Partnership with Jesus

Scripture: John 15:4, Mark 1:21-35, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Date: 03/26/2011 
Lesson: 13
A strong connection to God through prayer, worship and church fellowship can overcome many of the emotional obstacles the world brings us.
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath to you this morning as you're joining us to worship. We can all worship together. What a blessing. A very special welcome to you that are joining us here in our sanctuary this morning, those that faithfully come every week. We have some visitors this morning.

A truly special welcome to you that are joining us from across the country and around the world this morning, live on the internet streaming, through radio, television. However you're joining us, I know that you will be blessed. And so, this morning we're going to begin by singing together "joyful, joyful, we adore thee," hymn number 12. And this comes as a request from clinomn, gayle, and ilja in australia; ginalyn in denmark, Joel in florida; maisie, karl, pascal, martine, denis, and helen in France; marc and nina in Iowa; shavanie in jamaica; tina in Montana; bonnie in new zealand; chiemela in nigeria; jamie, jenny, sandie in vern, North Carolina; courine in st. Vincent and the grenadines; ebenezer in the ukraine; adesh, sherace, and Simon in the united kingdom; Christa and raymond in Virginia; eileen in Washington; and lisa and muyunda in zambia.

Hymn number 12, the joy-- excuse me, "joyful, joyful, we adore thee." And we are gonna do all three verses... If you have a special hymn, a favorite hymn that you would like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath, I invite you to go to our web site at Click on the contact us link and there you can request any hymn in our hymnal, as always. And we would love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. Our next hymn is "he hideth my soul," hymn number 520.

This actually is--comes from one of my favorite stories in the Bible, where Moses is hidden in the rock and he wants to see God. And he covers him with his hand. It is one of my favorite stories, so I love this song. It comes as a request from loreen, noreen, and stuart in australia; birdie and ralph in the bahamas; jen and eric in California; dudz in Canada; nadica and zlatko in croatia; byrna, remy, and jess in florida; erna in jamaica; hazel in japan; joyann and virla in New York; bonnie and grace in new zealand; allwell and anozie nne. Ojinka, okeorji, olive, and shola in nigeria; John in Oklahoma; angelus, cheche, jose, and legesse in Philippines; terrence in the russian federation; jenny in South Dakota; melanie in taiwan; Paul in Texas; remy, rose in thailand; racquel in united arab emirates; melvin, phil, and joy in the united kingdom; nelly in uruguay; joe in Wisconsin; and maila in zambia.

Hymn number 520, "he hideth my soul." We will sing the first, the second, and the last verse... Our Father in Heaven, thank you so much that we have come before you to worship on your special day. We thank you for the gift of the Sabbath, that we can just put our troubles behind and we can just rest at your feet and we can soak in your goodness and your loving kindness. We just thank you for the opportunity we have to listen to Your Words and to apply them to our lives, that we can be shining lights for you. So Lord, just cover us in the rock.

Go with us. Enlighten each one of us that we can be more loving and more kind and just better reflections of who you want us to be so that we can hasten your coming. Thank you for pastor steve this morning and your message that he's gonna bring to us. And Lord, we just love you and we are so looking forward to your coming. And we just can't wait to see you.

We pray these things in your name, Jesus, amen. Our lesson study this morning will be brought to us by pastor steve allred, and he is the youth pastor here at Sacramento central. Good morning. Happy Sabbath. Today, our free offer is "Christ's human nature," a little booklet that you can call in to the number on your screen for.

The number is 1-866-788-3966 for the free offer, a little book entitled "Christ's human nature." We're finishing up our quarterly here, "Jesus wept: the Bible and human emotions." And we're talking about kind of what it all means to be a Christian emotionally, the fun aspect, the emotional aspect, you could say, of being a Christian. Sometimes we don't like to talk about that as much because no, no, no, Christianity is about gritting your teeth and just doing it, right? But wait a minute, does God promise that he'll give us joy in this process as well? Does he promise to give us peace in this whole journey called Christianity as well? Hey, he didn't say it would be easy, did it--did he? But he did promise to give us peace. He said he would help us to actually be able to have joy in the midst of our trials. And so today we're talking about that, how it all comes together here at the end of the quarter, and what it all means. Partnership with Jesus.

You know, if Christianity is like climbing a skyscraper sometimes, if it is that thrill, that rush, it also involves sometimes some fear, doesn't it? But Jesus is right there with us all the time. That's the good part, isn't it? And so today we're going to talk about five things. Number one, prayer and Bible study, otherwise known as spiritual disciplines, right? Spending time with God. Secondly, worship. Thirdly, the practice of forgiveness.

