Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Failure: Life With No Direction

Focus Passage: Gen 15:7-21

Wouldn’t be nice to know the future? You could plan your life without wasting time and energy on false starts. You could have direction in life with as little pain as possible. Yet, what if the future contained hardships, too? What if your job would end in a year or the future held a serious illness for you or your wife? Would you want to know those things as well? God lays 400 years of history before Abraham. Yes, there will be successes, but there will also be hardship and pain for Abraham’s descendants. God has a lot to teach the scraggly and selfish sons of Jacob so that they can be the great nation promised to Abraham. Yet, we can know that God’s plan is bigger than we would have ever imagined. We have to trust God to take us where we cannot get by ourselves.

Abraham’s discussion of the future begins with a question. Abraham has spent ten years of wandering up and down the countryside and yet God’s promise that he is no closer to having this land for his offspring. It isn’t that life hasn’t been good. Abraham is becoming a rich man with large flocks and many servants. He just feels like he is treading water. Promises were made by God, but nothing much is different. Unfulfilled dreams can haunt us as well. God made promises that don’t seem to be coming true. We are facing illness and feel like God has not listened to our prayers. Money is tight when we thought that God would give us what we need. We have never been hungry, but this was not what we thought would happen.

God knew that Abraham struggled because he kept looking to earthly solutions for his problems. He had already turned to Egypt not God when he was hungry and lied about who Sarah was to save himself. He looked to solve problems by himself. God takes Abraham outside and makes him look up. It is as if God is telling Abraham that he is looking to the wrong place. You need to look heavenward and see what God can do. If God can make that many stars, is it really too hard to believe that God can give you that many offspring? Likewise, looking to earth for the answers for our future will stunt our growth. We need to look to the Lord who has the ability to do anything. Look to the stars and ask “What does God want for you?”

And when you look up to the heavens, trust God. Abraham has not learned to be patient. He will still struggle and try to handle it his own way. He would fail when he took Hagar as a second wife and again when he told everyone Sarah was not his wife a second time. Yet, for the most part, he believed. He cast his lot with the Lord. When the Lord said that he should go this way, he went. He leaned his whole life toward God’s will because he believed with all his heart that God really knew what was best. Be patient and cast your lot with the Lord. Start your day asking what the Lord wants of you today. Worship him and learn from him in his word. Trust that the Lord who created the heavens knows what is best for your life. Cast your lot with him and life will have joy.

Look again up to the heavens. Do you notice how small you and I are compared to all the stars? Sometimes, we have to look beyond ourselves and realize that God is ministering to the whole world. Abraham wanted the land now, but he would have to wait because God was still working with the Amorite people. They would have to fail before God would give Abraham’s descendants the land that was promised. That would take time because God is loving and very patient.  We often ask God to speed things up so that we can what we want without considering the world around us. God is orchestrating blessings for the world around us as well as us. Even if we are ready for the miracle to begin, others may not be ready or be in place. Patience is required as he brings all the pieces together.

The real question is, “Can you take the truth?” We want direction with as little pain as possible. Here, Abraham gets the awful truth. His descendants have a lot to learn. God will take the stiff necked descendants of Jacob and will mold them into a nation. Abraham wants the land now, but his descendants will not be ready for it. Can you take the truth? Do you really want to know where you will be five or ten years from now? Are you really ready to take the responsibility that comes with that promotion or jealous rivals that will come with your success? Sometimes we are better off trusting God and just waiting for His solution. Just look at Abraham. Abraham continued to prosper during his life. The simple man who left Ur with a few cattle and sheep had a large flock and much gold and silver by this time. Know that God will take care of you as He is working His plans. Look up, believe and realize that God is working great plans for us. He is a God who can be trusted. God’s plan is bigger than you could ever imagine. Trust him to take care of you till then as well. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Story: Holy Week - He Came to be a Savior

Focus: Matt 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, John 13-19

 I walked into the auditorium excited to be at this mega church for an exciting conference on outreach and preaching. The speakers were first rate and the conference was sold out. I saw banners proclaiming some of the opportunities for members to work in the inner city with the homeless and posters for several missionaries that they were supporting. Yet, something felt wrong as I walked into this sanctuary. I wondered what it was. Then it hit me. There was no cross in this building. It could have been a college lecture hall or symphony concert hall. I am not sure why there is no cross in some churches when they are doing great ministry. It does point to a concern of mine. What does it mean that Jesus is Savior? For us, the story of the cross is central and we show it, but savior had different meanings to many in Jesus’ day.

