Reflection day 91- idols in their hearts
‘Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling-blocks before their faces. Should I let them enquire of me at all?’ (Ezekiel 14:1-3)
These Israelites leaders had come to Ezekiel for prophetic insight and yet their hearts were set on idolatry. As it is vividly put here, they ‘have set up idols in their hearts’. Picture, for example, a statue of Baal, a fertility god, often represented by a bull. They had set up an idol of Baal in their hearts. They were, internally, worshipping Baal.
How can we recognise if we have set up an idol in our own heart? There is a point at which a legitimate occupation or pleasure can become ‘a consuming passion’ that displaces the Lord (and perhaps other people and other things as well). If we are working morning, afternoon and evening – and at weekends too – it could be because we are in an especially busy period at work or because jobs are scarce and our boss is a tyrant but it could well be because work has become an idol to us. In contrast it could be leisure that has become an idol: playing some sport (or watching it!), a pet we keep, music, craft, art, reading, gardening or of course watching TV, YouTube or Netflix. Surely holidays can become an idol. Again it may be that wealth and possessions have become an idol, acquiring things great or small, a house, a car, new clothes, phones or gadgets. It’s an obsession. A relationship can become an idol and so too can be the success of our children. Something intangible like our status and reputation can become an idol. We can be a slave to peer pressure. And, on the other hand, our physical appearance can become an idol. Or, again, instead of eating to live we can ‘live to eat’. These things consume more and more of our time, money, thought-life and emotional energy.
So a craving for certain things is an indication of idolatry. But so too is a fear of losing things we have or anger and depression when we do. Again, it is difficult to know where we cross the line from legitimate concern to unhealthy anxiety. Nevertheless, if we are terrified of losing our job or our savings then they are likely to have become an idol. If we are mortified that our holiday has been cancelled or that we’ve picked up a sport’s injury it is probable that holidays or sports have become an idol. We can desperately want to see our children succeed and perhaps thereby to feel we have been successful parents. If we are devastated when we discover they are not good at something or that they have some ‘issues’ it could be their success has become an idol. If we cannot personally handle criticism or failure it’s almost certain our reputation has become an idol. If we go ballistic when the internet fails, browsing or streaming may very well have become an idol. And yes, if when the doctor pronounces the ‘C’ word our whole world falls apart it’s likely that life itself has become an idol rather than life in Christ. The Christian is to hold lightly to the things of this world and not be ‘engrossed in them’ (see 1 Cor 7:29-31, 1 John 2:15-17).
John Calvin observed, ‘our hearts are factories of idols’. What is the cure for idolatry? In Ezekiel 36:25-27 the LORD makes a great promise:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
If we are Christians we have been given by God a radically new orientation. We have desires we never had before. We love things we once hated and hate things we once loved. We want to speak to God, to hear from him, to obey him and to meet with his people. Ultimately, we want to be with Jesus Christ, to see him face to face and be like him. It is because of Jesus’ death and resurrection that the Spirit has been poured out into our hearts. And treasuring all we have in Christ is the great antidote to idolatry.
Nevertheless, we have to continue to seek God’s help as we battle the idolatry that surfaces within us:
William Cowper wrote in his hymn, ‘O for a closer walk with God’:
The dearest idol I have known,
whate’er that idol be,
help me to tear it from Thy throne
and worship only Thee.
May God, the God we know in Jesus Christ, be the one enthroned in our hearts.
Reflection day 92- Pray. Watch. Act
From Clive Gullett, one of our church elders
13 Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.
The Egyptians, having rid themselves of God’s people the Israelites, had second thoughts and chased after them.
The Israelites having found new freedom trembled as they saw the threatening hoard approaching.
I am reading these mornings through Hosea actually and it’s amazing how a cross reference to another part of the Bible can suddenly impress.
Hosea Ch 7 dwells on Israel’s misdemeanours, their seemingly incurable senselessness and ingratitude to God for His mercies and the severe chastisement that is threatened to fall on them if they do not respond.
Well I was pointed to the Exodus verse noted above and my thoughts drew in a separate consideration in addition to what I was pointed to in Hosea — Er, are you still with me?
Look again at the verses above, two thoughts here (and I must admit I feel much of God’s word of old these recent weeks is pointing to the current events around us, whether directly or in words of encouragement):
One is that in the midst of complaining and anxiety the Israelites (God’s children and special people) are directed to be still and know that the Lord will fight for them(don’t forget, we as believers in Christ are included among God’s children).
