Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Everything We Need

Psalm 51
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy,
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.

5 Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

6 You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19 then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

This Psalm was written after King David sinned by 1) committing adultery with Bathsheba and 2) having her husband, Uriah, murdered to cover up the resulting pregnancy.

Some time ago I had a serious conversation with a close friend who was involved in a twisted and potentially destructive situation. My friend was struggling with guilt over her involvement in behavior she knew was wrong. At the same time, she seemed unwilling to face it for what it was--sin. After some tears and much conversation, she rather defiantly excused the behaviour on the basis that God had not given her the power to break away from it. Sadly, I saw that she really did not yet want to be free.

I Peter 1:3 declares, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). If we believe in life lived in and by the Spirit of God, we must understand that we already have from God all that it takes to be free. That does not mean the process will be without difficulty, or pain, or that we may not need to humble ourselves.

David is asking for help. “Lord, grant me a willing spirit,” he says, (help me want to) and follows up this request with a statement that shows he understands that God's help requires subsequent action.
Do not wait to feel forgiven. One of the wisest things I was ever told was this, "Just because you feel something does not make it true." Conversely, just because we do not feel something does not make it untrue. Feelings are wonderful things, but not an infallible barometer of what is genuine. God declares we are forgiven. Do not wait for some mystical feeling of power to come to you. God has already given it to you. As you believe God (faith) you can do what you need to do and what God wants you to do.

That is what happened with David. It happened with my friend too, just not quickly. She endured much more misery before one day acknowledging her part in the mess she was in and crying out for mercy, help and deliverance. It did not happen overnight, but it did happen. She later said, "I was too tired to fight anymore."

We can choose to be helpless victims of our own habits , but God provides an alternative. Are we willing to be set free?

Lord, thank You for giving us all that I need. Thank you, too, for being ever ready to receive me, forgive me, and heal my broken spirit. Show me any hardness of heart and renew a right spirit within me. When my joy is restored I will praise you and tell of your greatness to everyone! Amen

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