Sunday 27th SeptemberService Transcript & Video
Have you ever broken something beyond repair and you know that you could have prevented the break in the first place?
I had a mug, it was a lovely mug that a friend had bought me. I just really liked using it, it was my favourite mug to drink coffee from, and I would seldom have let anyone else use it.
Anyway, one day, I was a bit cross, can’t remember what was happening, but I remember being in a bad mood, feeling frustrated, and somehow in that moment, the mug went flying out of my hand and hit the floor. Thankfully, it was only the handle that broke off. Andrew glued it back on for me, and the mug was usable, but every time I used the mug, the superglued handle was reminder of my cross or frustrated day that had broken it in the first place.
Another day, I was using the mug, and I was distracted and careless, I thought I was setting it somewhere steady, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the best place for my mug of coffee, and it went flying… the coffee stained the wall and some nearby pictures, as well as hitting the chair, and the mug crashed to the floor. This time, the mug was beyond repair. It had shattered.
The mug was a reminder to me of how my careless actions, or my distractions can have consequences that make a mess of things or leave things beyond repair. Regarding the mug, I couldn’t blame anyone else – I had to admit that I was the one who had messed up and as a result lost one of my favourite mugs.
And as I was thinking about my mug, I was thinking about my life, your life, how sometimes we do things that cause cracks in our lives, that we do things that leave a mess that we can’t undo, or we have done things that have caused pain, devastation or disappointment and we know that it is all our fault.
We try to get over it and move on, but it resurfaces and niggles away at us, and we wish we could turn the clock back. There are other times when we try to ignore the feeling of guilt or failure by getting busy or distracted with other things. But the feelings of failure and bad choices are always there beating us up inside.
Sometimes we can see the disappointment written on the faces of those we love when we mess up – we’ve done it again, we’ve messed up again, we’ve caused pain again…
And so, when it comes to God, we imagine that he too looks on us with disappointment and we fear that he is getting to the point of being fed up with us. We wonder as we mess up, time and time again, will we reach the end of his favour, his love, his grace.
In Max Lucado’s book ‘Fearless’ – he addresses this fear. This fear of disappointing God, of running out of chances with God, and he looks at the story of the paralysed man who was brought to Jesus.
Lets read it together – Matthew 9.
I love this story. I love that friends cared enough to bring their friend to Jesus – they did what they could so that their friend could have contact with this teacher-healer-miracle worker that they had heard about.
Jesus was impressed with their faith that he could do something, and he speaks directly to the man. He says, “Take heart son, your sins are forgiven.”
Imagine, you’ve come to Jesus, the one who could make your muscles move and your bones strong, and in that moment, he doesn’t see your physical need, but looks right into your heart, your soul, and he addresses an even bigger issue than your legs not working.
Jesus first concern for this man was forgiveness of his sins. That’s what mattered more than anything else in the whole world.
Because Jesus knows that when our sins are forgiven, then we can live in a relationship with God.
Jesus tell this man and says “take heart, your sins are forgiven” – this word that is translated in the NIV as ‘take heart’ – well it could also mean “be encouraged” or “take courage”.
Well, what is courage? The dictionary says that courage is the ability to control your fear in a difficult situation. Courage helps us take control of our fears.
Jesus is saying to this man, that when you know that your sins are forgiven, when your sins are gone, then you can have courage, you don’t have to live in fear, you’ll know how God feels about you, you are covered with his grace.
Nothing can bring us freedom, give us courage, make us fearless, like knowing that our sins are gone. That God has forgiven us. That the one who sees all, knows all, that He has has wiped our slate clean.
I wonder have your encountered God’s forgiveness before – do you know what it means to be set free from your past failures and sins, for God to take those and give you a new life, a new beginning. For your slate to be wiped completely clean?
Do you know what it means to not live in fear of what God thinks about you or have a nagging sense that you haven’t done enough to please him?
