Psalm 98. Praying to enjoy God.
Sitting this morning, reflecting on Sunday night and our encouraging evangelism seminar last Thursday night has led me to ponder some post preaching application thoughts.
Last night we prayed for one missionary family and last Thursday we thought about our personal witness. Psalm 98 took us on a journey, to glorifying God and enjoying God forever.
On reflection, this journey to enjoying God could include: singing in prayer [ Psalm 98:1]; being more proactive in praying for the nations [ Revelation 21:24,26] our missionaries are working in and appreciating more, that speaking to others about Jesus could be an encouragement to the soul. [John 4:34]
A quick recap and some new thoughts for you to apply the word.
- Psalm 98:1-3 Praying to enjoy God...
... can include, singing. (v1)
... should include, acknowledging who God is and what he has done and is doing. (v2-3)
He is righteous.
He is working out his salvation, through Jesus our perfect sacrifice for sin and through the perfect Holy spirit who glorifies Jesus [John 16:14] and brings about Christ centred transformation to the soul. [2 Corinthians 3:18]
Application. Take time to pray for your own soul and speak or sing to your own soul, using v1-3
- Psalm98:4-6 Praying to enjoy God...
... can include, praying for and summoning the nations.
... should include, acknowledging that God is the ruling King. (v6)
Application. Take time to pray for and summon the nations using v4-6. Spend some time considering how you are personally involved in summoning the nations as you pray for our missionaries.
- Psalm 98:7-9 Praying to enjoy God...
... can include praying for and summoning every person in the world. (v7)
... should include, acknowledging that God is the word speaking Judge. (v9; Heb.4:12-13)
Application. Take time to consider how you can pray for and summon every person in the world beginning by thinking about your own personal witness as Christmas approaches again this year.
Jesus comes into the world. Luke 2:1-52
1. Simeon held Jesus v28 - " a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” v32
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.
2. Shepherds saw Jesus v15,17,20 - " a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”v32
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah,the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
3. We can contemplate and reflect Jesus. 2Corinthians 3:17,18; 4:6 - " a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”v32
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit,and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Footnotes:2 Corinthians 3:18 Or reflect
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” (Gen1:3) made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
4. Ask God to help you to contemplate and to reflect Jesus - " a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”, today!
Musing from London
What a blessing and privilege to be able to attend the thirty-third Evangelical Ministry Assembly at the Barbican Centre in London.
The theme this year is – “Leaders Who Last”.
Wayne, David, Karen, Malcolm, Liz and I have sat under the challenging and transforming ministry of the Word.
Here are some highlights from the first session of each of the three days.
1. Persevering with the Disobedient. Exodus 34v1-9.
- The Persevering God.
- 34v9 Moses prays, "Take us - have us". We need to pray this because we are full of sin. We can pray this because God is full of mercy and grace. God perseveres with sinners, he perseveres with you!
- Take time to pray. Admit your need of his mercy and grace and ask him to take you and have you!
2. Persevering with the Desperate. 1 Kings 19 v9-15
- The Perseverance of God.
- We are more desperate than we realise. He is more committed than we realise...
- Take time to pray. Give thanks that God is more committed to you than you realise.
3. Persevering with the Dull. Mark 6v45-53
- The Perseverance of Jesus.
- Jesus is patient...with unbelievers, cities, disciples...we need to be patient with others.
- Take time to pray. Giving thanks for the persevering work of Jesus for you.
Another huge encouragement of our three days here was the fellowship opportunity with some Carrubbers folks who now live and work in the South East. Eighteen of us met on Tuesday night for food, bible discussion and application to life. We shared, talked and prayed for one another.
- Take time to pray for those you know have moved from Edinburgh to another city for various reasons.
"The LORD of hosts, he is the king of glory" declares the Psalmist. He commands the armies of heaven. The whole created world is His rightful kingdom: "The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein". Everything you can see, touch, smell belongs to Him. Even you, yourself belong to Him! A Dutch Prime Minister and Christian, Abraham Kuyper, once said "There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!" The danger for each one of us is that we unthinkingly and so easily drift into living in God's world as we were kings and queens of our own lives. We live in our own little kingdoms, competing with others' kingdoms, pursuing our own agendas. In our families, we get frustrated when others' get in our way and frustrate our plans. In our cars, we get impatient at the traffic flow that is delaying our journey. In our workplaces, we can get competitive when others are stealing our glory. But in one sense, life becomes so much less aggravating when we simply acknowledge that God is our king, and find our place seeking first His kingdom and righteousness, and all the other things we need will be added to us, because the king of glory is the king of generosity, who lacks no supply to meet all demand.