Some want a Savior who will give an easy life. Matt 17:4 On the way to the cross, Jesus takes three of the disciples up on a mountain for the transfiguration. There they get a bit of heaven. Moses and Elijah are there and Jesus is in all His glory. Here trouble was far away and the gates of heaven were opened. Some still think that Jesus came to give the easy life. They are disappointed when life has problems or when ministry is tough. There is a desire to expect heaven without the cross. And when the Christian life is not easy or people face problems, they think that Jesus has failed.

Some want a Savior who will provide for their needs Luke 19:38 It is Palm Sunday and Jesus is riding into Jerusalem on a colt. The people decided that the Messiah had come and was ready to take His throne in Jerusalem. He would push out the Romans and would take over the throne of great king David. Peace and prosperity will be had by all men here in Judea. Some still think of Jesus as the savior from our problems. Feeling sick, Jesus will cure you. Need a job, the answer is a simple prayer away. What if someone doesn’t get well or that job doesn’t come?

The real Jesus came to be a Savior from sin John 19:30 He never said that His work as Savior was done when he rode into Jerusalem or when He healed some sick person. His work when He diedon the cross. It was what God had promised Adam and Eve in the garden and what God had continued to promise through the ages. The Savior had finished it. Man was forgiven. It is what all of us are really here for. We need someone who will take away the guilt that haunts us from the past and the eternal death that haunts the future.

It isn’t pretty to see His beaten and bloody body on the cross. It was something that only one of the twelve disciples could bear to come and see on that day. Yet, it was for this reason that He came. Make Jesus a great prophet who died too early in life or a caring man who helped many who were ill or hurting and you miss the whole point of His life. He came to die. He came to save us from sin. Everything else was secondary to Him and should be to us. The heart of the Bible is that we are all sinners who sin daily and can’t save ourselves, but that God sent His son to come and save us by His death and resurrection. Believe in the cross and everything changes. All the other things that people want from Jesus are now possible. Savior can mean many things to many people. What it meant to Jesus was a cross and salvation from sin and eternal death.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Failure: When life fails you

Focus Passage: John 4:1-26

Failure can feel like a hole so deep that you just can’t seem to get out of. You are fighting to get upstream and it seems the whole world is stacked against you. I bet that you either know what that feels like or you know people who feel that way. Taxes and expenses are up, but salary ends up going down. Family or friends doing stupid things and you have to pick up the pieces. You can try your hardest, but there seems no way to get out of the hole. You think of yourself as a failure with no hope. Such was the woman in our text. She has been divorced five times and is living with another man. You may have just consigned yourself that this is the way that it is going to be. Jesus gave hope to a woman who was a failure and He can help you and me when we feel that way, too. There are four questions for people when life is failing

What prejudices do you have? Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. We need someone to ask us the hard questions that shake us out of our failure. The first question that Jesus asks is about prejudice. The woman shows her prejudice when she is surprised at Jesus’ request for a glass of water. The woman had to set aside her “you think you’re so great” prejudice if she was to be healed. Sometimes people have prejudices against Christ and the church. They can’t see how Jesus wants to help them because they think that Jesus wouldn’t help someone who wasn’t perfect. They dismiss Jesus and Christians as being too good to help just as the woman did. Yet, that is not why we seek Jesus. We band together as a church because we need the healing. We want others to join us so Jesus can help us all be whole.

