Posted By Nan

Psalm 73


How hard it is, when everything in life seems to be going wrong. When those you love turn away from you and you are left wondering what you did wrong, or wondering when they will forgive you for something you have done. When people you thought were friends betray you. preferring the stab in the back, the malicious gossip, the character assassination instead of being your friend. When neighbours turn nasty and delight in excluding you from things you previously were part of. When you were an unwanted and abused child and you wonder when it will be your turn to be loved and wanted. When no amount of positives in the Psalms feel like they apply to you because they talk only about the arrogant and wicked in life, not those you love turning against you. When you read uplifting books about the lives of giants of faith and feel you are anything but one of those people.


What do you do?


What do you do when you search the Bible for comfort and find none. When tears blur your ability to read the texts. When you can think of nothing positive or uplifting or hopeful.
It can sometimes feel as though you are stuck in verses 1-14, where the arrogant and wicked have the ascendency. Where they have no struggles. Where they are healthy and slim. Where they have expensive houses, luxury cars and overseas holidays. Where they never have to worry about money. Where they can have what they want, whenever they want it. Where those who hurt and betray you continue to live their charmed lives, surrounded by people who believe every malicious word they say. Where it seems like you will always be on the outer, being hurt, vilified, unloved – even by those you love most.


What do you do?


You cling to God. You place your trust and faith in God. You be like the house built by the wise man, the one with firm foundations in the rock of God. When the storms come the house stands firm because it is anchored in trust and faith in God. It doesn’t wash away like the house of the arrogant and wicked, built in the sand. It stays firm.
You make the sovereign Lord your refuge, your home (v28) and you cling on. You cling on to the promises He has made that He will take you by the hand and wisely and tenderly lead you. And then He will bless you.
It may not seem it now, but that day will come when He will lead you with love and bless you will the abundance of His love for you.


For those who are hurting today, my prayer is for you to receive from God the strength to cling on. For you to know God’s great love for you, even if it is only a glimpse in this present darkness. Hold on to the glimpse and don’t let it go.
 

 
Posted By Nan
He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in His sight. Psalm 72v14 NIV.

When I was a child, I learned in history class about the dreadful treatment of the poor during Victorian times. I learned about the post world war 2 move to provide financial support for the poor, to change working conditions so workers were no longer exploited, and to ensure social justice for all people. Sadly those ideals have been replaced over the past few decades with increasingly harsh beliefs. Financial support for the poor has been eroded, homelessness is increasing, workers rights have been legislated away and social justice is not available for many people. Racism likewise is on the increase. The refugee is also suffering terribly at the hands of these policies. Many of the people who voice such harsh opinions claim to be Christians. They may even invite television cameras to film them standing in a church service with hands held high in an act of pious worship. Seeing these people reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 v 1-5:
“Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” NIV

It deeply distresses me that people holding such harsh, ungodly views, claim to be Christians. It angers me that they misrepresent God and bring Him to ridicule. It also angers me that they show so little fruit of the spirit in their actions. People like that deter others from faith in God.
I have been feeling such despair for those in the world God charged us with caring for. The poor, the widow, the foreigner in our midst. I have prayed for them and my heart has been broken at their plight. God’s answer? Psalm 72, especially verse 14. These people who are so in need will be rescued by God. Their blood is precious in His sight.
That has filled me with such hope.
I have been glad that I am currently reading through the Psalms. I have been able to see how David begged God for so long for relief from those who were harsh and intent on destruction of God’s work. I have also been able to draw comfort from the fact that God answered His prayers at the right time. I have been encouraged by this.

And my prayer for the ‘pharisees’ who hold harsh opinions and claim to be Christians is that they may have a road to Jericho experience (see Luke 30:30-37) or a road to Damascus experience (see Acts 9:1-19).
 
