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(Nehemiah 9:17) A God Ready to Forgive!

Nehemiah   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A God Ready to Forgive. What wonderful words to hear? Ezra confesses that God is always ready to forgive and then describes the character of God that makes him ready to forgive. The following words are some of the most comforting words found in our Bibles. We so often struggle with God’s love. When we sin – we wonder if God loves us. When we suffer – we wonder if God loves us. Yet this passage should clear any doubt. God always loves and forgives those who seek his name.

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INTRODUCTION:
Have you ever laid awake at night because your guilt burned inside you?
Have you ever laid awake at night because your guilt burned inside you?
You were afraid that God was angry with you!
Did you feel like there was no way God could love you!
Shakespeare described this human experience in his classic play - Lady Macbeth.
The play goes like this - “Burdened with an intolerable weight of guilt, restless and sleepless, Lady Macbeth paces to and fro in the early hours of the morning. Obsessively and compulsively she rubs her hands and cries out.”
What Shakespeare describes in this plot - is often how we feel.
When we have sinned.
In fact - we get so use to it -
That as Christians we live life in frustration - because we always fall short of the glory of God. We live in constant guilt. And so we always live afraid God is going to take his blessing.
Sinners without Christ often live a life suppressing the reality of their sin, and defining goodness in terms of moderate perfection. Because they are guilty.
Sinners without Christ often live a life suppressing the reality of their sin, and defining goodness in terms of moderate perfection.
You see - a simple observation of society shows that the human experience includes the experience of sin and guilt.
That is the observation of Solomon in -
3 Slide Changes
Eccl 7:20
Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV
Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.
Proverbs 20:6 ESV
Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?
Proverbs 20:9 ESV
Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?
ILLUSTRATION:
The human experience includes many times of us wallowing in the depths of our sin and guilt.
Despairing at our own wickedness and rejection of God’s wonderful holiness.
Feeling like we are unworthy of God’s love.
ILLUSTRATION:
Like a pig,
we are bathing in a mud pit of sin, covered in dark crusty mud of guilt.
We feel it,
the shame, guilt, the entrapment, the slavery to sin, the anger of God
Last week, we read a depressing summary about Israel’s response to the wonderful blessings of God.
When they should have been grateful,
Israel was:
(a) Proud and Presumptuous.
(b) Rebellious.
(c) Disobedient.
(d) Indifferent.
And if we were honest - we realize we sin in all those same ways.
We are no different then Israel.
We, even as Christians,
Instead of gratefulness we are at times:
(a) Proud and Presumptuous.
(b) Rebellious.
(c) Disobedient.
(d) Indifferent.
And [[[if]]] that is where it was left, we would be doomed.
We would live in hopelessness - and unworthy of God.
Slide Change
Prov 20:9
Proverbs 20:9 ESV
Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?
Romans 1:18 ESV
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Rom 1:18
But we need to realize that God is a God of forgiveness.
to God makes me clean- oh, the situation is no longer hopeless.
As sad v. 16 and 17 is; Notice the wonderful truth found at v. 17.
Nehemiah 9:16–17 ESV
“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.
”16-17
If left to ourselves,
we are no more able to
>Slide Change
From this text, may I boldly proclaim -

PROP: God is ready to forgive you.

>>>> God’s love and mercy is not out of reach;

TRANS: And this text gives us 4 Character truths of God that teach us why we should look to God for forgiveness.

>Slide Change
First, lets look at,

1) God’s Response to Our Sin: He is Ready to Forgive.

