“Spirit of Forgiveness” January 12, 2014

Isaiah 42:1-9 Matthe !:1!-1" #$ts 10:!4-4!

Have you ever done something impossible? Have you seen something happen that, up until that moment, you thought was impossible? This is something that happens in the real world and particularly as it relates to the church and to our life in Jesus Christ. Some people have called these things coincidence, others have called them miracles. Some of us who belong to the Emmaus group have referred to these not a coincidences, but od!incidences. "f you have e#perienced something li$e this, then you $now e#actly what " am tal$ing about, but if you do not, then " hope that you will ta$e the time to chat with the ne#t missionary that we invite to spea$ here at Trinity. Every missionary " have ever spo$en with has seen e#amples of this. "n my own life " have %uite a few as well. &henever things happen that you can't fully e#plain, you might want to suspect that od had a hand in it. &hat do " mean? Thin$ of the story of Samson. Samson lived a life that had been dedicated to od and, when od's spirit was with him, Samson had incredible strength and could not be overcome by a hundred men. (ut when od's spirit left him, Samson was as wea$ as any other man and was easily tied with ordinary ropes. &e don't often see feats of strength %uite li$e that today, but we do get glimpses. "n seminary " met a pastor from Cuba who told of a gathering in which the Cuban government had attempted to embarrass the church by advertising a healing service. )t that service, where the government supposed that nothing would happen and the church leaders would be humiliated, something entirely different happened. )t that meeting the spea$er, whom " met, was so afraid that he was hiding behind the podium. )s he wondered where so many people had come from, and how he would ever find the courage to spea$ to them, od spo$e to him. Suddenly filled with courage that he did not have only a moment before, he stood up and began to spea$, and then to lay hands on those who came. ) great many people who had come on crutches or in wheelchairs went home that night carrying their crutches and pushing their empty wheelchairs. &hen " studied engineering " ended my college career with a *.+,-,.. grade point average and when " felt that od might be calling me to go to seminary and graduate school, " wondered how " would ever be able to perform at that academic level. /or reasons that " cannot completely e#plain, other than od had a hand in it, " graduated seminary with somewhere around a 0.1-,.. average. Some will say that " 23ust happened4 to find my niche or that " 23ust happened4 to find a sub3ect that " was particularly good at, but " don't thin$ that's good enough. "n high school " studied /rench and at 5hio 6orthern " studied erman and based on those e#periences " doubted that " could ever learn both ree$ and Hebrew7 but " did. " was even inducted into the Hebrew honorary. How does that happen? 8ersonally, while " put out a lot of effort and my wife and my family gave me a ton of support, " don't thin$ that " was the one who did all the wor$. Somehow, od was in it. 9uring an Emmaus three day retreat, the pilgrims attending the Emmaus wal$ are sometime left small gifts of agape love. 9uring one wee$end in which " participated, a (ible was anonymously left on the bed of one of our pilgrims. )s it turns out, that particular (ible had belonged to that man twenty years earlier in a state at least five hundred miles away, and had been given to him by his father. 6o one attending that wee$end had $nown the man twenty years earlier, or his father, nor had any uninvited guests been wandering the halls where the retreat had been held. 6o one $new how the (ible had appeared, and yet it did. &as it a coincidence? 5r something else?

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9id you ever 23ust happen4 to run into someone you've never met, or someone you hadn't e#pected to meet, and during that conversation they 23ust happen4 to mention that they were loo$ing for a church? 5r they relate to you a problem that your pastor 23ust happens4 to have preached about the wee$ before, and you 23ust happen4 to have a copy of it in your car? How does that happen? &as it a coincidence? 5r something else? " have said before that od is alive and well and is active in the world around us. &hen the Spirit of od moves, the rules get bro$en, thing happen, and we cannot always e#plain them away. "n Isaiah 42:1-9, the prophet "saiah tells of time when od's Spirit will come upon his chosen one, and the world would change7 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. 2 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. 3 bruised reed he will not brea!, and a smoldering wic! he will not snu"" out. In "aith"ulness he will bring "orth justice; # he will not "alter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.$
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&his is what 'od the (ord says) the *reator o" the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs "rom it, who gives breath to its people, and li"e to those who wal! on it+ , “I, the (ord, have called you in righteousness; I will ta!e hold o" your hand. I will !eep you and will ma!e you to be a covenant "or the people and a light "or the 'entiles, to open eyes that are blind, to "ree captives "rom prison and to release "rom the dungeon those who sit in dar!ness.
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“I am the (ord; that is my name/ I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. 0 See, the "ormer things have ta!en place, and new things I declare; be"ore they spring into being I announce them to you.$ "t is no coincidence that as Jesus begins his ministry and is bapti;ed by John, that the Spirit of od is a part of that process. "n Matthe !:1!-1" we read this<

