Summary: A sermon on forgiveness, that only can come by the blood of Jesus Christ.

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(1) The Headlines on Jan 26th out of Jacksonville, FL read: "JACKSONVILLE, Florida (AP) -- When five dozen roses didn’t work, an estranged husband took out a full-page newspaper ad to ask his wife for forgiveness. "Please believe the words in my letter, they are true and from my heart," read the ad in Tuesday’s edition of The Florida Times-Union. "I can only hope you will give me the chance to prove my unending love for you. Life without you is empty and meaningless."

Larry, who declined to give his last name, sent the $17,000 apology (ad) to Marianne, his wife of 17 years. She left him almost two weeks (earlier) ago, he said. "It was a culmination of things," he told the newspaper. "But I am desperately trying to save our marriage." Larry, who lives in Orlando, said his wife is staying with her parents near Jacksonville. But they blocked him from entering their gated community and she changed her cell phone number so he can’t contact her.

A relative told him that Marianne saw the advertisement. "She said my wife read the ad and started crying. But so far I’ve had no response from her," Larry said. But the ad drew the attention of many other readers, who contacted the paper. "They want to know if she has responded and if they have worked things out," said Jay Weimar, director of display advertising. "We tell them we are pulling for him."

No doubt Larry was going to great lengths to seek his wife’s forgiveness. But what about us? When we have forsaken God? When we have sinned against Him? When we have made false idols and worshipped ourselves and our own desires? How do we seek forgiveness of the God who created us? Would taking out a full page ad get his attention? The Psalmist asked something like "How long O’ Lord will you incline your ear away from me?" What do we do when we fill isolated from our sinfulness, and like God is living behind a "gated" community and won’t let us in?

Actually my wife Laurel found something at Hastings the other day that might be able to help us out: "Its called "Wash Away Your Sins - Soul Saver Pack"... "For liars, cheaters, and wrong-doers."

"It says its Bishop tested" and "Cardinal approved". Its contents are two bottles and an instruction book:

One bottle: "Holy Water" are for those little sins: "1) Remove cap - 2) Pour into palm - 3) Admit wrong doing - 4) Think pure thoughts - 5) Anoint forehead and - 6) Go fourth purged from sin, ready to do it again."

The second bottle: "Bubble bath" are for those more major sins: "1) Kneel before thy tub - 2) Reflect upon wrong doing - 3) Run warm bath water - 4) Pour in enough bubble bath to equal your sins "(I would need a 55 gal. drum)" - 5) Soak in blessed bubble - 6) Arise cleansed from sin, and ready to do it again." The instruction book adds "that you should soak 3 minutes for each deadly sin committed." Though you are to soak "15 minutes per each large deadly sin committed". Now if you commit an "extra large mortal sin", "which includes lying to your mother" then you must "add two capsuls of holy water", "soak for twenty minutes" and when exiting the bath "annoint your forehead with the blessed holy water".

Now if this were reality, we would at least know the sinners, because they would be the ones walking around with their skin all shrieveld up. And we would be going "Hah, lied to your mother again didn’t you?" And if this were the method by how you got clean from your sin, it would be really no different then the ancient practice of animal sacrifice. I mean, some of us would be living out by the barn. "What’s Joe-bob doing out by the barn". "Well slaughtering some more pigeons, and another calf. He sinned again".

But the reality of being cleansed from our sin, is not found in this silly little box, but in the real Book that gives us instructions for life. "Once and for all time he (Jesus) took blood into that most Holy place, but not the blood of goats and calves. He took His own blood, and with it he secured our salvation forever. Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse peopls bodies from ritual defilement. Just think how muchy more the blood of Christ will purify our hearts from the deeds that lead to death (mortal sins) so that we can worship the living God." (Heb 9:11-14)... The Scripture continues ..."For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant. Now when someone dies and leaves a will, no one gets anything until it is proved that the person who wrote the will is dead. The will goes into effect only after the death of the person who wrote it. While the person is still alive, no one can use the will to get any of the things promised to them. That is why blood was required under the first covenant as proof of death...In fact we can say that according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified by the sprinkling with blood. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (Heb 9:15b-22).

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