Wait Patiently

WAIT PATIENTLY

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”. 
Ps 37:7 NIV 

It is difficult to wait patiently for God. We want to be up and doing. We like to think of ourselves as men or women of action. What is more, we have the responsibility to sort out the mess, to put things right, to express our mind, and to solve all the problems. There is no time to lose. We have a chance to make a name for ourselves, to go places, and seize the moment. 

The psalmist looked at it all from the vantage point of faith. The world was God’s. He knew its pain and its problems. He saw the struggles of human beings. And he recognized that it was not the human race’s calling to take over and try to play God. It is not in the nature of human beings to let things unfold as God orders them but the way of faith is to trust in God believing that he will work his sovereign will in his own good time and in his own perfect way. It is further to work with God as and how he directs. But we are his servants. We do not order God about. And sometimes God works his purposes out very slowly. Then we have to “hold our horses” and bide our time. 

We Christian believers have to do the same. We want to bring in the kingdom, preferably today. But there are times when we are called to wait patiently on God. In those times, we need to pray, to try to see things from God’s perspective, and to remember that the kingdom is not ours to bring in – it is his and he will bring it in as and when he will. 

Lord, help me to wait patiently for you.

Continue

CONTINUE

“Continue your love to those who know you”. 
Ps 36:10 NIV 

One of the problems with human nature is that it is so inconsistent and so fickle. One day we believe this and that but if something creates a problem we no longer believe that – or at least are not as clear in our convictions. We develop friendships – but time can easily diminish the sense of common interests and we forget the sense of mutuality we once had. Then some people by nature are “up and down”. We change our ideas, interests, and commitments. 

The poet who wrote Psalm 36 knew all this and also how frustrating and disillusioning it was. By contrast the centuries of history had shown how completely dependable God was for the children of Israel. Knowing too how frail they were, he appealed to God to continue his love – even though they might fail in theirs yet again. So whatever triumphs or disasters the centuries might bring, God could be relied on to continue that love that was his hallmark. 

And every New Year Christian believers turn again to God who in his mercy and grace has provided for them and guided them in the past. A new year is a suitable juncture at which to turn again to the never-failing God and seek his continuing and renewing love. It is equally appropriate to consider one’s faithfulness to Jesus Christ or lack of it. Looking back it would be a deepening experience to consider your past year – how constant have you been? And have you given in to temptations that have never plagued you before? God has continued his love to you; have you continued your love for him? 

Lord, your love to me has been unwavering. Has mine to you?

Secularism

Secularism

“No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him…” – Psalm 49:7

Secularism may be the fastest growing religion in America today. The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that those who aren’t affiliated with a religion rose from 9% in 1993 to 14% in 2002. Twenty-seven percent of those born after 1980 had no religious affiliation.

What is secularism? It’s the view that man, not God, is the ultimate authority and that consideration of the present well-being of mankind should predominate over religious considerations in civil affairs and public education.

Secularism is all about man. Yet, here’s the irony–secularism leads to disillusionment with man and hopelessness at death. But Christianity is all about God and His desire to redeem sinful man through Christ. Christianity’s worldview leads us to understand that man only finds ultimate meaning in how he relates to God. It is realistic, yet filled with hope.

Be Still

BE STILL

“Be still before the Lord”.
Ps 37:7 NIV 

In modern society speed is vital. We live in a rush. When you ask many people how things are with them they will reply, “Hectic”. Some people, in trying to cope with “everything” compile lists of things they have to do. Then they tick them off one by one as they get done. Some even work out an “A” list and a “B” list. The A’s are even more urgent than the B’s. 

The psalmist didn’t live under that kind of pressure. Or at least we usually make that assumption. But even then it was easy and tempting to crowd God out of the agenda of life. Spiritual devotion always requires discipline and determination. It is far easier to mess about with trivialities than to turn to God. But he had also found how valuable it was, in the midst of the rush of life, to spend time in stillness and quiet in the presence of God. To do so, calms one’s anxious mind, makes one aware of the power and love of God, and helps one to bring a bit of order into the chaos and confusion that can otherwise overtake one. 

