Ask Jesus - He Says God Forgives You if You Ask
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Jesus` Message: What It Means to Repent

"It is an interesting thing in the Bible that when the good news of forgiveness and new life in God`s kingdom gets proclaimed, the greatest news that`s ever been announced, there is one word that is consistently used by Jesus and his followers to describe the response that he is asking the human race to make. Now, we will walk through a couple of texts from scripture right now and see if you can pick out what that one word is. Matthew starts by saying: In those days, John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." ''Matthew 3:1-2'' Then, in the very next chapter, Matthew 4, when he is describing Jesus` message: From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." ''Matthew 4:17'' When Mark is going to summarize Jesus` teaching he does it in very similar terms: After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has dome, " he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news." ''Mark 1:14-15'' And, that is Jesus` message his whole life long. After his death, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes down and Peter is teaching to a large group of people at the temple.

He explains Jesus` message and his identity as the Son of God and the significance of his crucifixion for our sins and the good news of his resurrection and then it says, When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." ''Acts 2:37-38'' What`s the fundamental response that Jesus tells them? It is to repent. And repenting is not something that you do one time and are done with it. It is a way of life.

There is a lot of activity that gets talked about in the New Testament that people get pretty good at. Sometimes people in the church might be pretty good at witnessing, or at giving, or at worship, or expressing joy, or confronting somebody. Who, here, is an expert at repentance? Who would say that repentance is one of the things I am best at in the world? I really mastered that one. How do you actually go about repenting? My hope is that this will help you in something that needs to be a practice for all of us that follow Jesus on a regular basis. When I repent, here is where it starts. I try to name my sin as honestly and specifically as possible.

Here is what repenting is not. It is not excusing my sin, minimizing my sin, it`s not rationalizing my sin, it`s not blaming my sin on somebody else. Those are all things that by its nature, sin inclines us to do. Remember the first sin when Adam has eaten fruit from the forbidden tree and God comes down and says, "Adam, why are you hiding from me? Why did you eat from the one tree that I told you not to?" And, you remember, Adam reflects on the importance of taking personal responsibility for his action and summons up all of his courage and says, "It was the woman." Not just "the woman, " but "it was the woman you gave me." Whose idea was that woman? Was it my idea, no. Adam won`t say, "I did it. I choose to do it." That is what sin does to us.

David wrote these words: When I kept silent, my bones wasted away . . . your hand was heavy upon me; . . . then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord" and you forgave the guilt of my sin. ''Psalm 32:3-5'' This is kind of an odd way of putting it, but repentance needs to happen one sin at a time. My natural desire is to throw a big bunch of sins into a pile and say, "God, you know what`s there, just forgive them all." It`s less embarrassing and less painful. Of course, God loves to forgive, it`s not that God wants to withhold forgiveness if we don`t do it exactly right. But, repentance is not just a bookkeeping deal. It is a relationship deal. It`s a character transformation deal. If I just do the "Here`s a big pile, God, forgive it all, "I miss out on so much of the cleansing and healing power of grace. Repentance means getting painfully honest with God. "God,

I told those people I was late for a meeting because the traffic was bad. The reality was that I just procrastinated. The reality was that I just didn`t give myself enough time to get there and I knew that I was going to be rushed when I left. That was a lie. I am a liar. Please forgive me." The reason that I lied was that I wanted to control their impression. Have them think better of me than is real. The result is that now I am kind of living an image rather than living in reality. I`m a little hollow inside. In the process of repentance, it`s generally a real good thing to ask "What`s the reason?

Why did I sin?" because very often what sin involves is an illegitimate way of trying to meet a legitimate need. I need to identify what the need is and find out a God-honoring way of meeting it otherwise I am going to keep falling into the same sin traps. Then, it is also a good thing in repentance to ask, "What`s the result of my having sinned in that way? What`s the damage I did?" because then I start to realize the problem with my sin. "God, I slandered this person behind their back and I knew I was doing it. I did it because it would feed my own sense of self-righteous superiority which made me feel good to do it. As a result, I have damaged community. I`m a gossiper. I beg Your forgiveness. I`ve divided Your people, I beg Your forgiveness." I am very aware when we talk about this subject this requires a painful shot of humility. James writes these words: . . . Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. ''James 4:7-10'' I used to think that those words sounded almost masochistic or depressing but they are not.

The point of repentance is not that God wants me to grovel before Him before He will forgive me. The point is part of the process of repentance is to change my emotions about my greed or lust or gossip or pride or whatever. God, help me to see sin the way you see it and therefore to feel about it the way that you feel. So that I am not just going through life trying really hard to avoid sin but so that I become the kind of person finally who has enough moral and spiritual sanity that I just see sin for the rotten, messed up, junky stuff that it is and I don`t want to do it anymore. So, it involves a new way of feeling. The next step in the repentance process is to seek to make amends as far as is possible. Try to set things right.

