This week’s small group lesson was based on FORGIVENESS and the following verse:

Matthew 6:12 “and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” (NLT)

Forgiveness can be a tough subject to talk about because of the hurt and pain often associated with it.  We have to confront our own sinfulness and those of others being willing to ask for forgiveness and also extend forgiveness to others.

Receiving Forgiveness
Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites went through a continual cycle of  rebellion/repentance/restoration.  Judges 2 describes an example of one of these cycles.  Reading through this we can be quick to judge the people and see how they often took God’s grace and mercy for granted.

 Do you ever take God’s forgiveness for granted?
It can be misleading to think that because God forgives our sins; our sin isn’t a big deal. 

Sin is a big deal to God.  Sin separates us from God.  It was our sin that nailed Jesus to the cross.  It was because of his sacrifice that we can have forgiveness of sins.  Never take that for granted!

*Something to remember:  Just because we are forgiven doesn’t mean we escape all of the consequences of our sin.  Read about Moses’s disobedience and his consequences because of it in Num. 20:1- 13 & Deut. 32:48-52.

The good news is God does forgive our sins! 
I John 1:9- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

I went through a time in my life when I had a difficult time accepting God’s forgiveness.  I grew up in the church, so I knew in my head that God forgives, but it’s completely different when I have to walk through it.  I had to come to terms with my own humanity, my own sinfulness, and  realize my need for a Savior.  No matter what you have done, God is willing to forgive you, but you must repent of your sin and be willing to accept his forgiveness for you.  It’s not easy- especially when you feel like your sin is a BIG sin, but God will help you.  Ask God to help you accept his forgiveness so you can walk in freedom with Him. 

Extending Forgiveness
We are all sinners in need of a Savior.  When we understand our own sinfulness and how much we have been rescued, then we are able to extend the same to those around us.  Our ability to forgive is directly related to our own realization of our need for forgiveness.  At first I didn’t have the word “realization” in the sentence above, but I think some people have a need for forgiveness but don’t see it.  Because they can’t see it, they struggle truly forgiving others and “not keeping records of wrong” (I Cor. 13:5). 

Following the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 is another mention of forgiveness.  It looks as if Jesus wanted to put great emphasis on this.

Matthew 6:14-15- “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

  Our inability to forgive becomes our problem, not the one who wronged us.  We should not seek out revenge- no matter how bad someone hurt us.  God will deal with them and their sin just like he deals with you and yours. 

Mark 11:25- “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

 Have you accepted that God forgives your sin? 
Is there someone in your life you haven’t been able to forgive?

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