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Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 31

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“13For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. 17How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.” Psalm 139:13-18

You Formed Me!
God made you. He made you just the way He intended. He gave you your smile, your laugh, your eye color, your hair color, and all your other features. The complexity of the ability to hear, see, taste, smell, and feel comes from Him. The complexity of child development in the womb along with the intricate details that make life even possible prompts the psalmist to say, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” This is a helpful truth. The standard for beauty comes from God and not from the culture. He gets to determine worth, value, and beauty. The magazine covers at the checkout counter declare all types of tips for making yourself more beautiful. In the process, often times the opposite occurs. We feel more inadequate as the guy with the perfect hair, teeth, and muscles stands next to the perfect girl. The greatest beauty of a human goes well beyond some airbrushed cover story. The scientifically baffling complexity of the average, not so cover girl, person points to the incredible work of our Creator.

Contemplation of the miraculous work of God in creating each and every person generates both fear and wonder. “Fearfully” because of the timidity the psalmist feels when he realizes the power and authority God possesses in order to create a human being. “Wonderfully” because of the beauty of God’s work in making people. From Spurgeon… “Take notice of the curious frame of the body…the Latin Vulgate renders it, “painted as with a needle,” like a garment of needlework, of diverse colors, richly embroidered with nerves and veins.”

This wonderful work of God does not end with the birth of the child. God’s sovereignty covers the entire span of life. “And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me.” God creates my life. God directs my life. God takes my life. It is in His hands and according to His will. Is His sovereignty terrifying? Does His ability to, at His mere will, give and take life scare the psalmist? “When I awake, I am still with You.” What a comforting thought! If God made us then He can take care of us, especially when we consider the spectacular nature of His craftsmanship in putting us together. If every facet of my life resides in the hands of God then I can go to sleep with no fear.

Prayer Focus
Thank You God for making me the way You have made me. Help me not struggle with envy over false standards of beauty. You make each infant precious. You have made me and I want to honor Your work in my life. With the psalmist I declare that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” All of this to the glory of Your name, Amen.

Sermon by John Wesley “Awake, You that Sleeps”
"Awake, you that sleeps, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." Eph. 5:14.

This is another character of the sleeper here spoken to is that he abides in death, though he knows it not. He is dead unto God, "dead in trespasses and sins." For, "to be carnally minded is death." Even as it is written, "By one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on to all men." Not only temporal death, but likewise spiritual and eternal death. "In that day that you eat," said God to Adam, "you will surely die." Not merely bodily as he then became mortal, but spiritually. You will lose the life of your soul. You will die to God, will be separated from Him, your essential life and happiness. Thus, first was dissolved the vital union of our soul with God. Insomuch that "in the midst of" natural "life, we are" now in spiritual "death." And herein we remain, until the Second Adam becomes a quickening Spirit to us, till He raises the dead, the dead in sin, in pleasure, riches or honors. But, before any dead soul can live, he "hears" (hearkens to) "the voice of the Son of God." He is made sensible of his lost estate, and receives the sentence of death in himself. He knows himself to be "dead while he lives." Dead to God, and all the things of God, having no more power to perform the actions of a living Christian than a dead body to perform the functions of a living man. And most certain it is, that one dead in sin has not "senses exercised to discern spiritual good and evil." "Having eyes, he sees not; he has ears, and hears not." he does not "taste and see that the Lord is gracious." He "has not seen God at any time," nor "heard His voice," nor "handled the word of life." In vain is the name of Jesus "like ointment poured forth, and all his garments smell of myrrh and aloes." The soul that sleeps in death has no perception of any objects of this kind. His heart is "past feeling," and understands none of these things. And hence, having no spiritual senses, no inlets of spiritual knowledge, the natural man receives nothing of the things of the Spirit of God. He is so far from receiving them, that whatsoever is spiritually discerned is mere foolish to him. He is not content with being utterly ignorant of spiritual things, but he denies the very existence of them. And spiritual sensation itself is to him the foolishness of folly. "How," says he, "can these things be? How can any man know that he is alive to God?" Even as you know that your body is now alive. Faith is the life of the soul, and if you have this life abiding in you, you want no marks to evidence it to yourself, but that which is the witness of God, which is more and greater than ten thousand human witnesses.

