Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Living In the Already But Not Yet.

Every year my church at home asks members to contribute to a Lenten Devotional. We are asked to reflect up on a Biblical Passage and share our reflections to be compiled into a devotional book that is will lead us through the season of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday.

Here is this year's contribution. Hope you enjoy!

Psalm 51
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon
To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
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.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
    a sinner when my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward being;[a]
    therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
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[b] 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[c] spirit.
13 Then 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[d] 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.



Life is difficult. We face many hardships and disappoint ourselves daily. We live in a fallen world. This is apparent through broken friendships and marriages, betrayal, war, abuse of power, and the refusal to acknowledge another’s dignity. Though it is easy to list reasons how the brokenness of the world manifests itself in everyday life, it is often difficult for me to put myself in the “fallen” category. I am quick to declare that the world is sinful while simultaneously ignoring the parts of myself that are ugly and shameful. 

It is impossible to be human and not sin. Even King David who was chosen by God to be king of Israel, committed adultery with Bathsheba and then ordered the death of her husband Uriah. David, who we expect to be virtuous and Godly, was still prone to sin due to his fallen nature. Tim Keller, pastor of Proclamation Presbyterian Church in NYC writes, “The gospel is this: we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” As David writes in this prayer, “Indeed I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me” (vs. 5). Because of our fallen nature, we are prone to sin, however, there is profound hope in Christ.

The paradox between sin and hope in God is made evident in this Psalm. David acknowledged his sin and repented. Self-reflection is necessary in order to know the depths of ourselves. We must dive deep into the dark parts of ourselves in order to repent and be transformed by the Holy Spirit. We are not to dwell in the darkness, but rather know that we have a God who has forgiven us, all of us, down to the core of our nature. He loves us and “desires truth in the inward being” (vs. 6a). God will cleanse us and make us whiter than snow. What deep meaning that holds after experiencing so much snow this winter. There is hardly a more pure, untainted sight than looking out the window after waking up to fresh snow on the ground. God promises to make us purer than snow!

The words David prays in verses 10-12 are a testament to the hope in the restoration that is happening in each of us and in the world. Paul writes in his second letter, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (vs. 17)  Our beings are being transformed and renewed. Though we are sinful and fallen, we have a creator who is redeeming the world. Dwell in that hope and be joyful!

I would encourage you this week to take time in quiet reflection. Examine the deep, dark parts of yourself and lay whatever you find at the foot of the cross. God wants to bear our burdens and cleanse our hearts. We have a creator who loves us more than we can ever comprehend.

Prayer


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

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