Our Blog

40 Days of Prayer, Day 33

main image

Day 33, Thursday, September 22

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3

The Contrite Heart and the Bearing of Fruit
The contrite heart is marked by sorrow over sin. The contrite in heart have a humility toward others and compassion for those who are broken. Those with a contrite heart see God as glorious as He has revealed Himself through His creation. Those with a contrite heart also see God as glorious in His revelation to us through His Word. The contrite in heart submit to the Word of God. In contrast, those with a humble and contrite heart do not submit themselves to people or ideas that run counter to the Word of God. The contrite-hearted delight in the Word of God, taking time each day to meditate on His truths. “In His law he meditates day and night.” The continual meditation on God’s Word produces a significant blessing on the contrite. Delighting in God’s Word produces fruit. The contrite will be “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”

Alas, the phrase, “he prospers” may cause us a bit of confusion. For we know many faithful followers of Christ who have experienced tremendous trials. How do we reconcile the faithful servant and the trials they face? How does that person prosper? What sort of fruit comes to the contrite in the midst of trouble? Is “prospering” marked by personal wealth or pleasure or ease of life? The following is a helpful commentary from Spurgeon’s Treasure of David on this verse. And whatsoever he does shall prosper. Blessed is the man who has such a promise as this. But we must not always estimate the fulfilment of a promise by our own eye sight. How often, my brethren, if we judge by feeble sense, may we come to the mournful conclusion of Jacob, "All these things are against me!" For though we know our interest in the promise, yet we are so tried and troubled, that sight sees the very reverse of what that promise foretells. But to the eye of faith this word is sure, and by it we perceive that our works have prospered, even when everything seems to go against us. It is not outward prosperity which the Christian most desires and values; it is soul prosperity which he longs for. Even here there is a true prospering, for it is often for the soul's health that we would be poor, bereaved, and persecuted. Our worst things are often our best things. As there is a curse wrapped up in the wicked man's mercies, so there is a blessing concealed in the righteous man's crosses, losses, and sorrows. The trials of the saint are the work of our Divine Gardener, by which he grows and brings forth abundant fruit.

Prayer Focus
Oh Lord, bear fruit in my life. Use Your Word to produce Your desired transformation in me. Remove the obstacles to the bearing of fruit. Remove the barriers to my faithfulness to Your Word. Reflect Your divine priorities within my heart and life. Help me to see trials as means to greater fruit. Use difficulties for good in my life. Protect me from the despair that comes with life’s struggles. Give me a divine vision and understanding to see how You are at work. Protect me from the self-reliance and the pride that may come when my life seems to be trouble free. Give me a grateful heart for such gracious, daily provisions. In all of these things produce fruit in me for Your greater glory and for my greater joy. Amen.

From Bunyan’s The Acceptable Sacrifice
And yet they do not fear God: alas! they do not believe these things. These things, to carnal men, are like Lot's preaching to his sons and daughters that were in Sodom. When he told them that God would destroy that place, he seemed to them as one that mocked; and his words to them were as idle words (Gen 19:14). Fearless men are not won by words; blows and wounds, are the things that must bring them under fear. How many struggling fits had Israel with God in the wilderness? How many times did they declare that there they feared him not? And observe, they were seldom, if ever, brought to fear and dread his glorious name, unless he beset them with death and the grave. Nothing, nothing but a severe hand, will make the fearless fear. Hence, to speak after the manner of man, God is pressed it to go this way with sinners when he would save their souls; even bring them, and lay them at the mouth, and within sight of hell and everlasting damnation: and there also charge them with sin and guilt, to the breaking of their hearts, before they will fear his name.

 

40 Days of Prayer, Day 32

main image

Day 32, Wednesday, September 21

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Psalm 1

The Contrite Heart and the Careful Selection of Friends
This psalm is such an appropriate introduction to the entire Book of Psalms. The first word of the book, "blessed," indicates the tremendous benefit to hearing and following the truths of this particular book of the Bible, in addition to the benefits of following the truths communicated throughout the entire Bible. The connotation of being blessed by God runs counter to our transient culture. We often pursue happiness. Happiness is driven by our circumstances. Happiness often derives its pleasure from our own selfish motives. Ironically, chasing happiness can hinder our experience of true joy because it runs counter to God’s standards for blessings. As happiness seeks immediate pleasure, on our own terms, blessedness seeks joy on God's terms. Happiness is ultimately idolatry, the worship of the self. Blessedness comes from an act of worship by seeking God above all else. Blessedness invokes the inward joy that comes from God. It comes from outside us and it comes to us on God's terms.

