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TEENAGE COUNSELING

STEPPING STONE #4

FORGIVE YOURSELF

Welcome back to

THE PATH

Psalms 40:1
I waited patiently for the LORD;
and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.


CHRISTIAN SIN AND CHRISTIAN MISTAKES CURE
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I trust that you're waiting patiently to move on to the next step each day.
Your patience in following THE PATH one step each day, will pay off.

WELCOME BACK MY FRIEND ...

Proverbs 27:9
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.

It's great to have you back on THE PATH. In order to lay down the next STEPPING STONE, we're going to get a lil dirt on our hands. The weeds in this area of your garden have some deep seated roots, so it's going to take a little effort. These weeds have been there for a long time, so you'll have to dig deep to remove them, but once they're gone, you're going to feel the difference.

If you ever feel the need to take a step back to the previous STEPPING STONE to remove a weed that has sprung up near it, by all means do so. You don't have to count that as one of your 14 days, it is maintenance, like we discussed at THE GARDEN GATE.

As you recall, yesterday we learned of GOD'S GRACE and how forgiving our Father is.

Today, as you stand on the third STEPPING STONE in your garden, we're going to talk about forgiving yourself.

I realize we haven't talked about your specific problem yet, but we will soon. Think of it this way ... If you step on a bunch of little weeds to get to a big one, you'll break them off at the stem and when you go back to clear them out, you may not know the roots are still underground somewhere.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes a big weed is easier to pull than the little ones, and there's usually a whole lot of little weeds, but only a few big ones? If we get rid of all the little weeds first, you'll find that the big ones are really easy to get rid of, so don't underestimate the importance of each step, even though they may seem insignificant, they're making a huge difference within you.

FORGIVING YOURSELF

Hmmmmm, that's a tough one, isn't it? Most of the time, this is our biggest problem. As Christians, we know and understand that God forgives us, and we don't (usually) have a problem forgiving others ... But, ourselves we just can't seem to get the hang of it, now can we?

I have another TRUTH to share with you. Way down deep inside many of us, there's a twisted misconception that if we hold on to feelings of guilt, it somehow justifies us in God's eyes. This is totally the opposite of what your Father wants for you. He didn't sacrifice His precious Son so that we would harbor feelings of guilt. He did it so that your mind and heart would be TOTALLY FREE of that.

Guilt is a bad seed. As long as it's buried down deep, it WILL grow. Unattended, it will become a big problem in your garden, because it will bloom and go to seed, and soon you'll have a whole bunch of little problems that grow into big problems and it just keeps getting worse and worse.

Once God forgives you, He doesn't remember it as we discussed in the King David story. You are cleansed of it. Pure as a little baby. And that's how your Father sees you ... As His Child.


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Look at this from God's point of view. Let's say you're a loving parent, whose child has done something wrong. You may chasten the child, or some other circumstances may arise that bring him to repentance. Your precious child comes to you to confess, and asks forgiveness. Then you forgive him lovingly, and all is well. Later on, you're walking past the closed door of your child's room and you hear your little child crying and rapping his head on the wall, because he STILL feels badly for what he's done.

How would that make you feel? Maybe it would make you feel like he doubts your forgiveness. It would make us want to console the child and make them HEAR and UNDERSTAND that we truly DO forgive them.

But ... What if they ran away?

What if they did not BELIEVE that they were forgiven or did not forgive themselves? That is what we do when we do not forgive ourselves when God has forgiven us. Now, knowing that you are God's child, how can you serve the Lord effectively and efficiently, as long as you carry guilt inside of you?

As adult Christians, we understand that God forgives us, so the bad feelings of guilt that we store up inside are in TRUTH, self pity. You're wasting your time feeling guilty. You're wasting precious time that you could be using toward God's plans for your life. Lose the guilt, and get on with the God business. Put on your garden gloves, get a good hold on that weed, and eliminate it from your life once and forever.

IT IS A LIE

Replace it with this Step four seed of TRUTH by BELIEVING this TRUTH.

