Summary: An examination of God’s forgiveness in the light of true repentance

1. Title: God is Looking for a Broken Heart (Manasseh)

2. Text: 2 Chronicles 33:1-20; 2 Kings 20

3. Audience: Villa Heights Christian Church, AM crowd, June 25, 2006, last in the series “The Kings and I”

4. Objectives:

-for the people to understand what motivates a person to repentance; that even the very worst of sinners can repent and be forgiven; the necessity of forgiving anyone who has wronged us if we expect to be forgiven;

-for the people to feel sorry for their sin and eager to change; forgiven if indeed they have turned themselves over to the Lord; an attitude of grace toward others who have also strayed and repented

-for the people to repent of any sin they are currently living; have an attitude to grace rather than judgment or cynicism toward others who sin (which is everyone!)

5. When I finish my sermon I want my audience to approach the forgiveness of themselves and others with God’s view of it and a deeper appreciation for our salvation

6. Type: textual / biographical

7. Dominant Thought: God forgives the repentant person no matter how bad his previous life was

8. Outline:

Intro: He was described as a man who “dangled the power of life and death over his fellow countrymen and murdered anyone who stood in his way...” By the end of the 1970s, Manuel Noriega had earned a reputation as the most feared man in Panama.

In 1983 he promoted himself to general and gained control of the government. A prominent critic of the military was mysteriously murdered in 1985. In 1988 a U.S. grand jury in Florida indicted Noriega on charges of racketeering and drug laws and money laundering. December 1989 U.S. forces invaded Panama and arrested Noriega, who was taken to Florida to stand trial.

April 1992 Noriega was found guilty of cocaine trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering. It was the first time in history that a U.S. jury had convicted a foreign head of state of criminal charges.

He was sentenced to 40 yrs in a Miami prison and ordered to pay $44 million to the Panamanian government. A French court sentenced Noriega and his wife to 10 years in jail along with a $33 million fine. That same year, the Panamanian high court announced that it would seek to have Noriega returned to that country to make sure he served time there for murder. Noriega is still in federal prison in Florida, in a two-room isolation cell.

While he was awaiting trial, he was given a copy of a Spanish New Testament. He wrote a letter to the editor of the Soul Winner’s New Testament, Clift Brannon. Brannon and an interpreter came and were allowed to visit Noriega for 6 hours in the Metropolitan Correctional Center of Dade County, Florida. 2 months later, Noriega took a Bible correspondence course. After he finished the course, Noriega requested permission of the prison authorities to be baptized. Cliff Brannon wrote to the US District judge in Miami to get permission, and for permission to bring in a baptistry. American Rehabilitation Ministries of Joplin provided it. A month later, October 24, 1992, a portable baptistry from ARM arrived at the Federal Court House in Miami. A Deputy Marshall brought Manuel Noriega into the courtroom. Surrounded by 12 guards, he got into the baptistry. Cliff Brannon preached on the meaning of baptism followed by prayer and Scripture reading. Brannon then baptized Noriega.

Before being escorted back to his maximum security cell, Noriega was allowed to give a brief testimony. He said:

"Before, Jesus to me was only an image of that which was learned from Catholicism… All was transformed when on Tuesday, January the 16th, 1990, Dr. Cliff asked me in a telephone conversation…"Do you know that Jesus loves you?" Today, this is what He means to me:

He is the Son of God, who died on the cross for our sins, who arose from the grave and is at the right hand of God the Father and who above all things He is my Savior, and has mercy on me, a sinner."

Joe Garman still gets a card from Noriega twice a year.

How does it make you feel when a murderous, power-hungry, drug-trafficking, thug becomes your brother in Christ?

Ill - He was raised in the Church of Christ. Early in his life, he developed faith, but at one point his parents split up. He ended up with his grandmother and abandoned what faith he may have had. He later said that accepting the theory of evolution enabled him to pursue his twisted urges. He accepted that if we all came from slime, he was accountable to no one. He’s right. If we did, no one is accountable to anyone. So, he lived out the logical conclusion of his evolutionistic convictions. He abused and murdered 17 young men, the first when he was age 18. Jeffrey Dahmer was an Alcoholic, Homosexual, Pedophile, Serial Murderer, and Cannibal.

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