Anxiety. Fear. Loneliness. Depression. The list could go on and on. Words like this have plagued so many of us for a long time…especially in the last few years. We look around the world we are living in, and we feel so many emotions like this. We have all have wrestled with them at some point. But is that all? As this world continues to fail and we see the devastation all around us should we just accept that this is a fallen place and lose hope?
Look at the opening verse of Psalm 46…God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. God begins this song to us with a promise… a promise of hope. He is our refuge. He is our strength. He is our ever-present help. This song goes on and on soothing our fears and calming our anxieties. Hear the words God uses to ease our loneliness and concerns:
God is within her and God will help(v5)
The Lord Almighty is with us(v7)
He lifts His voice(v6)
I AM GOD(v10)
I foresee a lot more suffering in the coming years. Even reading this Psalms foreshadows the unrest we can expect. But through it all I know who holds my future in His hands. I know who I can lean on and take a hold of when I am wracked with fear. I am holding on the One who tells me to rest, be still and know the He is God.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalms 38-39
This psalm can be almost overwhelming in its imagery and in its connections to other Scripture.
First there is the image of Jesus as bridegroom, seen as so holy that the description would be embarrassing if said of any other groom. Then we have the Wedding Feast, or Wedding Supper of the Lamb pictured, as also seen in Revelation 19: 7 - 10. Also, we have echoes of the Parable of the Ten Virgins as delivered by Jesus in Matthew 5: 15.
What most captures my attention is the description of the bride adorned in “the gold of Ophir.” The bride, of course, is the Church, here seen as dressed in gold, the holy metal of God. Jesus is said (verse 11) to be “enthralled by your beauty,” the beauty of his spotless Church/Bride.
Now I just have to look in the mirror to see that we have a problem here. There is nothing about me that Jesus could possibly be enthralled by. Quite the contrary. Yet Scripture clearly states that I, as part of His Church will be clothed with the holiness of God. How am I to understand the difference between what I see and what Scripture states will be?
The difference seems to be the difference between sanctification and glorification. During my earthly life the Holy Spirit continues His ongoing work of my sanctification working with all the frailties of my sinful flesh, that is, hindered only by that unknowable dynamic between God’s sovereignty and my free will.
At the moment between the Church Age and the Millennial Kingdom, that is, at the Wedding Feast of Jesus with His Church I, along with millions of other believers will be glorified by the Father as He proclaims “I now pronounce you…”
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalm 37
Today’s psalm is directly tied to psalm 42, as the psalmist continues his lamenting exclusion from God’s sanctuary (v. 1-2). However, the psalmist shifts in language as he calls upon God to draw near to him (v. 3) which would give him great joy (v. 4). We end with the refrain that appeared twice in psalm 42, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” Though this time these words are more hopeful, whereas the first two were bleak and sorrowful.
When I reflected on this psalm, and the previous psalm, I thought of how often I don’t call upon the Lord to draw near to me. I know that I often find myself leaving His presence to seek out my own desires and paths, but when the realization hits, all I do wallow in self-pity. Shouldn’t we know that we can call on the Lord to help us return to Him? Shouldn’t we be more joyful with the knowledge that our Lord is ready and willing to accept us back into his arms? We should be joyful that He is our stronghold and that He will lead us back to his alter. While it is important to recognize when we have strayed away from God, I think it equally important to recognize that He does bring us back into the fold and that we should praise Him! We can be certain in God, for He is unchanging in His ways.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalm 36
Hospital waiting rooms are sometimes quiet filled with anxiety as medical personnel walk purposefully through those swinging doors. As the doors flap in the aftermath, heart rates settle but thoughts are still whirring…”what if?” “What’s happening?”
Time stands still. Waiting is hard. It’s as if nothing is happening.
I may be in the waiting room, but there is a flurry of activity happening. Doctors with expertise beyond my years are putting their studies and experience to work as they gather the information and perform what procedures are needed. Nurses and other personnel are processing my loved one through a battery of tests. Each putting their experience and knowledge together. Years of proficiencies and capabilities culminate to this point of determining how best to deal with the person I brought into the hospital. Even the machinery for those tests have been put together by mechanical experts to make it work, which took years of training, reading, and trying out new concepts. All this is happening while I am waiting. That’s a lot of activity of which I am seemingly unaware. There is an orchestra of activity to make sure my loved one is getting the best care they need…all while I wait, anticipating a favourable outcome.
Waiting on God is not passive. It is assuming an anticipatory posture; expectant and accepting God’s timing. It may seem as if your time of waiting is very still and very quiet, as if nothing is happening. It’s long. It’s arduous. And it’s lonely. All the while, behind the swinging doors which are so very close by, God is orchestrating events, people, and hearts to do their diagnostic work in my situation.
Your waiting room experience may feel like nothing is happening. But, my friend, God is at work! We must “be still”—be at peace without any resolution in sight. This is work, hard work. Lean into God’s faithfulness, not your own understanding. Settle into his arms for he will carry you through your waiting room experiences.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalm 35
The flow of this Psalm starts with a familiar theme. If you have spent anytime in proverbs, you will see a definite contrast between two types of people. The Wise and the Foolish. As believers in Christ, we should be making every effort in being people described as wise and to work hard at removing anything that has to do with foolish.
The Psalmist begins this Psalm with a description of the foolish, but you must take notice of the description of this person. Vs 1 Transgression speaks to the wicked. The Psalmist doesn’t hold back for those who stand in opposition to God. They falter themselves, words from their mouth are trouble, they stay up at night plotting evil, and like a moth to the flame they are drawn to evil.
