Category Archives: Forgiveness

From Forgiveness to Thanksgiving

Many Christians miss the rich heritage of most of our holidays. For example, Rosh Hashanah begins on the evening of September 13, 2015. The children’s sermon Water Gate tells the story of the Hebrew slaves being released from Babylon to return to Jerusalem. The blowing of the shophar (pronounced SHOW-far) or ram’s horn, was part of a celebration from which we came to blow horns on New Year’s Day. This year Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is on September 23, 2015. As I wrote in a blog Day of Atonement three years ago, this was a day of repentance and forgiveness for the whole congregation.

Yom Kippur is explained…The children’s sermon Scapegoat tells the story. Have you ever known a time when you could forgive others but had a hard time forgiving yourself? This story is about allowance: allowance for others and making allowance for our own shortcomings. It was a makeover. Once a year the congregation asked God to wipe the slate clean and got a new start. Two goats were used — one killed for an offering (a Christ pre-figure) and Azazel (pronounced az-aw-ZALE) meaning goat of departure. That goat had a crimson ribbon tied to its head (representing the sin) and was led outside the camp, never to be allowed back in. It was the scapegoat that carried the sins away. Are you still carrying any baggage that you should let go? If you want to receive the forgiveness of God, then make allowance for yourself and forgive yourself the same as you forgive others – perfectly. Then the “at-one-ment” of experiencing the oneness with Christ will flow into your life.

Then fourteen days after the new year, a sense of community is fostered in the feast of booths (Sukkot), or Tabernacles on September 28, 2015. This was really the closest holiday to what we now celebrate in America as Thanksgiving. It was a meet and greet in the street, a welcoming of strangers, and a community-wide celebration of gratefulness for God’s providence throughout their journey in the wilderness and a reminder that we are only dwelling here temporarily. So the coming weeks will give us a moment to pause to be grateful for our redemption, our forgiveness, and to share our hearts full of thanks with those around us.


I wrote this blog in April 2012…

We are all connected. The matrix or illusion we find ourselves in is thinking that we are separated from each other and God. That makes living on Earth sort of a blind experiment. You have freewill and choose to love or hate. It’s up to you to figure out that you were meant to love one another. The controllers want you to live in fear and hate each other. You can get caught up in arguing over things that keep you separated: things like conservative v liberal, Republican v Democrat. Or you can choose to find the many ways we are alike: humans created in the image of God with infinite potential, personas that radiate the light and love of the Creator, powerful co-creators of reality by energetic intentional thoughts. The law of attraction is always working — with the measure you give, it will be given to you. The law of allowance is always working — if we forgive others and make allowance for those that trespass, so we are forgiven and allowance is made for us. So you must decide if you will cooperate to live in harmony and love, with each other and our cosmic family openly… or not.

Today I still feel the same way, and will add these thoughts…

It is more important than ever to have a heart and mindset of service to others. The alternative is service to self. The service to others person will be more and more loving, forgiving, and open… open to search within for the answers that arise. The service to self person will be more selfish, fearful and confused, and closed… closed to any ideas that cause them to change their programming. The enemy feeds on fear. Perfect love casts out fear. It is time to let go of who you are not and take hold of who you are. “…that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:22) Choose love.


Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10

Text: Mark 11:24-26; Luke 11:4

Prop: A (handwritten) bumper sticker that reads “I’m not perfect, just forgiving.”

Summary: We must forgive others.

closed handHave you ever seen a bumper sticker on a car? They usually have short messages on them. Once I saw one that read, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” Even though we sin or offend others at times, we can be glad that God forgives us when we turn away from our sin.

Here is another bumper sticker like that one, but it is slightly different. (Show sticker.) It reads, “I’m not perfect, just forgiving.” The difference here is it explains our forgiveness in how we forgive others. (Read Mark 11:24-26.)

Jesus tells us to forgive others when we pray. He says that if we are holding a grudge to let it go. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any. (verse 25) Our forgiveness from the Father is linked to our own willingness to forgive those that do something wrong to us.

