Cultivating a Living Faith. It’s the new sermon series we’re launching into this day. We’re entering into a season, especially here in the Northern Hemisphere, where for every farmer, it sets the course for their livelihood. For this year, it’s called spring work. I asked a couple of our farmers here, what it’s called, spring. Work across the plains, north to south equipment is being made ready and inputs for field work are being gathered and plans are made to commence spring work to prepare the ground for planting, whether permitting, and some of you know well of what I speak way more than I do. As you are connected, we have so many people here at Victory connected with, you’ve been farming, you are farming, or you know, someone who is. And so I think it seems timely for us to consider a, a new series titled Cultivating a Living Faith Here at Victory as a Church in the church year, we are entering a new season as well. It’s called Lent. And Lent like spring work is also a season of preparation as the ground is being prepared for the seed to take root and grow and bear harvest. So too during Lent, our hearts are being prepared by the Holy Spirit as we are reflective and contemplative on our need of a savior and what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. 40 days looking from Ash Wednesday up toward Holy Week as we prepare our hearts to remember Christ’s passion, his death and resurrection, cultivating a living faith. So our creative team had a little fun with the sermon bumper. Let’s roll the film.
Cultivating and living faith. Notice we didn’t try to get into the, you know, the green or the red wars or some of you know what I’m talking about. Okay. Yeah. And you’ll notice, actually, disclaimer, yes, I know this is a tandem disc. It’s not a cultivator in case any farmers are gonna call me on that right now. But it’s still, it’s actually the 42 foot tandem disc was my favorite implement. To pull it can really chew the ground up and prepare it well to receive the seed. So that’s what my prayer is for you and for me today, that we will look at confession as a way that our, so the soil of our heart gets, gets softened, the hardness taken out, and even the weeds buried and, and died so that God’s word might take root. Cultivating a living faith just as inputs are required for. A crop and for harvest. So tune in our lives, our hearts need to be prepared by the Holy Spirit. So today we’re gonna look at the input of confession and that it results in being cleansed. Confession that can lead to a cleansed life, A good conscience and a hope. So Roz, read for us an important passage in Daniel chapter nine, and I wanna read an accompanying text from one John chapter one. Beginning at verse five through verse nine, this is the message we have heard from him. And declare to you God is light in him. There’s no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we line do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. And the blood of Jesus, his son purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. The word of the Lord. Thank you God. Let’s pray. God our father, thank you for your word of truth. That sanctifies that declares the truth that we need to hear. Lord Jesus, it’s you that’s preached. It’s you that’s taught throughout scripture. It’s you who are our Savior and so Holy Spirit of God help us to see Jesus for who he is and our need of Him, and then work in our hearts. What kind of cultivation that needs to go on where we can live in daily repentance and confession and find cleansing, healing, and wholeness. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen. Dear friends, grace to you and peace from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our text in one John, those words should sound familiar. Yes. It’s these words in scripture that is the basis for our weekly common confession here at Victory and our accompanying text that Roz Red for from Daniel chapter nine. Boy, that lays out a detailed confession, doesn’t it? Daniel, who was Jewish. But now living as an exile in a foreign land called Babylon. And yes, he had risen to actually quite, uh, a political authority by God’s hand. Daniel, this is the Daniel of the Old Testament. You remember some of the stories of, we had a, a series on Daniel last fall, living a Daring Faith Daniel and the lions den. Daniel and the visions he had interpreting dreams for the most powerful rulers in the world. His friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and the fiery furnace. It’s that Daniel. Well, here in chapter nine, that’s after those things had happened, and here’s this prayer of confession. I, in many ways, I think it, it’s right up there with David’s prayer of confession in Psalm 51. Daniel praised this genuine deep prayer of confession, admitting his own sin and that of his people, and knowing why they were in exile in a foreign land, and he longed for his people to be restored to their homeland. The exile for Israel was to last 70 years. Daniel actually knew this. He, it says actually in the beginning of chapter nine that he had read the prophet. Jeremiah and knew the exile would be 70 years, and so he was doing the math. But here in year 68, Daniel offers this prayer in chapter nine. Okay, so just meaning two years later, the first of the Jewish people were allowed to go back and, you know, start the work of rebuilding the temple. So Daniel praised this prayer of confession, knowing God’s sovereign hand even in history. But Daniel himself ended up biblical scholars tell us, not going back to Israel. Why wasn’t that the case? I mean, he had prayed this prayer of confession sincerely. Well, scholars tell us a few potential reasons. One, he was about 90 or more years old, and that might be maybe a bit of hi of a hindrance for me. Maybe you, if you’re 90, think about that kind of travel. Okay. Or it might’ve been that he was so high up in administration that he wouldn’t have been let released from that responsibility. Or actually, there’s another vision in Chapter 10 where Daniel still sees himself in Persia. So maybe he’s just being obedient to God’s revelation. So even though Daniel did not experience the restoration of Israel that he prays so fervently for, he still continues this contrite prayer of confession that really I think shows us how to confess a rite. So I’m gonna use for our thoughts this morning, this threefold prayer from Daniel verse 19, where Daniel writes, Lord, listen, Lord forgive, Lord hear and act.