Israel was:
1. God’s Response to Our Sin.
(a) Proud and Presumptious.
(b) Rebellious.
Oh sin, can feel like God is a million miles away.
That you are unworthy of his love.
In fact you might wish this.
(From a letter by Gary Gilmore [executed by State of Utah] to his girlfriend.)626
“It seems that I know evil more intimately than I know goodness and that’s not a good thing either. I want to get even, to be made even, whole, my debts paid (whatever it may take!), to have no blemish, no reason to feel guilt or fear.… I’d like to stand in the sight of God. To know that I’m just and right and clean. When you’re this way, you know it. And when you’re not, you know that, too. It’s all inside of us, each of us.”
That is a letter from a man in Utah who requested the Death penalty for murdering two people.
But you don’t have to be a murder - to feel this way.
We all have felt like that.
Maybe you still do.
However, our text gives us a wonderful message of hope this morning.
(c) Disobedient.
“But you are a God ready to forgive”.
(d) Indifferent.
The Old KJV says - “A God ready to pardon”.
The Old KJV says - “A God ready to pardon”.
(1) Blessings of God.
Oh, now that is wonderful news!
(Barrowed from Charles Spurgeon Sermon)
Not a God who may possibly pardon,
neither a God who upon strong persuasion and earnest pleadings may, at length, be induced to forgive,
not one who, perchance, at some remote period after we have undergone a long purgatory may manifest a mercy of forgiveness,
But a God ready to pardon.
What does it mean that God is ready to forgive?
SLIDE CHANGE
Forgiveness topically can refer to many things.
Forgiveness could mean he is making an EXCUSE for us.
Or It could mean he CONDONES are sinful behavior.
Or it could mean he doesn’t hold RESENTMENT against us. ()
Or it could mean he legally PARDONS our sinful behavior.
Based on the description of God in v. 17, I think this best refers to God forgiving us - in the sense he is no longer resentful.
This is not to say that God doesn’t judicially forgive us. ()
That is he is not angry,
he is not holding back his favor,
he is in fact continuing a relationship with us, despite our sin.
In terms of a relationship, God is ready to forgive us and restore our relationship towards him.
That is what it means that God is ready to forgive.
ILLUSTRATION:
So picture this,
God is like a military squadron ready to fight the enemy.
I think of our ever vigilant Nuclear missile squanders
who are constantly watching for the enemy.
There are always alert (24/7),
Looking at the radar for any sign of the enemy
and the moment they see an enemy missile,
They are ready to fire upon the enemies within an overwhelming destruction.
But that is not a precise comparison,
because although both are ready.
Rather than God sending complete and total destruction upon his enemies.
He is ready to respond with complete and total forgiveness.
He is ever watchful and ready to restore his relationship to sinners;
God is ready to forgive us and restore our relationship to God - if yet we only would go to him for forgiveness.
- if yet we only would go to him for forgiveness.
(2) Miracles of God.
But how do you know that?
SLIDE CHANGE
Forgiveness topically can refer to many things.
Forgiveness could mean he is making an EXCUSE for us.
Or It could mean he CONDONES are sinful behavior.
Or it could mean he doesn’t hold RESENTMENT against us. ()
Or it could mean he legally PARDONS our sinful behavior.
Now isn’t that a truth worth praising God for this morning.
Based on the description of God in v. 17, I think this best refers to God forgiving us - in the sense he is no longer resentful.
This is not to say that God doesn’t judicially forgive us. ()
That is he is not angry,
And may that be a wonderful comfort to all suffer with guilt, who wonder about whether God still loves them.
he is not holding back his favor,
he is in fact continuing a relationship with us, despite our sin.
>> But how do you know that?
In terms of a relationship, God is ready to forgive us and restore our relationship towards him.
That is what means that God is ready to forgive.
The rest of this passage,
is meant to list out the character of God that makes God ready to forgive us.
It bolsters the character of God,
Our true Character many times has been described as -
What Character
When no one can stop you.
> What you do when no one is looking.
> But I also think that a person’s character is found when they are given a position of authority and power.
But I also think that a person’s character is found when they are given a position of authority and power.
What you do when given power and authority.
My experience,
My experience,
My experience,
You don’t really know a person’s true heart until they have power and authority.
I have had great friends - who tyrannical when they were given a promotion.
I have had lazy terrible employees - become great leaders when pressed with the responsibility of leadership.
You don’t really know what it man’s character truly is - until he is given the power and authority to act upon his own Character.
But God is not like you and me
When we understand that God is the ultimate creator and ruler of the World - with unlimited power.
- because as the ultimate creator and ruler of the world - he already has unlimited power.
Then we might consider what kind of Character God posses’s.
What in the Character of God makes him ready to forgive us -even though he possess unlimited power.
What is in God’s Character,
and particularly what about God’s Character makes him ready to forgive us -even though he possess unlimited power.

