John Bradshaw - Seventy Times Seven
Thanks so much for joining me. Let's pray together as we begin:
Our Father in heaven, what a blessing to come to You in Your Word. Speak to us now, we pray. I ask for the guidance, the very real presence of Your Holy Spirit, in Jesus' name, amen.
A Major League Baseball pitcher was one out away from pitching a perfect game. Now, that's when the pitcher doesn't allow the other side to get a single batter to first base. One more out and he would become only the 21st pitcher ever to pitch a perfect game. I know it's just a game, but in baseball, that's a big deal. The batter hit the ball. That's okay. The fielder threw it to first base. It beat the batter, and the pitcher had his perfect game! Except that, inexplicably, the first base umpire ruled the batter was safe. He was wrong, but that was his ruling. And that mistake cost the pitcher his perfect game. But the pitcher, a man named Armando Galarraga, who was pitching for the Detroit Tigers against the Cleveland Indians, when he saw the batter was called safe, now, you've seen baseball players; you know what they do. People charge the mound and they get into big brawls and so on. Not Galarraga. When the batter was called safe, he smiled, went back to the mound, got the next guy out. A 28-out perfect game, if you like.
Now, what would you do if that was you? Robbed of a place in American sporting history. Here's what Galarraga did. He said, "Nobody's perfect. Everybody's human. I understand". He met with the umpire, who admitted he made a mistake and apologized tearfully, and the baseball player hugged him and forgave him, which, in the emotionally charged world of professional baseball, is pretty remarkable. Forgiveness, even when the other guy was wrong and robbed him of something. But that's what God asks us to do. He asks us to forgive. And to make it clear, so clear that we couldn't miss it, that God wants us to forgive, Jesus taught this parable. We start in Matthew chapter 18 and verse 21, and the Bible says there that Peter then "came to Him", that's to Jesus, and he said to Him, "'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?'"
And, Peter came off, I think, it doesn't say this, but I'm assuming, presuming, most likely, probably felt pretty good about himself, 'cause he said, "How many times should I forgive this guy who sins against me? Should I forgive him seven times? That would be a lot". But Jesus said to him, "I say not unto thee, until seven times", this is Matthew 18 and verse 22, "but, until seventy times seven". Do you think Jesus was saying, "There's a limit on forgiveness; you need to forgive 490 times"? You know, I don't think He really was, although what's fascinating is if you study the prophecies in Daniel chapter, uh, in the book of Daniel, you get the 70-weeks prophecy. This was 70 times seven. I think Jesus was sowing some seeds here. I think Jesus was making some connections here. I think Jesus was saying in this that there is a prophecy that says God is giving Israel a certain amount of time to get their act together, but Jesus wasn't saying, forgive this much or even this much. He was saying forgive this much!
There ought to be no limit on the forgiveness that you extend to others, which is a challenge for somebody like me and for somebody like you. Truthfully, because the way different people are wired, some have a harder time with this than others, but every person alive has challenges with forgiveness. Every person alive, there's somebody that you feel badly about, some experience that troubles you to this day. There's someone that hovers around in your consciousness. Some a little closer, some a little further away, and there are challenges there. Uh, an old friend, an old boyfriend or girlfriend, a former spouse, a child, a parent, a teacher, an administrator, an employer, or an employee. It's difficult sometimes, challenging to forgive, but forgiveness is one of the attributes of God, you understand. When Moses asked God to, to show Moses God's glory, "The Lord, the Lord God," and God proclaimed the name of the Lord, making clear in there that God is merciful and that God is a forgiving God. This is what God is like. And He doesn't give us the option of being unforgiving.
Now, you might say, "That's just too hard," but, no, that's not actually right, because all of God's biddings are His enablings. And He never asks us to do anything at all, uh, you might be thinking, "Oh, he's going to say, 'God never asks us to do anything that we can't do.'" Oh, that's not true. He asks us to do plenty that we can't do. But He doesn't ask us to do anything that He cannot do in us and through us. And there's a big difference there, and I hope that you're going to grab that difference. And so Jesus spoke to Peter in Matthew chapter 18, verse 23; He said, and this is quite a parable: "Therefore is the kingdom of [God] likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants".