When you ask our loving, merciful Father to forgive you for a sin in the name of Jesus ...

That sin is as far away as the East is from the West ...

Psalms 103:11-13
For as the Heaven is high above the Earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him.

So since God has chosen to forgive you, please choose to do so as well. We are harder on ourselves than our Father ever was, is or will be.

Once sin is removed ... It is gone.

God did the job.

You don't have to go and clean up after Him.

At the risk of being repetitive, let me just say once again ...

LET GO AND LET GOD!

LET GO (of your problem), AND LET GOD (remove it)!

Prepare to see this reminder quite often.


CHRISTIAN SIN AND CHRISTIAN MISTAKES ANSWERS
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We're going on a FIELD TRIP now. The first one is a lesson about forgiveness. We've talked about God's forgiveness ... That lovely blessing called Grace, and we've talked about forgiving yourself. This FIELD TRIP on forgiveness is about forgiving others for we must forgive all ... To be forgiven.

FIELD TRIP TO FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness . . . Has different meanings for different people and sometimes different meanings for the same people, depending on what's being "forgiven." Actually, the meanings are very similar, but the levels of forgiveness are different. The question is, What would Jesus consider forgiveness? While you let that question simmer in your mind, let's look at what He said about it.

Matthew 18:15
If your brother sins against you, go and talk to him about it alone, and if he will hear you (make peace), you've gained your brother.

In the book of James we get a clear picture of what happens when you gain your brother.

James 5:20
Brothers, if any of you sin, and someone brings him to repentance, let him know that the person who converts the sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death, and will hide a multitude of sins.

What a wonderful reward!

But, Jesus said, If your brother won't make peace with you, then take one or two people with you to witness and reason with him.

Deuteronomy 19:15
One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

1 Timothy 5:19
Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.


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If he still doesn't want to make peace, tell the church, but if he still refuses, think of him as a heathen and a publican. Honestly I tell you, whoever's sins you retain on earth, will be found guilty in Heaven and whoever's sin you forgive on earth, will be forgiven in Heaven. Again I tell you,
if two agree on earth, concerning anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven, because where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.

This whole thing brought up a question in Peter's mind and he asked Jesus, Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother if he sins against me? Seven times? Jesus answered him, Not only seven times, but ... SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN.

Let's do a little digging and find out who we really are today, shall we? Remember when we said that the meaning of forgiveness differs from person to person and circumstance to circumstance? Well, the reason we seem to have given the act of forgiveness different levels, is so that we can say we've forgiven, without really finishing the job. We feel like as long as we've achieved or performed any given level of forgiveness, we can take credit for the total act of this very important virtue.

We're gonna take a look at the different levels that we've divided forgiveness up into and you can decide for yourself, which level(s) you've chosen to grant to the people in your life. Some of these may sound the same to you, but many people don't like to admit to something (even to themselves) unless every word in the description are the very words they would use. These aren't in any order of importance.

  • You cease to feel resentment against an offender, but you really don't trust them anymore whether you should or should not in some cases, causing you not to be able to trust others for this particular offense caused by one soul.
  • You can forgive but you can't forget. You store a record of the offense in the back of your mind just in case you need to bring it up at a later date for any reason.
  • You claim to forgive, but your relationship has never been quite the same with the person ... and never will be. You tolerate the offender as much and as you can bear to, because Jesus said to forgive. Sometimes you rarely speak, if ever again, and the relationship virtually ends after the so-called forgiveness.
  • You excuse the offense, but you ridicule, deride, mock, taunt or rally the offender, sometimes in anger and other times in humor.
  • You forgive outwardly for appearances, but inside you just can't seem to forgive.
  • Some things you forgive, some things ya don't, it's complicated y'know.

and finally

  • You pardon someone totally and unconditionally. You continue to love the person who sinned against you, just as you did before the offense. It's as though it never even happened. Recollections of the offense are not used for any reason. You don't forget that you're a sinner yourself and mercy and grace are the greatest gift that God has given you through Jesus Christ.

