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Feel Far From God Part 2

Feel Far From God? Part 2
Psalm 51

What do you do when you feel separated from God? What do you do when you feel distant from God? What do you do when you can’t sense his presence like you can’t hear his voice? We are looking at Part 2 of that question in today’s devotional. We are going to get some direction from God’s Word on what to do and how to cry out to God when we find ourselves in this place where we’re having trouble sensing his presence or hearing his voice. Grab your Bible, a notebook or journal, and a pen to make notes. I encourage you to pray as we go through this devotion, interact and respond with God.  Make it real in your life, pray through it in your life personally for exactly where you’re at and what you’re going through.

Part 1 was Psalm 42:1-6. Open your Bible to Psalm 51. You may know Psalm 51, it is a famous Psalm. It is the prayer that King David prayed after Nathan the Prophet called him out over his sin with Bathsheba. And so, this is David crying out that God would forgive him for the sin that had separated him from God. And he’s pleading with God to restore him to that place of God’s presence, and to restore him to a right relationship with God.

What has caused you, maybe today, to feel far from God? It’s probably not as serious – it might be, but hopefully not at least the second part – as King David’s sins of adultery and murder. But God always uses extremes to convince us that if God can restore David to himself after these great sins, then he can certainly restore us to himself to us, today.

What I want you to see today, what I want you to feel, is David’s intense desire to be restored to God’s presence, and to again feel the presence of God’s Spirit. And so, if you feel far from God, today, then cry out to him as we go through this devotion. Cry out to God with the same intensity that King David cries out in Psalm 51.

Psalm 51:1 (NLT)
1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.

Not because of anything I’ve done. Not because of anything I can do, but because of your unfailing love, God. Because of your great compassion, Lord. Because of who you are, have mercy on me and blot out the stain of what has caused me to feel separated from you.

Psalm 51:2-3 (NLT)
2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.

If it is sin that has caused you to feel far from God, you have got to recognize it. You’ve got to confess it. You’ve got to own it, and confess it, and ask God to forgive you. And ask him to wash you clean from your guilt, and to purify you from your sin.

And then, you have got to recognize what David recognized in verse 4.

Psalm 51:4 (NLT)
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.

David says, Lord, against you and you alone, God have I sinned. Because sin separates us from God. Because, ultimately, our sin is against God. And so, we’ve got to recognize that it’s our actions, it’s our sin, that’s caused us to feel separated from him, it’s not God. It’s us. And David recognizes that.

And then, in verse 5, we have got to be honest with God. Look at David’s transparency here.

Psalm 51:5-6 (NLT)
5 For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb (from the deepest place of the heart), teaching me wisdom even there.

This is such a big start. We have got to be one hundred present honest from God in the deepest place of our heart. We’ve got to be transparent with God about our entire life. We say, “from the womb to the tomb.” God knows it all already. And so, we have got to be transparently open with him about our lives. And we’ve got to ask God to teach us wisdom in that deepest part of our hearts.

In verses 7 David asks God again to forgive him. And again, to cleanse him from his sin.

Psalm 51:7-8 (NLT)
7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

And then in verse 8, again, he cries out.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice.

You can pray right now, Lord forgive me. Purify me from my sins, Lord, wash away whatever is causing me to feel separated from you. And, Lord, please restore my joy again. Please give me back my joy, again. Lord, I’ve been broken, I’ve been separated from you but now, Lord, forgive me, restore me, and revive my joy in you again.

And again, David prays that God would remove his guilt from his sin.

Psalm 51:9 (NLT)
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.

God will remove the stain of your guilt, and he will free you from the bondage of your guilt, but you have got to come to him in the same spirit that David is coming to him here in Psalm 51. It’s a spirit, a heart condition of brokenness and repentance.

And then, the famous verse 10.

Psalm 51:10 (NLT)
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.

This word “loyal” (often translated a “right” spirit) means renew a “steadfast” or a “resolute” spirit. A spirit of standing strong and not being shaken, and not moving until you get back into the presence of God. Lord, create in me a clean heart and wash away anything that separates me from you, and Lord, renew a loyal, steadfast, resolute spirit in me.
And then, the real key is in verse 11.

