Seeking Early

Location: Camden, Maine, United States

Monday, February 20, 2006

After the Arrows!

In our last lesson we found that conviction is an act of God‘s mercy. He desires our fellowship and will bring painful conviction, if necessary, to bring us back in to fellowship with Him. Psalm 38:2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. But what happens after the arrows, and after I confess my sin and repent? MERCY, flows over us to cleanse, and heal, and restore, us back into His favor.

David had that experience in one of his most treasured hymns, Psalm 51. There is so much that can be said of this Psalm, obviously, but I want to just comment on the first verse. As you know it centers around his sin of adultery with Bathsheba. Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

What has brought David to this place? Two things. 1. His deplorable sin. 2. The wounds of a friend to convict him. God had sent Nathan to confront David. The first part of Psalm 141:5 says: Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil. . . .

We have all been at this fork in the road in our spiritual walk, sin, and conviction. There are but two directions to travel, the road to mercy or the road to disgrace. David traveled down the road to mercy. Aren’t you glad, for who among us has not benefited from this cherished hymn of David. It is like salve on a sore, a balm to our wounded hearts, a lift to our fallen spirits, which sin so easily causes. It is to me the 1 John 1:9 of the Old Testament.

Listen to his prayer for mercy. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. He does not plead for mercy on the basis of his faithfulness over the past, neither on his position as King of Israel, nor on what he can become if God will be merciful to him. He pleads for mercy on the basis of, well, God’s mercifulness. Nothing else will be sufficient. Only the God of mercy can cleanse such a sinful stain. Here is a grand promise based upon God’s mercy. Isaiah 43:25 I, [even] I, [am] he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Isn’t that marvelous!

I found this grand old hymn from The Psalter, 1912; God Be Merciful to Me. Meditate on it as you meditate on David’s plea for mercy.

God, be merciful to me
On Thy grace I rest my plea;
Plenteous in compassion Thou,
Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within,
Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.

My transgressions I confess,
Grief and guilt my soul oppress;
I have sinned against Thy grace
And provoked Thee to Thy face;
I confess Thy judgment just,
Speechless, I Thy mercy trust.

I am evil, born in sin;
Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art,
Teach Thy wisdom to my heart;
Make me pure, Thy grace bestow,
Wash me whiter than the snow.

Broken, humbled to the dust
By Thy wrath and judgment just,
Let my contrite heart rejoice
And in gladness hear Thy voice;
From my sins O hide Thy face,
Blot them out in boundless grace.

Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true;
Cast me not away from Thee,
Let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation's joy impart,
Steadfast make my willing heart.

Will we be willing to confess, repent, and follow after Him? God’s mercy will cleanse and restore us to favor with Him. The result is to have the joy of our salvation returned to our fallen spirits.

Have a wonderful days serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Surrender means, Victory!

We considered a strange thought about mercy last time. Mercy can make us feel terrible. That is the mercy of conviction. When God convicts our condition changes. Psalm 38 tells us about the arrows of the Almighty that stick fast in us and bend us down like a wounded animal. David goes on to say that when God brings convicting mercy, the results are neither rest nor stability in our flesh or bones, iniquities become too heavy to carry, our wounds stink, we become feeble, broken, and our hearts are disquieted, we pant and our strength fails and the light of our eyes are darkened. That sounds more like miserable than merciful. We are brought to our knees by conviction of our sin as a result of God being merciful unto us.

What do I do now? When the convicting comes I have one of two decisions to make; continue in my misery, or repent of my sin.

It is obvious what our state would be if we continue in our misery, but what will happen if we confess and repent of our sin? The Lord will once again show mercy to us.

Hear some verses of great promise to those who will turn from their sin by confessing it and repenting of it.

A very familiar and cherished verse of every believe is 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We do not need to do penance, He forgives based upon His faithfulness and righteousness.

A word from Solomon is found in Proverbs 28:13 - He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh [them] shall have mercy. The challenge is not the confessing, but the forsaking. If we are willing to agree with God that our sins are what He calls them, sins; then may God grant us repentance as well.

Here is a couple of verses from David in in the Psalm 32:3-5 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. There is no victory for us when we hide our sins. Victory comes when we confess and repent.

How about one more, this is David's own experience, you know it. It confirms that there is no victory with concealment of our sins. Psalm 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done [this] evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, [and] be clear when thou judgest. How can I expect to hide my sin from God when the evil I do is not hidden from His eyes?