The other thought is — there comes a time to get on and do something. V14 “be still,” vs15&16, “Why are you crying out to me? … Raise your staff…” Do something.
Let’s break it down to some basics:
- God protects His family, His word is full of encouragement especially in season. He answers prayer.
- Do not fear. It is our duty and interest when we cannot get out of our troubles, yet to get above our fears.
- Stand still and think not on panicky self-made solutions. Give time to await God’s orders (or wait on them).
- THEN ACT — God says to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? … Raise your staff…” “Move on.” God is not displeased with Moses for praying, but now prayer has been addressed and now is time to act on it, trusting whom it has been committed to.
I ask myself and readers here, do I, do you believe in the power of prayer or the power of the one to whom we pray? I know sometimes we think our prayers have not been heard, but that is to doubt God’s promises.
Take heart from the examples of prayer found in God’s word — PRAY, WATCH AND ACT.
Reflection day 93- Stubbornness calls for a verdict
From Clive Gullett, one of our church elders
In case you wondered, after my Exodus cross reference yesterday, what Hosea had to say regarding one of the seasons of the Israelites, here is a note from the African Study Bible that ponders part of Chapter 7:
Hosea 7 vv 10-13
‘Israel’s arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this he does not return to the Lord his God or search for Him.
Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless—calling first to Egypt, then turning to Assyria. When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like birds of the air.
When I hear them flocking together, I will catch them.
Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them… I long to redeem them, but they speak lies against me, they do not cry out from their hearts…’
Israel was a stubborn stiff-necked nation. The people and the rulers alike rejected God and worshipped idols. The people behaved as if they had lost their minds, “first calling to Egypt and then flying to Assyria for help”.
Their sin was the rejection of God’s help; their stubbornness called for a verdict. “I will throw my net over them and bring them down like a bird from the sky. I will punish them for all the evil they do.”
The judgement would be terrible. “Let them die for they have rebelled against me,” says the Lord.
It’s a terrible thing to love someone with all your heart and give everything to that person, only to realise your love is not returned. You may cry and complain about their indifference, but it does not affect them. You may want to abandon the person in anger, but the love you have for them is so strong you feel paralyzed. All you wanted was the best for them, but they rejected you.
If we as human beings can be deeply affected by someone’s rejection, how much more so the God who created us and gave Himself for us?
We were doomed to death for our defiant, adulterous ways, entertaining that which is grievously offensive to God, but because He so loved His creation, He sent His only Son to die for us and redeem us from eternal damnation (John 3v16).
Stop still for a moment — Ask a question— Is there an element of rejecting God now — in thought or deed — has there been, or is there still some offence held on to in the heart? Let us think about the pain and even anger we are causing God and repent so that He may restore us.
We may find that very hard and it may take a time of energetic wrestling, but, think on it often and make the thought hook into you so that you cannot rest until it is dealt a death blow, be determined to overcome with the help of our Jesus Christ, cry out with a passionate cry to Him for help . Remember how he looked at Peter? — I try to consider Him looking at me in some circumstances and it often makes me blush!
Reflection day 94- Do not fear the pestilence
From David Mortimer, one of our church elders
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
(Psalm 91 vv. 1-6)
We recently studied Psalm 90 in our Home Groups, noting Moses’ heartfelt prayer for God’s help. The next Psalm follows on well, as it speaks of the comfort and assurance of the believer, particularly in trying circumstances. This was a particular favourite of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great 19th-Century Baptist preacher, who wrote in the introduction to his commentary on this Psalm:
‘In the whole collection there is not a more cheering Psalm, its tone is elevated and sustained throughout, faith is at its best, and speaks nobly. A German physician was wont to speak of it as the best preservative in times of cholera, and in truth, it is a heavenly medicine against plague and pest. He who can live in its spirit will be fearless, even if once again London should become a lazar-house (leper colony), and the grave be gorged with carcasses.’
Cholera was rife in Spurgeon’s day, particularly in the big cities. There was a particularly virulent strain in London, the city where Spurgeon ministered, in 1854. It took hold just months after Spurgeon had been called to the pastorate at New Park Street Chapel, aged 19. How did he react? By preaching about the fear of death to the unconverted, and the assurance of salvation for true believers. He also took a number of practical actions to help alleviate distress amongst his fellow men and women – read up on it, it’s a fascinating story.
