Updated: Sep 14
Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings CTS service.
The message today comes from Martin Sykes.
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God Bless x
Message - Martin Sykes
Once upon a time two friends were walking through the desert. At some point on their journey they had an Argument, and one friend slapped the other one on the face.
The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand:
TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME ON THE FACE
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath.
The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone:
TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.
The one who had slapped and then saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?” The friend replied: “When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand where the winds of forgiveness can blow it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever blow itaway.” The word “Forgiveness”, is one of the most beautiful words on our vocabulary, although C.S. Lewis once said, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea,until we have something to forgive.”
Jesus placed forgiveness at the very heart of the Christian life and He also put it at the heart of the prayer that He taught His disciples to pray—a prayer that Christians have prayed for two millennia – a prayer that contain those words “forgive us ours sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”
At the beginning of our Gospel reading today, Peter asked Jesus two questions.
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother and sister who sins against me? Up to Seven times?” Jesus gives an answer but proceeds to tell the parable of the Unforgiving Servant to give more meaning to His answer by saying, “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like….” When Peter asks that second question, “as many as 7 times?” he was doing this from what he viewed as a forgiving heart. You see, in his day Rabbis recommended that forgiveness for a repeated offense, be extended not more than three times. In Peter’s mind he was showing generous mercy. But Jesus’ answer does away with all limits. This might seem unreasonable, but Jesus explains why this must be, by telling His disciples, therefore, the Kingdom of God is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. The first servant owed the King a huge amount of money that he couldn't pay. So out of pity, the King cancelled his debt and let him go.
That servant then met a fellow servant who owed him a tinysum of money and had him thrown into prison because he couldn't pay the debt. The King was furious when he heard this – it simply wasn’t right for one who had been forgiven so much, to make such an issue of a debt which was so little. The main point of this story of course depends largely on the amounts of money that Jesus mentioned.
In the first century, a denarius was a silver coin representing one day’s wage for a working man and 1 talent was worth 6,000 denarius. Remember that first servant owed the king, 10,000 Talents, which was an amount of money beyond the wildest dreams of ordinary people, but that was the first servant’s unpayable debt that the kingcancelled out of pity.
The second servant owed the first one 100 denarii, which was a 100 days wages, but still is a mere 600 thousandth of the first sum but that was the debt the second servant couldn’t pay and the first servant refused to cancel his debt and forgive him. When Jesus told the parable, the King was symbolic of God and the servants of the human-race.
What a challenging reminder, that when we find our hearts hardened towards a someone who has upset us, and we then reflect on the love and forgiveness, we have received from God, that we will find the grace we need to forgive one another.
David Hamilton was a loyalist terrorist who came to Christian faith while he was serving an 11-year prison sentence in Northern Ireland. Shortly afterwards he found out that another man had moved in with his wife. That was bad enough, but worse was to follow.
He discovered that during a row, the boyfriend had punched David’s 3-year-old son in the face smashing his nose and leaving him with a stutter. It's easy to imagine the strain this put-on David’s newfound faith. He told God that if this man ever ended up in gaol with him, he would give up being a Christian and kill him. Three years later the opportunity came. David was getting some hot water for a cup of tea when he saw the man in a cell across the landing. The other guy immediately pulled his cell door shut which automatically locked it: obviously he realised he had been spotted, but David knew that his chance would come. Afew days later he was cutting the grass when he saw the man walking towards him, accompanied by a prison officer. “Punched any babies lately?” David sneered. “It was an accident,” the man said, but David didn't believe him.
“I'm going to kill you,” he vowed. An inmate who was gardening with David couldn't believe it. “You’re a Christian, and you just said you're going to kill that man?”he asked.
“You don't know what he did to my baby,” David replied. Over the next few weeks David watched and waited for the right time to make a move. He tried to psych himself up, to get rid of all other emotions and concentrate solely on the desire to kill this man.
He organised a distraction in the prison yard to draw the guards away. He was pacing up and down in his cell waiting for the door to be opened, when God spoke clearly in his mind, “David, forgive him”. “I’ll forgive him after I've killed him,” David said, and kept on walking. Again,the words came into his head, “David, forgive him.”
So, this time he said, “I won't kill him, but I want to beat him badly.
Ut's only right; he deserves it.” But all he could hear echoing round his head were the words, “David forgive him.” David Hamilton goes on, So I got angry with God, stopped walking, looked up and shouted, “look what he did to my son!”
It was then that God spoke to me again and said, “look what they did to my son!”
I fell to my knees and wept, and I ask God to help me forgive him.
I came up from my knees a different man. I went out into the yard where I saw him standing under the shelter. He was afraid. he reminded me of a scared rabbit caught in car headlights. As I walked towards him, he didn't move. I stopped just a few feet from him looked into his eyes and saw the fear. I could easily have taken his life at that moment. instead I said “I am a Christian now; God has forgiven me, and I forgive you for what you did to my son. You can stay in the yard, no one will harm you.” ‘That day was a turning point in my life,’ David said, ‘I knew then I would never go back to my old life or back to the organisation again. I would never hold a gun or plant another bomb as long as I lived.
From that day on I have never doubted my Salvation because I know the power of God to change a person. God said to David Hamilton, “Look what they did to my Son”
On the cross, Jesus demonstrated in the most powerful way,what He had taught throughout His ministry – Love and Forgiveness.
Jesus came to die for us, to pay the price of the unpayable dept for our sin, so we will know what it is to be trulyLoved and Forgiven.
For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.