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We've Failed...but God - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
January 15, 2021 2:00 am

We've Failed...but God - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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January 15, 2021 2:00 am

Most of us know that we aren't what we should be or could be. Sin has scarred our lives. We're aware of personal failures. In the message "We've Failed...but God," Skip explains that the really good news is that we may fail, but God forgives.

This teaching is from the series ...but God.

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Faithfulness is our promise. And here's what's amazing about this prayer.

Ezra figures this out. That God's love is so different than anything we could ever know in that even though we blow it over and over and over again, God keeps pursuing us, keeps following us, keeps forgiving us. Christian author, Philip Yancey said, Grace teaches us that God loves because of who God is, not because of who we are. Connect with Skip Heitzig today as he shares some encouraging insight on just how strong God's love is for you. But before we begin, we want to let you know about a resource that will transform your spiritual life as you see God for who he really is. Does God exist? And if he does, is it possible to know him? Your answer to those two questions shapes how you see the world.

Skip Heitzig once wrestled with those very questions himself. You know, I've been teaching the Bible for over three decades before I became a Christian. And when I was new to the faith, I studied science and philosophy alongside the Bible. As I studied, I grew confident that God does exist. And yes, we can know him. In Biography of God, the brand new book by Skip Heitzig, you'll learn to remove the limits you may have placed on your idea of who God is. Everything changes when you acknowledge and believe that God is who he says he is. Biography of God is our way to thank you when you give $35 or more today to help expand this Bible teaching outreach to more people.

Request your copy when you give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. OK, we'll be in Nehemiah Chapter 9 for today's study, so let's join Skip Heitzig. At the end of that little section on the cursings, God says this, When all these things come upon you. When what things?

All the cursings. Not if, when. So he says, if you obey me, this will happen.

If you disobey me, that'll happen. And when all these things come upon you, and you return, I will bring you back. So God knew from the beginning what they were going to do. Not only that, but fast forward some years, when Solomon builds a temple in Jerusalem. And he also has a public prayer with the people gathered around, 1 Kings Chapter 8.

Now listen to what he says, And when they sin against you, for there is no one who does not sin. And you become angry with them, and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive into his own land, far away or near. Then from heaven your dwelling place, hear their prayer, and their plea, and uphold their cause, and forgive your people who have sinned against you. See, God knew, even Solomon knew, and in his prayer reflects that knowledge.

When they blow it, now they've blown it. And now they're back from the captivity that was predicted. And Ezra is standing there in this prayer. All of that to say this, your sin and your failure never surprises God. He's ready for it.

He's ready for it in this verse. But you are God, now look at the description, ready to pardon or forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, we covered that last week in another passage, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them. The very first words uttered by Jesus when he was put on the cross were, Father, forgive them.

They don't know what they're doing. Of all the things he could have said, why those words? Because forgiveness is our greatest need. Father, forgive them. You could take the word them, in fact you should, and substitute your name, Father, forgive, skip.

Father, forgive, Jerry, or Sue, or whatever your name, put your name there, personalize it. Father, forgive them. So Ezra is making confession. It's been said by so many people that you've heard this saying, confession is good for the soul, right?

Do you know that every psychiatrist or psychologist worth his or her salt will say the same thing? Even the secular world acknowledges that when we do something wrong, and we feel bad about a thought or a word or an action, when we make confession, that the burden is lifted. And especially when you make the confession to God, because he can do something about it in cleansing us.

In 1 John 1, John says, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Something about confession. Confess means more than admit. It's more than, okay, I did something wrong, I admit it. The word confess means to say the same thing about sin. The idea is I'm saying the same thing about my failure as God says about my failure. That's confession. Sometimes people say, well, Lord, if I've sinned, I'm sorry.

If? Because if you're not sure, why are you talking to God about it in the first place? To confess means more than temporarily feeling bad.

It implies I say the same thing about it, which includes my turning from it. Remember, repentance is turning from something and turning to someone. So God is ready to pardon your sin. He's ready to pardon. The question is, are you ready to confess your sin? Look at the next two words that describe him.

Not only are you ready to pardon, but gracious and merciful. I want to touch on those two attributes. These are two attributes of God, grace and mercy, that sound similar.

They sound like they're related and they are, but they're very different from one another. Grace is getting what you don't deserve. Ah, but mercy is not getting what you do deserve. So in mercy, God withholds the judgment you do deserve. In grace, God adds the blessing you don't deserve.

Now I have a question for you. Last week we talked about God's justice right and His judgment. God is just, therefore He must judge. Here's the question. How can God be just while at the same time being gracious and merciful? The answer, the cross.

A perfect sinless human being who is also God taking all of the punishment for guilt of a guilty party on himself so that justice is satisfied so that grace and mercy can be extended. So let's say you drive down the street and just for sake of illustration, you're doing 30 miles over the speed limit. I'm not going to ask if you've ever done it because I know you have.

Okay, maybe not that much, maybe more. You get pulled over. The police officer has it right there on the little speed gun.

