Friday, November 5, 2010

An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday November 7, 2010

(And HE is faithful to forgive us when we earnestly repent)
(Psalm 66)

When we can see GOD’s hand of protection even in our times of pain, suffering, and troubles, it is sign that we are finally becoming mature Christians. We can then, more clearly understand, the goodness and care that GOD incorporates in HIS judgment, testing, and shaping of our character. Each of us, as individuals, can thereby be moved to heartfelt worship, and we begin honoring GOD more sincerely than we ever have before.
Psalm 66 is one of the great psalms of thanksgiving to the LORD for what HE has done in our carnal lives, as HE helps us get ready for a time when we will share in a future, eternal and glorious life, in HIS OWN presence.
In this psalm, verses 1-12 are written in the first person plural, (i.e. “us”, “our”, & “we”) and in verses 13-20, the psalmist switches to first person singular (i.e. “I”, “me”, & “my”). This literary shift speaks to the fact that we must not only worship GOD in a corporate manner, but we must also worship GOD in our private individual lives as well. This is particularly true for those who are considered to be leaders in the church. Not only must they lead in corporate worship services, but they must also hold themselves accountable in worshiping and adhering to the ways of GOD in their own private lives, and in their household (Joshua 24:15).
A community of faith praises GOD joyfully, and a family of faith, or, an individual of faith, will likewise do the same. And even though GOD has tested us with all kinds of oppressions and burdens, ultimately, whenever we pass those tests, GOD will always bring us to a place of blessings and favor, and it will be because we have accepted HIS shaping for the task that HE needs our bodies, hearts, and minds to perform, here on earth (Psalm 66:10-14).
In Psalm 66:16-20 the psalmist gives us a personal testimony of what GOD did for him. He wrote of how he himself had cried out to GOD in a time of difficulty and GOD did deliver him from his troubles. However the psalmist reminds us that we cannot skip the first step in forming a right relationship with GOD, and that first step is to “repent” for the sin in our heart (sins we have carried out, or, are thinking about carrying out).
In the Greek, the word used for “repent” is “metanoia” (met-an-oy-ah), and in its most basic root biblical sense, it means to “reconsider”, or to “think differently” about. It means “to develop a strong compunction for, or a strong feeling of uneasiness that is brought on by a sense of guilt, or sting of the conscience”. And all these feelings of GODly sorrow must take place in the thinking stages, BEFORE we sin. It is, “a change of mind” in advance of acting out.
As Christians, the HOLY SPIRIT is embodied in us by GOD so that we do not continue to sin. The HOLY SPIRIT helps us to defeat sin while it is still in the thinking stages, and is not intended to be used to rebuke us after we sin, by saying “AHA, I caught you!”. The HOLY SPIRIT is given to us that we may not sin in the first place. JESUS says in Matthew 5:28, for example, that, “Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eyes has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (NLT). And that my friends, is sin in the thinking stages, where JESUS says, it must be addressed.
When we become caught up in our sin, it is impossible for the human mind to distinguish weather we are sorry about the sin itself (repent), or, are we sorry because we got caught (regret). True repent is “a change of mind”, but it is a “change of mind BEFORE we sin, not after”. If we do it after we sin, we didn’t change our mind, we went through with it. GOD wants us to feel remorse about sinful thoughts, which are the prelude to actually acting out our transgressions.
If we wait until after we sin to feel remorse, the feeling that we are left with is not repent, but rather, it is likely, just regret, and we haven’t really addressed the heart issue. It’s like the psalmist proclaims here in Psalm 66, verse 18, “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my LORD would not have listened” (NLT).
When we cry out first to GOD in earnest repent, GOD will always listen to our petitions for help. HE will not ignore our prayers, and, HE will not withdraw HIS unfailing love from us. HE is a GOD WHO will answer the prayers of those who righteously seek HIM (James 5:16), by first, earnestly repenting of the sins of their heart, which are those sins that we are still thinking about committing, or those that may be hidden in our heart and can be brought to our minds later, because of our continuing struggle with our own sin nature.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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