And then have that interplay with our text from one John chapter one. Lord, listen for the Lord to listen. He needs to have something to hear. For the Lord. Listen to, to listen to you. You need to speak. Many Christians do not practice regular confession. They believe yes. But they don’t practice regular, deep, sincere confession. If you want God to listen to you, it means you gotta say something and you’re invited actually to confess. And actually, the scripture says, to not do so is to live a lie. John puts it this way in our text in verse six, if we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. For you to remain in darkness requires only that you do not acknowledge your need of forgiveness. If you do not confess your sin, you lie and do not live out the truth. But by confessing you live in the light as he is in the light. And as this Bible says, you have fellowship with one another and the blood of his son, Jesus Christ, covers all your sin. Confession really is nothing more than agreeing with what God already says about you. He’s not surprised by your sin. He knows about it, and actually because of that, he sent Jesus for you. And so to walk in confession means you walk in fellowship with God, which means that if you don’t walk in confession, you really do not know God. Which is, that’s why it’s so vital here at Victory. We practice week in and week out, a time of public confession where upon we then hear God’s gracious words of forgiveness for God to listen. You have to speak second for God to listen. Beware of fake confession. I suppose, you know, if I asked you, well, do you confess, you could say, yeah, Todd, I do. To which maybe a follow up question might be, do you mean it, what I’m getting after here is, is this kind of a, a fake confession? You know, you’ve kind of seen it in kids, for example, when they’re fighting with each other and the parents finally intervene and separate ’em and, and they, you know, they say to the kids, now look, you gotta say you’re sorry to each other. And then shake hands and make up. And not that any of you would know what I’m talking about. I, I’m just speaking from my own experience. Right. But you know how this goes. It’s like just standing there. Say you’re sorry. I’m sorry. Okay. Now shake hands, now make up. And they just turn away and walk and kind of pout.
Hmm. That’s not a genuine confession, is it? Beware of fake confessions. Now, I think we can be susceptible to that as adults. We’re not gonna do it as bald face as little children do. We’re far more sophisticated and nuanced in our, in our F confessions, but it can take a few different forms. One of them I would call the shallow confession. It kind of goes like this as you’re praying, oh, and God, I, I’m sorry for my sins. Thank you for forgiving me. And then you move on to your wishlist. A shallow confession, or it might be like a whack-a-mole confession. You sin, oops, sorry, God about that. Oops, whoop, sorry about that one. God whack. Sorry. And it’s just, you’re just, uh, praying little blip prayers of confession without real meaning, let alone reflection on how abhorrent your sin is to a holy God. Notice Daniel’s prayer. We hear the sincere, thoughtful, deep confession. Daniel’s confession. It focuses on who God is and God’s relationship with Israel, and why that’s broken. It focuses on the sin, his sin, and the sin of his people, of God’s people, and it deals with their guilt as well as their shame. I mean, he’s not glossing over this confession in a shallow way. He gives a heartfelt confession with a plea for forgiveness and remembers who God is and his promises he makes to his people. Daniel’s confession is anything but shallow or fake for God. The listen you need to speak. Beware of fake confession. And third, don’t lie to yourself. Our text says in one John one, verse eight. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us if we claim to be without sin. Now, I, I think most of you know your Bibles enough and you’ve been here at Victory to hear it enough. You know that, okay, we do. Admit we have a problem with sin, but I think the way that we can lie about our sin is just by being very reluctant to point the finger at ourself, but very willing to point the finger at others. Daniel’s not deflecting his guilt with a fake or false confession or lying. He’s admitting to his own part and that of his people. And this shows in his attitude. He’s sincere and and thoughtful and, and he owns it. And that’s the call for us too, in our confession, to be honest and to own it, to not lie to ourselves. To say that we are without sin. And here’s an important but maybe sensitive point I wanna make. Is that true? Re confession. It really re requires that we admit our own sin and not point out to the sin of others, whether it’s their sin against us or just sin in general. Isn’t it tempting to kind of just point the finger at society out there and that’s why we’re in the mess we’re in. It’s that younger generation or it’s whatever group you wish to point at as the reason for our nation’s ills. Daniel does no such thing. He places himself in the heart with his people as the cause of the problem. And genuine confession means that you own your sin, and we as the church need to own our own sin and confess it.