Posted by Daniel Sweet with

Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 30

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“ 1O LORD, You have searched me and known me. 2You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. 5You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. 6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. 7Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” 12Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” Psalm 139:1-12

The Presence, Knowledge and Power of God
Spurgeon describes this Psalm as “One of the most notable of the sacred hymns. It sings the omniscience and omnipresence of God, inferring from these the overthrow of the powers of wickedness, since he who sees and hears the abominable deeds and words of the rebellious will surely deal with them according to his justice. The brightness of this psalm is like unto a sapphire stone…it flames out with such flashes of light as to turn night into day…this holy song casts a clear light even to the uttermost parts of the sea, and warns us against that practical atheism which ignores the presence of God, and so makes shipwreck of the soul.” By “practical atheism” Spurgeon means when we profess that God exists and the He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present, and yet live like it doesn’t matter to us.

Knowing and contemplating these incredible truths about God overwhelmed David. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” It is overwhelming. Just think about this for a moment. Even before you read this sentence God knew in eternity past that at this very moment you would be doing this. Think about His presence. Even as you read this, God-almighty is everywhere around you. He is not contained in any one place, but every place is subsumed in His presence. Think about His power. We are overcome by a cold, a flat tire, bad weather, or a bad hair day. God has absolute power over every electron that spins around every single atom at every single point in the universe. He tells them where to go and when to go there. He could, at His very whim, crush every galaxy and grind them into dust. His knowledge, presence, and power are more glorious than the psalmist can tolerate to even comprehend. It seems this would be terrifying. I suspect there is an element of fear in the words of the writer. However, hope stirs far more prominently in these words. “Even the darkness is not dark to You” and “Your hand will lead me” express ideas of trust and hope. The psalmist clings to the greatness of God. Hope, joy, peace, security, and compassion are found in God because He has the knowledge, presence, and power behind His incredible love for us.

Prayer Focus
Help me dear Lord to not fear anything. I know You are with me. I know Your knowledge of my life and situation is complete. I know You have the power to bring about Your glory demonstrated in my life, Amen.

Sermon by John Wesley “Awake, You that Sleeps”
"Awake, you that sleeps, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." Eph. 5:14.
By one who sleeps we are, therefore, to understand (and would to God we might all understand it!) a sinner satisfied in his sins, contented to remain in his fallen state. To live and die without the image of God. One who is ignorant both of his disease (sin), and of the only remedy for it. One who never was warned, or never regarded the warning voice of God, "to flee from the wrath to come." One that never yet saw he was in danger of hell-fire, or cried out in the earnestness of his soul, "What must I do to be saved?" If this sleeper is not outwardly vicious, his sleep is usually the deepest of all. Whether he neither cold toward God nor hot toward God but a quiet, rational, inoffensive, good-natured professor of the religion of his fathers or he be zealous and orthodox, and, "after the straightest sect of our religion," live "a Pharisee," that is, according to the scriptural account, one that justifies himself. One that labors to establish his own righteousness, as the ground of his acceptance with God. This is he, who, "having a form of godliness, denies the power thereof." And probably reviles it, wherever it is found, as mere extravagance and delusion. Meanwhile, the wretched self-deceiver thanks God, that he is "not as other men are; adulterers, unjust, extortioners." No, he does no wrong to any man. He "fasts twice in a week," uses all the means of grace, is constant at church and sacrament, and "gives tithes of all that he has." Does all the good that he can, "touching the righteousness of the law." He is "blameless," wants nothing of godliness, but the power. Nothing of religion, but the spirit; nothing of Christianity, but the truth and the life. But do you not know that, however highly esteemed among men such a Christian as this may be, he is an abomination in the sight of God, and an heir of every woe which the Son of God, yesterday, to-day, and forever, denounces against "scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites"? He has "made clean the outside of the cup and the platter," but within is full of all filthiness. "An evil disease cleaves (sticks fast) still to him, so that his inward parts are very wickedness." Our Lord fitly compares him to a "painted sepulcher," which "appears beautiful without," but, nevertheless, is "full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." The bones indeed are no longer dry, the sinews and flesh are come upon them, and the skin covers them above. But there is no breath in them, no Spirit of the living God. And, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." "You are Christ's, if the Spirit of God dwells in you." But if not, God knows that you abide in death, even until now.

