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Faith and Forgiveness


"Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions."
Good Morning my beloved,

We welcome you to worship in the name of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is always a tremendous privilege to come together for the study God's Word, I love to preach the Gospel verse by verse, I thank God for allowing me that opportunity. I am always amazed by how God uses this ministry to reach those in places I've never before imagined. It is exciting to hear that for many of them, it's the first time they've encountered Jesus. If God is using this ministry to impact your life, please write and let us know, we'd love to hear from you. It's a privilege that I don’t take lightly.
For many people, prayer is something that they simply recite as a means of leverage for personal benefit, or a box to check off on their spiritual to-do list to satisfy themselves, like going to church, without giving much thought to the reality that it can be a life-changing experience. I believe prayer is monumental in the Christians life in terms of its capability and pleasing the Lord. Prayer is very essential in order to know the fullness of blessing from God, to open the flood gates of heaven, in an ongoing conversation with God, therefore, believers must know how to pray. In contrast, if we do not know how or for what to pray, then it is of little benefit to keep on praying. 
I've often been asked, "If God is in control of everything anyway, what's the point in praying?" And, I am always amazed by those who think God is obligated to give us requests, quoting Jesus as saying, "Whatever you ask in my name . . I will do it." Or quoting Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart." I believe this is because most people are completely unaware that prayer is intended to align your heart with His heart, over and above anything else, so that your desires will become consistent with His desires, wanting the same things that He wants. If you see prayer merely as a means for God to give you the desires of your heart, you will inevitably be disappointed when He doesn't give you what you want. That kind of meaningless praying is no different than that of unbelievers. How often when we pray, is our focus is on ourselves, on what we want Him to do for us, rather than on the will God? This has got to change, God and His will must be the primary focus of our worship.
On this side of the cross, we've never had Jesus walking around with us, the only access we’ve ever had to Him is prayer. It's all we’ve ever known. So while it may seem strange that after three years of being with Jesus, the disciples, who were raised to pray every day would require a lesson in prayer and faith especially at this time, only a few days away from His crucifixion. It's Wednesday, perhaps, there are more critical lessons that He could be teaching them now. I believe there are several reasons for this; first because of how central the temple was, and how devastating its loss would be to them. And secondly, because for the last three years, He provided everything that they needed, their prayer life had diminished. And soon they were going to become like us, totally dependent on One whom they cannot see to provide everything they need. So Jesus takes this time to give them a critical lesson in prayer, stressing that authentic faith will not end with the temple’s destruction, true prayer is not based on a place, but affirming the need for proper prayer based upon three aspects: faith, grace, and forgiveness. 

Let us pray

Heavenly Father,

Father, thank You for Your Word, for this reminder that our prayers should not be for selfish gain but be  filled with that which glorifies You, and dramatically changes our lives; faith, grace, and forgiveness. May we everything we ask in prayer be in that regard. Help us to forgive others as You have forgiven us, fully and immediately, without holding onto to grudges toward them for what they've done, hindering our prayers. Father, I pray that if there are some among us who are still struggling with the issue of unforgiveness, change their hearts and make their hearts receptive, free them as only You can, for Your glory. Lord, make us a forgiving people, who exhaust the heart of forgiveness. We pray for those who have never come to Christ, have never experienced Your forgiveness, may today be that day. In Jesus' precious name we ask and pray.

