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Finding God When You Need Him Most
In Finding God When You Need Him Most, Chip Ingram reveals how you can meet God in the midst of your most difficult moments. Through Chip's teaching from some of the most comforting and encouraging Psalms, you will move from "knowing about God" to profoundly experiencing His presence and power in your life. Whether you're struggling with a rocky relationship, an unexpected crisis, depression, or injustice, this series will remind you that the Lord is faithful to hear your heart's cry and will be there for you, time and again.More from this series
Sometimes smart people do dumb things. Sometimes wise people do foolish things. And sometimes even godly people do sinful things. The person who is talking to you has made a few of those. And the people that are listening? You’ve made a few of them.
But over and over in Scripture we find that we are related to a God who, although He will never, ever treat sin lightly, understands that we’re but dust, understands when we blow it big time, and is willing to meet us in a way that is absolutely contrary to human logic, absolutely contrary to what we know about anyone or anything else other than Him. He wants to forgive.
He wants to take even our worst moments, even when we knew it was wrong, and reclaim us for Himself.
I want to just read a story. This is one of the most godly men in all Scripture, his name is David. David was where he wasn’t supposed to be. The Scripture says that it was time for kings to go out to battle and he stayed home. He was walking on the roof one night, he saw a very attractive woman. “He was a good man,” I have written in my Bible, in the footnote on the side, “in a weak moment.”
He was attracted, he lusted, he called for her, he committed adultery, she became pregnant, he brought home her husband, tried to get her husband to sleep with her so when the child came he would think it was his own, the husband had too much honor, so David sent him back on the battlefield and had him killed.
He later married the woman, she is now pregnant with his son, months have gone by and God is going to intervene through the prophet. And we pick up the story in II Samuel 12. Follow along.
“The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said,” that he’s going to use a word picture. To confront a king was like, “This is a good, quick way to get killed.” So, he decides, “I’ll use a word picture.”
“There were two men,” he says to David, “in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle. But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe that he had bought. He raised it and it grew up with him and his children. And shared his food and it drank from his cup and he even slept in his arms, it was like a daughter to him,” or a pet.
“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his sheep or cattle, to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him; instead he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and he prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
In this culture hospitality is very, very big. So, if a stranger comes, you are obligated to provide a meal. And here’s a super rich guy with all these sheep, all these cattle, and he says “Oh, I don’t want to waste any of mine,” so he takes the one little sheep that’s almost a member of the family from the poor man, butchers it, and prepares a meal.
Now, David is a shepherd. This hits close to home. Notice his response, “David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.’ Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!’”
Boom. Now, notice he explains.
“This is what Yahweh, the Lord God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house to you, I gave your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if this had been too small, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the Word of the Lord by doing what is evil in His eyes?
“You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and you took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore,” here’s the judgment, “the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised Me and took Uriah the Hittite to be your own - his wife.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all of Israel.’”
Here’s his response. David has been in denial, David has been pretending, he has been lying, he’s been living with a guilty conscience, and now when he sees it clearly, here’s his response.
“Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’” He comes clean. “And Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, and the son born to you will die.’”
Under the Law, David understood. I mean, David got it right in his face and he understood, under the Law, committing adultery, what’s the penalty? Death. Under the Law, what’s the penalty for murder? Death.
God has given mercy to David. He’s owned his sin. Now, he understands the sword is not going to depart from his house: Judgment. He understands from out of his house there is going to be calamity and embarrassment and consequences. But the prophet has said, “God has forgiven you.” It’s a graphic picture.
Sin is an amazing thing. There are always ripples, aren’t there?
Here’s the question I want you to answer along with me: How do you ever recover when you know you’ve done something terribly wrong? I mean, how do you ever get back on your feet? How do you overcome the guilt and the shame and the embarrassment? How do you ever get right with God again? How do you ever experience His fellowship? How do you ever get this huge bump in the road behind you? How do you get restored? How does it work?