What preconceptions must you drop? Everyone has preconceptions. They are the framework that we view life through. Preconceptions are not always bad, but if we are not careful, those preconceptions enslave us. We get stuck in a box whose answers don’t work instead of seeking the truth. The woman has her preconceptions. She gets a little huffy when she thinks that Jesus is putting down Jacob, her great ancestor. Yet, all Jesus is trying to do is to get her out of her box. People can still get upset when you question their preconceptions. They see technology and the media as having all the answers, but reject the Bible as an old dusty book. Jesus has the real answers for our lives as He teaches us about things like finance, rearing our children or helpful priorities. We need to be open to His answers. They really help.

What sin must you confess? Sometimes the wrong framework causes us to make mistakes. The woman in the text had led life to the fullest. Jesus’ question is designed to help her to see that things had not turned out very well. With a series of divorces, she was ostracized by her community. She had messed up and needed to admit her sin was the cause of her pain. There can be no healing or change without an admission of sin. Sadly, we live in a society where everyone wants to do their own thing and is surprised that there are consequences from it. People can’t see that overspending can bring foreclosure. People ignore the connection between adultery and ruined families. Yet, ignoring sin doesn’t stop its disastrous effects. Only the mercy of the cross forgives us and helps us to overcome the consequences of sin. We seek him out because He is the only one who can forgive and restore.

What are you really afraid of? Have you noticed that when the questions get too intense or too close to the heart, people often change the conversation? The woman was uncomfortable talking about her sinful life. She tried to change the topic to talk about the differences between Jewish and Samaritan religion. This prophet was getting too close to the truth. She was a failure and she had no idea how to make things better. Truth makes us feel open and exposed. Often, they don’t want to talk about God or about the brokenness in their life. They pretend that if they avoid it, it will all go away eventually. Change is hard and so we often would rather stay in failure. Yet, the churches exist because we are all broken people in one way or another. We can come for support and for help. We are broken people walking together. Jesus can help us all.

Failure doesn’t have to be terminal. So many people think that life is as good as it is going to get. They have had problems and sins and they are stuck in that hole. All four questions are simply about the walls that we build around ourselves. The walls tell us that there is nothing we can do. Yet, the walls really keep us from seeing the real solution. Yet, Jesus has answers. Jesus patiently asked the questions and moved her closer to a relationship with him where she could be healed and her life could be change. It is only when Jesus breaks down our walls that the real answers come. Failure happens to every one of God’s people. Just look at Abraham, David and Peter to name a few. Success came to each one and to the woman because they opened up their lives to Jesus. The answer to failure is to let the walls come down and Jesus to come in. There is nothing our savior can’t help.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Story: No Ordinary Man - He Redefines Extraordinary

Focus passage: Gospels

What is extraordinary really like? Our culture is filled with self-proclaimed and media proclaimed heroes. They are athletes and movie stars and the ordinary guy who saves a woman from a burning car. What makes someone extraordinary for more than their minute of fame? An extraordinary person does things that no one else can do and does it repeatedly. Jesus was such an extraordinary person. He did things that no one else had ever done. He healed the blind and spoke like He knew God first hand. You want to be around extraordinary people so that you can be better. Those who realize how extraordinary Jesus really is and who build their lives around Jesus will be the most blessed of all. Here are four ways that Jesus is extraordinary.

He has an intimate knowledge of God Mark 1:22 Jesus did not teach like the Jewish teachers of the day. They taught out of a book sharing ideas of past scholars. Jesus taught as if He knew God personally. Jesus is still an extraordinary teacher and we would be wise to hang on every word that He says. His teaching gives people an edge in life. The bible is filled with insights about how to raise a family, how to be a good employee and how to manage your money that really work.

He seemed to be able to heal anyone Matthew 15:31 The days of miracles had seem to have passed. Then Jesus burst on the scene and the lame could walk and the dead were raised. The number and scope of his miracles were like nothing that had ever been seen before. Jesus is still a great miracle worker for those who come to Him in prayer. He is worth following when life is filled with troubles. He still performs miracles of healing and provides for His people when they hurt.

