May 16, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 32)

Submitted by Joyce L. Gracepoint Austin Church

Key Verse
v.5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

God is …
                God is a God who forgives the guilt of my sins.  When I acknowledge my sins before him, he is willing to pour out his grace upon me (v.1-5).  He holds back his judgment only for a period of time, but it won’t be forever (v.6).  Judgment day will come, but there is a time of grace.  God is the one who knows the best pathway for my life, who knows how I need to live my life in order to flourish.  In this life, he promises that he will advise and watch over me (v.8).

Lessons for me …
                It says here the blessed person is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered, whose sins the Lord does not count against him.  In order to be in this place of being forgiven, what needs to happen is confession of sin.  It’s when the psalmist acknowledged his sin and did not cover up his iniquity, the Lord was able to forgive him the guilt of his sin.  It is a simple truth, but without confession, without acknowledging that I have done wrong, that I have sinned, there cannot be freedom from the guilt of my sins, there can’t be forgiveness. Even though the process of repentance is painful, ego-devastating, the alternative is in verse 3 – “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away, through my groaning all day long.  Day and night, your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”

I have experienced what the psalmist is saying here when I keep silent regarding my sins and the guilt of my sins.  When I try to hide my sins, try to cover it up, it is a miserable state to be in.  It’s when I am in denial and don’t want to accept the ugly truth of what I see about myself.  When I want to believe something better about myself, thinking that I am a generous and loving person, when reality is that my heart is small, self-focused, and in order to try to prove what is not true about myself, I make myself so miserable.  When I try to put up an image in front of others, try to put up a show before people and before God, that I am actually not this sinner that I am, it makes me self-conscious before others, fearful that people will find out the truth about my sins.  And as I try to prove myself to be someone that I am not, as I try harder, try to perform, the weight of my guilt weighs down on me and it does not get lifted up.

The truth that I am a sinner is a truth that I need to keep embracing each day.  It’s odd that though this is my main identity, that I am a sinner, still I find myself wanting to avoid it, wanting to try to cover it up, and wanting to seem like a better person than I am.  I see through this passage that when I do this, I am actually forfeiting the blessed state that I could be in.  Now is the time of grace, where God is holding back his judgment, allowing me this time to come freely before him in honesty, and He promises to forgive me.  I need to seek him out, seek reconciliation, and his mercy while he may be found.  What a wonderful promise that God offers – promise of forgiveness, of freedom from the guilt of my sins.  The promise is there, and I can embrace it as long as I’m willing to confess truth.  I just need to lose my pride daily, be willing to confess my sins, the truths about who I am, what I have done, and in so doing, God promises to cover and wash away my sin with his blood.

Another lesson is the truth that God knows the best pathway for my life, and he will advise me in the way that I should go (v.8).  Even though there were many uncertainties in leaving California and moving out to Austin, and many uncertainties and fears being out here, often times not knowing exactly what we are doing, whether we were making an impact on this campus, just trying to do whatever we can in order to try and draw students closer to the gospel, looking back, God has really guided me along the best pathway for my life.  I didn’t know how my life was going to pan out, but as I took that step of faith, obeyed God’s calling in my life, God has really guided and watched over me and our whole ministry.  He allowed our paths to intersect with these students, He allowed our lives to be used in order to be that source of blessing for them, and to help to usher in eternal life.  It has personally been an exhilarating and adventurous experience journeying with God, and I’m amazed at what God has allowed me to experience as I obeyed Him.  Because of God, my life has become so full of meaning, purpose, joy, and blessing.  I can testify that to be in the center of God’s will has been the best pathway for my life.  If I had followed after my own ways and thoughts, my life would have been so miserable.  I would have brought so much misery towards my family members, husband, kids, friends because of all my expectations that I would have placed upon them, I would have focused all of my energies on how I could gain attention and praise for myself, wanting to be the most special, I would have pursued after worldly pleasures, not refusing anything that my heart desired regardless of how I would have negatively affected others and myself.  Knowing and having experienced this, as I look forward into the next year of our ministry, with the additional responsibilities and tasks that God is asking of me, I don’t want to be like the horse or the mule that needs to be controlled by bridle and bit, kicking and being stubborn against God’s clear commands, but I want to have the attitude of surrender and obedience towards God, His words, what He asks me to do, knowing that my ways and thoughts are not good, but only in following him will I be led on the best pathway for my life.

Prayer
                Lord, thank you that you are a God that does not count my sins against me, but wants to forgive and cover my sins.  In light of this promise that you have given to me, I pray that you may allow me a humble heart, that I may come before you each day in honesty, confessing and acknowledging my sins before you, knowing that your desire is to forgive the guilt of my sin.  Help me to not run away when I come face to face with the ugly truths about myself because I realize that in remaining silent, my bones waste away, and my strength gets sapped as in the heat of summer.  The guilt of my sins becomes heavier and heavier the more I try to run away, the more I try to cover up my sins and inadequacies with resolution to do better.  I come before you with all of my sins, my selfishness, lack of love, impatience, and passivity.  I ask that you will forgive and deliver me.  Lord, I thank you for guiding me along the best pathway for my life, for all the ways in which you spoke to me, guided me, and watched over me over all these years – as I am now able to experience what it means to have a full and abundant life, where I have been able to experience You using my life in order to usher in eternal salvation for others.  Following your ways has truly been the best ride and pathway for my life, as I shudder to think how my life would have turned out had I followed just my own desires and thoughts. Thank you so much for being the perfect shepherd and guide of my life, and I want to commit to listening and obeying your instruction and counsel as we look forward to the next year.

