Psalm 51:10-12 "Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit."
Today's post will feature another post from guest blogger and a dear pastor friend of mine: Pastor Mark Dooley. Pastor Mark and I have had a wonderful friendship in both life and ministry since 2001. Recently Pastor Mark came and preached a series of revival messages at the church where I pastor. He pastors Leonardtown Baptist Church in Leonardtown, MD. I offer these sermons to the wider readership of this blog and pray that all who read them will be blessed and revived in their faith as I was in getting to hear them.
Sermon: Revive Us According To Your Spirit - Psalm 51, preached at New Hope Baptist Church, Watertown, New York
Monday Night 10/3/17
by Pastor Mark Dooley
Monday Night 10/3/17
by Pastor Mark Dooley
A little boy was visiting his grandparents and was given his first slingshot made by his grandfather. He practiced trying to hit a tin can, but he could never hit it. As he walked across the yard he saw Grandma’s pet duck. On an impulse, he took aim and let the stone fly. It hit the duck right in the head, and it instantly fell dead. The boy panicked and hid the dead duck under a nearby building, only to look up and see his sister, Sally, watching. She’d seen it all, but she said nothing.
After lunch that day, Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally said, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you Johnny?” And then she whispered to him, “The duck!” So, Johnny did the dishes.
Later, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, “I’m sorry, but I need Sally to help me make supper.” Sally smiled and said, “Johnny wants to do it.” Again, she whispered, “The duck.” Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing.
After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s, finally he couldn’t stand it. So, he confessed to Grandma that he’d killed the duck. Numbers 32:23 says, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Why is it that we think we can hide sin? Johnny’s sin had found him out, and so had David’s in the passage we consider tonight.
The background of our text today is David’s sin as recorded in 2 Samuel 11-12. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, another man’s wife. To compound his sin, he tried to cover it up by bringing her husband, Uriah, home from battle. But when it was clear that Uriah wouldn’t go home to be with his wife, David sent him back to battle with instructions for Joab, his commander, to put Uriah on the front lines and then retreat so he’d be left alone. The result was that Uriah was killed in battle. So, David’s sins included adultery, deception, and murder, at the very least.
But David couldn’t get away with his multiple sins any more than Johnny could hide the duck. In real life, one sin committed that’s not repented of usually leads to another sin and then another sin, and on and on until it makes one a slave to sinning. That was the case with David. His slavery to sin ultimately crushed him when Nathan, the prophet, told him the story of the little ewe lamb. He spoke about a poor man who had only one little lamb and how much he loved that lamb. There was also a rich man who had many lambs. A traveler came to the rich man, but instead of taking one of his many lambs to prepare a meal, he took the single lamb of the poor man, killed it and prepared it for the traveler. David flew into a rage and said that anyone who committed that heinous of a sin should be executed.
You see, up until this point, David didn’t have the moral stamina nor the courage to confess his own sin. And at first, he still was in denial of his sins. But after telling the story of the lamb and David reacting as he did, the prophet looked David square in the eye and said, “You are the man!” It was then that it became crystal clear to David that the Lord knew what he had done.
To David’s credit, he repents of his sin. This psalm, Psalm 51, is the record of David's prayer. It was uttered after Nathan confronted him about his sin. This is one of the most penitential psalms ever written. In it we see David praying for forgiveness. We see the pattern of revival and how it comes from the Spirit of God.
Friends, I declare to you tonight that God will revive you by His Spirit just as much as He revived David. I don’t know what your sin is. Maybe it’s not quite as drastic as David’s. But maybe it’s much worse than David’s.
Regardless of the severity of your sins in your own mind, the reality is that sin separates us from God. It’s sin that necessitated the death of God’s Son. We may have trusted Jesus, but that doesn’t make us perfect or immune from sin. Like David, one who the Bible calls “a man after God’s own heart,” we find ourselves succumbing to the seductiveness of sin’s power. We need to be revived. As we look at what David did in response to his sin, we find exactly what we need to do as well. We see three things we need to ask for and which will be supplied by the Spirit of God.
Before we get to those things, however, let me lay a little more foundation. We see in the opening verses of the psalm why God provides these things. It’s because of who He is. He’s a God of love and compassion. Notice that the psalm begins with David asking God to “be gracious” to him. He acknowledges God’s “lovingkindness,” or “unfailing love,” as some translations put it.
