I read this on Sunday afternoon before I spoke at Kairos, and it was really helpful to me:
“Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has a good word for preachers. The last paragraph is especially worth reading a few times.
Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
Paul knew he was clothed with power and authority. How does one know it? It gives clarity of thought, clarity of speech, ease of utterance, a great sense of authority and confidence as you are preaching, an awareness of a power not your own thrilling through the whole of your being, and an indescribable sense of joy…
What about the people? They sense it at once; they can tell the difference immediately. They are gripped, they become serious, they are convicted, they are moved, they are humbled. Some are convicted of sin, others are lifted up to the heavens, anything may happen to any one of them. They know at once that something quite unusual and exceptional is happening…
What then are we to do about this? There is only one obvious conclusion. Seek Him! Seek Him! What can we do without Him? Seek Him! Seek Him always. But go beyond seeking Him; expect Him. Do you expect anything to happen when you get up to preach in a pulpit? Or do you just say to yourself, ‘Well, I have prepared my address, I am going to give them this address; some of them will appreciate it and some will not’? Are you expecting it to be the turning point in someone’s life? Are you expecting anyone to have a climactic experience? That is what preaching is meant to do. That is what you find in the Bible and in the subsequent history of the church. Seek this power, expect this power, yearn for this power; and when the power comes, yield to Him. Do not resist. Forget all about your sermon if necessary. Let Him loose you, let Him manifest His power in you and through you. (Preaching and Preachers)
Exodus 30:17-31:11, Matthew 26:31-35
reading the first six verses of Psalm 39 is interesting because it has echoes of different passages embedded into it.
verse 4 “Show me, LORD, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
reminds one of
Psalm 90:10 Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
and Psalm 39:6 “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
without knowing whose it will finally be.
reminds one of
Eugene Peterson says this about this passage: “The man is suffering. His first impulse is to complain, but he muzzles the impulse and turns the same energies into an intense, burning meditation on the fleeting brevity of life and his hope in a constant God.”
Wow I could relate to that this morning.
…first impulse is to complain.
…but turns the same energies into an intense, burning meditation on brevity of life & Hope!
May your day have an intensity about it today – an intensity of meditation & not an intensity of complaining.
When you have to listen to abuse, that means you are being buffeted by the wind. When your anger is aroused, you are being tossed by the waves. So when the winds blow and the waves mount high, the boat is in danger, your heart is imperiled, your heart is taking a battering. On hearing yourself insulted, you long to retaliate; but the joy of revenge brings with it another kind of misfortune shipwreck.
Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten his presence.
Rouse him, then; remember him, let him keep watch within you, pay heed to him … A temptation arises: it is the wind. It disturbs you: it is the surging of the sea. This is the moment to awaken Christ and let him remind you of these words: “Who can this be? Even the winds and the sea obey him.”
– Augustine of Hippo, Sermons on Mark
Exodus 29:31-30:16; Matthew 26:14-30
15 LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.
21 LORD, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.
The Old Testament scholar, Derek Kidner said this about Ps. 38:15 :
“David is outstanding in his ability to wait.”
If you study David’s life – from being anointed at a young age (teenager) by Samuel, to being hunted by Saul, to his Hebron time, to finally being anointed King of all Israel….
He had to wait & wait & wait (FOR YEARS & YEARS…)
I have been struck lately how hard it is for me to wait, and how difficult it is for others to wait as I observe those around me.
…to wait for a job
…to wait for marriage
…to wait for others to recognize me somehow
…to wait for my life to ‘get in order’ (whatever that means)
…to wait for others to see the leader that I think I am
…to wait for that relationship
…to wait on God for healing & restoration
So what I see happening at times — is that we take things into our own hands, instead of waiting for God’s timing.
Now, that is not to say that we simply acquiesce quietly to everything. On the contrary – we see David in verses 21 & 22 passionately petitioning God to act quickly and decisively.
However, I believe that David keeps this in balance…. waiting & petitioning. waiting & praying. waiting & hoping / expecting – but allowing God to work in God’s way & god’s timing.
That takes faith… great faith even.
…to believe and hope in god. & to wait.
From Basic Christian: The Inside Story of John Stott: Giving an interview in Hong Kong, John was asked whether he had ever experienced great temptations or thought of giving up his ministry.
“Pastors are especially vulnerable to temptation,” he said in the course of his reply. “Our chief problems are discouragement and loneliness. These can easily lead to burnout and so to giving up the struggle. I have never really been tempted to this because I have taken precautions. I have recognized that human beings are psychosomatic creatures, so that our bodily condition has a powerful influence on our spiritual life. I have tried to maintain a disciplined life, ensuring adequate sleep, food and exercise. I have known the great value of friends, to overcome loneliness. Birdwatching is excellent recreation…I don’t think birdwatchers get nervous breakdowns! I have found, however, that most important of all is a disciplined devotional life, with a determination to meet Christ every day.”
I got an email this morning from someone desperately asking for prayer. I prayed for them & brought their needs before God. I then read this in the Psalms:
Psalm 37:23 The Lord makes firm the steps of those who delight in him:
though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord upholds them with his hand.
I believe God answered my prayer.
I then read Eugene Peterson’s take on this passage…
God doesn’t abandon us to stumble along the bst we can by trial and error. Much of Scripture, and these verses are an example, can be classified as “travel notes” – notations on life’s journey as it is traveled in faith.
Prayer: God, you have given freely of both counsel and example. Give also a strong spirit of perseverance, that I may not falter as I walk the way you have pioneered for me in Jesus Christ. Amen.
That is what we all need: a strong spirit of perseverance – so that we may not falter. It is so easy to falter in our lives…. falter in faith, falter with giving up, falter with simply saying – ‘my will, not thy will’
may god overwhelm you with a strong spirit of perseverance today.
grace & peace,