What does that sound like to you? That sounds like judgment, and God will one day, we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. "And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents". You know, you can look that up, and it's, it's, it's a challenge to try to find out how much that actually is, but it's, it's more than you can even get your head around. It's more than you could earn in a lifetime. It is a gargantuan sum! And I don't know how come this fellow owed the king 10,000 talents; I mean, that'd be half the king's kingdom, practically. But this is a parable, and in parables not every detail is to be taken literally. And so, this fellow owned the king, owed the king, a gargantuan sum. "But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made". Verse 26: "The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.'"
Of course. Pause here. If you're thinking about this, there is no way that when we are in debt to God, that we can say, "Lord, I will pay You all". We cannot repay or pay to God what we owe Him. The sum, the total of our debts is, well, the only way you can measure that is, is by saying, "Our sin cost the life of Jesus". There's no way we can give that back or pay that back. We are in debt up to who knows where. We are underwater again and again and again and again. So, we don't bargain with God; we don't say to God, "I'll make it up to Ya". 'Cause we can't. Except that there's one way that our sin, record can be settled with God, and that's by the blood of Jesus as we surrender our life to Christ, and the sacrifice of Jesus covers our sins. Matthew 18, verse 27: "Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt". Can you believe it? "But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him a hundred pence".
Hundred days' wages, loosely speaking, based on what we read in the Bible. So what did he do? "He laid hands on him, ...took him by the throat". He said, "'Pay me that thou owest.'" Verse 29: "And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.'" Do those words sound familiar? They should be, because those are exactly the same words that the other fellow used when speaking to the king four verses earlier, three verses earlier. "And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt". Verse 31: "So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he...called him, said to him, 'O thou wicked servant, I forgave [you] all that debt, because [you desired] me'", you asked me; you requested it of me, "'[shouldn't you] also have had compassion on [your] fellowservant, even as I had pity on [you]?'"
Verse 34: "And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, [that] he should pay all that was due unto him". Verse 35 says, "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses". Forgive, or God won't forgive you. Forgive others, or God will take a dim view of you and your place and your space and your eternity. That's not saying that God is vengeful and God will get ya, and God will come after ya; that's simply saying God will close off to you the gates of heaven, because heaven is no place for somebody whose heart is filled with malice and vengeance and hate and isn't ready to forgive. Forgiveness is not an option. Which means, we need God to do a work in our hearts, because forgiveness does not always come easy to us.
So where in the world do we get forgiveness? We might ask it another way: Where do we get that kind of heart? If we are looking to experience the kind of transformation in our life, or let me put it this way: If we are looking to manifest, to demonstrate forgiveness to others, and that does not come naturally to us, where do we get it from? You see, you start to talk about forgiveness and it's more than just something you do in your head. It's more than just, uh, a cognitive function. Forgiveness is about experiencing a heart change so that actual forgiveness becomes possible, and then it plays out in the life and is an expression of who you are. Because God does not want you faking it.
There are too many fakers in the church already. There are too many people coming to church week after week, "Oh, God bless you. Yes, it is well with my soul". And then off they go home, and they're living like the devil. You would never have suspected it. They look the part; they dressed a certain right way; they spoke a certain, way; they used all the right words; they sounded like the in-crowd. We can't fake it. God doesn't want you to fake it. Which means that if you are a sinner and God is calling you to go straight, He will provide the wherewithal so that you're able to do that. So where do we get that kind of heart? There's only one place.
Second Corinthians 3, verse 18, when you paraphrase it, the Bible doesn't say these words, but it intimates this; it gets the point across. It says that by beholding we become changed. When we behold Christ, we will be changed into the image of Christ. Now, listen, if you were to hold your Bible here, and then the remote control here, which one do you spend most control, most time beholding? If you were to say, the Bible or the TV? The Bible or Facebook? The Bible or YouTube? The Bible or NASCAR? The Bible or whatever it is? Frequently the Bible is a distant second or a long last. Come on, ladies and gentlemen, Jesus is coming back soon, and if there's one thing that the coronavirus pandemic taught us, it taught us that things in earth's last days can change like that. God was trying to get through to us. He was saying to us, "Ladies and gentlemen, don't you see that what is written in the book of Revelation, chapter 13, can come to pass in the blink of an eye"?
