Thought for the Week - 20th JanuaryPastor Gareth Watkins
Psalm 51: 1-15
1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.
5 For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation…
Last week I visited a meeting where a man called David Hamilton was speaking. David used to be a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force. He orchestrated bombings and bank robberies. Then, while serving a sentence in the notorious Maze prison in Ireland, he found God. He is now a pastor, spreading the Gospel and the transforming power of Christ.
This week I want to reflect on two David’s; that of King David, and David Hamilton.
A few weeks ago I wrote about God speaking to John, which we read in Revelation 21: 5
5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”
God is making everything new. I asked whether this was just particular to the time when John was writing or was it for all of us, including us today? I felt as I was reading that scripture, that it was for all of us. God is making everything new for all of us. In a sense, God wants to make everything new for each one of us. For each one of us to have a new beginning. Christ talks about being born again and being made new.
King David needed a new start. All of us need a new beginning. Each one of us have had needed various restarts. We might have started and faulted. In a computer sense we’ve needed a reboot because we’re not correctly wired at that time, and we have to start again. God is a God of multiple new beginnings. We all need a fresh start and new beginnings. Sometimes we need various new beginnings.
One David was a King, the Psalmist. One was a terrorist. Both were sinners. Both were in bondage to sin. Both were unable to help themselves. Both were in their problems, and both needed Jesus Christ to take their sin and give them a new life.
One needed a new life before Jesus Christ had come. Jesus Christ gave King David a new life before He’d come into the world. One man needed new life after Jesus Christ had come. Both needed Jesus Christ as the only answer for their sin.
Christ is central to all of creation. He’s not just the God of those days when He came, lived and died. He’s central to the whole of creation from the time when Adam and Eve were on the earth. Think about Jesus as part of the Godhead that formed the earth. Think about Jesus as the son of God who separately came on His own. Think about Jesus who still atones for man’s sins, even though thousands of years have passed. It’s an incredible picture of what Christ is about.
The same Jesus Christ that atoned for the sins of King David a thousand years before He came, still atones for the sins of David Hamilton two thousand years after He lived.
David was a king. He committed adultery. He was so big in his own self that he couldn’t see his own sin. God had to send a prophet to him to describe to him his own sin. David asks “who are you talking about”. Nathan confirmed he was talking to him – God was showing him his own sin.
In the verses above, we see the state of a man’s heart when he’s found in sin. Have you ever felt that you haven’t any joy in your life, felt guilty of your sin, or felt a rebel in your own skin? The verses above show this is what David felt. This was a direct result of being a sinner against God. He wasn’t a sinner against man, he was a sinner against God. He might have sinned against man, but that wasn’t the point. The point was he had sinned against God, and all these conditions followed on because of what he’d done and had become in himself.
He had become such a hard man. He was known as a man of blood, such that he couldn’t go on to build the temple, he had to get Solomon to do it. He wasn’t a pretty little king that had been put there as a figure head. You wouldn’t want to cross him.
David at this point in his life, knows the consequences of his sin with Bathsheba and the killing of her husband. That was one of David’s great sins. Not that he’d just committed adultery and done things against the laws of God, but that he’d murdered. He was a murderer.
King David, who everyone adores. This man knew that he’d sin against God alone. The effect on him was the fact that he felt unloved, dirty, rebellious, without joy, and that he was a sinner.
How many people around us feel in such away? How many of us have felt in such a way? Today’s answer is a visit to the doctor and a tablet to make us feel better. The real answer to get the joy of life back is not found in the tablet which masks the problem of what’s going on. The real answer is to come to God, and ask Him for forgiveness for sin and for a new life.
In Revelation 21 we read that God is a God of new beginnings. He asks us to come to Him time and time again to ask for forgiveness, for cleansing, and repentance, that new life might come. David the king had to do that. In verse 8 he begs God “give me my joy back again”. Some people are so low in life that they cannot help themselves. The only answer I can see in the whole of life is not with the Doctor or Psychologist, it’s to come to God. God Himself will restore us.
