Date: 
Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 9:45am
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Luke 23:27-37

FIND HOPE IN THE FORGIVENESS OF GOD
LUKE 23:27-37

        Between now and Easter, we are going to take seven weeks to look at the statements Jesus made from the Cross and talk about HOPE.  We need hope.  It is absolutely essential for this life.  You cannot live with constant discouragement.  You cannot function in a state of despair.  You need hope and lots of it.

        In my very first sermon as your pastor, I preached to you about hope.  I believe hope is vital and necessary for living the abundant life God designed for us.  In that sermon I told you a story about a baseball game.  Some of you weren’t here.  Some of you have already forgotten.  The rest of you can laugh anyway. 

        A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, "Eighteen to nothing--we're behind." 
"Boy," said the spectator, "I'll bet you're discouraged." 
"Why should I be discouraged?" replied the little boy. "We haven't even gotten up to bat yet!"

        And we need this kind of attitude because life is tough.  It is not fair.  I recently read about Tattoo the basset hound. 

A Tahoma, Washington newspaper carried the story of Tattoo the basset hound. Tattoo didn’t intend to go for an evening run, but when his owner shut the dog’s leash in the car door and took off for a drive – with Tattoo still outside the vehicle, he had no choice. Motorcycle officer Terry Filbert noticed a passing vehicle with something dragging behind it. He commented that the poor basset hound was, “picking them up and putting them down as fast as he could.” He chased the car to a stop, and Tattoo was rescued. But not before the dog had reached a top speed of 20 miles per hour, falling down and rolling over several times.

Many of us are living our lives like Tattoo, picking them up and putting them down as fast as we can – rolling around and feeling dragged through life.  The speed at which life is happening is sometimes overwhelming. 

        We all need hope so we can face the overwhelming times of life.  And in the words of Jesus during his time on the Cross, we hear words of hope.  Today, I want to show you that hope is found in Jesus’ statement of forgiveness.  You and I can find hope in this life because God’s forgiveness is available. 

        God did not intend for you to live with guilt.  God did not intend for you to take guilt trips on a regular basis.  We are not wired to carry guilt around all the time.  Guilt is not constructive for our faith.  Guilt is destructive to our faith.  Guilt messes with your mind.  It messes with your body.  It messes with your relationships.  It messes with your work.  It messes with your sleep.

        Guilt creates great fear in us because we sit around wondering when someone is going to find out what we have done.

        Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who wrote all the Sherlock Holmes novels, had a reputation for being quite a prankster.  One time he sent an anonymous note to fifty prominent men in Great Britain.  The note simply said, “All is found out.  Flee at once.”  Within forty-eight hours twenty-five of those men had left the country. 

Psalms 32:3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.  NLT

        See the issue with guilt is, guilt will drive us from God.  Guilt will cause us to run and hide from God.   So, God wants you to live guilt free.  God wants you to turn it loose.  God doesn’t want you to let guilt come between you and Him and rob you of your hope.  He wants you to know His forgiveness and the hope that comes from knowing you are clean and in right standing before God. 

        In Luke 23 we read that Jesus has been arrested.  He has gone all night with out sleep.  He has been tried six different times in illegal tribunals.  He has been beaten, bludgeoned, battered and bruised.  He has been whipped and scourged.  He has had a crown of thorns driven into His head.  And now He is carrying His cross up Golgotha’s hill. 

LUKE 23:27-37

A great multitude of the people followed Him, including women who were mourning and lamenting Him.  28 But turning to them, Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children.  29 Look, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed!’
30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’  31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”  32 Two others—criminals—were also led away to be executed with Him.
33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.   34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided His clothes and cast lots.  The people stood watching, and even the leaders kept scoffing: “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!”  36 The soldiers also mocked Him. They came offering Him sour wine 37 and said, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”

        No matter how much they taunted Him and challenged Him and mocked Him, He was staying on the cross.  He was going to stay there and die because He wanted to forgive.  And you and I can find hope here because the cross tells us that God’s forgiveness is available. 

Now human nature tries to handle guilt on its own.  And we fail miserably.  Let me show you three things we try do with our guilt that just doesn’t work.

1.  We Try to Bury It

        The first thing we try to do with our guilt is bury it.  But that doesn’t work really well.  Guilt will not stay buried.  It keeps coming back to life and reminding us of what we have done.  You can’t dig the hole deep enough to bury your guilt. 

        But because of the cross we can come to God and confess our sins and know that He will forgive us.  We don’t have to try and bury our guilt.  It won’t happen.  But we can confess our wrongs and know that there is forgiveness. 

