Day 88: Be blessed
His name means Faithful. He was one of the chosen singers in David’s temple. He was known for his wisdom. Yet reminiscent of Job he often found himself in a dark and lonely place because of something he was suffering from, v8, v18. However, this was something he carried from when he was a young person, v15.
Heman has to be desired. For a man to suffer and serve God is surely to be admired: he is a suffering servant. Little did he realise that his words would be read and recited by the true Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ. Our Lord quoted from the Psalms many times. He clearly used them in prayer for himself just like every Jew did. Dietrich Bonhoeffer believed that the Psalms were actually the prayers of Christ.
Whatever it was Heman had to put up with, for him to be chosen as a Temple singer and known for his wisdom means he did not let suffering either label him or finish him. How did he do this? The answer is simply this Psalm, he prayed.
We must train ourselves to pray the way Heman prayed. I believe he leaves us some keys to prayer.
1. The focus of prayer:
He prayed to God, v1, v2. Faith rises when we know who we pray to.
He prayed with an expectation that God would be his salvation, v1.
2. The style of prayer:
He prayed unceasingly, v1.
He prayed with no formality. The word cry is acquainted with that of a child, they are not concerned with fancy words, v1.
3. The excuses of prayer:
He prayed when his trouble was at its worst, v3.
He prayed when he was giving up, v4.
He prayed when he had no strength left, v4.
He prayed when he felt forgotten, v5.
He prayed when he believed God was angry with him, v7, v16.
He prayed when it seemed pointless for God did not reply, v14.
4. The position of prayer:
He prayed with tears, v9.
He prayed with hands lifted upwards, v9.
The Faithful One calls us to pray today, and so does Heman.
We will be blessed if we do.
Day 87: Be blessed.
All my fountains are in you.
Oh that every Christian would say that today.
But the reason more do not is because this is not nice Christianity.
Despite following the One who gave all, they still have the source of life as their material possessions, the need to be popular and the importance of ease.
They have been duped by the temptation of performance, they are energised by how good they have become in the eyes of men, God and themselves.
They have given up. “Enough is enough” is the cry of their heart. They have forgotten their past cry of “all is all”.
But we today sing this lyric, this verse 7. We mean every word.
All my fountains: The places of drinking water, of refreshment, for washing and for the celebrating of what the builders have created. They are decorative places to honour individuals and events.
One of the cities I love the most is Rome. The reason is the combination of modern and old all within a very small geographical size. I will never forget the time I walked from a modern shopping building with much needed air-conditioning, turned the corner, only to be absolutely knocked sideways by the beauty of this ancient fountain standing before me!
Jesus is greater than all the fountains of Rome.
He is everything.
Blessing comes when you know this.
Day 86: Be blessed
Some popular prayers …
Hear me …
Answer me …
Look after me …
Save me …
Have mercy on me …
Give me happiness …
Forgive me …
Love me …
Listen to me …
Deliver me …
Be compassionate towards me …
Be gracious to me …
Turn to me …
Give me strength …
We know all these and have said all these prayers at some point.
So had David and he uses them all in this Psalm. But he also uses this prayer which isn’t as popular: Teach me, v11.
What is God teaching you at this moment of your life?
What are you reading that has caused growth to happen?
Where have you been corrected?
A few days ago, a friend said to me he was going to read a certain book in order to try and understand the Trinity. How fantastic!
We are never too young or old to learn.
In 1523, an English animal trainer named John Fitzherbert said, “The dog must be trained when he is a whelp, or else it will not be [trained]; for it is hard to make an old dog [find a new scent].” Today, we’ve summarized his insight into this well-known adage: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It sounds good, but is it really true?
A show on the Discovery Channel called Mythbusters likes to take timeworn adages like this one and see if they’re true or false. So the presenters found a pair of aging Alaskan malamutes who didn’t know a single trick in the book. Malamutes are known for their stubbornness. As 7-year-old canines, siblings Bobo and Cece were equivalent to a couple of 50-year-olds in dog years, arguably qualifying them for the “old dog” category. After four days of training, Bobo and Cece proved Fitzherbert completely wrong. Each could heel, sit, lie down, stay, and shake upon command from Jamie and Adam.
