocery store. You see him when you wash your car. How would you feel? Wouldn’t that be hard? Wouldn’t that be hard? Forgiveness? Forgiveness? Sheila, you say you want me to forgive him?
That is exactly what happened in Rwanda with the genocide in 1994. Nearly a million people were tortured and killed. There are forty thousand murderers were thrown in jail and then they were pardoned and they were released and they lived, they were their neighbors. And do you know that the country of Rwanda is teaching the rest of the world how to forgive. As we forgive. They’re learning to forgive and this is what the bishop of Rwanda has said: A murderer able to accept forgiveness? Impossible! A victim of such atrocities able to give forgiveness? Impossible. But remember, men and women, that what is humanly impossible, with God all things are possible. The grace there in Rwanda, he says there is no greater grace than the grace that is in Rwanda and that grace comes from the cross of Jesus Christ.
When there are people who hurt me, and you know through the day, I go through the day and every now and then somebody will say something that hurts my feelings. Any of you ever have that? And right away you kind of go ouch, oh, ah! And you kind of harbor a little (NNN) towards them. But I have trained myself, most of the time to think, you know what, Jesus, this is what comes to mind. Jesus hanging on a cross, people down there below Him, what did He do? What did He do to deserve that? Did He deserve to have nails pounded into His hands? Pounded into His feet? Did He deserve that? No. And yet He looked down on these same people, who did that to Him. And He said Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
And so when I get those little twinges and those little hurts, I think of that and I immediately say Father, I forgive them. They know not what they do. So much of hurt, so much of hurt, so much of it resentment, so much of fractured relationships with our Heavenly Father and with others come from broken hurts. And so I want to ask you, what would you do? What would you use to mend a broken heart? So let’s see, I know my husband. These are his tools. But would you use a hammer and a nail to mend a broken heart? Would you? Actually, that is exactly what God used to mend our broken hearts. He used a hammer and a nail. A hammer and a nail, hammers pounded nails into the hands of Jesus. A hammer pounded nails into the feet of Jesus because God wanted to mend your broken heart. He wants to mend your broken relationships. He loves you this much that He would send His son to die so we can have mended, we can be pardoned, our debts can be paid when we pray forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Please stand with me, let us close in prayer. And we’re going to do our hand motions like we’ve been doing so we remember. It helps us remember through the week, so we start with praise, right? Hands up, faces lifted up and with Crystal Cathedral gusto, repeat after me: Our Father, Who art in heaven (Our Father Who art in heaven). A little more gusto. Hallowed be Thy name (Hallowed be Thy name). Now we’re going to do permission. Take your hands down and open them up. Thy kingdom come (Thy kingdom come) Thy will be done (Thy will be done) on earth as it is in heaven (on earth as it is in heaven). Now we put them together in petition and we ask Him, give us this day our daily bread (give us this day our daily bread) and Lord, we ask not for day old, moldy, stale bread, but for daily bread.
And now we’re going to do the pardon and this is American sign language for Jesus; you just put a nail in the hand. Repeat after me: Forgive us our debts (forgive us our debts) as we forgive our debtors (as we forgive our debtors). Lord, I ask You today to forgive me (Lord, I ask You today to forgive me). Forgive me for thinking I don’t need You (Forgive me for thinking I don’t need You). Forgive me for holding grudges (Forgive me for holding grudges). Forgive me for hurting that person I really do love (Forgive me for hurting that person I really do love). Amen (Amen).