Renewal

Psalm 51 (CSB)

Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against you — you alone — I have sinned and done this evil in your sight. So you are right when you pass sentence; you are blameless when you judge.

Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me. Surely you desire integrity in the inner self, and you teach me wisdom deep within. Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Turn your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt.

God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God — God of my salvation — and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; you are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.

In your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper; build the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Renewal

The Lord is our source of life. Apart from him, we are dead. Physically and spiritually, if we are not grafted into the vine of life, as has been made possible miraculously through the work and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are dead. Like a recently cut stem, it is only a matter of time before that which may momentarily appear full of life in fact bears witness to its true condition. Without connection to the source, even the greenest offshoot will quickly wither.

For this reason we must remain steadfast in our commitment to the Lord, not in a futile attempt to impress him with our disciplines or faithfulness, as if we could be so perfect. Rest assured, the Lord does not seek an elaborate sacrifice. He is not impressed by self-righteousness. Rather, he desires humility. A broken and contrite spirit will render one malleable and useful to the Lord. Humbled and rightly having a lack of confidence in self, the godly man is comforted by a strong confidence in our Father, and His abilities over our own.

Repent, therefore, because this life is short. Live instead for the life to come. It is eternal, and its joys will be unending. Find peace in Lord. Loosen your grip on the world. Abide in Him. Seek first the kingdom of God, and pray expectantly.

These are not cliches or cute sayings. These are the good directives of the Creator of all things, you and I included. We would be wise to heed His guidance. We would be wise to fear His absence.

May our hearts be cleansed and our spirits renewed, that we might more clearly focus on the Lord, and better see those who still wrestle a long way off from shore. By God’s grace and indwelt with His spirit, may we be a light to those who have thus far only known darkness.