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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!"

Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 21

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Psalm 90:3-9

3 You turn man back into dust
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
4 For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or as a watch in the night.
5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep;
In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew;
Toward evening it fades and withers away.
7 For we have been consumed by Your anger
And by Your wrath we have been dismayed.
8 You have placed our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.
9 For all our days have declined in Your fury;
We have finished our years like a sigh.

The Ephemeral Nature of Man, a Consequence of Sin

Methuselah, the man who lived longer than anyone else in history, only lived 969 years on this earth. Can you imagine seeing 969 years? Almost 4000 times watching summer turn to fall, or fall to winter, or winter to spring, or spring back to summer? A run-of-the-mill 80 year old will only see 320 season changes. And yet God considers all Methuselah's days, 353,685 of them, as less than a single watch in the night. Moses tells us that the passing of a thousand years for God is like yesterday when it is gone. In stark contrast to the eternal God, man's life is as nothing - a mere blink and its over. God designed our bodies to flourish for only a little while and then they wither and die. Hopefully this doesn't come as a shock to you. We see it all around us. We see it in the mirror. Yet Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that God puts eternity in the heart of man. Why would He do that when our bodies are designed to flourish and wither in what feels like the span of a single day?

It is not hard to find an article about the titans of Silicon Valley and Hollywood dumping massive energy and money on the “quest for immortality”. They want to live forever and they are willing to spend every last dime to make it happen. I expect they will continue to be sorely disappointed. God has placed eternity in the heart of man but not within his grasp. Instead of immortality, God calls every individual to return to the dust from which he was made – ashes to ashes, dust to dust. This is not an arbitrary judgment on us. We have sinned, we are sinning, we will sin. We are sinners and will continue on this way until He forces us to stop. Mankind is perfectly happy to keep on sinning forever, and if we can just crack the genetic code on aging, we'll do just that. But, hey, if God has a problem with our behavior, we can accommodate Him. We'll hide our iniquities, we'll spin them into necessities, we'll even brazen them into virtues if that's what it takes.

But God will not be fooled, nor mollified, nor bullied. Instead of the pride of life puffing us up to greater heights of ego and unending years of self-glorification, our few, pitiful years end in misery and regret under the blazing fury of a just God; ashes to ashes.

Prayer Focus

Lord God, forgive our insolence and pride. We so want to believe that we are the center of the universe while we hope against hope that our sins are hidden from your eyes. Our hubris compels us to this foolishness and yet we can't give it up. Be merciful, Lord. Correct us in your lovingkindness. Help us to number our days. Help us to understand that we have so few of them remaining. Help us to redeem the time for your glory.

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
Upon ever so cursory a view of these things, would not anyone be astonished, that a man, that a creature endued with reason, should voluntarily choose, I say choose; for God forces no man into inevitable damnation; he never yet Consigned one unborn soul to hell, Or damned him from his mother's womb, -- should choose thus to lose his own soul, though it were to gain the whole world! For what shall a man be profited thereby upon the whole of the account? But a little to abate our astonishment at this, let us observe the suppositions which a man generally makes before he can reconcile himself to this fatal choice. He supposes, First, that "a life of religion is a life of misery." That religion is misery! How is it possible that anyone should entertain so strange a thought? Do any of you imagine this? If you do, the reason is plain; you know not what religion is. "No! but I do, as well as you." -- What is it then? "Why, the doing no harm." Not so; many birds and beasts do no harm, yet they are not capable of religion. "Then it is going to church and sacrament." Indeed it is not. This may be an excellent help to religion; and everyone who desires to save his soul should attend them at all opportunities; yet it is possible you may attend them all your days, and still have no religion at all. Religion is a higher and deeper thing than any outward ordinance whatever. What is religion then? It is easy to answer, if we consult the oracles of God. According to these it lies in one single point; it is neither more nor less than love; it is love which "is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment." Religion is the love of God and our neighbor; that is, every man under heaven. This love ruling the whole life, animating all our tempers and passions, directing all our thoughts, words, and actions, is "pure religion and undefiled." Now, will anyone be so hardy as to say, that love is misery? Is it misery to love God? to give Him my heart who alone is worthy of it? Nay, it is the truest happiness; indeed, the only true happiness which is to be found under the sun. So does all experience prove the justness of that reflection which was made long ago, "Thou hast made us for thyself; and our heart cannot rest, until it rests in thee." Or does anyone imagine, the love of our neighbor is misery; even the loving every man as our own soul? So far from it that, next to the love of God, this affords the greatest happiness of which we are capable. Therefore, Let not the Stoic boast his mind unmoved, the brute-philosopher, who never has proved The joy of loving, or of being loved. So much every reasonable man must allow. But he may object: "There is more than this implied in religion. It implies not only the love of God and man; (against which I have no objection;) but also a great deal of doing and suffering. And how can this be consistent with happiness?" There is certainly some truth in this objection. Religion does imply both doing and suffering. Let us then calmly consider, whether this impairs or heightens our happiness. Religion implies, First, the doing many things. For the love of God will naturally lead us, at all opportunities, to converse with Him we love; to speak to him in public or private prayer; and to hear the words of his mouth, which "are dearer to us than thousands of gold and silver." It will incline us to lose no opportunity of receiving the dear memorials of our dying Lord; to continue instant in thanksgiving; at morning, evening, and noon-day to praise him. But suppose we do all this, will it lessen our happiness? Just the reverse. It is plain, all these fruits of love are means of increasing the love from which they spring; and of consequence they increase our happiness in the same proportion. Who then would not join in that wish? Rising to sing my Savior's praise, Thee may I publish all day long, And let thy precious word of grace Flow from my heart, and fill my tongue; Fill all my life with purest love, And join me to your church above!

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