He could give orders to demons Luke 4:36 Satan had the hearts and lives of many. He controlled them and often they were naked, half crazed and out of control. The demons were afraid of Jesus. They cried out in fear when He came. Yet, when Jesus cast them out or commanded them to be quiet, they had to obey. Life can easily be out of control for you and me. We may not believe in demons, but they are still around us. It can be the unreasonable person at work or a string of “coincidences” that are all bad luck. Those are the times to come to Jesus for help.

He had great compassion for the helpless He was never too busy to help someone. Even when He was tired, He stopped to heal the mob of people begging for help. He saw their pain and how their illness had destroyed their bodies. It broke His heart. Jesus still has compassion for people like you and me. He hurts when you and I are feeling pain. He grieves when someone dies too early or when a child doesn’t have a meal all day. He is the friend that every person needs.

Those who know Jesus will never forget Him Sixty-five years after Jesus had died, John writes because he still could not get Jesus out of His mind. He had a front row seat and could call this one his friend. Jesus was so extraordinary that John had lived his whole life for Jesus. He had spent these sixty-five years in a nonstop conversation letting people know all that Jesus had done for him and others. Yet, the best part is that the extraordinary rubs off. The book of Acts describes the change that had come on the disciples because of their connection with the extraordinary Christ. What would you be willing to do to be a little more amazing? Would you be willing to spend a half hour a day in prayer to have less worry in your life or find a place of service so you can do miracles for God? Jesus is extraordinary and being with Jesus lets the extraordinary rub off on you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Faith's Challenges: Fighting Doubt

Focus passage: John 20:24-31

Most of us don’t care about problems in Greece or the success of terrorists in Syria. Yet, our doubts explode if a bond levy threatens our kid’s school programs or a merger threatens our jobs. We start to wonder and start to have our doubts when people say that everything will be OK. If it isn’t important, it really doesn’t matter to us. If something looks bad and it will affect us, we start wondering and doubting when people tell us it will be all right. Doubts often show us what is important in our lives. Doubts come when we want something to be true, but we are unsure. That doesn’t mean that doubts are a sin. There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. The problem is that doubt can lead to unbelief and rob us of faith. Yet, Jesus turned Thomas’s doubts into a stronger faith. His doubts gave him something to believe in.

Doubt misses out on joys v.24 Why Thomas was not with the others on Easter evening, we are not told. Was he so disappointed that he had gone for a walk? Was he discouraged and ready to give up? His absence increased his doubts. If he had been with the others, he would have seen Jesus for himself. Doubts flourish in the dark. Questions seem larger and we begin to fear things that have not come about. Don’t let isolation attack your faith.

Confronted by Jesus v.26 The good news is that Thomas came back the next week for worship and gave the Lord an opportunity to confront Thomas’ doubts. There in worship, Jesus appeared to Thomas and the others. He had demanded evidence and the Lord granted Thomas’ request. The worst thing that we can do is to stay away. If we continue to come to worship and if we continue to pray and be in the word, the Lord will help us with our doubts. He wants us to believe.

Faith defined by doubt v. 28 The result for Thomas was a stronger faith. To the best of my knowledge, Thomas is the first one to call Jesus God. His doubts had received an answer. His doubts which had pondered the truth about Jesus for a week had led him to see something that the others had not seen yet. Your doubts can become the basis of a greater faith. If you pray about your doubts, God will use that time that you share with Him to let your mind see truths that others have not seen.

