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This world is full of religion. You can find a religion that will fit your needs and make you feel good. But what exactly are they offering you? Do they teach the Word of God? Is a change of heart a requirement for the promise of salvation? Is every level of hierarchy with in those religions built on honesty and truth?

From what I have seen of religion today offers nothing but a false hope, a half truth and hypocrisy. This practice in man made religion has been going on for years. In fact, Jesus preached about it. At that time it was the Scribes and Pharisees that were doing a disservice to those that wanted to seek God. In Matthew 23 Christ brings judgment to those that require acts from the people and not themselves. To those that are more concerned with the “law” than a heart change. To those that are busy about works that make them appear to be righteous but are not sincere in their hearts. He concludes this message with verse 23; “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” The scribes and Pharisees in Bible times were more concerned with acting like a follower of Christ than being one from the heart, as many religious leaders are today. God requires us to pay more attention to the “weightier matters of the law” those that are most important, judgment, mercy and faith.

In my observation of religion I have seen that many have two of the three. Some have mercy and faith. They preach that God is love and will forgive anything as long as you believe. That you can’t live with out sin, but God is merciful just say “I Believe”. Others are full of judgment, have strict creeds that, and are stingy with mercy. There is any combination that can be made. But if you don’t have all three, you don’t have the complete truth that God has for you. The three principles, judgment, mercy and faith all work together and the result is beautiful.

In order to receive mercy through faith, one has to experience judgment. How can you ask for forgiveness if you have done nothing wrong? Romans 3:23 reads “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Each and every one of us has committed sin. What is sin? Sin is a transgression against God’s law, something that we know is wrong but do it anyways (1 John 3:4) or something that we know we need to do, but we don’t do it. (James 4:17) The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and that God is not pleased with this. Romans 6:1 asks “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” the answer in verse 2 is “God forbid.” His plan for us is that we live in communion with him. We cannot do this if sin remains in our life. So judgment comes through the acknowledgement of sin and the need to seek forgiveness or mercy for them. If we fail to do this and continue living in sin, we have a reward, and that is hell. (Psalms 9:16-17) But let’s not forget God’s perfect plan. He does offer mercy to those that seek his forgiveness for their sins. God sent his son, the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live with out sin. In Matthew 1:21 the Bible states that Jesus came to save his people FROM their sins, not to save them while they continue IN their sins. All we have to do to receive this mercy is to confess our sins. (1 John 1:9) It is hard to say that we are wrong and to say sorry, but God loves a humble heart and will draw them close. Once we have been forgiven it is up to us to choose to live sin free every day. Sin is a choice as we discussed earlier and it is with God’s mercy and grace that we are able to choose to follow him in righteousness. We have a responsibility to keep a tight hold on our salvation, 1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” We are born into God’s family when we have sought forgiveness and received it; we then need to keep ourselves so that the enemy of our souls will have no power over us. Now where is faith in all of this? Ephesians 2:8-9 reads “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We do need to have faith to believe that God can and will save us. That he will keep his promises. Through the power of salvation in us and his presence through the Holy Spirit, we can live each day in a manner pleasing to him. We will not make it to heaven just by doing good things, we cannot save ourselves. We need to accept the blood of Jesus as a payment for our sins and though God’s mercy continue our life with out sin. Our salvation is a work that only God can perform in our lives. It is only when we have acknowledged the judgment of sin and sought mercy through faith that we are able to live as God would have us to, holy, sin free, and in communion with him.

Through all of this we can see that we must have all three, judgment, mercy and faith to live according to God’s plan for his people. Be honest with your self and with God. Don’t be content with just a religious belief, search for a true relationship with God. Seek the truth where ever you go and God will be faithful to bring you to it. It is his desire that you find the truth.

We live in a world with many people, personalities and differences. While this is a good thing, making life interesting. Happiness and sorrow come from the encounters that we have with those around us. It is a given that at some time we are going to be hurt. There will be disagreements, accusations, disappointments, and physical harm.

When someone comes against us wrongfully, betrays us, destroys trust, harms us, there is cause for hurt. And the hurt is greater if it is someone that we love and trust.

It is easy to harbor a grudge or wish pain back on that person in punishment for how they made us feel. You want justice for the wrong deed that was committed.

However, there is danger in this. We cannot be found close to God if we don’t forgive them.

