Prayers of Comfort from Psalm 37

Near Marshall, MI: Photo by: Mark J Booth

Trials are a part of every person’s life.  These trials can be self-induced or they can be caused by events beyond our control.  The question isn’t if we will have trials, but how will we face these trials.  Psalm 37 is written from the perspective of a man filled with trials.  God shows him the way he is to navigate through these trials.  Here are some prayers that go along with this very encouraging Psalm.  May God use Psalm 37 to help give direction and comfort to each of us.

“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.” (Psalm 37:1)  “Lord, I find myself filled with worry.  I worry about my walk with you.  I worry about my family, and the church.  I worry about my future.  I sometimes look at others and feel as though I am lacking something.  I also fret because evil seems to be gaining ground every day in our nation.  Help me to gain perspective upon the things that trouble me.  I need to grow in faith; so that I know in my heart that you are in control of everything.  I can trust you with my life and with what is happening in the world around me.  Amen”

“Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4) “Lord, I often focus on my circumstances instead of focusing upon you. I forget to take delight in all that you are. Help me to focus upon all that you are and all that you do. May I delight in you today regardless of my circumstances. Amen.”

“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and he shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5) “Lord, I often want to chart my own course in life.  I look at my future from my perspective and not from yours. Why do I find it difficult to commit my way to you? Lord, you do know what is best for my life. Your love for me is beyond question.  For this reason, I need to commit unto you everything I do.  Help me to trust you regardless of what may happen in my life. Amen”

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:7) “Dear Lord, I often live in anxiety because I don’t place my burdens upon you. I often run ahead of you instead of waiting for your perfect timing. Help me, to trust you enough to allow you to work in and through my life.  In the midst of my busyness, enable me to stop and remember that you are right here with me. Thank you for allowing me to rest in your everlasting arms! Amen”

“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath:fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” (Psalm 37:8)  “My Lord, when I face difficult circumstances and people, I can easily become angry.  Usually I keep this anger within, but it does affect me.  It keeps me from pleasing you and ministering to others.  Thank you for your great example on the cross how you forgive those who placed you upon the cross.  Teach me to respond to others with graciousness and love.  Teach me to yield my rights unto you, because my anger is often a warning sign of some right that I haven’t yielded unto you.

“Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:24) “Lord, I have stumbled and even fallen many times in my life; yet, you are always there to pull me up with your loving hand. Help me to never let go of your hand as I walk through this life. Thank you for your great love in watching over me. Amen.”

“And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked,and save them, because they trust in him.” (Psalm 37:40)  “Thank you for the concluding words of this Psalm of comfort and guidance.  Thank you for the times that you have delivered me from myself and others.  Thank you for all that you are, because you are truly worthy of my trust.  I gladly commit my ways to you today. Amen”

P.S. I often write prayers with the verse that I write out in my Journible.  If you are interested in learning more about the Journibles, here is my post about this excellent Bible study tool.
http://markjemilbooth.com/2012/07/29/how-to-profit-more-from-your-bible-reading-the-journibles/

A Heart to Walk with God

Sleepy Hollow State Park-Michigan USA-Photo by: Mark J. Booth

Imagine taking a walk with God. One of the most unusual people in the Bible is Enoch.  He is one of two Old Testament characters who never died.  What is it that makes Enoch unique?  The Bible says:  “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)  Enoch loved listening to God.  He enjoyed sharing his heart with God. He made his relationship with God the number one priority in his life.  Enoch’s walk with God meant that he had an intimate relationship with God.

We often find ourselves too busy to take time to walk with God.  Our culture focuses on  instant gratification.  We don’t like to slow down.  We have fast food, fast cars, instant photos, instant communication and microwave ovens.  We think that we can also have a microwave relationship with God.  We  read a few verses, and say a quick prayer and think that we have a close relationship with God.  We have lost the joy and the benefit of slowing down and learning to walk with God.

How can we develop a heart that longs to walk with God?  Here are five ways that we can cultivate a heart that desires to walk with God.

1. We need to develop a heart that agrees with God.  Agreeing with God enables us to view our life from His perspective.  We enjoy our time with God because we aren’t arguing with Him. We are learning from Him.  The nation of Israel had a problem of agreeing with God.  They wanted to go their own way.  The prophet Amos said: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) Do we agree with God concerning our goals, our future, our family, our time, our money and other areas of our lives? We can’t walk in our own way and walk with God at the same time. 

2. We need to develop a heart that is humble before God.  Pride causes us to think that we don’t need to walk with God.  We are able to handle our life without God.  The prophet Micah says:  “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?(Micah 6:8) A humble spirit is a dependent spirit.  A dependent believer sees their great need to walk very close with God.