Fourthly, the Spirit of service, or service to others. And then finally, hope and trust. Now, I hope that you studied your Sabbath school lesson this week. I won't ask you if you did, but I know you did. Mark 1, let's go there.

Mark 1:21-35. We're going to talk about Jesus here today. We're going to read a story about how Jesus stayed close to his father. Mark 1 and we're going to read verses 21 through 35 in a moment here. Actually, we'll read part of that, not the whole thing.

Now, the amazing part of this story that jumps out at me is that Jesus is God. He came down from heaven, he became a human being, and yet, as a human being and yet fully God at the same time, he still felt his need to pray, to spend time in prayer with his father. If Jesus felt that way, how much more should we feel that way? Do you agree? If Jesus felt the need to spend time in prayer, how much more should we as weak, fallible human beings feel that same need to pray? And so the story goes like this. It starts in verse 21. The Bible says, "they went in capernaum.

" This is Mark 1:21. "And immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and began to teach." So wherever Jesus went, there were crowds of people. He could barely, you know, get a bite to eat. That's how busy he was. And so as he is teaching the people, the story goes that there's a demon-possessed man that comes on in and Jesus cast the demon out of him.

People were amazed. Now the rabbis and the pharisees had told them, "hey, listen, you know, this is not good. You shouldn't be--he shouldn't be healing people on Sabbath." And so the people wait until after sundown and then the Bible says they bring all of their sick to Jesus. Go to verse 32. "And when evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed.

" Verse 33, "and the whole city had gathered at the door. And he healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who he was." So here he is, casting out demons after sundown. And Ellen white gives us a little insight here. She says, "it went on until late in the evening." And in the Bible pretty much implies that, that it went on until late that evening. But look what happens in verse 35.

"Early the next morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there." You know, I don't know about you, but if I've had a long day--sometimes Sabbaths are long days for pastors, believe it or not. We--Sunday morning, you're like, "boy, day to sleep in," right? Get up the next--you don't want to get up at, you know, 7 o'clock. Actually, tomorrow morning I've got to get up pretty early because we're taking pathfinders to a little pine car derby race. I don't know if you know what that is, but it's an exciting event. So anyway, but if I've had a long day, if you've had a long day, what do we like to do usually if we can, on the weekend especially? Sleep in, right? Take some time for ourselves, relax.

And so you would expect Jesus to do the same thing, but the next morning guess what he's doing? He's taking advantage of the time that he has and he's getting up early and he's gonna go and seek God. Now, I'm not here to tell you today that it's wrong to take some time off because that's not what Jesus is trying to tell us here, but I love this example because he realized that in the times when maybe he was the weakest physically, when he felt the tiredness, that's when he needed God the most, right? And that's when we need God the most too. Isn't that correct? Look what happened here. It says in the lesson, it says that must have been an exhausting day for Jesus. However, he did not sleep late the next morning.

He needed to be in communion with his father, so he got up before dawn, went to a solitary place, and spent time in prayer. Now, it used to be in my life--I'm just going to be honest with you today. I used to pray and it would last for about 5 minutes because i--it seemed like I usually did it at the end of the day and then I would go to sleep. You know what I'm saying? My prayers kind of put me to sleep. And I realized something was wrong with that.

I thought, "you know, I need to be praying more. I just don't know how to stay awake." You know? You kneel down and pray, and the next thing you know, you're just--you wake up a little while later and you've been sleeping for a while. And so I thought, "you know, something's got to change here." And so I'll tell you something that's worked for me in my prayer life. Two things, actually. One thing was that--prayer walking.

That was one thing that worked really well for me and it still does. I don't do it as much because I found another way that also I enjoy praying. But going out on a walk with God and just talking to him, spending time walking. Can't fall asleep that way, right? Keeps your mind alert. And believe it or not, I think God really enjoys it.

The Bible says Enoch walked and talked with God. Isn't that right? So it's biblical. Take a walk with God if you can't stay awake, if you're tired at the end of a busy day. If you can get away, take a walk around the neighborhood and just spend some time praying with God. It doesn't have to be out loud.

It could just be in your mind. God can read our thoughts. And it's biblical that we can pray in our hearts. Nehemiah did it, right? Says he was standing before the King and he sent up a prayer to God, "God, help me." Nothing out loud. We can pray and God can hear us even when we don't speak.

Something else that has really helped me with my devotional time, because I like this example of Jesus, is that if I can set my alarm clock the night before and say, "you know what? Tomorrow morning, I'm gonna get up at this time and the first thing I'm going to do is spend that first hour with Jesus." Now, maybe you don't have an hour. Maybe you've got a half an hour. That's okay. Start out with whatever you've got, but say, "I'm gonna spend that first part of my day with Jesus." Because what I've found in my life is that if I don't do it the first thing in the morning, what happens is, I don't know, I think it's the devil because other things just start to pile up and it just doesn't happen. It gets pushed off until the end of the day and then there I am, finding myself about ready to doze off as I'm having my time with God.