David Hamilton was also a sinner. He was in prison, sentenced for 15 years. He knew he was in darkness. He was trained in prison in weapon and bomb making. When he was in court, even his own mother cried out “David you are a hopeless case”. Time and time again he’d take back up with the paramilitary. Until the day God spoke to him. God told him to become a Christian. He knelt by his bed, and asked God to change his very hard and bitter heart.
The evidence of the outworking of God in what He can do in a man. His testimony was from 39 years ago – that’s when he knelt by his bed. The evidence of the outworking of God’s power to turn a man’s life around is there. He could be a senior man in the UVF, or he could now be a preacher in the UK spreading God’s love. He doesn’t have to be a pastor today. He could be well off in a high ranking position.
Both of these David’s had to come to God on their knees. Both men needed God to turn their hard, bloody hearts around. Both men had created a lot of bloodshed. Both men needed to see the power of God changing them.
What happened to King David all those thousands of years ago, still happened to David Hamilton just 39 years ago, and it’s still happening today with us.
When a man turns in such a way, a change comes into their life. I hope you can see that and testify to that. The change that comes to a person’s life because of Jesus Christ today can be seen in the following verses:
Titus 3: 3-7
3 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.
4 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,
5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.
7 Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.
This is what happens when a person comes to Christ wanting everything restored that king David wrote of. Christ is the only answer. We have been foolish and disobedient. We have been misled and become slaves. But Christ has saved us and washed us clean. He’s given us new birth and new life. What a list of things for men like the two David’s!
King David was crying out for love, joy and peace, and everything to be restored. That was all given back to him, because of Jesus Christ, retrospectively. I find that an incredible thing! God is not part of time. He can look into time. Time doesn’t matter to Him like it matters to us. His power is not limited to the time of King David, Jesus Christ, or now. It’s across all time.
The blood of Jesus Christ can restore a life. He declared us righteous.
Do you think the people who still lived with their problems because of King David thought him to be righteous? If you were related to Bathsheba or her husband, would you think the man who murdered your family to be righteous? The relatives and friends would’ve seen how much of a murdering man he was. They would’ve felt the fear of the man. Yet, if a person comes to Christ, He is able to declare them righteous. It’s not ours to give, its Christ’s to give. Christ has made the heavens and the earth, and He’s big enough to deal with our righteousness.
That right standing needs to be restored to us for us to get the love, joy and salvation that goes on and on. Those men needed a rebirth. We need a rebirth. We need to feel the love of God. The bitterness needs to come out of us. The hardness needs to come out of us. The love, the long suffering, the faithfulness, need to come in instead of it. How can it happen if we have hard hearts and block everybody out? How can it happen if we block all the feelings of God out?
The only way it can happen if we cry out to God. David Hamilton was on his knees asking God for forgiveness. All have sinned and fallen short of the standards of God. If you’ve sinned you need a saviour. You need saving. All sinners who need saving can experience the love and communion with God.
I find it a miracle that God has revealed His love and His kindness to me and you.
God is revealing His love and His kindness. He’s giving people a new start. We’re seeing His mercy. People are being justified. What does justified? It means just as if you haven’t done it. It’s a big thing. You did not do that sin because Christ took it on the cross for you and me. It’s an amazing miracle! That sin is no longer held against you, whatever it is. It’s no longer held against you.
If you were in court, you’d not only be justified but you’d be acquitted! You go free and nothing is to be held against you! In our own natural mind we can’t comprehend this sort of thing. We still want to hold a little bitterness against someone. But we too have sinned. Our slate has been justified and wiped clean. We have been acquitted. And we can be made Heirs, where we go into eternity as sons and daughters of the living God!
We need a rebirth. We need righteousness. We need confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Do you have confidence in eternal life? That this life isn’t all that it’s about, but it’s just for a season of time. We have confidence that we will have eternal life, with God, forever.
Either we live with our sins and hold onto them, and go on like King David unto bitterness and lose our joy, and our salvation. Or we can come unto Jesus and He’ll forgive our sins. He’ll restore us and justify us, and give us confidence that we will inherit this eternal life with God.