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Many people believe that God withholds miracles. They think God only dishes out miracles as He wants to, when He wants to, or when we’ve done everything perfectly. And this kind of incorrect thinking prevents miracles from happening.
The miracle already exists. He promised you healing. He promised you protection. He promised you provision. If you don’t have these things in your life, it’s because you haven’t figured out how to receive His promises.
So step one to seeing miracles is, we have to stop blaming God. He’s not withholding these things from you. It’s your own fear and unbelief that keeps you from receiving the things He’s already provided for you.
The core scripture for this series is found in Mark chapter 11. In this chapter Jesus gives us four things we need to do to see miracles. Let me read it to you:
Mark 11:22-25 NLT – Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 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.
In this short lesson from Jesus, He gives us four things that determine our ability to receive miracles from God:
- Have faith in God.
- Speak your faith.
- Remove the doubt.
- Forgive others.
Have faith in God.
In the first week of this series we talked about faith. We found out that faith is confidence in God’s Word. And the way we build this confidence is by hearing the Word of God over and over and over.
Faith is why we praise God even when we don’t feel like it. Faith is why we give even when it’s inconvenient. Faith is why we trust God even when we don’t understand.
Faith. It’s what enables you to stay at peace in the gap between when you release your faith and see the result. Because you know the result is coming, just like you know your Amazon order is coming when you press buy now.
Speak your faith.
In part 2, Tim & Darla brought us a powerful message about speaking our faith. They taught us something very important: In order to speak your faith, the Word of God has to be planted down in your heart.
Most of us start out on this speaking thing by reciting scripture that we hope is true. And this is a great place to start! But to see the results of it, you need to be speaking something that you believe deep down.
And this unwavering belief only comes from time with God. The Word of God cannot grow deep roots if you do not continually water the seed that was planted. The best way to water is to spend time with God first thing every morning, just like Jesus did.
Remove the doubt.
Last week, we talked about removing the doubt. We tend to step out in faith to believe God for a miracle and then immediately get overcome with doubt. We remember the last time we prayed and it didn’t work. Or we wonder if healing is even God’s will.
Doubt is the biggest culprit to why we do not see miracles and God’s promises evident in our lives. God always answers your prayer, but many times you negate your own prayer with doubt.
There are three types of doubt. First, is doubt caused by ignorance. Sometimes you doubt God simply because you don’t know something about God.
The second kind of doubt is caused by wrong teaching. Maybe someone told you that God gave you sickness to teach you something, or God gets glory when you live poor, or some other kind of lie.
The first two types of doubt are overcome by hearing the Word of God over and over. Ignorance is easier to overcome than wrong teaching, but both can be overcome if you’ll just dig in to the Word of God.
The third kind of doubt is caused by circumstances. If you pray for someone to be healed and they end up dying, that circumstance is going to make you think, “This doesn’t work.” If you’ve been sick for years, your circumstance is going to make you think, “God doesn’t want to heal me.”
There’s a story in Matthew 17 that shows us how to overcome this kind of doubt and it is through none other than prayer and fasting. The reason it works like this is because prayer moves us closer to God and away from our circumstances.
Fasting helps us remember that our body does not get the last word. God does. So when that symptom shows up again, you laugh because you know God’s Word prevails over sickness.
Notice how all of this so far is stuff we already know. I mean, we already know we should be hearing the Word of God every day. We already know we should be praying regularly. Fasting… well, we know about it but we’d rather ignore it.
To see the promises of God come alive in your life is really simple. You spend time with God instead of with the world. Instead of watching reality TV, turn on a message that will feed your spirit. Instead of opening Facebook, open your Bible.
Easy stuff y’all. We just have to do it. And it’s not that you’re earning anything. All of this is just how we become more aware of God and less controlled by the world.
The devil knows this is simple for us. That’s why he works so hard to distract you. The question is, are you going to resist the devil? Or are you going to give in to the distractions and live life without the promises of God?
That’s not a very fun discussion. So, let’s move on to the message for today. We’ve talked about faith, speaking faith and removing the doubt. Now it’s time to talk about forgiving others.
Isn’t that so much better than what we were just talking about? Well hang with me, because this message is going to help you.