How do you deal with doubt? The first thing is to admit to yourself and to others that you have your doubts. All too often we smother our doubt and pretend it doesn’t exist. Second, pray about your doubts and share your doubts with a fellow Christian that you can trust. God will use others to help you to find the answers. Third, analyze your doubts by yourself or with a friend. What is it exactly that is causing your to doubt? Look for answers to that doubt in God’s word and pray about them specifically. It is easier for you to overcome doubt if you know what it is. Finally, realize that doubt often comes because we are uncomfortable with truth. You don’t find flaws in God’s word, it finds flaws in you. Doubts often come because our beliefs run headlong into God’s truth. Thomas believed that no one could rise from the dead. Jesus showed that God could and it changed everything for Thomas.  Ironically, doubts can give us something to believe in as we bring them to the Lord and let Him help.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Story: The Son of God - He Is Not Your Equal

Focus: Gospels

 In the military, a general is still a general. I have never been in the military. I have never even been in the boy scouts. Yet, rank seems to be everything in the military. When a general gives an order, the soldier doesn’t question the order. He just does it. A soldier realizes that the general holds the soldier’s future in his hands. Now we make fun of the president and of company CEO’s. The guy on the line talks like he could do the job better. The comic on late night television makes you believe that he understands the presidency better than Bush or Obama. No wonder there is so little respect for Jesus today.

He is the eternal Son of God– John 8:58 He has been speaking of God as a Father and here He claims to be older than Abraham. For two years, the people had seen His miracles of healing, demon casting, and feeding the masses. His works and teaching were undeniable. A Greek would have called it the work of the Gods. The first thing man has to learn about Jesus is our place before Him. He is God, not just some prophet representing God.

He is Lord of all – Luke 8:28 Second, He expects to be obeyed. Now I don’t know why the demons give Jesus more respect than the humans, but they do. They also obey him when he issues a command. He is Lord and they obey Him to the letter. It is like His power is so great that they have no other option. They must and do obey even if it means their destruction. The second thing that man has to learn is to obey God instead of trying to make God obey you and me.

He is one with the Father John 10:29-30 The time for His death on the cross was only months away. The Jewish leaders have seen His miracles and wonder if He is the Messiah promised to come. The answer is of course yes, but He is more and he tells them plainly that He is one with God the Father. His position in the trinity is not second to the Father as if He is an inferior God. The third thing that man has to learn is what a gift it is that the Almighty God became man just to save them.

He is the giver of life – John 20:31 Ultimately, He has our eternal fate in our hands. Who is it that scripture continually declares will judge who gets to go into heaven and who will face the fire of hell? The answer is Jesus. That is why it is so foolish to ignore Jesus. This judgment is the choice of God alone for He created you and Christ redeemed the world. Those who believe in Him have nothing to fear. Those who reject Jesus will find that they are lost without Him.

I have always wondered why we humans think that we have the right to tell Jesus how to run the world or think that we can tell Him what our life should be like. We are not even as powerful as the demons and maybe not as smart as they are. When Jesus commanded, they obeyed. Maybe we still have the option to disobey because we still have the choice and demons don’t. We can go against the Almighty and powerful Son of God all the way up till we die and face Him on judgement day. Yet, where is the sense in that? You go against the general and you will pay the consequences. I would rather have Him on my side. Jesus is rooting for you and me. He has offered salvation to every man woman and child whether they take it or not. Moreover, he has given us His word and a way to contact Him in prayer so that we can have his guidance and help every day of our lives. He is the son of God and I will treat Him that way. As terrifying as His power should be, I am content in His arms for He loves me. He is God and I trust Him with my life.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Faith's Challenges: Fighting Temptation

Focus Passage: Luke 4:1-13

No one said life would be easy. There are days that I really wish that being a Christian meant that I was above temptation. I know that is not true. I face temptations every day and fail more than I want to admit. Yet, I know that there can be a good side to temptation. It can be a tool used by God to make my faith stronger and to help me learn about the “inner me”. Abraham was tested when God told him to sacrifice Isaac and his faith grew so that he was a changed man. Job was tested with boils and learned that God is wiser than we are and can be trusted even in hard times. Yet the greatest temptation was the one that Jesus faced from Satan himself. In that temptation, we see three of our greatest weaknesses and God’s answers. 

