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Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 17

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Psalm 42:3-4 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

When I became renewed in my faith a little over 4 years ago I had no idea the emotional weight it would carry. I have probably cried more tears the last 4 years than the previous 28 years of my life. A part of being transformed by the Spirit is the softening of the heart. Ezekiel 36:26 says: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. When God transforms your heart it becomes more vulnerable, softer, and pure. You feel the evil and injustice around you. The unifying of the Spirit within believers weeps with those who weep. The weight of all the unbelievers crushes your soul at times especially those closest to you. You see, grow, and experience the glory of God day by day pleading with others to follow. Not wanting them to be crushed by that same glory that brings you exceedingly great joy.

Tears come with being a believer and the psalmist here is having a steady appetite of tears day and night. His sorrow is eating away at his hunger for any food. He is also not sleeping because of those tears. If you do not sleep or eat, then depression can only get worse. He is suffering spiritually and physically. To make matters worse feels separated from the consolation and encouragement from his brothers and sisters in the faith.

Never take corporate worship for granted. These times together, singing to the Lord and hearing him through preaching, are a supernatural work of God. This is not just sentimentalism for the psalmist, but turmoil and discouragement. He failed to experience the presence of God through a corporate gathering. Our walk with Christ can never be a solo act. We need encouragement and affirmation from those who have experienced what we have experienced. Others will mock us and insult our faith especially when we are down. Without counsel, friendship, music, or preaching we would fall quickly.

Notice though how the psalmist is fighting through his pain. He's remembering and pouring out his soul. If I were to be granted a wish right now I would wish for a photographic memory. What a gift it is from God that he has created us with a memory. Think about the birth of your children or your last vacation. There is a 3-fold experience of joy in those moments. There was the anticipation of the moment. The experience of the moment and the memory of the moment. Through what we remember the moment becomes encapsulated in our minds so that we may be experience those moments over and over again. Our memory also reminds us of the promises and faithfulness of God that carries us in the most troublesome times. Though our memories can sometimes break us they also make us.

Through the gospel, the great news for us is that what we know, memorize, and meditate upon God’s Word. The Gospel does not stay in the past, but supports us in the present and points us to the future. Our faith is an assurance of the hope laid up for us in heaven. Who Christ was for us in the past he is for us now. And who he is for us now he will be that much more in the future.

Prayer Focus
God, help me trust in your faithfulness day and night. When a blanket of clouds engulfs my soul help me remember Christ and him crucified. May my sorrow be a pathway for joy. Though I may have good reason to be discouraged help me to remember that there are better encouragements in your word.

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
We may conceive a little of these deep things, if we consider, what is implied in that expression, "A man's gaining the whole world:" and, what is implied in losing his own soul: We shall then, see, in the strongest light, what he is profited, who gains the whole world, and loses his own soul. So first, what is implied in a man's “gaining the whole world.” Perhaps, at the first hearing, this may seem to some equivalent with conquering the whole world. But it has no relation to that at all: And indeed that expression involves a plain absurdity. For it is impossible any that is born of a woman should ever conquer the whole world; were it only because the short life of man could not suffice for so wild an undertaking. Accordingly, no man ever did conquer the half, no, nor the tenth part of the world. But whatever others might do, there was no danger that any of our Lord's hearers should have any thought of this. Among all the sins of the Jewish nation the desire of universal empire was not found. Even in their most flourishing times, they never sought to extend their conquests beyond the river Euphrates. And in our Lord's time, all their ambition was at an end: "The scepter was departed from Judah;" and Judea was governed by a Roman Procurator, as a branch of the Roman Empire. Leaving this, we may find a far more easy and natural sense of the expression. To gain the whole world, may properly enough imply, to gain all the pleasures which the world can give. The man we speak of may, therefore, be supposed to have gained all that will gratify his senses. In particular, all that can increase his pleasure of tasting; all the elegancies of meat and drink: Likewise, whatever can gratify his smell, or touch; all that he can enjoy in common with his fellow-brutes. He may have all the plenty and all the variety of these objects which the world can afford. We may farther suppose him to have gained all that gratifies "the desire of the eyes;" whatever (by means of the eye chiefly) conveys any pleasure to the imagination. The pleasures of imagination arise from three sources: Grandeur, beauty, and novelty. Accordingly, we find by experience, our own imagination is gratified by surveying either grand, or beautiful, or uncommon objects. Let him be encompassed then with the most grand, the most beautiful, and the newest things that can anywhere be found. For all this is manifestly implied in a man's gaining the whole world. But there is also another thing implied herein, which men of the most elevated spirits have preferred before all the pleasures of sense and of imagination put together; that is, honor, glory and renown. It seems, that hardly any principle in the human mind is of greater force than this. It triumphs over the strongest propensities of nature, over all our appetites and affections. If Brutus sheds the blood of his own children; if we see another Brutus, in spite of every possible obligation, in defiance of all justice and gratitude, Cringing while he stabs his friend; if a far greater man than either of these, Paschal Paoli, gave up ease, pleasure, everything, for a life of constant toil, pain, and alarms; what principle could support them? They might talk of amor patriae, the love of their country; but this would never have carried them through, had there not been also the Laudum immensa cupido; "the immense thirst of praise." Now, the man we speak of has gained abundance of this: He is praised, if not admired, by all that are round about him. Nay, his name is gone forth into distant lands, as it were, to the ends of the earth. Add to this, that he has gained abundance of wealth; that there is no end of his treasures; that he has laid up silver as the dust, and gold as the sand of the sea. Now, when a man has obtained all these pleasures, all that will gratify either the senses or the imagination; when he has gained an honorable name, and also laid up much treasure for many years; then he may be said, in an easy, natural sense of the word, to have "gained the whole world."