Submitted by Bryan S. Gracepoint Austin Church

Psalm 32

Key Verse

 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you

and did not cover up my iniquity.

I said, “I will confess

my transgressions to the Lord”—

and you forgave

the guilt of my sin.

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you

while you may be found;

surely when the mighty waters rise,

they will not reach him.

God is …

God is a forgiving God who forgives man the guilt of his sin. In this Psalm, King David expresses the eroding effects of his unconfessed sins.  He says in vs.3-4 that his bones wasted away, the hand of the Lord was heavy upon him, and his strength was sapped. A significant turning point, however, was when he confessed his sins before the Lord, uttering the truth of his life before God.  In response, God did not treat David as his sins deserved, but rather forgave him.

God doesn’t simply stop with forgiveness.  He goes further to protect and lead His people.  It says in v. 8 that God will guide His people along the best pathway, and watch over them. And so He calls on his people to follow him in the way that is not only safe, but a way that is thriving.  Knowing man’s stubbornness and pride, He warns his people to not be like a stubborn horse or mule.  God desires to lead His people to a flourishing life, but He cannot force them, and so He issues the invitation and waits with hope.

Lessons for me …

As a follower of Christ, one of the things that I know very clearly is that I will fail in my discipleship again and again.  Like King David, there will be sins that accumulate in my heart over time – sins of pride, insecurity, arrogance, lovelessness and more.  As I look back on this past year of ministry, I recount many shameful, humbling sins that were indeed burdensome not only for me, but also had negative ripple effects upon others, which only further weighed heavier on my heart. The great hope that I have in the midst of my sins is that God is a forgiving God who wants to free me from the burdens of my sin.  Like the father of the prodigal son, God wants to welcome me back from my rebellious ways. God’s forgiveness, however, is all contingent upon whether or not I honestly confess my sin to Him. God is a God of truth, and unless I come to Him confessing my transgressions and sins, the weight of my sin will burden me and erode away at my very being.  And so I need to constantly be a person who utters the ugly truths about my sin before the Lord.  It’s never easy as it requires reflection, and swallowing of pride and ego, but I need to remember that true liberation and joy come only as I repent before my Heavenly Father, who is eager to forgive me.

v.6 says that the godly should pray to you…In other words, the godly are not the sinless. They have faults, and they fail. But what makes one godly is having a level of trust in the Father’s love and forgiveness for them, enabling them to come back to Him in honesty and truth.  So many people, including myself, have this misconception about what makes one godly, and it drives people to think and behave in all sort of strange ways.  The Pharisees were an example of this.  They sought to be godly through their righteous, disciplined lifestyle.  Their godliness was centered on themselves, and they believed with sincerity that they could achieve godliness through perfect, unblemished character and living.  True godliness, however, has little to do with oneself.  It centers on God’s character, who is gracious, loving and the only perfect one.  This is a truth that I need to remind myself again and again, as I have the tendency to try to achieve godliness in the way that the Pharisees did. As I get older and try to love more people, I am coming to realize more deeply my heart of sin and how imperative it is that I grow in my trust in God’s forgiveness and love for me.  Only then will I experience his forgiveness and leading to that best life that He desires me to follow Him into.

v. 6 also says that all the godly should seek God while He may be found.  What this tells me is that there is a window of opportunity for people to call on God and receive forgiveness.  Time is indeed limited and short.  There are limited opportunities we will have in our lives to hear about and call upon their Father God, who wants to surround them with his unfailing love.  This past week, I heard the sobering news about the UC Berkeley student who took his own life.  It’s so tragic that such a young man would do such thing.  But there are so many people in the world today who are similarly weighed down by various things, including their sins.  They all need to know that their Heavenly Father forgives them, loves them, and wants to lead them to the best kind of life. This week marks the end of the fourth academic year here in the life of our Austin church.  As I see the first class of students graduating, many of them joining as staff interns, it’s amazing how fast time flies by.   While it’s such a joyful sight to see our students become co-laborers with us, the reality is that there are still so many students on this campus who have yet to find God.  They are trying to make it in the world, while treading around in their sins.  The window of opportunity to find God will close for all of them, some sooner than others.  This is something I don’t want to forget.  The church is growing here in Austin, but the work is far from done, and I recommit to giving my very all for the work of sharing the Gospel as I enter our fifth year here in Austin.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I praise your name for being a forgiving and loving God.  Thank you for showing mercy to me time and again through the years.  Even though my sins have been so resilient, your mercy and grace have been so much greater.   I pray that you would help me to grow in my trust in your love for me with time.  Humble me and may I not fall into the trap of trying to earn godliness.  You alone are good and perfect, while exercising such grace upon sinners like myself.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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