Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The First Sunday of Lent: Takes Up Residence (Psalm 51)

When we take ownership of our sin, God takes up residence with us. This is counterintuitive because when I face my sin, it often feels that distance is created between God and me. When I hide my sin, it seems that I can at least pretend everything is alright. The plain teaching of Psalm 51 however, is that God will not despise a broken and contrite heart. In fact, facing our sin in the presence of our merciful God, invites God to face us with love. Psalm 51 promises that God refuses to condemn those who come to him for mercy - those who come to him in humility - those who come to him asking him to undo what they have done - those who come to him taking responsibility for their sin. Notice the bold request David offers after God has made atonement for and forgiven David’s sin. 

Do good to Zion in your good please;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
then you will delight in right sacrifices, 
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar (Psalm 51.18-19, ESV) 

Brothers and sisters these are words of residence. These words describe the glorious promise that God dwells among penitent sinners. Indeed, Isaiah the prophet exclaims,  

Thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite (Isaiah 57.15, ESV). 

Beloved, God longs to dwell with sinners in order that his presence may give them life. This should be the only motivation we need for regularly owning our sins through our own personal prayers of confession and also ancient prayers such as these. 

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. 
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. 

Click here to download and listen to part one of our Lenten Journey Through the PsalmsTakes Up Residence

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