This is one of the main ways that you tell the difference between if somebody is genuinely repentant, are they really, or are they just trying to do damage control. Are they just upset because they got in trouble. When I really repent, my concern is not just how do I minimize pain. It is how do I set things right in my soul and with the people I have hurt or wronged? Or the community that I am a part of? How do I make things right? A classic example of this from scripture is the character Zacchaeus. You remember, Zacchaeus, the tax collector, the wee little man. He hears this good news from Jesus. The people all around are grumbling how come Jesus wants to go to be with Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus comment to Jesus is: . . . "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." ''Luke 19:8'' Part of what repentance includes is the promise of a sincere intent to change. I can`t guarantee anything. I`ll need help; but I really do, as sincerely as I can seek to change into a different person. Set things right. And, then, repentance always, always, always means that I take time to experience God`s grace and hear again about mercy and love in my heart. Jesus loves it anytime anybody hands him the keys to the hall closet.

This is a funny thing. Those are the moments when we`re most afraid and most ashamed, Jesus just loves it when that happens. He just loves it. He`s waiting for some of you to do it today. Jesus is the greatest forgiver and transformer and grace dispenser the world has ever known. He is never shocked, He has never turned anybody away. You and I won`t be the first. It is like that is kind of His specialty. Grace is kind of his specialty. That is why He went to the cross. Repentance is never complete - never complete until we take time to remember the cross and to hear words of grace and love. Repentance is the death that leads to life. Repentance is anytime someone comes to Jesus and says, "There`s a mess in the hall closet and even to acknowledge it kind of scares me. And, I can`t fix it myself and I have tried before but I don`t want to live with it anymore. So Jesus, I want to tell you about it." Then Jesus says, "I can clean up what you can`t." And, this is just the first step, just to stop hiding and start being honest. And this moment is our turn. This is your time right now.

By: John Ortberg
Category: Ask Jesus - He Says God Forgives You if You Ask
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You Do Not Have to be Perfect to Know Jesus

"That`s why I love this story about Jesus and the woman at the well, because in it he just shatters any stereotype we might have that what he wants is perfect people.

To begin with I think what this story shows us is that far from avoiding sinful people, Jesus will go out of his way to find them and restore them through a relationship with him. As you probably know, according to the customs of the day, Jesus should have nothing to do with this woman. It is bad enough that she is a Samaritan; Jews had no
dealings with Samaritans because they were considered heretics, traitors and racially impure. Worst yet, she`s a woman in a culture where a Jewish man would regularly pray the prayer, "I thank you, God, that you did not make me a Gentile, a dog, or a woman" in that order. Bad enough she`s a Samaritan, worst yet she is a woman, and worse even still, she is this particular woman; she has had five husbands and the one she has now is not her husband.

Jewish law allowed for a maximum of only three husbands; she is two over her limit, and she is fishing without a license! That`s why she comes to this well alone at noon when most women went in groups in the morning. She comes alone in the middle of the day because she is an outcast and nobody will go with her and she is ashamed. But Jesus reaches beyond all of those barriers; he reaches beyond the barriers of race and religion and gender and even of moral behavior to get to her and to show her and to show us that whose we are is far more important to him than who we are or what we have done. John 4:4 says that in order to get to Galilee, Jesus had to pass through Samaria - geographically speaking that is not true.

There was a route around Samaria and a pious Jew would have taken it to avoid Samaritans. The real reason Jesus had to go through Samaria was to get to her, just like he had to come from heaven to earth to get to you and me. Jesus does not avoid sinful people; on the contrary, he seeks them out, and I believe this woman was hooked the minute Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." Her whole life she had been ostracized as a prostitute, trapped in her own immoral search to feel loved, six separate tries to feel wanted, six separate tries to feel valued, resulting only in a ruined self-esteem and a wrecked reputation. She had been drinking a lot of salt water and it had just left her thirstier. But finally somebody treats her with dignity, finally somebody treats her like a human being and reaches out to her and that changes her. Jesus breaks down every barrier, violates every social taboo, goes out of his way to reach sinful you and sinful me to let us know that we are forgiven and we can have a new start, and that quenches our deep thirst to be valued and wanted; we
are sought after people.

