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Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 23

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Psalm 90:10-12
10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away.
11 Who understands the power of Your anger
And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

The Folly of Chasing After the Wind

Because of our father Adam’s sin, we are all born sinners. Because we are sinners, we sin against God. Because of our sin, we face God’s justice. Because of God’s justice we are all sentenced to death. Physical death is inevitable, one of the many consequences of Adam's fall.
When Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden, the joy of work was also corrupted. Genesis 3:19 tells us that
By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.

We are given a finite span of seven or eight decades, filled with never-ending labor in the best of times, and there is always plenty of sorrow to go around. As our bodies wear out and as we absorb the losses that come our way in a steady stream, we learn to accept the brevity of our lives as a mercy. Yet in His lovingkindness, God also grants us brief flashes of great happiness. True, they are the exceptions but they remind us that something much better will appear one day. Not so for those who reject the Son. In their ignorant arrogance they deny Him the proper respect, and, yes, fear that is His due. He is the creator of the world and sustains all things by the word of His power. The lost cannot understand this nor any other spiritual truth because they are spiritually dead. They have never experienced the second birth and so the wrath of God abides on them.

In contrast, those who know the joy of God's grace will never know the full power of His righteous anger. We should, in gratitude, work hard to study and practice the things of God. We were created in Christ Jesus for such good works. How much better to spend our limited time and energy on the work God gives us than to strive after the winds the world chases. That is folly and inevitably results in loss. Our days are numbered as Job 14, Psalm 39, and Psalm 139 also tell us. With such limited resources we should be careful of how we spend each one. Do we pray each day, thanking the Father for His great blessings, asking for His forgiveness and help in conquering our besetting sins? Do we read His word each day, mindful of the great privilege of being able to do so? Do we live each day with humility toward others?

Christians are to be mindful of how we spend the days the Father graciously gives us. Brothers, redeem each one, redeem this one, for His glory.

Prayer Focus

Lord God, we confess to you the folly of striving for the things of this world, as if they could do anything for us. Teach us to number our days and make them count for the Kingdom of your Christ.

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 religion implies, according to the Christian account, not only doing, but suffering. And how can suffering be consistent with happiness?" Perfectly well. Many centuries ago, it was remarked by St. Chrysostom, "The Christian has his sorrows as well as his joys: But his sorrow is sweeter than joy." He may accidentally suffer loss, poverty, pain: But in all these things he is more than conqueror. He can testify, Labor is rest, and pain is sweet, while you, my God, are here. He can say, "The Lord gave; the Lord took away: Blessed be the name of the Lord!" He must suffer, more or less, reproach: For "the servant is not above his Master:" But so much the more does "the Spirit of glory and of God rest upon him." Yes, love itself will, on several occasions, be the source of suffering: The love of God will frequently produce The pleasing smart, The meltings of a broken heart. And the love of our neighbor will give rise to sympathizing sorrow: It will lead us to visit the fatherless and widow in their affliction; to be tenderly concerned for the distressed, and to "mix our pitying tear with those that weep." But may we not well say, these are "tears that delight, and sighs that travel up to heaven?" So far then are all these sufferings from either preventing or lessening our happiness, that they greatly contribute to, and, indeed, constitute no inconsiderable part of it. So that, upon the whole, there cannot be a more false supposition, than that a life of religion is a life of misery; seeing true religion, whether considered in its nature or its fruits, is true and abiding happiness.

Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 22

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Psalm 42:9-11

9 I say to God, my rock: "Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?"
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, "Where is your God?"
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

It’s one thing to experience spiritual isolation, geographical isolation, and social isolation. To experience divine isolation though, that’s a category all to itself. The psalmist here feels like God has forgotten him and abandoned him. He is continually being taunted by the sense of abandonment by God in his life. The grief in which he is experiencing from his enemies is so daunting that he compares it to being pierced in his bones.

However, what a fighter he proves to be. I pray we might learn from this psalmist as he continually fights his sorrow. There will be times when our spiritual life might grow cold. There will be times when we question God in our suffering. There are times when our prayer life is lifeless, our love grows dull, and our faith weakens. The grace in the chamber of our heart becomes empty. We will be mocked, shamed, and maybe even ostracized from friends and family, but we must fight. The fight for faith is ultimately a fight for joy. For we have born to a living hope of Jesus Christ resurrection from the dead. Our hope is laid up for us in heaven and the divine righteous right hand of God is upholding us until the day we reach the precipice of our delight in the witnessing of our King.

It is impossible to be abandon by God when we thirst for Him, when we are broken before Him, when we remember Him and hope in Him. It’s impossible to be abandoned because of the one who did thirst and was broken along with being forsaken and taunted, even experiencing the divine isolation our sin deserves. Survey the wondrous cross again. Go back to the cross again and lose your burden there. You have been purchased with his blood-bought redemption of your soul and sealed with the Spirit unto the day of redemption. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also with him graciously give us all things. (Romans 8:32)

Prayer Focus:
Lord you are my rock and my refuge. To find myself in life where my greatest desire is you is truly the most blessed place to be. No situation is so daunting that it will rid me of hope. For this light momentary affliction is nothing compared to the glory that awaits me. I will hope in you, my salvation and my God.

