• Tony Birkhead

Are you Sure? Week - 6




God, Create in me a pure heart, Renew in me a steadfast spirit, Restore the Joy of your salvation to me and Grant me a willing spirit so I can be sure when nothing seems sure!


INTRODUCTION

How do you know if repentance is real? What is the result of genuine repentance?

Who is one person in your life that you think truly understands what it means to repent? What kinds of things characterize their life?

Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of that sin, and a sincere commitment to turn from it and walk in obedience to Christ. Being a Christ-follower isn’t just a matter of thinking and doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things. Foundational to being a Christian is a personal relationship with Jesus that empowers you to live for God and make decisions out of the leading of the Holy Spirit. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, we are led to repentance because we desperately want to keep the intimacy of our relationship with God, not simply because of a need to behave rightly.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Psalm 51:10-12

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.

Micah 7:8-9

Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.

Micah 7:19

You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

PSALM 51:1-19.

How would you describe the general tone of this psalm? What kinds of things do you sense David was feeling?

Have you ever felt like David did here? How can you relate to him?

More specifically, how does sin rob us of the joy of our salvation? How can confession help us find that joy again?

What parts of God’s character do you see reflected in these verses?

Why is it important to fix your eyes on His character rather than on your own feelings during times like these?

God’s grace can cover the worst of sins. Because sin has terrible consequences, both within us and outside of us, we can easily get fixated on our own feelings. Those feelings can condemn us with guilt. While conviction over sin is good and right, there comes a point when we must turn our gaze toward the loving and compassionate character of God. When we look to the cross, where God most fully displayed His character, we see a Savior that loved us enough to die for us. His sacrifice trumps not only any sin we might have in our lives; it trumps the continuing guilt we might feel.

READ PSALM 51:10-12 again.

In these verses, David prays for spiritual renewal. Why is renewal important after forgiveness? How do David’s requests in these verses contribute to spiritual renewal?

What is our role in renewal? What is God’s role?

Have you had a time when you lost the joy of your salvation? If so, what helped you find joy again? If you haven’t found joy again, what do you think you need from God?

The joy of fellowship with God is one of God’s greatest gifts. Loss of that fellowship is the greatest tragedy. For David, God’s salvation meant deliverance and freedom from the inner consequences of sin. Sin had bound and burdened him, taking away energy and hope. When God restored the joy of his salvation, it meant that He had set His child free to be who He created him to be.

READ MICAH 7:8-9,19

What evidence of God’s grace do you see in these verses?

How does remembering that we were once dead in our sins change our perspective on the world and its effects on us?

How can remembering God’s compassion toward us help us look with greater compassion on the world?

MOVING FORWARD

  • How does knowing God has fully forgiven you bring you freedom?

  • How will confidence in God’s promises change how you deal with temptations to conform to the world this week?

  • Where in your life do you need constant reminders of the confidence you can have in God’s faithfulness? How will you make sure you get these reminders?

  • What sins in your life do you need to ask God to cast into the depths of the sea (cf. Micah 7:19) as you receive His forgiveness?

PRAY TOGETHER

God, Create in me a pure heart, Renew in me a steadfast spirit, Restore the Joy of your salvation to me and Grant me a willing spirit so I can be sure when nothing seems sure!

COMMENTARY

PSALM 51:1-19

This psalm has a clearly defined historical setting, which was David’s confession of his sins (his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah) after being confronted by Nathan the prophet (2 Sam. 11–12). David’s main plea is one of forgiveness (vv. 1-2). He relied completely on God’s mercy, which is evident in the terms gracious ... faithful love, and abundant compassion. In David’s case, his sins were severe enough that sacrifice was not acceptable (v. 16). The statement against You... alone does not mean that others were not involved in the effects of the sin, but that even in sinning against others the ultimate affront was against God Himself.

