A Broken and contrite heart God will not despise
Date: Feb. 21, 1999 Where: SHMC Words:
Text: Psalm 51
W. L: Levi Unrau Invocation/Einleitung: Harry Dyck
· Sometimes we hear people in the church express their feelings about the state of the church.
· “If we would all repent as a church… (and off course everyone of us has some specific people in mind – other than ourselves)… then our church could grow.”
· “What we need (and again “we” refers to specific people) is a real conversion experience.
· There’s too much covered up sin and disharmony for the Church to an effective witness.
· I don’t know about you, but I hate to be told that I am wrong.
· I don’t like to be caught in the act, do you?
· And wouldn’t you know it, I was again “caught in the act” as I was scrambling to complete this sermon late last night
· You may be getting tired of me saying this, but “be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.”
· In fact, I think He sometimes has a real ball trying to figure out what to do with me next.
· It used to be that I was watching out that my parents wouldn’t find out about the things I was doing behind their backs.
· Last night Levi was kind of circulating a story about some of the trouble I used to be in when I was a little kid.
· Off course I have no memories whatsoever of any of that.
· These days it’s my kids that keep me honest.
· They say things like: “Dad how come you get to watch that show if it’s so bad for kids?” or “How come its OK when a grownup says that, but when kids say that we get in trouble?”
· Those of you who are parents know what I’m talking about.
· In many ways we are like the little boy who had broken the glass of a street lamp. Greatly disturbed, he asked his father, "What shall I do?" "Do?" exclaimed his father, "Why we must report it and ask what you must pay, then go and settle it." This practical way of dealing with the matter was not what the boy was looking for, and he whimpered, "I -- I -- thought all I had to do was ask God to forgive me."
· Sometimes our conscience bothers us so much, we can’t sleep: like this person who sent a letter to Revenue Canada. It said: "Dear Sirs: I cannot sleep. Last year, when I filed my income tax return, I deliberately misrepresented my income. Now I cannot sleep. Enclosed is a check for $150.00 for taxes. If I still cannot sleep, I will send you the rest!"
· It’s amazing how these little stories have a way of hitting where it really hurt, isn’t it?
· That’s right, most of us have a tendency to accept only as much responsibility as we absolutely have to.
· After all, the other people will make sure that our name gets muddy – we don’t really have to help them yet.
· No matter how we look at it, we don’t like to be in the wrong, and if we know we are, we like to keep it between God and ourselves.
· However, what happens in our secrecy about our moral shortfall is that the wound within our soul keeps growing.
· The life is sucked out of our being.
· The driving force for mission and outreach in the church get sabotaged because in community with one another we stop acting like the body of Christ, where all are joined together by the connecting ligaments to do the work of God.
· Instead as individuals within the church we start acting more like a bouquet of Christians - each one looking as pretty as can be in the flower vase – not realizing that we are cut off from the source that provides life and energy.
· But, what is repentance, we ask.
· How do you repent for a wrong that was done?
· How can a congregation repent as a whole?
· What is the motivation/reason for repentance? Why repent?
· Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for our past misdeeds, and a sincere resolution and an honest effort to change our direction. It does not consist in one single act of sorrow, but in expressing our repentant spirit through acts of love and making things right that we have broken.
· Michael Banks, the keynote speaker at the Manitoba Conference this past weekend said that Mission/Outreach is the Church’s reason for being.
· As a Christian church we must be in tune with what God is doing in the world - reconciling the world to Himself.
· In order to do that we must be a people of repentance.
· Being a people of repentance, according to Banks, has nothing to do with piling on the guilt and shame for all the countless mistakes we have ever made.
· Being a people of repentance means to change our direction.
· It means to take responsibility for the fact that we were going down a side street, rather than remaining in the flow of God’s movement in the world.
· It means to make a commitment to become more receptive to the will of God and the work of the Holy Spirit by becoming more transparent.
· It means to learn to identify with the person we are trying to reach.
· To be a people of repentance means to make ourselves available, and to be quick (not shallow) to reconcile our differences, by talking openly and lovingly with one another.
· To be a people of repentance means to be authentic – to walk in the truth of who we are, to acknowledge our blind spots – that is, not to cover up our weaknesses (closely followed by wickedness).
· The basis for a people in Mission is to be a people who know how to repent.
· Repentance must be modeled as a good thing, a freeing thing, a renewing thing.
· And repentance takes courage.
· It takes guts to stand up in front of the mirror/ or God/ or the brother/sister, your parents/ child, or the congregation, and to say, “I’m sorry. I blew it.”
· It takes courage to acknowledge our own pain and sinfulness, our vulnerability and fear of being misunderstood.
· Do you remember the story of David and Bathsheba? I bet you do.
