This is a heavily modified sermon that was originally titled: What God Wants You To Say When You Talk To Yourself by Everett McCoy . I modified it for use in this Sunday’s service.
Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalms 103:1-5 (NKJV)
David is speaking to his own soul. Notice the wording – He is talking to everything that is IN HIM “O my Soul”. And he begins to speak to his inner being in the second person form. David is talking to himself. Today I want to talk to you about what I think God wants you to say when you talk to yourself!
I’m reminded of a time when David had made a big mistake. The story is found in 1st Samuel. He had led his men into battle, and left the women and children behind defenseless. When they returned, they found that their homes had been destroyed and their families carried away captive. They all wept at the tragedy. The men began to point their fingers at David…
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. 1 Sam 30:6 (KJV)
There is not a one of us that has not made some grave mistakes in our lives. We have regrets. Regrets are natural. When you think of it – regret is a very good thing. What if you did not feel regret?
It’s sort of like pain. We tend to look at pain as a negative thing. But really, it’s not. Pain is our friend. Why, you say? It is pain that tells you that something is wrong. It is pain that gets your attention, and drives you to change.
In 1999 Dr Paul Brand and Philip Yancey co-wrote a book called Pain: the Gift Nobody Wants. Dr Brand was born in India to missionary parents, and has spent most of his life caring for people with leprosy.
One of Dr Brand’s greatest discoveries was that people with leprosy do not have “bad flesh” that just rots away. Actually, their flesh is as healthy as yours, or mine. The problem is that blood flow is restricted to certain parts of their body, and their nerve endings die. With this death of their nerve endings comes the inability to sense danger to their bodies. Lepers live pain free.
Don’t you wish you could live pain free? Not when you realize that this absence of pain is the greatest enemy of the leper. Again and again they harm their bodies, without even knowing it. They feel no pain. The harm inflicted on their bodies is what finally leads to their death.
Dr Brand knew that lepers often went blind. Why? Because they didn’t blink. They didn’t blink because they didn’t feel the pain that we feel when our eyes dry out. Dr Brand solved this problem by surgically attaching the chewing muscle to their eyelid – and then teaching them to chew gum.
Dr Brand was puzzled by the fact that lepers often lost fingers and toes overnight. He knew that they weren’t simply disappearing into thin air, so he commissioned workers to observe the lepers sleeping. To the surprise of the workers, they found that rats would come in and nibble the exposed fingers and toes. The lepers, who did not feel pain, never awoke to brush away the rats.
I’m reminded of many patient whom I’ve cared for over the years with severe diabetes. You may wonder why people with bad diabetes often have to have amputations. It is a similar story to the lepers. Consistently elevated blood sugars damage the nerve endings in the feet and toes. They can no longer feel pain when they injure their feet. Those injuries can get infected and can look very bad without the person even noticing because they don’t feel the pain that usually results from a bad infected wound. If the infection reaches the bone, an amputation is almost always needed.
And so – as the title of the book says, “Pain is the gift that nobody wants”. And so is regret. You know what we call someone that has no regrets? We call them psychopaths! Without remorse, nothing leads them to change.
God gave us the ability to feel pain – but he had no intention of us living in it. God gave us the ability to feel remorse, or regret – but he has no intention of us living in it! Regret is the gift to our soul, just as pain is the gift to our flesh. But it is designed to serve a temporary purpose! God does not intend for us to wallow in it. He does not want us to feel it any longer than necessary to deal with the cause…
When we wallow in regret – it becomes shame. One of my major regrets, it occurs nearly daily, is not spending enough time with my daughter. I wish I could say that I’m too busy with something important like work or studying. Although that takes up a lot of time, I usually have ample time for the internet and TV, where I waste a lot of time that could be spent with my daughter. At the end of the day, I realize how much time was spent on wasteful activates and how little was spent playing with my daughter. Sometimes this regret is used as God intended it to be, as an agent of change. I realize my mistake and correct it the next day. Other times I wallow in the regret and feel ashamed. I get down, depressed, and nothing changes. When we wallow in regret – it becomes shame. And this is exactly what the Lord wants to deliver us from.