How we as the church have failed to demonstrate a humility and an honesty about our own sin, rather than being so quick to point out the speck in someone else’s eye as we have a plank. In our own. So just as for Daniel, so for you and me, confession means we recognize our own sin. I wanna share with you a, a little clip that speaks to this good confession. It’s, um, it’s in a art form called spoken word. Some of you have probably seen that before. And it is probably a, you know, compared to us here at Victory, a younger generation art form. It’s not the norm here at Victory, but it’s powerful. It’s, uh, it’s from a young artist named David Bowen. And I, I don’t want the, the, the beanie or the look to, or the music to kind of throw you on this. Um, you gotta listen to the words carefully. It goes fast. We don’t have subtitles, but it’s a wonderful expression. Of a confession that, you know what I would love for my son or my grandson to own. You might want that for your children or their children as well, but listen to this for your own self. Also, I have a confession to make. Roll the clip. I have a confession to make. Grace is more racy than homosexuality. More full of life than teenage pregnancy, more captivating than pornography. Grace is far more potent than anything that can make us guilty, but we treat grace like a child when we hide our sin and question it. I have a confession to make. The true measure of a Christian is not how well their sin is hidden, or how many church services they’ve attended is, or how low the number of transgressions they’ve committed is. The true measure of a Christian is hidden in Christ whom they have been given. I have a confession to make. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Us, and that goes for the gossip as well as the alcoholic, the greedy, as well as those in adultery, the apathetic, as well as the attic, the judgmental, as well as the homosexual. We’re all looking for something we can throw at anyone whose sin looks worse than our own, but we’re all sinners. We’ve all been exposed, so none of us are left with even a single stone.
I have a confession to make. Anyone who calls themself a Christian makes the ultimate confession for Christ to not come for the healthy, but those in need of medication, the prostitutes, murderers, those in rehabilitation. So if you claim to be a Christian, you claim to be in need of powerful salvation. I have a confession to make. We are all trapped in shame until we give sin a name for. We all play this game where we try to look the same by modifying and hiding our behavior so no one can see our sin and make. Us a stranger, but what we don’t realize is that we are in danger for if we act like we have no sin. We live like we need no savior. I have a confession to make my eyes, lips, and mind are stained and unclean by words, images, and drinks that would have condemned me, but I’m not saved because I’m perfect or have my sin under control. I’m saved because I need saving and that. Is the gospel. I have a confession to make you no longer have to hide. For God has seen everything that you are and still came for you and died. It doesn’t matter if everyone else rejects you, you’re still his spotless bride succumb. Make your confession and rob sin of its power for what strength does it have. If shame’s been devoured, come make your confession and make room for the healing both for yourself and. For others whom with your very sin, they too have been dealing. Come make your confession and read the Church of Its Judges for if everyone’s confessing, there’s no room to make judgements. I have a confession to make. God is not condemning his own and we should not be trying to play his role. So let us start to pick up our crosses instead of our stones. Hurl rocks of gospel at each other instead of blows. Open our mouths to confess. And forgive instead of keeping them closed and overlook the speck in another’s eye to attend to the plank in our own. I have a confession to make in church. It’s time you majors to for Christ did not die so that we may hide but to love us in spite of the wrong that we do succumb. Speak your sin on the altar of confession. It doesn’t matter if the world says you’re condemned for all God will speak. Is salvation. It’s a powerful law gospel sermon right there in four minutes.
