Today's Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.”
King James Version
“Why God Loved David” Part XIX
“I was like a stone lying deep in the mud but He that is mighty lifted me up and placed me on top of the wall.”
What do I feel I can do to share with others the hope God has instilled within my heart?
What changes in my life have I noticed since I came to know the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?
“Before God saves a man (or woman), He convicts him (her) of his (her) “sinnership.”
“Conversion can take many different forms.”
Evangelist Billy Graham
Of all the works of art which have been created throughout history, the sculpture of David by the Italian artist, Michelangelo, is considered to stand-out as a Renaissance masterpiece. Some noted art experts have perceived in the eyes of David a, “warning glare,” which they linked to the issue of civil liberties. After reading several books about Michelangelo, I wonder if the famed sculpture didn’t create the eyes of David the way he did in order to convey a much deeper warning about the folly of a life lived just for the pleasure of one’s self.
The reason I say this is that Michelangelo placed Psalm 51:13, our text for today, as a motto on his portrait of Savonarola, who was a renowned Italian religious and political reformer who preached against the consequences of sin and corruption, whether personal or public.
Obviously, David’s life had a profound effect on the artist Michelangelo. But how interesting it is that of all the passages in Scripture which David penned, it is the one we are studying today which was so distinctly identified in a work of art by this master.
In The Message Bible, Psalm 51:13 is paraphrased in this manner: “Give me a job teaching rebels your ways, so the lost can find their way home.” I find this simply beautiful. What these words say to me personally is that at a point in time, we’ve all found ourselves lost, wandering with no direction. In order to save us from our self-centered, waywardness – our Father sent His Son, bearing a detailed “MAP,” the heavenly guidance system that gives us all the direction we need to get home.
But here’s another special part of the passage in Psalm 51:13. Because I have been given a map, my job isn’t to keep the directions to myself and act like this is private information for myself and nobody else.
Instead, as David told his Father, “You’ve rescued me, a man with a rebel heart, now I’m going to share with others the gift you’ve given to me and help those around me find their way home to you, too.”
From being a petitioner asking for acceptance, mercy and forgiveness, David turned to God with a promise that the heavenly gifts which had been bestowed upon him, would be passed on to others who had stumbled along their way. David’s life contained flashing warning lights that carried the message that sin is a malignancy which brings nothing but trouble into our lives. David’s fall and forgiveness also, as he told God, could serve as a witness, to those who feel they have sunk too low to be rescued. David wanted every person who ever fell to know that God’s mercy extends to the very deepest pit and into the very darkest heart.
I found the quotation which begins our inspiration today to be heaven sent words from Evangelist Billy Graham, whom I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say, has been an eye-witness to more “conversions” in his life-time than anyone I know. His words are so appropriate as we study Psalm 51:13 where David says he will teach others and they will be “converted” or as the Hebrew meaning states: to turn back or to return again. This is what “conversion” is about. It is when we are wandering lost without a compass and then we are plugged into heaven’s directional system and we turn around a new direction toward our heavenly home.
But here’s a critical point that is in Psalm 51:13 and it isn’t so much about what is said as what isn’t said. This ties in directly to the words of Billy Graham which I want to underscore again, “conversion can take many different forms.” Please note, he didn’t say there are all kinds of ways to God! What he did say is that the experience of accepting God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as the Way, Truth and Life, can happen in different ways. For Saul it came as a flash of light on a Damascus road. For the woman at the well, it came when she accepted the water of life that took away her thirst forever. And for David, the moment in his life when he “turned around,” was when Nathan the prophet confronted the wayward king with the pointed words, “Thou art the man.” At this time in his life, David had a choice to continue to wander aimlessly, trying to live his life on his own terms, or he could be “converted,” he could turn in the direction of his Father’s house, like the Prodigal son and make his way back home to his “Dad.”
It is at this point of conversion, this time of choice, where those who are “teaching” others, as David told God he wanted to do, need to follow the heavenly pattern laid out by our Father and exemplified in the life of David.
There are three important elements for us to note when we talk about “conversion’:
1. God accepts us as we are without a judgmental attitude.
2. God extends mercy not cruelty to us when we are lost and need a Saviour.
3. God’s gift to us is forgiveness not revenge.
We need to think about these three elements when dealing with those who have lost their way. Especially, if we want to help them turn around and come home to their Father. Acceptance rather than judgment. Mercy not cruelty, and this certainly includes the words we speak. And forgiveness instead of revenge.
In the life of Jesus, when He walked this earth, the qualities in His life that seemed to fly-in-the-face of commonly taught religious tenets of the day, were Jesus’ continued unconditional acceptance of those others cast-aside; His unrelenting mercy in the wake of cruel treatment; and finally, His un-measurable forgiveness when others sought revenge.
I found these words penned many years ago by Augustine of Hippo to convey my heart’s longing, as it did David’s, when he promised God he would take what he had learned as a prodigal wanderer and use it to teach and bring others home to their Father: “No fragrance can be more beautiful to God than that of His own Son. May all the faithful (this is you and me!) breathe out the same perfume.”
“Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come.”
“O Holy and ever-blessed Lord, teach us, we beseech thee, to love one another, to exercise forbearance and forgiveness towards our enemies; to recompense no man evil for evil, but to be merciful even as thou, our Father in heaven, art merciful: that so we may continually follow after thee in all our doings, and be more and more conformed to thine image and likeness.”
New Church Book of Worship, 1876
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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