Summary: Part 1 focuses on how our knowing that God has forgiven us of sins we have repented from enables us to have confidence that He hears us when we are crying out to Him, especially when we're between the Rock and Hard Place.
The Rock and the Hard Place – Part 1
You Are Forgiven
First and foremost I want to thank Cynthia and Anthony for covering for me during my sabbatical. The last two months have allowed me to shut my mind down and just allow God to quieten my spirit and minister to me. I also want to thank each of you for supporting them during my time away – you are all a blessing to me.
Now some of you may have thought that I spent my time away writing sermons so that when I returned I would have several written, but that would have defeated the purpose of the sabbatical. However, I was able to outline this series (with some input from my brother Barry) that came to me one day while we were on vacation – I will tell you more about that revelation later. This series is titled “The Rock and the Hard Place” and part one is subtitled “You Are Forgiven.” You may be wondering what forgiveness has to do with being between a rock and a hard place and I will tell you that there is a direct correlation. Let me begin by sharing a few thoughts about what it means to be between a rock and a hard place.
When someone says that they are “between a rock and a hard place” what they are saying is that they are between two equally different or unacceptable choices. This term was first used back in the early 1900s and gave the impression of being crushed or caught between two rocks. They are stressing that there are two opposing forces restricting their movement and based on this the person is unable for some particular reason to do what they would like to do, such as act or not act in a certain way. When someone makes this statement they are looking at both (the rock and the hard place) as having a negative outcome based on their final choice. In part one of this series I want you to know up front that being between the rock and a hard place is not the real problem. I will stress this point throughout this series. The key concept that I want you to gain from this series is knowing and understanding who our heavenly Father is and believing and acting on what He has said without compromise or apology. This in and of itself represents a “rock and a hard place” for many Christians. You see, we have all failed so many more times compared to the number of victories we have experienced. Some of us have allowed our personal failures, and the failures of those around us, to define our theology – what we choose to believe about God and His standards. In other words, what we believe about God and His standards are not solely based on His word, but what we and those around us have experienced. If I am a “good person” then does that not override my sin that is “normal” by the world’s standards as everyone else is doing them? There are times when we will place ourselves between a rock and a hard place because our theology is defined by our failures. This is what I want to address in this series. I took a hard look at myself while I was on my sabbatical and it is time that we take a hard look at ourselves individually and as a Church family.
This morning, as an introduction to the series, I want to lay one foundation of truth about God’s forgiveness. I want to remove all doubt, opinions and/or confusion that may exist in our minds about what happens when we truly repent. I want you to know that we are forgiven and that our understanding of this impacts our ability to walk in faith with God.
I. What God Says About Our Forgiveness
I shared with you a few minutes ago that we need to know and understand who our Father is and believe and act on what He has said without compromise or apology. The first thing we need to believe and act on is the fact that we have been forgiven. This is important for every Christian because we have a tendency to live in the past where our sins are still alive. We remember them, think about them and make plans to “try” to move beyond them. Even though we have repented and recognize that God has forgiven us, we are still trapped in the shadow of them and wonder if God is also remembering them when we sin next. This uncertainty impacts our ability to walk in faith and believe that God hears us when we pray. To put this issue to rest, we must know that to God our past is over and He does not hold anything over us that have been covered by the blood of Jesus when we repented. Let’s read a few Scriptures pertaining to this. Turn with me to Psalm 103:10-11.