What is it to forgive?
to give up resentment against or the desire to punish; stop being angry with; pardonto give up all claim to punish or exact penalty for an offense; overlook
to cancel or remit a debt

Through out the bible there are descriptions of how a Christian is to live.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

It is interesting that we are first instructed to get rid of the bitterness, wrath, and anger, before we are told to be kind and forgive. It is impossible to forgive with bitterness.

Another place in which we are commanded to forgive is

Colossians 3:12-13

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

The scripture lists that qualities we need to have being apart of God’s people.

In both of these scriptures Christ is pointed out as our example of a forgiving heart.

Forgiveness is an act of the heart, not just in motions, we can’t harbor or hold on to a grudge, allowing bitterness to grow

Often we hear the words “forgive and forget” I think that is impossible. God gave us a memory for a reason; it would be easy to forgive someone if we didn’t remember the hurt that was caused. God wants us to be able to forgive even though we remember.

The children of Israel continued time and time again to go against God, but in his mercy knowing they were human, he forgave then.

Psalms 78:38-39

But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

God showed compassion just as we are to show compassion, as said before forbearing with each other, understanding the weakness of the human, and forgive.

Side note – this doesn’t give us the liberty to go around heedless of those around us, not being careful to not cause offence. We still need to be faithful to our promise to God, to do our best and not sin, and in this we are to do right to those around us.

If we fail to forgive we can’t reach God and he will hesitate to answer our prayers, in fact, he says he won’t hear our prayer.

Mark 11:24-26

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

God hearing and answering our prayers is contingent upon us forgiving others.

We are also instructed to seek forgiveness of others if we have caused hurt before coming to God.

Matthew 5:23-24

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

We need to be careful to have everything clear between us and others before seeking God. It is best that once we know that there is a problem, to take care of it, thus to not hinder our relationship with God.

Jesus explains forgiveness through a parable in Matthew 18:21-35, Peter questioned Jesus about forgiveness. He was in a predicament, his brother kept bothering him. He would say sorry, and Peter would forgive him, but it kept happening over and over. Peter was tired of it.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

In Today’s money

1 talent=15 years wages, at minimum wage, yearly is $15,000, 10,000 yearly wages – 2,250,000,000, 2 billion, 250 million dollars

100 pence – $1.56

This story exemplifies the amount that Chirst has forgiven us to anything that we may need to forgive another man. Christ is our example in how we are to live our life.

The seriousness is that if we can’t forgive, that Christ won’t forgive us.

Matthew 6:14-15

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.

With out God’s forgiveness, we would still be living in sin.

It takes a humble heart to ask for forgiveness and to forgive, let us be willing to be humble. To clear up anything that we have with others, if you can, call up someone that has heart you and let them know you forgive them. If you can’t, forgive them in your heart. Seek forgiveness of those that you have hurt. When you are able to let the hurt go and forgive, you are able to be in communion with God, and life gets so much better.

John 4:9  Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
John 4:10  Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

 Saints, we need to ask for that living water from the well of salvation. We cannot be content in just standing by the well, talking about it, and appearing to take part. For our soul’s sake, we need to ask and receive the living water.

 As this thought was brought out in the message this morning, it struck me that good Church of God saints can easily get caught up in just standing by the well. We can get busy with the many commitments that we need to take care of and will not take time to be refreshed by that living water. We need to be careful that we hunger and thirst after truth and pure communion with God. It is he alone that can supply that special water. Being around those that are drinking from the well is not enough. Going to church every time the doors are open is not enough. Raising your hand to the song, praying, being involved with the work is not enough. We have to take part in and drink from the well. When we do so, we will have the spirit of God in us leading us and giving us the strength and blessing to carry forth in his work. With out that well of everlasting life springing with in us, all that we do is vein.

 God showed me this morning that I was doing too much of this standing around the well, not putting my cup out for my portion. I was getting too busy, too tired and too late to take the time to drink from the well of salvation. I wasn’t taking the time to read and pray like I should, I wasn’t communing with God enough. Subconsciously I was putting other things, those that kept me busy and tired before God. I am thankful for God’s faithfulness to show us just where we are at, to bring us to the place where we need to make a choice. I am glad to say that my cup is full of living water, and I am not willing to just stand by as others get the blessing. I want my portion and am determined to not settle for anything less.

 May we all examine ourselves to make sure that we are drinking from that overflowing well if salvation; that we take the time to commune with God, that he is very first in all the things that we do. Are you drinking from the well, or has it just become a social gathering spot?

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