Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Do good in Thy good pleasure unto Zion: build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.”
Psalm 51: 18
King James Version
“Why God Loved David” – Part XXVI
"Jerusalem's walls now dashed,
destroyed and smashed beyond belief,
Display the pain of wounded people,
burned and gashed by grief.
But comes a helper, One who sees
within those shattered parts,
A citadel of strength and joy,
rebuilt from broken hearts
He loves and treasures."
Pastor Jack W. Hayford
Rebuilding The Real You
What would it mean to me to know that God’s renewal has transformed my life for His purpose?
“But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Savior to (men and women) appeared. He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by the cleansing of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
Titus 3: 4-6
“And they said to me, ‘The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.’”
Nehemiah 1: 3.
Last night I had a pleasant conversation with my college roommate who lives in Canada. One of the pillars of my deep and abiding friendship with Shari is our love for our heavenly Father. Through the years, while at times we have both found ourselves staggering around as the earth underneath us shook by the tragedies that life hurls at all of us, we have taken great comfort in encouraging each other that our heavenly Father’s love is a life-constant, especially in times when your life feels unstable.
As we reviewed the ways our lives have meshed over many years, our conversation, as it always does, turned to the spiritual. Probably because I was working on this devotional for the past several days, we got to discussing a book I was using as a resource for today’s inspiration. The book, Rebuilding The Real You, is one I read in 1986 when it first came out. Written by Pastor Jack Hayford, this volume is a “treasure” on my bookshelf. I haven’t read it once. I have read it over ten times and each time I reread this book, I find some new, unearthed nugget, which gives me additional spiritual wealth from my heavenly Father’s immense storehouse.
This book, for those of you who have never heard of it, is a Biblical study on the book of Nehemiah – a book we will be covering in 2012.
When Nehemiah returned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, as he arrived with supplies from the King of Babylon, what he found broke his heart. The walls of the city were nothing but piles of burned rubble. And from this disastrous mess, it looked like nothing could ever be repaired or rebuilt.
However, and oh how I love this, our Father is a specialist in “Rubble Rejuvenation.” If the world had a telephone book, our Father’s number would be highlighted: “BEST IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE AT FIXING WHAT IS BROKEN!” His area of expertise is taking trash and turning it into treasure. PRAISE GOD! For there are lots of us, myself included, who need what is burned to be renewed.
The book of Nehemiah is a perfect example of how God takes what’s been knocked down, and through the power of His Spirit, raises it up again!
What I find so instructional is that long before Nehemiah’s experience, we find in Psalm 51: 18, our text for today, that David told God, “Do what You want with me, build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.” I just love the fact that after being confronted with the dastardly deeds of his life and recognizing how low he had sunk, David understood his loving Father so well, that he knew there was no reclamation project too big for his heavenly “Dad.” Aren’t you thankful, too? I know I am. David’s precious note to God, asking for cleansing and renewal gives incredible hope to each one of us – no matter what condition we find ourselves in right now.
And lest you think that you had better clean off some of the soot that is covering you or try to repair some of the cracks in yourself before your Father can go to work, let me share, as I promised yesterday, some of the insightful and inspired words from my friend Myrt Grimm in Finland.
Writing about the rejuvenating power of Jesus’ ministry Myrt reminded me of the fact that the Pharisees in Jesus’ time on earth, who liked to think of themselves as the holiest and cleanest of people, began a “gossip fest” that centered on the types of people Jesus chose to hang-out with. In Matthew 9: 9, we find Jesus met the man named Matthew (Yes – the one who wrote the first book in the New Testament). Seems at the time, Matthew was rather infamous. He was a hated tax collector, despised by the people, and considered an outcast by the Pharisees.
When it came to the attention of Jesus that His choice of companions was causing a stir, He jumped right into the middle of the discussion by making it crystal clear why He came to earth and who He came for:
“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, ‘Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?’ But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, ‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”
Matthew 9: 10-13
There’s a very interesting word in the Greek defining “repentance” – it is “compunction” which Webster’s Dictionary tells us is “a strong uneasiness caused by guilt for what we have done.” When powered by God’s Spirit, I would call this our “conscience.” And it is through this tender wooing, that Jesus told His detractors, He called the broken, the burdened, and the bruised. But they weren’t left in a heap with all their injuries. Instead, as David told God, “Raise the walls back up. Rebuild me as You see fit.”
As my friend Myrt so beautifully penned, “The Pharisees thought they were more than enough (in the holiness department). But they were unable to show mercy. In Mark 12: 33, Jesus reiterates, “Love God with all your heart, all your understanding, and with all your soul and all your strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself…this is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
The love of our Father, that calls us to repentance, is beautifully portrayed in the hymn by James G. Small:
I've found a Friend,
Oh, such a Friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him.
And round my heart still closely twine
Those ties which nought can sever,
For I am His, and He is mine,
Forever and forever."
who braves our rejection and hurt,
who holds us in acceptance and love.
in our ears
each of us -
are beloved children.
who cradles us in arms that never grow weary;
whose lap has room enough
in the long silence of the night
that we might rest in peace.
who steadies us
when we falter,
who lifts us up
when we fall.
who picks up all the faded dreams
we drop along the way
and patchworks them into hope."
Thom M. Shuman
Candles and Conifers
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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