Posted by Daniel Sweet with

Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 28

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Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalm 103:2-5 ESV)

The Lord of Amazing Grace
“Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy” - Not merely satisfied with removing our sins from us (“as far as the east is from the west” v.12), not content to just obliterate our status as enemies of God, the Lord of all grace lavishes upon us the status of adoption as his very children (Romans 8:14-16)! No longer are we merely called servants, Jesus calls us his friends (John 15:15)! Surely this grace is amazing, because we most certainly do not even deserve to have our sins pardoned… much less brought into the tenderly close relationship of father and child! Scripture goes so far as to even call us fellow heirs with Christ, awaiting a day when we will be glorified together with Christ at the final resurrection (Romans 8:17-23)!

The term “crowns” is most likely referring to the wreaths and garlands that were commonly worn during festive occasions in ancient times, so for the psalmist to say that the Lord crowns us with steadfast love and mercy is a comforting picture of how the Lord not only forgives us but showers us with a celebration of restored fellowship to Him. This is portrayed to great effect in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, where after the son has returned home seeking forgiveness and more than just forgiving him, his father throws a grand celebration (Luke 15:20-24)! We are the son, and the Lord is the forgiving and exultant father, celebrating our return to fellowship with Him!

Prayer Focus
My Father who is in heaven, when I stop and consider all the wonderful ways you have been merciful and gracious towards me, I cannot help but thank you and praise you with all my heart! Your arm of faithfulness and love reached down and brought me out of the miry pit of sin I was enslaved to, and brought me back in to your loving arms. Like a sheep that had gone astray, you the Great Shepherd of my soul carried me back into your fold. Lord, you are so precious to me! You don’t deal with me as my sins deserve, but instead you shower me with forgiveness and blessings, even going so far as to make me co-heir with your Beloved Son. Blessed be your wonderful Name!

Sermon by John Wesley “The Important Question”
"What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Matthew 16:26
But it has been proved, that the case is quite otherwise, that religion is happiness, that wickedness is misery; and that no man is assured of living threescore days: And if so, is there any fool, any madman under heaven, who can be compared to him that casts away his own soul, though it were to gain the whole world? For what is the real state of the case? What is the choice which God proposes to his creatures? It is not, "Will you be happy threescore years, and then miserable forever, or, will you be miserable threescore years, and then happy forever?" It is not, "Will you have first a temporary heaven, and then hell eternal; or, will you have first a temporary hell, and then heaven eternal?" But it is simply this: "Will you be miserable threescore years, and miserable ever after; or, will you be happy threescore years, and happy ever after? Will you have a foretaste of heaven now, and then heaven forever; or will you have a foretaste of hell now and then hell forever? Will you have two hells, or two heavens?" 15. One would think, there needed no great sagacity to answer this question. And this is the very question which I now propose to you in the name of God. Will you be happy here and hereafter; in the world that now is, and in that which is to come? Or will you be miserable here and hereafter, in time and in eternity? What is your choice? Let there be no delay: Now take one or the other! I take heaven and earth to record this day, that I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. O choose life! The life of peace and love now; the life of glory forever! By the grace of God, now choose that better part, which shall never be taken from you! And having once fixed your choice, never draw back; adhere to it at all events. Go on in the name of the Lord, whom ye have chosen, and in the power of his might! In spite of all opposition, from nature, from the world, from all the powers of darkness, still fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life! And then there is laid up for you a crown, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give you at that day!

Posted by Chris Frazer with

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