Overnight, businesses shut. Overnight, restaurants shut. Overnight, workplaces shut. Overnight, people became cautious, some fearful, some paranoid. It happened just like that. And God is saying, "Earth's last days, those final movements will be rapid ones". I cannot tell you how far we are from the end, but I get the sense reading the Bible, looking around the world, that we are getting closer and closer and closer. And what I know is that what we see going on around us tells us that we are on the right road. The prophetic scenario that we have held and studied and proclaimed has proved, yet again, to be right on. We are getting closer to the end of time. And so God says, "I want your heart, to change you and make you into what you can be, in preparation to meet Jesus". By beholding we become changed. Where do we get forgiveness from? Tell me where. Well, by beholding Jesus and seeing it played out in His life.
Now, think about this great God we serve, this Savior that we serve. Let's think about that and let's behold the heart of God for a moment. Can we? Let's do it in the Psalms. A beautiful psalm, Psalm 103, and we will start in verse 8. Shall we start there? Well, you know what, I'm not going to start in verse 8. I had planned to start in verse 8, but I'm going to back up a little further, and I will start in Psalm 103, and let me get there, and we'll pick it up in verse 1: "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name". Verse 2: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits". Verse 3: "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who [heals] all thy diseases". Right there, the first descriptor of God is telling us that God is a forgiving God. "Who redeems your life from destruction", destruction we deserve, "who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things".
We are talking about a great God, the God who puts a song in the throat of the bird, the God who beautifies the wooded area, the God who thrills and blesses our lives in so many countless ways. He is a good God, and now let's talk about this God a little more. Psalm 103 and verse 8, it says, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger forever". Listen to verse 10: "He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities". Hold it, hold it. He hasn't given us what we deserve. He hasn't given back to us what we've done in our lives. Imagine if God treated us the way we deserve to be treated. Imagine if God gave us the reward of our sinful, hardhearted lives. Imagine that.
God never did say, "You sinned; here's what you deserve". Instead, He is hanging in there with us. He is hanging in there with us, so that what Peter said is true: "The longsuffering of our God is salvation". He waits. He waits. In mercy He waits. He waited decades for Manasseh, and Manasseh turned to faith. He could have rubbed Nebuchadnezzar out, but He waited, and Nebuchadnezzar turned. When Peter denied Jesus, God could have sent lightning from heaven, but He knew, "If I give this brother some time, he will have a change of heart. His heart will turn towards me, and, well, I've got the man right where I want him". God doesn't reward us according to our iniquities. He is a good God. Jesus is coming back soon. We read about the signs of the times. We see prophecy fulfilling, and God is waiting, and God is pleading and God is appealing, because He loves us. And He's waiting for you. If you haven't yet given your heart to Christ, you don't have to wait another moment. You don't have to face the future with fear, you can face it with confidence because Jesus is reaching out to you now and saying, "I want you to be saved. I want you to go to heaven".
Psalm 103 and verse 11: "For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him". How high is heaven? We don't even know. But that's how high God's mercy or how great His mercy is towards us. Psalm 103, verse 12: "As far as the east is from the west, so far [has] He removed our transgression from us". And that's a long way. "Like as a father [pities] his children, so the Lord [pities] them that fear Him". And here's this verse. If you'll allow it to, this verse will revolutionize your life; it'll transform your life. It'll just flat-out change you. Psalm 103 in verse 14, it says: "For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust". Oh, come on, you ought to say amen. You know what that means? It means that God knows what you're made out of.
