Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Let's talk about Sin - Soulprint Week #5

Below is the message I shared on Sunday at Good Shepherd.  I talk about sin and its consequences and also how God sometimes uses our hurt to help those around us.  

2 Samuel 11-12

 1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”  14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” 16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.  26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.

2 Samuel 12

 1 The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. 4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” 5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ 11 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”   Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for[c] the LORD, the son born to you will die.”
Today we have the next to the last message in our ‘Soulprint’ series, as we work towards understanding who God has uniquely made us to be who we are and searching for the unique call and destiny that God has placed on our lives.
Last week we looked at how God can use even the embarrassing moments of our lives to let us know who we are, who we aren’t and what God might be calling us to do.  Today, we shift gears a little bit – we only have two weeks left of talking about and looking for our soulprints and we are now getting down to the nitty gritty.   We are going to talk about sin and how our sins affect our ability to reach how we were called and created to be. 
Before we do that, though, we are going to talk about a critical element of discovering your soulprint – beginning to see yourself as God see’s you.  Batterson says: Until your see yourself through his eyes, you’ll never get a vision of who you can become.  The key to self-discovery is allowing the One who knit you together in your mother’s womb to reveal things you do not and cannot know about yourself without His revelation.  God knows you better than you know you, because He designed you, so if you want to get to know yourself, you’ve got to get to know God. 
As C.S. Lewis explains in Mere Christianity – ‘Your real, new self . . . will not come as long as you are looking for it.  It will come when you are looking for Him.’  Opening our eyes and asking God to show us who and what we really are is not a one time thing – it is an ongoing, life long process.
David has seen, time and time again who he is in God’s eyes, who he really is. But as we catch up with him in this morning’s passage something has changed.  Maybe he is bored – he is used to leading the battles, being at the center of all the action – but instead he is up pacing his rooftop at night as his army is off at war.  But whatever the reason, he feels a void in his life and doesn’t wait on God to fill it.
In the book this is called ‘legitimate illegitimate sin’.  When we attempt to meet a legitimate need, but do it in a illegitimate way, a way other than God’s.  This happens when we aren’t patient enough to wait for God to meet the need in his way and in his timing.  We legitimize our sin by saying things like, ‘God wants us to be happy’.  That is definitely true, but whenever we take a sinful shortcut to that happiness we miss out on the real happiness and joy that God offers. 
Sin often yields a moment of pleasure, but the long term result and side effect is always misery.  Simply put, sin is selling yourself – and God – short.  And sin keeps you from fulfilling your true destiny, doing and becoming who you were meant to be.  More than anything else, the biggest consequence of the continued and persistent presence of sin – especially a repeated sin -  is that we begin to forget not just who we are – who we really are, but we also forget WHOSE we are. 
And remembering whose we are is the key to happiness, joy and living into our soulprint.  When we try to do for ourselves that which only God can do for us – like struggling in quicksand, our ‘best efforts’ usually only leave us deeper in the pit.  We  try and try to fix our own brokenness, but there are problems that are beyond our ability, pain and hurt beyond our capacity for healing and memories too strong to forget and move on from.
The only way out and past these things to who we are meant to be is through allowing God to rebuild and restore our hearts, our minds and our spirits.  When we recognize and accept the truth that we can’t fix or save or heal ourselves, but rather we need God to do that, the process of restoration can begin. 
Each and every one of us was created as  a palace – the temple of God.   But in order for our hearts, minds and lives to be suitable for God to dwell in – more than a quick redecoration is required.  Our lives often require major renovation.  If you have ever been through a major renovation, then you probably know all too well, that it usually begins with some demolition.
In the midst of wrestling with his own brokenness David wrote Psalm 51, where, in verse 17 he says:  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Sometimes God can use the brokenness that comes from our sinfulness and disobedience to bless us and those around us.  When we allow God to lead us in working through our own tragedies, our own pain and the problems we face – God prepares us to help others with their problems, their pain and their tragedies. 
There are times when our soulprints and destinies are shaped through moments of beauty and joy, but there are other times when our destinies are shaped by the moments that take that joy from us.  Sometimes there is no discernable reason for our pain – no redemption that can be found.  In those moments we hold to the fact that we are never alone – we serve and worship a God that feels our pain and lives it with us.
There are other times, however, that our pain comes from the breaking down of strongholds in our hearts, minds and lives that need breaking.  Strongholds like: pride, Lust, anger, jealousy and bitterness. 
Until we let God break these things down and away from our lives, we will never be able to fulfill our destinies and become who God made us to be.  In David’s life, his eyes were opened to the strongholds that he had allowed sin to build in his life by the prophet Nathan.  Nathan, in telling David the story about himself, became a mirror to David.  Nathan showed David the depth of his sin and his need for repentance.
Mirrors that allow us to see into the dark corners and blind spots of our lives are critical and they come in many forms – friends, family members, words from the pulpit or from a member of the church.  But there is no more important, valuable or accurate mirror for our lives and our hearts that Scripture.   The best form of self-examination is simply reading Scripture and meditating on it.  Scripture is a perfect mirror because it reveals how our Designer and Creator sees us. 
There are of course, bad mirrors too, and most of our identity problems are the result of looking in the wrong mirrors.  For some there is the mirror of culture, for others the mirror is what other people think of them, and so on.  If we want to discover our soulprints, we have to begin and end with Scripture. 
Batterson writes these insightful words: If you aren’t reading your Bible as much as you could or should, you’ll have identity issues.  And let me go out on a limb.  If you aren’t reading your Bible like you could, it is probably because of some sin in your life.  You don’t want to look in the mirror because it’s convicting.  . . .  If you ignore it, it will get worse . . . The Bible is not only the best cure for identity problems.  It’s also the best prevention
But, as always with God, there is good news.  David, in spite of his sinfulness was not defined by that sinfulness.  In 1Kings 15 we read that David was counted in the company of kings that did right in the eyes of the Lord.  David, just like you and I is defined not by what we do right, what we are good at or even by our sinfulness, but rather we are all defined by the grace of God.
When we are in Christ we are no longer defined by what we have done wrong, but by what Christ has done right. 
The righteousness of Christ is our identity and our destiny
Because of that good news there is even more good news: It is never too late to be who you might have been.
Your mistakes may define your past, but they don’t have to define your present.  And they certainly don’t have to define your future.   If you are still breathing, it means that God isn’t finished with you yet. 
God is still remodeling and restoring you in his image.
God is still setting the captive free and creating the unique masterpiece that is you.

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