- For the teenagers and students continuing with their studies and exams at present to keep trusting in the Lord and seeking first His kingdom. Pray for the Exodus outreach event on Saturday afternoon as a break from exams and as an opportunity to engage with their friends.
- For the work of City Tots ministering to young families in the city centre community on Wednesday mornings.
- For the different SU groups meeting around the city in schools, helping children to find out more and develop in their own understanding about Jesus.
2 Samuel 1:1-27. The King Has Fallen
Do you know a faithful forgiving friend? Someone on whom you can count. Someone who will forgive you for the same sin, over and over again. Someone who is self - sacrificing in your service?
- Faithfulness – David expressed God’s own heart as he was faithful in his attitude to his sworn enemy. Even after his enemy died!
11 Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan…2 Sam 1:11
- Forgiveness – David expressed God’s own heart as he evidenced a will to forgive his enemy, again and again!
17 David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, 18 and he ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow… 2 Sam 1:17-18
- Friendship – David and Jonathan both expressed God’s own heart as they extended self-sacrificial service to a dear friend. Nothing weird going on here, just a high view, a heavenly view of friendship, in contrast with the very shallow view of friendship our culture offers!
How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.
27 ‘How the mighty have fallen!
The weapons of war have perished!’…2 Sam1:25-27
Will you be a faithful forgiving friend? Someone on whom others can always count. Someone who will always forgive another for the same sin, over and over again. Someone who is self-sacrificial in their service for the sake of another.
A friend of mine was at a motivational seminar two years ago. Among all the buzz-phrases and feel good slogans, the speaker asked: “What’s the soundtrack of your life?” When you get up in the morning what do you start saying to yourself? Throughout the day what messages are you preaching to yourself? Paul David Tripp has helped me realise: "The most influential person in your life, is you! Because you talk to yourself all the time". Psalm 23 is a prayer of trust that can change how we look at life and deal with its ups and downs. It's a psalm for all occasions and it's no wonder it's the most well known portion of the Bible today. The question is are we reminding ourselves: “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want … and surely his goodness and mercy follows me all the days of my life” ... or have we started to preach to ourselves the Anti-Psalm-23: “I’m all on my own, I'm in constant need … and surely frustration and disappointment will follow me until the day I die”
There’s a massive difference between those two ways of looking at life! David Powlison is a Christian counsellor, who says he encounters many people whose lives play the Anti-Psalm-23 as the soundtrack to their days. For some of us, this is what we think to ourselves: “I’m in continual need, frustration, emptiness, disappointment… I’m overwhelmed and thirsty in a dry desert place…My soul feels broken and I cannot fix myself… I stumble down dark paths… I’m haunted by the wrong things I’ve done and mistakes I’ve made… I don’t know where to turn… my cup is never quite full enough …I fear death and nothingness”. if you recognise any of this jingle going round your mind today, stop and remember:
"The Lord Jesus is my shepherd; I will have all that I need.Jesus lets me rest in green meadows; Jesus leads me beside peaceful streams. Jesus renews my strength. Jesus guides me along right paths, bringing honour to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you, Jesus, are close beside me. Jesus your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Jesus prepares a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. Jesus honours me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with His blessings. Surely Jesus’ goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord Jesus forever."
- For Lorna Nunn as she meets with the local primary school head-teacher to explore starting an SU group in the school. And remember the work happening in the Royal Mile, Buckstone and Nether-Currie SU groups this week.
- For around the corner missionaries: Adrian and Heather Holdsworth as they head off on sabbatical from the Faith Mission Bible College; Andris and Anouska Meszaros as they continue work on their house, in local schools, and prepare for a new arrival in the family imminently.
- For your Home Group missionaries as they work to spread the gospel around the world.
Ecclesiastes 1:12-18; 2:1-11. The Futility of Life Explored
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind…1:12-14…
2v10-11...I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labour, and this was the reward for all my toil. 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
Here are three thoughts from the preaching on Sunday.