In his commentary on Psalm 91, and verse 6, Spurgeon specifically refers back to the ‘pestilence’ and ‘plague’, commenting as follows:
‘Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness. It is shrouded in mystery as to its cause and cure, it marches on, unseen of men, slaying with hidden weapons, like an enemy stabbing in the dark, yet those who dwell in God are not afraid of it. Nothing is more alarming than the assassin’s plot, for he may at any moment steal in upon a man, and lay him low at a stroke; and such is the plague in the days of its power, none can promise themselves freedom from it for an hour in any place in the infected city; it enters a house men know not how, and its very breath is mortal; yet those choice souls who dwell in God shall live above fear in the most plague stricken places– they shall not be afraid of the “plagues which in the darkness walk.” Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. Famine may starve, or bloody war devour, earthquake may overturn and tempest may smite, but amid all, the man who has sought the mercy seat and is sheltered beneath the wings which overshadow it, shall abide in perfect peace. Days of horror and nights of terror are for other men, his days and nights are alike spent with God, and therefore pass away in sacred quiet. His peace is not a thing of times and seasons, it does not rise and set with the sun, nor does it depend upon the healthiness of the atmosphere or the security of the country. Upon the child of the Lord’s own heart pestilence has no destroying power, and calamity no wasting influence: pestilence walks in darkness, but he dwells in light; destruction wastes at noonday, but upon him another sun has risen whose beams bring restoration. Remember that the voice which saith “thou shalt not fear” is that of God himself, who hereby pledges his word for the safety of those who abide under his shadow, nay, not for their safety only, but for their serenity. So far shall they be from being injured that they shall not even be made to fear the ills which are around them, since the Lord protects them’.
Whilst sometimes in quaint, old-fashioned language, these words, so apt in the middle of the 19th century, are still so very true for us today. May we find our strength, security and assurance in looking to our Heavenly Father in these difficult times.
Reflection day 95- Never will I leave you
‘Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
‘Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.’’ (Hebrews 13:5)
This verse was one of the first verses in the Bible I ever learned by heart, possibly the first. It has been a great comfort to me and countless other Christians.
The promise, which the LORD originally addressed to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 31:6, is equally valid for God’s people today.
Note, ‘God has said’. A popular saying with some evangelicals at one time was, ‘God says it. I believe it. That settles it.’ There is, though, a logical flaw in that little ditty. Actually, if God says it, that settles it, whether I believe it or not. Of course, faith is not unimportant. Chapter 11&12 of this letter especially emphasise that God’s people are to live ‘by faith’. Nevertheless, our faith can be weak or even if strong still sometimes fail us. Thankfully it’s what God says that counts and it is not our hold on him but his on us that ultimately matters.
The substance of this verse is full of encouragement. Sadly, sometimes in this life family and friends die or, worse, still, desert us. Naturally we are disappointed, hurt, downcast or even heartbroken. But God has said he will never do that. He will always be with us to comfort and strengthen us.
The verse is emphatic. We have the ‘Hebrew parallelism’ that is characteristic of so much of the Bible, especially its poetry. There is the first statement, in this case, ‘Never will I leave you,’ and then another, in this case, ‘never will I forsake you,’ that echoes, amplifies and emphasises the first. And instead of a simple, ‘I will not leave you,’ we have for our reassurance, ‘never’. ‘Never’ in my dictionary means, ‘at no time; not ever,’ ‘certainly not; by no means, in no case.’ We think of David in Psalm 23,
‘Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.’
Or of Paul’s rhetorical question in Romans 8, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?’
Finally, we note the context. Sometimes we can be tempted to love money and rely on it. We may want to engage in ‘retail therapy’ when we’re down or we may feel we can insure ourselves against disaster. The fact is, however, that money can let us down. God, by contrast never will.
In our hymn book there is a wonderful hymn which begins, ‘How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord/is laid for your faith in his excellent Word’. It first appeared in John Rippon’s selection of hymns where it is mysteriously marked as ‘K’! The last verse reads:
‘The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose [rest, peace]
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!’
Reflection day 96- ‘Father-like He tends and spares us’
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ (Romans 8:15)
My Dad was no angel but I am conscious on Father’s Day of how much I have to be thankful to him for. Dad was a hard-working, hospitable and generous man who took pride in anything his children achieved. I regret that for several years as a teenager I was a particularly trying son who, undoubtedly, caused him (and Mum) considerable stress and anxiety. After I finished my degree I was somewhat lacking in direction and I remember with gratitude how Dad arranged for one of his friends to meet me at Marylebone Station and give me some careers advice. My Dad died when I was 33 but I can look back on many happy times together as a family.
