Friday, May 27, 2011

Confession template

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Hosea 14:1-9

TO CHEW ON: "Take words with you
And return to the Lord
Say to Him,
'Take away all iniquity
Receive us graciously,
For we will offer the sacrifices
of our lips.'" Hosea 14:2

Nothing helps the act of confession like speaking it aloud to God in words. There is something about actually saying the words that cements feelings of remorse into something more.

One of the most well-known prayers of confession in the Bible comes from David. Psalm 51 is David's prayer of confession and repentance, prayed after the prophet Nathan confronted him about his affair with Bathsheba -- that one-night-stand that morphed into murder after David got Bathsheba pregnant and had her husband killed to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11-12:15). Though it took a pointed story to get David to acknowledge his sin, once he did, his repentance seems altogether genuine.

Let's look at Psalm 51, taking from it a template for confession. (I'm not sure how important the order is. I'll roughly follow the order of the psalm.) Here are some of the things David, and we, can express in words to God.

- Ask for forgiveness (Psalm 51:1).

- Name our sin (51:3, 14). Though at first David calls his action simply "my sin" and "my transgressions," later he refers to it as the "guilt of bloodshed." It's good to be specific.

- Acknowledge that our deed was an action against God (as well as a person, if it was a sin against another person) (Psalm 51:4).

- Ask for cleansing (51:2, 7, 10).

- Ask for restoration (51:12).

- Accept God's forgiveness -- and that you are forgiven (51:15-17).

- Anticipate and expect that God will continue to use you (51:13).

Our God is so merciful, His forgiveness so unconditional, it's easy to become blasé about our sin. Thoughts like, Oh, God knows my heart; He knows I'm sorry, easily follow sinful actions. However, when we come to God with words, our off-handed mental penitence changes in a subtle way, becoming more real, more serious, more owned.

Of course there may be repercussions to our sin, as there were with David's. Even God's forgiveness doesn't blot out sin's consequences.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to learn about true confession and how helpful it is to say the words aloud. Amen.

MORE: "Create In Me A Clean Heart" by Keith Green

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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