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&hen 2esus came "rom 'alilee to the 2ordan to be bapti3ed by 2ohn. 1# 4ut 2ohn tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be bapti3ed by you, and do you come to me5$
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2esus replied, “(et it be so now; it is proper "or us to do this to "ul"ill all righteousness.$ &hen 2ohn consented.
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s soon as 2esus was bapti3ed, he went up out o" the water. t that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit o" 'od descending li!e a dove and alighting on him. 1- nd a voice "rom heaven said, “&his is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.$ )fter Jesus' ministry was over 8eter stands up in front of a huge crowd and spea$s as if everyone $nows the story. The things that Jesus did were no coincidence. &hether they believed that Jesus was the messiah or not, everyone $new that od was doing something special. %#$ts 10:!4-4!&
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&hen 6eter began to spea!+ “I now reali3e how true it is that 'od does not show "avoritism 3% but accepts "rom every nation the one who "ears him and does what is right. 3, 7ou !now the message 'od sent to the people o" Israel, announcing the good news o" peace through 2esus *hrist, who is (ord o" all. 3- 7ou !now what has happened throughout the province o" 2udea, beginning in 'alilee a"ter the baptism that 2ohn preached) 3. how 'od anointed 2esus o" 8a3areth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power o" the devil, because 'od was with him.
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“9e are witnesses o" everything he did in the country o" the 2ews and in 2erusalem. &hey !illed him by hanging him on a cross, #: but 'od raised him "rom the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. #1 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom 'od had already chosen)by us who ate and dran! with him a"ter he rose "rom the dead. #2 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testi"y that he is the one whom 'od appointed as judge o" the living and the dead. #3 ll the prophets testi"y about him that everyone who believes in him receives "orgiveness o" sins through his name.$ 8eter says, 27ou !now the message 'od sent to the people o" Israel, announcing the good news o" peace through 2esus *hrist,$ and then, 27ou !now what has happened throughout the province o" 2udea, beginning in 'alilee a"ter the baptism that 2ohn preached) 3. how 'od anointed 2esus o" 8a3areth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power o" the devil, because 'od was with him$ The people in Jerusalem didn't need radio, television or the "nternet to hear about the ama;ing things that were happening because of the ministry of Jesus. Everyone in the city and the countryside were tal$ing about it and 8eter points out that it all started 2beginning in alilee after the baptism that John preached4 because od had anointed Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit. "n all of scripture, when the spirit of od showed up, ama;ing things started to happen. 8eter doesn't stop there. He reminds the people of Jerusalem that the disciples and many of those in the crowd were witnesses of what had happened. "t wasn't a fairy tale or a legend or a myth. 9espite the fact that the things that had happened were unbelievable and even impossible, they had seen them with their own eyes and $new that they were real. Some of those gathered there had shared food and drin$ with Jesus after he was dead and rose from the grave. Such a thing was impossible. 8eople simply did not come bac$ to life after three days in the grave and yet, Jesus did. )nd not only that, hun're's of people saw him after he had risen from the dead. So what?

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8eter wants the people of Jerusalem to $now that because they were witnesses to the ama;ing things that had happened, Jesus commanded all of them to preach and to testify to the people who had not seen and who had not heard. &hy? (ecause Jesus was the one about whom the prophets had testified. Jesus is the one, the on(y one, through whom human beings can receive forgiveness. So what does that mean to us? The message that we need to hear in the twenty!first century is about the Spirit of od. The Spirit made things happen throughout the ages, gave gifts through the prophets and through them spo$e to the people of od. The Spirit of od came upon Jesus Christ and through him did ama;ing, unbelievable and impossible things. That same spirit entered into the disciples at 8entecost and they were also given the power to do ama;ing things so that they could carry the message of forgiveness into all the world. Today we remember that the Spirit of od did not enter only into the disciples but into all who believe. The Spirit of od has entered into each one of us who has accepted the gift of Jesus and chosen to follow him. The Spirit of od is still in the business of changing the world and doing ama;ing, unli$ely, improbable, unbelievable, and impossible things through the people of od. &e are witnesses. &e have seen the ama;ing things that od is doing and Jesus commands each of us to testify that he is the one whom od has appointed as 3udge of the living and the dead. The Spirit of od has done these things, and continues to do them, so that we can tell the world where they can find7 /orgiveness. =ou have been bapti;ed with the spirit of forgiveness. Jesus wants everyone to have it. Jesus paid for it. He wants you to help others have it for free.

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=ou have been reading a message presented at Trinity >nited ?ethodist Church on the date noted at the top of the first page. @ev. John 8artridge is the pastor at Trinity of 8erry heights in ?assillon, 5hio. 9uplication of this message is a part of our ?edia ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you. Aetters and donations in support of the ?edia ministry or any of our other pro3ects may be sent to Trinity >nited ?ethodist Church, 0B+B Aincoln &ay E., ?assillon, 5hio ,,C,C. These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership. =ou may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at subscribeDtrinityperryheights.org. "f you have %uestions, you can as$ them in our discussion forum on /aceboo$ Esearch for 8astor John 5nlineF. These messages can also be found online at http<--www.scribd.com-8astor John 8artridge. )ll Scripture references are from the 6ew "nternational Gersion unless otherwise noted.