There is forgiveness and cleansing when we confess our sins, but there shall be no victory until we repent of our sins. God is too merciful to allow His child to live victoriously in sin.

When the convicting arrows of our Almighty God come striking a blow against our wickedness, be quick to surrender to His mercy. With surrender is victory!

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Pressing Mercy

Psalm 38:1-2 are two verses that tell us of the convicting power of our God. 38:1 O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.

The arrows of the Almighty are the prodding’s of God’s convicting grace. When we sin, or continue on in sin, the goodness of our God is revealed to us in His wonderful convicting mercy.

Have you thought of conviction as mercy? Conviction makes us sick of our sinfulness. This Psalm goes on to describe that kind of gross malady. Look at these few verses that follow. 38:3 [There is] no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither [is there any] rest in my bones because of my sin. 4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink [and] are corrupt because of my foolishness. 6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome [disease]: and [there is] no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire [is] before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. 10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. 11 My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.

While conviction of sin brings the believer dreadful fear and remorse it is by the Lord’s mercies that we are inflicted.

Let me share a couple of other passages that speak of this mercy of God. Daniel 9:9 To the Lord our God [belong] mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; Even in our rebellion our God is a God of mercy. That is overwhelming to me. It is so unlike my own heart. The Bible tells us that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, yet the God of ALL MERCY stands ready to forgive!

I think a great example of this is the Father and the Prodigal Son. The Son has come to the end of his rope and with nowhere else to turn he turns to the One he knows will show mercy. Look beginning at Luke 15:18. I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put [it] on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on [his] feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

I believe this is incredible. The son is in the pit. He returns to his Father and when he is yet “a far off” the Father runs to Him! And the result of the mercy bestowed upon the son by the Father is at verse 24 “And they began to be merry.”

What hits me most in this is what kind of change this must have brought to the son. He came, perhaps with some sort of fear, but ends with rejoicing. I cannot imagine the son ever wanting to leave his Father again, can you?

So when you are faced with the conviction of your sins, when the arrows of the Almighty stick fast within you and bow you low, run to the Father. He is extending His mercy and shall continue to be merciful and resort to you the joy of His great salvation.

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

For Me! For Me!

These are the words to "My Only Plea" written by John Crombie White, circa 1908.

O theme with love and mercy fraught,
Salvation full and free,
That Christ upon the cross has wrought
For me, for me:

When dreadful sin my soul assails,
And death shall compass me,
That Christ o'er sin and death prevails
For me, for me:

And when before the throne I stand,
And judgment set shall be,
That Christ fulfilled the law's command
For me, for me:

This shall be my only plea,
This shall be my only plea,
That Christ was crucified for me,
For me, for me.

The hope that song gives us is found in the mercy of God which moves his saving grace toward us. Paul wrote these precious words to Titus in 3:5-7 - Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

It is. . . according to his mercy he saved us. . . . The salvation of our God is so very great. It is out of His mercy, that He reaches in saving us. His mercy moved Him to extend His grace, His Son, and His forgiveness. But key to it all is, it is all of Him. Mercy is not something that we obtain, it is something that He freely gives. Salvation is not something that we earn, it is the gift of God. Grace is not a provision of God for mankind, it is the heart of God reaching His people. Christ is not ours because we have decided to follow Jesus, He is ours because He who was rich became poor so that we might be given riches out of His act of poverty.

Someone said: Look at the emphasis Paul places upon God’s work in these verses: of God. . .not by works. . . His mercy. . . He saved us. . . of the Holy Spirit. . . He poured. . . through Jesus. . . by His grace. . . heirs. . . .

Do you realize that because of this work, we have been saved? Do you understand that. A person is saved by a rescuer. He is not saved because he was coaxed to a place where he could reach out and take hold of a savior’s hand. A savior plans, moves, and rescues! The one being rescued is helpless to save himself, or help the savior save him, or else he would not need a savior.

The Savior our dead soul needs my friend is the God of all mercy, the Son of the Living God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

When dreadful sin my soul assails,
And death shall compass me,
That Christ o'er sin and death prevails
For me, for me:

This shall be my only plea,
This shall be my only plea,
That Christ was crucified for me,
For me, for me.

Have a wonderful day serving our wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!