The second way Jesus shatters the stereotype that he only wants perfect people is that he knows the truth about who we really are, and he tells it to us but loves us anyway. In his conversation Jesus talks about living water, the kind that quenches every thirst permanently and the woman says, "Give me some of this water, so I don`t have to come back to this well." Then Jesus says this odd thing, "Go call your husband." It`s kind of an awkward transition, don`t you think? Give me some living water, go call your husband. It`s a non sequitur. As a former English teacher, this drives me crazy. If this had been an essay, I would have circled it in red, and I would have said, "Jesus, your essay though spiritually provocative suffers from a series of awkward non sequiturs, B-minus." Shows you what I know! I think there is actually a very powerful truth in that awkward non sequitur. By turning the focus of the conversation to her five husbands -- to the things she is most ashamed about - what Jesus is saying is the living water you want, the kind that quenches every thirst, well, that means that you have to tell the truth to God about your life so that he can tell the truth back to you that you are forgiven.

Like this woman a lot of us are caught up in a cycle of shame where we are terrified that people are going to find out who we really are, and if they do, we will never be loved so we cover it up and we hide it, which only makes us feel more ashamed and just makes us feel worse. The only way out of that cycle is to fess up to God and at least one other person and say, "I am a sinner." We need to tell the truth about our broken lives so that we can hear God`s truth back to us that we are forgiven. Now, admittedly, that is scary and that`s why this woman hesitates.

If you noticed, after Jesus asked her about her husband she equivocates by saying, "I have no husband." Correct, but only on a technicality. And Jesus calls her on that - the one you have now is not your husband. And then she says this great thing, "I see you are a prophet." Good guess. And then she changes the subject: Jesus, some people say we should worship on this mountain and some say in Jerusalem. What do you think? In other words, enough about me - let`s talk theology. Okay? This is getting too close. So Jesus says, okay, if you want to talk about worship, we`ll talk about worship. If you want to worship, you have to worship in spirit and in truth, and he repeats the word truth over and over and over again. In other words, worship is truth telling; worship is when we come to God and say, "Lord I am a broken sinner, " and he says, I know - that`s why I died to forgive you and that`s why I am going to give you my spirit to change you. Worship isn`t about singing songs, it`s not about hearing sermons, and it`s not even about coming to church.

Worship is when our truth meets God`s truth. Far from wanting only perfect people, Jesus knows the truth of who we really are, loves us anyway, and forgives us and transforms us to be new people. This quenches our deep thirst -- to be fully known and fully loved - two things that go together only in a relationship with Jesus. That doesn`t even happen in marriage, only with Jesus.

The last way I think Jesus shatters the stereotype that he only wants perfect people is he uses even our sin for his glory. After meeting Jesus, this woman runs into the village, and she says, "Come, see a man, who told me everything I ever did." Now that is a big change for a woman who has come to this well in secret and in shame and in hiding, and now she is blabbing her life story to the village, and all the villagers came out to see Jesus because of it. In other words, her sin becomes evangelism. Her sin becomes the pulpit she climbs into to tell the story about Jesus. Her sin and what Jesus does with it becomes the thing that convinces all the villagers that Jesus is the Savior of the world. Her sin isn`t good, but what Jesus does with it is. Jesus can use even our sin for his glory, just like he did on the cross where our sin led us to crucify our Creator, but he used that to forgive us.

Jesus doesn`t want perfect people. Good Christian is an oxymoron anyway. Think about it. To be a Christian, you first have to admit you need forgiveness for something. Jesus goes out of his way to find imperfect people, and he tells them the truth about their sin, forgives them, changes them, and then he uses even our brokenness for his glory and that quenches all our thirst unlike the salt water we keep drinking every day. And that`s why I think the most important detail of this story comes in John 4:28 where it says she dropped the water jar - a funny little detail to put in there, don`t you think? But I think it sums up the whole story. You see this woman has been coming to this well day after day, but each day she had to go back again because she was thirsty, just like she had been going from husband to husband to husband, but still not satisfied. The well, the husbands, they are same thing: water that does not satisfy. But when she meets Jesus, she drops the water jar. Her itinerary of desire has come to an end. She`s got living water; her deepest needs have been met and she`s been changed."