God knows how to give our hearts true peace and that is better than peace of mind. If we hold on to our anger (or hold a grudge) toward another person it burns within us and harms us. It is only by letting go and forgiving that person that we are ready to accept God’s forgiveness for our own wrongdoing.

open handJesus taught us this in the Lord’s Prayer when he said And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. (Luke 11:4) Let’s practice forgiving others right now. Ball up your hands into a fist and hold them in front of you. Now think of something that someone did to you that hurt your feelings and made you mad. Imagine that you are holding that thought in your fist. Do you see how that looks? It seems as if you are ready to fight.

Now keep holding it for a moment. Close your eyes and bow your head. I’m going to pray and ask you to join me. Let us pray. Repeat after me: “Lord, forgive them.” (repeat) Okay, now open your hands and let go of that thought as you forgive that person. Now repeat after me, “Lord I’m sorry for hurting others. Please forgive me.” (repeat) Thank you Jesus for loving us and forgiving us. Help us to forgive others. Amen.

Now open your eyes and look at your open hands. Since you let go of your grudge and forgave that person now your hand is empty and ready to receive God’s forgiveness. That is how we forgive others. Remember to forgive others when you pray.

©2001 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.

Bad Boy (Prodigal Son)

Joke: Any child can tell you the sole purpose of a middle name is so he can tell when he is in trouble.

Text: Luke15:11-32

Prop: a poster of the return of the Prodigal Son

Summary: Even when we are bad, God loves us and is waiting for us to ask his forgiveness and come home.

Have you ever been a bad boy or girl? How did you know when you were being bad? Did your parents punish you? Jesus told a parable of a bad boy. It is recorded in Luke 15:11-32. This is what happened in the story.

A man had two sons. The younger son wanted his father to give him his share of the inheritance. The father gave it to him, but he left home and journeyed to a far country and wasted his money on extravagant living and partying. About the time he had spent all his money, none of the crops would grow in the land as a result of a mighty famine. The younger son had nothing to eat, so he went to work as a hired servant. He had a very lowly job: feeding pigs. He barely made enough money to eat. When he came to himself, he realized that even his father’s servants had plenty to eat and were better off than he was. He made up his mind that he would return home and beg the forgiveness of his father, hoping to be taken back as only a hired servant. But as he returned, his loving father was already looking for him to return and saw him when he was yet a great way off. His father ran out to meet him and hugged him.

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

But his father, upon hearing these words, restored his son to his estate before he left. He gave him the best robe, a ring signifying his authority as a son, and new shoes on his feet. Then they prepared a feast and had a big party. For this my son was dead, and is alive again, he was lost and is found. Now the older son had been working hard in the field and heard the commotion at the house. He was very angry when he found out what was happening. He had always obeyed his father and had not even been given a small party with his friends. But his father told him, Son, thou are ever with me, and all that I have is thine. He told the older son that it was right to rejoice because his younger brother had changed his ways, he had been forgiven and was alive again.

This story is one of the most well-known of Jesus’ parables and is called the Prodigal Son. I think a better title would be Our Loving Father because the outcome of everything in the story depends on how the father reacts to his wayward son. The father could have refused to even see his son again after he left home and squandered his living. Upon his return, the father could have hired him back as a servant for the rest of his life to teach him a lesson. Instead, we see a loving father that waits for his son to come to his senses, and realize his mistake, and return home.

We have all sinned, or been disobedient to God. Does God hold grudges against us? No, he is merciful and willing to forgive us when we repent. He delights when we come alive again spiritually and come back into fellowship with him. He loves those that obey him too. He is loving and merciful to a sinner that seeks forgiveness. If we have been bad, we need to turn from being bad and return to following God.

©1998 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.

