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40 Days of Prayer, Day 25

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Day 25, Wednesday, September 14
Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Your lovingkindness remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O LORD. Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore, He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way. Psalm 25:6-9

The Contrite Heart and Humility
The connection between contrition and humility can be found in several texts of the Bible. We see it here in Psalm 25. The repentant psalmist appealed to the compassion and lovingkindness of God in hopes of God forgiving his sinful past. Then, in the verses that follow, his contrition produced humility, “He leads the humble in justice.” We observe this connection between contrition and humility in James 4. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:8-10 “Mourn and weep…humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord.” Repentance and humility walk hand in hand. This relationship between a contrite heart and humility is prominently on display in Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount opens with these three blessings. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…blessed are those who mourn…blessed are the humble (some translations say gentle or meek, but very similar meaning as humble)…” In the beatitudes, Jesus opened the series of nine “blessings” with a blessing for contrition, “blessed are the poor in spirit…blessed are those who mourn…” The word “Blessed” spoke of God’s abiding joy in the hearts of those who acknowledge their spiritual poverty and who have their hearts broken by their spiritual poverty. The very next blessing provides the character that should be produced when our hearts are broken over our sin. This third blessing in the beatitudes is a blessing over those who are humble. Those with contrite heart are humble before God. Those with contrite heart are also humble before other people. In Psalm 25:8-9 we see this same relationship. “He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way.” The truly repentant have come to terms with the severity of their sin. The process of repentance, of being broken over our sin and seeking the forgiving restoration of God, must produce humility.

The word “humility” is a broad term. It marks the general attitude of the brokenhearted towards God and others. When we are humble there are certain specific attributes that should be evident in our lives and the heart is the primary barometer of this humility. What we think and feel about others matters. For instance, humility produces patience. We should be patient when dealing with the weaknesses of others. Those of contrite heart realize that the grace of God has brought them out from under God’s judgment and into God’s grace. Empowered by the knowledge of God’s grace, those with a contrite heart are able to show grace towards others. If our thoughts about others yield anger or resentment or bitterness, then we have not truly appreciated the profound grace God has provided for us. Remember the parable Jesus told Simon. Simon, a wealth, religious leader, invited Jesus to his home. When Jesus arrived, Simon failed to extend the customary greetings and courtesies to Christ. While they were dining, a woman with a bad reputation came into Simon’s house. She humbled herself at the feet of Jesus and as she wept over His feet, she washed His feet with her hair. Simon responded with the thoughts and attitudes of an unrepentant person. He is harsh in his thoughts about the woman and harsh in his judgments of Jesus. What was Simon’s issue? No contrition for sin. No contrition because he never viewed himself as sinful enough to justify such contrition. Furthering his horrific theology, he spent energy identifying the sin in others and castigating them as unworthy of mercy or forgiveness. Self-righteous thoughts along with condemnation of others collided in Simon’s mind as this woman wept over the feet of Jesus. However, Jesus has a way of confronting us on heart matters. That is just what Jesus did to Simon in this moment. In order to clarify what was truly happening in the heart of Simon and in the heart of this woman, He shared this parable.

And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:40-50

“Your sins have been forgiven.” Jesus’ words must have hung in the room like think smoke on which the self-righteous practically choked. “Who is this person claiming they have the power to forgive?” “Even if he had the power to forgive sins, this woman cannot be forgiven by God or anyone else.” However, the direct implication to Simon was “your sins, though they may be fewer than this woman, are not forgiven.” “Simon, her sins are forgiven but yours remain because you think too highly of yourself and too lowly of others.” If there is no contrition for our sins, then there is no forgiveness from God. However, when contrition has come into a person’s life, there is humility. Humility before God. This woman displayed her humbility in her humble service toward God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Humility toward others. This humility toward others begins with our thoughts toward them. Simon’s lack of humility was reflected in his condemning thoughts toward the woman. Jesus exposed his thoughts for what they were. If we are humble then our thoughts will be dominated with compassion for sinners. This is the issue for our hearts today. Is the attitude of humility toward others the pervasive attitude of our hearts and minds? Has the full weight of the enormous grace of God fallen on us enough to see through gracious eyes the failings of others. Today, may we be able to say with the psalmist, “lead the humble in justice and teach the humble Your ways.”

Prayer Focus
Oh Lord, give me a pure heart and a pure mind. May I see Your grace for what it truly is, amazing. As I live each day in Your grace, produce grace in me for others. Help me to walk in humility. As one forgiven, may my gratitude for Your grace change my attitude toward those around me who also are in need of Your grace. Amen. 