David knew God wanted to change him from within, not merely externally (v. 6). When David’s heart was right, righteous actions would follow (Matt. 12:34). David also affirmed that the Lord wanted to teach David wisdom deep within. Biblical wisdom is God’s gift (Prov. 2:6), and David’s turning to God in reverent fear was the beginning of a life change for him (Prov. 9:10). David asked God to purify him thoroughly. Clean signifies both ceremonial and moral cleanness. God would have to do a lot of cleaning to make David whiter than snow; yet, David longed for exactly that.

David longed to hear joy and gladness again in his heart, but his sinful condition prevented it (v. 8). Only God’s cleansing could bring it again. Nathan the prophet’s indictment had pierced David’s soul, and the ache of David’s sin had caused him much pain. He felt really beaten down, helpless under sin’s load; and God was his only hope. Turn your face away (v. 9) literally means “hide your face.” God often had warned His people He would turn or hide His face from them when He judged them (Isa. 54:8; Mic. 3:4). Here, David asked the Lord to look at his sins no longer. Forgiveness includes the idea that God no longer would hold David’s sin against him (Ps. 32:1). The renewal of one’s heart and spirit (v. 10) are common images representing not only forgiveness (vv. 1-2,7-9) but also a change that enables a person to live in obedience to Yahweh’s commands.

David knew his sin merited the worst sort of punishment (v. 11), but David did not want such treatment from God. He also asked God not to take His Holy Spirit away. David did not want God to set him aside and no longer use him as He had done with Saul, Israel’s first king (1 Sam. 16:14). David needed the Lord to restore the joy (v. 10) of David’s salvation to him. He needed God to remove his sin to make room for joy again. David also asked for a willing spirit—one that would help him follow God closely again. He knew that without such inner conviction, he quickly could return to a life of sin.

David’s words sound astounding; he actually believed God still could use him effectively in His service. He would teach others about God’s perfect ways, and they could be restored just as God had restored David. David’s sins were great and the consequences staggering; yet David trusted in the forgiving, cleansing, renewing grace of God. Publicly praising God and teaching others about Him was part of the response of God’s deliverance in a person’s life.

God desires a broken spirit (or heart) rather than acts of sacrifice (vv. 16-17). Build the walls (v. 18) refers to strengthening Zion, which is where Yahweh dwelt among His people (65:1). Righteous sacrifices refers to those offered with the proper motives. Outward actions don’t matter if the inward heart attitude isn’t right.

DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE

HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart: Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God: Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer): After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action: Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?

DAY 1

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Romans 2:4

Unfortunately, most of us know a parent who wants to be their child’s best friend. They let them get away with everything or give them whatever they want, and it usually makes us mad. We look at the child and call him or her “spoiled”. We may say “they sure will be in for a shock when they get into the real world,” or even “that the child should be more grateful and learn that when they do wrong they won’t be rewarded”. The parent’s kindness toward the child isn’t helping them at all. On the outside it might look like kindness, but in actuality, it is hurting the child. It makes us angry just thinking about these people.

Many in the world expect God to act like this parent we all hate. They look at the hurt in the world or catastrophic events and ask, “Where is God?”. They hold the belief that this God cannot truly be a loving God when these devastating events occur. Yet, when good things happen, when there’s money in the bank and food on the table, there is no change in their life, no repentance. They continue to live in sin.

Romans tells us that God’s kindness toward us should lead us to repentance, not continual sin as the world does. When we truly understand how the God who made the world gives every good gift to us, we try to live a life that is pleasing to him. Just as the world only seems to look to God when the bad happens, we are just as guilty as Christians. It is only when things are going wrong for us that we examine our lives to see if there is any sin which needs to be rooted out.

Many times when things are going good we ignore the the sin in our life because we think God somehow doesn’t see it and is happier with what we are doing that is right instead of wrong. Examine yourself in this light then, in good times and bad repent of your sin.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 2

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Psalm 139:23

In Psalm 139:23, the psalmist invites God to do a full “search” of his heart. He longs for God’s searching eye to be on him. Do we long for God to “search me and know me”? Or would we prefer to be overlooked and stay hidden? Radical honesty to this question can change our lives. How? By leading us to repentance!