 
Posted By Nan

Psalm 71.
In the Bible, Paul speaks about being transformed by faith in God. It is something we all hear, but do not necessarily totally grasp, or remember.
We might occasionally remember transforming when we realise God is changing us. But there is a transforming that is not always so apparent. That is when God allows us to go through hard times. When God allows things to be taken away from us. When God allows us to go through dark times. When we feel God no longer talks to us and all hope is gone.
This is the aspect of change that is so often overlooked. Letting go in order to gain.
We do need to let go. We develop the more positive aspects of ourselves, changing them into what we believe is more acceptable in God’s sight. But those aspects still have a flawed foundation. If we clasp those aspects and don’t let go of them. If we do not allow God to transform them. Then we can never be transformed. We will develop a semblance of Godly behaviour, but we will not be fully transformed. We will always act from a flawed base.
It feels counter intuitive to release our hold on our behaviour when we believe that behaviour is positive. But holding on to that behaviour does not allow us to grow. Growth is what our journey on that narrow path is about.
Letting go of everything and letting God work in our lives is how we grow.
It is not easy to let go, particularly when we cherish the way we do things. But we can let go, knowing that God will take those beautiful behaviours and turn them into something more beautiful that we could ever have imagined.
God will transform each one of us into a beautiful person. We just have to hold on to hope and accept letting go, even when it is hard.
 

 
Posted By Nan

Psalm 70.


“Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord to not delay.” (v5 NIV)


A short while ago I was reading the biography of a great man of God. Through the devotionals he wrote in his lifetime, I found him to be a man of prayer and great conviction of God’s message. In his book I saw the extent of his prayer life. He spoke of times when he spent all night praying and seeking God. I felt quite inadequate. I have never done that. I have spent an hour or so praying, but never all night. I felt I must be very poor in my faith and should be spending more time in prayer. But life has always prevented that. Raising children has certainly prevented me from spending that time in prayer. Back then I would pray while awake at times during the night. Later I would take the dog for a walk and pray for that blessed hour I walked the dog. These days there are so many demands on my time I cannot stay awake to pray, despite my best intentions.
So I felt very inadequate and worried I was not spending enough time in prayer and was falling away from faith. I tried to spend time praying and fell asleep. I felt I should be making time to kneel next to the bed and pray and keep that brain awake.
With those thoughts in mind I moved through the next day feeling quite down about all the busyness in my life and how it was encroaching on my time with God. I was feeling really miserable.
Into those moments of misery God spoke. He reminded me we each have a different path and mine is not the path of that man. He sent friends to speak to me and encourage me. He whispered “patience” to me. He reminded me of the need to find a place of stillness within me and stop all the rushing about. He reminded me of verse 4 of this psalm that says that all who seek God rejoice and are glad in God.
He knows when we seek Him. He does not demand we give more than we are able. He does not want us to measure ourselves against others. We all have our own unique journey and our own way God gives us to spend time with Him.
We are poor and needy and God does come to us. He helps us and has delivered us and His timing is perfect. As we seek Him, in the best way we can, we are able to rejoice in His salvation and exalt Him.
And we are able to stop comparing ourselves to others.
 

 
Posted By Nan

Psalm 69
There are times in life when it seems nothing is going right. When it seems there are mockers everywhere. People who wish you ill. When those you love are caught up in other things and you feel alone and deserted. I know those times too.
I have been reading Psalm 69 lately. It seemed to echo a lot of what I have been going through recently. But it is a difficult Psalm to understand. So I spent time reading different versions of the Psalm and reading commentaries on it. I was struck by the comment that this Psalm was seen by the gospel writers as foreshadowing what Jesus went through on the cross.
That knowledge puts a completely different perspective on suffering. This is what Jesus endured. He was scorned for what He said about God. He was cut off from God, surrounded by those who hated Him and mocked Him. The more faithful Jesus was to God, the more He was mocked. He searched the crowd for a friendly face and found none. He was humiliated and shamed. I could imagine Him having voiced the feelings of this Psalm. He endured physical pain and he endured the pain of being cut off from God. And at the end he was raised from the dead and ascended to Heaven.
For the disciples there was fear and confusion and terror until that Easter Sunday when they found the empty tomb.
When I have clients in this lost, lonely, hopeless place, I describe it to them as that space between what was and what will be. A trackless wilderness. There are no maps. No obvious way out. But that place is somewhere where much growth happens. So that when you emerge from that place into the what will be, you have learned something important that you will bring with you into what will be. The important thing you have learned that will allow you to be what you will be. Sometimes you need to accept you are in that trackless wilderness. You don’t have to like it, you just have to stop fighting it and trust you will not be there forever.
Jesus learned in that trackless wilderness. The disciples learned in that trackless wilderness. We can learn in that trackless wilderness. We can draw comfort from that fact that Jesus knows what we are going through because He went through it too. We can emerge, as the Psalmist does by the end of the Psalm. We can move forward into what will be with a new equipping, strong in faith and with God guiding us.
 

 

 

 
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Nan
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