Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Strasburg, Virginia, will always have a special place in my heart. It was as much a part of home as the old house on Capon Street. My grandmother felt the same about her home church, St. Mary’s Pine Lutheran Church near Mount Jackson, Virginia. Possibly, there is a church you call home. There’s just nothing else quite like it.
Churches are linked to the milestones of our lives. Baptisms, funerals, and marriages. Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. Friends and spiritual mentors. And special occasions like Christmas and Easter.
More importantly, church is where we are exposed to God’s word and where we worship. If you were like me when you were a child, you tuned out much of what was being said. However, later in life, you learn you were taking in more than you realized. Things often repeated stayed with you, and best of all, it now makes sense.
Every Sunday morning, as part of our responsive readings, the St. Paul’s Congregation repeated the words in our focus text, albeit from the King James version. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Those beautiful words were firmly implanted within my mind. In time they became the desire of my heart which brings to mind something I talked about in a previous devotional. “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) That doesn’t mean He will give you anything you want. It means the Lord will plant worthy desires within your heart. You will want the right things that honor Him.
A clean heart. A right spirit. It didn’t start out as my desire. Like I said, it was something I heard repeated in church. But it took root. It’s like the seed that Jesus talked about that fell upon fertile ground.
Today as I write this, I am again struck by these words I’ve heard most of my life. A clean heart and a right spirit are what I desire. It’s not that I’ve already attained it. There will be room for improvement until the Lord comes back.
I sincerely hope that purity of heart and rightness of spirit is at the top of your spiritual bucket list. And please note how the verse begins. Without it, we miss the most important ingredient for spiritual growth. “Create in me…” This holiness we seek cannot be attained without God’s help.
Last Spring, I carried my lawnmower to a repair shop for a tune-up. When I picked it up, I asked if there were any problems. The repairman replied, “No problems. It’s as good as new.”
Notice that he said, “…good as new.” That’s not the same as brand new. When we ask God to “create,” we’re not asking for a repair job, our request is for something better. That’s why it can’t be accomplished by human effort. We’re asking for something only God can do. Create.
Our Father is the Creator. When we are born again, we become a new creation. But we continue to sin. Sin should no longer be what drives us, but we still contend with sinful desires. To grow in Christ is to desire that those sinful inclinations are vanquished from our hearts. In their stead, purity of heart and rightness of spirit.
By all means, ask for forgiveness. That should be done every day and whenever you sin. But what we should really want is for God to remove the inclination for sin.
Now, let’s look at our focus text one more time and then offer it to the Lord in prayer.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
For more on this topic, check out this article: A Roadblock Called Unforgiveness
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.