PSALM 32 CONCEALED SIN

All humans have this in common, sin.  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).  The question then is how do we deal with our sin?  In Psalm 32 David wrestles with sin.  He talks about the anguish of his hidden sin.  The weight of guilt is heavy upon him.  Have you ever experienced the torment of trying to keep a sin concealed?

David writes in Psalm 32:5, Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.  Confession is David’s answer.  It is amazingly freeing when we bring a hidden sin into the light and receive God’s forgiveness.  We can trust God.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Concealed sin separates us from God; confessed sin restores us to God.  The universal and eternally most important thing is to be restored to God.  The significance of Christmas is that Jesus came to earth so we might be restored to God.  God has made the way for us.  Don’t miss out!  Confess your sins and receive God’s great gift of forgiveness.

Advertisements

FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT

The Bible tells us why we are here and how we came about.  God created us.  God is presented to us in the scriptures as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God with three aspects or parts.  God created the entire physical realm in which we exist.  He is all powerful, all knowing, and omnipresent.  We are the crown of His creation, given charge to take care of the earth.  Yet, how do we relate to this amazing being.  

As Father, God takes on the position of authority.  He is the head.  He is our provider and protector.  God the Father is who we look to for help in our time of need.  With love and mercy, He corrects us and turns us to the right path.  Sometimes, He allows the consequences of our choices to teach us.  He is the perfect father.  The scriptures point out that God is slow to anger and abounding in love.  I’m glad that my Father has these two attributes. 

God the son came to earth and became one of us.  He walked through this life as we do.  He taught us many lessons to show us how we should live.  He lived as we live and suffered as we suffer.  The Son was given the name Jesus meaning God saves, and He did just that.  He gave his life to redeem us.  Through his death and resurrection, he purchased for us eternal life.  Jesus is our oldest brother, and He loves us. He is now in heaven interceding for us.

The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, indwells those of us who have believed in Jesus and accepted his redemption.  The Holy Spirit lives within us and counsels us, teaches us, and leads us in righteousness.  The fact that the Holy Spirit lives in us amazes me.  No other relationship is more personal.

I believe God has shown us exactly how He wants us to relate to Him Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I think God is more complex than the three aspects he shares with us, but these aspects present the most personal interaction we can understand.  He takes care of us as our Father, loves us as our Brother, and through the Holy Spirit connects with us on a deep spiritual level.  God created us to love us.   His underlying characteristic is love (1 John 4:16).

HOW CAN I REPAY THE LORD

Psalm 116:8-11 reads:  For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. 

When I was young I learned about the Lord in Sunday school.  I even went to church.  However, my daily life was on me, and I didn’t think much about the Lord during the week.  Then divorce came into my life.  On my own, I tried to fix the emotional distress of this tragedy.   I floundered in a cavern of unsuccessfulness.  Finally, I came to the end of myself and called on the name of the Lord.  He was right there to help.

Jesus delivered my soul from anguish, my eyes from tears, and he gave me direction for my life.  Jesus gave my life purpose, and I stopped randomly stumbling through life.  Overnight, life completely changed.  I felt alive again as I started my new life walking with him.  In his mercy and grace, Jesus was very good to me.

“How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?” asked the Psalmist in verse 12.  He shared his answer in verses 13 and 14.  “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.  I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of his people.”  To me this means I will praise the Lord for the salvation he purchased for me.  And, as I have vowed, I will continue to serve the Lord for the rest of my life.  This I will do in the presence of his people.  Gratitude and faithfulness will be the hallmark of my existence.

If you haven’t found the mercy and grace of Jesus just call on the name of the Lord.  He will answer you.

THE LORD HAS BEEN GOOD TO YOU

Regardless of your circumstances, the Lord has been good to you.  The fact that he died on the cross for you should be enough to count him good.  As I say this to myself, I reach for the place where I embrace this truth and find comfort.  When times are tough it is a reach.  I want to be rescued by circumstances not just intellectual truth.  I want things to be better!

For those who have walked with the Lord for some time you probably recognize this struggle as the growth of patience and trust that comes from waiting on the Lord.  However, I’ve come to a place of frustration and discouragement in this process.  I can’t see ahead to that door which will open to a new direction providing an answer to my dilemma.  What can I do?  I have often answered this question, “Nothing, you just have to wait and trust in the Lord.”  I find no relief in this answer.  There must be something else.