3. We need to develop heart that is pure before God.  Because God is holy, sin keeps us from walking with God.  The Apostle John says: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.(1 John 1:6-7) Sin is choosing to walk in darkness, instead of walking in God’s light.  However, God has provided the way of restoration in our walk with Him. “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) A pure heart is a heart that enjoys walking with God, who is Light. 

4. We need to develop a heart that loves as God loves.  When our hearts are full of anger, bitterness, hatred, and selfishness, we are unable to walk with God, who is love.
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” A believer that loves God and others feels very comfortable walking with God.  They look for opportunities to pour out the love they receive from God unto others. 

5. We need to develop a heart that is quiet before God.  God’s Word encourages us to slow down and be still.  We need to learn the art of waiting upon God. “Be still, and know that I am God:” (Psalm 46:10) A patient and quiet heart is saying to God: “I am ready to walk with you with my undivided attention.” 

Woldumar Nature Center-Lansing, Michigan (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

Enoch made a choice that he would walk with God.  This meant the sacrifice of his time.  It meant that he would be misunderstood by others.  However, he desired a close walk with His God. God took pleasure in His time Enoch. As a result, He just took Enoch right up to heaven to be with Him.  What about us?  How is our walk with God?

“Dear Lord, I am tempted to hurry my time with you.  I find myself walking this life without you.  Then something happens and I wonder where are you.  Help me, to see my need to walk close with you.  I know that the greatest enjoyment in life is when I take the time to walk with you.  Thank you for always being available to walk side by side with me.  I love you, Lord. Amen”

 

 

Making the Debates Personal

Photo by: The Washington Post

The first two debates are now history.  The debates have been helpful to hear the candidates and learn their positions.  They have also been helpful to see how the candidates interact with each other. Many people have written about the debates, but no one has asked the question:  “What can we learn about ourselves from the debates?”  Here are several questions that we can ask to help us make these debates personal.

1. What is the most important thing in my life? 

The debates, thus far, have focused a lot upon our economy.  The candidates in their own way are saying that money is the most element for being a happy, contented citizen. Is this correct? God says:  “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

When money becomes the main focus in our life, it keeps us from focusing upon God.  Jesus understood this when He said:  “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
The Lord desires our focus to be upon Him, anything else can quickly become an idol in our life.

2. Do I have a fear of man or a fear of God? 

The candidates use the debates to state their positions to please a certain group of people.  The candidates develop a fear of man because they are looking for votes.  We can often be controlled by the fear of man as well.  The Bible says: “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25) The fear of man keeps us from pleasing God.  It keeps us from serving God fully.

True freedom is found when we have a fear of God instead of a fear of man.  When we fear God, He is the one that we need to please. “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:7) Unlike the politicians, the opinion of others should not enslave our thoughts and actions.  We find true freedom in submission to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

3. Do I build people up or do I tear them down?

The debates have illustrated the great art of tearing down another person to build up one self.  We find this to be great entertainment.  We cheer for “our side” to win.  Is it Biblical to tear down another person?  Is this pleasing to God?  Do we have the habit of running over people?  There are many examples in the Bible of people who made it their goal to tear people down.  Ahab hated Elijah.  Saul was out to get David.  Satan wanted to destroy Jesus’ ministry.

Unlike the candidates, we are to seek to build up others.  The word “discourage” has the idea of taking the heart out of a person.  Encouragement means “to put the heart into a person” Barnabas was a biblical character who encouraged others.  He encouraged the early church by his example. He encouraged Paul by befriending him.  He encouraged the church at Antioch by his teaching.  He encouraged John Mark by helping to restore him after his failure.  Love means to encourage others.  We don’t see a lot of love in the debates, but do we see this love and encouragement in our own lives?

4. Am I self-centered or God-centered?

By listening to the debates, you would think that Americans are the most self-centered people in the world.  Our politicians keep trying to pander to what each of us wants.  They appeal to our selfish nature.  I haven’t heard President Kennedy’s quote: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

It is easy for a Christian to develop this attitude of self-centeredness in this culture: however Christ has called his disciples to a life of self-denial.  “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24).  Our lives are to be centered upon Christ.  Our goal is not to follow our desires, but His will. 

5. Am I more concerned about my physical well-being or my spiritual well-being?

One of the greatest issues of the debates and this campaign is the health care crisis in this nation.  Yes, we do have crisis in America concerning our health care. The physical health of Americans in general is quite poor.  However, the greatest crisis is not the physical well-being of Americans, but our spiritual well-being.