Not everyone will have had the positive experiences I have. One such man would be the hymn-writer Henry F Lyte. Henry had a wretched father who was more interested in fishing and shooting than his family. After his Mum and Dad split up Henry was sent off to boarding school in what today is Northern Ireland. His mother (a good woman) died a few years later but his father remarried. When he wrote to his son at school he always signed off, ‘Your Uncle’. Henry was never allowed to call him ‘Father’ again.
The astonishing thing is that Henry Lyte still knew what a good father should be like. In his hymns he has a warm, comforting understanding of fatherhood. For example in his hymn, ‘Praise my soul the king of heaven,’ he writes,
Father-like He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Or again, in his hymn, ‘Pleasant are Thy courts above,’ he chooses to paraphrase Psalm 84:3&4:
Happy birds that sing and fly
Round Thine altars, O most High;
Happier souls that find a rest
In a heavenly Father’s breast!
And in his hymn, ‘Jesus, I my cross have taken,’ which we have been singing recently to a new tune, he urges,
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
what a Father’s smile is thine,
what a Saviour died to win thee:
Child of heav’n, shouldst thou repine? [complain]
How did Lyte come to think and write like this? I suggest two reasons:
i) He had some better models of fatherhood than his own father. The headmaster of the school he attended welcomed Henry into his own family during the holidays and he effectively became an adopted son.
ii) Through the Bible he learned what a true father should be.
Jesus knew human fathers were flawed but he wrote,
‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)
Whatever your human father may be or have been like remember that in God we have the perfect father. We can draw near to him through Jesus today and, like Jesus, confidently pray, ‘Abba, Father’.
Reflection day 97- God’s solid foundation
From Paul Barton, one of our church workers
2 Timothy 2:19 – ‘Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm’
Please permit me the liberty to share this devotion today. It is from ‘Truth for Life’ – the Bible-Teaching Ministry of Alistair Begg. The devotion was sent out yesterday.
The foundation upon which our faith rests is this, that “…God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” (2 Cor. 5:19). The great fact on which genuine faith relies is that “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14) and that “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24); “the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). In one word, the great pillar of the Christian’s hope is substitution.
The vicarious sacrifice [done in place of or instead of someone else] of Christ for the guilty, Christ being made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, Christ offering up a true and proper expiatory [removal of guilt] and substitutionary sacrifice in the room, place, and stead of as many as the Father gave Him, who are known to God by name and are recognised in their own hearts by their trusting in Jesus—this is the cardinal [fundamental] fact of the Gospel. If this foundation were removed, what could we do? But it stands firm as the throne of God. We know it; we rest on it; we rejoice in it; and our delight is to hold it, to meditate upon it, and to proclaim it, while we desire to be stirred and moved by gratitude for it in every part of our life and conversation.
In these days a direct attack is made upon the doctrine of the Atonement. People cannot bear substitution. They gnash their teeth at the thought of the Lamb of God bearing the sin of mankind. But we, who know by experience the preciousness of this truth, will proclaim it confidently and unceasingly and in defiance of them. We will neither dilute it nor change it, nor distort it in any shape or fashion. It shall still be Christ, a positive substitute, bearing human guilt and suffering in the place of men. We cannot, dare not give it up, for it is our life, and despite every controversy we affirm that “God’s solid foundation stands firm“.
Reflection day 98- What kind of king?
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. ‘How would you advise me to answer these people?’ he asked.
They replied, ‘If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favourable answer, they will always be your servants.’
But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him… (1 Kings 12:6-8)
If you were governed by a powerful king what kind of king would you want him to be?
Solomon was a great king whose reign was for a long time marked by peace. He did, however, place a very heavy burden on his people – as Samuel had warned long before (1 Samuel 8:10-18). The Israelites were subjected to harsh labour and perhaps felt they were like slaves in Egypt again. So when Solomon died and his son Rehoboam succeeded him, the people asked Rehoboam to lighten the load. Rehoboam consulted the elders who had advised his father. They actually concurred: he should agree to the people’s request, seek their welfare and ‘be a servant to these people’, then all would be well. Tragically, Rehoboam ignored the advice of these elders and followed instead the advice of rash, younger men. The outcome was the break-up of Israel into two kingdoms, ‘Israel’ in the north and Judah in the south.