· It’s one of the stories in the Bible that soap operas are made of.
· David falls for the seductive beauty of Bathsheba, and calls her into his private quarters, and before you know it, Bathsheba is pregnant.
· In an attempt to cover up his 7lb 3oz mistake, David has her husband Uriah put on the front line in the war, where he is killed.
· David thinks nothing more of it until one day he is visited by the prophet Nathan.
· You can’t help but marvel at the skillfulness of Nathan.
· He tells this story about a rich man who has many sheep and his poor neighbor who only has one sheep that he loves dearly.
· One day the rich man has a visitor, and as was the custom in Ancient Israel, he prepares a feast.
· But instead of taking one of his many sheep he slaughters the only sheep of his poor neighbor.
· David, who thinks of himself as a just and God-fearing King, is outraged with the action of such an evil man, not realizing that the prophet Nathan is setting him up for a devastating blow:
· In his righteous anger David hears God’s judgement on him: “You are that man.”
· Here we stand in the presence of one who blew it, not once, but twice: an illicit affair, and a murder.
· David is an example of what can happen, when we come clear before God with our sin.
· Psalm 51 is a Psalm of repentance that comes out of the conviction that king David felt for his own sin.
· It is a beautiful Psalm of repentance that strikes at the heart of the thoughts and emotions of a repentant sinner.
· It is so beautiful because it assures us that we can fully bank on the compassion and forgiveness of God, who will not reject a repentant heart.
· As I read it one more time, and I invite you to think of that which stands between you and God’s forgiveness.
· I invite you to pray this prayer of repentance with the assurance that God is at work in your life, and that God has no greater desire than to lift the burden of secrecy, shame and guilt from your life.
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet 1 Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom
in the inmost place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 The sacrifices of God are a
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.
18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
· Whatever it is that has been crushing your bones, and that has been drying up the source of life inside your soul, God is waiting for you with open arms.
· In all seriousness I want to extend an invitation to you.
· This is an invitation that we all need to hear from time to time.
· In a few moments I will be leading us in a prayer of confession.
· If you feel God’s Spirit speaking to your heart and asking you to repent of some things in your life that need God forgiveness and healing, I invite you to dedicate your life to Jesus Christ, or to recommit your life to God.
· You may come to front as a symbol of offering your life to God, or you may offer your heart to God right where you are.
· I invite you to allow God’s healing touch to come over you and to wash away all impurity.
Let this be your prayer of confession and repentance.
ALL things in heaven and on earth, O Lord, are Yours. I long to give myself to You and be forever Yours. With a sincere heart I offer myself this day to You, O Lord, to Your eternal service, and as a sacrifice of everlasting praise. Receive all of us gathered here - young and old, member and friend - as your precious Body for which you have shed your blood.
Lord, upon Your altar, I offer You all the sins and offenses I have committed in Your presence, and against people around me. Lord of compassion and healing, burn and consume all my sin in the fire of Your unending love. Wipe away every stain. Cleanse my conscience of every fault. Restore to me Your grace from which I have fallen.
I humbly confess and lament all my sin and implore Your mercy without ceasing? In Your mercy, I implore You, hear me when I stand before You, my God. All my sins are most displeasing to me. I am sorry for them. With your grace and steady guidance I commit myself to turn from dark ways and to walk in your light.
Forgive me, O God, forgive me my sins for Your Holy Name. Save my soul, which You have redeemed by Your most precious Blood. See, I place myself at Your mercy. I commit myself to Your hands. Deal with me according to Your goodness, not according to my malicious and evil ways.
I offer to You also all the good I have, small and imperfect though it be, that You may make it more pure and more holy, that You may be pleased with it, make it acceptable to Yourself.
I offer You my broken and repentant heart. I pray for those especially who have injured, saddened, or slandered me, or have inflicted loss or pain upon me. I offer my forgiveness to them. Grant me the strength to show them goodness and mercy. I also pray for all those whom I have at any time saddened, disturbed, offended, and abused by word or deed, willfully or in ignorance. Take away my fear, that I may have the courage to set things right. May it please You to forgive us all alike our sins and offenses against one another.
Take away from our hearts, O Lord, all suspicion, anger, squabbling, and whatever may inflict further pain on our relationships with each other. Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on those who ask Your mercy, give grace to those who need it, and make us such that we may be worthy to enjoy Your favor and gain eternal life.
Spirit of God, remove from amongst your people, all sin and restore unto us the joy of our salvation. May those around us see that YOU are a God who turns pain into joy, anger into compassion, fear into courage, bitterness into forgiveness and new life.
We praise your holy name – our guilt and our shame is lifted, you have made us free. In Jesus Christ you have given us new life. Hallelujah!