What Really Changes us

Psalm 41:4-13

Suffering will make you a better or a bitter person but will not leave you where it found you. 

LD

We have a friend who is constantly in pain and suffering from a chronic disease. You can see pain coating his face constantly. Yet, if you ask him ’how he is doing’ the answer is the same. ”Going on dear, going on, Praise the Lord,” that’s his answer. 

I must say that when I first knew him, I did not know what he meant. Many times I didn’t even know how to handle that response. For often it felt like a cliche and as an automated response, but one thing is sure, that has been and is his response always. 

Concluding with praise I have found is his way of not allowing pain to have the last word. Pain has his body but not his identity.  

I don’t know how he does it, I can’t explain it to you, but when I look at him and praise is what I remember, it challenges my moaning about life and encourages me to trust God even more.

David finishes his psalms very often in a hopeful note. He could be sick and in pain and suffering ( see verses 4-9) so much that many of his friends think he is going to die, still he praises God ( see verse 13) 

I believe that that is the secret to allowing suffering to change us for good, I don’t understand it entirely, but I know it is, I have seen it, I have lived it so many times. 

Suffering is going to come, that’s life, but if we choose to keep our eyes on God when we are suffering I know that we will come out on the other sidelooking more and more like Jesus. 

( See 1 Peter 5:10, 2 Timothy 3:12, Isaiah 53:3, John 16:33

The Real Acid Test for Us

Psalm 41:1-3

When we think of the ’poor’ we often mean the people who are economically disadvantaged.  But poverty reaches far deeper than out pocket. There is poor amongst us who wear and carry gold, but inside are in rags.

Financial poverty is the easier to spot, but social poverty, mental impoverishment and family scarcity are the hardest to detect.

The way we treat them who ‘don’t matter’ show who we really are.

LD

The way we behave with people who can’t give us back favours, can’t open doors to big opportunities for us and canthelp us to climb the ranks, speak volume to who we are.

To me, the real acid test to our character stands with the way we see and treat the poor, all the poor, the ones that don’t know as much as we do (intellectually poor), the ones who have not got the same background and upbringing like ours, the ones who look and express themselves differently, the ones who sleep outside and the ones who beg our attention and aide.

God puts a premium when it comes to the way we handle the poor amongst us. His heart and message are specially dedicated to the downtrodden, to the unseen. He notices our hearts and wants to reward those who notice what he notices, the poor.

When you see and meet people that are deficient to what you have in abundance, how do you behave? How the poor make you feel?

(See Job 5:15-16, Luke 4:17-19, Proverbs 19:17, 31:8-9)

Not Quitting

Psalm 40:16-17 MSG

The world is but a big throb of heartache. 

People quitting on people everywhere. 

Family quitting on family, husband quitting on wife, mum quitting on children, employees quitting on employment. 

It seems that our tether has grown shorter and shorter with the passing of times. There is no faithfulness, commitment and responsibility taking. We have become a generation of ’self’ 

Me, myself and I. 

But God is not like us. In fact, he never quits. He never quits on the world, he never quits on us. From the beginning of times, he has been fully committed to us. 

He thinks, he plans and awaits for us.

He thinks upon thee beloved, the Eternal Father thinks of you ( Surgeon) 

What he has done and does daily are too many to count. ( Neither numbers nor words account for you -verse 5 MSG) 

Our God has not equal! Jesus Christ has no rival. 

The further we walk away from him, the closer we draw to a life of quitting and running away. That life was not designed by God for us. 

For the life that Christ died to give us is a fulfilling a life, a meaningful life, a beautiful life. 

A quitting life is a wasted life.  A persevering life is a winning life.

Has quitting become a habit to you? How knowing that God does not quit on you helps to be an enduring person? 

( See Philippians 3:7-9, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Hebrew 10:23

Doing vs Devotion

Psalm 40:6-10 NLT

Christianity, the message of the gospel is not about what we can do to be saved, but living out what is already done for us. 

Salvation is not a ’work-based, points-keeping’ protocol. 

