First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

When you've been away too long.

January 11, 2017

    How are the New Year's resolutions going? Ha. Ha. If you are like a majority of folks, those resolutions have been nicely laid to rest in a shallow grave behind the refrigerator.  You know what it felt like when you hit the gym on the 2nd and started lifting only to realize how much you forgot how heavy those weights were. Oops! Man, what was I thinking to come in here and try to pick up where I left off last January.  Fact is, when attempting any resolution, the best approach is to have a plan, start out slowly, and have accountability partners to support and encourage.  Don't set goals so high that failure is the only outcome and don't set goals so low that achieving them seems insignificant. Realistic goals are our best approach. Regular times of connection with sources of strength and provision are best.

    Lately, we have been fighting with a sick computer. Granted the machine is over seven years old and has done a lot of good work. It is now unpredictable, in need of a good anti-virus sweep and an upgrade to the RAM and other components. It just so happens there has been a 4 year old computer at the office simply sitting in the desk drawer. No one has touched it for 18 months. It seems crazy to have a perfectly fine computer lying around when we could be using it.  

    So with permission from church administration, we set about to boot the newer computer and get it ready to be productive.  Have I mentioned how glad I am we no longer have dial-up internet? I'm really happy about that.  So, this afternoon we started the computer here at home and started getting it ready. That work began at 12:30 and as of 10:00 last night, we were still downloading updates...and that with high speed internet. (Yes, the picture says. "Installing 88/120 updates.)

    When your computer has been lying around in a desk drawer for 18 months, a lot of backlogged upgrades and updates don't get loaded. The machine will work but will also have issues with outdated software and vulnerabilities that need patched. The computer will underachieve. Humans are not unlike computers in this capacity. When we have been unplugged from meaningful sources of power and strength, we are weakened too. We need upgraded and updated. It isn't like we can't operate with limited ability, but we'll never reach our full potential without being plugged into a healthy source of strength and receive necessary regular maintenance. 

    King David understood this place of need. He had walked away from God's guidance and decided he knew more than God. He chose to do his own thing and was guilty of laziness, lust, adultery, illicit sex, murder, and collusion to cover the murder. God called him on his sinful weakened state and brought hardship upon David and his newborn child.  Here in Psalm 51, David cried out to God and repented of his sinful wandering. 

    "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. 

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (Psalm 51:1-12, NIV)

    When we have walked away from God and get called on it or if we have a computer lying in a desk drawer that hasn't seen upgrades for a while or if we decided to hit the gym on January 2 after a long hiatus, then we'll really appreciate the beauty of regular times of connection with meaningful sources of strength and provision. Phew! Didn't think that last sentence would ever end....

    Reread Psalm 51 and note all the goodness that David seeks from God's forgiveness. Here is a short list of benefits from God: (Mercy, Love, Compassion, Washing, Truth, Wisdom, Joy, Gladness, Rejoicing, Purity, Renewal, Spirit, Restoration, Joy, Salvation, Sustaining)

    Have you been away from God and His word too long. It's never too late to get plugged into the one true source of strength and provision. It isn't too late to get rebooted and once again be useful and effective.  Update today!

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