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Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 11

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Psalm 37:1-9 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! 8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. 9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
Trust and Delight in the LORD:

INTRO: Psalm 37 is written by David and it contrasts the wicked and the righteous. It is also the third alphabetical psalm within the whole Psalter, with every other verse starting with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet (except for the sixteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet which is omitted, making this an irregular alphabetic acrostic of the Psalms). Psalm 37:1-9. The first five stanzas are filled with imperatives such as “Fret not,” “Trust in the LORD,” “do good,” “Delight yourself in the LORD,” “Commit your way to the LORD,” ‘Trust in Him,” “Be still before the LORD,” “wait patiently for Him,” “fret not,” “Refrain from anger,” “forsake wrath,” and “fret not.” These imperatives are a call from the Psalmist to the reader to respond in obedience. These are commands, not options. Furthermore, these commands are filled with promises, both to the reader and about the wicked to whom it is concerned with. I love that verses 3-5 are a call to the reader to “Trust,” “Delight,” and “Commit” to the LORD (or in the LORD). Particularly verse 4 states to “Delight” can be translated in the Hebrew to ‘delight” or “delicateness,” which means to find God to be delectable or enjoyable as if you are eating a delicacy or a meal into which you delight in. It reminds me of Psalm 34:8 which states, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” David is calling believers in the LORD to delight and enjoy Him! The “desires” in verse 4 can also be translated as “petitions,” thus it is the petitions of our heart that He will give. The possible implication is that if we “delight” in the LORD, then our desire is to enjoy the LORD, and thus, we will get that desire of our heart, which is the LORD! I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Therefore, let us trust in the LORD today, to delight ourselves with Him, to commit our ways to the LORD, to cast away wrath and malice, and to know He will bring forth both righteousness and justice forever.

Prayer Focus: LORD, may Your Name be glorified. Help us to obey Your commands, and to know the glory it will bring to You when we abide in You. LORD, let us enjoy you for who You are, and how wonderful Your presence is. Help us to trust You and to trust in Your faithfulness, Your goodness, and Your justice. LORD, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil and from wickedness that should tempt us to be lead astray from enjoying our relationship with You. You are so good. I love you LORD. Amen.

From Sermon on Justification by Faith by John Wesley
"To him that does not work, but believes on him that justified the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness." Romans 4:5.
If it be objected, "A man, before he is justified, may feed the hungry, or clothe the naked; and these are good works;" the answer is easy: He may do these, even before he is justified; and these are, in one sense, "good works;" they are "good and profitable to men." But it does not follow, that they are, strictly speaking, good in themselves, or good in the sight of God. All truly "good works" (to use the words of our Church) "follow after justification;" and they are therefore good and "acceptable to God in Christ," because they "spring out of a true and living faith." By a parity of reason, all "works done before justification are not good," in the Christian sense, "forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ;" (though from some kind of faith in God they may spring;) "yes, rather, for that they are not done as God has willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not" (how strange it may appear to some) "but they have the nature of sin." Perhaps those who have doubt of this have not duly considered the weighty reason which is here assigned, why no works done before justification can be truly and properly good. The argument plainly runs thus: -- No works are good, which are not done as God has willed and commanded them to be done. And no works done before justification are done as God has willed and commanded them to be done: Therefore, no works done before justification are good. The first proposition is self-evident; and the second, that no works done before justification are done as God has willed and commanded them to be done, will appear equally plain and undeniable, if we only consider, God has willed and commanded that "all our works" should "be done in charity;" in love, in that love to God which produces love to all mankind. But none of our works can be done in this love, while the love of the Father (of God as our Father) is not in us; and this love cannot be in us till we receive the Spirit of Adoption, crying in our hearts, Abba, Father. If, therefore, God does not justify the ungodly, and him that (in this sense) does not work, then Christ has died in vain; then, notwithstanding his death, can no one living be justified.

Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 10

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“The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:7-14

The Bible Teaches Us about the Character of God
Psalm 19 can easily be broken into two major sections. The first six verses declare the revelation of God’s glory as seen in the creation of the sun, moon and stars. God speaks to us through His creation. God also speaks to us through His Word. Psalm 19:7 shifts our attention from the glory of God in creation to the glory of God as discovered in His Word. Notice the pattern found in verses 7-12. Here are the terms the psalmist used to describe the Bible: “The Law of the LORD…the testimony of the LORD…the precepts of the LORD…the commandment of the LORD…the judgments of the LORD…” With each successive title the author provides a descriptor: The Bible is “perfect…sure…right…pure…true.” When we see the beauty of the Scriptures, then we are inclined to pursue the Word of God. When we truly see that the Bible is perfect, sure, right, pure and true, then we long for it. The beauty of the scripture reflects the beauty of the author. God is perfect, sure, right, pure and true. Naturally, the Bible will be consistent with the attributes of the author of the Bible. By extension, a pursuit of God’s Word becomes a pursuit of God Himself. By extension, seeing the beauty of God proceeds from seeing the beauty of His Word.