Your Mind will never find true enlightenment no matter how much you try! 1:12-14.
13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. [1:13]
Your Heart will never find true satisfaction no matter how much you try! 2v10-11.
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. [2v10]
Your Soul will never find true rest no matter how much you try!
35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Mark 8v35-36
Here are my conclusions after musing on the preaching from Sunday.
Your Mind can find true enlightenment in God alone. Your Heart can find true satisfaction in God alone. Your Soul can find true rest in God alone. At that time Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11v28.
Therefore don’t waste your life! Love God and others with all mind, heart, soul and strength! 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark12v30-31
Ecclesiastes 1:1-3. The Futility of Life Declared.
The words of the Teacher,son of David, king in Jerusalem:
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
What do people gain from all their labours at which they toil under the sun?
Life is meaningless, “under the sun” (v2). The Bible makes it clear that most of us will still attempt to prove that life “under the sun” is not meaningless! We need to pray for one another that we will have wisdom enough to look “over the sun”!
When we look “over the sun”, we will discover…
- That God opens his hands and satisfies the desires of every living thing! Psalm 145:16. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
- That God fills us with joy and eternal pleasures! Psalm 16:11. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
When we look “over the sun” we discover with God in the picture, life is full of meaning!
“Meaningful! Meaningful!”… “Infinitely meaningful!
Everything is meaningful”, with God in the picture!!
Luke 24. An implication of the resurrection. Jesus is Alive!!
He is risen (v5, 6) , ascended (v51) , exalted and by his Spirit (v49; Acts 2) he is living among us and is in us, if we have received him. (John1v13; 14v15-18)
Let's pray for those we meet today and those with whom we will have conversations about this implication – Jesus is alive.
He is alive - so what? The Living Saviour is looking down on the world, he is Lord and he has it all covered.
He is alive – so what? Those who trust him really can have sins forgiven. We can be reconciled to God, we can have peace with God - lives can be changed because sin causes so many problems!
He is alive – so what? Death has been defeated and eternal life is guaranteed. So let's say with Job my redeemer lives...Job19.25-27. Let’s rejoice that we will be raised up on the last day. Jn6.40
“In Conversation With Pauline Scott”
(note from Editor – this was an interview compiled for the w2w blog while Pauline was home last year as we prepare to meet tonight to hear about her work, … do read, and pray for our dear sister in Christ, serving overseas in Liberia!!)
Andrea Morris writes…
Our homegroup have had the real encouragement of having Pauline join us in recent months. She (was) home from missionary service in Liberia, West Africa during the Ebola outbreak there. I thought the women of CCC may enjoy hearing her story so far:-
Background and Upbringing
Pauline was born into a Christian home where the whole family was involved in church life. When Pauline was seven, she went to the church’s annual camp where they showed a film about the life of Jesus. This really spoke to her and afterwards she talked and prayed with a teacher at camp and said the children's prayer "Come in to my heart Lord Jesus"
Being saved at a young age meant Pauline still had to navigate the teenage years! She describes this as a time of spiritual ups and downs, yet looking back, describes it as always knowing Jesus was there, keeping her 'on track' more than she ever knew...
Pauline was influenced by various Christian women in her life. Her mum was always someone she could talk with, and friends' mothers at church were an influence in their example and life too. She was particularly aware of two women missionaries from her fellowship and what they shared of their lives and work for God.
Pauline left school and began work in the Scottish Government. She bought her own flat...a new era of independence!
Sometime after, the OM ship - the Doulos - came to Edinburgh and first caught her heart and interest. Pauline visited the ship several times during its stay in Edinburgh, chatting to some of the women volunteering on the ship. This resulted in heading to Denmark in 2004 to help with the extensive refurbishment programme. It was then that Pauline caught a glimpse of the vision of the ship and felt challenged to look into a longer term trip with the Logos Hope, eventually joining in 2007.
Two books which influenced her at this time were:-
"The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren and "If you want to Walk on Water You've got to get out of the Boat" by John Ortberg.
