February 20, 2015
I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains…” (Isaiah 44: 22, 23)
When one of the greatest men of God who ever lived committed the sins of adultery and murder, filled with remorse and contrition (which means being exceedingly sorry for sin), he prayed a great model prayer for forgiveness. If you have sinned and you don’t know how to confess your sin read Psalm 51. Make it your own prayer and you will do a great job of confessing your sin.
In the original Hebrew David actually asked God to un-sin his sin. Any devout believer who has really sinned will resonate with this prayer petition of David. The spirit of the prayer petition is: “Oh God! If You could only make it as if it had never happened!”
That introduces us to one of the most beautiful words in the Bible: “justified.” This word means “just as if I’d never sinned” and it means “to be declared righteous.” David uses this word in his prayer of repentance.
Sunday school children are taught a song that summarizes these Scripture verses: “God has blotted them out, I’m happy as I can be. God has blotted them out, I’ll turn to Isaiah and see. Chapter forty-four, twenty-two and three. He’s blotted them out and I can just shout! For that means me!”
They may be merely singing words when they’re children but when they grow up and become people who sin they may shout with tears when they read these verses and remember that song.
When you sin can you shout, “That means me?
Dick Woodward, 01 May 2013
June 6, 2014
“The Lord is my Shepherd…(Psalm 23)
These are some of the most familiar words in the Bible loved by devout people everywhere. According to this Shepherd Psalm of David, the key to the real blessings of this life and the next is a relationship with God. The green pastures, the still waters, the table of provision, the blessing of God described as anointing oil and the cup that runs over all the time are all conditioned on that relationship. David tells us how that relationship is established in the second verse when he writes, “He makes me to lie down”.
However, the spirit in which these words are often recalled can be something like this: “The Lord is my Shepherd —but, I have a health problem.” Or, the Lord is my Shepherd — but, I have marriage problems!” Or, “The Lord is my Shepherd — but, I cannot control my children.”
When we say “The Lord is my Shepherd — but” we are putting our “but” in the wrong place. We need to get our “but” in the right place and recall the precious promise of these words this way: “I have a health problem, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd! I have marriage problems, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd! I cannot control my children, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd!”
The Lord often makes us lie down by using problems with our health, marriage, children, finances, careers and all sorts of other challenges to teach us about the relationship which is the key to the blessings profiled in this beautiful Psalm.
Will you let the Great Shepherd use the problems and challenges you are currently facing to strengthen the relationship David described so beautifully three thousand years ago? Can you put your ‘but’ in the right place?
Dick Woodward, 14 August 2008
October 4, 2012
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
(Psalm 139: 23, 24)
Applying the compass of a jet pilot to our personal compass of life we next need to ask what it means to conserve when we think we may have lost our way. The familiar prayer of David in Psalm 139 is one answer to that question. We can assume that David is facing challenging decisions about the way he needs to go. We might also assume that he is aware of what this translation lists as his ‘anxieties.’
He is asking God to take the lid off his mind, heart, thoughts and motives along with his anxieties and show him what should not be there because he wants to walk with God in the everlasting way. By example and precept David is teaching that we should be conservative when our anxiety is letting us know that we have lost our way.
We should not make big decisions when we are down or on an emotional high. We should move ahead steadily when what God shows us under the lid of our heart and mind is in alignment with His will and the way He wants us to go with Him.
My friend, the squadron commander, told me about a rookie pilot who radioed his carrier: “I’m lost somewhere over the South West Pacific Ocean but I’m making excellent time!” When we know we are lost that’s not when we are to be making excellent time. That is the time for us to be conservative and pray this prayer of David.