The psalmist moves beyond the beauty of the Word of God to the specific benefits of the Bible in the life of hearer. What happens when we hear the Word of God? What happens when we apply it to our lives? The impact of submitting to the Bible is given in each successive statement: The Word of God “restores the soul…makes wise the simple…enlightens the eyes…” The Bible transforms. It transforms our lives by giving warnings to the followers of God and by exposing our hidden sins. It breaks the power of abiding sin and brings purity to what we think – “the meditation of my heart…” and what we say- “the words of my mouth…” Considering these lofty affirmations about the Bible and considering the multitude of benefits, we should desire the Bible in a manner consist with these affirmations. In this case, the psalmist says that we should desire the bible more than a banker wants “gold” and a sweet toothed child wants “honey.”

The conclusion of this chapter is quite striking. Given the declaration of the glory of God from His creation in verses 1-6 and the declaration of the beauty and the massive benefits to the glorious word of God in verses 7-12, the psalmist concludes with this prayer: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” When all of these beautiful truths are considered, the title the psalmist chose for God as He addresses Him in prayer is “O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” We can trust Him to help us and save us. Just look at what He has already done in His creation and in His Word! He is our Rock and our Redeemer.

Prayer Focus
O God, like the psalmist I pray that You would make the meditations of my heart and the words of my mouth acceptable to You. Thank You for Your word.

From Sermon on Justification by Faith by John Wesley
"To him that does not work, but believes on him that justified the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness." Romans 4:5.
Does then the good Shepherd seek and save only those that are found already? No: He seeks and saves that which is lost. He pardons those who need his pardoning mercy. He saves from the guilt of sin, (and, at the same time, from the power) sinners of every kind, of every degree: people who, till then, were altogether ungodly; in whom the love of the Father was not; and, consequently, in whom dwelt no good thing, no good or truly Christian character, --but all such as were evil and abominable, --pride, anger, love of the world, --the genuine fruits of that "carnal mind" which is "enmity against God." These who are sick, the burden of whose sins is intolerable, are they that need a Physician; these who are guilty, who groan under the wrath of God, are the ones that need a pardon. These who are "condemned already," not only by God, but also by their own conscience, as by a thousand witnesses, of all their ungodliness, both in thought, and word, and work, cry aloud for Him that "justifies the ungodly," through the redemption that is in Jesus; --the ungodly, and "him that does not work;" that does not work, before he is justified, anything that is good, that is truly virtuous or holy, but only evil continually. For his heart is necessarily, essentially evil, till the love of God is shed abroad therein.

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Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 9

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The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat. Psalm 19:1-6

The Heavens Tell Us about the Glory of God

The heavens are continually telling their story.  They “live” to tell it.  Their story is simple, “God is glorious.”  In some ways, the stars function the way a masterpiece functions. When you go to a famous art gallery and look at the paintings of the great artists in history – Monet, Rembrandt, Peter Rubens – you can see the intricate details of the painting, details like the color selection, the depth, the passion of the topic communicated through each brush stroke.  The great works make us think of the greatness of the artist.  Rembrandt was simply brilliant as an artist.  Some of his works recount significant moments in history with such vibrancy that they bring the observer into direct contact with the subject matter, like the artist is still sitting in the room recounting the events as they paint.  The gifting of the artist allows us to travel back in time in order to see and feel the passion of the event that as it has been captured on canvas.  All human artists, all creative painters, reflect a mere shadow of the substance that comes from God Himself.  Rembrandt is like a mist compared to the torrent that comes from the ultimate master artist, God Himself.  His canvas is the heavens.  His paint is the stars.  The beauty of the stars captures the passion and significance of a distant moment in the past and brings that moment into the present as if we are watching over the shoulder of God as He says, “Let there be light.”  Like the great masterpieces, the heavens communicate more about the artist than the art itself.  The beauty of the stars in and of themselves would be sufficient for a lifetime of study.  However, this is not the primary purpose for the stars.  Instead, the stars drive us back in time and space to the original and greatest Artist.  His canvas is the heavens and His paint is the beauty pouring forth from His creative words.  He speaks and the universe dances to His will.  He speaks and galaxies form, powerfully declaring “look to our master artist and see how great He is.”  God is glorious.  He is also gracious to allow us to see a glimpse of His beauty through what He has made.

Prayer Focus

Thank You God for Your creation.  Thank You for making Your glory known to us.  Thank You for the continual artwork hung in such a way as to allow us to see the greatness of Your power.  Help me today to function like the stars in the heavens.  Help me to declare Your glory both day and night.  In the name of the Creator and Master Artist I pray, Amen.

From Sermon on Justification by Faith by John Wesley

"To him that does not work, but believes on him that justified the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness." Romans 4:5.

Who are they that are justified? And the Apostle tells us expressly, the ungodly: "He (that is, God) justifies the ungodly;" the ungodly of every kind and degree; and none but the ungodly. As "they that are righteous need no repentance," so they need no forgiveness. It is only sinners that have any occasion for pardon: It is sin alone which admits of being forgiven. Forgiveness, therefore, has an immediate reference to sin, and, in this respect, to nothing else. It is our "unrighteousness" to which the pardoning God is "merciful:" It is our "iniquity" which he "remembers no more." God justifies not the godly, but the ungodly; not those that are holy already, but the unholy. Upon what condition he does this, will be considered quickly: but whatever it is, it cannot be holiness. To assert this, is to say the Lamb of God takes away only those sins which were taken away before.

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