Psalm 51, Day 6

Devotional for Saturday, May 23

Psalm 51:16-19
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
    You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
    You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Look with favor on Zion and help her;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—
    with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.
    Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

The end of this psalm reminds us it was written in a place and time. Burnt offerings were the order of the day for relating to God, and would continue to be so for a long time.

But we also get a glimpse of what was to come, what was to make possible the healing of broken and repentant hearts even today. Sacrifices were a means to an end. To demonstrate this, God came in flesh to provide the ultimate sacrifice, atoning for every sin committed.

Fully divine, Jesus could not be repentant, but he could demonstrate how terribly broken God’s heart is when we sin. Through Jesus, God experienced a painful and humiliating death, bearing the weight of all the world’s sins while nailed to some timbers. All this to help us break free from sin’s grip.

To take advantage of this great gift, all we have to do is be contrite and repentant enough to believe. We have to humble ourselves, finding our place in the great design of the universe. We are the created, God is the Creator.

As always, there is good news in this story. The Creator loves his creation dearly. The joy and freedom God offers far exceeds what we could find on our own.

With all his power and all his wealth, King David believed it, and we should, too.

Thank you, Lord, for the process of repentance and salvation, a gift freely given and undeserved. Amen.

Psalm 51, Day 4

Devotional for Thursday, May 21

Psalm 51:10-12
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.

The Creator didn’t stop creating—the work goes on. Jesus demonstrated this when he used dirt and his own spit to create vision for the man born blind. Our inner life and being, symbolized by the heart, are new creations of the Holy Spirit, who remains at work in the world today.

Loyalty implies alignment with the will of God. The goal of opening ourselves to sanctification is pretty straightforward; we hope to be so aligned with God that sin becomes as unnatural for us as it is for our creator. At that point, we are again fully made in God’s image, a small-but-perfect reflection.

The psalmist was rightly anxious, though. Few experience holy transformation all at once, even as we profess our faith in Christ more and more. We remain mindful of our past sins and our tendency to return to sin. Proverbs 26:11: “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.”

We sense the fool still living within, and we seek protection from that part of ourselves as we trust this transformation to continue. Oh, for the day when obedience to God is as natural as breathing!

Lord, we submit ourselves to be guarded and contained, knowing you ultimately will give us boundless freedom and eternal life. Amen.

Psalm 23, Day 2

Devotional for Tuesday, April 28

Our devotionals this week are all from the 23rd Psalm, “A Psalm of David,” considered in small meditative bites.

Verses 2-3a
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.

Certainly, the shepherd urges us forward, for our own benefit and for the larger benefit of the kingdom. (Never forget, our shepherd is also a king!) Following him, we can grow tired. But there always is rest to come.download

The need for contemplative rest—Sabbath—is built into the very fabric of the universe. And if we trust God’s plan, we can gain much from the times of rest we are offered.

There is sustenance in God’s word, as rich and nutritious to our souls as green meadows are to the sheep. By consuming what we find in Scripture, we grow.

We also drink from the stream of life when we surrender ourselves to God’s grace, poured out through a variety of openings. Our prayers, our time in communion, and our fellowship with one another are just a few examples, and enough grace pours forth through these encounters to soak us thoroughly.

In the right cycle of service and rest, we grow spiritually stronger over time, even as our physical vigor fades. God always is willing to give us more than we have given. We simply must remember to stop and receive.

Lord, help me to recognize when you place those moments of rest before me, and allow me to grow through the influence of your Spirit as I rest. Amen.