Posted by Richard Taylor with

Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 16

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''As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?''  Psalm 42: 1-2
It was John Calvin who said ''The Psalms are the anatomy of all the parts of the soul; for there is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror.'' What is great about this Psalm is that it relates to so many of our dark and sorrowful days as believers. The Christian life is not a cake walk by any stretch of the imagination. To feel deserted, isolated, crushed, betrayed, and emotionally drained are all trials that are common to the faith. If you have never been part of this category yet, be assured that you will be.
What do we do when in despair, or depressed? We must express our feelings to God with brutal honesty. The Psalmist here is lonely and broken. He cannot get enough of God, he needs God and wants him in his life. What is great about this person is that their desire is in the right place. His heart will not be satisfied until it has rested in God. Is the Lord our soul’s satisfaction, or are our thirsts misplaced? It is a tremendous evil to exchange the Creator for the creation. As Jesus said: ''Do not labor for the food that perishes, but labor for the food that leads to eternal life.'' John 6:27 Let us not be addicted to the power of the present moment, but be freed to gaze our eyes on the beauty of the eternal.

To “appear before God” can be translated: ''When will I see the face of God?'' The wonderful news for the Christian today is that we do see God and we see him through Jesus Christ! We see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. When you know Jesus then you know God and you see God. We are like the woman at the well whom Jesus pursued, so that she might not thirst any longer. He gives us a drink from the rivers of his delight, in his light we see light. Yes, we will still thirst, but our Good Shepard will always lead us besides still waters constantly restoring our bruised soul. There is a well of water springing from within us that will always be there to drink when we do thirst.
In John 19:28 Jesus say's after his mission had been finished. ''I Thirst''. To never experience the satisfaction of all that God is will make a person thirst for eternity with no hope of ever being satisfied. Without Christ you will die of thirst. He became a curse on your behalf so that you might not have to experience the curse of the law. In this moment on the cross, He thirsts, so that you might not thirst any longer. Oh, what a glorious, sweet, precious savior we have who brings delight to our day and brightens our night!
Prayer Focus
Oh Lord, you have given us an ocean of an inconceivable amount of water from which we may drink. May my heart’s desire and focus be fixed on you. When I fear my faith will fail please hold me fast. Continue to pour out your unrelenting waves of grace within my soul.

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

There is a celebrated remark to this effect, (I think in the works of Mr. Pascal,) that if a man of low estate would speak of high things, as of what relates to kings or kingdoms, it is not easy for him to find suitable expressions, as he is so little acquainted with things of this nature; but if one of royal parentage speaks of royal things, of what concerns his own or his father's kingdom, his language will be free and easy, as these things are familiar to his thoughts. In like manner, if a mere inhabitant of this lower world speaks concerning the great things of the kingdom of God, hardly is he able to find expressions suitable to the greatness of the subject. But when the Son of God speaks of the highest things, which concern his heavenly kingdom, all his language is easy for him and unlabored, his words natural and unaffected; inasmuch as, known unto him are all these things from all eternity. How strongly is this remark exemplified in the passage now before us! The Son of God, the great King of heaven and earth, here uses the plainest and easiest words: But how high and deep are the things which he expresses in them! None of the children of men can fully conceive them, till, coming out of the darkness of the present world, he emerges an inhabitant of eternity.

