May 1 - Message Update

The Forgiveness of God - 2 Chronicles 6:21-42 - Pastor Brian

The forgiveness of God is for all who turn to Him.

 

Rejection hurts so much that it’s hard to get over and believe it or not God feels the hurt and sadness of being rejected too.  It's painful for Him when His love and forgiveness is misunderstood and not accepted.  God willingly offered His Son Jesus to the Cross for our forgiveness, yet even in this dramatic act of love, His love is not always received.  In our sin-filled and cynical world, we find it hard to believe that God could forgive the ugliness in our lives, yet He does.  

 

You might recall from 1 Chronicles 28 that God promised King David that his son, Solomon, would build the house of the Lord. God’s promise was fulfilled when Solomon completed the temple.  Of the forty years of Solomon’s reign, it took twenty years to build the sanctuary where the Ark of the Covenant would finally be placed. Upon its completion, King Solomon gathered Israel and all of its leaders to dedicate the building with a prayer.

 

On his knees with arms stretched out towards the Ark of the Covenant, King Solomon seeks the ear of God and asks for forgiveness.  Solomon knew about God’s un-paralleled pardon for his father, David, and confident that God would have compassion on any and all who would turn to Him.  Solomon knew without a doubt that the forgiveness of God is for anyone who turns toward Him.   This is the timeless principle or truth to take home from this morning’s Scripture that the forgiveness of God is for all who turn to Him. The forgiveness of God is for everyone who turns to Him, regardless of their sin. 

 

This prayer reveals an attribute of God and one of the great theological teachings of the Bible.  The attribute of God’s covenant faithfulness and the doctrine of forgiveness.  Solomon’s prayer ties God’s pledge of faithfulness to forgiveness for those who acknowledge and repent of their sin.  The promised faithfulness of God assures us that anyone who turns to Him would be released from the handcuffs of sin. 

 

God’s faithfulness to His people is what makes Him unique compared to all other gods of the known world, then and now.  In those ancient days, gods were unapproachably distant.  It was beyond comprehension that the Almighty and all-knowing God of Israel is an intimately personal God.  God is so near; He knows the numbers of hair on your head and listens to the prayers of His people. 

 

Although perfect God cannot live with imperfect people, Father God desires to connect with His children, so He devised a way to re-connect with sinful people through forgiveness. He graciously welcomes a repentant heart regardless of the sin, and offers complete freedom from punishment for our mistakes.

 

Solomon fearlessly asks God to hear his prayer and to pardon anyone who is sorry for their failures, because he knows God will.  From the individual to the nation of Israel, the forgiveness of God is for all who turn to Him as we will see in the following verses beginning with 2 Chronicles 6:21, “And listen to the pleas of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray towards this place (The house of the Lord).  And listen from heaven Your dwelling place, and when You hear, forgive.”

 

(v.22) Solomon asks God’s forgiveness for those who sin against their neighbor. (v.24) Solomon asks God’s forgiveness for Israel when defeated by enemies because of their sins. (vv.22-28) Solomon asks God’s forgiveness when drought and famine strike their land because of sin. (vv.32–33) Solomon asks that even Gentiles (foreigners) may pray and be heard. This portion of prayer demonstrated that though Israel is God’s chosen people, His forgiveness is for anyone who turns towards Him. Then in verses 34-35, Israel’s soldiers are far from home fighting for their nation, Solomon reminds them that God hears their prayers too.

     

Solomon pleads with God to forgive the wrongs committed against neighbors, disasters caused by sinfulness, to be close to those far away, and even those not chosen by Him.  The prayer of Solomon is this, “God, would You please listen to my prayers and when you hear, forgive.” God hears the cry of repentance and responds with mercy. In our shortcomings and failures, Almighty Father God, answers a repentant heart with mercy and forgiveness.

 

God’s forgiveness is always available but often not always received.  How can that be?  Why would anyone turn away from His mercy?  Why would God’s compassion be rejected?  Could it be because God’s forgiveness is beyond reason?  Let me try to clarify what I mean by God’s forgiveness is beyond reason with two possible scenarios of why receiving God’s kindness would be difficult.

 

First there might be a fear of strings attached. Growing up, we may have received compliments only when we accomplished something, like excelling at sports or achieving good grades. If we sensed that we weren’t being accepted for who we are but rather for our accomplishments, then receiving may only be associated with a good performance. Can you see how this thought can prevent us from receiving God’s goodness?  If we think or feel we haven’t performed well or done enough good things for Him, then we would probably have some resistance receiving the goodness of God’s forgiveness.