2) God’s Character: The Reason Why.

God is -

(a) Gracious and Merciful.

God is Ready to Forgive.
(a) Gracious and Merciful.
We can speak much about God’s power.
(a) Gracious and Merciful.
What power was it to cause the Nile river to turn to blood. >>> I can’t even plug a leak in a swimming pool half the time.
What power was it to kill the first born of every Egyptian. - The Atomic Bomb was effective at killing everything.
What power was it to part the Red Sea on dry ground, and then crash them back on the Egyptian Army.
Oh God is a God of great power. He is the almighty.
But if all we had was a God of great power - then the greatest praise for God that we could have is that he is a tyrannical dictator.
But if all we had was a God of great power - then the greatest praise for God that we could have is that he is a dictator.
We find this dilemma described:
In the Chronicles of Narnia -
C.S. Lewis pictures God as a massive and even beastly Lion.
C.S. Lewis pictures God as a massive and even beastly Lion.
In the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - he says this:
Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.
Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.
Is God great in power, and of course,
but we don’t praise him because he is powerful.
We praise him because he is gracious and merciful.
>>>God is the greatest example of grace and mercy that we know of.
But that is not all that God is.
God is the greastest example of mercy and grace that we know of.
What does it mean that God is gracious and merciful?
It is hard to even differentiate these two words.
As we consider Human goverment - every nations in various ways seek to find a powerful, wise, and noble leader to govern them.
In fact, we often rejoice as Americans because we actually have a say at who is our leader.
Often word lists are difficult to understand - because they are meant to stand as broad categories.
So here I think we should understand these two words - as meaning nearly exactly the same.
If we were to do a worldwise search for the most noble and good leader,
So here I think we should understand these two words - as meaning nearly exactly the same.
it would be not contest. God will always be the powerful, yet Good leader who would want to govern us.
They are meant to collectively describe two aspects of God’s grace and mercy.
May we rejoice,
God is exactly that.
Theologically may we say -
> Mercy has often been described as not giving us what we do deserve.
The greatest and most powerful leader.
Colossians 2:17–20 ESV
These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—
Colossians 2:13–14 ESV
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:15–16 ESV
He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
Romans 1:18 ESV
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
The one who quite literally is the Lord of our souls.
>Grace means giving us what we don’t deserve.
In this case - forgiveness.
- God restoring his favor upon people even though we deserve judgement.
- We can say that in the sense of Israel, and in the sense of the Cross.
We can say that in the sense of Israel, and in the sense of the Cross.
We can know that God is ready to forgive because he is gracious and merciful.
Next, we learn that God is -

(b) Slow to Anger (Patient).

James 1:19 ESV
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
Why does James tell us that?
Because we are not slow to anger - we are quick to wrath.
Somebody cuts us off - and what do we do - honk.
The grocery store person messes up our receipt - and so we get angry that they don’t know their job.
Our kids come home from school - and they won’t obey>>>>so we yell at them “don’t make me come up stairs”.
And then the telemarketer calls - so we slam down our phone.
In more serious notes,
often our marriages
our families
friendships
They are at times defined more by anger and wrath >>> then grace and mercy.
In fact, for many of us this is a temptation.
We struggle with - constantly having to bring our self control and anger back to the Gospel.
But God is not like that.
God is opposite to our sin nature, by being slow to anger. Or Patient.
While we are living impatient lives,
God is loving us with exceeding patience.
God is opposite to us.
ILLUSTRATION:
If we were to describe our opposite Character in terms of driving.
In fact,
We are sitting bumper cars, honking our horn impatience,
while God zips past us going the opposite way towards patience.
We are utterly opposite to God in this matter.
EXHORTATION/EXPLANATION:
This is so opposite to our Character,
that it is not a wonder we struggle with whether God still loves me or not.
The Patience of God towards sin is often beyond our imagination,
because we just don’t think that way.
ILLUSTRATION:
But Israel’s history demonstrates that God is slow to anger.
I mean consider,
even after Israel crucified their Messiah - Jesus.
still declares God is going to bless them.
We know that God forgives us because he is slow to anger.
>Slide
Slide
Further, God is

(c) Abounding in Steadfast Love.