This is how fast you were going. Now, what would the just thing be? What would justice be? You get a ticket, you pay for it. That's justice.

Mercy would be the officer saying, you know, you're doing 30 miles over the speed limit. I've got you. You're here on the gun.

You're nailed. But consider this a warning. I'm not going to give you a ticket, but slow down.

Now, that's mercy. He's not giving you what you deserve. You deserve the ticket. He's going to withhold that. Grace would be, and you really have to stretch your imagination, the officer pulling out his wallet, giving you 20 bucks to go get a nice meal.

Ain't never going to happen on this server. Now, let's say the police officer says, you're going 30 miles over the speed limit. He writes the ticket, hands it to you.

Before you even get your hand on the ticket, he takes it back and he goes, I'm going to pay the fine for you. Now, that's justice. Justice has meted out. A crime has been committed.

A citation has been made. He takes that punishment, withholds judgment from you, and gives you 20 bucks. Now, there's justice and mercy and grace.

And that's what Jesus did. He took the ticket. He put all of our tickets on himself so that justice was done and he can extend you grace and mercy. You're ready to pardon. You are gracious.

You are merciful. Let me take you to a third word, and that is faithfulness. From failure to forgiveness to faithfulness. Faithfulness is our promise. And here's what's amazing about this prayer. God figures this out. That God's love is so different than anything we could ever know in that even though we blow it over and over and over again, God keeps pursuing us.

He keeps following us. He keeps forgiving us. So look at verse 18. Even when they made a molded calf for themselves, that's idolatry, the height of it, and said, this is your God that brought you up out of Egypt with great provocations, yet in your manifold mercies, you did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud did not depart from them by day to lead them on the road, nor the pillar of fire by night to show them light and the way they should go. You also gave your good spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness. They lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out.

Their feet did not swell. Verse 30. Yet for many years you had patience with them and testified against them by your spirit in your prophets, yet they would not listen. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless, in your great mercy, you did not utterly consume them nor forsake them, for you are God, gracious and merciful.

Here's the truth of that. God's love is unstoppable. God's love is unrelenting, unending, unconditional.

It keeps going and keeps pursuing. Even when they ran from you, Ezra would say, even when they rebelled against you, even when they repeatedly replaced you with idols, even when they settled in the land of Canaan and kept rejecting you, you sent them into captivity, but you listened and you brought them back. I was reading this and a verse in the New Testament popped into my mind. It's from 1 John chapter 3 where the apostle says, Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us. That's a way of saying, what kind of love is this?

What kind of foreign love is this? Who loves like that? Only God.

Only God. Now there's somebody in the Bible who actually is an example of this kind of a love. His name is Hosea. He's a prophet in the Old Testament.

A lot of people don't know a lot about him. But Hosea had a ministry that I don't think any of us would like. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute. And he says, As you marry this girl and you settle down in your home with her, you're going to love her and at first she's going to love you, but she's going to get restless and she's going to leave the marriage and sleep around town with a whole bunch of other guys. And what you are to do is while she walks out on that marriage, is you are to pursue her and give gifts to her through her lovers so she is provided for in her harlotry.

And then after she has gone all around town, you bring her back and restore her to the marriage and reconcile the relationship. Who would want that ministry? It was to be a pageant.

It was to be a play. Hosea, God would say, You're playing the part of God. Your wife, the prostitute, she's playing the part of the nation of Israel because this nation keeps walking out on me, walking out on me, walking out on me, but I keep pursuing them to restore them.

By the way, I have a couple of friends in real life that I know who were very similar to that story of Hosea. She was a gal that I knew years ago, worked with her. Her husband and her were married for a period of years and he left the marriage. He walked out, hooked up with another gal, had an affair with her, moved in with her, and for months, this gal, Kathy, this Christian gal saying, I believe God's going to restore our marriage. I believe God's going to restore our marriage. Well, months turned into more months, turned into a year or two, and I remember her faith, and I remember her saying, You may want to give up on this idea that that's ever going to happen.

It doesn't look like it's going to happen. He's long gone. Ah, but God, God's going to do something.

God's going to do something. She had more faith than I had. She got a call one day from him. Said, I'd like to come back if you'll take me. I'm so sorry for what I did. I want to restore our relationship. She said, I've been waiting for this call.

I am so ready to reconcile, and I will forgive you. He said, while there is a complication, this girl is pregnant. She doesn't want the child. She said, you tell her to have that baby, I will raise that child as if that baby were mine.

I had the privilege of doing a second marriage ceremony for them as they reconciled the relationship and raised that child in the fear of God. That was a pageant, that was a picture to me, like Hosea, of the pursuing love of God, the unrelenting love of God. Malcolm Muggeridge used to refer to God as the Hound of Heaven.

I've always liked that term. The Hound of Heaven is after you, chasing you, loving you. Sometimes I hear people say, I'm searching for God. News flash, he's not lost.