Prov. 28:13  People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

2.  We Try to Blame Others

        The second thing we do with our guilt is we try to blame others.  Remember Adam and Eve back in the Garden of Eden?  Remember they rebelled against God and ate from the forbidden tree and God came looking for them and confronted them with their actions?  Remember what they did.  Eve blamed the snake and Adam blamed Eve?  And men and women have been looking for someone or something to blame ever since. 

        One writer has said, “The human race is pro’s at accusing and excusing”.  And what he meant by that was we are pros at accusing others as well as being pros and excusing ourselves.  You see this all the time.  America has become a nation of victims.  Everybody blames everybody else for every problem and nobody wants to accept responsibility any more.  People even blame God.  Look what it says in Proverbs.

Prov. 19:3  People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.

3.  We Beat Ourselves Up

        The third way we deal with guilt is we beat ourselves up.  There are many faithful believers who subconsciously work really hard to beat themselves up thinking that will atone for their guilt. 

        Many of the emotional illnesses we deal with come from either resentment or guilt.  We resent the things that others do to us, or we feel guilty for the things we have done to them.  But beating ourselves up doesn’t work.  It doesn’t move God. 

        Look what David said in Psalms 38.

Psalms 38:4   My guilt overwhelms me— it is a burden too heavy to bear.

        Ok, so we are not capable of dealing with our guilt.  We can’t bury it deep enough.  It does absolutely no good to blame others.  And it doesn’t make us spiritual to beat ourselves up.  So what are we to do with our guilt?  It is really very simple…

1.  Admit It

        The starting point in dealing with our guilt and finding hope is admitting it.  We have to own up to it.  We don’t deny it.  We don’t ignore it.  We own up to it.  Admit it.  I have sinned.  I was wrong. 

I John 1:8  If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.

        We have an amazing ability to deceive ourselves.  We have an amazing ability to miss the 2X4 in our eyes while we are criticizing the speck in our brother’s eye.  We do it all the time.  But if we want real hope, then we have to deal with our guilt and to deal with our guilt we have to admit our sins. 

        Pastor Rick Warren likes to say, “To stop defeating myself, I have to stop deceiving myself.”  Own up to it.  Nobody expects you to be perfect.  Stop expecting it of yourself.  Own up to what you have done wrong.  Take the 2X4 out of your eye so you can see the sins on your hands. 

2.  Accept the Responsibility

          The second step in dealing with your guilt is to accept responsibility for your actions.  Face up to it.  Don’t rationalize it.  Don’t blame others.  So often we focus on the 1% of our behavior that is the fault of others and ignore the 99% that is our fault.

        David committed adultery with Bathsheba.  Then in an act of repentance, he wrote Psalm 51.  Have you ever realized that Psalm 51 never mentions Bathsheba?  You know why?  David took all the blame for his actions.  He didn’t blame Bathsheba.  He didn’t make excuses.  It was not her fault.  This psalm was about him. 

Psalms 51:3-4  (CEV) 3 I know about my sins, and I cannot forget my terrible guilt. 4 You are really the one I have sinned against; I have disobeyed You and have done wrong. So it is right and fair for You to correct and punish me.  

3.  Ask for Forgiveness

        The third step we take in dealing with our guilt is to ask for forgiveness.  Over and over in scripture, God promises He will forgive the sins of those who willingly confess.

        I John 1:9 is a verse we need to memorize, to plant deep in our hearts. 

I 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.

        To confess means to agree.  To confess means we agree with God that what we did was wrong.  It was our fault, no one else’s and it was wrong.  It wasn’t a mistake or an accident, it was a sin.  It was a moral failure and there is no excuse.  It is our fault and we are wrong. 

        If we confess, He is faithful to forgive us which means He will do it every time.  And He is just, which means He is right to forgive us.  And He purifies us from all unrighteousness.  And that is where we find the hope needed to deal with the issues we face in this life. 

        To know that God, in His infinite mercy, will forgive you and cleanse you and receive you to Himself fills you with a hope that will get you through the darkest of days. 

        Is guilt robbing you of God’s Hope?  Is there a sin you need to confess this morning? 

 

FIND HOPE IN THE FORGIVENESS OF GOD
LUKE 23:27-37

 

Psalms 32:3 

Luke 23:27-37

 

1.  We Try to Bury It

Prov. 28:13 

 

2.  We Try to Blame Others

Prov. 19:3 

 

3.  We Beat Ourselves Up

Psalms 38:4   

 

1.  Admit It

I John 1:8 

 

2.  Accept the Responsibility

Psalms 51:3-4 

 

3.  Ask for Forgiveness

I John 1:9 

 

Is guilt robbing you of God’s Hope?