Continuing in the comparison the Psalmist then moves to the declaration of the wise in God’s eyes. One would even call this a confession of Faith that is held dear in the heart of the believer. There is the acknowledgement of the steadfast love of God. The immovability of God’s righteousness and His judgements are there to save us. He completes his confession of faith in God in words that describe a life of peace and satisfaction. When we have a conviction and confession like that of the Psalmist written in this Psalm we are at peace. Our lives are driven by a desire to seek God more and more.
The Psalmists ends with a personal challenge to himself and opens his life to be examined by God. Words like “Let not” (Vs 12) show that we can easily fall into the camp of the wicked if our eyes stray away from God’s love. It is my prayer that we all take notice of the way of the wicked can enslave us but the way of the wise is found in the declaration of God’s Steadfast and Faithful Love.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalm 34
Psalm 34 is one of my favourite Psalms because it is one of praise. It is one that helps us to connect to our God. It starts with David praising God. Praise is one of the most vital actions that God’s people can do. David says he will praise the Lord all the time! And that he will proclaim praises to all who will hear.
David goes on to give testimony of how great God is and how much God has protected and cared for him. (Apparently, David wrote this Psalm when he was running away from Saul and afraid of getting killed by the Philistine King Achish.)
During the recent evacuation alert, I felt some fear. Deep down, I knew God would protect us. Deep down, I knew that whatever happened, in the long run, we would be okay. But I did feel some fear as to what we were going to have to go through, especially thinking about the Lytton fire... it was stressful.
What I knew I needed to do was to praise God, even in this difficult and scary time. Then I remembered that the Lord hears the cry of His people. We, and so many in Merritt had shared on social media the need for prayers for the fires that were surrounding us. I realized that many of God’s people were crying out to Him for us as we were also crying out to Him. God hears the cry of His people!
Verse 6 says, “In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles.” Verse 17 says, “The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help.”
God hears us and He saves us. That Sunday night, it started to rain, and it kept on raining through the week, and then the evacuation alert was rescinded. Praise – the – Lord! That was no coincidence! God hears the cries of His people!
I hope Psalm 34 can encourage us all to follow the Lord and His ways whole-heartedly, knowing that He will protect and care for us through any troubles.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalms 32 - 33
Sunday Morning Worship Service
Please join us for worship and the sermon.
Pastor Paris will be speaking.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalm 31
“How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven…” (CSB)
In verses 3 and 4 the psalmist describes the terrible state of the one who keeps silent and does not admit to the sin in his life. The suffering is spiritual, mental, and physical. But in verse 5 the psalmist stops trying to deny his sin and to hide it from God. Instead, he faces it squarely and hands it over to God.
In verses 6 and 7 we see the wonderful gifts that come with God’s forgiveness -- protection, deliverance, instruction, guidance. The logical result of all this is found in verse 11 where we are exhorted to shout for joy!
What is joy? We think of joy and happiness as being much the same thing. Happiness is a good thing -- we spend much of our lives pursuing the happiness that comes from relationships and achievements. We try to share happiness by being kind and supportive to other people.
But far greater than happiness is true joy. This joy is not dependent on circumstances or on the actions of other people. The result of transparency with God and having His forgiveness flowing into one’s life is JOY! This fills the depths of our being and sustains us through good times and bad. The person who has true joy can say “It is well with my soul” -- through the “smiley face” moments and on into the difficult valleys of hardships and loss, family turmoil, failed dreams, health problems and all the trials and tragedies that the world presents, surrounded by His faithful love (v 10).
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalms 28 - 30
David’s s Warfare Prayer
Scripture Reading: Psalms 27
Key verse: (v8) “You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
A favourite new song of mine is: Battle Belongs by Phil Wickman. One line particularly grabs me: “So when I fight, I’ll fight on my knees, with my hands lifted high…Oh, God, the battle belongs to You”
In one of his books, Warren Wiesbe said, “the Christian life is not a playground; it’s a battleground, and we must be on guard at all times.” In other words, following Jesus is not going to be a walk in the park; there’s a very real enemy who wages a war against those who’s hearts are committed to loving God and loving our neighbours.
David knew this to be true and wrote a song about it – we know it as Psalm 27.
He reminds us that our confidence against any foe is only as strong as our connection and relationship with God. The Lord is our light, our salvation, and our stronghold (vv.1-2).
In this Psalm we are encouraged to seek the face of the Lord and to wait for the Lord (vv.8,14). Both of these directives are active. To seek requires action. To wait, seems to be passive, but in Hebrew the word “wait” carries with it the sense of service. We are familiar with having a waiter serving us at a restaurant. It’s that same idea. To “wait on the Lord” is to be a waiter – one who listens and serves.
As we seek and wait we will, as David did, find our God to be our Almighty Fortress; we will see that nothing and no one can stand against the power of our God.
Use Psalms 27 to pray against the enemy in times when you find yourself fearful or anxious.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalms 26 - 27
“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust…”
Psalm 25, a Hebrew Acrostic poem written by David, challenges its readers to assess their trust and faith in the Lord while reminding them of the Lord’s unconditional love and mercy.
How often do we say, “I trust you Lord” and then proceed to worry and doubt, letting our emotions drive us away from God? How often do we say, “the Lord is my deliverer,” and then proceed in trying (and failing) to deliver ourselves from our circumstance? As we read Psalm 25, hearing the words of David and his prayer to the Lord, I encourage us to follow David’s lead. Pray to the Lord for wisdom to trust solely in Him, follow the path He has intended, seek forgiveness, and to put our hope in Him above all else. Instead of taking refuge from our struggles in the fleetingness of the world, let us take refuge in the good and gracious Lord.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalms 23 - 25