First thing in the morning. Now, I used to have a prayer list and my prayer list consisted of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper with, you know, numbered names on the list in size 10 font or something like that. And what I found is that, as I would look at the list, it would kind of get blurry. You know, at what point--where did I leave off there, God? You know, and you start kind of getting bored with it. And for me, what has helped me with that, if you want to pray for people, something that's helped me is I've taken 3x5 cards, and on those 3x5 cards I've written down about four or five names on each card and then I just leaf through the cards and pray for the people individually as I'm doing that.

It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me like interested in what's going on. I can pray for different groups of people at any one--you know, at the same time. And I find that is a way to kind of keep me focused on what I'm doing instead of getting lost in a long list. One other thing too that has really helped me with my morning devotions is something that I know I shared a few months ago in a sermon.

In the back of my Bible, I tape a Bible reading plan. And I don't know about you, but have you ever started to read your Bible and then the next day, you're reading along and you're like, "wait, where was I yesterday here? Okay, well, here's my bookmark." Oh, but then maybe you want to read--you read something else. You know, you jumped around. And pretty soon you're kind of just reading this little bits and pieces here and there. You ever found that happening to you? And I found that not very fulfilling spiritually.

Kind of the hometown buffet style of Bible study, you know? Little bits and pieces here and there. What I found really fulfilling, though, is to have a plan where I am going to read through the Bible in a certain way. And you can--there's different plans out there. You can go on the internet. You can find them.

One that works for me is to read through it chronologically or read through just the new testament or certain books in the new testament. You can check them off as you go through and that way you know where you've been. And if you're a goal-oriented person like I am--i think a lot of people are goal-oriented. It gives you something to work towards as well. And you can see where you've been.

Lots of ways to enrich our devotional lives so that they don't just become something that we put off till the end of the day, something that is just another thing among many that we do, but something that can--things that can really enrich that time with God. Think about it. Ask God, say, "God, what can I do to make my devotional time with you even better than it is?" But I want to challenge you. Like the Bible says, put God first. Seek first his kingdom.

And I think that also means chronologically first sometimes. Put him first in the day and God will bless you. He'll bless your day and he'll bless your devotional life. Well, we move on in our lesson. The Bible tells us that Jesus had a habit.

So looking at our next day's lesson, Monday's lesson, we're talking about worship. Go to the book of Luke 4. The book of Luke 4. The Bible says in Luke 4:16, you probably know this one by heart, it says, "and Jesus, as his," what, everybody? "His custom was." Now, custom is something you do all the time. It's something--it's a habit.

And by the way, habits are good in the Christian life, aren't they? Sometimes it takes a while. I was talking to the young people at our youth group last night, our vespers, and we were talking about this, about how, when you start to pray, sometimes it is not that fulfilling. At least I found it, when I first started to really get serious about prayer, I was just like, "nothing's happening here. I mean, I don't really feel anything. I don't feel like God's doing anything.

" But stick with it. Stick with it. Keep doing it because God says, "listen, you seek me with all your heart and you'll find me." That's a promise, right? So stick with it. Don't give up. Make it a habit.

Jesus had a habit of going to church on Sabbath. Habits are good. Good habits are good. Isn't that right? His habit was to go to church. And the lesson brings out this point.

I think it's vital for us as Christians to realize that we can't be Christians on our own. We can't just be like, "yep, I'm going to be the one lone Christian out here." Now, yes, will there be times when God calls us to stand alone? Absolutely. And some of us here will be called to stand alone. In fact, all of us will if we stay true to Jesus in these last days. The Bible tells us that.

But here's the thing. While we have the opportunity, the Bible says we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Come together as believers. Is church always a fun place to be? Do churches have problems? No? I think if we're going to be honest, yeah, churches do have problems, right? Why? Because churches are composed of people. Is anyone here perfect yet? Okay, so then churches have problems, right? So the point is this, that yes, we come together as a body of believers.

Sometimes we annoy each other. You know, you might be annoyed with me. Who knows? The point is this, that we as Christians, we get together not because we're gonna get together with a bunch of perfect people who are gonna always be nice to us and everything's always gonna be perfect. Now, hopefully we're on the trajectory of being better people, being nicer people, right? Being kinder people. But as Christians, yeah, sometimes we're going to come together, but you know, it's kind of that whole, you know, stones, rocks in the tumbler concept.