We have physical needs and desires v. 4 Jesus was in the desert and He was hungry. Our first temptation is to take care of ourselves first and put everyone last. It is what makes a kid take the last cookie or makes us want to rest instead of helping someone else first. Jesus’ answer is a reminder that God will provide. God provided for the people during the exodus and He will provide for you. He sees your physical needs. You just have to trust that God will keep giving us what we need.

We want possessions and power v. 8 Satan takes Jesus to a high place and promises him the world if Jesus will just worship Satan. Our temptation is that we often want it all and want it to come easy. Why can’t I buy a new car or an apple watch? Jesus’ answer shows us that such things will not make life easier. Living with God’s character and values will provide a better life. God has a plan for you and wants good things for your life. Follow him not things which will only disappoint.

We want to know we are loved v.12 Satan’s final test was to make God prove that He loved Jesus. For us, it is the temptation of self-worth. Does God really love us? When life gets tough, we can easily accuse God of letting us down. Jesus answer recalls the time at Massah when the Israelites complained that God was going to let them die with no water. God’s children are encouraged to ask, but they should not demand. They should trust the Lord and not put conditions on God to prove Himself. Our self worth comes from the cross where we see how much God loves us.

It is nice to know that Satan can be defeated. After three tries, Satan left Jesus and waited to try again. Satan had failed because Jesus knew His bible and used the power of the word against Satan. Satan tried to make Jesus think of himself first, but He kept thinking about the Father. If we are to defeat Satan in our lives, we will need God’s help as well. We can pray that Jesus would stand at our side since he has already defeated Satan. We can arm ourselves with Bible passages or just take time to read the Bible since Satan can not stand to be near those who are in the word. If we lean on the Lord, times of temptation can be times of growth that stretch our faith. We will understand better what God’s will is for our lives and will be better equipped to handle the problems of life and to take the opportunities that the Lord wants to give. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Story: New Beginnings - Living In The Light

Focus passage: Matt 3-4, John 3-4

His miracles were so numerous and powerful that people could not ignore them. Crowds began to follow Him everywhere He went hoping that he would heal their sick. Even the Jewish leaders who came to hate him could not dispute the miracles of healing, providing food or raising the dead. His teaching attracted crowds as well. He had a way of bringing the most complex doctrines of the Old Testament to light in a way that common people could understand them. He spoke as if He knew God personally instead of just reading out of a commentary somewhere. Some would shy away from the light in Jesus day. Yet those who come into the light of Jesus will find new opportunities and joys.

The Light is announced Matt. 3:1-2 On the scene after 400 years comes John the Baptist. He comes with power gathering his own disciples and proclaiming a message of repentance. The last of the Old Testament prophets has come like an opening act to warm up the crowd for the light to come. He announces the light so all may know Him. He also announces the Light’s theme: change. Change is coming and people need to be aware that things will not be just as they have always been.

The Light is powerful Matt 4:10-11 The Light can do amazing miracles. Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead and cast out demons. He is so powerful that the consequences of sin and the power of Satan in people’s lives can be overcome by a simple word from Jesus. Yet the true measure of his power is found here in the way that Jesus flicks Satan away. Satan used the three main tricks in His arsenal against Jesus and Jesus pushed them all away without working up a sweat. It was as if Jesus was serving notice that Satan was toast.

The Light brings salvation John 3:17 Nicodemus was a leader of the Jewish people who had come to have a deep talk with Jesus away from the crowds. He and others had seen the power of Jesus’ miracles. They had heard his teaching which was more powerful than any rabbi that they had heard. Yet they wondered “Who was this man?” Jesus minced no words, but got to the heart of the matter. He was the one who brought salvation.

The Light is available to all people John 4:9 The woman at the well was a half breed with several divorces who was living in sin. By all the Jewish rules, she didn’t belong in the kingdom of God. Even she is surprised with Jesus stops to talk with her and offer His love and forgiveness. He was saying that the Light belongs to all people. It was God’s plan from the beginning that all men might have light. Jonah was sent to the people of Nineveh. The queen of Sheba came to Solomon to learn of his God.

