Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Essential Chapter

By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church

Listen again to the familiar verses of one of the most familiar Christmas carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem
v 3
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven,
no ear may hear His coming but in this world of sin where meek
souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.
v 4
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray,
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Immanuel.

Oh lets not hurry away from the stable just yet., Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne
...but with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn, They bore Thee to Calvary
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus; There is room in my heart for Thee.

But now as we look into 2018, one of our favorite hymns “How Great Thou Art” v3
...That on the cross my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin;

Before we leave Christmas behind, there is one theme from the heart of the Carols, that we should perhaps take with us into the new year. Its not the beautiful music, or the soothing sentimentality, or even the various biblical themes, of shepherds, and angels, and Bethlehem—all of which are good; but rather it is the message of the forgiveness of our sins. Have you been to Calvary? Have you been to the foot of the cross and laid your sins there?
David, the great King of Israel of the Old Testament was a follower of God. However in the middle of his life he had a serious stumble. And the result of that was what is recorded in Psalm 51. Psalm 51 is now famous with the penitent ever since because it is a chapter of deep sorrow and contrition over something terrible one has done, the pleading for mercy, and then receiving that forgiveness.
Peter, Mary Magdalene, and Paul, are just a few who truly knew what it was to have their sin forgiven and who also have a Psalm 51 chapter in their lives. What a change they experienced!
Hymn writer James Nicholson 1828-1876 also wrote of this experience, Whiter Than Snow (Ambassador page 425) He writes: “Come now, and within me a new heart create: to those who have sought Thee, Thou never said NO, Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Words straight out of Psalm 51.
Do you have a Psalm 51 chapter in your life? Do you know what those other verses in the Christmas Carols are about? The Psalm 51 chapter is mandatory according to our Lord. (Luke 13:3,5) Wonder why nothing is happening in your spiritual life? First check for your Psalm 51 chapter.
How many of us who claim to be forgiven, indeed are forgiven, walk around like nothing special has happened? We walk around as if we've just run to Walmart and picked up some pain medicine. Its just another transaction of many. Think about this. We should be walking around like we've just been cured of an incurable illness! The sky should be brighter, the air fresher, the rain purer. Am I overstating this?Of course our loving God and Savior has granted forgiveness to all sins, every single one. But it highlights our climate today, of a repentant-less relationship to God, and a sin-less salvation.
What is sin? Past generations, are accused of being too “parochial” about sins. Many things were labeled as sins. This was a sin, that was a sin. There were sinful places, and sinful things to put before your eyes. And the list goes on. I believe there is genuine confusion with people about what sin is. Sins have been redefined. Sin is now poverty, its now committed by corporations and people in power. Sin is committed by the wealthy, in their attitude towards the poor. Sin is abusing the environment. It is no longer really an individual or personal thing. How many of the Ten Commandments are not just broken, but completely ignored? When average people do “sin” it is often explained, away, as victimhood, or illness. Yes there is confusion about sin.
But the Bible and our consciences are clear. There are several lists to be warned about, Gal 5:29-21; Eph 5:3-15; Col 3:8-9. Romans 3:9-23 Read some of the sins in the church in Revelation 2 and 3.
An ABC News poll from July found that eighty-three percent of Americans say they are Christians. Are some of these are “sin-less” and “repentant-less” conversions? Only God knows, but there is only one way into God's family, John 1:12. There are a lot of man centered “conversions” today that lack a Psalm 51 chapter. Man centered conversions are for various motives, and are outwardly exciting. Man chooses, man selects, man decides. And the motives are all over the map.
Back in my youth, I saw much of this type of phenomenon. It was heartbreaking. This is the seed sown in the rocky soil, it springs up quickly, but because it has no root dies. This is the seed sown on the path, where the birds came and ate it up, and the seed sown in the thorns. Kids would come to our youth group because of a cute girl or guy or even just an emotional experience, or as a fad, and it was cool, but then would fall away. When men and women don't grasp their sin, they can't and won't confess it—no Psalm 51.
But God centered, or God authored conversions, are the seed sown on the good soil. These all have a Psalm 51 chapter, without exception, because God through His Holy Spirit is authoring a deep conviction of sin and His own loving voice calling them to Himself through the Word. And like David, Mary Magdalene, Peter, and Paul, they fall in love with their dear Savior who died on the cross for their terrible sins.
So many reply, “..Isn't God forgiving, and kind? Isn't God--love?” “After all, God will understand.”
It's good we remember the loving attribute of God, but we forget the other aspects of God, holiness, justice, and judgment. While “...God so loves the world...” John 3:16, He hates sin, (Isa. 59:2).
There needs to be a deep work of conviction of sin in our hearts, a Psalm 51 chapter to give us the joy and hope we've sung about in the Carols just a few weeks ago, and which we will, Lord willing sing in 2018 and beyond, “where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit
Pastor Tom

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