If you’ve never experienced God’s forgiveness and the freedom from fear, I encourage you to come to God and admit that theres a real mess in your life, you’ve lived for yourself with no thought of Him, theres been pain and heartache, theres a mountain of regrets and failed relationships, but you want to be done with it, you want Jesus to take it, to forgive you, so that you can take heart, so that you can have courage, that your sins are forgiven, that you have a relationship with God who knows you and loves you.
If you’d like to chat to someone about this and what it could mean for you, please speak to a Christian friend or someone you trust and find out more. We are always happy to pray with anyone at anytime.
But maybe you’re listening, and you’re a Christian. You’ve come to God, given him your life, but you live with this nagging doubt that you haven’t been good enough and God is fed up with your cycles of sin. You fear that all the stuff, all the sin, all the failures – the things you regret and can’t seem to forget; you fear that these things prevent you from having a good relationship with him. You wonder if his grace has limits and if you are close to the limit. You fear that you don’t please him, and wonder if eventually, he’ll turn you away.
But this passage, this story of the man who could do nothing to impress Jesus, he was simply lying on a mat, in fact, he needed help in even getting to Jesus. This man gives us hope because over this man, Jesus declares forgiveness and having this forgiveness brings real courage to live in freedom.
Max Lucado has a beautiful line in his book, which says, “Nothing fosters courage like a clear grasp of grace. Nothing fosters fear like an ignorance of mercy.”
If we haven’t accepted God’s forgiveness, his mercy, then we are destined to live in fear. But when we truly grasp his grace, his grace that covers all of my sin, grace that is greater than all of my sin, grace that I don’t deserve, and yet, he has lavished freely on me for all my life, all my days – when we grasp this, then courage is stirred within us and fear goes back into the pit that it came from!
Isn’t this good news?
Knowing that God has completely forgiven you and doesn’t condemn you. He doesn’t hold your sins against you! His grace covers you, past, present and future.
He completely loves you, and he will work his purposes in our lives in spite of our failings.
So, if you are a Christian and you have been living in fear of what God thinks about you and if he is fed up with you, that his grace has limits. I want you to take note of these three things. Note down the scriptures, memorise God’s word, ask the Spirit to imprint His truth in your heart, so that when thoughts and fears arise, he will speak to those fears and say, take heart, take courage, your sins are forgiven!
God doesn’t remember your sin.
Hebrews 8:12 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
It’s not because he is forgetful, but rather, he chooses not to remember your sin because He loves you. When you have admitted your sin and turned from it, God forgives you, and he chooses not to remember your sin.
Sometimes we wrong a friend or family member, and we ask them for forgiveness, and they say ‘okay, I forgive you’ – but you know that they are holding a grudge against you, or they cast your mistake up whenever something goes wrong again. You know they have spoken words of forgiveness, but their actions display bitterness.
God is not like this.
When God says that he forgives you, then he forgives you. Your sin is gone.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
You are completely forgiven. Your slate is wiped clean. He keeps no records of your wrong doing.
His forgiveness is complete and final.
You may say to me, well I still don’t feel fully forgiven, I still feel guilty.
1 John 3:20 in the NLT, “Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything”
Even if your heart feels unforgiven, even if you still feel like a failure, trust what God says is truth, that when you confess your sins, he is faithful to forgive you your sins, and that he has removed your sins from his memory.
Don’t let your emotions hold more weight than the truth of what God has declared over your life.
So, if you are sitting here this morning, and you have those nagging feelings that you’ve not been a good enough Christian, you’ve sinned too many times, your ‘big sin’ was too big for God to completely forgive – you need to take these words to your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of the truth of what God says, and to ignore the feelings and emotions that cause you to live in fear that you are unforgiven.
God’s love is not dependant on our actions.
You can’t earn God’s love. It is there, it is present, it is who he is.
Do you deserve it? Do I deserve it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no…
Sometimes we think that we are particularly good and we think that we are worth loving. Sometimes, we fail, we sin, we do things that are wrong, and we don’t think that God could possibly love us in that moment.
Philip Yancy famously said, “Grace means that there is nothing that we can do to make God love us more. And grace means there is nothing we do can make God love us less.”
Imagine… on your best day and your worst day, God’s love for you does not increase or decrease!
