Sometimes we feel like if we just had a bit more money then everything would be okay. Or perhaps it is getting a job in the first place, or landing a promotion, or even feeling like if you had a bit more status and influence things would turn out alright.
While there is nothing wrong with any of those objects, unfortunately by looking to them for our security we turn good things into ultimate things, and they aren’t able to come up with the goods. They are not able to provide the security we crave, and ultimately they will let us down, not satisfy. They are not meant to!
What things in your life have you turned into ‘ultimate things’? What deeper need are we trying to address by clinging to these?
‘The pit’ is a term used 18 times in the book of Psalms. It is a place of utter darkness. Cut off from family, community and unable to exercise control over our own lives, we often feel helpless and powerless when we are in this place.
The pit may be a place of Sickness
A place of Abandonment
A place of Guilt
A place of Imprisonment
A place of Depression
A place of Debt
A place of addiction
In the psalms the pit describes a hopeless situation.
Where have you experienced the pit? In the darkness, in the silence, can you feel the presence of someone there with you?
The Old Testament way of relating to God is not the same as the New Testament way of having a relationship with God. The Old Testament was all about fulfilling God’s laws and it was based on your performance. Under the Old Covenant, a sacrifice had to be offered every time a sin was committed.
But when God sent Jesus, The Old agreement with God was replaced with grace. It is based on accepting of what Jesus did. If you follow Jesus, you’ve become a new creature, and sin no longer needs to be a barrier between you and God.
Another name for the devil is ‘accuser’ – what do you feel accused of? How can we live in the promise that we will ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’?
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.[a]
For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
Purify me from my sins,[c] 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.
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 primary thing this psalm teaches us is that we can be honest with God. Whatever you have done. If God created the universe, he exists outside of time and space so there is nothing that surprises him. When David ‘confessed his sin to God’ David wasn’t revealing something to him, he wasn’t telling him brand new information. God already knew what David had done. But David knows that talking to God about something you feel you’ve done wrong is not about letting God in on it, it is about acknowledging it to ourselves and asking for God to help us. David knows that talking to God and acknowledging responsibility for the sin is the only thing that will result in healing and a restoration of relationship with God.
What things in our lives do we hold back from God? What might we need to bring before Him in order to restore right relationship?
Then Joab sent a report to David telling him about the battle, and that Uriah was killed. When Bathsheba heard that her husband had been killed, she mourned for him. When the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to the palace; she became his wife and bore him a son. But the Lord was not pleased with what David had done.
2 Samual 11: 18, 26-27
Lust. Adultery. Murder. Maybe even rape. David really did fall in the deep end when he took Bathsheba for his own from another man.
Have you ever felt that there are things you have done that are so bad, you could never bring them to God? How does Jesus change the way we can come before God with our sin?
Whether you believe there is a God or not, the majority of the human race appears to have an intrinsic sense of right and wrong. We may disagree over the exact nature of what this is, but on a personal level most people have the sense that at some point in their life they have done something morally wrong. And what gives people this sense of wrongdoing? It may be seeing the effects of an action, it may be a feeling of regret or shame or guilt. So, whether you follow Jesus or not, we can all start from common ground on that point.
Are there more serious things that we can agree on as to their being definitely wrong? Murder? Adultery? Theft? But then again is it wrong to execute a murderer? Is it wrong to thieve to feed a starving baby?
I think we can all agree that there are some things that are just wrong.
But what about when we disagree on what those things are? How do we, as followers of Jesus, go about discerning what is right and wrong?
When I consider your heavens
the work of your fingers
the moon and the stars
which you have set in place
what is mankind that you are mindful of them
human beings that you care for them?
How do we respond to our ‘smallness’ compared to the size of our universe?
Do you know that God is mindful of you?
“You cannot know yourself without first knowing God.” Wrote the great Protestant Reformer, John Calvin.
When we pray, it is important that we start with God. He is the first point of reference for considering any of the important issues in our lives – marriage, divorce, money, work, the environment, politics, forgiveness, sex or gender.
What is your view of God? How does this view shape the way you come to Him in prayer?