Their conclusion: Myth busted. You can teach old dogs new tricks.
No matter where you are now or what is happening to you. The most exciting prayer that you could pray is: Teach me.
So go ahead … and be blessed.
Day 85: Be blessed
Having recently resigned as Pastor of a church I deeply loved I have been reflecting on the people I came into contact with over the years. There have been many seasons of blessing, testimonies and I was indeed a blessed Pastor. To see people come into the church community and through the work of the Holy Spirit change to become Christ-like was the greatest privilege.
I think of a lady who came with such anger towards God, the church and I having never met any of the three! Today she is a beautiful, peaceful, gracious woman.
The man who came with such scepticism and a clear message that no one will invade his private space is today one of the key workers in the church.
The broken, bruised and battered have been healed.
Several weeks before I left I believe God led a certain man to the church.
He had become well-known in the town, having been kicked out of pubs, supermarkets and churches!
What he found in this church was something different. The community didn’t judge him. At first he couldn’t cope with their love and acceptance. He would be quite vocal at his disapproval at God and the church. But gradually I saw a work of the Holy Spirit in his life, a work of restoration.
The day he took communion for the first time, there was a tear in every one’s eye. His self-image was so low that on our final service when we had the church photograph he tried to leave because he didn’t think people would want him on the picture. I ran after him and brought him back and put him on the front row.
I think of him this morning as I read these words, “Restore us again, O God our Saviour” v4.
Every person has a story.
What happened for him to end up like this?
Why is he so angry?
Who was he years ago as a young man, a child?
What were his dreams and hopes back then?
Who did he love? Who loved him?
What were those decisions he made?
He has a story.
I know that within that church he has the wonderful opportunity to find a new beginning.
So I pray … restore him O God our Saviour!
Restored and blessed!
Day 84: Be blessed
The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote in a national newspaper a few days ago regarding the expected arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge new-born baby. He writes, “What difference does this baby make to this country? In one sense, none at all. One more member of the population, one of many to be born on that day. In another sense, a huge difference. With plenty of drama and a good excuse to party, we discover a future of hope, a promise of stability, the challenge of love and – above all – another miracle from God. Just as with every baby.”
A future of hope.
That is what every parent thinks waiting for their baby to arrive.
When my first child was born we received a congratulations card from a family friend (one of those who were referred to as auntie). In the card she had written a message. But this was not a message of hope but of gloom. She warned the child that the world was not a good place and it was going to get a whole lot worse. That it would be a difficult life etc. Not one hopeful word. It’s a good job our child couldn’t read the card for himself!
Today there is hope for you.
Even if you are in a valley.
There is a reason why God has set you in the place of discomfort and it is to rise. Consider Israel in Egypt. The more the enemy caused them to suffer the more they grew. Sometimes the worst times in our lives do more to develop us than any great moment.
The enemy of our lives want to lull us into the place of acceptance whereby we consider ourselves unable to alter the circumstances that limit us. But those who are blessed know differently.
The valley is a place of possibility not limitation.
The Valley of Baca (or weeping) became a place of springs.
These are perhaps difficult days for you.
Today this Psalm tells us to:
Put our strength in Him
Set our hearts for the journey of moving forward.
Keep going knowing we will pass through the season of tears.
Make the most of every opportunity and the difficult place will become a refreshing place. Good will come from bad.
This is the blessed life.
Day 83: Be blessed
Over the last 10 years one man more than any other has repeatedly called for the destruction of the nation of Israel.
President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comments are well documented:
• That the Zionists should be moved to Europe if Europe are truly sorry for the make-believe Holocaust.
• (On the day of Israel’s 60th anniversary) “The Zionist regime is on its way to annihilation.”
• “The very existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to humanity.”
He’s not the only one and he surely isn’t the first one.
Asaph records what the nations around God’s people were saying in his generation:
“Let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be reminded no more.”
So nothing much has changed. Nothing will.
Until the day is over the enemy will seek to destroy everything God chose:
Whether that be Israel.
Or His Son, Jesus.
You are blessed today because you are known by the Most High over all the earth (v18).
No matter what threats and slander you face.
No matter what today or tomorrow brings.
You belong to Him.
You will still be standing the day after the attacks have ended.