David knows he doesn't deserve forgiveness, so he calls on God's character of mercy to remove his sins. He asks for renewal, purity, and pardon. He begs God, “…blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
Notice the three phrases used here to describe sin: transgressions, iniquity, and sin. We could look at the biblical words used and see the various subtleties of what God considers sin, but the important thing to see is that sin is sin. Individuals have excused sin. Society has renamed sin. We call it a neurosis, antisocial behavior, or an alternative lifestyle. But God calls it sin. Even many churches today misunderstand sin and treat it as far less significant than it is. What David did was sin, and what we do today is sin. It’s because of sin that we need revival.
Furthermore, David recognized that his sin was primarily against God. Verses 3-4 read, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Thy sight.” One can only imagine the turmoil, the sleepless nights and troubled days David endured as he continually tried to cover his sins. Because of his status as king, it seems that no one would challenge him or accuse him of sin … but as he acknowledges in verse 3, it was always before him.
This doesn’t mean that David's sins against Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah, were meaningless or inconsequential. Rather, this is David’s recognition that ultimately all sin is against the Lord, whom he professed to love. All sin is ultimately our exhibiting rebellion in the very face of God. We do sin against people and need to make such sin right when it occurs. But our sin is even more against our heavenly Father. It’s that breach that must be healed at all costs. So how does that healing occur? Notice with me three necessary things.
1. First, we must allow God’s Spirit to purify us (vv. 7-8).
David’s prayer is to become pure once again in verse 7: "Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." When a leper was healed of his leprosy, he would undergo a ritual of purification in which the hyssop plant was used. When God purifies us, we are made “whiter than snow.”
David had been through a period of spiritual drought and now he longs for the joy that only the Lord can provide. In verse 8 he exclaims, "Make me to hear joy and gladness; let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice." We see here that sometimes the struggles we are going through are God’s vehicle to get our attention. I’m not saying God always causes trouble. Sometimes He does, I believe. But God always uses the difficulties of life. He speaks to us through them to get our attention and redirect our focus away from ourselves and back to Him.
It was C.S. Lewis who once said, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Perhaps God is speaking to you through your pain and you just aren’t listening. Maybe you find yourself without joy. You’re spiritually dry and you need to be revived. All of the joy had gone out of David’s life, and only God could restore it. In this heartfelt prayer, David now longs for this joy in fellowship to be restored to him once more.
Have you lost the "joy" of your salvation? Have you become somewhat distant from God? Have you taken God for granted? How does that occur? It happens when other things become more important to us than God does. If scanning your Facebook news feed is more important to you than reading your daily devotion, then you need to be purified. If you prefer staying up late on Saturday so you can watch movies and then sleep in on Sunday to getting a good night’s rest and being awake and alert for worship, then you need to be purified. If talking on the phone or via text to a good friend takes priority in your life over talking to God in prayer, then you need to be purified. In short, you need revival. And these are only a few of the ways we evidence our great need for revival. You may not have committed gross sin like David, but still the prophet’s words are true: “You are the man.” “You are the woman.”
David's sins had affected his whole person: his eyes, mind, ears and bones, heart and spirit, hands, and lips. Sin can be so pleasurable in the moment and yet so devastating on the body, mind and spirit. David knew this, so he asked for more than simple purification, as important as that was. Instead, he wanted his entire being to be restored so he could serve the Lord acceptably. He wanted the joy of the Lord within him and the face of the Lord smiling upon him. We must allow God’s Spirit to purify us. Also, we see that
2. We must allow God’s Spirit to cleanse us (vv. 9-11).
In these verses, David continues his plea; “Hide Thy face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.”
Verse 10 is the central verse of the psalm and it expresses the heart of David's concern. Can we be pure again once we've been corrupted? The answer is YES! It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. No matter whether your sin isn’t as bad as David’s, or worse than his sin, you can still be cleansed from it when you repent and allow the Spirit of God to cleanse you. Hebrews 9:14 states, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your consciences from dead works to serve the living God!”
The key is repentance. David realized what he had done and how graciously God had responded. He didn’t want to be caught up in any of these sins again. So, he repents. He turns away from his sin and determines not to allow it to continue to reign in his life. He offers a prayer of a different kind; “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” In other words, help me to start over afresh and anew, Lord.
The verb for "create" is the Hebrew word, bara. It indicates the bringing into existence of something that didn’t exist before. We see it used in Genesis 1 in the creation account. “In the beginning, God CREATED …”. There are three basic Hebrew words that are used to describe creating: bara, asah, and yatsa. Commentator John Phillips says of bara, “The word is reserved in Scripture for the distinctive work of God. Men can “make” things (asah) and “form” things (yatsa), but only God can create (bara).”
