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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
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.”