1 John 4:9 “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins…
18 “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”
God is love. He showers us with his love. When we trust that he loves us, not because of our actions, but because of who he is, we have no need to fear. His love have the power to make us live fearless lives!
God uses imperfect people – He is not surprised by our failures.
I think that sometimes we think that God is surprised when we mess up. Like we have taken him unawares. That when we mess up, sin, go off course, that somehow, everything that God has planned for our lives is ruined. That by our sinfulness, we have ruined what He is up to.
I read a quote by Lisa Bevere which said, “If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this; You’re not that powerful!”
We forget that God sees the whole picture, from beginning to end. We forget that He is Omniscient – that he is all knowing.
God knows us completely, the good, the bad and the ugly. We can’t hid from him, he pursues us, doesn’t give up on us, he sees what we are becoming as a child of God, and what we will be in eternity. And thankfully He will use our successes in this life and also our failures.
The Bible is full of flawed humans, and their stories are not disguised or made pretty in scripture.
Read David’s story in 2 Samual 11. He failed big time. He dropped the ball. Did his sin please God? NO, of course not. Did it mean that his relationship with God was blown, NO! Psalm 51, we read of how David repented of his sin before God and claimed that forgiveness… and he continued to play a crucial role in all that God had planned.
Or in the New Testament, we look at Peter – the follower who was strong, faithful, a leader. The one who took risks and was always there whenever Jesus was doing something. But Peter dropped the ball. Jesus told him that he would deny him. We read about it in Mark 14, Peter says, no way, not me, even if everyone else falls away, I won’t. But as Jesus was led away to his death, Peter did the very thing he vowed he wouldn’t do. Is there any hope for Peter? Any way back from denying that you even know Jesus? Is that sin too big for forgiveness? We know from John 21 that there is hope for Peter – his story hasn’t ended, Jesus has not given up on him. In fact, it seems that his story is only just beginning as we read the book of Acts and then the letters that he writes to the church.
David and Peter didn’t out-sin God’s grace, and we need to remember that we will never out-sin Gods grace and forgiveness.
You don’t have to live a fearful live – live a life trusting that in Christ, God has dealt with your sin and doesn’t hold it against you. His love for you is not dependant on how good you are. And you will still be used by God, even when you mess up and get it wrong.
Jesus is saying to us this morning, ‘Take courage! Live fearlessly in the truth of God’s incredible good news of his forgiveness’.
We’re going to take a moment to respond and reflect on what God has been nudging in our hearts. I’m going to read a quote from a Book called TrueFaced as we reflect:
The room of grace – God says, “What if I tell them who they are? What if I take away any element of fear or condemnation, judgment or rejection? What if I tell them that I love them, will always love them? That I love them right now, no matter what they have done, as much as I love my only Son? That there’s nothing they can do to make my love go away? What if I tell them there are no lists? What if I tell them that I don’t keep a log of past offences, of how little they pray, how often they have let me down, made promises they don’t keep? What if I tell them that they are righteous now, with my righteousness, right now? What if I tell them that they can stop beating themselves up? That they can stop being so formal, stiff and jumpy around me? What if I tell them that I am crazy about them? What if I tell them, even if they run to the ends of the earth and do the most horrible, unthinkable things, that when they come back, I’d receive them with tears and a party?
What if I tell them that they have a new nature – saints, not saved sinners who should now buck up and be better if they want to be any kind of Christians, after all, he’s done for you! What if I told them that I actually live in them now? That I’ve put my love, power and nature inside of them, at their disposal? What if I tell them that they don’t have to put on a mask? That it is ok to be who they are at the moment, with all of their junk? That they don’t need to pretend how close we are, how much they pray, or don’t, how much they read the Bible or don’t. What if they knew that I would never, ever use the word punish in relation to them? What if they knew that when they mess up, I will never ever get back at them? What if they were convinced that bad circumstances aren’t my way of evening the score for taking advantage of me? What if they knew that the basis of our friendship isn’t how little they sin but how much they let me love them? What if I tell them that they can hurt my heart, but I will never hurt theirs?”
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