Psalm 120: 1 ‘I call on the Lord in my distress, and He answers me.’
I love the simplicity, yet sure and certain faith, hope and trust of this verse. ‘I call…and He answers me.’ This is God’s inspired Word speaking, and countless people of faith now and before us testify to this from their faith journey. So let us keep on crying out to God. Yes asking and seeking His will. But let us also remember to praise Him, even when we don’t feel like it – for praise lifts and points us towards His presence, and give Him thanks for the good things we have and the love He has shown us. In distress and also laughter, let us know we can always turn to Him. He loves and cares for us.
Oh Lord, our creator and redeemer. Look with mercy on us your children and this lost and broken world. Come in power – shine your light – share your hope. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray.
Psalm 91 verses 1 & 2 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
The writer of this Psalm is able to speak confidently of knowing God as his refuge and fortress, because he knows him as ‘my God’, not just a God, or your God. The use of the personal infers a relationship, one that comes from knowing someone from being in their presence, from abiding under the shelter of their protection and resting in the confidence that brings.
This ultimately results in trust, not blind trust, but in the fortress like protection that God offers to those who abide in him. Trust generally takes time, it does not just happen, but is the result of dwelling, abiding and resting, in this context, in the presence of the Most High. It builds confidence that even when all around is turmoil, when those people/things we have put our faith into are falling apart, we can trust in God.
Dear Lord Jesus, when the world around us seems to be in turmoil and uncertainty, help us to know you, trust you and find rest in you.
Ephesians 2: 4 ‘But because of His great love for us, God…made us alive with Christ.’
As I look out of the window, rain lashing down, it is easy to feel hemmed in, shut away from the world and prevented from going out. Of course our current lockdown measures necessitate this to some extent: we are having to isolate and distance from one another. But we do also need to remember Christ’s work of salvation on the cross: when we embrace that for ourselves we become totally free. We are no longer dead in transgressions and sins as v.1 says, we are indeed a freed, liberated and alive to God people. So let’s rejoice in that truth today and give thanks to God for this priceless gift of life and freedom in Christ.
Oh Lord, thank you for setting us free. We pray today for all who struggle with addictions of whatever kind. Through the work of your church and the love of your people, please bring them freedom and release.
Psalm 137 verse 1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
To those of a certain age these words will remind them of a pop song of the late 1970’s, sung by the group Boney M. They took some Hebrew words of around 2,500 years old and made a hit from them. I wonder how many of you are going over the words in your minds right now.
The words relate to the Babylonian conquest of 587-586 BC, when the elite of Judah were marched to Babylon and the temple destroyed. The nine verses of Psalm 137 paint a scene of captives mourning “by the rivers of Babylon,” mocked by their captors. It expresses a vow to remember Jerusalem even in exile.
They had lived contrary to God’s commands for decades, even when he had sent prophets to warn them, they refused to change their ways, and ultimately, they faced God’s judgement, revealed through a heathen nation. They could not believe it, but when reality dawned upon them, they were mortified and vowed to never forget Jerusalem.
This Psalm reminds us that we can never take God’s grace and forgiveness for granted, that it is not ours by divine right. The Israelites thought that being God’s chosen people gave them a ‘get out of jail free’ card, but they were sadly wrong, and faced a brutal reality check.
But if we adhere to the words of 1 John Ch 1 verse 7, ‘ if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin’, then we will never be faced with the tragedy of knowing that we have neglected the truth by our own pride and stupidity.
Dear Lord Jesus, may we read the scriptures to enrich our relationship with you, to feed on the words of eternal life, and to guard us from the pride of that dwells within every human heart.
1 Timothy 1: 17 ‘Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.’
This verse reminds me of the hymn ‘Immortal, Invisible, God only wise.’ This gives us a sad reminder of what we may have lost together over the past months not being able to sing hymns and songs as a congregation. These are a great resource helping us, especially when words fail us, to praise and give glory to God. Along with the Psalms and other passages of Scripture, we need these words, inspired by God’s Spirit, and passed on to us to point us heavenward. So let us continue to give God the honour and glory for all that He is and all that He blesses us with.
Oh Lord, help us to praise you. Guide us and help us to know how to encourage each other in our faith and worship of You.
Psalm 42 verse 11 & Psalm 43 verse 5 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.
Both these Psalms finish with the identical words in their final verses. I wonder if they ask a question many of have asked of ourselves, ‘why is it we feel so fed up and downcast?’ I know I have.
Mental health is something that was never talked about until around 15 years ago, until then all I had heard of was of a mental hospital where those suffering a mental illness were incarcerated. Thankfully, things have changed dramatically over the past decade with many people admitting their own struggles with mental illness. This has brought about a greater degree of acceptance that mental illness can be as prevalent as physical illness.
The Psalmist seems to be admitting their own issues, with words like ‘downcast and disturbed’, words that resonate with many of us who have endured mental struggles. They do not then go on to give an answer, which is what most people want, but the Psalmist does encourage us to change our focus.
Rather than concentrating on our own issues he speaks of hoping in God, and of his commitment to praise God because of who he is, both saviour and God. This verse is not about direct answers, but about a change of focus, not prioritising our own issues, but prioritising putting our hope in God and praising him regardless.
Dear Lord Jesus, in the midst of our helplessness and hopelessness may our eyes be lifted to the hills and the cry of praise be on our lips.
1 Timothy 2: 1 ‘I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.’
Well, we are certainly not lacking in things to pray for at the moment together. As this passage continues to urge prayer for ‘those in authority’, that is surely a good place to start as we pray for all tasked with steering the country, regions and communities in the face of such trying times. Let us pray together also for those seeking and researching vaccines to protect and bring an end to the effects of this virus. May we also pray especially for all, and now sadly many known to us, affected personally by illness, separation, hardship, loss, loneliness and anxiety. So let us press in, upholding each other in prayer, and bring before our merciful God the needs of the world around us.
Oh Lord hear my prayer. When I call, answer me. Oh Lord hear my prayer. Come and listen to me, we pray.