We rub off on each other and hopefully we polish each other to become better, nicer, kinder, more Godly types of people. Isn't that right? And so church is not a place where we find perfect people, but it is a place where we can come together and hopefully we're all here because we're interested in the same person, and that is Jesus. And that's our main--that's what we have in common. We might have nothing else in common. In fact, have you ever thought about your friends at church before and asked yourself the question, "would I be friends with this person if I had just met them out in, you know, some random place?" Oftentimes the answer is probably not because you don't have a lot in common.

You may not have--even your personalities may not--but you come to church and there's something about the fact that we all love Jesus that we can be friends. Isn't that right? We can be friends with each other and just because of that thing that we have in common that is so, so compelling, that person that is so compelling. His name is Jesus. And so let's read 1 Corinthians. That is a passage here that they give us, 1 Corinthians 12, and it describes here--we will not read the whole chapter or half of it, but let's just breeze through a couple verses.

1 Corinthians 12:12, look what it says. "For even as the body is one." Now let's just stop for a second. Paul is using an analogy here. He's saying, "the human body is all one piece." If it's--if there's a part of your human body that's not attached to the main part, there will be problems, correct? Okay. What happens to that piece that's not attached? It dies, right, okay.

Unless it's reattached really quick, right? "So the body is one, and yet has many," what? "Members." And when he says the word members, he means parts. There are many parts to the human body, and yet the body is all one. Now, I would love to do an experiment, but we won't do it here today, not live at least. But if we were to come up--have someone come up here and I were to get someone else to come on up and let's say we had that person step on the other person's toe, would that hurt? It would hurt. But sometimes--how many of you think that if we're going to use this analogy now and apply it to the body of Christ, is the toe--is a toe on the body a really important body part? Is it? I mean, can you live without your toe? You can live without a toe, right? Okay.

So it's not vital, but here's the thing. If a toe's attached to your body and it's broken or if it's getting stomped on or if it's hurting, does the whole body hurt? Absolutely. And so this is the point I think Paul's trying to make. He's saying as Christians, we're part of a body. And when one part of the body is hurting, it's in pain, it's unhealthy, the whole body should feel the pain unless the body's on painkillers.

Sometimes I think the body's asleep, right? And we don't realize that part of us is hurting. And we don't act like we care, but we should because it's hurting the whole body, isn't it? If there is disease in one part of the body, what's eventually going to happen to the rest of the body? Eventually, there could be death, right? And so Paul gives us this very, very apt analogy here. He says, "listen, as believers, we are all part of one body." Look at verse 27. He says, "now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it." He says, "you are all part of it." Doesn't matter, though, if you're a pastor or if you're a Sabbath school teacher, if you're a deacon or if you're someone who is helping with the homeless ministry. If you're out passing out literature during the week to your friends and you're just coming to church for spiritual nourishment, whatever it is, Paul says you're an important part of the body.

Now, the problem is at a church of our size, sometimes people slip through the cracks. It's just a fact. And we're trying to figure out ways to work around that so that we can actually stay connected as a body. It's easier sometimes in a smaller group, isn't it? Because you notice if someone's not at church. Here, you know that we've got 1,800 people coming to church and sometimes it's hard to miss if someone's not there.

But as a body of believers, that should be our goal, to try to figure out how we can care for each other just like you do for your whole body. We don't dismiss a part of our body if it's hurting, do we? No. We say, "listen, how can we help it? How can we make it feel better?" And so I like what the lesson goes on to say. It says belonging to a church can be a great source of blessing. Is that true? It really can.

When--you know, I know people who have accepted the truth, they've given their lives to Jesus, and their family, their biological family, has rejected them. There's probably someone here today that that's happened to. But then they come to church and they have other believers gather around them and say, "listen, we're here for you. We believe the same thing you do. We are here to support you.

We're your family. We're your new family." And, of course, most of all, God is our father. Isn't that right? The Bible says, "when our father and our mother forsake us," who's there to pick us up? God is, right? the Lord will take us up. Now, I want to go back really quick though to this idea that church is not perfect for a second. Go to Galatians.

Galatians is a really very interesting book to read. Galatians 6 and starting in verse 1 he--Galatians is in the new testament and it is towards the end of the Bible. Galatians 6:1. Paul here writing says, "brethren, if anyone is caught in any trespass," or sin, so this is talking about within the church, "you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one of you looking to yourself so that you too will not be tempted." So we're talking about reaching out to those around us who are experiencing temptation in their lives. Now, is there a time now--we need to talk about this.

Within the church, within the context--well, let's talk about a family. You know, is there a time in a family environment for people to be held accountable? Absolutely. If there's no accountability in a family environment, what happens to the family? Chaos, right? So there needs to be accountability. Even within the church body, the church family, there has to be accountability, right? But this is how it should be done, Paul is saying. And none of us are perfect.

