April 10, 2016 – manuscript

We are in week two of “Deeper Roots”, where we are discussing five questions over the course of six weeks.  Last week, we opened Psalm 37 as we began to answer the first question.  We looked at seven attitudes we must choose as we grow deeper roots.

  1. What is my part in growing deeper spiritual roots?
  2. How will deeper spiritual roots help me pray better?
  3. How will deeper spiritual roots help when God seems distant or something didn’t go quite like I expected?
  4. How will deeper spiritual roots allow me to worship God more fully?
  5. How will deeper spiritual roots allow me to see God’s activity in my life more clearly?

This week, we continue with the “what’s my part” question with a shift from attitudes to practices.  A spiritual practice is something that we engage with for the purpose of being drawn closer to Jesus or to glorify the Father.  A spiritual practice is something we never complete.  A spiritual practice is never finished.  A spiritual practice is designed to transform our lives and make us more like Jesus Christ.  For example, washing another person’s vehicle is not a spiritual practice.  The spiritual practice is engaging in a lifestyle that meets the needs of others IF your purpose is either to be drawn closer to Christ or to glorify the Father.  The IF is what separates God things from good things.  A person who doesn’t know Jesus is capable of caring for the needs of other people.  That’s not a spiritual practice because he/she isn’t the least bit interested in glorifying the Father.

What is my part in growing deeper spiritual roots?

Psalm 1:1-2 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2 begins with steering us in two areas, who we spend time with and how much time we spend with God.   The first practice is choosing your influences wisely.  Who we spend time with matters because we are shaped by the people around us.  Happy is the man that chooses his friends and influences carefully.  Happy is the man who does not consider the values of those who are unrighteous, evil, or guilty people.  Happy is the man who does not consider the values of habitual hypocrites or people who compromise morals. Happy is the man who does not consider the values of people who disrespect others with their mouths.

Psalm 26:4-5 – I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites.  I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.

The second practice is mediate on Scripture daily.  I try to make this practice easier for you by giving a daily Bible reading in the bulletin.  Another translation for this word meditate is to ponder.  It is allowing our minds to wander in God’s thoughts day and night.  It’s important that we notice these two verses are actually one complete thought.

What we do with these two verses shapes us for the rest of our lives.  How we implement these verses builds a foundation for how we see the world.  Ephesians 6:11-12.  The territorial battle for our mind and our values is very real and it rages within each one of us; often without us knowing it.  How we practice these two verses defines our worldview.  It defines our belief system and how God fits into it.  It defines how we raise our children.  It defines whether our kids love Jesus when they’re adults.  It defines whether you marry a person who loves Jesus and if it even matters.  It defines which college you will attend.  It defines whether it’s okay to quit church when things get a little rough.  It defines how quickly we are willing to assassinate the character of another person.  It defines whether we settle in as a mediocre follower of Jesus.  It determines our outlook on the next four questions.

However, the first question remains, “what’s my job”?  First, choose your influences wisely.  Second, meditate on Scripture.  Let’s turn to Psalm 51.  There are two practices we can engage with in Psalm 51 that will grow deeper roots in our lives.

Psalm 51:1-4 – Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…

Our third practice is confession.  You can read 2 Samuel 11-12 for the entire context of the authenticity of this confession.  For now, let’s look at the depth of these four verses.  Have mercy on me.  Blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity.  Cleanse me from my sin.  Against you only have I sinned.  I have done what is evil in your sight.

Have mercy on me is an explicit request for pity.  Mercy is not receiving what we deserve.  One commentary said “a plea for mercy is a confession of guilt”.  We know that Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death.  The nation of Israel understood clearly that one life needed to die in order for another life to continue.  This principle goes all the way back to the garden of Eden when God made clothing for Adam and Eve.  In Psalm 51, David sought a consequence that was different than what he deserved.  As we continue through this Psalm, we see that David owned his own actions.  He asked that God blot out his transgressions.  A transgression is associated with criminal activity regarding property.  David puts his actions into perspective and requested that God remove them from the registry of his life.

Next, David asks that God washes him from his iniquity.  Iniquity is the guilt associated with sin.  It’s what eats at us.  It’s what misaligns us.  It’s what leaves us unsettled.  To wash that guilt is to pardon us and to purify us.  Maybe you get the point.  Confession is deeper than a simple apology.  Confession is even deeper than requesting forgiveness.  Confession is a display of our brokenness before God.  When we confess our sin, it’s important that we name specific sins that we want removed from the registry of our lives.  Psalm 51 shows us authentic confession leads to repentance and forgiveness, which lead to other practices that will grow deeper roots.

Psalm 51:14-19 – Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.  O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.  For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I will give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.

A fourth practice is celebration.  When we experience the freedom in Christ that deliverance brings, the natural outflow should be to sing and give praise to God.  Of course, singing is not the only way to give praise to God; however, verse 14 indicates we will declare our praise with our mouths.  It seems there is a catch because our praise is external.  Verse 16 tells us that God is not delighted and pleased with our external religious rituals and practices when they do not match our motives.  God is pleased with our external celebration when (as verse 17 says) our hearts our broken and contrite.  Contrite means to be crushed.  This afternoon, find an item to crush.  Once you’ve crushed it, try to put it back matching its original form.

Here’s the point.  We can only authentically celebrate God once we’ve engaged with the other practices.  We must choose the seven attitudes.  We must choose our influences carefully.  We must meditate on the Bible daily.  We must confess our sins regularly.  As we engage with those practices, we become broken, crushed and dependent on God.  Only then, are we able to celebrate and praise God in way that delights and pleases him.  It’s a daily choice we must make because there is a territorial battle for our minds.

This week, I want to ask to take Psalm 51 and read through it every day.  Except, I want you to insert your name in place of I, me or my.

Next week, we’re going to talk about how deeper roots helps our prayer time but let’s work through Psalm 51 together this week.