In the case of revival, God creates a new heart that’s been transformed by the power and grace of God. Only His Spirit can do that. If we need to experience revival, we need to ask the Spirit of God to cleanse us and create in us that which only He can – a clean heart. If we aren’t willing to allow Him to clean our life up, then we’re never going to experience revival.
I think of my father-in-law at this point. He passed into eternity about 10 or 12 years ago. Maybe 7 or 8 years before he died, he finally trusted Christ, and became a Christian. I say finally, because it was somewhat of a struggle for him. For years, my wife and I would witness to him of his need for Jesus, and his response was always something along the lines of, “I’m going to clean my life up and then I’ll come to Jesus.” We’d both tell him it didn’t work that way, that he was powerless to clean his own life up, and instead how he needed to simply trust Christ the way he was and allow Him to do the cleaning. Like so many others, for so long, he didn’t realize that he couldn’t make things right with God through his own efforts. It was only as he released the reins of his life and trusted a sovereign God with the controls of his life that he was truly saved.
I think the same thing is true of revival. So often, we know things aren’t right in our lives. Yet we keep a firm grip on the wheel of our life. Jesus take the wheel isn’t just a country song that Carrie Underwood sings; it’s a truth that expresses what we all need to do. If things aren’t right in your life, they’re going to remain not right until you let go and give control to the One who created you to begin with.
Notice how in verse 11, David prays against his great fear: "Do not cast me from Thy presence and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me." These are the words of one who has walked with God but who knows that the relationship had been shattered. For some time, David's cover-up and unforgiven sin had been an impenetrable barrier between himself and God. Now he hoped, by God's grace, that the barrier would be removed and that he could, once again, be brought into fellowship with the Lord.
I want you to know today that God won’t cast you from His presence. He won’t remove His Holy Spirit from you. Your fellowship with Him may have been broken, but the breach isn’t irreparable. If David could be purified and cleansed, so can you. You can be restored, which leads us to our final truth today....
3. We must allow God’s Spirit to restore us (v. 12).
In verse 12 David says, “Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.” A few years ago, an angry man rushed through the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam until he reached Rembrandt's famous painting "Nightwatch." Then he took out a knife and slashed it repeatedly before he could be stopped. A short time later, a distraught, hostile man slipped into St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome with a hammer and began to smash Michelangelo's beautiful sculpture “The Pieta.” Two cherished works of art were severely damaged. But what did officials do? Did they throw them out and forget about them? Absolutely not! Using the best experts, who worked with the utmost care and precision, they made every effort to restore the treasures.
The enemy of our soul has done more than slash the painting of our life or smash a portion of our life. What Jesus said about him is recorded in John 10:10a. It says, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy.” Sadly, I have a front row seat to see that on a daily basis.
I know a young Christian man who got involved with a married woman and the end result was he had to be excommunicated from his church. I know another young man who had an emotional affair with a married woman, and although it’s now over, this woman continues to struggle and there is a family in crisis. I think of a woman I know whose family dynamic has changed such that she now fills her life with many other things except the things of the Lord, and as a result she is now away from the fellowship of the church.
In all these cases, the individuals involved profess to be believers. Yet the enemy has worked to steal, kill and destroy. With great skill and precision, he has done just that.
Folks, I know an expert who, with the utmost care and precision, can restore the treasure of your broken life. You’re worth far more than Rembrandt’s “Nightwatch” painting. You’re worth far more than Michelangelo’s “The Pieta.” You’re worth the death of God’s own Son. He will restore the joy of your salvation. He will sustain you with a willing spirit. But you must turn to Him and look to Him for restoration. Your restoration will not come from more church involvement. It will come from a renewed relationship with Jesus. That renewed relationship with Jesus may well lead to an increased involvement with your church. In fact, it probably should. But don’t look to your church, don’t look to your pastor, don’t look to any human to fix what only God can fix. David didn’t ask the prophet Nathan to fix him. He turned immediately to God, crying out, “Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation.” Friends, I tell you confidently that God will do that for you today if you will look to Him.
Do you remember little Johnny in our opening story? I left that story after Johnny confessed what he had done to his grandmother. But I never told you her response. With tender compassion, she knelt down and said, “I know, Johnny,” as she gave him a hug. She said, “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. But I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”
Friend, how long will you allow the enemy to make a slave of you? How long will you let sin reign in your life? Like David did here, repent and return to the Lord. For then you will truly know what it means to be revived and restored.
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