By: Scott Dudley
Category: Ask Jesus - He Says God Forgives You if You Ask
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How Jesus` Grace Works

Grace is such a nice word. We associate it with the goodness of God, and we like it in theory. But there is another side of grace that this parable highlights. If we look at it closely the grace of Jesus Christ can be a little disturbing. And if we`re honest, grace bothers us - at least a little. This parable scandalizes us. One of the stereotypes we have about being a Christian is that if you`re good, you`ll go to heaven, and that Jesus is fair, and he`ll reward us for our good deeds. I can`t tell you how many times I hear this even from people in the church who say,

"Well, I`ve been good so I know I`m going to go to heaven." But that`s not what Jesus says in this parable. Jesus says we go to heaven because of his grace, not our works, and because we know him. Nowhere does Jesus say he`s fair. He doesn`t say we`ll get what we`ve earned or what we deserve. He says he comes to bring grace, and grace bothers us because it`s not the way we like to do things. Our whole society operates not on grace, but on ungrace or non-grace. As Phillip Yancey points out: Tests come back with WRONG answers circled not the right ones. Corporations have org. charts so everyone knows where everyone else stands. Airlines make us earn frequent flyer miles; they just don`t give them away. The compensation package the landowner in this parable offers his employees wouldn`t fly in a global economy. Our whole culture functions on non-grace. And we like it that way, and if we didn`t, we`d change it. So truth be told as much as we are comforted by the idea of grace, Jesus` Grace also disturbs and challenges us. It does so for these reasons:

1) We don`t like grace because it makes us equal to everybody else, and we don`t want to be equal; we want to be superior. Notice the workers complaint in vs. 12 "you have made them equal to us." Isn`t it interesting that their complaint is NOT that they were underpaid? The wage was a fair wage and everyone was happy with it. Their complaint was that everyone has been made equal. They don`t want to be equal; they want to be superior. A lot of human happiness seems to depend on us having something that someone else doesn`t have.

My kids are a great example of this. If Holly has a toy and Jackson notices that she has something he doesn`t -- he wants that toy. It can be the stupidest toy in the world and he`s got to have it "NOT because the toy is great, but because his sister has something that he doesn`t have, he`s got to fix that terrible wrong. If ever you question original sin have children, and it will cure you of your bad theology. A lot of human happiness depends on us feeling like we have something that someone else doesn`t have so that we can feel superior. That`s why I went to school all those years because I loved getting grades. I thought grades were wonderful. I would work so hard to get an A because it was the highest grade, and by definition that meant I would be better than most people. I would have something that they didn`t have and that would make me feel superior, and I loved to feel superior. What this parable suggests is, that as sick as it sounds, we want heaven to be like school. We don`t want to be equal. We want God to give us grades so that we can compare ourselves to other people. In heaven we could way to each other, "God gave me an A today " what did he give you " ooh

sorry, must have been that thing with the IRS a couple of years ago " guess you`ll have to sit on the B- side of the galaxy. "There`s a part of us that wants God to work that way because then we can feel superior to others. Are there people that you do that to? Are there people that you place yourself above? We all do. We say things like, "I may be a sinner, but at least I don`t " or I may lie sometimes, but at least I`m not like " ''just fill in the blank''.

2) This brings me to the 2nd reason that grace challenges us, and it`s related to the first. Grace is too radical. Grace means that there is nothing we can do to make God love us more. That`s bad news for an overachieving, eldest son, former Stanford student like me because I like to earn things. But the grace of God means something else. It also means that there is nothing we can do to make God love us less ''and for a wretch like me that`s good news''. You see, no one is first and no one is last; we`re all just saved by Jesus. That`s why Jesus uses such confusing language here about first and last. At the end of chapter Matthew 19 before the parable Jesus says, "first will be last, and the last will be first." But at the end of the parable in Matthew 20, he turns that around and says in reverse order "last will be first, and the first will be last." This is very confusing language - all those lasts and firsts; firsts and lasts just blur together as if in the Kingdom of God that was the point. Grace is not about finishing last OR first; it`s about not keeping score at all.

-- That`s radical. Jesus is more radical than Mao or Lenin or any of those revolutionaries. Those guys just wanted to put the workers on the top and capitalists on the bottom, but there`s still a top and there`s still a bottom. Jesus gets rid of top and bottom all together. And he says, "You can stop worrying about being first. You can stop being afraid about being last. Once you`re covered by my grace, you`re free from all of that - you`re free." Where are you competing with others just to feel like
you`re in first place? Jesus says if you know him, you don`t have to prove anything to anyone anymore. You`re loved no matter what you`ve done or haven`t done. That`s radical.

3) A third reason why grace challenges us: Because it`s unfair. The landowner`s grace means that those who worked longest got paid the same as those who worked only an hour - that`s unfair. Did you know this story used to be an old Jewish parable before Jesus picked it up? Only in the ORIGINAL version of the story did it say the workers who came last worked so hard that they were more productive than all the other workers put together. So they earned their wage even though they only worked an hour. Now that`s the parable Jesus SHOULD have told. That`s a good parable. But
he doesn`t, and you can just see the crowd as Jesus told this familiar story saying, "Oh, I love this one " this is a great story about working hard" until Jesus gets to the end and puts his twist on it -- and all the workers get paid the same.

