Sermon Summary, 10/15/17, “Confession is Really, Really Good for the Soul” (Ex 34:6-7; Ps 139:23-24)
What do you fear. When I was five, it was the wood spoon! I hid the wooden spoons in the coal bin. Guess what, no wooden spoons, no chocolate chip cookies. You have to decide the benefits of confession; AND you have to decide who you fear.
In Bible Study, we are in Exodus. I mean, there had been some terrifying stuff. God gives the second set of tablets to Moses (after the golden calf, remember?), decides the children of Israel need to know who he really is. He tells Moses: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty.” (Ex 34:6-7a) The Jewish people have long called these “The Thirteen ways of God’s mercy.” Now that is a God I can confess to!
A favorite author, Richard Foster, in his book Prayer, says that it God not us that we need to examine us. We are either too harsh or too dismissive. We need to place ourselves under God’s scrutiny. “Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way within me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (David in Psalm 139:23-34) This is a prayer we ought to memorize placing ourselves under examination with each devotional. We need to place ourselves under examination and give God a chance to demonstrate his mercy.
As importantly, by placing ourselves under examination, we cooperate with grace. God finds us as we are, loves as we are, demonstrates his mercy and changes us through grace.
How should we best place ourselves? I would suggest by using the great truths, the great values, the great teachings of the Bible. Take a commandment at a time, turn it to an affirmative, eg, instead of “You shall have no other gods before me.” What if you saw God in all you saw, in the creation, in others? What are your shortcomings? How would it change you to live seeing God’s world?
Or the Sermon on the Mount: “But I say to you, whoever is angry with their brother or sister.” What if you were reconciled to everyone? How would your life change? Or the teaching on adultery. What if you broadened it and asked what if I was faithful in all my relationships? How would I be living my life differently?
Or the Golden Rule and the Great Commandment? I would suggest to you that the “do” of the Golden Rule and the “love” of the Great Commandment are active verbs. Not reactive, not passive, but active.
As we place ourselves in grace, we become more and more aware of God’s world and places where we can “love” and “do.” Amen..