What a blessing the Psalms provide when we reach difficult times.  This time I found comfort in Psalm 116.  In this Psalm King David retraces his life’s relationship with the Lord.  He reflects on how the Lord saved him, listened and responded to his cry for help, and treated him with compassion.  He finds solace in praising God for what he has done.  Ah, an answer to my question of what can I do.  So I’m doing this, and I’m finding that God has indeed saved me, listened and responded to my cry for help, and treated me with compassion.  I am praising God for what he has done in my life, and I’m looking forward to that moment when I reach this resolution, “Be at rest once more, oh my soul, for the Lord has been good to you (Psalm 116:7).

Hopelessly Flawed?

I am hopelessly flawed.  I want to be good and have good motives, but I find my heart to be full of selfish motives, unloving and unkind.  I try not to act on these ugly inner thoughts, for I want to be good.  I try to put on the good.  People think of me as good.  Alas, I am not.  I am hopelessly flawed.  I sometimes get depressed over this lack of good in me.  I want to be nice to people.  I want to treat them like a good Christian should.  I want God to like me.

Do you identify with this inner conflict?  Paul did.  In Romans chapter 7 he expresses this same inner conflict.

21. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  22. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23. But I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  24. What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  25. Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Thank you Father for your word, and thank you Paul for expressing this inner conflict so I know that I’m not alone.  Once again I am reminded that it is my FAITH that pleases God, not my puny attempts to make myself good.  In Jesus he fixed the problem that I can’t fix.  Yes, I am indeed flawed, but not hopelessly as I sometimes get lured into thinking.  There is hope not in what I can do, but in what he has done.  So, I take comfort in these words: “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Amen!

Relating to God

When thinking of how to relate to God, I believe he has shown us through his Son.  Jesus in teaching about prayer gave us what is known as the Lord’s Prayer (see Matthew 6:9-13).   The prayer begins with “Our Father in heaven”.  I believe that in this expression God makes it clear that he wants us to know him as Father.  Throughout the words of Jesus he refers to God as his father and our father.  There are many telling expressions that Jesus shared giving us insight into the nature of the relationship God offers us as our Father, but the one I like and personally understand the most is the parable of the lost son.

In the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32) Jesus tells the story of a son who takes his share of his father’s wealth,  leaves home, and goes to squander his money in wild living.  When the money is all gone, he finds himself destitute and working as a servant feeding pigs.  Obviously his predicament is the result of his own choices.  He chose this path against the wishes and wisdom of his father.  Not only did he go against his father’s wishes, but what he did, according to Hebrew society of the time, was to bring shame to his father.  Yet, when the son recognizes what he has done he decides to return and put himself at the mercy of his father.  I guess we can all imagine the reception he might receive from a human father.  But, the father in this story represents the heart of our Heavenly Father, and I believe it gives us an example of what to expect when relating to God as our father.

In Jesus’ parable the son is received with open arms, and the father puts on a big party to welcome him home.  This is forgiveness in its truest sense.  John reminds us in his first letter     (1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  I love this parable because it describes the reception I received when I returned to God.  He didn’t condemn me, but he welcomed me back with complete forgiveness.  He is a loving and forgiving father.

BE MERCIFUL

“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

 Jude 22-23

 

The Church, the Body of Christ, has throughout the ages frequently missed the basic tenet of being merciful.    On the other hand the Church has been an instrument of mercy in society since its beginning.  It’s been a mixed bag.  In Luke 6:35-36 Jesus says,

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

God has shown us mercy, and he desires us to be merciful.  I believe our ability to be merciful depends on our ability to receive mercy.  Humility is the key.

 

To receive mercy, I must first recognize my need for mercy.  When I know that I have sinned against God, there is then the recognition of the debt I owe to God.  Secondly, I need to humble myself and become aware that there is nothing I can do to repay this debt.  God is willing and has made the way to grant me mercy by forgiving my debt.  I don’t have to work for it.  It’s free.  That is hard for me because in my pride I want to do something to earn forgiveness.  However, by holding on to this idea of earning forgiveness, I will never even understand mercy.

 

Now you can see why it’s a mixed bag for the Church.  Our pride often gets in the way.  In Matthew 9:13 Jesus says to the Pharisees, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”  And again in 12:7, “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”  The Pharisees were caught up in a ritual of sacrifice that fed their pride allowing them to condemn others rather than show them mercy.  They were trying to pay their debt to God on their own merit.  They were blinded by pride and did not understand mercy.   Therefore, they could not extend mercy.

 

Mercy proceeds from a humble, forgiving heart.  This is God’s nature and his heart toward us.  By surrendering my will to God and allowing myself to be forgiven, I take the first step in understanding mercy.  I feel the burden of gilt lifted and the exhilaration of being free.  But, I must remember that I’m free and not fall prey to the lie that I must do something for this freedom.  That lie feeds my pride.  I must remain humble. Then in humble gratitude, I live under God’s mercy.  A life that is continually bathed in mercy emanates mercy.