Christ`s grace means that the worst villains in history - Nero, Genghis Kahn, any of those guys - if they had a deathbed conversion they`d go to heaven just like me. I`m not sure I like that. I might be in heaven and Genghis Kahn will come up to me and say, "Hey, Scott, you made it too; what a surprise." That`s going to get on my nerves. Grace has a scandalous, offensive side to it - it levels the playing field; it`s too radical; it`s unfair, which just proves that we didn`t make it up. This is not the kind of thing human beings come up with on their own; we come up with frequent flyer miles. But grace comes from only one place and that`s the heart of Jesus Christ.

Now I`m not saying that there are no consequences to our actions. Galatians 6:7 God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. If we sin, we will reap the consequences of that in this lifetime. If we spend our whole lives not knowing Christ, only to embrace him at the last minute, we`ve missed out on a lifetime of the joy of knowing Jesus, and we`ve ruined our lives with destructive behavior. So there are consequences in this life to what we do. But what this parable does say is that no matter how bad we have been, no matter how late we come, no matter what is in our past, whatever is in our present, we still have a future if we know Jesus Christ. That is the important qualifier - if we know Jesus!

Grace is always unfair to everybody. It means that an innocent man is killed so that serial killers who accept him can be saved just as much as Mother Theresa. It means that Christ had to die so that adulterers and liars and cheats and hypocrites and people like you and people like me could all know God and receive his blessings. It`s not fair - Jesus didn`t deserve that. WE don`t deserve that, but thank God that in his economy of grace "deserves got nothing to do with it, " because if it did, we`d all be in trouble. Who do you think is beyond God`s grace - a friend, a co-worker, maybe it`s yourself. What Jesus is saying is that nobody is beyond his grace; it`s open to everybody. How are you trying to prove yourself worthy -- by competing or trying to be in first place or by trying to feel superior to someone else? Christ`s sacrifice means you can stop all your frantic efforts, because he loves you no matter what you do or no matter what you don`t do. It Is amazing grace, and it sure sounds sweet because it saves wretches like you, and like me, and all those wretches out there that seem to us beyond saving, but who aren`t if we will just tell them that in Jesus Christ anybody can be forgiven and know abundant life. It`s not fair, I`ll grant you that. The grace if God is not fair, and that`s good news!"

By: Scott Dudley
Category: Ask Jesus - He Says God Forgives You if You Ask
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God does forgive
When I have asked for forgiveness, I find myself prompted by the spirit.  When I ask for forgiveness I have a stirring and lifting sensation in my heart.  I feel I have been heard.  I know that he forgives me.  This in return only builds my faith and love for him.

By: andrea brantom
Category: Ask Jesus - He Says God Forgives You if You Ask
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How does being forgiven increase ones love for God? Note: According to Jesus, God`s forgiveness is motivated by love.
God send his only Son Jesus to suffer and die so that our sins are forgiven. That means he loves all human beings, there is no love like God`s love. If we ask for forgiveness, he forgives us and we should ask with faith and with all our hearts. He`s there to hear each and every one of us who asks for forgiveness and He forgives becuase he loves us.

By: Maria Simao
Category: Ask Jesus - He Says God Forgives You if You Ask
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Impact of being forgiven
God forgiving us give us: - Confidence - Love for others - Eternal life

By: Chris Peacock
Category: Ask Jesus - He Says God Forgives You if You Ask
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How does being forgiven increase ones love for God?
It takes away the burden of sin and helps you try to do better next time.

By: Tress Faith
Category: Ask Jesus - He Says God Forgives You if You Ask
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How do Jesus` words make you feel?
They make me feel glad and filled with joy. He makes life worth living. We all need is guidance.

By: Tress Faith
Category: Ask Jesus - He Says God Forgives You if You Ask
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If someone lies to another, do they have to go back and tell the truth to be forgiven by God?

By: Christopher Miles
Category: Ask Jesus - He Says God Forgives You if You Ask
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How does being forgiven increase ones love for God?
becaue we will live by the spirit of God

By: phungkha basumatary
Category: Ask Jesus - He Says God Forgives You if You Ask
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"Take courage my son, your sins are forgiven." ( Matthew 9:2)

"Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." ( Luke 24:46-47)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." ( John 3:16-17)

"Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life." ( John 5:24)

"It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are ill. But go and learn what this means, 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." ( Matthew 9:12-13)

"A certain moneylender had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him more?" ( Luke 7:41)

"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." ( Luke 7:47)

"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand days wages. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold a, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.' And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. ( Matthew 18:23-35)

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