Time on the Logos Hope
Pauline's time on board the ship involved her living alongside 51 nationalities! She found fellowship with all these different believers in Christ a real blessing and encouragement in numerous ways. She also enjoyed the challenge of the variety of ministry opportunities on and off the ship as they travelled the world. Particularly enjoying the interaction in the book shop, personal training, devotion times and women's meetings.
Of course it was not all plain sailing (just had to say that..!). The atmosphere on the ship could be intense....living in close quarters e.g. eating together, working in the on-board office, on-board church, recreation and generally no personal space as sharing small cabins.
She sums it all up by saying it was a time of learning a lot about herself as a Christian woman.
Call to Liberia
In April 2010 Pauline was sent on a team from the ship to Liberia and was struck deeply by the humanitarian needs of the country. She distinctly remembers walking through the slum area of West Point in the capital Monrovia, asking "Is this it Lord?" Pauline went home to Scotland with a view to return.....She returned to Liberia to begin missions work in April 2011.
(Editors note: Pauline works voluntarily for CAFMACP (Christian Alliance for Missions and Church Planting). The team consist of various African pastors, a young American couple and Pauline who handles much of the admin, project management and logistics. They have a site they are developing out in the bush where they hope to build a retreat/development centre. Pauline loves nothing more than helping out with the practical jobs that need done in developing this land, and playing with the many children who will hopefully benefit from the centre once it has finished.)
A Typical Day
On asking Pauline what a typical day for her looks like I realised quite quickly that there isn't one!
Most Mondays she is involved with meetings with Pastor David and the Team members of CAFMACP. The following days she picks up all the administration from the meeting...not as easy as we might think here in the U.K. as life is not smooth when it comes to electricity and Internet connection!! Pauline often organises work teams and trips to the project site... some two hours outside of Monrovia. She says she just has to adapt to "Liberian Time" when it comes to deadlines and admin! Other days she visits Eleanor who runs an orphanage.
Sometimes on a Saturday, Pauline is involved with CAFMACP conferences, women's meetings and prayer days. Sunday morning is church and then some well-earned rest after that.
Pauline and I then discussed the variety of cultural transitions she has been through in the last few years of her life.
From home to ship was a culture shift but at heart she feels there was a certain familiarity with OM being a western organisation and English speaking.
Pauline found the transition from ship to Liberia more permanent and a much bigger change. This time of change required care and careful observation of the culture around her. She also has become aware of how she is viewed as a westerner in Liberia, finding it has led to certain opportunities and allowances because of the differences. She finds a general openness and respectfulness of Christianity in Liberia.
Pauline considers it an ongoing learning process being out of her "culture zone" and is continuing to learn more about the women in Liberia, praying her friendships grow and strengthen in her witness to different women she meets.
Home last year
Pauline had to come home when the Ebola crisis hit Africa. Understandably this was a time of mixed feelings. Happy to be home with family and church family but away from Christian family in Liberia at a very difficult time for them. She was able to raise much needed funds and awareness during the time.
(you can listen to her interview at the Ebola fundraiser event here) or go to carrubbers recodings and search "ebola"
What advice would you pass on...?
Pauline’s would recommend trying short-term missions as this is valuable to inform and guide as to whether or not the Lord is leading you to longer term mission. She found that preparing for missions and ‘hearing’ about missions can be quite different from what one might imagine of the actual experience, which can be challenging.
She also greatly appreciated wise pastoral advice from people in her life, including Wayne and Sarah, recollecting a conversation with Wayne about knowing when a calling is ‘our own desire to do something’ or God’s desire, also appreciating the importance of the accountability of prayer, questions and support. Reading stories of missionaries also inspired her to look at her own heart. Pauline read "Kisses from Katie: A story of relentless Love and Redemption" by Katie Davis.
How can we Support Pauline?
Pauline appreciated touches of home when abroad, e.g. emails, CCC news, whatsapp messages etc. She has also really appreciated the support of the Missions Committee and her home group.
(editors note: perhaps if you don’t support one of our missionaries regularly in pray or financially you might pray about linking up with one of them… you can sign up for newsletters here)
A big thank you to Pauline for sharing her time and for the heart she put in to answering all the questions. Thank you for sharing your journey so far with the women of CCC!
I will leave you with one of her favourite scriptures:
"I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip-He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you-the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm-He will watch over your life;
The Lord will watch over your coming and going
Both now and for evermore."