When it comes to the lack of seeing miracles and seeing God’s promises in our lives, the main culprit is doubt like we talked about last week. But it’s not the only culprit. Sometimes, it’s unforgiveness.
Over and over in the Bible you will find that forgiveness is a big deal to God. That’s why He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die – so that you could be forgiven. But He also wants you to live in a constant state of forgiveness.
A few months ago we had a whole series about choosing joy. And since then, you’ve probably realized how many opportunities in life we have to choose joy. I mean, we get to practice every day!
We have just about as many opportunities to choose forgiveness as well. People are just mean. They’ll give you weird looks. They’ll gossip about you. They’ll even assume things about you that aren’t even true. Even your spouse will do this!
Progression of Unforgiveness
Most of the time, we are able to forgive within a few hours, or at least a few days. But sometimes we hold grudges for a loooong time.
So let’s think through the progression that gets us to a place of long-term unforgiveness. Because this is the kind of stuff that Jesus was talking about. We don’t just need to forgive the small stuff. We need to forgive the big stuff.
Here’s how it all starts:
In every conflict, whether it be between you and a friend, or you and a church you used to go to, or you and the Democratic party, begins with something that creates distance.
Not all distance is created by conflict. Sometimes it’s created by neglect. You don’t invest time into a relationship so it creates distance.
But this is where it all starts. Something creates distance so you shut the other person out. Things are still calm. Nobody’s throwing fists yet. You just separate yourselves from each other.
The separation still hurts. So here’s what you do next:
You build some walls to protect yourself. Some of you ladies build more than a wall. You build a castle with a moat around it filled with crocodiles and the drawbridge is always pulled up.
We build these walls to keep the bad people out. The problem is, it also keeps the good people out. And sometimes you can even wall out God. You become so protective of your heart and emotions that no one can touch you again.
If we don’t deal with it at this point, here’s what happens next:
The problem grows. It becomes much bigger than it really is. It’s no longer about what he said to you yesterday, it’s about everything he’s done wrong for the past twenty years.
This is part of the process where your tongue gets out of control. You start saying things that you wouldn’t normally say. You become mean and look for anything you can say to hurt the other person.
At this point is when it becomes most dangerous because the enemy gets involved.
You start to believe lies. You believe that they meant to hurt you. You think he doesn’t love you anymore because of the distance that’s been created. You start to paint this terrible picture of the other person that is full of lies.
This happens all the time! You think the pastor is out to get your money because he’s encouraging you to give. You think your spouse is cheating on your because they didn’t want to have sex last night.
You think you are going to get fired because your boss corrected you. You think your family is going to starve because you got laid off from your job.
On and on and on. The enemy feeds us these lies and we latch on to them like ultimate truth. And we won’t even let the other person tell us the truth, because they are probably lying just to get me to calm down.
Being accused of things you didn’t do will make even the most forgiving person hostile in this situation. There’s nothing more aggravating than someone believing a lie in their head more than what really happened.
At this point, you find yourself in the last stage of conflict. This is the place that many people struggle to escape:
The saddest part about this is, you don’t even remember how the conflict originally started. The only reason you got here is because you decided to believe the lies the enemy planted in your mind.
And usually, you won’t listen to anyone else. People come in and try to help you see the truth and you dismiss them because they don’t know the full situation. They don’t know how bad they hurt you.
When you get to a place of hostility, it’s no longer about you and the other person. It’s about what is going on in your soul. You’ve allowed yourself to get junked up.
You don’t need them to apologize to move past this. You need to ask God to make you clean. It doesn’t matter who started it. The only thing you are responsible for is you.
Can you see now why forgiveness is a requirement to walk in the promises of God and experience miracles? When you’re in a place of unforgiveness, there’s no way you walk by faith. You’ve given the devil too much control.
The reason I wanted to take you through this progression of unforgiveness is because you went through this same progression leading up to your relationship with Jesus. Take a look:
Ephesians 2:12-14 NLT – In those days you were living apart from Christ. … You lived in this world without God and without hope.
Distance. Distance from God. That’s where we all started.