I believe God has given us the answer in Psalm 51. Notice that what we have is David’s prayer after this conversation with Nathan.
We literally get to eavesdrop on this great and godly man who committed adultery, who committed murder, who knew better, who knew God better then at this point than probably any of us will ever know Him. And yet, in a moment of weakness, in a window of time, in a point of vulnerability, he made a disastrous mistake and then did what most of us do. Instead of owning it early, he tried to hide it and cover up.
And what do we learn? What have we learned? When you cover up, cover up, cover up what does sin do? It grows and its impact grows. In fact, if you want to jot down in the margin of your notes, “Psalm 32.” Psalm 32 tells us what was happening inside of David.
And he said, “The Lord’s hand was heavy upon me. When I was silent about my sin it was like being in a desert. My body was wasting away.” When we know things aren’t right with God, when we have sinned against Him and others, it will eat you up. It will crush you, spiritually. It will devastate you, emotionally.
And, you know, we’re all human, aren’t we? What we all have in common, as human beings, is failure. Is failure.
Now, we rank it, I’m not sure how much God ranks it, the consequences are different but you have failed and you have failed and you have failed and you failed and you failed and I have failed but here is the message of Psalm 51: With God, failure is never final.
I hope in the VCR of your mind, the pictures, the things that you’ve done that you’re ashamed of. Maybe some things that no one knows about, maybe some things that, right now today, you’re involved in. I’m praying that the Spirit of God will break through the armor of your denial, break through how you’re covering and hiding your sin, and let you know that you can come clean today. You can be forgiven today.
For some it’s from your past, no one knows about the abortion and you’d be ashamed if anyone ever found out. For some of you men, you’re the one who urged her to have the abortion. For others, it’s the affair, it was the business trip, it’s just a one night deal.
For others it was flat out stealing. You got away with it! No one knows but you never know if they’re going to find out.
For some people it’s a big, dark, ugly past. For others it’s a secret. And it’s dipping into the Internet or to adult bookstores and you are hooked on pornography.
For other people you have a thought life and a mind that goes in directions that you feel so overwhelmed by guilt you just feel like the biggest hypocrite. You feel pulled this way and pulled that way and you’re here today and you want to be close to God but you feel like there’s a war and it’s always going on inside and you don’t know how to get out.
And then there are some of you that just think, you know, “Boy, thank God I’ve never blown it big time. I like the title to this message. How to experience God when you’ve blown it big time because I’ve never blown it big time!”
I’d encourage you to read the Sermon on the Mount. See, what happens in our day is we rank those sins. Jesus says that God is absolutely pure, absolutely holy.
And so in Matthew chapter 5 He says, “If you’ve never had an affair but lusted for a woman in your heart, you have already committed adultery in your heart. If you’ve never acted and committed murder but you’ve had anger and wrath toward someone else, you have assassinated them already in your mind. If you have gossiped and torn down it’s like shooting or assassinating another person’s character by gossip.”
Now, you may not think that’s big time but I got news for you. He does. And that sin, although never seen, never popping up on the screen, and having more limited impact on others, it’s an offense to a holy God.
If you don’t think so, try something. Just as an experiment I dare you to turn the TV, the radio, don’t go to a movie, don’t rent a video. Have a media fast for seven days and substitute that with time in the Scriptures. And you will turn on the TV a week from now and you’ll see things in commercials and language and images that will offend you that never offended you before.
And if you really want to get offended and you really want to get a picture of who God is, take a thirty day media fast and you will start to open and you’ll say, “I can’t watch that anymore.” Because you will begin to look at life the way God looks at life.
James chapter 3 says, “Anyone who becomes a friend of the world,” you know what he calls us? He says, “You adulterers.” And we have a Church and we have a nation that has become a friend to the world where you know something? Sin doesn’t bother us very much. It bothers God a lot.
And we don’t experience the freshness and the promptings of the Holy Spirit and we don’t experience the kind of joy and we don’t see the power and answers to our prayer. You know why? Because God is holy.