We probably all experienced where accountability hasn't happened in a very nice way. Or maybe we've been a part of doing accountability in an unkind way. But Paul says, "let's try to be gentle, let's be gentle with each other, because listen, we can all mess up." And so then he goes on to say in verse two, "bear one another's burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." Sometimes within the church we do need to hold each other accountable. In fact, lovingly holding each other accountable is what God calls us to do. That can be uncomfortable sometimes, can't it? And so what then can happen is what a lot of times happens in marriages.

People say, "man, this marriage is getting uncomfortable, so therefore I am going to leave." Right? That's why we have, I don't know, what, 50%, 60% divorce rate here in the United States? Unfortunately, that rate is about the same in the Christian church, and in the adventist church we're not too far behind. That's really sad, you know, statistically. I don't know what our actual statistics are in the adventist church, but it's not always really pretty. So here's the deal. If we constantly run from our problems though, if we run from being held accountable, if we run from when people hold us--when they confront us with things, and yes, it doesn't always happen the nicest way, but if we constantly run, what we're going to find is that we're just running away from a problem that could be following us into the next relationship.

Isn't that right? And then there we go. Oh yeah, find someone else, you know. They're nice and cute and pretty or whatever. We marry them and then guess what? We still have the same baggage we're carrying with us from before and so a few years down the road, it catches up with us and that's how we can go through two, three, four relationships in life, marriages, never really dealing with our issues. And so the church is a place where God says, "listen, instead of running away, let's try to work together.

Let's try to help each other grow." And sometimes that means there have to be boundaries. Let's just face it. You know, there are things that we have to say, "you know what? That's just inappropriate behavior. You can't do that. Sorry.

" That's loving. Sorry, it really is. You know, if someone else is being hurt by your behavior, that has to happen. But at the same time, how we do that again is so important. And I don't know about you, but I want to be more like Jesus in that.

Don't you? I think about how Jesus dealt with the woman caught in adultery in John 8. She messed up, right? The scribes and the pharisees obviously were involved with this, though, because they had induced her. You know, they made her do this basically, gotten her into it. They brought her to Jesus thinking, "hey, we're going to, you know, get him in trouble here." And Jesus turned the tables on them, which you know the story, and starts writing their sins on the dust and then they run away. And then what Jesus does is he holds this lady lovingly accountable.

He says, "woman, where are your accusers?" And she says, "I don't know." And he says, "has anyone accused you?" And she says, "no." He said, "listen, I want you now to go. I forgive you. I don't condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin. Sin no more.

" God holds us accountable. He says, "listen, stop sinning," right? "I'll give you the power." But the other part is that he forgives us. Isn't that right? And so we're going to talk about forgiveness right now. Let's talk about it. On the cross, Jesus is having something very painful done to him.

He's being nailed to the cross. And as the spikes are driven through his hands and his feet, what is Jesus saying? He's praying a prayer. And what is the prayer? "Father, forgive them." You know, this is powerful. Ellen white gives us a little insight here. She says that prayer, whether it could be answered, depended on the response of those whom he was praying for, okay? So here's the deal.

God never forces us to accept forgiveness, does he? But it's there for us. It's waiting and he's saying, "father, forgive these people, please. They don't know what they're doing." And, you know, we don't know what happened. Maybe some of those soldiers did repent. I hope they did.

Maybe some of those priests and pharisees and rabbis and sadducees repented. In fact, we know from the book of acts that a great number of the priests eventually gave their lives to Jesus. Maybe it was some of those who were there at the cross. But that was Jesus' attitude towards those--even those who were hurting him. I was just talking last night to a young person who was telling me about how something very painful had happened to them in life and how a number of things, a number of painful things, had happened.

And they have a lot of resentment towards someone that's close to them in their life. And you know, it's easy to give pat answers and say, "you know, you should forgive them. Jesus said, 'love your enemies.' Look at Jesus. He prayed for them--you know, for his enemies to be forgiven, right? When he's on the cross." And so I was trying to think, how do I share with this young person what the Bible's saying here and yet be sensitive? Because I haven't been through what this person's going through. I mean, it's really painful what they're describing.

And--but we talked about Jesus. We talked about Jesus, who was rejected all throughout his life. You realize that? The Bible says he was a man of sorrows. I mean, that's a pretty graphic description of someone whose life just is pretty bad, basically, right? He's a man of sorrows. He's acquainted with grief.

He knows what it's like. It says, "he was rejected by those whom he came to save." Now that's just--talk about failure. You ever been discouraged before? Man. Big time failure. And yet, somehow he had it within him to love these people.

I think that was divine. And so we can connect with that same divine love and somehow, I don't know how it's possible, but somehow we can love our enemies. And so this week I was watching on the internet a little interview with rodney king. Do you remember rodney king? Back there in 1991, I think it was, 20 years ago. Wait, two.

