The Cost of Discipleship—The Distorted Image and What It Means to Surrender—Part Fourteen

The Cost of Discipleship—The Distorted Image and What It Means to Surrender—Part Fourteen

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The Cost of Discipleship—The Distorted Image and What It Means to Surrender—Part Fourteen

 
 
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Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.

ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples

Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  Matthew 28:19-20

The Story of David

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10

 

Good morning Prayer Team!

Thankfully God cares more about where we finish than where we start in life.  We can go through a deep valley of sin and still come out looking like a saint.  Remember St. Paul, who persecuted the early church?  How about St. Peter, who denied Christ three times?  And then there is King David, who committed adultery and murder, but who then turned his life around.  Today we remember David most often as the person from whose lineage Jesus was born.  We remember him as the author of the Psalms.  We think mostly good thoughts as we remember him.  Today’s reflection is about King David.  Because his story is our story, or at least is has the potential to be.

We may remember that David defeated Goliath, a giant warrior, in his youth.  David became famous for that.  King Saul liked David and David was good friends with Saul’s son Jonathan.  After King Saul and his son, and heir Jonathan were killed in battle, David was anointed as the King.  With a throne came power, and good kings should govern wisely.  David used his position to steal the wife of Uriah and then had Uriah killed. 

In II Samuel 11:2-6, we read:

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and walk walking upon the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.  And David sent and inquired about the woman.  And one said , “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”  So David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her.  (Now she was purifying herself from her uncleanness.)  Then she returned to her house.  And the woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am with child.” 

David’s first sin was adultery.  Continuing on, we read,

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.  In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.”(II Samuel 11:14-15)

David’s second sin was that he arranged for the murder of Uriah.    Afterwards, Bathsheba married David and bore his son.  “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” (11:27)

In I Samuel 12, we read:

And the Lord sent Nathan to David.  He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought.  And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his morsel, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.  Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”  Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”  Nathan said to David “You are the man.”  (II Samuel 12: 1-7)

David acknowledged his sin.  However Nathan told David that the child that would be born from Bathsheba would die.  David now had the weight of his sin, as well as the guilt over a son who died.  He realized how broken he was.  And how only God had the ability to fix him.  David is the author credited with composing most of the Psalms.  Many speak of his lament. 

David wrote Psalm 51:10 in which he offered “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  David knew that his shattered heart could only be repaired by God.  In fact, David didn’t ask for a fixed heart but a clean and renewed heart. 

When we think about it critically, only God can CREATE.  Man can make things.  But only God can create out of nothing.  Man cannot create from nothing.  Only God can do that.  Anything that man makes must first have been created by God.  We cannot create clean hearts.  Others cannot create them for us.  Only God can create a new heart.  We can put a shattered egg back together, but it will still show the cracks.  Only God can create something that is new, restored as it was, with no cracks or flaws. 

This is how God remedies the situation of the broken human heart—God fixes us as only He can.  He doesn’t discard or abandon us.  He fixes us.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundance mercy blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleans me from my sin! For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.  Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and blameless in Your judgment. For behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.  Behold, You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.  Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Let me hear the sounds of joy and feasting, the bones that were afflicted shall rejoice.  Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart,  O God and put a new and right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.  Then I shall teach transgressors Your ways and sinners will return to You.  Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of Your deliverance.  O Lord, You shall open my lips and my mouths shall show forth Your praise.  For You have no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not be pleased.  The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and humbled heart, o God, You will not despise.  Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion, and let the walls of Jerusalem be rebuilt.  Then You will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then they shall offer up bulls on Your altar [and have mercy on me O God].  Psalm 51

David’s story is our story.  His redemption can be ours as well!

 

+Fr. Stavros

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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”