Maybe the level of forgiveness that you use isn't included here. If it's not, go ahead and add them in, because there are bound to be millions of conditions and levels that fall in between these categories, or have additional little addendums. It's okay, we're all guilty of it.

Ah, here's one I forgot:

  • As long as you're in a good mood, your forgiveness abounds, but wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and anyone who has ever sinned against you is a scoundrel until your mood changes.


CHRISTIAN SIN AND CHRISTIAN MISTAKES ARE COMMONPLACE
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Now, let's look at the word forgive. The prefix for means before and the word give, in this case, means commit. So, to forgive is to think of things as they were before the offense was committed. You may say, That's a tough thing to do, until you think about it this way: Have you ever done anything that you wish you had never done? Is there something that if you could, you would totally erase it from your life, that it would be forgotten totally from anyone's memory who knows about it? It won't happen unless you forgive others the same way.

Jesus said:

Matthew 7:2
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Now that you turn things around, and your own forgiveness of others is involved, you can relate better to the phrase forgive and forget. To sum up this whole definition business, it would be fair to say that to forgive IS to forget.

It's hard on both the offender and the victim of a sin, when forgiveness is not granted. For the offender, they feel untrusted and ashamed. It can weaken a person's soul to live with knowing that they're not forgiven for something that they're so sorry for.

It's as if there's an invisible net around them that they can't escape. To repent for something we've done, and not to be forgiven, is an experience that God didn't want us to bear, and that's the whole reason why we have the New Testament, and why Jesus died for us. It's a shame that we've defiled this beautiful gift of grace by putting it into levels. Forgive others the way you want to be forgiven by God for things that you've done.

What about if you're the victim of a sin? Let's say someone has committed a sin against you and you don't forgive them. How can being unforgiving hurt you? It's in your subconscious mind if you haven't completely forgiven someone for something. Your mind knows what level you've assigned to each act of forgiveness you've granted. You don't think about it all the time, but the knowledge of it is there. This can cause bitterness in your spirit that can affect other parts of your life. Your faith will feel like it's tainted with guilt.

That's because you're being measured by God with the same forgiveness scale that you're using. Your lack of trust in your offender can cause you to be untrusting of others as well. If your offender is a loved one, you can become blameful of them for unrelated things that happen in your life.

When we are hurt very deeply, we sometimes fail to forgive and rebuild the trust with our family or friends that hurt us.

Now, obviously this does not mean that you MUST trust ALL of those who have hurt you, in particular when terrible crimes were committed and allow what occurred to happen again ... God forbid. It means that you should not let the lack of trust in them, establish a habit within you and have you walk in fear, unable to trust anyone else.


HOW TO FORGIVE CHRISTIAN SIN AND CHRISTIAN MISTAKES
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The point is ... Being unforgiving can cause a chain of circumstances that prevent you from being fruitful for God. Until you completely release your offender from his sin, you'll remain in the same net that you've put that soul in.

We've done a pretty thorough job of putting forgiveness into levels, now let's look at the levels that we've put sin into. What about people? Do you find it easier to forgive a loved one than an acquaintance or a stranger for the same offense? Are there sins that we simply find unforgivable and others that we have no problem whatsoever forgetting? To that, I have to ask you, are there some sins that you've committed that you think God should hold you accountable for, or do you want Him to forgive all of your sins?

Jesus addressed this very thing:

Mark 11:25-26
And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have
anything
against any: so your Father in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you don't forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive you.

Did you catch that? If you have anything against any. Forgive all or you won't be forgiven. Sorry, there are no levels for all. All means all. It doesn't limit the number(s) or the intensity of the sin(s), or even how long ago they happened, it's infinite.

Our report card on our forgiveness performance will be administered to us on judgment day and we'll be remembered in God's eyes exactly the way we remembered (or forgave) others. We're gonna conclude this study with a parable that Jesus told Peter.