Was it two? Okay. I think the trial was in '92. The actual incident happened, I think, a little bit before that. And rodney king--the interview went like this. The tv reporter said, "how do you feel 20 years later?" He said, "well, still remember it.

Still have nightmares. Still wake up in the middle of the night feeling like, you know, someone's kicking me in the head or thinking or dreaming this might happen." And then the interviewer asked the question, he said--and of course, do you--you know the rodney king story. He was driving down the freeway and then I guess he was driving a little fast or erratically and so the police started to chase him and the high speed chase went 100 miles an hour through l.a. Neighborhoods and all over the place and finally he decided it was time to pull over and try to get out and run. And then the cops stopped him and beat him and it was caught on videotape and just a terrible situation.

So obviously rodney king realizes, "hey, I've made some mistakes," you know? But what happened to him was very unjust and it was something that, of course, sparked riots down there in l.a. As well for quite a few days after that, after the verdict was given. So here, rodney king, it's 20 years later, I was watching him and he looks like a distinguished man at this point in his life. You know, you look at this guy, here he went through this terrible ordeal, and yet he's come through this. And they asked him, they said, "we're you able to forgive those policemen who were kicking you in the head and beating you with their batons and just, you know, abusing you for who knows how long there on the ground?" And he said, "yeah.

" I thought, "wow, that's--" and they said, "no animosity whatsoever?" And his response was, "why should i? What good would it do?" I thought, "you know, that's a mature attitude." Isn't it? It's a mature attitude. And regardless of, you know--to me, it's just like here this guy is, he's experienced this, and a lot of people would say, "I'm going to carry that around with me. I'm going to hate cops for the rest of my life," right? He's like, "you know, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to forgive." I thought, "wow, that is a powerful example." And in fact he said, he said, "you know, I've been given many a break in life. I've made mistakes, in other words, and people have given me a break.

Why shouldn't I give that to them?" Wow. Mature. And so Jesus teaches us this same principle. Go to the book of, let's see, Matthew. And we're going to look at chapter six here.

Powerful principle that God gives us here in Matthew 6. Now, you've read the Lord's prayer before. You've prayed it before. "Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." That little part of the prayer is interesting, isn't it? It's kind of a quid pro quo type of deal here almost. It's a little bit of like a condition for being forgiven, isn't it? In fact, look what it says now in verses 14 and 15. This is in Matthew 6:14-15. Right after the Lord's prayer, Jesus said, "for if you forgive others for their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.

" What's the operative word in this verse? Exactly. And I think that the key word, the one that's conditional is if you forgive others, then God will forgive you. And so we have this if-then type of situation here, but look at verse 15. To leave no doubt in our mind what he's saying, Jesus repeats it. He says, "but if you do not forgive others, then your father will not forgive your transgressions.

" It's not worth it to hold on to grudges or animosity, anger towards other people, is it? Now, this is true on a spiritual level and this is also true on an emotional, psychological level. People who are trained in the areas of psychological counseling and all that, they show us through studies that people who extend forgiveness--and they're talking here about divorced individuals, for example. They did a study and they showed--"a study," it says, "conducted among recently divorced individuals showed the difference between those willing and those unwilling to forgive." So they got these people together. The researchers found that those who extended forgiveness to their former spouses enjoyed higher levels of mental health. When compared to those unwilling to forgive, forgiving persons experienced higher levels of well-being, religious satisfaction, and lower levels of anger and depression.

Of course, we're talking about the Bible and human emotions this quarter. And so not only is it a spiritual principle here. God says, "listen, if you want my forgiveness, you've got to forgive other people." Now, I don't know, that's not something that we can just say I'm going to do. I think we have to ask God for help with that sometimes. Some people have had some very painful things happen to them in life.

Some of you have had painful things happen to you. And so God says, "listen, I'll help you with that. Look to me. Look to my example and I'll give you the grace, I'll give you the power." But that's what God calls us to do. I think of a story.

I may have shared this a while ago. But you remember the whole rwandan genocide situation that happened a few years back? Just terrible, terrible things happened there, rwanda. The hutu extremists were killing the tutsis, right? Two tribes warring together, one group saying, "you're not as good looking as us or whatever and so we're going to kill you." Just like that. "We don't like you. You're different.

" So it went on. There were close to a million people that died. Can you imagine that? Just all out war. Civilian people were taking up machetes and hacking other people to pieces. I mean, it's just terrible things happen.

And, of course, you may have seen the film "hotel rwanda" that Chronicles some of what happened over there. But the story that warmed my heart, the title is, "woman opens heart to man who slaughtered her family." Huh. Could you do that? Could you do that? You watch someone kill your family. Would you be able to sit down and have dinner with that person, to see them on a daily basis? I don't know if God calls us to do that, but she forgives this guy. So here's what happens.

