Pastor Mark’s Devotions, May 2

“Praying the Psalms”

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress.” Psalm 4:1

 

Have you ever considered praying the psalms? Sometime we get in a place where we just don’t know what to pray. The longer we are told to “stay at home” and restrict our activity, it can play havoc with our emotional wellbeing. When you find yourself in a place in which prayer seems fruitless, I encourage you to turn to the book of Psalms.

King David not only had a heart for God, he poured out his heart to God. The Psalter is considered the hymnbook for the nation of Israel. But originally, most of them were like a diary or devotional book recording David’s private, personal prayers. David wrote about his victories and successes. He also wrote about his failures and troubles. He describes times of deep fear and depression. He also describes a heart full of praise and thanksgiving to God, his deliverer.

When you don’t know what to pray, consider turning to the Psalms. You might find something in David’s words that you can turn and personally offer to God for yourself. Sometimes just the first verse of a Psalm can tap an emotion that you are feeling and can trigger a prayer to God.

Psalm 4 describes David needing help from God. Perhaps this is how most small business owners feel right now. David prays, “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.”

Psalm 5 describes David asking for help in the morning. David prays, “Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

Psalm 10 describes David feeling alone. Perhaps people living in isolation feel this way. David prays, “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”

Psalm 8 describes David in awe of the majesty of God. Perhaps people at NASA or people gazing into the night sky feel this way. David prays, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.”

Psalm 9 describes David declaring his praise to God. Perhaps people who have recovered from Covid19 feel this way. David prays, I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Psalm 12 describes David declaring his need for help. Perhaps business owners are feeling this way about government leaders. David prays, “Help, O LORD, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception.”

Psalm 16 describes David declaring his need for refuge. Perhaps state governors are feeling this way among the protestors. David prays, “Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.”

Psalm 18 describes David declaring his love for God. Perhaps, even in trying times, many believers are feeling this way. David prays, “I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.”

David’s prayers, written over 3,000 years ago, still speak. They can speak to you in your time of need. They can remind you that you are not alone. Others have felt and are feeling the way you feel. This awareness alone can provide much hope. We are blessed to have 150 psalms in our Bible to choose from. God has included all of them in his Word that we might tap into them depending upon our situation.

When in doubt, turn to the Psalms. Let David’s pray become your prayer, that you may find rest for your soul.

Today, this is my prayer:

               “I waited patiently for you LORD;

               You turned to me and heard my cry.

               You lifted me out of the slimy pit,

               Out of the mud and mire;

               You have set my feet upon a rock

               And gave me a firm place to stand.

               You have put a new song in my mouth,

               A hymn of praise to our God. “        From Psalm 40:1-3

               Thank you, Lord Jesus!

God Bless You All,

Pastor Mark



Pastor Mark’s June Newsletter Blog

Pastor Mark’s June Newsletter Blog “Free Stuff” This past weekend, I had a clear goal in mind. Clean out the clutter in the garage so that I could park my truck inside. This was one major goal. After remodeling downstairs, cleaning out the closets, storing the kids extra belongings and accumulating all of my needless treasures, I didn’t know how long this cleaning effort would take. But systematically, bit by bit, I began to see some daylight. I didn’t want to waste time with a garage sale, so I simply put my unwanted junk, I mean treasures, out by the street with a sign that said, “Free”. I even put a broken lawnmower out there as well as retro, antique, old and just plain old cheap trinkets.   It was amazing to watch the items disappear one by one. Usually it happened when I left the house. Each time I would return home, another item would be gone. I’m not sure if they would have disappeared if I would have had a price tag on them. But with their being “free”, people were willing to take them home with them.

It’s interesting to read the final words in the Bible. . . . .

Revelation 22:17 states,

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”

And let them who hear say, “Come!”

Whoever is thirsty, let them come, and whoever wishes,

let them take the free gift of the water of life.”

So why is it that so many people are willing to take my free junk out along the road, but when it comes to the free gift of salvation, so many hesitate to take it home with them?   Is it because they think that there is a price associated with it? Certainly, people need to know that there was a steep price associated with this free gift of eternal life – but that price was paid by Jesus Christ, suffering on the cross, bearing the sins of the world. And yes, there is a price to be paid on our part, that we would surrender our selfish ways and live in step with God. But doesn’t that supposed price become a privilege as we experience a spirit filled life providing us with greater purpose, meaning, love and the reality of eternity?    Or does the basic truth smack us in the face that most people don’t really care and really are not that interested in spiritual things? Barna Research tells us that the opposite is true. That your average Joe, driving down our streets are indeed interested in spiritual things. So what gives?   Perhaps people just do not know about this free gift of God described in the Bible and delivered through Jesus Christ. So, if someone stopped in front of your house and was picking up an old, used water hose with a mashed end that says “free”, and happened to ask you, out of curiosity, about the free gift of Jesus Christ – would you have something to offer him/her?   A few weeks ago, one of our members was with a co-worker, and they had a conversation about Jesus. He texted me after the conversation that night and was so excited as he shared, “He didn’t know anything about Christianity, and I knew what to say.”   This is why we are continuing Connexion into June – so that we can continue to learn simple ways to respond to honest questions when people ask. Perhaps it will not be a stranger by the road, but your son or daughter at the kitchen table or your grandchild at bedtime. The gift that Jesus has freely given us, let us freely give. And may it be our privilege to pass on the truth that indeed, the price has already been paid!   Connexion, Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

And if interested, I still have some free stuff out by the road! Feel free to stop on by!

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you

to give the reason for the hope that you have.”     1 Peter 3:15

 In Christ, Pastor Mark

 
 


How Do I Say This?

 

How Do I Say This?

“In your hearts, revere Christ as Lord.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you

to give the reason for the hope that you have.

But do this with gentleness and respect.”     1 Peter 3:15

 

Recently, I read a devotional written by a seminary classmate of mine, Pastor Paul Owens, included in the latest edition of the LCMC newsletter. In his article he describes an interaction with a relative who defines himself as an agnostic. In their conversation, Pastor Paul responded to his skepticism, “Tell me about the god you don’t believe in – maybe I don’t believe in that god either.”

Often, when we are with relatives, friends and/or neighbors who express skepticism toward faith in Jesus Christ, it’s difficult to know what to say.  As I read Pastor Paul’s experience, I was encouraged and inspired by his response. His question felt honest, respectful, gentle, and I believe, opened the door for further dialog. Paul invited his second cousin to share his experience and problems with Christianity. Paul could then respond to his doubts and questions and also share what he believes and what he doesn’t believe.

Sometimes we just need a statement that can help get the conversation going.