 

Similar to the fear of strings attached, we resist His unconditional love because we feel undeserving to receive the goodness of God because of the shame attached to failures.  How could God love me when I continue to let Him down?  Does He really forgive my lust for money, materialism, men, women, status or power?  Can He forgive me for the grudges I hold against those who have hurt me?  How do we battle thoughts like these?  The Bible is truth because it is God’s Word.  What truth can we hold onto when we feel that we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness?  Yes, it’s true all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God but we know from Nehemiah 9:17, “God is ready to forgive, gracious, and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

 

Make no mistake that there are no strings attached to His steadfast love and we don’t deserve His goodness, but this is His grace, the free gift of undeserved love.  Which leads us to another question.  If God’s forgiveness is for anyone who turns to Him, how does He want us to receive it?

     

2 Chronicles 6: 36-42 – Solomon pleads with God to hear and forgive all who turn towards Him, because Solomon knows He will. But to receive forgiveness we need to acknowledge and repent of our sins as this timeless truth is stated thousands of years later in 1 John 1:9 which says, “If we confess our sins then He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

These verses reinforce that no matter the situation or circumstance, Gods attentive ear, Gods forgiveness, and Gods ability to restore is but a prayer away and recognizes that God, in His covenant faithfulness, will forgive anyone who turns to Him and confesses their sins with a sorrowful heart.                   

 

Confession is letting go of our need to control the maintaining of our image and allowing someone to go deeper into our lives.  We may be afraid to fully expose ourselves because of the fear of disappointing them if they really knew us and the fear of being rejected.  Often this fear translates into fearing that God Himself will be so disappointed that He will reject us when we confess our ugly thoughts, attitudes and actions.  But according to His Word, God will not reject but will receive us with arms wide open in our honest confession to Him.

 

CONCLUSION

God’s forgiveness is good, but it’s good for nothing if it is not received.  Think once more about the pain of rejection. Consider God when His love and forgiveness is not received but rejected.

 

Look again at vv. 41-42 and pay particular attention to the last part of v. 41, “And now arise, O Lord God, and go to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might. Let Your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let Your saints rejoice in Your goodness.  42 O Lord God, do not turn away the face of Your anointed one!  Remember Your steadfast love for David Your servant.

 

When Solomon prays that saints would rejoice in God’s goodness, it reminded me of Psalm 28:6–7  “Blessed be the Lord! For He has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. 7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.”

 

God’s forgiveness is for any and all whose heart turns towards Him.  All we need to do is receive it and own it as ours. God's love, mercy, and forgiveness, are freely given and are my strength, my shield and in Him my heart trusts and I am helped. God’s forgiveness is for anyone whose heart turns to Him. But we should not overlook that receiving the goodness of His grace is just as vital.

 

Maybe you’ve been a follower of Christ for a long time and feel guilty or angry at yourself because of repetitive sins in your life.  You find yourself doing over and over again what you know is not pleasing to God.  It’s frustrating, discouraging and gets you mad when you do the very things you know are not right before God.  Maybe you quickly lose patience and get angry with your spouse, children, family, friends and co-workers.  You know it’s wrong and pray for patience but lose it again no matter how hard you try to be patient.  Don’t get too down on yourself, you’re in good company.   

 

Even the great Apostle Paul, when speaking about the sin in his life, was frustrated with himself when he says in Romans 7: 15 and 24, “I do not do what I want, but do the very thing I hate.” “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death!”  This is not an excuse to keep on doing wrong, but gives us hope when we understand the battle against sin is not ours and the war has already been won because of Jesus. 

 

God tells us in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

 

God’s forgiveness is for any and all whose heart turns towards Him. For those who do not yet know Jesus as Savior, please know that all God desires is that you believe in and receive Jesus as His Son, acknowledge sin in your life and ask Him to forgive you.  God hears and forgives those who repent and has the power to restore a heart shattered by sin.

 

So often people turn away from God rather than turn towards Him because of the false belief that God will reject rather than receive them.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  God will not reject a repentant heart.  He desires everyone to turn towards Him and receive His forgiveness. When we turn our hearts towards God and honestly confess our sinful ways, we will find His comfort, soothing relief and healing from the destructive ways of sin.

 

The theme for our preaching series is “Chronicles of Hope.” May we find hope knowing that God’s faithfulness to forgive, is for everyone who turns to Him with a heart of repentance.

 

Praise Songs:  Amazing Grace, 10,000 Reasons, Nothing But the Blood, His Mercy is More, Doxology