“SEARCH ME AND KNOW ME” AS A PRAYER OF REPENTANCE- Martin Luther wrote: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent,’ he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.” When God searches us, finds our anxieties and sins, we have the chance to turn FROM them, and TO him.

Today’s Psalm gives us an incredible chance to pray this with our children. Because one of the best things we can teach our kids to do is repent. And if you’re like me, GOOD NEWS!!! You’ll get A LOT of opportunities to teach them. One of the simplest ways to do this (other than modeling it to them with our lives) is in prayer (like in Psalm 139:23).

Here’s how we can get more consistent with this. At nighttime prayer, we can help them confess sin and repent. Teach them to have soft hearts toward God by allowing our own hearts to be the softest. So, instead of just asking for stuff (health, good dreams, etc), we can lay out our sin together before the Lord, turn, and run the other way.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 3

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

So often we feel safe in a theology wrapped in self-deprecation. We focus on our sins. Our desperation. Our neediness. Here’s the deal, these are all true! We are sinful, desperate, and in deep need of a Savior. But . . . If that’s the lion’s share of what we dwell on, do we have eyes for newness? Where are God’s work and victory in our hearts celebrated? Where is our identity rooted?

Think about it like this. When we hyper-focus on our unworthiness, it can become a target we never intended to hit, but that destroys us in the process. By focusing primarily on how unworthy we are, we are in danger of seeing the worthiness of Jesus himself — and therefore, our worthiness.

Trust me, the truth is, you and I are worth profoundly more than we can even fathom. How much, you ask? The life of God’s one and only Son. That’s right. God the Father values us so profoundly he sent Jesus to die in our place, redeem us, and then join him in resurrection life! God is in charge, and he’s the one who gets to determine what you and I are worth — not us. He decided we are worth the life of Jesus, and then Jesus willingly laid his life down for us (John 10:18).

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 4

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only message God has given us by which people can be saved (Acts 4:12). It doesn’t change with the times or cultural patterns, and we are not to adapt it to be more appealing to a lost world.

Paul said the word of the cross was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, but that didn’t stop him from preaching Christ crucified. In that era, crucifixion was shameful, and the thought of a Savior nailed to a cross was offensive and ridiculous. How could such a God save anyone?

The gospel is still offensive today, though it’s usually because people don’t want to admit they are sinners or accept that Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Some believers may be tempted to downplay the role of sin and shame when sharing the good news; however, neglecting to mention sin, repentance, and the exclusivity of Christ robs listeners of the chance to genuinely be saved. When the true gospel is presented, God’s Spirit is able to overcome the offense and bring people to Jesus Christ.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org

DAY 5

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

John 15:8

Spiritual fruit doesn’t grow overnight. You don’t go into your backyard, pull up a chair in front of your peach tree, and then wait for the peaches to grow. (You could, but you wouldn’t see anything.) However, if you were to set up a camera with time-lapse photography, you would see dramatic growth over a period of time.

Jesus said, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8 NKJV). If you are truly a disciple of Jesus, then you will have spiritual fruit in your life. That means results. It means evidence. One of the first things we do as Christians is produce what Jesus called “fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8 NKJV).

For example, maybe your friend says, “Let’s go get a drink after work.” “I don’t do that anymore.” “What? You don’t do that anymore? What’s wrong with you?” “It isn’t what’s wrong with me; it’s what’s right with me,” you say. “Christ has come into my life.”

People know you by the fruit of your repentance. You stopped doing some things and started doing godly things instead. That intrigues them and also perplexes them. As disciples of Jesus, we should be known by our repentance. A change in your conduct is spiritual fruit. Galatians 5:22–23 says, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (NKJV).

Giving praise and thanks to God is a way of bearing fruit. We are told in Hebrews 13:15, “By Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (NKJV). When we sing praises to God, that is bringing forth fruit. Can people see spiritual fruit in your life?

Adapted From: http://harvest.org

MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

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.

Psalm 51:10-12

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