If you've raised children, you know there was a time your kid went into the kitchen and decided that he or she was going to make breakfast, something. Made nothing but a mess. And you know that it's all part of their growing experience, and nothing was done out of disobedience, and you never said to the child, "Oh, no, I cannot understand why you didn't, uh, cook a perfect lasagna right there". You were happy. You said, "I know what you're made of. You're just a child". Child tries to clean his or her room when they're very small, do a good job, but everything is still messy. And you say, "Well, that's sweet, 'cause I know what you are. You are a child". We're going to try to get the balance right here; there's no question about that. But you don't want to think that every time you fail God cuts you off and sets you adrift. You don't want to think that. No, there's no excuse for sin. No, God provides everything that we need to get it right and not get it wrong. But you know what, you know what? We are growing in this thing. We're growing.
How long does it take a pine tree to reach the place where they want to come along and cut it down and turn it into boards? Twenty-some years. How long does it take an oak tree, a redwood tree, to get to maturity? Long time. You know God understands that about you. Takes a while to get to maturity. So what does He do? Works with ya, loves ya. He's growing you under the, penumbra of His grace and mercy. That's what He's doing. "He knows our frame," and "He remembers that we are dust". He's growing us, molding us, changing us. And make no mistake: God wants us to grow... more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. God calls us to exercise forgiveness. And it's not until we do that that we can really understand the forgiveness that God exercises towards us. Maybe you could flip that over. You might even say it's not until you truly understand God's forgiveness that you can then be forgiving, as He asks. I think either approach is okay.
Look in Luke 18 and verse 9, because, you, you know what I'm learning? The longer I'm in ministry, the more I speak to people and answer people's questions and talk to them about what's on their heart, you know what I discover more and more? I discover that the big questions are really the small questions. Or it's the small questions that are really the big questions. I haven't met hardly anybody who has said to me, "You know, Pastor, I'm just so troubled because I don't think I can adequately understand the chiastic structure of the book of Revelation". Nothing wrong with that. Studying it, understanding it, wrestling with it, oh, that's all fine and fruitful. But there are not too many people who say, "You know, I feel I'm losing my way because when I study Daniel chapter 11, there are a couple of details that aren't clear". I don't meet too many people like that. Can I tell you who I do meet? I meet people who say, "I'm not sure that God has forgiven me". Yeah.
Now, you might say, "Oh, come, oh, come on, John, I mean, this, this is small stuff. Let's get on with, Daniel 9, and let's get into Revelation 17". Yeah, that, that'd be fine. If you're in Revelation chapter 17 and you're studying about that deep stuff right in there, and you're good in your relationship with God, and you're manifesting the character of Jesus, then, then praise the Lord for you. But you ought to stand where I'm standing and look out there and see that there are people everywhere who are stumbling over the basics, not sure that God forgives them. "Been in a church 40 years. I don't know that God forgives me". "I'm in my 60s, and my father was a pastor and a church administrator, and I'm not sure that I'm right with God". What? You can't be sure that you're right with God? You, you don't know how forgiveness works? "Well, yeah, I know how for... well...no. And once I know how forgiveness works, I can't be certain that I'm in the right place with God, because...I'm seeing challenges in my life. I still have flaws and faults, I'm getting things wrong that I should be getting right".
Parable, it's our third passage of Scripture for today. Starting in Luke 18, looking in verse 9, the Bible says, "And He", that's Jesus, "spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others". So He's really dealing with a, the, the pharisaical mindset, and there was an awful lot of that in Jesus' day. "I'm talking here," Jesus says, "because there are so many people who trust in their own righteousness, they are self-righteous, and they look down their noses at others as though the others are worthless". And so Jesus said, "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, ...the other a publican". Now, a publican, they, they, they got some disapproval. Uh, they were agents of an occupying government. The publican, the tax collectors, raised money for Rome. Many of them were crooked, as we read in the Bible. But can you imagine? You despise the Romans. You're there in Israel.
"This is God's land. Who do those Romans think they are? They shouldn't be here. And you are raising money for them"? Words could hardly be found that would be too harsh to describe a publican in the eyes of your average Jew. "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even [like] this publican.'" Can you imagine? "'I fast twice [a] week, I give tithes of all that I possess.'" Now, I don't know if the publican heard this fellow. It says that he was standing a way off. Verse 13 of Luke 18 says, "And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven, but [he] smote...his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.' I tell you," Jesus said, that "this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that [exalts] himself shall be abased; and he that [humbles] himself shall be exalted".