You are. The truth of the matter is, he has been searching for you. All we like sheep, Isaiah said, have gone astray. Maybe you've been running from God. Maybe you find yourself doing the same thing, the same bad behavior over and over again, and maybe you even feel like you've reached the end of God's patience, like a message we talked about last week, where God said, my spirit will not strive forever with mankind. I will be patient only up to a limit, then I will judge. And maybe you feel you've reached that limit. Hey, just the fact that you may even be concerned about that shows there's hope.

If you had no concern whatsoever, that's where the problem lies. The fact that you may be worried that you've reached that point shows that there's hope. Here's what I want you to know. Romans chapter 5, Paul said, where sin abound, grace abounds much more. Or you could say, where sin reached the high water mark, grace completely flooded over.

There is no dam that sin can erect that God's grace cannot flow over and flood. Trouble is, we don't know this kind of faithfulness. It's foreign to us. Behold what manner of love. Who loves like that?

It's certainly not like human love. Human love is object-oriented. We love an object based on the object. We see a cute girl and we go, I like that girl. We see a cute guy, I think I like that guy. And then you get to know him, I really like that, I love that person. You're loving the object.

You see a car, I like that car. It's object-oriented. God's love is vastly different. It is subject-oriented. It is not based on the worth or value or beauty of the object.

It is based on the character of the subject. God loves you, not because you're irresistible. God can't live without you because you're just so awesome.

God loves you because He's God and God is love. And God's love, therefore, is a pursuing, unrelenting, unstoppable love. God's love is like the sun. You can't stop the sun from shining, but you can get out of the sunshine.

You could put up an umbrella of sin that stops you from enjoying the feeling of that sunlight. In the New Testament, Jude said, keep yourselves in the love of God. Most misunderstand that verse as if it says keep yourself in a place where God can love you. It doesn't say that.

It doesn't mean that. Keep yourselves in the love of God. It means stay in the sunshine of God's love, enjoying His love, because He loves you no matter what.

But keep yourself in a place where you're feeling the effects of that. So our failure is met by God's forgiveness and God's faithfulness, which demands a response from us. And the fourth word is following. That's the response from us.

Following is our priority. In verse 32, just quickly look down and notice He uses the word now, therefore. Now, therefore, I prayed all this.

I've acknowledged all this. Now, therefore, and let me take you to verse 36 where He says, Here we are, servants today, in the land that you gave to our fathers to eat its fruit in its bounty. Here we are, servants in it, and it yields much increase to the kings you have set over us because of our sins.

Also, they have dominion over our bodies and cattle at their pleasure, and we are in great distress. And because of all this, we make a sure covenant and write it, our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it. Then the next chapter, which we will not look at, is all the details of the covenant that they make and sign before God. So, this section is like the Romans 12 of Ezra's prayer. Remember Romans 12?

It's basically the same format as what we've just read. Paul has told them in all these chapters about God's mercies and grace and the human condition and divine solution. Then he goes this, he says this, I beseech you, therefore, by the mercies of God, that you present yourselves, your bodies, as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. This is the Romans 12 of Ezra's prayer. He's saying, Our failure was met by your forgiveness and your faithfulness, and our response is to follow you. We are making a covenant with you to follow you.

So, it's not like, well, we just feel bad about our future or about our past, but we're going to follow you into the future. That's repentance. A lot of people mistake and confuse remorse and repentance. There are two very different things. One is a feeling. One is change. One is a sensation.

The other is a decision. I heard about a man who wrote the IRS a very interesting letter. He said, I haven't been able to get good sleep since 1970, he said, in this letter.

This is a few years back. I haven't been able to get a good night's sleep since 1970, he said, I haven't paid all my income taxes. So, in the letter, he included five crisp $100 bills in the letter.

He's paying the IRS back. And then he said, And if I still can't sleep, I will send the rest. I owe you money. I'm going to pay enough to get a good night's sleep. If that didn't work, I'm going to pay up. I'm going to pay everything I owe you. I'll pay the rest. Today is the day some of you need to pay the rest.

The day you need to step up and finally surrender your life in totality, completely, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It's the therefore. Here we are, Lord. Here we stand. We give you our life. That concludes Skip Heiseck's message from his series, But God. Now, here's Skip to share how you can keep this broadcast going strong, connecting you and many others to the Lord. The Bible is full of God's promises. But if you want to know them, you have to study Scripture. Well, our goal is to connect friends like you with truths found in God's Word.

That's why we share these Bible teachings on air and online. And through your gift today, you can help keep these messages that you love coming to you and connect more people around the world to the Bible. Here's how you can give right now. Give us a call at 800-922-1888 to give a gift.

800-922-1888. Or give online at connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Your support is vital to continue encouraging you and many others with these messages.

So thank you for giving generously. Did you know there's a great biblical resource available right at your fingertips through your mobile device? Skip has several Bible reading plans available in the YouVersion Bible app. You can dive deeper into several books of the Bible to gain new insights. Just search Skip Heitzig in the YouVersion Bible app. And be sure to come back again next week as Skip Heitzig looks at the story of a man who ran from his calling and helps you discover how you can confidently embrace God's plan for your life. You don't want to miss that. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-04 01:28:04 / 2024-01-04 01:37:41 / 10

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