Her name is iphigenia. I'm not going to even try actually. Okay. She has a really cool name and I can't say it. And she is a master weaver.

She weaves baskets and she's sitting there with this other lady and I think I can say her name. It's epiphania. Okay? And epiphania and this lady, they sit together and they weave baskets. But the amazing part of this story is that epiphania is the wife of the man who killed the expert basket weaver's husband. And yet they are able to sit down together and work together.

Not only that, but the man who actually killed her husband, they actually interact as well. He has since served time in jail and the rwandan prisons were so overcrowded because of just the mass amount of people that had committed these crimes that they decided that, for the lower level offenders, they would let them apologize in a type of court room where they could apologize to the victims and their families, or at least their families. And this man has done that and this lady has chosen to forgive him. She said her husband and five of her children were hacked and clubbed to death and among the killers was this man. She said it was months before she could even talk to him.

But she has decided that she is going to reconcile and open her heart and accept his pleas for forgiveness. And then she said this. She said, "I am a Christian. And I pray a lot." I like that. I think it takes a lot of prayer to do something like that.

Powerful story. So I want you to ask yourself today, "how can I put into practice what Paul tells us here in Galatians?" What Jesus tells us here in Matthew 6, where he says, "forgive if you want to be forgiven." Forgive others of their trespasses against you. Not only will it give you a spiritual blessing. In fact, it's the only way for our sins to be forgiven too if I'm reading the Bible correctly. But it will also bring you joy and peace in your life that you don't have without that.

Let's move on to the next lesson as we finish up here today. One other thing that the lesson brings out that's very powerful. As we talk about the Bible and human emotions, we're wrapping it up, partnership with Jesus. We've talked about spiritual disciplines, we've talked about worship, we've talked about forgiveness. And they might seem disconnected at first, those three concepts.

And now this fourth one, service to others. But I think in a way they're all just saying, "this is what it means to be a Christian." Right? Spending time with God, worshipping with others, forgiving others, and finally serving others. And this is powerful. So, we're going to actually go now to, let's see, let's read Matthew 25. We're not going to read the whole passage here because they give us quite a few verses.

But Matthew 25, you're familiar with this story, the story of the sheep and the goats, the story of those who are standing on the right and the left in a way. Of course, this is not the--this is the story where Jesus says, "listen, you clothed me when I was naked. You gave me food when I was hungry. You gave me--you came and visited me in prison." And both the righteous and the wicked answer, "when did we do that, God? We didn't know we were doing that." Which gives you a little window into the minds of those who will ultimately be in heaven. And I want to be there, don't you? I want to be in heaven.

Were they doing it because they were trying to get something out of it, in other words? They were just doing it why? Just because out of the goodness of their heart that God had placed in them, the love that God had placed in them, they were reaching out to others and serving. And God said, "that, when you did that, you were doing it to me." Now, on the other hand, it's interesting to note that the wicked didn't do it, but I wonder if they had known it was Jesus, would they have done it? Probably so to get brownie points I'm thinking, right? I mean, that's just kind of the mentality of the world, isn't it? And so the Bible brings this out. And the lesson basically tells us that--you know, as seventh day adventists, we have historically been involved in two branches of ministry, teaching and preaching together, and healing and helping. And so, from the very beginning, as the seventh day adventist church began over 150 years ago, we believed that God had given us the mission not only to preach the Gospel to the world, not just to talk to people, but also to tangibly, physically help them. And so from the beginning we've had sanitariums and hospitals and clinics and all sorts of things, an educational system that helps people become prepared to serve.

And--but here's the thing. One hundred fifty years later, things have become kind of institutionalized. Isn't that right? I mean, how many of you go down and volunteer at your local adventist hospital, right? Most of us don't, right? There's not even one here in Sacramento actually, but the point is that sometimes we can become detached from it all because of that fact that it's become kind of institutionalized. But today, the lesson's challenging us. It's saying, "get involved.

Find something to do where you can help other people." Maybe it's here at your local church. Maybe it's coming down and helping at the food closet. Maybe it's going out this afternoon with the youth as we go out and pass out tracts downtown. That's so much fun, let me tell you. Maybe it's finding a family in church who needs, you know, a father figure, a mother figure.

They need some people to come together and be their spiritual family. The single mom who needs, you know, a mom and a dad to adopt her and help her as she raises her kid. Whatever it might be, God's got something for you to do. Let me just tell you a quick story here. When I was at seminary, 2 1/2 years in Michigan, it's a long time to live in a cold place like Michigan, let me tell you.