How healthy am I spiritually is a question, that we often neglect.  God is very concerned about our spiritual health.  He has given us His Word as food that will nourish our soul.  Here are some questions to help us evaluate our spiritual health:

  • Do I truly desire to walk with God daily?
  • Do I read the Bible with an open heart and mind?
  • Am I quick to obey the commands of Christ?
  • Do I quickly confess my sins to God?
  • Do I love God with all of my heart?
  • Do I love others as God loves me?

There are two more debates in this election cycle.  However, let’s not just look at President   Obama and Governor Romney in these debates, but also we need to think about our own lives and our relationship with God

“Dear Lord, I am thankful that I live in a nation in which I can worship you freely.  I also thank you for the great salvation that I have in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to view this life from your perspective.  Help me to center my life upon you because it is easy to take my focus from you.  While you are working in my life, please guide the leaders of our nation to make wise decisions. Amen”

Moving Beyond Fear to Courage

Sleepy Hollow State Park, MIchigan- By Mark J. Booth

When fear takes its grip upon our lives, it affects our view of circumstances, of others and of the future.  Fear causes us to doubt the love of God, the presence of God, the provision of God, and even the protection of God.  Fear keeps us from doing what God has called us to do.  How can we move beyond our fears and approach life with courage?

Courage is the willingness to move forward with our lives in spite of the obstacles and dangers that we face.  The nation of Israel, including King Saul, was paralyzed by fear on account of Goliath.  His size was overwhelming.  However, David had moved beyond his fear to courage.  David didn’t see the power of Goliath. He saw the power of His God. His courage has inspired us to face life’s situations with the understanding that God is greater than anything that is happening in our life.

How Can I Move Beyond Fear to Courage?

1. Remember the presence of God.  God is with us as we travel through this life. His presence brings courage because we know that we are not alone.  If we are passing through the shadow of death. we are not alone.  If we are facing some great trial, we are not alone.  If we are facing an unknown future, we are not alone.  “Fear thou not; for I am with thee:be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)

2. Enjoy the love of God.  God’s love was clearly demonstrated upon the cross of Christ.  The fear of death was removed when Jesus died upon the cross for our sins.  His death and resurrection conquered death.  If his love has removed our greatest fear, it can also take away all other fears.  A baby in the arms of its loving mother has no fear.  Likewise, we are in the arms of our loving God.  Why should we be ruled by fear? “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18) 

3. Develop a fear of God.  The fear of God has been defined as: “Realizing that God is watching and weighing every one of my thoughts, words, actions and attitudes.”  The fear of God places God in His rightful place in our lives.  When our walk with God is right, we can live our life with courage instead of fear. “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence:and his children shall have a place of refuge.” (Proverbs 14:26)

4. Walk by faith, not by sight.  When walk by faith in our loving, all-wise, and all-powerful God, we can face life with courage.  Fear cannot exist together with faith.  Fear flourishes when we see life from our perspective, instead of trusting our Great God.  When faith rules in our heart, we will have the courage to conquer any mountain that is before us.  “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him (Christ).” (Ephesians 3:12)

5. Study and memorize the Word of God.  Fear often is the result of ignorance.  When we study the Word of God, we see God working in the lives of people such as Moses, Joshua, Ruth, David and Daniel.  These people faced fearful situations; yet they faced them with courage because they knew their God. “But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Daniel 11:32)  When we study the Word, we get to know God better.  The more we know Him, the more we will be able to trust Him.  Our fear will turn into courage, not because of who we are, but because of who He is.

6. Become familiar with the “fear nots” in the Bible. God knows our heart.  He knows that we are prone to fear.  We are prone to walk by sight and not by faith.  He encourages us with many of His “fear nots” in the Bible.  Here are just a few.

  • Fear not in your life’s journey. “And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee,” Genesis 26:24
  • Fear not concerning your daily needs. “And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.” (1 Kings 17:13-14)
  • Fear not when in danger. “And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”  (2 Kings 6:16)
  • Fear not in times of weakness. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee;” (Isaiah 41:10)
  • Fear not in times of trials. “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee,I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee;and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned;” (Isaiah 43:1-2)
  • Fear not in times of failure.  Here is what God said after the Israelites’ failure at Ai. “And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed:” (Joshua 8:1)  God did bring the victory after their previous failure.  
  • Fear not in times of sickness or nearing death. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

“Dear Lord, thank you for assuring me that you are with me throughout this life and for all eternity.  Thank you that you give me the courage to move forward in my life in spite of the obstacles that are before me.  Please, give me the courage to live each day for you. ”

Author’s Note: This is the second article in the series called “Moving Beyond!”