Make your confession for God to listen. You have to speak. Beware of fake confession and. Don’t lie to yourself, but just be honest. It’s no surprise to God he’s not surprised at all or unaware. But when you confess, then here’s the second part, Lord, forgive God forgives. That’s the really great news. Confession opens the door to forgiveness. It’s just agreeing with God what he already knows. It’s not denying it or dismissing it or somehow trying to not deal with it. It’s just owning it and in so doing, being cleansed by God with his full forgiveness in Jesus Christ, I. John writes in our text, which is what our public confession is built on in verse nine. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us. Cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Your part agree with God, God’s part forgiving you. In Romans three, Paul writes about it this way, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That’s the your part piece. We’re just agreeing with that. Yes, I’ve sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but the very next words in Romans chapter three, verse 24 says, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. That’s God’s part. Forgiving you all your sin. There it is. Confession that leads to forgiveness. And finally we have, Lord, listen, Lord forgive, Lord, hear and act. Let’s just go a bit deeper into God’s act of forgiveness. In that verse in one John one, nine, if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us, he’s faithful, meaning God will always. Forgive you. He’ll never withhold any forgiveness from you. It means you never need doubt, God’s forgiveness. The Psalmist writes about our sin and what God does with it this way in Psalm 1 0 3, verse 12, as far as the east is from the West, that’s how far God has removed our transgressions from us, meaning they’ll never meet and God even does something more than human forgiveness and divine forgiveness. He can even forget. And look at you in Christ Jesus as if you had never sinned. Moses writes about God’s forgiving nature way back in Exodus chapter 34, when God is revealing himself to Moses, hears how Moses records this revelation of God. The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger. Abounding in love and faithfulness who keeps faithfulness for thousands who forgives wrongdoing. That’s the God of the Old Testament and of the new and of today, the one and only God who never changes and who is always faithful to forgive. He is also just to forgive you your sin. Meaning God has every right to forgive you. Have you ever thought about this? Why does God forgive you? When we preach forgiveness, how is it that God is able to do it? Is he like some dotting grandfather who just says to his misbehaving grandchild, oh, that doesn’t really matter. No, our sin isn’t affront to a holy God. Does he just dismiss it? And say it’s no big deal. No. God takes your sin so seriously. He sent his one and only son. You know that most popular verse in the Bible, right? John three 16. Let’s say that I’m not gonna give you any cheat sheet on the screen. Let’s say it together. Okay? For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. Right, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Amen. And that’s the verse, not about cheap grace, but a grace so costly that God sent his one and only son. And the verse that follows it says this, God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Christ Jesus. Your forgiveness. God has every right to forgive you, your sin, because Jesus has paid it all for you. God is faithful and just to forgive you, your sin always fully and freely. Did you notice that we missed something at the front end of our worship service today? It, it was our time of public confession and absolution, hearing the words of forgiveness. It wasn’t by accident. It was intentional in part. So I, I hope some of you could feel like the dissonance, like, I miss that Todd. And you do whenever you don’t get to practice that. We don’t really practice confession much as God’s people in the church and our society certainly doesn’t. We do it every week here intentionally, and there’s even an intentionality in its placement. We start with a, a prelude that prepares our hearts. Then we are gathered in the name of the trying God. Then we have a song of praise. Then we move right into confession. Which leads into words of God’s promise of forgiveness as a means that our hearts are prepared to then hear the sermon and there’s more intentionality throughout the whole service. But did you know that there’s a purpose in its placement, let alone having it be a regular, weekly part? That’s why gather time is so important to let confession and absolution happen. And do the work of God cultivating your heart so that you might receive the good seed of God’s promises to you in Christ Jesus. So let us now join our hearts in genuine public confession, and then joyfully hear and receive God’s faithful and just words of forgiveness in Christ Jesus. We gather in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Dearly beloved in the Lord. Let us draw near with the true heart and confess our sin to God. Our Father imploring him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to grant us forgiveness. Our help is in the name of the Lord. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.
Let us pray. Almighty God, our maker and redeemer, we pour sinners. Confess to you that we are by nature, sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against you and thought word deed. Therefore, we flee for refuge to your infinite mercy. Seeking and imploring your grace for the sake of your son. Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. Let’s pause for a moment of silence for personal reflection and self-examination. Most merciful God, you have given your only son to die for us. Have mercy on us, and for his sake, grant us remission of all our sins. By your Holy Spirit, increase in us true knowledge of you and of your will, and true obedience to your word so that by your grace, we may come to everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Almighty God. Our heavenly Father has had mercy on us. And has given his only son to die for us and for his sake, forgives us all our sins to all who believe in his name. He gives the power to become children of God and bestows on them. His Holy Spirit. All who believe in are baptized shall be saved. Amen. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And forgive you. Let us pray. God, our Father, we come to you before you. The holy, righteous God. Thank you for your love and mercy from which you sent your one and only Son Jesus. And it’s you, Jesus the Christ, the Anointed one, the Messiah that was the suffering servant. We praise your name. You came and lived the life that we can’t seem to live. Spirit of God, do your sanctifying work in us day to day through your word and by your hand, to the glory of Jesus. In whose name I pray? Amen. Amen.