Summer Wind Pt 4: How to Forgive - The Key to Freedom
Pastor Ron Macciola
He is the comforting Helper, remember? He is the Truth-Teacher, the will-of-the-Father revealer, the Gift-giver, the Hurt-Healer. He is the inextinguishable flame of God, my Friend.
HE IS GOD.
To remain at a distance from Him is worse than wrong; it is downright tragic. Flying closer to the flame, therefore, is better than good; it is absolutely magnificent.
First, His Permanent Presence Within Us
Jesus sat alone with His twelve disciples in a small, second-story room the night before He was crucified. They had a meal together, followed by the Last Supper. Judas was dismissed. Earlier, Jesus had washed His disciples’ feet. A brief discussion about that arose. Then, almost without interruption, He “delivered His soul.” By that I mean He communicated the most intimate and the most important information and instruction they could hear. His words are found in chapters 14-16 of the Gospel by John, a section that has come to be known as “The Upper Room Discourse.” He began:
"Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me…I will not leave you as orphans I will come to you.” John 14:1-6, 18 NASB
We sit calmly as we read those words and as we try to imagine the disciples hearing them. But they were anything but calm! Jesus was announcing His departure, and they were struggling with feelings of abandonment. Their stomachs must have churned when He used the word “orphans,” for that is exactly how they felt. For more than three years they had been inseparable. He was there when they awoke. He was with them through virtually every situation they faced. When they called for help, He was usually nearby and able to step in. When they said, “Goodnight,” He was there to respond. Suddenly, all that would change. He was leaving them – permanently. And thought they were adults, the sting of His departure left them feeling orphaned.
It was April 26, 1976, Bethany Bible College, Santa Cruz, CA. I was a junior. The call came in, “Ron, Dad’s in ICU. It doesn’t look good – you need to fly home”. On April 29, 1976 we buried my father, 61 at Rose Hills Cemetery in Southern California. I was 23 years old. I’m 61 now, and I still miss him. No opportunity to call him, show him my family – seek his counsel. After the funeral, my mother flew to Montreal, Canada with my brother, Primo. My other three siblings stayed in Southern California and I went back to Santa Cruz. In a strange way, I felt orphaned and to this day, I still have occasions when I miss being able to see my father, to hear his voice and to watch him respond. No more fire at night. No more shared laughter…or tears…or watching Him handle some thorny situation. Orphaned. And yet He promised not to leave them as orphans. “Plan B” was already in motion.
"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 NASB
Ah-HA! Jesus promised them that His replacement would be “another Helper,” namely, the Holy Spirit. And, unlike Jesus, who had only been with them, He (the Spirit) would be in them. Quite a difference! Not too many days after, when the Spirit would arrive, He would slip inside them and live within them forever. No more temporary companionship; the Spirit’s presence would be (and still is) a permanent presence. It had never been like that before. Not even in the lives of those Old Testament greats. But from now on…YES!
Jesus’ departure was essential in order for the Spirit to begin His permanent indwelling. Jesus said so. “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7 NASB
So then, we need to turn next to the place in Scripture where Jesus; departure is recorded – Acts 1 – to see what He said about the Spirit’s coming, for it is there we find the next significant contribution of the Spirit
- Second, His Unparalleled Dynamic Among Us
“And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
"And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8
Our Lord’s ascension was only moments away. Naturally, He wanted to bid farewell to His closest companions. As they stood alongside, He reassured them: “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (v.8). Not if the Spirit comes, but when. And upon His arrival, power would be received.
Now, Jesus was not saying that power would begin to exist at that point, for power had always been one of God’s characteristics. Power was present at Creation. Power opened the Red Sea. Power brought water from the rock and fire from heaven. In fact, it was that same magnificent power that had brought Christ back from beyond at His resurrection. But those kinds of supernatural manifestations were not what He was promising. The disciples would not be creating worlds or parting seas or taking the place of God.
What Christ promised them was enabling power. Another kind of power, as A.T. Robertson correctly observed:
Not the “power” about which they were concerned (political organization and equipment for the empire on the order of Rome)…this new “power” (dunamin), to enable them (from dunamai, to be able), to grapple with the spread of the gospel in the world. 1
Jesus was saying, in effect, “You will receive a new enablement, a new dynamic, altogether different from what you have ever experienced before.” I would suggest that this promised “power” also included an inner confidence, almost to the point of invincibility, regardless of the odds they were sure to face.
F.F. Bruce, in his splendid volume on the Book of Acts, states that:
They would be clothed with heavenly power – that the power by which, in the event, their might works were accomplished and their preaching made effective. As Jesus Himself had been anointed at His baptism with the Holy Spirit and power, so His followers were now to be similarly anointed and enabled to carry on His work. 2
The power (I prefer to use the term dynamic) that Jesus promised the disciples, directly – and us indirectly – was the Spirit’s unparalleled help and enablement, which would immeasurably surpass their own human ability.