As David says in today’s psalm, traditions, human works and penances practised then and now does not impres God. ( see verse 6 MSG) 

All sacrifices of the innocent animals, all gift bringing and giving, all religious and acting pious was worthless. 

What matters to God is devotion not doing. 

LD

God wants our ears, not our expensive endowment. 

He wants people who would listen to him and surrender and be devoted. People who delight in knowing who he is and what he has done. People that rejoice in the finished work of Calvary and are ready to walk in the newness of life with Jesus through Holy Spirit. 

There is no present, person or position we can offer God that can buy our way to salvation and redemption. Salvation is a free gift offered to us by grace through faith. 

Are you trying to win God’s love through your giving gifts or giving yourself? Why surrender is hard for you? 

( See Acts 16:30-32, Hebrews 10:5-10, Ephesians 2:8-10

In waiting, I waited

Psalm 40:1-3

To wait is to live, but to wait patiently is to be alive. 

I was waiting the other day to pay for my groceries and somehow the person before me decided to use one hundred coupons and vouchers, half of them not valid. The first minutes or so, I was cool about that, but when ten minutes passed and we were only on the 20th coupon my face was not happy. I tried hard to be smiley and chilled about that, but inside my impatient was boiling. 

We do the same with God. We are impatient, we worry, we try to help him, rush him to supply us with an answer. 

But God cannot be rushed! 

LD

He knows that waiting is not just idle living. When we wait on God we don’t stand in a passive sluggish way until what we are looking for comes to be, but to wait in and with God is a determination to hope, expect and look eagerly to him who helps and guides us through life.

Waiting is expecting God to do the work. 

As we wait on Him, our faith muscle is strengthened, our hope eyes don’t nap and our trust is reestablished. 

It is not only that God will lift us from any ditch we are in as we wait, but that he will set our feet on solid grounds also.   

Are you good at waiting? What have you learned from waiting on the Lord? 

( See James 5:7-11, Romans 12:12, Hosea 12:6

Do you pray about this?

Psalm 39:8

Being and acting rebellious can be fun. Resisting authorities, control or convention can be invigorating and freeing.  Rebellion is seen as something positive in our today’s culture.

But how do we know that what we are doing is a ’good rebellion?’ 

You see, from scripture and history, we learn that mostly we rebel against God. We despise his authority, fight for independence and resist his governing ways. But from the beginning, Adam and Eve by resisting the Eden order borought fatal consequences to the world. 

Rebellion is the taking of actions without God involvement. 

LD

Our rebellion can sound right and good and helpful and necessary, but unless we are on the same step with God about what we are rebellin against, it will lead to a fruitless endeavour. 

The prayer ’ Rescue me from my rebellion’ from todays‘ devotion should be a daily yearning of us. Knowing ourselves and the fragility and haste of our action should propel us to our knees. 

Rebellion sometimes arises from pain and abuse, even then two wrongs don’t make one right. Let’s act with peace and strength, for some of the best revolution that have brought change into our world have been the peaceful ons. 

( See Deuteronomy 9:24, Titus 2:14, Romans 2:23)

We are but a Breath

Psalm 39:4-7

Our time on earth is brief, there is no manipulating time. 

We forget that, we do. David is reminding us not to. 

If we live with this reminder, our lives will look and feel very differently. ’Life is short’  should be a great motivation to not get stuck in petty arguments, to not be offended and easily hurt. 

The fleeting of time should encourage us to not withhold forgiveness,  to give mercy, and share the love of Jesus with all, for he has given us more than we can ever give back. 

’We are but a breath’ should nudge us to love more, enjoy life more, laugh more and overlook mistakes ever so often. 

The warning and the necessity of understanding the length of our days being short should make us people of joy and expectations. 

We should live a joyful life, not because everything in our life bring joy, but because we know that this life has an end and we must focus on what matters. 

We, also are people of expectation, we know that the fulfilment of the ultimate joy is near. We understand that this time on earth is but a blip compared to eternity. 

We live wisely, thoughtfully and joyfully, we live as travellers with eternity in our mind. 