This applies every bit as much to the Christian believer today as it did to the ancient psalmist. Probably more so. Make a definite time just to be quiet and to recollect the presence of God. Have some help – a book of hymns to read, the Bible, or a collection of prayers. Don’t just dash off a hasty reading of one verse and call that your quiet time. Even if you can’t do it every day, do it now and again. You’ll be better able to cope with the rush. 

Lord, let me be still in your presence.

The River Of Goodness

THE RIVER OF GOODNESS

“You let us drink from the river of your goodness”. 
Ps 36:8 GNB 

Rivers are important features of nature. Egypt is the prime example. It is a long stretch of desert. Right through the middle of it flows the mighty river Nile, the longest river in Africa. Stand on a ship on the river and glance to both sides of the waterway. You see fields and farms being cultivated for about a hundred metres on each side, obviously irrigated by the river. Beyond that there is sheer desert stretching as far as the eye can see. Where there is the river there is life, activity and human habitation. Beyond that there is virtually nothing. 

The psalmist too lived much closer to nature two and a half thousand years ago than modern city dwellers do today. For him there was no turning on of a tap and just getting water. You had to live near a river to have it at all. Failing that you settled near a spring or a well. And it all came from nature – and from God. And whilst the person with no faith had no appreciation of the bounty of God, the believer did and rejoiced with gladness and thanksgiving. But it was more than just “water means life”. The water was symbolic of God’s overall goodness and love as well. 

Whilst modern town- and city-dwellers may seldom, if ever, see the river from which their tap-water comes, God is still regulating the rhythms of nature to ensure that there is water, and therefore life, for humanity. And Jesus described himself as the source of living water. That meant he was able to generate and sustain the spiritual life of believers. He still is. 

Lord, give me the water that will enable me to never thirst again.

An Outrageous Claim

An Outrageous Claim

“I did not come to abolish, but to fulfil.” – Matthew 5:17

One of the most outrageous claims ever made by a man was this: “Do you think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets? I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.”

The man who made that claim was Jesus and the law and the prophets He referred to was Scripture. Jesus claimed to be the fulfilment of how to live a good and moral life. He claimed to be the fulfillment of the prophets of old like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel. Wow! What a claim!

He showed this through His life, His death, and His resurrection from the dead. To believe Scripture is to believe Jesus. To believe Jesus is to believe He fulfills the Scripture. But even more, He shows us how to fulfil the commands of God.

When asked what the greatest commandment was He replied, “Love the Lord your God with your heart, soul, and mind and your neighbour as yourself.” You can’t obey one without the other. Jesus is the only one to perfectly fulfil God’s Word.

The Noonday Sun

THE NOONDAY SUN

“(God) will make your righteousness shine like the noonday sun”. 
Ps 37:6 GNB 

We sometimes refer to people who are obviously happy and positive as having “a sunny disposition”. They are a pleasure to have around. They seem to be heavily outnumbered by the doom-jonahs who spread misery and pessimism whenever they open their mouths. 

The poet of Psalm 37 was a man of deep faith and wide experience. He had seen that a strong faith in God tended to make people positive, hopeful and sensible. He had watched as believers surmounted difficulties, held on despite overwhelming odds, and came through lean periods stronger and deeper in their convictions. Moreover they were more caring and sensitive to others’ sufferings. He had witnessed, and probably known himself, “that confident joy of having peace of mind and refuge in God which fills the life of the godly person with sunshine. That person’s life is sustained by the hope that God’s salvation will rise over him like the sun, and that his just cause, which, after all, is nothing other than the cause of God, will triumph” (A. Weiser, The Psalms, p317). 

The Christian disciple will shine too, if, in the darkest night of human degradation he or she knows the presence and power of Jesus. Christians sing for joy when things are at their worst. They hold when others are breaking. They quietly move forward when other people are so confused and fearful that they don’t know which way to go. They hope when others have given in to despair. They care for others when caring costs time, effort and patience. Like Mother Theresa they go into places where there is darkness and suffering and bring light and relief. Wherever they go, God shines through them. 

Lord, help my faith to shine in others’ darkness.