Viewing your life and your sin in the light of the cross and the resurrection.
Isaiah chapter 52:13-53:12. The Suffering and Glory of the Servant
- Jesus is risen, raised, lifted high and highly exalted.
See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Isaiah 52:13
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:1-8.
- Jesus dealt with our iniquity (knowing what is right but choosing not to do it!)
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
- Give thanks that Jesus has been raised, is lifted high and is highly exalted.
- Give thanks that his death has made it possible to have a restored relationship with the living God.
Now ponder and give thanks for the fact that, Jesus in all his resurrection power is ready to help you today, when you know what the right thing to do is but are at the point of choosing not to do it! The Lord has laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all… Jesus is raised, lifted high and highly exalted!
Job Chapters 38-41. The Sovereignty of God.
Is God enough?
Job 38:1-4; 12-13 – God is God!
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
“Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
Job 40:1-5 – God is God and I am not!
The Lord said to Job:
2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!”
3 Then Job answered the Lord:
4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.”
Is God enough? The book of Job say, yes. God is enough, Job recognises that God is God, and he recognises that he is not God (Job 40:4),, “I am unworthy…”.
What a great place to finish the book of Job in awe of God and in repentance towards God
- Ask God to teach you his truth about himself that will leave you in awe of Him.
- Live today, tomorrow and the next day repenting and turning from yourself to the one who is enough.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
Job Chapters 4-27
From Job chapters 4-27 we learn:
- How devastating our lack of understanding can be when we apply it categorically to the problem of suffering in the world!
- How desperately we need somebody to do something about the brokenness that causes our suffering!
- That our Redeemer lives!
- That no matter how tough life might get on this side of heaven... BECAUSE we have a redeemer-mediator who lives... though He slay us, yet we can hope in Him!
As I have mused these points this week and especially point one, I started by reading the words of Eliphaz to Job.“If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking?” Job 4:2
I recall someone giving me this advice, about how and when to speak to the Jobs of this world. “Be slow to speak to people and quick to listen but quick to speak to God about people before speaking to them about God.”
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20
As far as points two, three and four are concerned, I just can’t get away from the nuggets of truths contained in some of the words Job himself speaks.
Can I suggest these words could form the basis for your need for an accurate (at least foundational) biblical theology: about God, mankind and sin, Christ, the Gospel and the inner transforming work of the Word and Spirit, which results in our justification, our sanctification and one day our glorification. Until then what about reciting these truths for living through the toughest of times.
I know that my redeemer lives!Job 19v25. I will see God! Job 19v26. How my heart yearns within me! Job 19v27. I will yet [hope in] praise him! Job 13v15
The Companionship of Brokenness. Job 2:1-13
"When Job’s three friends…heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathise with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognise him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was" Job2:11-13
When was the last time you sat with someone in need? This week, in fact every week, why not find someone in your world who is hurting and help them? Venture out of your comfort zone, move towards someone and into their world [v11]. Anybody can do this! If you are going to do this, because not everyone will, it is going to cost you! It will cost you in your time and in your tears. It will be inconvenient and it will be emotionally draining [v12-13]. Jesus did it, condescending by coming into your world [Philippians 2:5-7]. Jesus does it by the companionship of His Spirit indwelling you now. [John14:16].
Give thanks, for Jesus, who came into your world!
…although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8.
Give thanks, because Jesus offers you the companionship of His Spirit now!
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever… John14:16
Pray, Lord by your help, may I be a help to someone in need.
The second key for the blessed life is to trust in God's king. This might seem a bit distant because politically we're a democracy with a very limited constitutional monarch - however we're meant to understand this messianically. Psalm 2 describes God's people living in an unstable and dangerous world - long before ISIS, economic turmoil, and refugee crises. This world's many conflicts ultimately stem back to this conflict: "the kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his Anointed (messiah)". But God's kingdom will come and His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven - God's messianic king will do this: "I will tell of the decree: the LORD said to me: You are my son...ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage". He will crush all rebelluon and opposition. That's bad news for sinners like you and me - we're part of those rebellious nations and have stubborn hearts. But here's a promise of hope for us: "Blessed are all who take refuge in Him". Jesus can be both our king and refuge because He first was crushed for our rebellion.The gospel is a message about the refuge we can find in Him!