Now note how different the Lord Jesus Christ is to Solomon, Rehoboam or any other king! Jesus was descended from David and ‘born King of the Jews’. The wise men worshipped him and John the Baptist described him as one ‘whose sandals I am not worthy to carry’. Jesus could certainly make great demands. He called his disciples to leave everything and follow him. He taught with amazing authority and worked miracles with extraordinary power. And yet Jesus knew he was a servant. His miracles were miracles of mercy and his message good news. His disciples were sometimes all too obviously preoccupied with status. Jesus told them, ‘whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ (Matthew 20:26-28). He washed the disciples’ feet, submitted to his Father’s will and suffered an agonising death on the cross on behalf of his people. When Jesus rose triumphant from the grave, he showed his disciples (who had deserted him) love and forgiveness. And he sent them out to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to the world.
In Luke 12, speaking of his future return, Jesus describes the master who finds his servants faithfully watching when he arrives. He makes this remarkable promise: ‘Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will make them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.’ (v37) What? A master waiting on his servants?! Yet it seems that is the kind of master Jesus is, even in ‘the new heavens and new earth’.
You know, if you are a Christian, King Jesus is even today serving you. He is, right now, seeking your welfare.
If you are not a Christian you know that someone has to be the ultimate authority in your life. If you answer, ‘Yes, me!’ then who are the people who will guide you and determine the decisions that you make and the direction of your life? Your parents, teachers, friends, the BBC or Hollywood?
Jesus truly is the Servant King. And those who know him are happy to always be his servants.
Reflection day 99- Who was that man?
From Clive Gullett, one of our elders
Romans 8:1-3 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.
Having thought about some of the eye-opening contents of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (which I read many years ago), I have picked the book up once more. I want to see again the examples of a Christian’s walk through life which comes over pretty well in picture form here.
I dropped in on the scene of Christian meeting with Faithful at a certain part of their Christian walk and they were discussing the resting bench in a layby on the side of an upward path. This was where Christian took a rest, fell asleep and on waking up did not notice that he had mislaid a very important instruction. Later he had to backtrack (to his embarrassment) and look for and re learn the instruction but that is not the story I would like to highlight here.
Faithful tells of what happened when he arrived at this point. A man followed him, said a word and then knocked him down, laid him out like he was dead! When Faithful came to a little, he asked the man why he had dealt with him like this. The reply was that Faithful had been talking a while ago to the first Adam and had an inclination to the old way of Adam. With that the man knocked him down again and beat him so that Faithful cried out for mercy but there was no stopping and he would likely have died at the spot.
However, there was another man who came by and ordered the man to stop. Christian asked, ‘Who was that man?’ Faithful said, ‘At first I did not know but as He went by I noticed the holes in His hands and His side and I concluded He was our Lord.’
Christian said, ‘The man that overtook you was Moses. He spares no one, neither does he know how to show mercy to those who transgress the law.’
Something to ponder, what do you see here? Think on the picture, have you passed this point on your Christian walk, have you questions to ask or answers to be sought?
Reflection day 100- Shout for joy to the LORD
On this the 100th day of these reflections let us consider Psalm 100:
A psalm. For giving grateful praise.
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures for ever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
I remember as a young Christian being taught about a train. It had an engine and two carriages. The engine was called ‘Facts,’ the first carriage, ‘Faith,’ and the second carriage, ‘Feelings.’ It was impressed upon me that our faith was based upon the facts and that feelings followed on from faith. A great mistake was to let our faith be led by our feelings. (If you prefer you could think of a building with a solid foundation, ground floor and first floor!)
Anyway, this was sound advice. Life is full of ups and downs. Our moods can swing and be affected by such things as sickness, a bad night’s sleep and the weather. I think we are all also aware that we can have sinful feelings.
Nevertheless, feelings or emotions are an important part of us. God meant us to have feelings. Jesus was a perfect man but had real human emotions. He could be astonished, disappointed, indignant, angry, troubled, grief-stricken and moved with compassion and joy. In Luke 10:21 we read: ‘At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”
Many times we have reflected in church on the honest coverage of human life and experience in the Psalms, including such things as guilt, fear and depression. Thank God for that.
This Psalm, however, urges us to come before the LORD with joy, thankfulness and praise. There is something wrong isn’t there if we think we worship him rightly with misery, ungratefulness and complaints?
The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is famously:
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
But how can we enjoy God? How can we worship him with joy?
The Psalmist reminds us of wonderful facts in vs 3&5: the LORD is the one true God. He created us and redeemed us through his Son Jesus Christ (so we are doubly his). He cares for us now, providing for us and protecting us. And he always will. He is good and his love endures for ever.
On this 100th day of these reflections we need to reflect on this and to seek, albeit imperfectly, to bring our feelings into line with the facts and worship the LORD with joy and gladness.