This is why you are blessed.
Day 82: Be blessed
I always get excited when I come across a section in the Old Testament that Jesus quotes. To be reading what Jesus spoke of is an honour all in itself.
At a time when Jesus clearly states that He was one with God the Father having the ability to grant eternal life, doing what only the Almighty could do and as a result claiming to be God Himself (John 10), He quotes v6 of this Psalm, referring to it as the Law.
In the Psalm, Asaph uses the words God and gods. The so-called “gods” are the representatives of God, the spiritual leaders of Israel who in Psalm 82 are not doing the work of God in relation to the poor and needy. They should behave in a God-like manner and are to resemble Him as a son does his father. These judges of Israel are ‘sons’ of God because they reflect their Father. But they fail doing so.
Therefore, Jesus in John 10 faced with the pressure of declaring his identity could easily have said, “I am God”, for that is what He is. But staying true to His incarnation He likens His relationship to His Father in the way God desires for the spiritual leaders in Psalm 82. Jesus never imposed His identity on people. He chose to demonstrate through miracles, parables and His approach to the outcast and downtrodden that he was God. He wanted people to come to that understanding for them. And so …
“I am God but I function in my incarnation as God’s Son doing what you and your previous spiritual leaders failed to do.”
Fantastic isn’t it?!!
Today commit yourself:
To being the one who represents God.
Demonstrate this through your approach to the weak and fatherless, poor and oppressed, needy and those held in the hand of the evil one.
In doing so, even in your own imperfect way, you will be revealing Jesus who perfectly represented God because He is God.
In doing this you will be a blessing!
Day 81: Be blessed
Time and again we have found that the introduction has helped us to understand the Psalm. Today this Psalm is to be played according to Gittith. This is either a musical instrument from or the type of music coming from Gath, one of the 5 major cities of the Philistines.
Gath is the city that Goliath and his brothers came from. Gath is also the city where David hid when escaping from Saul’s chase; a place where Israel’s enemy once lived and a place where Israel’s leader had to flee terrible persecution. Not surprisingly then the meaning of Gath is winepress.
Often we find ourselves in a winepress, a place of strain and Asaph has written this with what can be described as strained music for that reason.
Strain and crisis is not the end of opportunity but the start of it. The future is in the balance and life can go either way.
Asaph wants to communicate God’s message that in the winepress of crisis we are often the ones that plot out our futures.
If we would but listen to me.
If you do not follow other gods.
If you open your mouth towards me.
If you would follow my ways.
You can follow your own devices but one word, a simple yet powerful word comes through every crisis.
Those who choose wisely are blessed.
Day 80: Be blessed
16 Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at your rebuke your people perish.
17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
18 Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name.
How do our brothers and sisters survive the traumas of persecution?
When the vine is cut down and burned in the fire, when God’s people perish, how do they remain steadfast?
Asaph prophesying unwittingly but probably speaking of Israel gives us the answers more relevant today than in his day:-
They stand because of the one at God’s right hand.
They remain because they look to the Son of Man.
They survive for they call on His name.
We know the name.
There is no other.
And those who suffer are blessed.
Day 79: Be blessed
Composed long after David’s death but exactly when and what happened is almost impossible to know. Except this was a traumatic persecution of God’s people.
As we read this Psalm today spare a moment to think of people in the family of God who this Psalm speaks of.
“People invaded, defiled, reduced in size, killed, objects of reproach, scorned, ridiculed, devoured, groaning and condemned.” Right now members of your family are experiencing these very things.
Egypt is at the moment under great strain. But one supporter of the ousted President said on video: “I am a religious Egyptian lady. I tell the Christians one word. You live by our side! We will set you on fire! We will set you on fire!”
The Islamic jihad against Christians in Nigeria is proving to be the most barbaric. A new report states that 70% of Christians killed around the world in 2012 were killed in the African nation.
There are so many stories. Right now, your brother and sister in Christ is crying out as in the day of Asaph.
Join with them as they call out:
“O God. How long O Lord? Let your mercy come quickly. We are in desperate need. Help us, O God our Saviour. Deliver us. May the groans come before you. Preserve us who are condemned to die. Pay back. We are your people, the sheep of your pasture.”
Let those who are robbed be blessed.