So how does this relate to you and me? You know what I said a moment ago? The longer I'm around, I come to the conclusion that the big questions people wrestle with really are small questions, you know. Uh, yeah, there are people searching with deep theology, but, that's not where they struggle. I meet so many people not sure God hears their prayers. Huh? Or they feel like "God can't forgive me". If you see your sinfulness, I want to encourage you to trust that God is forgiving. Come to Him in faith. Don't wait; don't delay. There's something we have to know. The Bible asks us, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots"? We know the answer to that question, Jeremiah 13:23. The answer is no. And so Jeremiah wrote, "Then may [you] also do good, that are accustomed to do evil". Did you hear what he said? If you're a sinner, and we are sinners, we cannot do good. We are enslaved to the evil.
Now, this is where we must understand that our help is in God. Do you recall what God said through the other major prophet? Well, one of the other major prophets, Ezekiel. He said, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away [your] heart [of stone from] out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh". Who does the doing? God does. It's God who performs the heart surgery and takes away the rock and gives us something that's warm and beating and responds to Him. Our role is to allow God to do that. You know, when temptation comes, you don't need to "fight" the temptation, other than by saying, "God, I allow You to fight the temptation for me". Oh, oh, oh! You, you know that I'm not saying that you shouldn't walk on past the bar or you shouldn't change the channel or turn the TV off in order to get rid of the temptation. Sure, but in the strength of Jesus. It's God who provides us the wherewithal. "It is God who works in [us] both to will and to do for His good pleasure".
Philippians 2 and verse 13. Our role is to yield. It is to surrender. It is to say to God, "Here's my heart; take my heart; do in my heart". If you'll start praying that prayer, "Lord, enter my life and make me new," then God will change your heart, and you can believe that God forgives you and God loves you and remakes you. You don't need to wait until you feel more strongly persuaded. You don't need to wait for a better time. You don't need to wait until your disposition somehow improves. What did Jesus say? "Of mine own self [I can] do nothing". He said that. And He said, "Without me you can do nothing". We can do nothing of ourselves, and so we come to Jesus just as we are and believe that God forgives us and changes us.
Jeremiah 29:13, "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when [you]...search for me with all your heart". And so here's what we do. We come to Christ. He offers us forgiveness. We believe it. Now we can go on being forgiven, forgiving to others because God has our heart. When the Bible speaks about forgiveness, it's speaking about conversion. It's speaking about transformation. It's speaking about preparation for eternity. It's not, "Oh, somebody backed into your car. Be nice about it". It's not that. It's saying, "You've got a corrupt heart". This is the whole biblical doctrine of forgiveness. God can change your heart, mold your heart towards the heart of heaven, and give you His grace to such an extent that now you can exercise forgiveness to others as God exercises forgiveness to you. This forgiveness business, it is miraculous.
You've heard stories, I've got a wonderful story to tell you in a moment, of people who forgive others for the most difficult, ghastly, ghastly things. Someone falsely imprisoned for decades, they walk out and they say, "I'm not bitter. I just forgive them. Things happen. I've got to go on with my life, 'cause I cannot afford to be unhealthy". Phenomenal forgiveness! And God says, "This is what I'm asking of you. Experience that forgiveness". One or two of the individuals I'm thinking of who were falsely, uh, accused, wrongfully imprisoned, they met Christ on the inside and were able to walk out saying, "My faith in Jesus has changed me, my heart. I can be forgiving". So you come to Christ in faith. He has your heart. You believe it now. You don't doubt now. You don't waste your energy saying, "I wonder if God can forgive me". This will transform you.
