Saturday, June 12, 2010

Use The Keys

Second Samuel 11:25-12:14 and Luke 7:36-8:3 are assigned as tomorrow's scriptures... you may choose to read them to gain the most from what is shared here..

In several New Testament verses, Jesus speaks about "binding and loosing" and gives us about "the keys of the kingdom of heaven."  There are two keys. Both are given to every Christian.  In fact, we are given those keys when we first enter God's kingdom.*

Unused keys, however, don't free anyone.  My son Jonathan is just telling me now about how, last night at The Vault, he gave a message of urgency to the Christians there, pushing them to reach those who are still trapped and lost.  The KEYS need to be used.

What are the keys?  The first is Repentance.  God's Word comes to me and lets me know that I am trapped in sin.  The first key is used when I agree with God's Word about sin.  The second is Forgiveness.  The Word of God shows me Jesus, who died to pay my penalty on the cross.  I hear and believe and use the second key.  That sets me free. It separates me from my sin. 

The two keys must be used together, as Pastor Gemechis Buba reminded us on Monday.  One without the other will not work.

It is God's Word that puts the keys in the lock. The Word of God that we'll read tomorrow shows the keys in action.  God's Word comes to King David and he repents, saying "I have sinned against the Lord."  Then the prophet Nathan uses the second key:  "The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die."  Our Gospel reading pictures the gratitude of one who has been set free.

We will also meditate on Psalm 32:
1   Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven,
    and whose sin is put away!

2   Happy are they to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,
    and in whose spirit there is no guile!

3   While I held my tongue, my bones withered away,
    because of my groaning all day long.

4   For your hand was heavy upon me day and night;
    my moisture was dried up as in the heat of summer.

5   Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and did not conceal my guilt.

6   I said," I will confess my transgressions to the LORD."
    Then you forgave me the guilt of my sin.

7   Therefore all the faithful will make their prayers to you in time of trouble;
    when the great waters overflow, they shall not reach them.

8   You are my hiding-place;
    you preserve me from trouble;
    you surround me with shouts of deliverance.

9   "I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go;
    I will guide you with my eye.

10  Do not be like horse or mule, which have no understanding;
    who must be fitted with bit and bridle,
    or else they will not stay near you."

11  Great are the tribulations of the wicked;
    but mercy embraces those who trust in the LORD.

12  Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the LORD;
    shout for joy, all who are true of heart.
Truly God wants to set us free!  Come and hear God's Word.  Use the Keys to repent and receive forgiveness of your own sin, and then let God's Word speak through you to free someone else.  There's nothing better than being set free in the Lord.**


* As an infant, I was baptized.  There are enough hints in the Bible about God's action in Baptism that I, and the historic Christian church, have come to believe that it makes no difference how much water is used or at what age a person is baptized.  When we first enter God's kingdom we are given the keys.  This is true whether we first enter that kingdom in baptism or, when we're older, in coming to faith and trust in Jesus and His Word (with baptism following.

**An excellent commentary on Psalm 32 by Kathryn Schifferdecker of Luther Seminary can be found at this Working Preacher link. In part, Kathryn writes:
...This psalm is a composition designed to teach one how to live well, how to live a happy and blessed life.So, how does one pursue this happy or blessed life? By confessing one's sins to God: "While I kept silence, my body wasted away...Then I acknowledged my sin to you...I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and you forgave the guilt of my sin" (verses 3, 5).Unrepentant, hidden sin causes grief, shame, and guilt. The sinner's body "wastes away," and his strength is "dried up," like a potted plant left too long in the scorching summer sun. There is no life or vigor left in him, and his secret sin eats away at him, mind, body, and spirit. God's hand is "heavy" upon him (verses 3-4).It is an apt description of the effects of guilt on a person......I recall a student of mine describing in class one day her relationship with her friends. She said, "Sometimes I tell friends something that I have done wrong, and they say, 'You are only human,' or 'You meant well,' or "That is an honest mistake,' or something like that. But what I really need them to say is, 'Yeah, you screwed up.' A friend should be honest and tell us what we really need to hear."The writer of Psalm 32 is, in that sense, a true friend. He does not offer platitudes. Instead, for those who truly know the depth of their sin, the psalmist offers a remedy: Confess! Pray! And God, who is faithful, will forgive your sin.That forgiveness is what leads to true joy. The one forgiven finds a "hiding place," a secure stronghold, in God. "You preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance" (verse 7). The forgiven sinner can "be glad in the Lord and rejoice." She can "shout for joy!" (verse 11). The sinner does not have to deceive himself or anyone else (verse 2). When he confesses his sin, God forgives, and he can start life anew. Such new life is what the psalmist calls "happy" or "blessed."For those who do not know or want to follow the "way" they should go, the psalm provides a vivid image: "Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you" (verse 9). There is no place here for stubbornness or ignorance. The discerning person will hear and receive the instruction the Lord gives, and will follow in the way of life...

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