I did something I’ve never done before. I was just in the mood and I’m reading through the New Living Translation, I’m just checking it out. It’s very readable and I read in one sitting the entire book of Leviticus. I read it fast. I was astounded, I mean, it was like a fire hose. I was astounded of how high God views the issues of holiness, how particular and how He longed for holiness and His presence to be in every aspect of worship and life for the people of Israel.
And, boy, I realized, “Whoa. The God that I worship has grown much smaller than the God who is.” So, with that as a backdrop, maybe you and maybe I have blown it a little more big time than we think. So, what do you do?
There are seven steps, I believe, that flow out of Psalm 51 to spiritual recovery. If you pull out a pen I’ll put you to work, have you fill in the key word.
Step number one is, “Come clean with God.” Get honest. Get it out in the open. Stop the secrecy. Stop rationalizing. Stop minimizing. Stop reframing it. Stop saying everyone else does it. Stop comparing yourself to someone else that does it worse. Stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it, and come clean with God.
That’s what David did. “I’m the king. I got special privilege, I have all the pressure of the office, and it’s a struggle and she’s a beautiful woman and what’s…” And we do it. Do what David did. He got to the point he said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” This is the most difficult step but without this, the next six mean nothing. Come clean with God.
As I continue to speak, I want you to pray a little prayer. Pray the prayer of Psalm 139, even as I continue. “O God, search me and know me. See if there be any wicked way in my heart.”
And the Holy Spirit… don’t manufacture stuff. You know, some of you that have a guilty conscience that comes naturally. Don’t try and think something up to feel bad about. Trust me. The Holy Spirit will make it vivid and clear if there is a problem. But just be open to Him about relationships, about conduct, about viewing, about habits, about your relationship with the Lord. And then come clean. Come clean. You do that, it begins to happen.
I read a book by a fellow named Steve Arterburn. He says there are three reasons why people don’t come clean with God. The first is fear of losing our reputation. But then he says, “The fear of being publically exposed can keep us awake at night and with a feeling of dread. But it’s better to be found out and even have a damaged reputation than to allow the venomous secrets to poison our relationship with God and others.” Get it out.
The second reason he says we don’t do it is fear of losing our favorite sin. You know, when you come clean with God you realize you can’t keep doing that anymore. You need to break that relationship off, you need to stop that habit, you need to address that.
And the third he says is the fear of losing our security. When our emotional or financial security is linked to something sinful, naturally we fear confession. Confession will bring change and the immediate change may not seem to be good. This is where faith comes in. If we agree with God about it, what He says, and what He says is good, we can trust the ultimate outcome of obedience will be good.
The second step to recovery is, “Ask God for forgiveness.” Look at Psalm 51, the first two verses. He prays, he’s been confronted, and now we’re eavesdropping right in his room as he prays to God and he says, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from all my sin.”
Did you notice the verbs? There are four of them. Here is a guy who just says, “Help me! Forgive me. Cleanse me. Have mercy. Blot out. Wash away. Cleanse me.” Did you notice the basis? He’s not cutting a deal. He’s not negotiating a settlement. He’s not saying, “Now, God, I’ll do this if You do this.” He’s not saying, “Now, God, I know that I was a little off and…” He’s not reframing things, he’s not minimizing, he’s not saying, “Now, a lot of kings have done a lot of things worse.”
What’s he say? “On the basis of Your character,” two things he cites. One, “Your unfailing love.” It’s a Hebrew word that means God’s loyal covenant love toward us. And the other word is His compassion.
The related New Testament word means, literally, “out of the bowels,” or, “out of the womb.” Out of something down deep inside of God that feels what we feel. He says, “God, on the basis of who You are, not on the basis of what I have done, will You wash, clean, forgive, and cleanse?”
If you’ve never done that, get honest and then ask Him to forgive you. Ask Him to forgive you. He wants to.