And kind of a bleak place in the winter. But I remember, you know, the first year or so I had just gotten done pastoring a church in lincoln, out here near roseville. And so I was--you know, I was ready for just to be able to sit in the audience and listen to, you know, a sermon and not have to be preaching every Sabbath because that's what I was doing at lincoln. And I was enjoying just being able to just kind of be blessed, you know? Just to receive. And--but after a few months of that, I noticed that when I would go home Sabbath afternoon, I would feel kind of down.

Like, what--you know, am I just going to sit around all day? And it just felt like I wasn't really spiritually growing. My spiritual life was not a very happy one. And so I was searching around. "What's wrong? I mean, I'm hearing good sermons, I'm reading my Bible. I'm--you know, I'm in seminary.

I'm reading all these books about the Bible and about Jesus." And so it's not like I'm--i think I'm taking in enough. And then it hit me. I wasn't giving. I wasn't serving. And it was amazing.

We would go down to the local hospital there in st. Joseph, Michigan and it was I think a catholic hospital. It's actually called, I think, st. Joseph's hospital. And we asked the people at the front desk, "hey, would it be okay," me and a couple friends, a couple seminary friends, "if we went to some of the hospital rooms, maybe on the oncology, the cancer floor, and we could just sing? If the patients would like it, we'll knock on the door and ask them if they'd like a song and we could sing for them.

" And they said, "sure. Why not?" So we went up and we would do that. And I'll tell you what. First of all, just seeing those people, you would knock on the door and say, "hey, we're just some Christians and we'd like to--would you like us to sing with you?" And they'd say--i mean, I think 99% of the people would always say yes. We'd sing a couple of hymns with them, then we'd offer to pray with them, and just those simple acts of singing and praying, you would see them light up and one lady, she started to cry.

She was in there, it was an outpatient--she was an outpatient, just coming in for chemo for the day. And she said, "you have no idea how much this means just to have someone come and sing and pray with me." I would go home on cloud nine. I would feel good for the rest of the week. And the next Sabbath I couldn't wait to go back again. That was like my shot of I don't know what, you know, for the week.

It was amazing. And that made all the difference in my spiritual life. You know, we can't just be receiving. We have to be giving. Isn't that right? And so as Christians, living a life of service is what it's all about.

We don't do it to gain God's favor. We don't do it to get brownie points with God. Read the story in Matthew 25 if you're in doubt. We do it just because God has placed that love in our hearts. Now, listen, none of us have it by ourselves.

But ask God. Say, "God, give me a desire to serve. Give me a passion for souls." And God will do that. Okay, one more thing as we wind up here today. They finished the lesson here talking about hope and trust in God.

So essential as we live in these end times, don't you believe? We look around the world today, there are things happening all around us, earthquakes and floods and just wars and uprisings everywhere. Things will get worse before it gets better. That's what the Bible tells us. The Bible says that before Jesus comes back that there will be a great time of trouble such as never was. And sometimes as adventists, you know, we can get all scared and we can start focusing on that.

And we should be sober and we should be solemn and we should be looking at the facts and saying, "this will happen. It's a fact." But here's the thing. We have hope. Is that true? Absolutely. We have hope.

God has given us promises. He says, "listen, I'm going to be with you, first of all. Regardless of what happens in the future, I'll be with you. If you stick close with me," he says, "I'll be close to you." So seek God, have a close relationship with him. And then secondly, God tells us that he's given us that hope.

There's a better day coming, amen? There's a day coming when--you remember the chilean miners down there in chile? Stuck down underground for, what was it, like 3 months or something? Just an amazing amount of time. Can you imagine that? Underground, 200 feet or more than that for that long, it seems like you would give up hope. But they had a lifeline, didn't they? There was that little column of rock that had been taken out and little messages would come down through there. They would send down food, they would send down water. And those chilean miners lived during that terrible time with hope.

They knew that one day they were going to be rescued. Are we going to be rescued some day? Is there a better day coming? I'll tell you what, I can't wait for that day. But until then, God says, "listen, spend time with me. Make me first." Get up first thing in the morning just like Jesus and spend time in prayer. Don't forsake the assembling of yourself together with fellow believers.

Even when things get kind of dicey, stick with it because God calls us to come together, to help each other to grow. Forgive. Don't hold onto grudges. Trust. And then serve.

Today, our free offer is "Christ's human nature," a little book that you can call in for. You can call the number on the screen, 1-866-788-3966 for the free book, "Christ's human nature." In 6 days, God created the heavens and the earth. For thousands of years, man has worshipped God on the seventh day of the week. Now, each week millions of people worship on the first day. What happened? Why did God create a day of rest? Does it really matter what day we worship? Who is behind this great shift? Discover the truth behind God's law and how it was changed.

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