Is there a greater way to teach that God is unconditionally and forever a lover of our soul
I am not sure there are words that could say that God loves us more then that.
Maybe a story - which I would argue is exactly what the Bible is.
>>>But outside that - what words could better express God’s love.
- We so often - respond to our sin by questioning the love of God.
But how foolish.
- We so often - respond to suffering by questioning the love of God.
But what could be more certain.
The word translated “steadfast love” is a common one.
It is more often then not related to God love.
It is almost always the word used for God’s love for his covenant people.
It is a word that Bruce Dumarest describes as particularly emphasizing relationship love.
It doesn’t necessarily mean unconditional love.
But they way it is used when describing God’s love for Israel - it certainly takes on that meaning.
But this text talks about more then just - steadfast love.
God is abounding in steadfast love.
As if God’s love could ever be contained,
Ezra prays - abounding in steadfast love.
ILLUSTRATION:
The picture here is like a dam, overflowing it’s banks.
- There is no holding back the love of God; it is abounding.
- God is literally flooding our lives with his love.
Forgiveness is always possible from God, because God always loves us.
Slide
Romans 5:8 ESV
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God is always ready to forgive us because God is always loving us.
Slide
Slide
And Finally, God is -

(d) Faithful.

(d) Faithful.
Our text says -
“and did not forsake them”
ILLUSTRATION:
One of the great wonders of Yellowstone is “Old Faithful”.
Since well before Yellowstone became a park in 1872
Old faithful has been shooting off 20 times a day.
That is why the geyser got the name, “Old Faithful”.
Because:
Because rain or shine, cold or hot, a government shutdown or not >>> Old Faithful keeps going on.
rain or shine,
cold or hot,
a government shutdown or not
>>> Old Faithful keeps going on.
God’s forgiveness can be described that way.
Ezra will repeat that God has “not” forsaken Israel several times as he recounts the many reasons we would expect God to forsake Israel, but didn’t.
>>>He never forsook them.
According , he still has not forsaken Israel.
It is almost like Israel decided, I am going to see how many times it will take for God to forsake me.
>>>>Yet no matter how bad they get,
- In judgement or not,
- 3,500 years latter God still has not forsaken Israel.
3,500 years latter God still has not forsaken Israel.
God is ready to forgive because he refuses to forsake his people.
And as Christians - is there anything that can separate us from forgiveness found in Christ.
If God was willing to send his only son to die for the sins of the world,
then will God ever forsake those who trust in the name of Christ.
And the big answer is no.
So we can know that is ready to forgive, because is the most faithful being in existence.
CONCLUSION:
So I have three applications for us this morning.
First, consider the example God has given us in this passage.
Colossians 3:1-2 challenges us to live like Christ.
Colossians 3:1–2 ESV
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Which is a way of saying - Christ died for you so live like he did.
Not in perfection, but in imperfectly following his perfect example.
Not in perfect, but in following his example.
Next week marks Valentines Day.
A Great time to consider your marriage.
>>>And so perhaps meditate on this passage.
We often gravitate to what has been called the love chapter, .
But perhaps consider this passage as well.
What would our marriages be like if we were:
What would our marriages be like if we were:
Quick to forgive
gracious and merciful
patient
abounding in love.
And faithful.
Doesn’t that sound like a fairly tell marriage, but that is really how we should be loving our spouse.
I have been really convicted by a question Paul Tripp asks in one of his books - Has your marriage grown more full of grace and mercy, or less.
And if we were honest - most of us have grown in sin - not abounding love and forgiveness.
But secondly,
Consider the wonderful hope this passage gives us when we don’t follow the example of Christ.
Go to God for forgiveness.
Quit living in guilt and fear.
(a) I say this to those who have not trusted in Christ.
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The first step towards God is realizing you are sinner.
Realize how you are -
(a) Proud and Presumptuous.