Third step to spiritual recovery, “Own responsibility for your sin.” And that flows out of verses 3 through 5. He says, “For I know,” it’s in the emphatic position. And notice there are going to be five different times, in these three little verses, he is going to own his sin. “For I know that my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, and You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight; so that You are proved right when You speak and justified when You judge. Surely, I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Do you hear what he’s doing? He owns it.
The second step to recovery is, “Ask God for forgiveness.” He says, “God, on the basis of who You are, not on the basis of what I have done, will You wash, clean, forgive, and cleanse?” If you’ve never done that, get honest and then ask Him to forgive you. Ask Him to forgive you. He wants to.
The third step to spiritual recovery, “Own responsibility for your sin.” And that flows out of verses 3 through 5.
He says, “For I know,” it’s in the emphatic position. And notice there are going to be five different times, in these three little verses, he is going to own his sin. “For I know that my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, and You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight; so that You are proved right when You speak and justified when You judge. Surely, I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Do you hear what he’s doing? He owns it.
You know, this is almost unheard of in our day. When we sin, our first words are, “Well, you understand the kind of home that I came out of. Well, you understand the environment at our job and in the industry, everyone lies. And when you travel this much, everyone is going to have an affair now and then. And you don’t understand, my marriage really isn’t very fulfilling and, I mean, you know, I have to have my needs met. I gotta be fulfilled and surely you…”
You know what that does? That’s just another layer of denial. It’s another layer of trash.
I have a good friend who somehow along the way got in a jam and didn’t pay the IRS one year, then he went another year and didn’t pay, and then third year, and then a fourth year. And pretty soon you start not paying, then paying one year and they check your records and it gets a little bad, you know?
And I remember the conversation at a restaurant. And this guy is involved in ministry and doing all kinds of stuff and it’s amazing the dissonance we can live with, isn’t it? You know, we can pray and lead a Bible study and have people over at our home and go to church and just be flat out lying and cheating over here.
And I remember the day he decided to own his own sin, made a call to the IRS, and said, “If you put me in jail, you put me in jail. I’ve not paid a cent in five years, I want to work something out but I know what I deserve. Have mercy on me.”
They developed a payout plan, they worked it out, and that guy’s life with God total changed because he got rid of the secret. He came clean.
Fourth, “Accept God’s forgiveness and cleansing,” and this is critical. See, David was a man of faith. Even after the sin, the New Testament describes him as a man after God’s own heart.
We need to come clean with God, ask Him for forgiveness, own responsibility for our sin and the consequences, by the way, which he did. And, by the way, as your read that, he wasn’t blaming his mom, he wasn’t, he was saying, “My sin problem was so big, it goes all the way back to my roots.” We sin as people, David alluded to, not only by choice but by nature. We’re all sinners.
From the moment we walked into the world, we sin. Adam is our father and the apostle Paul would teach that this is a part of who we are and that’s why we need the second Adam, Christ.
Now he says, accept God’s forgiveness and cleansing. There’s a major shift in the Psalm in verse 6, it now turns very positive. He’s putting it behind him, “This is what happened, now I want to move on with it, God, “Surely, You desire truth in the inner parts.”
He’s saying, “God, I want a relationship with You,” and here’s the deal, you only have a relationship with God the second you get honest. It’s not about making up for it, it’s not about trying to do good things to balance it out.
The moment you get honest, see that’s what God wants. John 4, what did He say to the woman at the well? “The Father is seeking worshippers who worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
See, what I’ve learned is I’ve done some dumb things, I’ve done some bad things, I’ve done some sinful things, and I’ve often felt really bad for two or three weeks and try to do good things to balance them out, nothing helps.
But the moment I’ve gotten honest with God, come clean, and said, “I blew it. Help me.” Whoo. You get grace. You get grace because God is looking for truth in the innermost man.
Then he goes on to say, “You teach me wisdom,” or skill, “in the innermost place.” He’s talking about how to live and how to be a man of God, woman of God. And then he says, “Cleanse me with hyssop,” it’s a little herb they would dip in blood, ceremonial cleansing, “and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; and let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.”
