Well, friends, the weirdness continues, does it not?
I've had this post on my heart for several days, but a prolonged backache has sort of incapacitated me to the point I have not felt much like doing anything except "keeping quarantine".
Regardless, this morning I felt well enough and that today finally was the time to bring it to you.
This prolonged period of relative solitude and its causal factors have been stressful, not gonna lie. I thought I was managing it well until these physical ailments popped up.
I have been very burdened about many things. In all of this, though, I've been searching my own heart about some things. What does God want to teach me through this situation? How can He use me for His glory, as most of the world fights this virus together?
God led me to Luke 18. In this chapter two parables have really been speaking to me.
Please go read 18:1-14, and then come back.
WELCOME BACK, lol!
1. The first story of Jesus, told in this chapter was told for the purpose of teaching us "always to pray and not lose heart" (18:1).
Now, what does that last part mean, (as the first admonition is obvious)? To "lose heart" is variously translated as "give up" or "become discouraged".
Isn't that appropriate for us right now, when the temptation to be anxious, discouraged, and fearful is paramount?
Jesus went on to tell of a poor widow who was beseeching, begging a judge to favor her in a lawsuit. Eventually, the judge found in her favor, exactly because she kept asking him to.
What is the lesson here? That we, as believers in Jesus Christ, His followers, should pray earnestly to our God in all circumstances, but especially about the burdens He lays on our hearts. And, there's no harm in praying for the same things over and over and over.
The apostle Paul echoed this in Philippians 4:6 (BSB).
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
2. The second story of Jesus, told in this chapter was told for the purpose of teaching us to beware of self-righteousness and looking condescendingly on others.
The Pharisee was praying out loud (so others would hear about how "righteous" he was) and, worse, was telling God how righteous He was!
Now, to become a Christian, the first step is realizing exactly how UNrighteous you are, which is why you need Jesus to give you His righteousness, to become your Savior. All true Christians recognize this and have confessed this and done this. We realize that we are completely incapable of dealing with our own sin problem. Well and good. Jesus forgives us of ALL of our sins - - - past, present and future. Hallelujah! In the eyes of God, we are then declared righteous; this is sometimes called "positional righteousness" (thanks, Pastor George!). The fancy theological term is "justified".
Here's the thing I've been convicted by, though.
SO many of us Christians (me included) go on to misappropriate that truth, and it gets in the way of our becoming more and more sanctified (another fancy theological term for "practical righteousness").
What does the gobbledegook of that last sentence mean?
It means that our initial justification/salvation is just the beginning of our walk with God, the rest of our life. And, because all of our sins were forgiven at justification, we more or less tend to ignore confession in our daily walk.
"God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (18:13) applies to Christians, every day.
Because although all of our sins are forgiven as described above, we.still.sin. In order to keep pride and condescension from setting up a stronghold in our life, we need to confess those sins before our Lord, at least daily.
The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I am convinced of this truth. Ask yourself how much or how often you do this; that's what's been on my mind.
Remember 2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways...
Confession is a willful act of humbling yourself before God and admitting that daily you fall short of God's mark of holiness. Further, true confession contains an element of repentance, which means "by the power of the Holy Spirit vowing to never do that sin again". Repentance is the "turn from" mentioned in that verse.
Here's another good one: 1 John 1:9.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.If you have read that one and filed it under the category of "justification" verses, you might just be a redneck! Kidding. You might just be guilty of what I've been talking about. That verse is NOT only for the non-Christian! It is for Christians too! When the verse says the Holy Spirit will purify us from all unrighteousness, it is referring to that ongoing work of sanctification and purification the Holy Spirit longs to do in our lives. So, our first object for confession is directly to our Lord and Savior. One-on-one. As often as needed. ASAP after we sin.
Ok, other confession verses:
James 5:16 (NLT) and Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
(Proverbs)Now, notice the order here. This command is to confess your sins to one another before you pray. He is talking to Christians, the Body of Christ. If you are a Christian and you fellowship with other Christians, you know that this rarely happens. The sin of pride gets in the way. I call it the Christian Facebook Syndrome (CFS). You know how, on Facebook, we put all the shiny posts out there?
So, BEFORE we pray for one another, or in order to get our prayers for each other right, we should confess to one another and then pray with our fellow believer over those shortcomings.
Whoa. We all need to chew on that one for a while.
Finally, Psalm 51 and Psalm 32 - - they are very similar. But, 51 was written after David sinned with Bathsheba and 32 focuses on the goodness of God to forgive sin. We read in that psalm that lack of confession is bad for one's physical health! ("rots the bones" - - isn't that a pleasant thought!)
Aren't you glad for the ongoing mercy of God in your life? I am! I surely need it. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, yeah follow me, all the days of my life!"1 Ask for it! Receive it! And, give Him the glory for it!
Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.