Think of it! It’s the very same dynamic that is resident within every Christian today.
- Third, His Affirming Will for Us
In His statement prior to His departure, Jesus included an additional promise to His disciples. “You shall be My witnesses,” He said. The Spirit would free their lips so that they would witness consistently of Him. First, in Jerusalem, where they would be located when the Spirit came. Next, in Judea and Samaria, the surrounding regions beyond the city. Ultimately, “even to the remotest part of the earth.” The Spirit’s presence would spur them on, enabling them to speak openly and boldly of their Savior. He is still longing to do that within and through us today, affirming God’s will for us.
A quick glance at the fourth chapter of Acts reveals the results of this Spirit-filled dynamic: perseverance.Peter and John had been preaching in the streets of Jerusalem, where they were later arrested, confronted, and threatened by the officials. Undaunted by the threats, the disciples stood toe-to-toe with the officials. Their calm perseverance did not go unnoticed.
"Now, as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus." Acts 4:13 NASB
Why? Why would the religious officials marvel at untrained an unlearned men? Because they were impressed by their firm resolves. Their thoughts might have been: These are a different kind of men. They are not like the soldiers we deal with or the politicians or our fellow officials. As a result, they began to recognize that these were Jesus people…these were men who had once been with Jesus. How would they know that? The dynamic!
Not long afterward, the disciples were called back before the Jewish Supreme Court and told in no uncertain terms to knock it off!
“We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “We must obey God rather than men." Acts 5:28 – 29 NASB
Friend, that is persistent, invincible dynamic! Normally folks are intimidated in the official setting of a courtroom. Not those men!
Remember Acts 1:8? “You shall receive power.” You’ll be witnesses.. You’ll have perseverance to stand firm, regardless.
A few moments later these same Spirit-enabled men set the record straight:
"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:30 – 32 NASB
And what happened: Did they lick their wounds and curl up in some cave until the situation cooled down? Were they frightened and disillusioned? On the contrary. Even after they were threatened and brutally beaten,
"…they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." Acts 5:41 – 42 NASB
The Spirit’s enablement…that’ heaven-sent “power”! And the good news is that the same Spirit who filled believers in the first century can fill us in the twentieth. And the same dynamic can be ours… the same boldness and determination, invincibility and perseverance in the midst of danger.
The Holy Spirit has been our foundation here at Harbor Light. We are a Pentecostal church. To me, that means
- We value worship
- We value listening to the Holy Spirit in our services and our lives to evangelize.
We have been raised on Faith and Spirit. Speaking of Foundation, did you know that back in 1983, when they poured the foundation of just the church, they poured $1 million of the stuff – according to Pastor Ken Rankin, who had pastoral oversight of the building project. This church sits on 77 piers underground, drilled 53 feet deep. As a physical church, we have a strong foundation and as a spiritual church, we were founded on the Holy Spirit which means:
"Without faith, it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that God is and that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6 NASB
Hebrews 11 shows us what active FAITH does – it’s like yeast, it causes the dough to RISE.
This faith walk takes sacrifice. Why? In Fremont alone, one of the most diverse cities in America, according to Time Magazine, we have 136 languages spoken by children who attend FUSD (SF Chronicle) in the world, there are 6,500 languages. The most popular is Mandarin Chinese, spoken by 1 billion, 213 million people.
The Holy Spirit is given to us as a WITNESS, not for a power play. As the Holy Spirit nudges us, we respond, in our response, Jesus is shared – that’s powerful! And when Jesus is lifted up, HE will draw all men and women, boys and girls to HIM.
HEdoes the pulling
HE does the saving
HE does the healing
In Hebrews 11, a chapter called the “Hall of Faith”, 3 particulars stand out to me. Let’s look at verse 17 Abraham offered up Isaac by FAITH. Our children are precious to us, yes, there are times like Abraham that we want to “offer them up”! But they are our seed, our lineage. And sadly, some have become prodigals. What do we do?
WATCH & PRAY Stay in contact! Text, email, Twitter, Facebook.
PRAY “The power of a righteous man or woman avails much”
Hebrews 11:23, This to me, speaks to the parents (Parents, take heart! Moses was a basket case and he still turned out okay)
As parents we need to offer up our children to the Lord. Proverbs 22:6
TRAIN UP Create a thirst in your child for God. Understand that your children are all different. They are watching Y-O-U! Are you exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit – Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, kindness, goodness, and faith.
Hebrews 11:30 “Walls of Jericho” - Barriers – FORGIVENESS
click here to download the Forgiveness Handout