Now, I want to show you something. If you have a pen you might want to jot this in. It doesn’t come out in the NIV as clearly. There are four phrases here that are in the future tense. The first one here where he says, “Surely You desire truth in the innermost parts,” literally, after that it says, “You will teach me wisdom in the innermost place. You will cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; You will wash me, and I’ll be whiter than snow. You will let me hear joy and gladness.”
See, what these really are, they’re more than desires, they’re affirmations. See, David has accepted, “You will!” He says, “I know, based on Your character and not my sin, You will restore, You’ll guide me, You’ll restore me, You will return me.” You see, he is accepting the work of God.
When Nathan said, “The Lord has forgiven you,” David didn’t go back into the palace and say, “But I just can’t forgive myself. I know God has forgiven me but I just can’t forgive myself.” Have you ever done that? Boy, I have.
And I don’t know about you, but, I mean, I’ve had things where, you know, “God, I’ll never do that again,” and I do it. “God, I’ll never do that again.” I do it. “God, I promise never, never, never, never, never, I’ll do that again,” and I do it. You ever do that? Don’t look at me that way!
And then I felt so overwhelmed, and so guilty, and I feel like why even pray? Why ask Him again? You know, I’m a jerk. And then, I know the Scripture. I know what the Bible teaches. I know it says that Christ died on the cross for all my sin. I know the moment I trusted Christ, He paid for my sin: Past, present, and future. I know I’m positionally right in my relationship with God. But I need to confess my sin, agree with God about it to be cleansed and restore fellowship, but I played the game for years, “But I can’t forgive myself.”
Little sins meant be depressed two days. Big sins mean be depressed two months. Don’t read your Bible, don’t pray, mopey, mopey, mopey, mopey, which usually led me to other sins, by the way.
And then I had a guy sit down with me and open the Bible and I was expecting comfort and encouragement and I didn’t get it. I got rebuked. He said, “Ingram, how arrogant can you be?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “You are arrogant.” I said, “No, I just can’t forgive myself.”
And you fill it in. I just can’t forgive myself; I had an abortion. I can’t forgive myself; I had an affair. I can’t forgive myself; I stole money and I knew better. I can’t forgive myself; I was not a good father, I’m not a good mom.
He said, “Now let me get this right, Chip. God looks at your situation and He’s taken the guilt of your sin, taken it off of you, allowed Jesus to hang on the cross, who was perfect, fully God, fully man, and He placed it all on Him for the purchase price and the payment, and God has declared you innocent and declared that Christ’s payment of His pure blood pays for it. And you’re going to say to God, ‘That’s not quite good enough.’?”
I said, “I’ve never looked at it quite like that.” Have you? Are you willing to accept where you’ve blown it but then accept the cleansing? Can you accept, I don’t understand, you are loved. You are special. You are valued.
And it’s not because of who you are. It’s because of who God is. He doesn’t love like other people. He loves you unconditionally. Accept God’s forgiveness and cleansing.
Fifth, “Request a fresh work of grace.” You know, this isn’t like doing bad things and then wiping it off so you can do something else on the board. I remember a situation in my life and I’ll get myself in trouble here. I mean, I was, like, on the tilt and I was just ready to sin in a very familiar area and I was thinking, “No, no, no, no, no, Holy Spirit, work;” and my flesh going, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.” “No, no, no, no, no.” “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
And this thought came to my mind, “Well, I’ll go ahead and sin and then I’ll ask for forgiveness later!” Do you ever think of that one? It’s called presumption on the grace of God. It may be one of the most dangerous things you ever think, let alone do.
See, genuine forgiveness means you’re genuinely repentant and what David says is, “Man, I’ve wept, I’ve had that guilt. Against You and You only have I sinned.”
Now, did he sin against Bathsheba? Yeah. Uriah? Yes. The nation? Yes. But what he understands is every time we violate another person, ultimately it goes back to their Creator, God.
