Psalm 34

Ps34-iPhone
I read Psalm 34 yesterday, today I was to read Psalm 35…which was also good, but let’s just say that I re-read Psalm 34.  I know…my fellow OCD brethren are twitching right now…I didn’t stick to the plan.  Just another theological tension point – God’s plans vs. my OCD.

I will bless the LORD at all times;  (All? Surely not ‘all times’…)
his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (not grumbling?)
My soul makes its boast in the LORD; (not boasting in me?)
let the humble hear and be glad. (not the proud?)
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the LORD, and he answered me (actively seeking…)
and delivered me from all my fears. (Put off our fears…)
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them. (Put on fear of God)
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, (More fearing of God)
for those who fear him have no lack! (and yet more fearing of God…)
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (God doesn’t withhold good..Ps 84:11)
(Psalm 34:1-10 ESV)

The writers of Psalms didn’t have a bold font like I do, so when they want to emphasize something – they repeat is.  ‘Fear’ is repeated a lot in this passage – first our fears, and we all have them.  Who delivers them?  God.

Then note how much the ‘fear’ of God is repeated.  To fear God means to revere, honor him, hold him above everything else in your life.  Those who do this well, will most likely see their own fears (self-oriented) dissipate in view of the greatness of our God.  We all fear, don’t let our feelings inform us — inform your feelings from the Word of God.  (For more on feelings, see a previous post.) Bottom line:  Don’t fear – fear God.

This is a turning, repenting – a putting off/renewing/putting on – just like our passage says in v14:

Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
(Psalm 34:14 ESV)

 

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Feelings…and Dr. Jones.

Sometimes I wonder what I’m thinking.  Martin Lloyd Jone’s (1899-1981) book Spiritual Depression has been testified about repeatedly by some of my greatest heroes in the faith (John Piper, CJ Mahaney, Bob Kauflin, Mark Driscoll…to name just a few).  So the big question is – why haven’t I read this sooner?  Duh.

Each chapter has been blowing my mind, but I felt lead to share this mornings chapter on “Feelings” as it is particularly practical. He is one of my new favorite dear old departed saints.

The starting premise is that feelings exist, they are altogether strange in their coming and going, and we are not to allow ourselves to be controlled by them.  We need to control them, with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit that lives within us as followers of Jesus.  “Oh the havoc that is wrought and the tragedy, the misery and the wretchedness that are to be found in the world simply because people do not know how to handle their own feelings!”  Thank you, Dr. Jones, for starting us off with a bang.

Basics:

  1. Feelings are meant to be engaged
    • Do not be afraid of feelings (RuelNote: Does that count as feeling something about a feeling?)
  2. We cannot create feelings, nor command them at will.
    • We cannot generate feelings within ourselves.
  3. Nothing is as changing within us as our feelings
    • Ever just wake up in a bad mood for no reason at all?
    • Don’t underestimate the physical factors – are you exercising, eating right, and sleeping enough?
  4. Bad feelings do not mean we are not a Christian
    • Neither is happy lightheartedness Christian joy – but that doesn’t mean we give in to stoicism and thinking all happy feelings are bad.  (Turns out you can be a Christian and show some emotion.  Perhaps try that when singing! OK, I digress, back to our regularly scheduled program…)

So what do to/not to:

  1. Feeling depressed?  First check for sin.
    • If you are actively sinning and not repenting…guess what? You should be miserable.  There is something between you and God…
    • Confess, repent and run to the cross and soak in the grace God gave you in Jesus
  2. Do not over-concentrate on your feelings – they are not to be central.  We cannot let them control us.
    • Concentrate on the Truth – God’s Word.  Yes, the Bible.
  3. There is a difference between rejoicing and feeling happy
    • You cannot make yourself happy, but you can make yourself rejoice (Phil 4:4 anyone?)
    • Stir yourself up – remind yourself of your identity in Christ
    • When you are walking in the darkness, keep walking.  Don’t sit down in it.
    • Thirst after righteousness (Matt 5:6)
  4. Want the most supreme joy? Press hard into God
    • Psalm 16:11 – “You have make know to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence.”

Jesus in the Garden – It is Enough

In reading Matthew 26 and Mark 16 this morning, I spent time meditating on Jesus in the Garden right before his arrest, beating, and eventual crucifixion.  It’s an amazingly intimate picture of Jesus’ humanity.  I saw a few things that jumped out at me:

  • Jesus goes to a secluded place to pray
    • [do we run to God or away from God in tough times?]
  • He takes his close brothers with him, and takes his inner circle with him closer still
    • [do we have trusted brothers/sisters? do we let them in?]
  • He confesses to them that he is “very sorrowful, even to the point of death”
    • [do we confess to them when we are struggling?]
  • Jesus prays three times an honest prayer from the depths of his soul
    • [do we pray, repeatedly, honestly?  how is the nature of our prayer?]
  • Each time Jesus presents his request “If possible, remove this cup from me” – he then speaks truth to himself – “Not what I will, but what you will”
    • [A message God continues to beat into my head – despite what society has been telling me for 41 years, it’s not about me and my self-esteem, and personal happiness – the Bible says it’s all about God.  Jesus models this perfectly, even being obedient to the point of death (Phil 2); how much more so should I be seeking the Father’s glory and will in much smaller matters today?  In his glory is the ultimate happiness anyway!]
  • Jesus continues to ask the Father in repeated requests, pouring out his heart, and then speaking truth to himself – despite the fact that we see no answer from the Father.
    • [Do we continue in prayer, even when there seems to be no answer?  Jesus knew the answer – press on, for God’s will and purpose, not mine.  Prayer is a powerful demonstration of our dependence on God and in that he reminds us of the truth and what we need to do for Him…sometimes even without a verbal answer, the Holy Spirit directs our hearts as we seek God’s purposes]
  • Jesus comes to a resolution – “It is enough, the hour has come.” He is seemingly at peace with the situation, as he has poured out himself to God in prayer. I’ll bet that there was some serious self-discipline going on there.
    • In our lives, our feelings cannot drive the bus.  Even if we don’t “feel” resolved we know the direction we need to take – take it.  Do it.  Discipline yourself to move on deeper into what God wants you to do, do not wait for the feelings to come and then do it.  Move ahead in faith. Press into God in prayer.  Preach the truth of the gospel to yourself and get on with it…(Phil 3:12-14)
  • The situation didn’t change – God certainly didn’t take away the cross (“the cup”) – but Jesus pressed on.
    • Many times the situation may not change, but our outlook on the situation will, perhaps sometimes only by pressing in and doing what you know in your heart God wants you to do, even if you don’t feel it.  Some of us may be facing really bad situations – but God is bigger than all of them.
Update, as things would have it, I caught up with Pastor Mark Driscoll today and this was his the subject of the sermon…good stuff:

http://marshill.com/v/wfowy2lqjcr8