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Like repentance, forgiveness is spiritual discipline and an act of will, a choosing to let go of a wrong and the judgment we hold against the wrong doer. From this early passage in Matthew, the requirements reconciliation or restitution do not precede the act of forgiveness.
Read: Matthew 6: 8-15 How does the requirement of forgiveness impact you? Where do you find that you push back against the passage? Accept the passage?
What do you experience from the reading? Hope? Freedom? Discouragement? Other?
Negative Active Past
Past events or offenses that undermine or overthrow present moment conversations. The unresolved negative past becomes active in the present moment and moves a simple disagreement into a monumental, historical one. Typically, the negative active past is most damaging to close relationships – between spouses, children, or siblings – because our protective strategies of withdrawal or attack only reinforce the power of the negative past. Ongoing unresolved negative active past can lead to bitterness and hatred. Forgiveness releases the active power of the negative past and can open the doors for relational healing and reconciliation.
Reading: Lectio Divina: A Reading with the Heart
Matthew 18: 21-35.
What are you observing as you hear this passage? What memories arose during the reading? Which word or phrase caused you to push back against it? To be open and accepting? At what point in the reading did you “check out”? Whose face came to mind as you listened?
What did you feel during the reading? Mad? Glad? Sad?
Where have you experienced the tormentors for your own hardness of heart?
How do you want to respond to God?
Respond to your experiences with this Matthew 18 passage in time alone with God. Take 30 minutes to be with God in silence and solitude. As you depart to find your place of silence and solitude, begin praying Psalm 139: 23-24:
"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Take some time to write out in the space below or in your journal what you see, feel, or are now experiencing from your time alone with God. Are there any persons or situations that come to mind? What are you feeling or longing for? What do you sense that God is leading you to do with what you are now “seeing”?
Session 3 Starting with Freedom
A Prophecy Luke 1:67-79 – Free to Worship
A New Nature, A New Inheritance Romans 8:14-17 and 2 Timothy 1:7 – No Spirit of Fear
The Genesis of Fear An Old Nature, An Old Inheritance Genesis 2:25-3:19 – A Gift from The Fall Psalm 19:9; Matthew 10:28, 2 Corinthians 5:11 – Fear, Reverence, Awe, Terror of the Lord
Anxiety or Fear
Characteristics of Anxiety
Respond with your partner about what you are seeing about fear and anxiety as well as learning how to be free from the effects of unresolved fears and anxieties.
Anxiety Becoming a Choice to Worship
What insight do you gain from May’s passage above?
Men and Women – Altered Anxiety Genesis 3:16-19 – Relationship or Security In what areas of your life do you find yourself most anxious?
Gaining Your Freedom
Banishing not Managing John 4:16-19 – Perfect Love
Mark 5:21-43 – Don’t be afraid, only believe What keeps you from letting God touch your fears and anxieties?
Pausing to Worship Understanding the difference between the temptation to be fearful and anxious and taking ownership of unresolved fears and anxieties
Fear, Anxiety, or Worship
Moving into our Fruitfulness
Stepping Aside to Reflect Invite the Lord to speak to you about the unresolved fears and anxieties that you regularly experience. As you reflect on these fears and anxieties, consider the core values or deep desires or sense of fruitfulness in you that are being threatened by loss.
What is the loss that you feel threatened with?
What are your core values and desires that are threatened?
If you can experience God’s fear banishing love in these areas, what possibility for good can you begin to see?
Letting Fear and Anxiety Go – A Group Prayer
A Prayer Practice Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight fear or anxiety for you to offer to God
In prayer offer the fears or anxieties to the Lord
Invite God’s love to banish the fear
Invite the Holy Spirit to renew you to fruitfulness