Matthew 18:23-35
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king who wanted to check on the debt of his servants. When he had begun to estimate, one person was brought to him that owed him 10,000 talents (a talent is an ancient coin of a certain weight). Since the man had no money to pay, the king ordered that the servant, his wife, children and all that he owned be sold so that he, the king, could be paid.

The servant fell down and begged, Lord, have patience with me and I'll pay you everything I owe. The king was moved with compassion and released him, and forgave him the debt. (The king actually set the servant free AND wiped out the debt.)

The same servant went out and found one of his fellow-servants, who owed him 100 pence (that's about one millionth of the debt that the king forgave him for). He took him by the throat and said, Pay me what you owe me! His fellow-servant fell at his feet and begged him, Have patience with me and I'll pay you everything I owe. The man would not, but he went and threw his fellow-servant into prison until the man could pay the debt.

When the other servants saw what happened, they were very sorry and went and told the king what was done. The king called him and said, O you wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you asked me, shouldn't you also have had mercy on your fellow-servant, like I had mercy on you? And the king was angry and put him in jail until he could pay all that he owed the king.

In the same way will my Heavenly Father do to you, if you from your hearts don't forgive every one of your brothers for their sins.


CHRISTIAN SIN AND CHRISTIAN MISTAKES PATH
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Okay, back to the beginning. Remember the question we began with? What would Jesus consider forgiveness? My friend, the answer is: He's gonna use the definition you choose with others! With that in mind, you may want to consider how generous you are with the gift of forgiveness that you grant others and to yourself!

It's never too late to forgive. There may be something that happened years ago, maybe even in your childhood that you haven't completely forgiven someone for. You can change that. You can free yourself and other people to be more fruitful for God if you do. If someone hasn't forgiven you for something, perhaps you'd like to ask them to forgive you. You're not only seeking for peace for your own soul, but you're also giving them a chance to escape that invisible net that they've unknowingly put themselves in as well.

God's Grace is above all, the most precious gift we have. Extend your own mercy and Grace to others. Every day is a new beginning, every moment, a fresh start. Clean your slate and give others a chance to clean theirs too.

Did you remember to apply this to forgiving yourself too?

LET GO AND LET GOD!

LET GO (of your problem), AND LET GOD (remove it)!

FORGIVE OTHERS! - FORGIVE YOURSELF!

GRACE ... GOD'S GET OUT OF HELL FREE CARD

We all make mistakes. We fall. Sin gets in our way. Temptation surrounds us and we don't always resist. But that is exactly why God sent His only Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins, and to give us the FREE gift of GRACE! He wants you to ask forgiveness and keep fighting the good fight of faith. When you find yourself struggling with feelings of failure, unworthiness, fear, weakness or shame, just remember that God loves you so very much and He wants you to get back up when you stumble. PERSEVERE! NEVER GIVE UP! If you have a bad day, this study will help you understand more about the liberating GRACE that our Father wants each and every one of us to enjoy.

GRACE



STEPPING STONE FOUR

CHRISTIAN SIN AND CHRISTIAN MISTAKES
CHRISTIAN TEEN COUNSELING SERVICES

Take some time between now and tomorrow when you return to THE PATH, to reflect on some things that you haven't forgiven yourself for and release them into God's hands. Stop banging your head against the wall, come out of your room, and get on with the freedom that God intended for you to have. While you're at it, if there's someone who you need to forgive, or you want forgiveness from ... You know what to do.

Whew, look at that bushel of weeds you pulled! Throw 'em out with the trash. You've worked hard today, and you've earned your fourth STEPPING STONE, so give yourself a pat on the back ...

Continuing in EACH step daily is so very important.

Go back over each step often to be sure you have not missed anything.

REMEMBER TO JOT A LIL SOMETHING DOWN IN YOUR JOURNAL.

REMEMBER TEENAGE SIN MAY BE NORMAL BUT TEENAGE SIN DOES NOT OWN YOU ...

GOD DOES.

To continue our journey tomorrow down THE PATH ...

RETURN TO YOUR HOME PAGE AND SELECT:

STEPPING STONE #5

And I will meet you there!

Stay Real !!!

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