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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.

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Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 19

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Psalm 42:7-8 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

The most comforting aspect of God is his sovereignty. He is in absolute control. He’s absolutely independent and does whatever he pleases. I know despite all the different trials I may run into God has ordained them and what he ordains is perfect. To have a God not in control is to have no God at all. It would be no relief at all to know that God does not rule the wind and waves. The Psalmist understands that his oppression, depression, loneliness, and crushed spirit are all part of the waves of God.

Spurgeon once said, “It would be a very sharp and trying experience for me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, nor sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity” It’s ok to feel bitter sorrow in the Christian life. Men like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and Martin Luther were greatly afflicted at times.

There are times when the Lord will strip us from the addicting power of the present moment and all of our self reliant resources, so that we may be fully reliant on him. We can be feeble minded and easily forget of the glory that awaits us. It is times like that the Lord shows his steadfast love for his believers and begins to initiate an emotional bond between him and us. We need ice cold splashes of rain some days to awaken us in our spiritual slumber. How sweet and refreshing it is to find Christ through your hell and the reality of heaven in your heart.

God’s steadfast love is a central theme in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word is "hesed." It speaks of Gods loyal love to the believer. It’s why we can trust in the promise of Romans 8:28 without any doubt. The Lord’s "hesed" will never let us go. In the midst of life’s trials and tragedies, we may cry out to our gracious Lord with boldness and confidence that nothing can separate us from the loyal love that saved us, is sanctifying us in the present, and will faithfully bring us to our eternal home.

There’s a saying I once heard that I repeat to my family often: “We stick with the stuck.” No matter what terrible circumstance we might go through whatever it is we will go through, it will be together. Family is binding and family is a commitment. It is because of the loyal love Christ had for the Father and his Church that he was able to take upon himself the worst of us, so we may have the best of him. It is why at night you can lay your head on your pillow in peace despite the downpour of emotion that might overwhelm you singing:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Prayer Focus:
Lord, may the downpour of your grace exceed the waves of my trials. Help me to understand that nothing can separate me from your loyal love. May the pain of this life lead to a healthy obsession of the next. Speak to me, teach me, counsel me through your word. May I consider the sufferings of this world to be nothing compared to the glory that awaits.

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 in what circumstance finds the spirit of a good man, at his entrance into eternity? See, the convoy attends, the ministering host of friends. They receive the new-born spirit, and conduct him safe into Abraham's presence, into the delights of Paradise; the garden of God, where the light of his countenance perpetually shines. It is but one of a thousand commendations of this antechamber of heaven that "there the wicked cease from troubling, there the weary are at rest." For there they have numberless sources of happiness which they could not have upon earth. There they meet with "the glorious dead of ancient days." They converse with Adam, first of men; with Noah, first of the new world; with Abraham, the friend of God; with Moses and the Prophets; with the Apostles of the Lamb; with the saints of all ages; and, above all, they are with Christ. How different, alas, is the case with him who loses his own soul! The moment he steps into eternity, he meets with the devil and his angels. Sad convoy into the world of spirits! Sad earnest of what is to come! And either he is bound with chains of darkness, and reserved unto the judgment of the great day; or, at best, he wanders up and down, seeking rest, but finding none. Perhaps he may seek it (like the unclean spirit cast out of the man) in dry, dreary, desolate places; perhaps where nature all in ruins lies, and owns her sovereign, death! And little comfort can he find here, seeing everything contributes to increase, not remove, the fearful expectation of fiery indignation, which will devour the ungodly.

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Fall 2018, 40 Days of Prayer, Day 18

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Psalm 42:5-6 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. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Today I start with a quote from Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc.  Somebody is talking. Who is talking? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.’…

Here we continue to see the turmoil within the psalmist and his fight with sorrow. He knows God, he's aware of the Lord's promises that’s why he's preaching to himself, ''how can you be cast down my soul?' Preaching is not just for Sunday, or for the Pastor, but we must all learn to preach to ourselves. We must exhort and remind ourselves of who God is and to remember his promises for us through Jesus Christ. We must continue to feed on the abundance of his house and drink from the river of his delights. That’s why a steady diet of scripture is vital to our delicate souls.

Analyze your situation and compare it to the hope that is laid up or for you. Remember faith is the assurance of things hoped for. Biblical hope is not like the hope of your favorite football team winning the game. It's not hope that desires something good for the future but with no assurance. Biblical hope expects it to happen. If you have no words to preach just preach to yourself these 3 words: Hope in God! The reality of your hope is strengthened through your trust in the faithfulness of God. Sometimes it's not as hard to believe in God. Sometimes it's hard to believe God, to believe what he says about you. He will hold you Fast! When you fear that your faith may fail just sing to yourself; He will hold me fast.

Remember that Christ endured the cross for the joy set before him. What a tremendous spiritual battle our Lord and Savior went through. The blood, sweat, and tears he endured as he prepared to drink from the cup laid before him. How thankful we are that he was able to persevere. His soul may have been greatly troubled, but he knew his Father. He knew his Father’s plans. He believed what the Father said about him and his mission. He knew the joy set before him would come to pass because of the trustworthiness of the Father. Let us remember who God is and hope in him because what he has said about our past, our present and our future. If he is for us, nothing can be against us.

Prayer Focus
God you are my rock, my soul's refuge. My hope is secured by your divine power and almighty strength. When I look at Christ I see my salvation. When you look at Christ you see my security. Please devour my soul with your light and make your wonders known through the darkness.

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
The next point we have to consider is what is implied in a man's losing his own soul. But here we draw a deeper scene, and have need of a more steady attention. For it is easy to sum up all that is implied in a man's "gaining the whole world." but it is not easy to understand all that is implied in his "losing his own soul." Indeed none can fully conceive this, until he has passed through time into eternity. The first thing which it undeniably implies is, the losing all the present pleasures of religion; all those which it affords to truly religious men, even in the present life. "If there be any consolation Christ; if any comfort of love," -- in the love of God, and of all mankind; if any "joy in the Holy Spirit;" if there be a peace of God, -- a peace that passes all understanding; if there is any rejoicing in the testimony of a good conscience toward God; all this is totally lost by the man that loses his own soul. But the present life will soon be at an end: We know it passes away like a shadow. The hour is at hand, when the spirit will be summoned to return to God that gave it. In that awful moment, Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view, Who stand upon the threshold of the new. And whether he looks backward or forward, how pleasing is the prospect to him that saves his soul! If he looks back, he has "the calm remembrance of the life well spent." If he looks forward, there is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that does not fade away; and he sees the convoy of angels ready to carry him into the presence of Abraham. But how is it in that solemn hour, with the man that loses his soul? Does he look back? What comfort is there in this? He sees nothing but scenes of horror, matter of shame, remorse, and self-condemnation; a foretaste of "the worm that never dies." If he looks forward, what does he see? No joy, no peace! No gleam of hope from any point of heaven! Some years since, one who turned back as a dog to his vomit was struck in his mid-career of sin. A friend visiting him, prayed, "Lord, have mercy upon those who are just now leaving the body in this life, and do not know which will meet them at their entrance into the next world, an angel or a fiend!" The sick man shrieked out with a piercing cry, "A fiend! a fiend!" and died. Just such an end, unless he die to himself, may any man expect who loses his own soul.

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