From tears to trust – Psalm 5

Being a Christian does not inoculate us against difficulties. We still feel pain. We still get frustrated and bothered. The difference is, we have someone to take our worries to, We don’t have to fight our own battles.

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How will history view me? – Psalm 4

How will it go? Will I cope? What now? Will it be OK in the end? We all struggle with so many questions and doubts. So did David. I can’t promise kingship or earthly glory, but there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to help get you through – and that is possible. It’s never about the answers, but about peace in the waiting.

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Oh yes I can – Psalm 3

You know that awful pit-of-your-stomach feeling because you have to go to work, or because you don’t have work to go to, because you’ve a doctor’s appointment, or a big decision to make…Anxiety is probably one of the biggest problems of 21st century life. Yet how many times does it say in the bible – “Do not fear…do not be afraid…take heart…”

Self-talk is one of our fiercest enemies – we somehow find ourselves putting ourselves down, and talking-up the opposition. Psalm 3 teaches us to take hold of our own thinking, and use it to strengthen and empower us. That’s how faith works.

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Chill – Psalm 2

Just battling my way through changes to benefits, circumstances, job hunting… But I did find Psalm 2 so encouraging. God’s got his hand on anything that tries to come against me – it’s already shackled. My security and my provision, ultimately, all come from him, whatever routes they come through. It’s OK. I can chill.

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Just for me – Psalm 1

Life recently has been some distance from easy, and blog writing has taken a back seat. When the going is tough, the disciplines of praying and reading the bible can easily fall by the wayside – and I’ve had a really good excuse.

Then one day, the light came on, and I realised something really, really obvious. It suddenly occurred to me that reading the bible and praying are not recommended in order to keep God happy. I’m not letting him down when I fail to do ‘enough’. Christians are encouraged to do these things because WE NEED THEM! God has put them into our lives to HELP us, not to be a burden we have to fit into our busy schedule. It’s just for me. If I neglect my ‘spiritual food’, God will be just fine – he can really manage without listening to all my woes. His word is there in the bible for me to take enrichment and encouragement from – or not – if I so choose. He’s none the poorer if I don’t bother. The loss is all mine.

So without ‘having to’ I’ve been drawn to God’s word in a fresh way. Simply reading a Psalm each morning, and seeing what God is showing me through it. And of course, jotting a few simple thoughts in the wide margin of my bible. I don’t have time to write a blog about it, but I had an idea. Simply to photograph the reading and my jottings, and put them out here. If you can read them – and find some encouragement from them, then I heard right. If not, just pass on. But if you do have any inspiration yourself from these Psalms, I’d really love to hear your thoughts. It would be lovely to share fellowship with you!

Psalm 1

Psalm 1

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Press in to press on

Moses was not going to put up with second best. He was not going to be fobbed off with some second-rate angel. Leading the people of Israel was a daunting task at best, and he needed God himself up close and personal. They’d seen marvellous miracles when God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt, but the minute Moses’ back was turned, they’d made a golden calf idol and worshipped it, as though that had the power to help them.

They had repented, but things were just not the same. It seemed that God no longer wanted that intimate relationship with the people they’d been favoured with before. In order to find God’s presence, Moses had had to take a tent way outside the camp. The people could only stop and stare, worshipping at a distance, when the cloud of God’s presence came down on Moses’ Tent of Meeting, some way off.

Moses knew he needed God not just with him, but with all the people. (Exodus 33:12-17) Unless they too knew the intimate presence of God, what hope had they of impressing other nations? They were supposed to be the ‘promised people’ entering a ‘promised land’. Without God’s presence there was nothing to distinguish them from any other tribe, nothing to proclaim that they were the people of God’s choosing. Why bother even trying?

Finally God gave his word – ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.’

Exodus 33:12-17

Exodus 33:12-17

Without Moses’ persistence in prayer, the people of Israel may have never got a step further. But Moses was not prepared to take second best. Because he himself had a relationship with God – known by name – he was positioned to make bold requests, and not give up until he got what was needed.

It was the reason why St Paul was able to pray for the Ephesians

Ephesian 3:12-19

Ephesian 3:12-19

And it is the reason why we need to pray for one another, boldly and fervently. If the Church today is going to have the slightest chance of impacting those around us, every single one of us needs to be rooted and established in love. Every one of us needs to know we are known by name, and every one of us needs to experience the love and presence and power of God every day of our lives. Do you?

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What the butler saw

I remember in the Brownies, playing Kim’s game. About 30 everyday objects were placed on a tray. You got one minute to memorise them before they were covered over, and you had to see how many you could recall. It wasn’t my greatest skill.

When I first started attending prayer meetings as an adult, I found they were playing the same game, only harder. A whole list of items were reeled off, of situations and people that needed prayer. Then we’d close our eyes and try and remember them all to pray for them. I called it Kim’s game prayer! I wasn’t very good at that either.

Reading Exodus 33:7-11, it wasn’t how Moses did prayer either.

Exodus 33:7-11

Exodus 33:7-11

Who did the talking? Verse 9 – ‘the Lord spoke with Moses.’ Verse 11 – ‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.’

And that was the end of the meeting, and Moses would return to the camp.

We think of prayer as us talking to God, but primarily, we need to do a lot more listening. What is on God’s heart? What does he want for this situation or that person? Admittedly, the Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to talk to God, and I’m sure God loves to hear us share our heart with him too, but ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done’ expresses clearly that it is God’s agenda we need to be searching for, and praying into being. How can we know that unless we listen first?

Meanwhile, in that Tent of Meeting, a young man lived permanently. Joshua was Moses’ right hand man. His job was presumably to guard it from wild beasts and watch out for enemy attack, since it was outside the camp. He must have observed closely all that went on between God and Moses. He must have seen that Moses did plenty of listening. How important that was for his future career! As soon as Moses died, he was called into the office of Leader. The opening words of the book of Joshua, were God giving him clear commands for the way forward.

Joshua 1:1-9

Joshua 1:1-9

He’d learnt that prayer is more about listening than speaking. So now he was able to hear God clearly, and trust his precise instructions. How would they have ever won those battles otherwise?

And that’s how we win our battles in life too.

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