From Bunyan’s The Acceptable Sacrifice
The broken-hearted man is a man that sees himself as spiritually poor. Therefore, as humble and contrite, so poor and contrite are put together in the Word. 'But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit' (Isa 66:1, 2). And here we still pursue our metaphor. A wounded man, a man with broken bones, concludes his condition to be very poor. Ask him how he does, and he answers, 'Truly, neighbors, in a very poor condition!' Also you have the spiritual poverty of such as have their hearts broken, and that have been of contrite spirits, much made mention of in the Word. And they go by two names to distinguish them from others. They are called poor, that is, God's poor; they are also called 'the poor in spirit' (Psa 72:2, 74:19; Matt 5:3). Now, the man that is poor in his own eyes, of him we now discourse, and the broken-hearted is such a one, is sensible of his needs. He knows he cannot help himself, and therefore is forced to be content to live by the charity of others. Thus it is in nature, thus it is in grace. The broken-hearted now knows his needs, and he knew it not till now. As he that has a broken bone, knew no want of a bone-setter till he knew his bone was broken. His broken bone makes him know it; his pain and anguish makes him know it; and thus it is in the spiritual realm. Now he sees to be poor is to want the sense of the favor of God; for his great pain is a sense of wrath. And the voice of joy would heal his broken bones (Psa 51:8).

40 Days of Prayer, Day 24

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Day 24, Tuesday, September 13
To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust…Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation…Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore, He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way. Psalm 25:1-9

The Contrite Heart: A Review
Over the last three weeks we have explored some of the attributes of those with contrite heart. 1. Those with a contrite heart are brokenhearted over their sin. They mourn their brokenness. They are devastated over their violation of God’s character and the ache over their loss of relationship with their Creator. God is a God of relationships. He has created us for the purposes of being in a relationship with Him. Those with a contrite heart feel the weight of losing the very purpose of their existence. Those with a contrite heart grieve the separation and alienation from God that their own sin yields. When a person is truly contrite they see God as infinitely holy but also as infinitely merciful. 2. A contrite person throws themselves on the mercy of God. “Be gracious to me oh God.” In contrition we see the severity of our sin but we also see the grace of God who is waiting to forgive any who will plead with Him and His merciful character. The contrite experience the loving patience of their merciful God. The contrite know that God, all on the work of His divine will, has forgiven and restored. 3. Those with a contrite heart are thankful. Gratitude flows from the hearts that are filled with the merciful forgiveness of God. Thanksgiving and worship fill the heart of the forgiven. We praise Him for He has restored our purpose for being. He has removed His justifiable anger and replaced it with unimaginable grace. 4. The contrite love God’s revelation of His infinite power and beauty through His creation. Having been forgiven and brought into a relationship with God, those with a contrite heart cling to the relationship that God has restored. We love the God of creation, seeing His glory on display in the heavens and in the creative beauty we see all around us every day. God did that for the purpose of allowing us to enjoy the world we inhabit. He also did this for the purpose of continually pointing our hearts and minds back to the One who created all of this beauty. 5. Those with a contrite heart love God’s revelation of His character and His plans through His Word. God reveals His character, plans and holy standards through the Bible. God is a God of relationships and is therefore a God of revelation. The contrite hearted love learning about the God who created them. Those with a contrite heart, having been forgiven and restored, seek to know the forgiving, gracious and merciful God. God’s mercy extends beyond forgiveness. God’s mercy is on display in His willingness to self-disclose. He has no obligation to us to reveal His nature or His plans. He has no requirement to disclose His character to sinners. But in His mercy He forgives and restores and then takes the next amazing next step by allowing us to see Him as He really is. Those with a contrite heart love God and love the Word of God for it opens our hearts and minds to see, know, experience and adore the God of our salvation. That leads us to the next feature of the heart of those who are contrite. 6. The contrite hearted is one that is humble toward God and others. We will spend the next few days exploring this aspect of those who have had their hearts broken by their own sin. When we have been broken by our own sin in light of God’s holiness, humility must flow naturally out of our restored relationship with God. “He teaches the humble His ways,” as David says in this psalm. Today, as with any day of our lives, there is a need for humility. When we see ourselves as broken and forgiven, we feel compassion for others who are also broken. We are humbled before the God who forgave, but we are also humble toward others who also need the restorative work of God. As He has done for us, we long for Him to do for others. When we see sin all around us, in arrogance, we may slide toward judgment and condemnation. But when we remember the mercy of God on our own lives, humility protects us from harboring condemnation and bitterness toward others. Those with a contrite heart are humble.

Prayer Focus
God, give me a Christ like attitude, humble like the King of Kings. You have done so much to reveal Yourself to me. You have done infinitely precious things to restore my broken heart and cover me in Your mercy. Let me meditate on Your grace. Give me humility toward others. Amen.

Matthew Road Family: Please continue to ask God to send workers into the harvest as we head into the second night of AWANA tomorrow night.

