Forgive Us, Lord: Day One, Forty Days of Prayer

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me

Ps 51:10, ESV

Heavenly Father, we are grateful for this special day, Ash Wednesday, a day to remember that we are frail, weak, wounded and sinful. A day to remind ourselves that we are a people desperately needful of your great grace.

We pray convict us by your Holy Spirit of our deep selfishness, stubborn pride, and hard-hearted wills. Forgive us, Lord, for breaking your heart by our selfish attitudes and for hurting others by our wrongful actions. Forgive us, Lord, for violating your explicit commands and for ignoring the implicit leading of your Holy Spirit. Forgive us, Lord, for indulging our flesh, lusting with our eyes, and being full of the pridefulness of life. Forgive us, Lord, for insensitivity, anger, lying, jealousy, envy, and all the deeds of our fallenness. Forgive us, Lord, for not loving You with all our hearts and for not loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Jesus Christ, we pray, empower us, to receive your forgiveness bought for us by your shed blood on the Cross. Renew within us the desire to please You, the hunger to know You, and the passion to trust You, all day every day. We ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

~~ Cn. Glenn E. Davis

Godly vs. Worldly Sorrow

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

2 Cor. 7:10 NIV

Godly Sorrow:

1. Godly sorrow begins with the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

2. Godly sorrow is pain over breaking God’s heart.

3. Godly sorrow is remorse over hurting and disappointing others.

4. Godly sorrow is heartfelt grief over violating God’s law.

5. Godly sorrow receives Christ’s forgiveness from the Cross.

6. Godly sorrow produces hope knowing that God’s grace is sufficient for our sins.

7. Godly sorrow hungers for a deeper relationship with God and burns with the desire to please the Holy Spirit.

Worldly Sorrow:

1. Worldly sorrow begins with having gotten caught.

2. Worldly sorrow is pain over having to suffer the consequences of my actions.

3. Worldly sorrow is anger and frustration that life will be more difficult.

4. Worldly sorrow is grief that I did not get what I wanted.

5. Worldly sorrow attempts to earn God’s approval through doing better and trying harder.

6. Worldly sorrow produces despair, I can never be good enough.

7. Worldly sorrow wants God to fix things and make life better.

 

When sorrow for sin has swept over your heart, and you have been deeply convicted of that which you have done and you have cried like David of old, “Against thee , thee only have I sinned”; when you have seen your sin not simply as an offense against the law of the land or a rejection of the voice of conscience, but as sin against God; when it is all over and your heart has been broken about it, will you then still be facing the same way?

Is it right-about-turn or is it as you were? Has there been a right-about-turn and a complete switch around and now an upward look into the face of the Lord Jesus? This the reality of repentance–something that has led you to His feet that has changed the direction of your life, that has caused you to turn right around, and with a broken heart come to Him for cleansing and forgiveness.

Alan Redpath, Blessings Out of Buffetings (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1965), 137. [paragraphing mine]

What of Lent and Ash Wednesday?


Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Ps 51:10 KJV

Ash Wednesday is the service and Lent is the season for repentance from phony Christianity, pretend spirituality, and words without works Christian living. The Holy Spirit uses the Lenten focus as a tool to open our hearts which have grown calloused through selfishness and pride. Throughout the busy year, we become spiritually dull and unapologetically self-absorbed. Our attitudes and actions are insensitive to others’ needs and disobedient to God’s call to life and holiness.

Ash Wednesday stops us in our tracks and reminds us that we are but dust and to dust we shall return. Dust can’t demand, dust can’t argue, dust can’t exalt itself, and dust can’t boast. Dust needs God to have life and only in God can these “jars of clay” minister life (Gen. 2:7, Job 42:6, Eccles. 3:20, Ezekiel 37:4, 2 Cor. 4:7).  Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are nothing but dust, dirt, and mire without the crucified and risen Jesus.

We too easily forget our Maker and Redeemer; replacing God with things and ambition. Lent is the season that does something about this situation. It calls us back to God, back to the basics, back to the spiritual realities of life. It calls us to put to death the sin and the indifference we have in our hearts toward God and our fellow persons. And it beckons us to enter once again into the joy of the Lord–the joy of a new life born out of a death to the old life. That is what Ash Wednesday is all about–the fundamental change of life required of those who would die with Jesus and be raised to a new life in him.

Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004), 99.

Ash Wednesday is Feb. 22, 2012.

Who Are the Poor in Spirit?

The Spiritually Bankrupt

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matt. 5:3 NIV

Every year, the gospel reading for Ash Wednesday is the Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7); it is a privilege to yearly meditate and preach on this great sermon. Last Ash Wednesday, we examined several significant truths found within Jesus’ magisterial teaching, let’s look at one of those insights in this post and several more in the coming days.

Who are the poor in spirit? Eugene Peterson paraphrases this verse in The Message, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” For Peterson, the poor in spirit are those who are at the end of their rope: they have nowhere else to turn, nowhere else to hide, and no one else who can help. They have nothing left, but God.

Indeed, the poor in spirit acknowledge their complete and utter bankruptcy before God. They are afflicted and know deep down inside that they cannot save themselves. The poor in spirit confess their unworthiness and utter dependence on God’s mercy and grace. The “poor” have confidence only in God. These dear ones will receive God’s kingdom: the rule and reign of Christ in their hearts now. They will experience the very life of God: all he is and who is in their lives today.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit”—towards God. Am I a pauper towards God? Do I know I cannot prevail in prayer; I cannot blot out the sins of the past; I cannot alter my disposition; I cannot lift myself nearer to God? Then I am in the very place where I am to receive the Holy Spirit. No man can receive the Holy Spirit who is not convinced he is a pauper spiritually.

Oswald Chambers, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, electronic ed. (Hants, UK : Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1996).

 

Ash Wednesday: “We Are But Dust”

The Meaning of the Lenten Season

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Ps 51:10 KJV

Ash Wednesday is the service and Lent is the season for repentance from phony Christianity, pretend spirituality, and words without works Christian living. The Holy Spirit uses the Lenten focus as a tool to open our hearts which have grown calloused through selfishness and pride. Throughout the busy year, we become spiritually dull and unapologetically self-absorbed. Our attitudes and actions are insensitive to others’ needs and disobedient to God’s call to life and holiness. Ash Wednesday stops us in our tracks and reminds us that we are but dust and to dust we shall return. Dust can’t demand, dust can’t argue, dust can’t exalt itself, and dust can’t boast. Dust needs God to have life and only in God can these “jars of clay” minister life (Gen. 1:7, Ezekiel 37:4 ).  Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are nothing but dust, dirt, and mire without the crucified and risen Jesus.

We too easily forget our Maker and Redeemer; replacing God with things and ambition. Lent is the season that does something about this situation. It calls us back to God, back to the basics, back to to the spiritual realities of life. It calls us to put to death the sin and the indifference we have in our hearts toward God and our fellow persons. And it beckons us to enter once again into the joy of the Lord–the joy of a new life born out of a death to the old life. That is what Ash Wednesday is all about–the fundamental change of life required of those who would die with Jesus and be raised to a new life in him.

Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004), 99.

Repentance: The Joy-Filled Life

Ash Wednesday Sermon

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Cor 7:10-11

Definition: Repentance is simple, but not easy: repentance is a change of mind that by God’s grace leads to change of heart which creates a change in our behavior.

Conclusion: Even when we fail, God keeps his face turned toward us. We are still his child, but our behavior he cannot honor. Therefore when we sin, the Lord withdraws his presence from us (not our salvation). Repentance allows us to enter back into his presence and enjoy all the blessings of New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34).

Repentance is a lifestyle not a one-act play. Repentance is a life-long interaction with the Holy Spirit: convicting, forgiving, releasing, restoring, and renewing. We are joyful because Christ forgives freely, Christ’s righteousness applies always, and Christ’s presence is available constantly. We are therefore free from self-consciousness, sin-consciousness, Satan-consciousness, and performance consciousness. We are free to enjoy Jesus.

My sermon outline and notes for “Repentance: The Joy-Filled Life” are available in their entirely as a Google document.