Today's Message: Faith and Forgiveness
Christians are not immune to difficult trials, or mountains, in fact, we're prone to them. James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." And in 1 Peter 1:6-7, Peter writes, "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." No matter what the mountain is that you may be facing in your life, and everyone has or will face a mountain or two in our lives, God is bigger than your mountain. Like many of us, the disciples needed to know this. Believing that is where all effective prayer begins. You must have confidence in God. 
It is mind boggling to me that some Christians pray without trusting God has the power to overcome all kinds of obstacles. I mean, hasn't the Lord proven Himself in the past? That’s one of the advantages of trials, they build endurance and increase your faith to believe in God, trusting Him with the utmost confidence. If you have saving faith, you come to understand that nothing will be impossible with God, knowing without doubt God is able to accomplish anything, and if it is consistent with His desire, He will do it. I’ve lived long enough to see the mighty hand of God at work in my own life, in otherwise impossible, hopeless situations more times than I could ever count; it's really an amazing thing to experience. You have to put your confidence in God whole heartedly, not in your own ability, which presents a conundrum for many believers. Faith is not just believing in God, though that's certainly one of the components, you must trust the character of God and believe in His power! That's the confidence we have, we’re going to receive what we ask for, if we ask in His will.
In James 4:3, he says  "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." You cannot pray asking God to fulfill your own lusts, your own desires and expect to receive it. God doesn't honor prayers for selfish purposes, outside of His will. That's the "name it and claim it" gospel that's being propagated today. I could never imagine demanding what I want from God, I trust that He above everybody, including myself, knows what is best. Therefore, I trust Him with every aspect of my life, even if I do not necessarily understand, because I can trust His unchanging character. It is important to allow God to remind you who He is and what He says is true about Himself. We do that by spending time with Him in His Word.

In 1 Peter 4:19, Peter writes, "Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right."
Prayer, then, begins with honoring God, seeking His will, not demanding things from God. Jesus taught us the model for prayer in this way: "Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." There is no better and no more secure way to pray than that which is consistent with His will, His purposes and plans. The key to receiving what we ask then, is to trust God, and surrendering to His will, believing God’s going to respond to that.

Open your Bibles with me to the eleventh chapter of Mark, today we will be looking at verses 23 through 25. I encourage you to follow along with me as I read, if you will, to set it in your minds and invite you to open your hearts and minds to see how the Spirit of God might use this portion of Scripture to impact our prayer life. Mark 11:23-25.

"Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions."
Let's look at verse 23, "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him." In spite of what I've heard a number of people claim, Jesus is not saying that if you have enough faith, you can cause mountains to move, He's not talking about a mountain in a literal sense, it's a metaphor, a figure of speech, a hyperbole for the problems we face. That's the application here, nothing more. If you doubt that, feel free to go and stand in front of any mountain you choose, even a small one, and command it to move, it’s not likely to happen, because you have no power. By the way, I'd like you to notice, that of the thirty-seven miracles Jesus performed during His earthly ministry, there's not a single instance recorded in the Bible of Him literally casting even one mountain into the sea.
That's the radical charismatic theology Word of Faith movement, or Positive Confession, for which Joel Osteen is well-known, also known as the Prosperity Gospel, that claims anyone can speak anything into existence through the power of their faith, saved or not, that has been problematic for the true church. Desperate people are an easy target for these religious charlatans. This is the exactly same false New Age doctrine introduced by Jerry and Esther Hicks in 1980's, The Law of Attraction. It all represents the same false image of God that Satan wants portrayed, while claiming to represent the work of the Holy Spirit, which is why these demonic teachings are not harmless, they have very serious eternal spiritual consequences in the lives of the multitudes of people who have been deceived.
Jesus is talking about faith in the power of God, not in the power of your faith. Your faith has no power to speak anything into existence, God has all the power. Your faith can only activate God’s power within the framework of His purpose. The real issue here is whether or not you have faith to believe what God says. Our faith is not perfect faith, we’re human so there's always an element of doubt, but even a little faith is enough to activate the power of God in the life of a believer. The disciples needed to learn this, much like all of us today. This is not new, it's the exactly the same thing Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, "if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you." And Matthew 7, in the Sermon on the Mount, He said "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." This is not the same faith that the false teachers are preaching today, which contains more error than truth,  representing Christ as some sort of wish granting genie, a servant to us if only we have the right formula, rather than the Christ identified in the Word of God. Jesus made it very clear in Luke 22, when anticipating of His crucifixion He said "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." According God's will, not yours or mine. God knows what you need, He is more gracious than you could ever imagine, but don't mistake your needs for your personal desires. 
Verse 24, "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." False teachers have misinterpreted this verse as justification that we can get whatever we want in life simply by believing that we will receive it, committing a serious error, by claiming Jesus actually said the same thingIf every person can create his own reality by positive confession, regardless of his spiritual condition, without understanding one’s need for a Savior, that's not the Gospel. The Bible is clear, a false gospel, a false christ cannot save anyone. That's why in Matthew 24 Jesus warned, "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect." Many false teachers claim to hold the offices of prophets and apostles, claiming to receive the gifts of tongues, healing and casting out demons, even raising people from the dead, taking Scripture out of context and giving them meanings they do not contain, all for a price. It's not surprising that when someone isn't healed, it's because of their lack of faith. No wonder Paul warned in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light."
And in 2 Peter 2:1, Peter said "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves."
One of the most blasphemous teachings of some false teachers is since we are created in God's image, that we are all "little gods," so we posses the power to do what we want, based very loosely on Psalm 82:6, "I said, "You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High." which Jesus quotes in John 10:34. If this we true, doesn't it stand to reason then that one should be able to expect human beings to dis­play similar qualities known to be true of God? I even heard one well-known television evangelists, a false teacher,  boldly make the statement "Of course, God wants you to be rich, He promises to lavish us with His riches. The problem is you haven't asked Him for it, you have to claim the inheritance that's rightfully yours!" The Lord knows our struggles, He understands, but that doesn’t mean you can go around demanding whatever you want. But if you faithfully ask Him for that which is consistent with His will, His purpose, you can be sure it’ll be done for you.  Jesus said in John 14:1, "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me." There's no reason why you should doubt God, if He's controlling your wish list. That's the qualifier. That said, I'd like you to notice something, Jesus does not tell us how quickly our mountain will move, just that it will move, if we trust in God. God may choose to move your mountain all at once, or He may move your mountain piece by piece, God always works in His own time, not ours. So we must believe God is able to move our mountain, in His own way, then scripture says it shall come to pass. It's worth mentioning, that sometimes God will not move the mountain, but He will guide you around the mountain or grant you the strength to climb over it. Paul prayed three times for the thorn in his flesh to be removed, and God answered His grace was sufficient to help handle it. Another example is Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, lied upon and was put in prison, but in due time, God moved him from prison to Pharaoh's palace, giving him the endurance to handle the storms in his life.
That brings us to verse 25, "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions." If that verse seems familiar, it's because Jesus said almost those exact same words in Matthew 6, when He was teaching the disciples how to pray, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." They needed to be reminded that forgiveness is necessary for effective prayer. Let me to clear, He isn’t talking about salvation, those sins were already forgiven. He's talking about the unrighteous sin we commit as we live day by day as a believer that need to be cleansed. Repentance is a continual ongoing process in the life of a true believer, a commitment to make a change, it shouldn’t be foreign to us, because you can't expect God's forgiveness if you're unforgiving towards others. If we want to move the mountains in our lives, we cannot live anyway we want, cussing people out, being disobedient to your parents or lying, stealing, mistreating your spouse or your children or even holding a grudge against someone else. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any unforgiven sin, my own or toward somebody else, to affect my prayer life. When you begin to truly understand the implications of unforgiveness, it's life-changing! To put it another way, it’s your choice; you can either choose to hold onto a grudge, or you can choose to have your prayers answered, that's the point.
I'm just going to comment on verse 26, because it's not in the early manuscripts, that's why there's bracket around it, meaning Mark didn’t include it. Some scribe may have accidentally added it here or thought it was fitting because of what Jesus says in Matthew 6:15. Either way, it's a true statement and a common theme throughout Scripture. Psalm 66:18, says "If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear." And Proverbs 15:29, tells us "The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous." In John 9:31, "We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him." Notice the end of the verse, "and does His will, He hears him." In other words, it's not just what we say, but what we do that makes the difference. 
In Closing..
You cannot continue living in your sin, and consider it true salvation. Sin interrupts our fellowship with God and renders are prayers useless, if those sin aren’t forgiven. The only way any of us are going to make it heaven, is to do things God's way, and that means we must forgive others for the offenses committed toward us. Remember the words of the late R. C. Sproul who said it well when he said, "An unforgiving heart is an unforgiven heart."
May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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