Ephesians 2:12-14 NLT – But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
We are the ones who cause the offense. We cause ourselves to be separated from God. And yet Jesus, the one who did no wrong, is the one to initiate reconciliation.
We caused the problem. Jesus was completely innocent. Yet Jesus is the one who brought us back close to God. Marinate on that for a minute. It’s not fair. We didn’t deserve it. Yet Jesus did it anyways.
Ephesians 2:12-14 NLT – For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.
You built the wall. You escalated your hostility towards God through your own behaviors. You believed lie upon lie. You thought that God was punishing you. You thought He didn’t love you. You thought it was His fault.
And what did Jesus do? We’re talking about the innocent one you were mad at that did nothing wrong? He broke down the wall of hostility. He set you free. He restored your relationship with God.
Jesus is our example of forgiveness. We are to forgive everyone. Especially those that don’t deserve it. Let me show you:
Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT – Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
This is our assignment. Get rid of it. Get rid of all the unforgiveness and everything that comes with it.
And don’t just do that, but be kind to each other. Sometimes we believe that it’s okay to forgive someone and never talk to them again. Well, you are believing a lie. You’re missing part of the equation. Don’t just forgive them. Be kind to them.
And I know, it seems impossible. And it is impossible, without faith. That’s why this verse says to forgive one another just as God through Christ has forgiven you. In Jesus Christ is where you obtain the power to forgive.
Let me put it to you this way. You will not succeed in forgiving others until you first fully realize the forgiveness that’s been given to you in Christ.
How to Forgive Others
So let me make this practical for you. There are three simple steps you need to take to get to a place of forgiveness. And it all starts with:
1. Receive God’s forgiveness.
You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve already done that. What’s the next step?” But can I propose that many Christians know about God’s forgiveness but they have yet to receive God’s forgiveness?
The reason I know this is because I hear from people all the time who think they don’t deserve anything from God because of their past. Or they think they deserve the sickness or hardship they are dealing with because of their past.
When you truly receive God’s forgiveness, you don’t think like that any more. You don’t give any power to your past because, well, Jesus done wiped it away. Why would I continue to think about it?
And when I mess up again, Jesus already provided forgiveness for that too. My job is simply to receive forgiveness, turn back towards God, and move on. No regrets, just moving forward.
Now that I’ve explained it, have you really received God’s forgiveness? Because God is trying to hand you the gift. You just have to reach out and take it.
The Apostle Paul understood this. This is a guy that hated Christians so much that he had them killed. That was his mission in life before God got a hold of him.
If I were Paul, I’d have a hard time receiving forgiveness for killing God’s people. But Paul didn’t waste time in regret because he had a full revelation of what it meant to receive God’s forgiveness. Take a look:
1 Timothy 1:15-16 NLT – This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.
If God can fully forgive Paul for leading the execution of Christians, He can forgive you. And God is eager for you to receive His forgiveness. Let me show you in God’s own words:
Isaiah 1:18 NLT – “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord . “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
This is God’s invitation to you. He says, “Come. Let’s settle this once and for all.” Quit trying to earn it. Quit trying to do enough right things to cancel out the wrong things. Just receive the forgiveness that God has given you in Christ.
So this is the first reason that many people struggle to forgive others: they haven’t yet received God’s forgiveness.
If you spend your entire life trying to earn God’s forgiveness, then you will expect everyone else to earn yours. But if you receive the gift of forgiveness from God, you’ll be able to offer that same gift to others.
And that’s why the second step is:
2. Freely give what you received.
Now that you’ve fully received forgiveness from God even though you didn’t deserve it, you have the capacity to give forgiveness even when they don’t deserve it.
God doesn’t expect you to forgive on your own. He set the example for you. He gave you the gift of forgiveness and in the gift is the power you need to forgive others. That’s why Jesus gives us this command:
Matthew 10:8 NLT – Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
God does not expect us to give anything that we have not received from Him already. He gives forgiveness to you freely, so you can give forgiveness freely to others.
And since we’re in a series about miracles, I don’t want to pass over what this verse just said. He gives you healing freely so you can give healing to others. We can’t go out and heal the sick until we’ve received healing ourselves.