( See Ecclesiastes 2:11, Job 14:1-2, 2 Peter 3:8

Say the Good Stuff

Psalm 39:2

Personality tests are very fashionable nowadays, but for me, they are just fun to take and can be helpful to understand people better. Whatever test I take I tend to get the same results … some type of ’challenger.’ 

If you have done any of the tests widley available let me tell you that they are very interesting and reasonably accurate.  

I am type A, Charismatic leader and yes, a challenger. 

According to the tests I belong in the same group with Margaret Thatcher, the current president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Aretha Franklin, Gandhi etc 

So, you don’t have to meet me to have an idea about my tendencies in speech and actions, for the people above can give you some clues.

My inclination to being with people is to notice the problem, challenge the status quo and lead for a change. Now, this might look good on paper but when dealing with people things can be very tense and hurtful.

I know I have changed a lot, but I am not there yet. 

I still tend to start with the problem, the negative, the deficiency… leave the good for the end and even then being quite stingy with it.

“I was mute and silent [before my enemies], I refrained even from good, And my distress grew worse.”

Psalms39:2 AMP 

I can tell you this that when we refrain to speak the good, the bad fills it’s place. 

LD

You have heard the suggestion that for every negative word we speak we need to speak 7 positive ones to override its effect in our minds. 

We are made to speak the good and restrict the evil talk. 

Unfortunately we do the opposite. 

Our words are life changers, let start today to be the peope who we really are ’the carriers of the Good News’ and allow no malicious word to pollute our mouths. 

What is your tendency when it comes to defining people or projects?

Are you more a good or bad news emphasisiser? 

( See Proverb 18:21, Philippians 4:8, Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 4:29

Empty out

Psalm 38:18

https://unsplash.com/s/photos/empty-cup

Has anyone ever told you that ’you are full of yourself?’ 

It’s hard not to be full of ourselves. What’s even harder is knowing when we are full, for pride creeps up slowly and unnoticeable in us until it becomes us. 

I have heard that God helps us from being free of ‘ourselves ’ by showing us a  humble way out, but if we ignore his way we are forced to humiliation. 

For pride is far destructive than any earthy humiliation. 

When things are falling apart or sickness has seized our bodies, the best thing to do is ’empty ourselves.’ 

We lay bare our life before God, remember, unlike us, he knows us inside out. We can have a very distorted view of ourselves and think that we are ok, but God shows us as we are. 

He does this not to condemn us, but to fill us with his Holy Spirit. 

Confession, sincere repentance and deeply sorry for our sin is not humiliation, but freedom. 

LD

When we turn to God, he runs towards us, ( see Luke 15:11-32) not adding guilt and blame but giving us forgiveness, embracing us and celebrating our lives. The world and ourselves can be against us, but if God is with us we have the best of all deals. 

Where do you turn when in anguish and full of agonies? 

(See 1 John 1:9, Romans 6:14, Proverbs 28:13)

When Silence Speaks

“I choose to hear nothing, and I make no reply.”

Psalms 38:14 NLT

When afflicted by troubles we can feel overwhelmed and lost. One strong reason for that is that suffering is complex. Part of the sorrow we experience in life is a direct result of our own choices but many are not. The tendency when we suffer is either to talk too much about it (oversharing) or not talk at all ( bottling our pain).

Mostly, our instinct is to follow the pattern of Adam and Eve and hide from God.  

David here is a great help to us on how to act when in distress.

He is ‘full-on’ sharing with God and totally on mute with people.

Grace and wisdom finds a way to enter and ease our anguish when we turn to God. 

LD

As David lets that grace enter his anguish,  he chooses to mute all other noises especially the noises that are negative and vicious. 

Our Lord Jesus ( Matthew 27:14) exercised silence in the right time too, even before the anguish of the cross he decided to ignore the voices that were accusing or opposing him, for silence at times is more eloquent than any words can be. 

What sounds you need to turn on or mute today? 

( See Lamentations 3:28, Mark 15:3-5, Job 13:5