Psalm 51

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      7       Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

      wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

            8       Let me hear joy and gladness;

      let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

            9       Hide your face from my sins,

      and blot out all my iniquities.

            10       Create in me a clean heart, O God,

      and renew a right spirit within me.

            11       Cast me not away from your presence,

      and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

            12       Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

      and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:7-12 ESV

This is David’s well-known psalm of repentance after Nathan confronted him with his sin of adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12).

In verse 10 the word create (bara) is the same word used in Genesis 1 where God created (bara) the heavens and the earth. “Strictly used, this word describes what only God can do; to create ex nihilo, out of nothing” (Boice, Psalms 42–106: An Expositional Commentary, 2005, p. 432). David is commanding God to create a new heart in him. “Derek Kidner writes, ‘With the word create he asks for nothing less than a miracle.’ He desires what only God can provide” (Boice, p. 432).

Robert Altar translates the first half of verse 11 as “Do not fling me from Your presence” stating “this Hebrew verb has a connotation of violent action for which the conventional translation of it as “cast” is too tame” (Altar The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary vol 3, 2019, p. 134). Fling/cast is a hiphil in Hebrew which is a verb of causation. David is asking God not to cause him to be violently or forcefully flung/cast away from His presence.

I cannot help but to think that David had King Saul in mind when he says in the next half of verse 11, “and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” I want to be clear, David is not worried about losing his salvation; however, he is worried about losing God’s Presence, anointing and fellowship like King Saul did in 1 Samuel 16. James Boice states, “Today most commentators recognize that David is not talking about eternal security or the fear of losing his salvation at all. He is only acknowledging that he is unable to live a holy life without God. Therefore, he needs the help and power of the Holy Spirit every single moment if he is to be able to overcome temptation and follow after godliness” (p. 434).

In verse 12 David commands God to restore (hiphil, imperative) to him the joy of His salvation. David knew that his fellowship with God had been broken and needed God to cleanse and restore him. David, again, did not lose his eternal salvation, but he did lose the joy of it. What’s true of David is the same with us, there is NO joy when we are living in sin. There is no peace when our relationship with God is broken.

“Many think that the way to joy or a good time is by sinning. They think that godliness is dull. Actually the opposite is the case. Sin brings sorrow. Righteousness brings rejoicing. Allowed to continue, sin will remove every good thing from our lives—joy, health, wealth, and at last even life itself. Only righteousness will restore them” (Boice, p. 434).

“The fact that the psalmist prays for so many things [in vv. 7–12] indicates how many things he knew he had lost when he plunged into sin” (Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 1969, pp. 405-406).

Father God, thank You that Your saved and redeemed people never need to fear losing their salvation. Thank You for the gift of salvation by grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Holy Trinity, for those who have lost the joy of their salvation due to sin or looking at current events, I ask that You will lift their minds, hearts and hands to You. Lord God, thank You that when we confess our sins to You that You will forgive us. Lord God, forgive us for the times when we put the things of this world before You. Lord God, restore to Your Body the joy of Your salvation, whether we are gathering together in person or online. Lord God, in these ever changing, challenging and tumultuous times, I ask that we will desire to dwell in Your Presence, growing in Your character and serving You with passion, authenticity and boldness until You call us home. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Identity

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Today, September 17, 2020 is my 39th birthday. I LOVE my birthday! The reason why I love my birthday is NOT to receive gifts or attention, but rather to take time to reflect and celebrate with others what God has done in our lives. I have always loved having people gather on my birthday NOT to celebrate me but as to thank and celebrate all those who love, encourage and care for me. Folks, I have made SO many mistakes in my life. Each year that God gives me is an opportunity to practice worshiping, loving and serving Him on earth before I am called home to worship, love and serve Him for eternity.

This year I am reminded now, more than ever that my identity is in Christ. As believers our identity is rooted in Galatians 2:20-21 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (ESV).

I want to encourage you my dear brothers and sisters that no matter where you are living, no matter your familial role or material status, no matter your political affiliation, your race, sex, gender, ethnicity, occupation you are a Christian before anything else. What I mean by this is that I am a Christian woman, Christian daughter, Christian wife, Christian blogger, Christian American, Christian Caucasian. Christian is the word that defines me, it is unchangeable.