Christians ought to be the most joyful people on the planet, and you're going to have joy in your heart when you experience the transformational power of the gospel in your life. Yes, God forgives me. You're focusing on God. You're in connection with God. The world is getting less and less important to you. The things of heaven are becoming more and more important to you. You care about the salvation of others. You want to share your faith. You want to see others know Jesus as you know Him. You come to Jesus. He changes you. Things are different now. And wouldn't it be good... if everything was perfect from here on out? 'Cause you come to Jesus, and now you've got a battle to fight. Somebody once said, "The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought". Because now what? Now you've got a selfish self that's striving for supremacy. So now? We're called by God to yield our sinful self, our selfish self to God, surrendering everything to the will of God. Jesus in the garden: "Not my will, ...[Your will] be done".
Now, will that require a struggle? If somebody tells you, "It's just easy now, 'cause I let Jesus take the wheel, and everything is easy," they're either wrong or lying, one or the other. You've heard of growing pains? Even happens in the Christian walk. God's asking you to submit your heart to Him before you can be really renewed. So I have a question for you: How can you actually make a surrender of your life to God? Somebody once said, "Everything depends upon the right action of the will". Whose will do you want done in your life? You have a vested interest. Selfishness is saying, "Oh, I want my will done". But God speaks and says, "I've got better for you. Let my will be done". There's that wrestling. There's that wrestling. You see somebody get up off the park bench and, $10 falls out of their pocket, and something says, "Oh, man, you could use that 10 bucks right now". Something says, "I need to grab the money and flag that person down". And something else says, "Oh, no, it wasn't even their money; it was just on the seat". You pray. You say, "Lord, I want Your will to be done".
Before you know it, you're picking up that $10; you're saying, "Excuse me, excuse me". When temptation comes, yield, and call out to God. Spend enough time with God so that when temptation comes, you care. But call out to God in that moment of temptation; that's yielding. Uh... somebody offends you, and you gotta zing them. You cut off their ear with your sharp words. And God says, "I can hold your tongue for you and give you words of blessing instead of cursing". In that moment, what are you going to do? You yield. "Lord, yet Your will, let Your will be done". And something comes out of your mouth that surprises you. "Hey, God bless you, man; that's all right". What are you doing with your will? Let me connect these dots for you. You surrender your will to Jesus; He'll give you a new heart. You experience His forgiveness, and you believe it. And now you can extend that forgiveness to others because God's grace is at work in your life.
Now, you don't want to make the mistake of saying, "Everything is easy now," because you're going to run into a brick wall called temptation and selfishness, and it'll happen again and again. But when you hit that wall, and you say, "Lord Jesus," He'll lower that wall for you, and on you go. God is calling us to experience His grace in our lives, the power of forgiveness, and it's powerful. Some years ago, when the It Is Written team was in Rwanda, this incredible story emerged. During the tragic genocide there, a woman had witnessed her family murdered, her husband and sons. Years later, she came face to face with the young man who killed her family. What do you think she said? She said to him, "I've lost my son", son? Sons? "I've lost my son. You must come home with me. You will be my son now".
She took him into her home. She cared for him. She cooked his food. She took care of his laundry. She loved him. We wonder how that's possible. It's what she did, because God had her heart. When God has your heart, you can go so far beyond the dos and don'ts of Christianity. You can go beyond pharisaism. "Oh, I do this and that, I'm trusting in myself, and I'm not like that, so I'm good". You can go beyond that. You can experience the presence, the person, and the power of Almighty God. "Seventy times seven," Jesus said. We don't need to count. We don't need to count. Just trust, believe, put one foot in front of the other. Let God's will be done. Let God have your heart. Can I pray with you? Let's pray:
Our Father, we thank You for Jesus, who is good and great. We thank You for forgiveness. We fall so far short, but would You, God, give us grace to behold Your wondrous power, Your love. By beholding we become changed. What do we read in the Bible? "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, ...plenteous in mercy". You're good. Take our hearts and cleanse us, and now let that, let that presence of heaven flow through our lives so we can be as forgiving towards others as You are towards us. And grow us, Lord, so that on that soon day when Jesus comes back, He's able to look at us and say, "Ripe and ready for the harvest". Let that day come soon, we pray, and we thank You in Jesus' name, amen.