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 51, Day 3

Devotional for Wednesday, May 20

Psalm 51:7-9
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
    you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.

At this point in the psalm, David seeks not only forgiveness, he seeks what we Methodists call sanctification. He wants release not only from the sins committed, he wants to be released from the underlying cause of sin, the basic brokenness we all experience as human beings.

To be transformed in such a way is an ongoing process. The trials we undergo in this life can actually help, assuming we use them as an opportunity to turn to God and trust in God to provide a path through them.

In Revelation 7, we hear of those “who died in the great tribulation,” and we see the cleansing power of Christ’s sacrifice. “They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white,” we are told. Jesus is the answer in the most difficult of times.

We also see that as painful as our trials and brokenness can be, there is the possibility of joy as we allow God to cleanse us. We have hope.

Meditate today on hope in the midst of repentance and sorrow. We’ll explore sanctification further tomorrow.

Lord, you not only save us, you heal us in the here and now. May your work be complete in this life. Amen.

Power Source

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Devotional for Tuesday, May 5

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT)

Now may the God of peace—
    who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
    and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
may he equip you with all you need
    for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
    through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
    All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

Let’s start with some questions for meditation. Do you remember how to breathe while you meditate? I would suggest taking a minute or two to consider each of these questions.

From where does my power come?

Do I do God’s will in all things, at all times?

In following God’s will, do I produce goodness, the kind of goodness that glorifies God?

When I have failed to do God’s will, did I trust in a different source of power?

We are promised so much when we enter a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That salvific moment is not a one-time, historical event in our lives—it is the beginning of our ongoing access to God’s life-changing grace.

The fancy Methodist word for this process is “sanctification.” Each day, as we allow God’s grace to change us, we become more like what we were meant to be before sin muddied our images. We enter this process when we pray, by reading God’s word, when we gather in fellowship, through the taking of the sacraments, and by other activities where we make ourselves open and vulnerable to our loving Savior.

It is exciting news for believers, and yet, it is one of the more difficult truths to trust. Sanctification doesn’t happen all at once, and too often, we begin to look around for other sources of power. The world offers us a lot of possibilities.

I won’t try to list examples. Instead, I’ll let you watch for them today. Pay attention: How many times today will the world offer you the chance to improve yourself, usually to someone else’s profit?

Remember, someone else already paid the price, in the process tapping for us the power of eternity, drawing divinity into our lives now. Through the ever-present Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ gives us all we need.

Lord, as an encouragement, we humbly seek a new experience of your grace today. Amen.