Jesus changed everything. The Jews were looking for a Messiah-king who would make life easy and golden like the age of King David. God gave them so much more as He came to be their Messiah and their Savior. Kings and presidents can make life better, but they cannot change things like Jesus can. He changes our past by giving us forgiveness and healing. The light has come. Don’t let the past destroy the present. Give it to Jesus. He changes our present by walking beside us and helping us each day with our lives. Those who have the light have an advantage that money cannot buy. He changes your future. We don’t need to fear death for we have salvation. You are the keepers of the light. Turn up the wattage of the light in your life so that Jesus can make your life less stressful and more filled with joy. Bring light into the people around you. There is no reason for people to have to live in the Darkness of Satan when the light of Jesus can change everything in their world.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Faith's Challenges: Fighting Guilt

Focus Passage: Psalm 51:1-13

 Pam got an “A” on the final project for an important class, but she couldn’t share it with her family. She had stolen her sister’s project written it for a different university. Now the professor had come to her and asked to publish the paper in a professional journal. How could she say no, but surely someone would figure out what she had done. No one could know what Pam had done. It had to be a secret and that made her feel isolated. Her guilt started on the inside, but it soon tore her whole life apart.  Such is the story behind this psalm for King David. He had committed adultery and for a whole year thought that he had gotten away with it. Then the prophet Nathan comes and accuses him of adultery and murder. He had been exposed. The sin that he thought was secret was out in the open. Adultery and murder were punishable by death. As king, he might escape the punishment by asserting his royal rights, yet he could not undo the damage to his relationship with God. This psalm is his plea with God to make things right.

Take full responsibility v.2 Healing begins with owning up to our sin. Confronted by Nathan the prophet, David admitted that it was his iniquity and his sin. He made no attempt to deny the sin or excuse it. He did not use his kingly powers to silence the prophet. Admitting the sin is always the starting point for restoration. We can’t deny the sin or claim that others are more sinful. Real healing begins when we admit that we did something wrong.

Recognize the damage v.4 David recognized how his sin impacted others. He had caused Bathsheba a lot of pain. He had killed the innocent Uriah. He had done a lot of damage to the kingdom. He also knew that his relationship with the Lord was damaged. David had damaged the bond that he had with God. No sin is without its victims or its hurt. Sin affects the people around us and leaves victims in its wake.

Ask for His forgiveness and cleansing v.7 David throws himself on the mercy of a God who loves him. He throws himself on God’s grace and asks for what only God can do. In the temple, God took the sin of the people and put it on the lamb. David was asking that God would wash him with the blood of the lamb so that his sin was totally gone. You cannot take your sin away, only God can. Having admitted your sin, ask forgiveness from those who you have hurt and from God himself.

Ask for a new heart v.10 The past would be forgiven, but David knew that he needed one more thing. David asked God to give him a new start. Teach me. Lord so that I may never make this mistake again. He did not want to disappoint God or lose the future that the Lord had promised him and his descendants. Why be forgiven if you are going to do the same sin over and over? True repentance is not just the desire for the penalty to be gone, but for the chance for things to be different.

With the guilt gone and forgiveness given, David could recapture the joy that he had lost with the sin. He had watched his life wilt away over the last twelve months. He hadn’t lost his salvation, but he had lost his self-worth and his dignity. He had been God’s man before and he would be again. He had felt anything but a child of God. His life had been overwhelmed by guilt. Now he would feel joy again and would come to the Lord for help with the consequences of his sin. God would triumph and make the future sure. Happy is the man or woman who is forgiven. God has taken away their sin and recaptured their future. Guilt is not just fear of penalty. It is fear of having messed up our future and the future of others. Thanks be to God that he forgives and restores. He brings sin out into the open so it can heal.