Show Mercy

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. – Sir Winston Churchill

Text: Matthew 5:7; 7:1,2

Prop: Four quarters and a one dollar bill (or coin for bill exchange in any currency)

Summary: We get what we give. Jesus teaches us to be kind to others without giving “pay back.”

two boysToday I want to talk to you about how to show mercy. Look what I have in my hands [the coins and bill]. Did you know four quarters is the same as a dollar? It is. I have a story to tell you.

Once there were two boys in first grade named John and Matt. Matt helped the teacher at lunch by taking up lunch money. The lunches cost half a dollar (US). John came to pay and gave Matt a dollar bill. Matt was in a hurry and didn’t realize he gave John only one quarter for change. “Hey, wait a minute,” John said, “You owe me another quarter. That dollar is the same as four of those quarters. Since lunch is half a dollar, you owe me twenty-five cents more!”

“I did give you two quarters. Now move along,” Matt said. “No, not until I get my money, you thief!” shouted John, who was getting very angry. “Is this how you get your money? Do you take it from others?” John shouted louder. This upset Matt and he shoved John down backwards. “I’ll give you some pay back! I didn’t take your money!” Matt screamed back. The teacher ran over to separate the boys who were now pushing each other around.

“What’s going on here?” asked Ms. Brown, the teacher. She listened to the two boys explain what happened. “Maybe Matt meant to give you two quarters, John, and only gave you one by mistake. Matt, give John another quarter. John, I’m surprised at you. Do you really think Matt would try to take your money? I think he wants to be your friend more than getting a quarter. Now you two shake hands and say you’re sorry.”

Jesus wants us to learn to show mercy. That means we should not be quick to judge others, but we should be kind to others. Sometimes we are mistaken. Even if we are right, we can be a better person when we show a little kindness instead of giving “pay back.” Jesus said Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7) Here’s what else he said.

(Read Matthew 7:1,2)

Matt made a mistake, but John was quick to judge Matt’s action as wrong. John thought Matt was trying to take his money. The shouting got louder and soon they were fighting. You usually get what you give. In this case, John expected to get a 50-cent lunch and two quarters for his dollar. When he accused Matt of taking his money, he got into a fight instead. Matt pushed John, and John pushed back. We can see in this story what Jesus was talking about when he said with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. If John had kept his cool, and asked the teacher for help, the whole argument could have been settled quietly.

As you play with others or go to school, remember to be full of mercy. Try not to be quick to judge another person. Let’s be kind to others.

©1999 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.


As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. – Psalm 103:12

Text: Leviticus 16:8, 21-22; Isaiah 53:6

Summary: The scapegoat is explained as a picture of Jesus removing our sins.

Prop: a picture of a scapegoat.

I want to tell you a story to explain what the word “scapegoat” means.

One day all the children in the kindergarten were crowding around the cookie bowl trying to get a cookie. Someone knocked over the cookie bowl. The children scrambled to get away as it crashed to the floor. The teacher heard the loud noise and came over to see scattered cookie pieces and broken glass on the floor. “Who did this?” she asked. No one said a word. They all felt guilty because each of them had been near the bowl when it fell. But no one knew whom to blame. “Woof!” barked Spot, the school mascot. “Oh, so you know who did this?” the teacher asked the dog. “Well, since no one wants to take the blame I suppose you will be the scapegoat and take the blame for them all,” she explained. “Now you will be sent out into the school yard and you can’t come back inside!”

The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt, 1854, provided courtesy of CGFA.
The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt, 1854, provided courtesy of CGFA.

So from the story we know that a scapegoat is someone that takes the blame for others. While the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness God told them to have one special day each year called the Day of Atonement. On that day the priest would make a special sacrifice for all the people’s sins. As part of that sacrifice he would take two goats, one that would be killed for the Lord, and one that would be kept alive for the scapegoat.*

(Read Leviticus 16:8, 21-22.)

The priest would lay both hands on the scapegoat and say a prayer. The prayer was a confession of sins for all the people’s wrongdoings the past year. When he said that prayer he was asking God to put all the blame for their sin on the goat. Then the goat was led out into the wilderness and let go and never allowed to return to the camp of the Israelites again. That was God’s way of saying he would not hold them responsible for those things they had done wrong ever again. They could see that their sins, now on the head of the goat, were being removed from them.