Posted by Richard Taylor with

Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 15

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Psalm 37:37-40 37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace. 38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off. 39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. 40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

Salvation is From the LORD:
Psalm 37:37-40. The final stanza of Psalm 37:37-40 is a reminder that the LORD will uphold the righteous, defeat His enemies, destroy the wicked, and deliver those who are His. In verse 37, the final imperative of the psalm is given, to “Mark the blameless and behold the upright,” a calling to the righteous in the LORD to observe who else is righteous in the LORD and a reminder that “there is a future for the man of peace.” In contrast, verse 38 states that the wicked will perish and that their future “shall be cut off.” This should be a severe reminder to those of us in Christ, that there is a dire and grim future for those not in Christ. This should serve as both a warning of the power of God and that what He says will happen, and it should serve as an exhortation for us to spread the gospel, for we once were lost, “alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,” (Colossians 1:21) but have been “reconciled in His [Jesus] body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him…” (Colossians 1:22). Verses 37-38 continue the stanza of this psalm, with another imperative to “mark the blameless and behold the upright,” following with another promise that they have a future (the “upright”) and the wicked do not, “the future of the wicked will be cut off.” Verses 39-40 complete Psalm 37 with a reminder that the LORD delivers the righteous and saves them in times of trouble. It is a beautiful reminder that the LORD is just and will deliver the righteous from the wicked. The “because” in verse 40 should remind us as believers that we are not saved on the basis of what we have done, our power or ability to flee the wicked, but rather on the basis of the LORD. The righteous take refuge in Him. He is like a shelter in storm. Believers know that it is not our own doing that saves us from the oncoming calamity, but rather the shelter of the LORD himself upholds and protects us. How silly would it be for us to take credit because we are saved from wickedness, when he is sovereign over all. It is all because of Him, because He is our refuge or shelter. Notice how the salvation is FROM the LORD and that He delivers the righteous. Let us reflect upon the glory of God today and be reminded of the His saving redemptive hand. Let us be reminded that the LORD will deliver us from wickedness and the wicked, and that ultimately God wins. We can rest assured that He will be our stronghold in times of trouble. What a comfort to know the God of this universe through His Son Jesus Christ!
Prayer Focus:
LORD, today, may I be reminded of Your salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank you, truly thank you so much for Your salvation and Your kindness. God, You will uphold me in my time of stress and trouble. God, You are faithful in everything You do. Deliver me from my struggles, from my sins, from everything that distracts me from You, LORD. Clean me, cleanse me of all filth that I may be tempted with and come across my mind. Help me to put my eyes and to focus on You. LORD, deliver those around the world being persecuted for Your Name. LORD, deliver the orphans and widows, and those who need Your Presence today! Father, thank You for Your salvation that You have given in Christ Jesus, Your Son. It is by His death and resurrection, that I have access to knowing You LORD. May Your Name be glorified. 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.
It is not becoming for poor, guilty, sinful worms, who receive whatsoever blessings they enjoy, (from the least drop of water that cools our tongue, to the immense riches of glory in eternity,) of grace, of mere favor, and not of debt, to ask of God the reasons of his conduct. It is not reasonable for us to call Him in question "who gives account to none of his ways;" to demand, "Why did you make faith the condition, the only condition, of justification? Wherefore did you decree, "He that believes," and he only, "shall be saved?" This is the very point on which St. Paul so strongly insists in the ninth chapter of this Epistle, that the terms of pardon and acceptance must depend, not on us, but "on him that calls us;" that there is no "unrighteousness with God," in fixing his own terms, not according to ours, but his own good pleasure; who may justly say, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy;" namely, on him who believes in Jesus. "So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs," to choose the condition on which he shall find acceptance; "but of God that shows mercy;" that accepts none at all, but of his own free love, his unmerited goodness. "Therefore he has mercy on whom he will have mercy," on those who believe on the Son of his love; "and whom he wills," that is, those who believe not, "he hardens," leaves at last to the hardness of their hearts.

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