(b) Rebellious.
(c) Disobedient.
(d) Indifferent.
All of us can say that - because a simple observation of society teaches us that no one is perfect.
We have all sinned.
But not only recognize you are sinner, but realize God is ready to forgive you.
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Believe in Christ, and you shall be saved.
(b) I also challenge those who are already believers.
We so often live in quasi perfect-imperfect state.
We know we can’t get save by being perfect,
but then live as Christians as though my relationship to God is based on how perfect I live.
Quit trying to be perfect, and rest in your savior.
God is ready to forgive, and thus we should rest in his
God is ready to forgive, and thus we should rest in his
grace and mercy
his patience
is abounding love
and his faithfulness.
This should be passage that causes each one of us to take a deep breath - and say - thank you God, because we can’t be perfect.
And Thirdly,
Colossians 3:1–2 ESV
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:2 ESV
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Which is a way of saying - Christ died for you so live like he did.
Not in perfect, but in following his example.
Next week marks Valentines Day.
A Great time to consider your marriage.
And so perhaps meditate on this passage.
If left to our sins, we are no more able to clean ourselves from sin then a Pig can clean himself from mud.
I challenge all who are not trusting in the blood of Christ to save them from their sins.
Come to the God who is ready to forgive.
You need to Realize how you are -
We often gravitate to what has been called the love chapter, .
ILLUSTRATION:
The first step towards God is realizing you are sinner.
But perhaps consider this passage.
As we consider Human goverment - every nations in various ways seek to find a powerful, wise, and noble leader to govern them.
Realize how you are -
In fact, we often rejoice as Americans because we actually have a say at who is our leader.
(a) Proud and Presumptuous.
What would our marriages be like if we were:
(b) Rebellious.
If we were to do a worldwise search for the most noble and good leader,
(c) Disobedient.
Quick to forgive
it would be not contest. God will always be the powerful, yet Good leader who would want to govern us.
(d) Indifferent.
gracious and merciful
patient
May we rejoice,
All of us can say that - because a simple observation of society teaches us that no one is perfect.
abounding in love.
God is exactly that.
We have all sinned.
And faithful.
The greatest and most powerful leader.
But not only recognize you are sinner, but realize God is ready to forgive you.
Doesn’t that sound a fairly tell.
The one who quite literally is the Lord of our souls.
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
I have been really convicted by a question Paul Tripp asks in one of his books - Has your marriage grown more full of grace and mercy, or less.
And if we were honest - most of us have grown in sin - not abounding love and forgiveness.
Believe in Christ, and God will forgive you.
He is ready and looking to forgive sinners;
all we have to do is accept his forgiveness in Christ.
I ha
**************Lets Pray.
Alter call
I challenge you this morning, during the next few minutes to pause and meditate.
If you don’t know how to be forgiven from your sins - come talk to me.
If you are struggling in your marriage, or any other relationship - pray to God.
If you are living with guilt - ask God to forgive you.
We will take a moment to quietly reflect and then we will be dismissed by a closing song.
a. How do you struggle with the same sins as Israel? Do you carry guilt and shame for your sin?
b. How does God respond to our sin?
c. Which character of God do you most identify with? What does the character of God teach us about his forgiveness?
Response:
d. How do Christians fail to live in the forgiveness of God? How does this passage give us rest and hope?
a. How do you struggle with the same sins as Israel? Do you carry guilt and shame for your sin?
b. How does God respond to our sin?
e. What changes do you need to make after studying this verse?
c. Which character of God do you most identify with? What does the character of God teach us about his forgiveness?
d. How do Christians fail to live in the forgiveness of God? How does this passage give us rest and hope?
e. What changes do you need to make after studying this verse?
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