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A Word of Encouragement


  • A Word of Encouragement

    You woke up this morning and the crises began – keys missing, children uncooperative, bus running late, traffic snarled, boss unreasonable, and that was BEFORE you heard or read even one bit of the day’s news. It’s enough to have us beaten down and ineffective if we allow it to do so.

    Psalm 25 (quoted below in bold type) provides a good word of encouragement, and who couldn’t use that most days?

    1) To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
    2) O my God, in you I trust
    let me not be put to shame;
    let not my enemies exult over me.
    3) Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
    They shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

    David starts his prayer by opening himself up to God, lifting his soul as if a sacrifice on the altar to God. He states his confidence in God. Otherwise, why would he bother to pray to him? He expects God to answer him. He then generalizes this confidence with verse 3. Basically, he is opening his prayer with a need to have a fresh touch from God and the assurance that it will happen.

    When we get to the point that we can give up doing it ourselves we can reach out like David does here to ask God to “do it” for us. Remember Jesus said: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) The context of this statement was the incident with the rich young man, who had obeyed the commandments, but held his worth of greater value than following Christ. After the young man left, Jesus told his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23, 24) The disciples then questioned “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25) The good news is that Jesus’ reply shows us that while man cannot do by himself what is necessary to be saved that with God it can be done, thus “with God all things are possible.”

    4) Make me to know you ways, O LORD;
    teach me your paths.
    5) Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.

    Next, David turns to being a disciple. He asks God to teach and lead him in his paths. This involves ongoing movement and interaction with God. We need to have daily time with God and his Word to keep to his paths and not our own.

    Jesus spoke about discipleship thus in Matthew 10:24, 25:

    24) A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.
    25) It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house of Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

    As we study God’s Word, especially the Gospels, we learn what it is to be like Christ. The more we are like Christ, the more the people of this world will be against us. It is inevitable. This is all the more reason to study and pray daily for God’s guidance and strength. Remember David is asking for God to lead him in his paths, not merely give him a road map and leave him to walk the path alone. We need God day by day to walk with us as we follow after Christ.

    6) Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
    7) Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!

    Only with God’s mercy is discipleship possible. In the Lord’s Prayer we are taught to ask for forgiveness of our sins. God is faithful to forgive those who come to him with true repentance. It is not the words we say or how many times we may repeat them that matters to God. He looks at our hearts. When we repent, we not only confess our sin, but we turn away from it and leave it behind us with the intention to not do it again.

    As Paul explains in Romans 3:21-25 – God’s punishment for our sins was removed through the perfect sacrifice of Christ:

    21) But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it –
    22) the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:
    23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    24) and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
    25) whom God put forward as propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

    This is called propitiation. It is an act taken by God that we can receive directly from God through faith in Jesus when we accept him as our savior.

    8) Good and upright is the LORD;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
    9) He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
    10) All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

    Here Daniel gives the confession of a disciple. Only sinners and the humble can be disciples because only those who have come to rely on God can allow him to direct them in all ways. Commercials, politics, etc. all vie for our attention and try to guide us. We need to remember when we are being pulled in various directions that God wants to lead us in his direction like a gentle herding rather than the harsh pull and push of modern life.

    12) Who is the man who fears the LORD?
    Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
    13) His soul shall abide in well-being,
    and his offspring shall inherit the land.
    14) The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
    and he makes known to them his covenant.
    15) My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
    for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

    When we fear God, not fearing punishment, but fearing him for the awesome being that He is, that is when we give him proper reverence and his proper place in our lives. For those who have accepted Christ as their savior, his death on the cross as the only way to atone for our sins, we then receive all his promises. It is then that we can, as joint heirs with Christ, cry out to God as “Abba Father”.

    16) Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
    17) The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
    bring me out of my distresses.
    18) Consider my affliction and my trouble,
    and forgive all my sins.
    19) Consider how many are my foes,
    and with what violent hatred they hate me.
    20) Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
    Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
    21) Redeem Israel, O God,
    out of all his troubles.

    David ends the psalm with a summary of his request. As we humble ourselves and open up fully to God, throwing ourselves on his mercy alone to sustain us, we take refuge in him, and who can stand against that?

    The last verse is most likely a congregational response, like the Kyrie in more modern liturgy. The group agrees with the one making his request known to God, and in that manner I want to agree with you as you pray for God’s help. As it says in James 5:16: “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

    This righteousness is not mine from being a good person or doing enough good works. The righteousness that I can share with you is that of Christ, as it says in 1Corinthians 1:26-31:

    26) For consider your calling, brothers; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
    27) But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.
    28) God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
    29) so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
    30) And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
    31) so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’

    As I close, let me thank God for each of you. You are His creature, wonderfully and beautifully made in His image, who He loves so much that He sent his only Son to die on the cross for your sins.

    “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” Revelation 22:21
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