Look how far I’m stretching my hands apart. (Hold your arms wide apart.) I want you to pretend that my arms could stretch all the way out the windows and so far that you couldn’t see my hands anymore. The Bible says that God has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. That is a long, long way. Jesus took away all our sins (or badness) when he died on the cross for us. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:6, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Jesus took the blame for us. He takes away the sins of everyone who turns to him by faith and trusts him as Savior.

Let us pray: Dear Lord Jesus, I’m sorry I do bad things sometimes. Thank you for taking away my sins. Help me to be your child. Amen.

* For Azazel (pronounced az-aw-ZALE) meaning goat of departure. The goat offered as a sin offering is a picture of Christ yet to come. It was slain as a sin offering and then burned outside the camp; Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world outside the gates of Jerusalem. Likewise, the scapegoat is a picture of Jesus removing our sins.

©2001 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.

Make Allowance for Others

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

Text: Numbers 11:28-29; Mark 9:38-40; Psalm 19:14

Prop: your hand

Summary: Do not find fault with others. Make allowance for them.

Today I want to speak with you about how we treat others. Have you ever seen someone point their finger at another person and find fault with them? Well, it’s been said that when we point the finger of blame there are three fingers pointing back at us. (Demonstrate by pointing your finger and letting them see three fingers aimed at you.)

The thing that bothers me most about others is the part of me I do not understand yet.

I have learned to make allowance for others. I give unconditional love and acceptance for them and let it go. We are all at different places in our journey of faith. Find forgiveness for yourself and what bothers you about them. It is what they know at this point in their spiritual growth.

When we see other Christians doing what the Lord has led them to do, rather than criticize (or blame) them for not going about it the way we would, or saying the words we would say, why not instead be glad something good is being done?

That is how Moses felt when Joshua was jealous that God had given his spirit to two men that were not selected among the 70 elders in the tribe of Israel. Moses told Joshua (who would later become the leader) that he wished everyone had the spirit of God and would speak God’s message to the people. (Numbers 11:28-29)

Jesus responded to his disciple John in a similar manner when he learned that a man was healing people that were sick in their soul (casting out demons), using the authority of Jesus’ name. Jesus made allowance for it and told John not to stop him. He said whoever is not against us is for us. (Mark 9:38-40)

The next time we look at someone else and something about them bothers us, let’s ask, “Did I used to be like that?” Maybe, just maybe, God is pointing our fingers back at us and gently saying, “I love you. I forgive you. Grow up.”

Let us pray. Dear Lord Jesus, help me to be kind and make allowance for others. Amen.

©2012 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.

Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur is September 26, 2012 (dusk Tuesday to dusk Wednesday) or the “day of atonement.” The children’s sermon Scapegoat tells the story. Have you ever known a time when you could forgive others but had a hard time forgiving yourself? This story is about allowance: allowance for others and making allowance for our own shortcomings. It was a makeover. Once a year the congregation asked God to wipe the slate clean and got a new start. Two goats were used — one killed for an offering (a Christ pre-figure) and Azazel (pronounced az-aw-ZALE) meaning goat of departure. That goat had a crimson ribbon tied to its head (representing the sin) and was led outside the camp, never to be allowed back in. It was the scapegoat that carried the sins away. Are you still carrying any baggage that you should let go? If you want to receive the forgiveness of God, then make allowance for yourself and forgive yourself the same as you forgive others – perfectly. Then the “at-one-ment” of experiencing the oneness with Christ will flow into your life.

Law of Allowance

The law of allowance is crucial for us to understand and embrace. Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer that we may ask for forgiveness to the extent we have forgiven others. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12) But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:26). When we look at another person, and do not see a part of ourselves, we miss how important it is to make allowance for others. May our Lord Jesus give us the resolve to find it in our hearts to live that each moment.