In this opening verse, the psalmist identifies hindrances to divine blessing. How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! Avoid those who are wicked, sinners and scoffers. Avoid them for they assault our very pursuit of joy. Paul says, "bad company corrupts good morals.” Here we see that bad company also hinders divine blessing. If we long for the joy that only God can give, we must be careful how we spend our life. We must be careful of the company we keep. We cannot fellowship with people who are dominated by sin. We must be careful where we get our advice and where we get our priorities. The wicked come at us from all sides, constantly speaking with authority into our lives saying, “Live this way!” “Embrace this idea!” “Follow this dream!” Their ways sound good because they come with promises of happiness in the near term. The way of the lost sounds promising, but the result is destruction and misery. The one with a contrite heart discerns the fading promises of the broken culture. The contrite in heart quickly identify the false messages from those who do not love God and do not submit to His Word.

In contrast, verse 2 juxtaposes a life committed to the negative influences of the wicked with that of a life committed to the Word of God. Notice the joy in this. That individual "delights in the Word of God." The blessing does not emerge from mere obedience to the Word of God. Rote submission to the Bible will not do, but instead delight, meditate, and abide in the Bible. Then comes this beautiful picture in the third verse - this picture of the blessed life. If we hear and follow the teachings of the Bible, we are like a tree planted deep, near a good source of water, producing good fruit.

Prayer Focus
God, keep me from godless voices that would rob me of the truly blessed life only You can give. Keep me in your word. Help me to abide in Your Word. Grant me wisdom so that I might discern what messages and ideas come into my life that I should avoid. Grant me courage to embrace the messages that come into my life that affirm Your Word. Produce a delight in my heart for You. Amen.

From Bunyan’s The Acceptable Sacrifice
Man, as he comes into the world, is not only a dead man, a fool, proud, and self-willed, but also a fearless creature. 'There is, ' says the text, 'no fear of God before their eyes' (Rom 3:18). No fear of God! There is fear of man, fear of losing his favor, his love, his good-will, his help, his friendship; this is seen everywhere. How do the poor fear the rich, the weak fear the strong, and those that are threatened, them that threaten! But come now to God; why, none fear him; that is, by nature, none reverence him; they neither fear his frowns, nor seek his favor, nor inquire how they may escape his revenging hand that is lifted up against their sins and their souls because of sin. Little things they fear the losing of them; but the soul they are not afraid to lose. 'They fear not me, says the Lord' (Mal 3:5). How many times are some men put in mind of death by sickness upon themselves, by graves, by the death of others? How many times are they put in mind of hell by reading the Word, by conscience, and by some that go roaring in despair out of this world? How many times are they put in mind of the day of judgment. Still they have no fear of God and His judgments.

 

40 Days of Prayer, Day 31

main image

Day 31, Tuesday, September 20

Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, “When your fathers tested Me, they tried Me, though they had seen My work. For forty years I loathed that generation, and said they are a people who err in their heart, and they do not know My ways. Therefore, I swore in My anger, truly they shall not enter into My rest.” Psalm 95:6-11