If you live in a country where you are allowed to vote, as a Christian it is your civic duty to do so. It is not Christlike to put your political views before your identity in Christ nor is it Christlike to ruin Christian relationships because someone has differing views.

I have no idea what your identity looks like but I pray that you will take time to reflect that whether you are Christian Filipino, Christian Black, Christian male, Christian single that Christian is what comes first. May we be known for our love and not our divisions and infighting. As a people who have been “crucified with Christ” it is paramount that both our identity and unity be wrapped up in the One who gave His life for us.

For those who are longing for a new identity, or longing to be a part of something bigger than what this world has to offer, I pray that the Holy Spirit will turn your heart and mind toward Him.

Father God, thank You for sending Jesus. Thank You Jesus for sending the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, thank You for drawing us to Yourself and pointing us to Jesus. Jesus thank You that we may pray in Your Name knowing that our prayers and petitions are heard by our Heavenly Father. Teach us Lord to put You before any earthly title. Teach us how to manage the tension that our differences cause. Teach us to be Kingdom focused while also being god honoring citizens on earth. Thank You Father for this reader! Thank You for their love, care and encouragement. Lord God, may this reader know that Jesus loves them and so do I! Amen.

September 2020 Prayer

30 August 2020 Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve, Conestoga, PA; photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Lord God, I pray for the kids all over the world who are starting school; whether in person, online or hybrid. Lord God, give the parents of the students grace and mercy when it comes to the teachers learning how to teach at this time. Lord God, may teachers give themselves grace and mercy as well. Lord may parents and teachers NOT take their frustrations out on their children/students. Lord God, thank You for the advancements in technology that make distance learning possible, even when things do not work the way we would like. Lord God, I ask that You help the students focus and concentrate whether learning online or in person wearing a mask. Lord God, my heart breaks for the world that these young people are entering today.

Father God, I ask that You comfort Your people all over the world who are hurting. Lord God, I ask that You will come near the brokenhearted and fill them with the peace of Your Presence. Lord God, this life is NOT easy. The world that we knew last year at this time seems so far away. Lord, may we long for You more than we long for the past. May we fix our eyes on You and not look too far back, forward or sideways. Thank You Jesus that You are the Author and Perfecter of our faith!

Lord God, it does not take a genius to see that the United States is falling. Lord God, I ask that You will strengthen Your people all over the world. As the United States goes, so do many other countries. Lord God, when it comes to identity may we come to depend on You more and more and not depend on the world and its political systems. Lord God, may we live as good citizens in this world until You call us home.

Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Spirit transform Your people into Your image and remind Your people that ALL people are created in Your image. Lord God, help us to live holy and blameless lives. Thank You for this reader. May You stir in them a desire to grow closer to You in this new month. Thank You for the gift of time You have given this reader and myself. May we make the most of the time You have given us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Holy Saturday 2020

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I have always been sensitive that to the disciples and first followers of Jesus, the Saturday after Good Friday would have been to them, the darkest day in the history of the world (link for last year’s “Holy Saturday” post).

The Gospel writers do not give details about the disciples activity on the Sabbath. Köstenberger and Taylor state, “We can presume, however, based upon their actions Sunday evening-fearfully hiding together behind locked doors-that Saturday was spent in secretive fear and dread” (The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, 2014).

While Jesus told the disciples what was going to happen, they did not understand. The disciples truly thought all was lost. For me, when the whirlwind of events starts to settle and I begin to reflect on the situation, circumstances, thinking that all is lost, I am prone to fear (in all its various forms), anger, anxiety and situational depression.

The church is not the building, it is the people who are the church. Even if every church building and Bible in the land were burned or destroyed, it would not destroy the Good News of Jesus Christ. Regardless of what fears, anxieties, insecurities you may be experiencing, dear reader, please know Easter is coming. Hold on!

Father God, thank You that in the midst of our deepest and darkest fears You are there. Calm the storm inside of us as we wait for You. Lord God, thank You that the grave does NOT contain You. Thank You that no matter what happens in this life or on this planet that NOTHING will change the fact that Christ died to save sinners. Lord God, help us to not waste what You want to do in us and through us in this time of coronavirus. Jesus, help us to hold on, knowing that You are coming soon. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.