Psalm 51:11 (NLT)
11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

Can you say, “Lord, this is the thing I fear the most.”? I fear being separated from your presence; I fear not sensing your Holy Spirit in my life. Can you cry out to God and say, “Lord, don’t let that happen to me.”? And can you say, “Lord, if I feel far from your presence, if I don’t sense your Holy Spirit, then Lord, convict me.”? “Draw me back to yourself, Lord, and use that conviction to drive me into your presence, and to drive me back to being led by your Spirit.”

Psalm 51:12 (NLT)
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

Here’s a question you have to honestly ask yourself today. Have you lost the joy of your salvation? Has that excitement of knowing that Jesus lives in you, and that the Holy Spirit fills your life, and that you have a place assured for you in heaven – has that simple joy of your salvation faded away? Are you just going through the motions with God?

Praying this Psalm from your heart, living it, embracing this Psalm, and especially these verses from 10-12, are crucial to us being restored to God and to God’s presence. And as verse 12 says, it’s not just praying it, but it’s doing it. It’s obedience.

Again, verse 12 says, Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Because when our faith becomes action, then our lives are changed. This is critical. And so, we cannot pray this prayer and just keep doing the same things that have caused us to feel far from God, to begin with. Our actions must change, our brokenness must lead to actual repentance where we turn one hundred and eighty degrees from the actions that caused us to fade away from God.
And then, we have got to let the Holy Spirit point out what is causing us to feel far away so we can change it. So, we’re just open and honest to God, and then he points out what separated us, and then we turn – take action – from that and turn back to God.

And then verse 13 says God will begin to use you again.

Psalm 51:13 (NLT)
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.

Then I’ll be back in your service, Lord. If we want to be used by God, we’ve got to get really good at this prayer, because we’ve got to always be abiding in the presence of God. And when we sense that we’re not, we’ve got to have a plan to return to the full presence of God and the filling of the Holy Spirit.

In verse 14, David again goes back to forgiveness.

Psalm 51:14 (NLT)
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.

Hopefully, you don’t have to ask God to forgive you for shedding blood, but the truth is the same for you and me. We can pray, forgive me, Oh God who saves, then I will joyfully sing of your worship. Notice that forgiveness brings worship. Forgiveness brings joyful singing.

Psalm 51:15 (NLT)
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.

Again, we’ve got to realize how critically important our worship of God is. Our ability to open our mouths and praise the Lord can often be an indicator of how close or how far we feel from God. So, don’t be afraid of applying that test to your own life. And then, pray God would unseal your lips, that your mouth will be able to praise him again.

Oh God, create a clean heart in me, a new heart, and renew a loyal, steadfast, and a right spirit in me. And let it show by unsealing my lips that my new heart and my renewed spirit can come out in my praise and worship of you.
Psalm 51:16 (NLT)
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.

These are the things that, then, were the same as today what we would call “going to church,” where good religious Jews would bring a sacrifice, a burnt offering, they’d go through the motions, and then they’d go back to their lives. We do the same thing today, don’t we? We get to where we’re just going through the motions, we’re not really worshiping God, we’re not really in his presence, we’re just checking off the box. Yeah, we went to church. Instead, we’ve got to make it real.

Verse 17 gives us the secret to making it real. Verse 16 says don’t just go through the motions. Don’t bring a superficial sacrifice to God.

Psalm 51:17 (NLT)
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

This where it starts with brokenness and repentance. A broken and a repentant heart – that’s what God desires, and that’s the heart that God restores. And then, that brokenness and repentance lead to obedience. And then, your obedience leads to praise and worship. True praise and worship, lead you right into God’s presence, and into the filling of the Holy Spirit.

I really want to encourage you to go through Psalm 51 again. Apply these four steps to your own self being restored to God’s presence when you need it. Learn these steps.

1). Come to God in brokenness and repentance
2). Brokenness and repentance leads to obedience
3). Obedience leads to praise and worship
4). Praise and worship lead right into God’s presence and the filling of the Holy Spirit

That’s my desire for you and for myself.

Lord, Jesus, fill us with your Spirit, Lord. Draw us into your presence, God. Reveal to us, Lord, how crucial it is that we sense your presence, that we walk in your Spirit, being led by your Spirit. And Lord, if anything ever separates us from your Spirit, then, Lord, convict us, reveal it to us, and draw us back, Lord. God, I pray that this Psalm would become a routine for each of us, that we would always come to you in this spirit to be restored and revived in your presence. In your mighty name, Jesus, amen.

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