The Contrite Heart and Soul Rest
In these verses, the psalmist gives a call to corporate worship, “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” The motive for the call to worship follows in the next verse. “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.” The call to corporate worship comes from the place of soul rest, a deep soul satisfaction in the presence of our Creator. Sheep, under the watchful care of the shepherd, possess a restful, peaceful disposition. They are not dominated by fear. They remain near the shepherd, sensing his guiding and caring hand. Sheep outside the care of the shepherd do not possess such restfulness. The natural inclination of the lamb is to stray. The natural inclination of the human heart is like that of the straying lamb. Isaiah 53 says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to our own way.” Humans, like sheep, have a natural inclination to stray into trouble. There are sheep that remain in the fold and there are sheep that stray. Those that remain in the fold are restful. Those straying outside the fold lack rest. What’s the difference between the two lambs? What’s the difference between the one that wonders and the one that remains? Is it that one lamb lives a trouble free existence? No! Both lambs still face the trials of this world. The world is dangerous and trouble lurks around every corner. Is the difference between the wayward and the reaming lamb driven by the protective gathering of the community of other lambs? No! There is no comfort in the mere company of others. A single lamb is completely helpless. A thousand lambs, without a shepherd, are still completely helpless. All lambs, either as individuals or as a heard, are completely defenseless and helpless. So then is the difference between the wayward lamb and the peaceful lamb which remains in the fold determined by the strength of the individual lamb? Though it is true that some lambs are bigger and faster than others, relative to the dangers of the world around, size and speed matter none. All lambs, regardless of their respective size, speed and strength are completely helpless in their world of danger and are venerable to enumerable assaults. No, the only real difference between the wayward lamb and the lamb that remains is their relationship to their shepherd. Safety for a lamb is not in the community of the herd or the in the individual strength of the lamb, but in the abiding care of their shepherd. A hard-hearted person is like a wayward lamb. A hard-hearted person wonders away from God just as the wayward lamb wonders away from the shepherd. When trouble comes, as will always occur in this life, the lamb that has separated itself from the pasture of the shepherd becomes overwhelmed with fear. They are dominated with unrest. No matter what direction they run, if they are running outside the watchful care of the shepherd, they will ultimately run to their own destruction. They cannot experience rest, soul satisfying rest because no matter how fast they run, there is no help. However, when trouble comes to the lambs that are close to the shepherd, they rest in the shepherd’s care. When trouble comes they run toward the voice of the shepherd. They know his voice. They trust his care. They have experienced the continued love and care of their shepherd. In their abiding with him they have developed and cultivated a restful trust in the shepherd’s care.

This image of the herd wondering away from the watchful care of the shepherd reminds the psalmist of an event from Israel’s history. The whole generation of the nation hardened their hearts toward their Shepherd. God, their Shepherd, called them to the safety. Their Shepherd longed to provide a restful place for them. Instead, the entire generation turned their backs on God as their Shepherd. They went their own way even though they had seen His mighty power to guide them safely through incredible troubles. Soul rest, deep soul satisfaction, comes from remaining close to our Shepherd. We never know when a single, small step away from the safe confines of obedience to our Shepherd may lead to a life of wondering completely outside of His care. Then, as troubles come and trials come, the futile quest for rest comes to no avail. We are called to rest in the presence of our Shepherd. Soul rest, deep soul satisfaction, can only be found in Him.

Prayer Focus
Oh Lord, protect my heart from chasing after the allure of false satisfaction. You have created me to see, know, experience and enjoy You. My heart is prone to wonder. My heart is prone to seek satisfaction in things that will quickly turn to dust. My heart is prone to take me outside of Your watchful care. Guard my heart today, Oh Lord. Let me hear Your voice. Draw me close to Your presence. Amen.

From Bunyan’s The Acceptable Sacrifice
Man, take him as he comes into the world, and he is not only a dead man, a fool, and proud, but also self- willed and headstrong (2 Peter 2:10). Man is a stubborn creature before his heart is broken. So they are often called rebels, rebellious, and disobedient: they will only do what they wish. 'All day long, ' says God, 'have I stretched out my hand to a disobedient people.' And they are compared to a self-willed horse, that will, in spite of his rider, rush into the battle. 'Everyone, ' says God, 'turns to his course, as the horse rushes into battle' (Jer 8:6). Hence they are said to stop their ears, to pull away their shoulder, to shut their eyes, and harden their hearts, 'against the words of God' (Psa 107:11}. They are fitly compared to the rebellious son who would not be ruled by his parents, or to the prodigal, who would have all in his own hand, and remove himself far away from father and father's house (Deut 21:20; Luke 15:13). Their self- willed stubborn heart will not comply with the will of God before it is broken (Deut 21:21; Luke 15:14-17). These are they that are called the stout-hearted; these are said to be far from righteousness, and so will remain until their hearts are broken; for so they must be made to know themselves (Isa 9:9-11).

 

12...42434445464748495051 ... 6061