And so what he is going to say is, “I don’t want anything to do with sin. I want a fresh start!” And if you’re genuinely repentant in your heart, you’re not going to try and play games with God. “Oh good! Thank You for forgiving that. This is kind of easy!” That’s dangerous ground.
You may find the high, heavy hand of the Lord when you start playing those kind of games.
Notice what he says in verses 10 to 12. He says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God,” great word here, by the way, it’s used about two or three different times in Scripture. It’s used in creation. It means “To bring bara’.” It means to bring something out of nothing. God speaks and creates life! David, he’s asking for a miracle!
He said, “Man, I was low. I was bad. I have offended You.” He says, “God, I want You to do a new creation. I want You to do a miracle.” What is it? “Create in me a pure heart.”
And then, “Renew a steadfast spirit,” why? I don’t know about you, when I sin, I want to give up. “Give me that steadfast spirit within.” And then, “Do not cast me from Your presence or take the Holy Spirit from me.” Where did he get that? Remember Saul? Saul was the king, Saul turned away from God, Saul backslid, and in the Old Testament economy, they weren’t sealed with the Spirit.
It’s the New Covenant where we have the Spirit of God living in us. They didn’t have that. The Spirit of God would come upon a prophet, or a king, for a special assignment. They don’t have the Spirit and didn’t have it like we have it.
And so David saw what happened to Saul and he said, “O God, don’t take the Holy Spirit from me. Please don’t.”
Now, you don’t have to worry about that. The New Covenant is is that, “I will be their God, and they will be My people.” Ephesians 1:13 says, “You have been sealed with the Spirit.” Romans 8:28 to 38 or 39 says that nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.
But notice what he does, “Create, renew, don’t cast,” and then, “restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” You feel low, you feel depressed, you don’t like yourself, you know what he’s saying? He said, “God, I want back in. I want to experience Your fellowship. I can’t do it. It’s not about me pulling up my bootstraps, trying harder once again, saying, ‘I’ll do, I’ll do, I’ll do, I’ll do.’” No you won’t! I never did.
You don’t have the power. David didn’t have the power. “Create, renew, restore, sustain.” He’s saying, “God, I want to pray and feel Your presence like I did before. God, I want to pray and see You work. God, I want to go into the worship with God’s people and sense Your love and Your appreciation and Your affirmation and Your joy. God, I don’t want to just be cleansed. I want to get filled again.”
Ask God to do a fresh work. Request of Him to do a fresh work in your heart. He’ll do it.
Some of the greatest people in all Scripture are people who blew it big time. Moses: Murderer; Paul: Murderer. You think they got forgiven? You bet. Did they experience great times with God? Yes. Were they used mightily by God? Yes. Was there baggage, hurt, pain, tough issues? Yes.
Six, “Resolve to use past failures for ministry.” Here we have a drug dealer. This is a great story. We have a drug dealer from Alaska and I remember the first time, we had a little room that we called the library. We had two boxes of books and a little area.
And I remember he and Diane coming in, I remember the first weekend, I don’t know why I remember, and I introduced them to Theresa and we talked and got to know them. I had no idea what was going on in their life.
But I watched him grow, watched him grow, watched him grow. I remember when he would come here and he had a little meeting and maybe one, or two, three alcoholics would come.
And then the next week a different two or three would come. And he was just about ready to give up. And then God put a dream on his heart. He said, “I’m going to stick with this.” And he went back down to Southern California and learned about a recovery ministry at Saddleback and found a team of people with a dream and a heart and a vision.
A year later, a year later, the second largest recovery ministry in all of Northern California God birthed through a team of people through a former drug addict. With his wife on the line praying the whole time.
See, God wants to use the most difficult, painful, sinful thing you’ve done and make you a trophy of His grace where your testimony is, “This is where I was and only by the grace of God, this is where I am. He gets all the credit.”
Picking up verse 13, what’s he say? “Then, God, when You do this new work in me, then I will teach transgressors Your ways and sinners will turn back to You.”