Delighting in God in Stressful Times

 

God’s is waiting for us to come to Him. Photo by: Mark J Booth
The cares of this life often seem to build up until we feel overwhelmed. We become discouraged and feel stressed about life. Is there a place of comfort in the midst of the cares of this world? “In the multitude of my thoughts within me (cares of my heart) thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19). The Psalmist is saying: “No matter how stressful life is, God is here not only to bring comfort, but delight to my soul.”
There are many things that can be overwhelming and bring stress upon us:
  • the stress of our own failures, sins, and worries.
  • the stress from our concern for our loved ones.
  • the stress from people who oppose us.
  • the stress of work
  • the stress of growing older
  • the stress of keeping up with others
  • the stress of trials in our lives
  • the stress of loneliness
  • the stress of not knowing the future.
  • the stress of making decisions
Stressful situations fill our lives.  However, In the midst of the stresses of life, we can always flee to the “God of all Comfort”.  We can flee to Him:
  • by prayer and praise unto Him
  • by opening up the Word of God and listening to Him
  • by submitting our lives completely to Him
  • by confessing any known sin unto Him
He is always available to bring comfort, peace and hope to the soul who is coping with stress in their lives. Will we flee to Him in midst of the cares and stresses of life? Yes!
GOD WILL CHANGE OUR STRESS INTO DELIGHT IN HIM!

 

A Prepared Heart to Worship God on Sunday Morning

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) A worship service in a small village in Romania

You are in church on a Sunday morning, have you ever found yourself……..
1. wishing that you weren’t in church?
2. thinking about the week ahead during the message?
3. fighting off sleep?
4. making negative mental notes about the people in the service?
5. singing and not paying attention to the words or our hearts?
6. picking apart the message being preached?
7. forgetting the sermon by the time you eat Sunday dinner?

What is the problem with our time of worship on Sunday morning?  Could it be that we arrive totally unprepared to worship God?  How can we have prepared hearts to worship the Living God?

Look unto God in preparation to worship Him.

Do I study and meditate upon His Word during the week?  How can we expect to receive something from the Word of God during the worship service if we are not bathing our hearts in the Word of God during the week?   “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97)  Our love for the Word during the week will be evident  in our response to the Word on Sunday.  The message is only the beginning of allowing the Word to work in our minds and hearts.

Do I seek the Lord in prayer during the week as I prepare to worship Him?  Yes, the pastor should have a prayerful heart as he enters the pulpit on Sunday morning; however, each listener should have prayerful heart as well.  We should pray with the Psalmist.  “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”  (Psalm 119:18)

Do I desire to glorify God as I worship Him?  Often people say:  “I didn’t get anything out of the service?  What is the reason?  Could it be that they did not put anything into the service?  Their goal was to receive a blessing instead of giving glory to their Heavenly Father.  Does our attitude on Sunday reflect these words: “O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:3)
 Look at Yourself in Preparation to Worship God

1. Do I have the right attitude about attending the worship service of the church?  Our attitude determines the richness of our worship experience.  If we arrive at the worship service with a negative attitude, our time of worship will be a negative experience.  The Psalmist says: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. “(Psalm 122:1)  When we enter the worship with a spirit of joy and gratefulness, our worship experience will be one of joy.

2. Do I have the right relationship with God as I attend the worship service?
Sin will keep us from having an encouraging, joyful worship experience with God.  How can we worship God with our hearts, if we have unconfessed sin ruling in our hearts?  “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”  (James 4:8) We make sure our outer person is clean before we attend the worship service, but what about our hearts?

3.  Do I have the right understanding of the need to attend the Sunday morning worship service?   There are many people who attend church who don’t really understand why they are there.  Maybe, it is out of habit.  Maybe, they feel it is the right thing to do.  However, God makes it clear that we as His children need to meet to together.  This is not only to worship Him, but also to minister one to another.  The church service is not only an opportunity to have people minister unto us, but it is also an opportunity to  minister unto others.  God says: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Look at others in preparation to worship God

1. Do I have the right relationship with those around me?  Jesus taught that you can’t come before God’s altar and offer your gift if you have a problem with others.  (Matthew 5:23-26)  How can we worship God on Sunday, when we have unresolved conflict in our family, or in our church family?

2. Do I see the opportunities of ministry within my family and my church family?  God has given every believer a spiritual gift. We are to use our gift within His Body  (Romans 12:3-8).  These gifts are not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others.   The worship time gives us an opportunity to have a sensitive heart towards others, to pray for others, and to be an encouragement to others.

 Worship means to give worth to His name.  The Sunday morning worship service  can be a negative experience, a boring experience, a tedious experience or it can be a time of enjoying  and honoring the presence of the Living God.  The choice is our. Next Sunday, will we come to worship Him with a prepared, and surrendered heart?  Will our worship be worthy of our great and mighty God?