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
It must also be allowed, that as the love of God naturally leads to works of piety, so the love of our neighbor naturally leads all that feel it to works of mercy. It inclines us to feed the hungry; to clothe the naked; to visit them that are sick or in prison; to be as eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame; a husband to the widow, a father to the fatherless. But can you suppose, that the doing this will prevent or lessen your happiness? As though you did so much, as to be like a guardian angel to all that are round about you? On the contrary, it is an infallible truth, that All worldly joys are less than that one joy of doing kindnesses. A man of pleasure was asked some years ago, "Captain, what was the greatest pleasure you ever had?" After a little pause, he replied, "When we were upon our march in Ireland, in a very hot day, I called at a cabin on the road, and desired a little water. The woman brought me a cup of milk. I gave her a piece of silver; and the joy that poor creature expressed gave me the greatest pleasure I ever had in my life." Now, if the doing good gave so much pleasure to one who acted merely from natural generosity, how much more must it give to one who does it on a nobler principle, -- the joint love of God and his neighbor! It remains, that the doing all which religion requires will not lessen, but immensely increase, our happiness.

Posted by Richard Taylor with

Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 20

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Psalm 90:1-2

1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

The Eternal Nature of God

The Psalms were written over a span of a thousand years by several different authors, chief of which was, of course, David, the man after God's own heart. He wrote over 70 psalms but he didn't compose the very first one in our Bible. Scholars speculate that Ezra may have written the last of the psalms in the Psalter but Moses has the honor of writing the first. He composed Psalm 90 and it is his only entry. The sub-headings in your Bible that often credit the composer may have been additions to the manuscripts. If so, they are ancient additions because the Dead Sea Scrolls contain the same verbiage. In any case, Psalm 90 is ascribed to Moses, “the man of God”. What a nice title.

Moses knew God well. God chose him specifically to be His choice servant, speaking to him from the burning bush, using Moses to free the Hebrew nation, delivering the Law directly into his hands, leading Moses as he led the nation. God also used Moses to record the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. I wonder if Moses had Genesis in mind when he wrote these words. God, the only eternal Being, spoke the universe into existence. He has no beginning and there will never be an end to Him. Long, long after our sun burns out He will still live, unchanged, unchanging. And He has always been and will always be sovereign, with perfect knowledge, and perfect righteousness, in full control.

Moses lead his people in a nomadic existence for 40 years in the wilderness. They had no home, no place to call their own. They were strangers and pilgrims wherever they went. Yet they had the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant, and with it, the shekinah glory of God's presence. They had the cloud by day as a roof over their head and the pillar of fire by night as their hearth. Their safety and their contentment was in God. He supplied every need. He called them by His name. In a very real sense, God was their dwelling place.

And in the centuries since, with the conquest of Canaan, the establishment of the tribes, the kingdom, the exiles and the returns, the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and almost 2000 years of additional wandering and suffering, God has been their dwelling place. Although in June of 1948 God re-planted them in the land He promised to Abraham, their only true refuge is still, and will ever be, in Him.

And now we, the hagioi, the saints, the called out ones, have been grafted into the olive tree that is Israel. In the fullest sense, we who are in Christ, in whom we live and breathe and have our being, our dwelling place from the first generation to the last, is in God. Like the Hebrew children of Moses day, we too are strangers and pilgrims. We wait as loyal subjects, not for a land of our own, but for our eternal King to come rule and reign over us and all creation.

Prayer Focus

Eternal God most high, we consider all the things of this world as rubbish in comparison to knowing and being known by Christ our Savior. It is in Him that we find our rest, our peace, our purpose, and our strength. Help us to hold the things of this world lightly. Help us to long for His appearing. Come quickly Lord Jesus.

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
For the lost, death is to him but the beginning of sorrows. Yet a little while, and he will see "the great white throne coming down from heaven, and him that sits thereon, from whose face the heavens and the earth flee away, and there is found no place for them." And "the dead, small and great, stand before God, and are judged, every one according to his works." "Then shall the King say to them on his right hand," (God grant he may say so to YOU!) "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." And the angels shall tune their harps and sing, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, that the heirs of glory may come in." And then shall they shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars forever and ever." How different will be the lot of him that loses his own soul! No joyful sentence will be pronounced on him, but one that will pierce him through with unutterable horror: (God forbid that ever it should be pronounced on any of you that are here before God!) "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!" And who can doubt, but those infernal spirits will immediately execute the sentence; will instantly drag those forsaken of God into their own place of torment! Into those Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace And rest can never dwell! Hope never comes, That comes to all, -- all the children of men who are on this side eternity. But not to them: The gulf is now fixed, over which they cannot pass. From the moment wherein they are once plunged into the lake of fire, burning with brimstone, their torments are not only without intermission, but likewise without end. For "they have no rest, day or night; but the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever!"

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