In 1 Sam 30, David had reason to feel regret. He blamed himself for what had happened. What was worse – everyone else started blaming him for what had happened as well.
You know – sometimes friends and family can be complicit in our shame. They are closest to you, and know the story. Often family and friends are less forgiving, even. That may be natural, because it is family and friends that feel the pain of the sin in your life. But unfortunately, we tend to speak words of condemnation instead of words of encouragement.
Jesus did not come to condemn.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17 (NKJV)
I am not encouraging a blind acceptance of sin. Jesus spoke more harshly against sin than anyone. But he did not condemn. Condemnation focuses on how bad the person is, as opposed to how bad the sin is. Condemnation causes a healthy regret to turn into an unhealthy shame.
Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame. Romans 10:11 (NKJV)
Jesus did not come to give us a message of shame, but a far different message. He says, “I know what I placed in you. I see the potential in your life. And I want to deal with this sin, so you can become who I planned for you to be!”
Oh – how we need to learn to talk like Jesus!
Fortunately – David found the solution for his regret. Even when nobody else was encouraging him – as a matter of fact they were talking about stoning him… He began to encourage himself in the Lord.
David found himself a quiet corner of a burned-out building and began to talk to himself. Now – I’m not sure what he said that terrible day in Ziklag. But I can imagine it was something like he wrote in Psalms 103…
“Oh, soul… Bless the Lord… Don’t forget all of his benefits… He forgives you… He heals you… He loves you, and he gives you a fresh start…”
What God wants you to tell your soul…
GOD’S RECIPE FOR YOUR REGRETS
FORGIVENESS – Who forgives all your iniquities (v 3)
I must note that he forgives iniquities – not just mistakes. Iniquity is rebellion… It is wickedness with intent. Dictionary: gross injustice or wickedness.
We have a tendency to put levels on sin. There is indeed a social stigma associated with some sin that makes it difficult for us to forgive. But it is not difficult for God! The truth is – we are all sinners. Not just good people that make unintentional mistakes.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:10-12 (NKJV)
HEALING – Who heals all your diseases (v 3)
God can heal our bodies – but remember in this passage David is speaking to his soul. This is the healing that God is most interested in; to heal the diseases of the soul.
Bitterness – envy – pride –anger -hate… These things are like cancers. They are rooted in sin, but once started begin to eat away at the fiber of our souls, and give birth to greater sin… Sin becomes self-perpetuating in our life. But the Lord promises not only to forgive you, but to stop, and even reverse, the damage that sin has caused in your soul.
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chron 7:14 (NKJV)
REDEMPTION – Who redeems your life from destruction (v 4)
In healing us – he stops the course of death in our life.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NKJV)
AFFIRMATION – Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies (v 4)
Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. Psalms 116:7 (NKJV)
Example is the prodigal son, in Luke 15. He was not just accepted back – he was given a robe and a ring.
BLESSING – Who satisfies your mouth with good things (v 5)
Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:4 (NKJV)
RENEWAL – So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (v 5)
What we have been talking about so far is the Benefit of a Fresh Start. We have shown how God has a recipe for your regret. There are some things that he wants you to say to your soul. And it is summed up with – I can regain the innocence of my youth! I can have a fresh start!
This weekend our family watched a comedy about two detectives who didn’t really like each other. One really annoyed the other. When it was time for them to work together on a very serious case the one turned to the other and said “let’s have a fresh start”. They agreed that they would have a fresh start, they would forgive each other for all that had happened up to that point and start over. This being a comedy, moments later one character said the wrong thing, annoying the other and they looked at each other blankly. Finally they each said “OK, another fresh start”. They had many fresh starts over the course of the movie, and the great news is that God offers infinite fresh starts. Each day when we wake we are given a fresh start. Not only can we have a fresh start each day, we don’t even have to wait for tomorrow to start anew, at any point in the day, our God is ready and waiting for us to come to Him and ask for a fresh start.
I’m reminded of an encouragement card entitled The Essence of a New Day:
“This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something you have left behind…let it be something good.”