Echoes From the Campfire

There was something about the mountain air that made one want to inhale deeply…it was like fresh, clear, cold water in the throat.”
              –Louis L’Amour (Shalako)

    “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”
              –Acts 3:19 (NKJV)
         Prayer:  “Lord Jesus, when my heart succumbs to sin, like David, I have no song to sing.  Only when I bow to Your will and purpose do my praises ascend.  May I not be so foolish as to starve my spirit in order to satisfy my sinful human cravings.”
                 –George O. Wood

    As I was reading this prayer I had to stop and ponder it some.  I had never thought that when I fulfill my personal sinful cravings and lusts that I am actually starving the real me.  Last week, we ate and ate at Thanksgiving, we weren’t starving to death, but we were fulfilling an appetite.  It seems that when we “eat” of our sinful desires we are doing the same.  But when doing it the spirit man suffers, the righteous man is now hungering.  In fact, Jesus makes the statement, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6, NASB).
    This is a good time to finish Psalm 51, David’s prayer for forgiveness and cleansing.  Keep in mind the words of the apostle John when he wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NASB).  The King James says that God is “faithful and just.”  It takes a righteous God, a just God to not only forgive us, but to also cleanse us.

    13 – Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.
    14 – Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.
    15 – Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.
    16 – You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering.
    17 – The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.  God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.
    18 – In Your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper; build the walls of Jerusalem.
    19 – Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.  

    Only when we have repented and are right with God will our lives be that “living epistle” that men can look at and read.  If we persist in our sin, and do not repent (remember, David had the choice when the prophet came to him) then men will despise us for our hypocrisy.  Once there is repentance then we can properly give praises to God and people will see by the outward expression of our life what has taken place inside.
    I have often wondered, especially now that I am doing some writing, about the idea of verse 14.  There is much in the writings of the prophets concerning the shedding of innocent blood and the judgment that it brings.  But what about the shedding of blood in bringing justice, doing God’s work, so to say?  David was known as a “bloody man” and therefore, God would not allow him to build the temple.  There was a price to pay.
    Much too often, there is jumping and hopping around the church (I dare not say, “altar”)  but has there been repentance first?  David is not against sacrifices, but he realizes that all the sacrifices will not cleanse his heart.  The only thing that will bring cleansing is true repentance–“a broken spirit…a broken and humbled heart.”  The King James and NASB use the term, “contrite heart.”  I have been told that contrite means to be broken down and crushed to powder.  Then, and only then, will God accept our sacrifices.

              “Lord, I confess to you, sadly my sin;
               All I am, I tell to you, All I have been;
               Purge all my sin away, Wash clean my soul this day;
               Lord, make me clean.”
                      –Horatius Bonar

Oh to be clean.  The freshness that comes to our whole being after a refreshing shower or a hot bath when the dirt of the day has been washed away.  The same is true of the spirit, when we come to the Lord and ask for a spiritual shower of His love and mercy.