God is not withholding healing from you. He is not using sickness to teach you something. It is not His plan for you to have some kind of physical ailment. He wants you well. He wants you healed. God wants you whole.
Receive healing from God by having faith in God, speaking your faith, removing the doubt and walking in forgiveness. Healing is for you. It is God’s gift to you. He’s holding it out waiting for you to take the gift that belongs to you.
God freely gives healing. He freely gives forgiveness. He freely provides for all of your needs. He does it because He loves you. And He also loves everyone around you. That’s why we have to freely give to others what He has given us.
2 Corinthians 5:18 NLT – And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.
It is our task, it is our mission, to give to others what God has given us. Some of y’all think it’s selfish to receive healing, or provision, or forgiveness from God. You think you don’t deserve it. But it’s actually selfish not to receive it!
If you don’t receive these precious gifts, you will not be able to give them to others. That’s selfish! If you truly love others, if you truly want to help others, then you receive every promise of God with thankfulness, not holding back.
For some of you, that just caused a major shift in your thinking. You can thank God for that. But grab ahold of it and don’t let it go.
God’s promises are for you, and you’re doing yourself and everyone else a favor by receiving the promises of God in their fullness.
Receive His forgiveness in its entirety so you can freely forgive others. And once you get to this point, here’s what you do next:
3. Forgive first.
Aren’t you thankful Jesus didn’t wait for us to apologize before He went to the cross? If so, He’d still be waiting. But here’s what really happened:
Romans 5:8 NLT – But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
God forgave us when we didn’t even ask for it. When we had no intention of changing, Jesus gave up His life to save us.
He did this to restore your relationship with God. He also did it as an example. If we are going to forgive like Jesus forgives, we forgive first.
Even when they don’t deserve it, we forgive first. Even when they are the ones who caused the conflict, we forgive first.
And when you forgive first, there’s a promise:
James 3:18 NLT – And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
The word righteousness sounds like a church-y word, so let me explain it to you. This is when you become who you really are. It’s when you think like God thinks, act like God acts, and are fully living the abundant life God planned for you.
So what this verse is saying is that when you forgive first, when you are the one who initiates peace, you will find yourself living in the promises of God.
What I am about to ask you to do next is what will take this message today from a really good idea to something real in your life.
You’ve been moved today by the Word of God and you are ready to act. So here’s what you need to do next. Pull out a piece of paper, grab a pen, and write down the person or the people that you’ve decided to forgive today.
Now, take this paper home and sometime this afternoon, pick up the phone and call every person on that list. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation. Just call them and say something like, “I was wrong in holding a grudge against you. I just want you to know that I love you and no longer hold anything against you.”
Trust me, the conversation won’t be long. They won’t know what to say, so you’ll just have a moment of awkward silence in which you can interrupt and say, “Thank you for listening. I will talk to you later.”
I know, this is going to be hard. You might be upset with me right now for asking you to do this. So you can start by coming up to me after service and practicing your phone call.
Seriously, though. Take a bold and courageous step and make the call this afternoon. The freedom is just going to sweep over you when you do. You’ll probably end up bawling because you feel so free.
The Bible says that heaven throws a huge party every time someone says yes to Jesus. There must be a never-ending party going on up there. Heaven is going to be a good time, no doubt about that.
I want to be real with you though. Saying yes to Jesus is more than a prayer you say one Sunday morning. It’s more than the emotions you feel after a sermon that touches your heart.
Saying yes to Jesus is saying goodbye to your old life and yes to new life in Christ. Some of you have been in church for a long time, but you’ve yet to do that. Well, heaven is blowing up balloons now to get ready for your party.
It’s time to say goodbye to me, myself, and I and say yes to Jesus. Yes, I will follow you. Yes, I will do what you Word tells me to do. Yes, I will choose joy.
If that’s you, I want you to have that conversation with Jesus right now. Between you and Him, make that commitment.
Salvation Next Step
If you just prayed that prayer, we want to support you along the journey that’s ahead. But we can’t support you if we don’t know. So we set up an easy way for you to tell us. Simply text the word Jesus to 918-373-9883.
We’re not going to bug you. We’re not going to spam you. We are just going to help guide you through your next step. We’re here for you. So please, go ahead and send that text.