He says, “I don’t want to just have fellowship. I want to get back on the team, I want to get back on the playing floor, I want to be used by You! I want to teach other people Your ways.” What ways? “The ways of our forgiving, grace-filled God, who takes the evil that we do and somehow forgives and turns it around for good.”
He goes on to say, “Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.” I want people to know about what You’re really like, Your character.
“O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.” See, he wants to be back a part of ministering to others. He’s resolved, “I’ve blown it, I deserve death, I’ve been forgiven, I’ve been restored. And now, God, I don’t want to be some second-class Christian citizen who says, ‘Well, I’m a Christian but I’ve been divorced. I’m a Christian but I’ve had an abortion. I’m a Christian but I had an affair. I’m a Christian but I lied at work. I’m a Christian but I was convicted of embezzlement. I was a Christian but I spent some time in jail.”
You know what you are? You are a Christian who is forgiven of all that. And God will use those very things.
Harold was going to share part of his testimony this weekend, but he had to work. Five to six hundred people every midweek eat here. Do you know that Harold spent some time in jail? Did you know Harold found the Lord in jail? Did you know Harold has a whole team of people that cook food for all of us? Hundreds, thousands of people, thousands of people have been impacted by Harold.
And he works up at Mount Hermon as a chef, a great chef. He got the job because he did it here part-time, they saw what a great job he did, they hired him up there. And when I say part-time, I mean as a ministry.
See, God will take wherever you’ve been and He’ll use it for good. If you and me can let our pride go and say, “God, I’m open. I’m willing.”
And then notice the little aside, “You do not delight,” verse 16, in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Do you hear what David learned?
This is like a little aside, a little theological aside - perspective. Is David saying that the Old Testament Law is no longer… that no burnt offerings would be given? No, of course not.
What he’s saying is that external religion, doing things by the book, reading your Bible more, giving, praying, getting involved in ministry, whatever ours are. What David saw was, “Hey,” all the time he was in sin with Bathsheba, I’ll guarantee he was still going to the temple. It’s part of the king’s role.
He was still playing the game, he was still religious up to his eyeballs, and God wasn’t showing up in his life. You know why? Because of this: The true sacrifices of God, prayers have meaning when they come from a broken and contrite heart. A gift of money has meaning in worship when it comes from a broken and contrite heart. Loving other people, being involved in ministry has meaning when it comes from a broken and contrite heart. When you understand who you are and you understand who God is, and you come clean. He says, “That’s the sacrifice.”
And notice, I love the line, “You will not despise.” I don’t care where you’ve been, I don’t care what you’ve done, I don’t care what you’re doing right now. You come to God with a broken heart, He will not turn you away.
You come honestly repentant and you say you’re sorry and you will be hugged by the God of the universe and He will forgive out of His character and His Son’s work on the cross.
Finally, “Pray for limited fallout from your folly,” that’s number seven. Notice, David picks it up and he says, “In Your good pleasure, make Zion,” that’s Jerusalem, “prosper. Build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight You; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.”
Do you hear what he’s doing? He heard what Nathan said, “The sword is not going to depart from your house.” Well, he’s the king. Your family, out of your own family, there is going to be great embarrassment. And what David knows is, just like us, your sin never affects just you. My sin never affects just me.
And what David knew was, his enemies, the last line of II Samuel 12:13 is, “Now, your enemies have this advantage because of what you have done.” And you know what David is basically saying? “Hey, limit the fallout. Just please limit the, please don’t let my sin mess up my kids too bad. Please don’t let my sin mess up my family too badly. Please don’t let it, my sphere of influence, as the king of Israel, don’t let it mess up Jerusalem, O God. O God, I’m the one. I deserve to get it.”
And what God would say to you today and to us is, “Come clean with Me, one. Ask for forgiveness, two. Own responsibility for your sin, three. Accept God’s forgiveness and cleansing, four. Request a fresh work of grace, five. Resolve to use past failures for ministry, six. And pray for limited fallout from your folly.”