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Sermon 3/19/06 - Confess and Pray
Psalm 51:10-13

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Sermon 3/19/06 – Confess and Pray – Psalm 51:10-13

Confess and Pray

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You” (Psalm 51:10-13).

Psalm 51 is the confession of a man who SINNED! David the king, author, poet, general, song writer, musician, and prophet, sinned - terribly. He took another man’s wife, committed adultery with her; and when it looked like he was going to be found out, he arranged for the husband, an army officer, to be killed! The woman was pregnant and David married her, deciding, as many do, that he was a “nice guy” who “did the right thing” (2 Samuel Chapter 11). He would have gone on with life at that point, except God sent Nathan the Prophet to him, with a parable and with the statement that none of us wants to hear: “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7); and in other cases it is, “You are the woman!”

A couple of weeks ago, at a men’s retreat in Pomona, California, I noticed that another pastor had a book with him that I was reading also. I held up my copy to him while he was holding his, and indeed they were the same; both with the interesting name, “Blue Like Jazz,” by Donald Miller. I said, “My son loaned it to me.” He replied, “My son loaned it to me, too.” The book is “Christian,” but from a younger, “Now Generation” perspective.

The author told in his book of attending a secular college that had a reputation for anti-Christian sentiment, and the author admitted that he personally had a “dislike for institutions,” an anti-establishment perspective On campus, he met periodically with a small group of Christian students. The school had the tradition of an annual “party,” full of ungodly behavior, and a suggestion was made to set up a “Confession Booth” during the party, right in the middle of the campus. The author and a couple of others were against the idea and tried to get out of it. But the leader of the group had an interesting idea that others should consider: “We are not actually going to ACCEPT confessions,” he said, “WE are going to confess TO them!

The decision was made and the author went along - they would confess one-on-one to students in this way: “As followers of Jesus, we have not been very loving; we have been bitter, and for that we are sorry.” They would “apologize for the Crusadesapologize for televangelistsfor neglecting the poor and the lonelyfor Columbus and the genocide he committed in the Bahamasapologize for the missionaries in Mexico…” “slaughtering Indians” there and in what was to be the United States. The author sat in that booth and confessed that he “had betrayed the Lord by judging, by not being willing to love the people (God) had loved” and “only giving lip service to issues of human rights.” He went on to inform the individuals who lined-up during the next several hours, that Christianity “isn’t a religious system” at all; “it is a people following Christ, and thethe right thing to do (is) to apologize for GETTING IN THE WAY of Jesus.”

What an interesting idea. I don’t know about your age group, but I grew up in a time when Protestants and Catholics were shooting each other in Ireland, and bombs were being set-off in crowds of people. The “suicide bombers” now blowing up the innocent around the world, are a reminder of what “Christians” have done in the past. The WORDS of some “Christian” people, written and verbal, have reminded me of the bullets fired by Protestants and Catholics in Ireland. Words really do hurt, and too many express contempt for others who don’t believe quite the same way they do; feeling that “my way” is better than “your way” and scorning other Christians. That attitude is a murder of the soul; and others look at proud, sneering Christians and turn their backs on Christ.

King David had incredibly entered into an attitude of “denial” about committing adultery and murder. To his credit, when he was confronted, he openly confessed his sin, an act that when done honestly and to the Lord, enables us to receive God’s forgiveness. The grace of God existed in that time, just as it does now, otherwise David would have been lost. He was not lost because the Cross of Christ reaches from eternity-past to eternity-forever, saving even those who don’t understand the grace given to them. A student of the Bible could spend a lifetime in places such as Psalm 51, and our Scripture for today is even more interesting when you also look at the New Testament Book of James.

In Psalm 51:10-13, David prayed for his heart to be made clean, and for a return to unwavering trust in the Lord. He asked for God’s grace, so that he would not lose the wonderful presence of the Lord, revealed in and through God’s Holy Spirit. David wanted what he had known before: the JOY of the Lord, and he recognized that only by confession and prayer could he find it. After his heart was cleansed, he continued, “THEN I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee” (Psalm 51:13). When our hearts are made right, THEN we can lead others to the Lord. Come clean with God, and God will make it possible for you to help a friend.

James 5:13-14, asks, “Is anyone among you suffering?...” “Is anyone among you sick?” and the answer for many is emphatically: “Yes!” He tells us the answer to every situation: we must honestly PRAY. After stating that “prayer offered in FAITH will restore the one who is sick,” he continues, “and if he has committed sins, they will be FORGIVEN him” (James 5:15). Just like David, we all must be forgiven. We are to “confess (our) sins to one another, and pray…” (5:16) and then James tells us of Elijah, a simple person not unlike you and me; or as James put it, “a man with a nature like ours;” who prayed… “and it did not rainfor three years and six monthsand he prayed again…” and it rained! (James 5:17-18). God will hear and answer your confession, your prayer. Note that He gives EVERYTHING to the one who is willing to honestly call out to the Lord.

David committed unpardonable sins, and yet when he confessed, he was forgiven! It was a miracle, especially when you consider what David had done. Elijah, the ordinary man, prayed and the course of nature was changed – for years! Call OUT to the Lord. Confess your sins to Him and never stop praying. Note that God has a will for our lives, and His answers to prayer are higher than our understanding. The key to life is to be healed – eternally! And to have the presence of His Spirit and the joy of the Lord – right now!

Lord, there are people who turn away from You because of the words and actions of those who are supposedly Yours. Heal our church and nation. Forgive and restore us. Forgive and heal ME, and let revival come to this land, our people. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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