Friday, April 03, 2020

Keeping Your Wits When Others Are Insane- Day 12

We only have 5 devotions left in this series. I'm not sure what I will do after we finish next Tuesday. I'm trying to work through a consistent schedule and a varied task list everyday including prayer, exercise, professional tasks, personal tasks, and scheduled off time activities.
Please send me an email:
and let me know how I can pray for you! This has been such an unprecedented time!


Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand

But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared. 

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope

my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning

O Israel, hope in the Lord!

For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption

And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

There was an old Steve Camp song that began, "Looks like the boy's in trouble again, living much to close to the edge of sin."

No matter how hard our intentions, no matter how surely we say we have learned our lesson- we often find ourselves sliding back on our climb up.

My own experience in this process we call 'sanctification' seems like 1 step forward, 2 steps back, 3 steps forward, 1 step back, 1 step forward, 3 steps back- and it can grow exceedingly frustrating and demoralizing.

Remember where we started this climb? Way back in Psalm 120.... 11 Devotions ago. And it seems like we can't shake the shadow of sin. I have been anemically trying to walk with Jesus for almost 40 years and I still find those times where I have simply blown it.

But the beauty of this Psalm is hope in the midst of despair!

If God counted sin.....  who would pass? NO ONE
But with God there is forgiveness.

So we wait and we hope- eager to see the break of dawn.

 Dostoevsky had this hope:
“I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all
the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a ‘painful’
pitiful mirage….that in the world's finale, at the moment of eternal harmony,
something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for
the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of
humanity, for all the blood that they've shed; that it will make it not only
possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”
My question is- how do we keep waiting and hoping when it seems the relentless attack of the enemy is raging or we are constantly floundering?

All of these things are easy to say and impossible to do. But here are some tools that do help me hold on when all hell seems to be breaking loose and I am in a free fall.

#1 Returning over and over and over to the gospel of grace- Notice the words here in the Psalm: mercy, forgiveness, steadfast love, redemption- these words are rooted in the story of God's redeeming love and His offer of forgiveness based on the sacrifice of His son. I don't know how people live life without knowing this message. Our salvation is a gift. It cannot be earned; it is not deserved. It is not an excuse to fail, but I am free to fail and free to begin again and again.

#2 Reading God's Word- "in his word I hope". The Psalms have become my camping ground when I am in a downward spiral. Here is real/raw human emotion. But God is also here.

#3 Serve, support, and encourage others- I know of no better healing balm than to help others when you are hurting. Something about sharing in the suffering of others and staying positive is supernatural. A lot of times it helps me to walk around and say meaningful words of encouragement to others. I love sharing the gospel to those who are weighed down by life. The last few weeks I have been able to pray for others just over the phone and hearing them being lifted up helps! Seeing human beings in small Zoom conferences has been encouraging!

#4 Cling to your family- My wife and children are solid and sturdy supports in the storms of life. Yesterday, Lisa and I shared our 32nd wedding anniversary... Oh Lord, where would I be without her!

#5 Worship- Going into God's house and worshiping the Lord is always a hope and help. I am looking forward to a day where we can return and cry out in corporate worship!

But none of this alleviates the fact that it is a wearying process to hang on as we wait for help. Hope is sometimes hard, but it never pays off for us to give up.

Pastor Rick Warren:
"People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a Nutshell, life is
preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, And God wants us to be
with Him in Heaven.
One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body--But not
the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend
trillions of years in eternity.  This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal.
God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.  We were
made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of
one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.  The reason for this is that
God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life
happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life.
The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.
This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, With
my wife, Kay, getting cancer, I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go
through a dark time, Then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't
believe that anymore. 
Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a
railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in
your life.
No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that
needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is
always something good you can thank God for.  You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems.
If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, "which is my
problem, my issues, my pain."
But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and
onto God and others. 
We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of
people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry
of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to
We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?  Am I
going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism?  Or am I going
to be driven by God's purposes?
When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't
get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better.
God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I
am than what I do.
That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.
Happy moments,
Difficult moments,
Quiet moments,
Painful moments,
Every moment, THANK GOD. "

The Psalmist's Desperation

As I read the Psalm, something jumped out that I has never noticed before. All of the 'Oh Lord' and the repetition regarding 'the watchmen' has a pace and rhythm of someone really desperate. This man is CRYING out to God and pleading for mercy. He is so overwhelmed by his sin.

I think back at his anger in Psalm 20- eyes at all of the world's wickedness. But now he has a different view- at all  of his wickedness.

And he does the right thing. He cries out to the Lord.

There is a point in redemption where we stop counting everyone else's failures and we start seeing our own. It is the problem that Jesus spoke of... specks and planks in Matthew 7.

When we speak of other's faults, we are justifying ourself by way of comparison.
When we cry out to God because of our sin, we are seeking mercy and forgiveness from the One we have offended.

And it is then we discover justification through Christ.

And then our song changes... you can see it in this Psalm.

The Psalmist ends with a hope for salvation to all.

That is why we plead to all we can.....

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. [17] For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16–17 ESV)

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