- Pray for the speakers at the 40 lunch and 10 evening events happening during student missions week. Already hundreds have come as guests!
- Pray for the work of SU groups in local schools.
- Pray for those who came to the Buckstone Revive event, that they would be keen to come regularly and bring others from the community.
"He is like a tree [trans]planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers" (Psalm 1:3).
Praise God Today: "Majesty, Lord of All"
Psalm 1 is all about delighting in the Bible. We don't always feel like reading it - just as we don't always feel like eating healthily - but still we need it nonetheless because it's essential for our healthy growth. Because God’s intended means to nourish, grow and exercise our faith is His Spirit inspired Word. Let’s develop the Psalm's picture of the tree for us as Christians: In the past we were out dying in the desert separated from the God of life by our sin, but now through faith in the gospel we have been "transplanted" into Christ, indwelt by the nourishing "living water" of the Holy Spirit. We need to have our roots in place absorb the nutrients on offer, if we’re to grow up and bear fruit. Those vital roots are reading God’s Word, responding to what He has said by praying to God our heavenly Father, and meeting with God’s people for mutual encouragement. When we are doing these things in faith they become channels for God’s grace to be working in us by the Holy Spirit. He will then increasingly help us to grow in spiritual health and stability. And He will produce through us the fruit of a changed life and a changed world through us. If we wanted to get better at our sport…our instrument… our job…we put in time and effort and discipline to develop and grow. How much more is that principle true for our spiritual development: it will require us to invest time and effort into meditating on the Word of God, so He can use it to make us grow and bear fruit for Him.
- For the someone else in your Home Group who you know is struggling just now.
- For the Iski community in PNG (nextdoor to the Inapang) where two seekers were murdered before hearing the teaching and for the resulting crisis. Pray for peace and for the safety of the NTM missionaries.
- For the students preparing for the start of the CU Mission Week ("Satisfied?") on Monday to have boldness as they invite friends to events.
- In light of Holocaust Memorial Day, pray for the many refugees fleeing persecution and genocide in increasingly volatile parts of the world; and for wisdom for governments deciding how to deal with it in compassionate and just ways.
Here are the three points from the message this week.
- We don't have to have all the answers to be blessed.
- We do need to know that our suffering is not in vain.
- We do need to consider praying in a different way.
Here are three questions to consider, one for each point.
- Why do we want to know everything?
- Why is is good to know that our suffering is not in vain?
- What difference could it make to life today if we change the way we pray?
(Consider praying deliver me through rather than deliver me from)
This year as a church we are revisiting our praying priority, so after a long break and many requests it's time for the PrayingTogether blog to resume regularly. This year we'll work through the Psalms as fuel for our spiritual and prayer lives.
"Blessed is the man...his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water..." (Psalm 1:1-3). The pursuit of happiness in life is an important driver in all our lives - we certainly would rather not to pursue misery. The Book of Psalms begins giving us two keys to unlock the secret of true happiness (blessedness), which can only be found in relationship with God - the one whom we were made to glorify and enjoy forever. The first key is receiving God's Word ("law" or Torah = the Bible), and internalising it into our hearts ("meditating" on it).
Meditation is to ponder and question what we’ve read, filling our minds with God’s truth. Tim Keller writes: “In the Psalm meditation is likened to tree roots taking in water. That means not merely knowing a truth but taking it inside and making it part of yourself. Meditation is spiritually ‘tasting’ the Scripture – delighting in it, sensing the sweetness of the teaching, feeling the conviction of what it tells us about ourselves, and thanksgiving God and praising God for what it shows us about Him. Meditation is also spiritually ‘digesting’ the Scripture – applying it, thinking out how it affects you, describes you, guides you in the most practical way. It is drawing strength from the Scripture, letting it give you hope, using it to remember how loved you are.”
What truths can you meditate, taste, or digest from your devotions today?
Praise God Today: "As the Deer"
Pray Today (and join your Home Group to pray tonight):
- For the Sunday preaching in Job and 2 Timothy to penetrate deeply into our hearts as we live for Christ in a broken world.
- For those sick, hurting and grieving in our church family today to know the deep comfort that only God's grace can bring.
- For your Home Group missionaries as they start a new year guarding and passing on the gospel overseas.