From Bunyan’s The Acceptable Sacrifice
The broken-hearted is a sorrowful man; for that he finds his depravity of nature strong in him, to the putting forth itself to oppose and overthrow what his changed mind prompts him to; 'When I would do good, ' Paul says, 'evil is present with me' (Rom 7:21). Evil is present to oppose and to resist, against the desires of my soul. The man that has his bones broken, may have a mind to be occupied in a lawful and honest calling; but he finds, by experience, that his infirmity resists his good endeavors; and at this he shakes his head, makes complaints, and with sorrow of heart he sighs and says, I 'cannot do the thing that I would' (Rom 7:15; Gal 5:17). I am weak, I am feeble; I am not only depraved, but by that depravity deprived of the ability to put good intentions and desires into execution; O says he, I am ready to quit, my sorrow is continually before me! You must know that the broken-hearted loves God, loves his soul, loves good, and hates evil. Now, for such a one to find in himself an opposition and continual contradiction to this holy passion, it must cause sorrow, godly sorrow, as the apostle Paul calls it. For such are made sorrowful after a godly sort. To be sorry for your own sin depraved nature, and that through this depravity you are deprived of ability to do what the Word and your holy mind prompts you to do, is to be sorry of a godly sort of sorrow. For this sorrow works in you in a way which will cause you to repent.

40 Days of Prayer, Day 23

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A special prayer request for today for the church…We need workers for AWANA.  Please pray that the God of the harvest will send workers into the harvest.  We need another five or six individuals who can give us even just 1 hour on Wednesday evenings to help kids memorize the Scripture.  We had 130 kids for the first night of AWANA.  What an incredible responsibility to be entrusted with so many young hearts and minds.  Pray for them as we encourage them on their spiritual journey to know God through faith in Christ and to follow Him.  God bless you on this Monday morning.  In Christ, Daniel

 

Day 23, Monday, September 12

(NLT) “9 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. 10I have tried hard to find you—don’t let me wander from your commands. 11I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12I praise you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. 13I have recited aloud all the regulations you have given us. 14I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. 15I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.  16I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.

Delighting in the Word of God

Often times children weary of the boundaries provided by parents and teachers.  As a young person, rules are often treated as a necessary evil, at best.  This is not just a youthful problem.  A call to obedience causes many of us to recoil.  It seems that the loss of freedom, the loss of the freedom to choice whatever I wish to do and whenever I wish to do it, can create a rebellious heart.  Instead of loving our parents, teachers, police and other authorities in our lives, we treat them and their rules with distain.  The same is true at times of our attitude toward God.  There is no greater authority in our lives than God Himself.  He communicates His authority through the scripture.  For many people, they instinctively reject His authority and hate both the law and Law Giver.  Not so for this psalmist.  He says, “I delight in your decrees.”  Elsewhere in Psalm 119 he says, “O how I love Your law.  It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97) 

A half-hearted submission to the Bible will never get us the purity of life promised in this Psalm.  Reading, studying and even memorizing are good, but not enough to bring corrective changes to our behavior.  We must love God by loving His law.  When we love God and His law our attitudes change and we seek to read, study, memorize and follow what He says in His law.  A love for the Law of God is an expression of our love for God as the Law Giver.  We cannot separate the person of God from His law.  We cannot separate the character of God from His standards communicated in the Bible.  John says it this way in I John 5:2-3, By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”  John provides us a New Testament version of this psalm.  “I delight in your decrees.”  “Oh how I love Your law.” From Psalm 119.  “His commandments are not a burden.”  From I John.  An external observance of the law without the heart engaged is not full obedience.  Obedience transcends the external down to the attitude of the follower of the law. 

Prayer Focus

O How we love Your Word!  You have so graciously granted it to reveal Yourself to us.  You have also granted Your Word to us to protect us from temptations.  Please give me a pure heart.  Help me to submit my heart to You and Your law.  Amen.

From Bunyan’s The Acceptable Sacrifice

The broken-hearted smell what others cannot scent. Alas! sin never smelled so to any man alive as it smells to the broken-hearted. You know wounds will stink: but [there is] no stink like that of sin to the broken-hearted man. His own sins stink, and so does the sins of all the world to him. Sin has the worst of smells; however, some men like it (Psa 38:5). But none are offended with the scent thereof but God and the broken-hearted sinner. 'My wounds stink, and are corrupt, ' he says, both in God's nostrils and mine own. But, alas! who smells the stink of sin? None of the carnal world; they, like carrion-crows, seek it, love it, and eat it as the child eats bread. 'They eat up the sin of my people, ' God says, 'and they set their heart on their iniquity' (Hosea 4:8). This, I say, they do, because they do not smell the nauseous scent of sin. You know, that what is nauseous to the smell cannot be palatable to the taste. The broken-hearted man doth find that sin is nauseous, and therefore cries out it stinks. They also think at times the smell of fire, of fire and brimstone, is upon them, they are so sensible of the wages due to sin.

 

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