Thoughtful Trust

This Bible is a great honeycomb, and it drips with honey. Come and taste its virgin sweetness, O ye whose mouths are full of bitterness

― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Scripture: Psalm 94.19

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

Reflection: Thoughtful Trust
By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Godly people are thoughtful people. Indeed it is often a sign of the beginning of grace in a man when he begins to consider. Believing is not the death of thinking, it is the sanctification of it.

Gracious men take much account of their thoughts, and make a conscience of them. Other men are scarcely alarmed in conscience by their actions, unless they happen to commit some glaring crime, but the saint has lost his heart of stone, and his heart of flesh is conscious of God’s displeasure, and trembles at it, when an impure thought has defiled his soul.

Regenerate men have sensitive minds, so that a word wrongly spoken grieves them sorely; and if it should never go so far as a word, and only an evil thought like an unclean bird flits through their mind, they are troubled lest they should have invited or secretly entertained so foul a lodger.

We must, then, look well to our thoughts, and keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. We must watch thought, think upon thought, and pray about thought, and happy shall we be if we can say, in the language of the text, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”

In times when many thoughts assail us, the attributes of God are each one of them the delight of our soul. The gist of the whole matter is this: the way to comfort is the way where God is to be found. Christian, the way for sustenance, strength, hope, and consolation is the way which leads thee to thy God. Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah there is everlasting strength.

And oh, poor sinner, the same way is open to you. Do not look within for comfort, for you will find none. As well go to the Arctic regions and pierce icebergs to discover warmth, as look to yourselves for consolation. Away, away, away, away from your own thoughts to God’s thoughts; away from your own judgings and weighings, and computations, and speculations, and expectations to the firm promises of a God that cannot lie.

*Excerpt from Medicine For The Distracted by Charles Spurgeon.

Prayer

Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life. —Psalm 90:14

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 10 (Listen – 3:12)
Psalm 94 (Listen – 2:08)

Hope of Glory

Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ‘ashes.’

―Elisabeth Elliot

Scripture: Psalm 93.3-4

The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!

Reflection: Hope of Glory
By Steven Dilla

It can be difficult to understand the level of fear ancient people felt when they talked about the sea. When the Psalmist cried, “The floods lift up their roaring,” he described one of the greatest threats his people faced. The NET Bible translates his cry as, “The waves roar, the waves roar and crash.”

Without reliable maps, weather prediction technology, or modern marine science, most people in ancient cultures knew someone who went out to sea and never came back. The sea was a place of great unknown, near-certain danger, and possible destruction.

The Psalmist continues, “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” The Hebrew word used for, “might” is the same word for majesty, glory, or excellence. We might say, “Though there is immense uncertainty and danger, God transcends all and is wonderful in his beauty.”

The Psalmist rests in the understanding that God transcends what we perceive as unconquerable. Even the most crushing of our fears does not diminish God’s power or excellence in the least.

There is great security in the majesty of God, both in the darkest moments of human history, as well as in the intimate moments of our individual trials and pain. Yet we join with Christians throughout time in our longing for more.

In describing the new heaven and new earth the Scriptures promise that we will find, “the sea is no more.” The Biblical writers’ symbol for all that is unknown, dangerous, destructive, fearful, and evil will be defeated. Though, in the toil of today, we place our hope in God, we long for the day we see his glory bring full restoration to all that is broken, return what is lost, and heal our suffering.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons

Incline my heart, O God, to your ways. Turn my eyes from longing after vanities.

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 9 (Listen – 5:06)
Psalm 92-93 (Listen – 2:09)

 

Rhythms

Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.

―Isaac Watts

Scripture: Psalm 89.1

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.

Reflection: Rhythms
By Steven Dilla

Research shows it takes 90 minutes for the average Londoner to transition from bed to walking out the door each morning. The average resident of Shanghai invests just 9 minutes grooming for the day, while two thirds of Parisian women apply makeup and perfume each day.

On the other hand, only fifty six percent of New Yorkers shower each day (rush hour subway, anyone?). For those who do, showering and grooming averages 30 minutes each morning.

Few people practice ideal morning rhythms. Looking at New Yorkers alone, 59% say it’s important to exercise in the morning—just 16% do. For those with children, 77% say morning playtime is important—only 21% engage in it.

The number one place for New Yorkers to self-reflect is the shower (let’s face it, it’s the only place we’re consistently alone), but stress, problem solving, and scheduling too easily consume reflection time. If we’re honest it’s far too easy to invest a disproportionate amount of time in the morning focusing only on ourselves.

Psalm 89 records a simple and beautiful longing to “sing of the steadfast love of the Lord”—a plea echoed in the prayer of Psalm 90; “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love.” The Psalmists longed for a joy that would be present in the good and bad of life. They knew this kind of transcendent joy could be found in one source alone: satisfaction in the love of God—every morning.

Scripture reading, prayer, and reflection on the character and nature of God each morning is time well invested. Daily rhythms rooted in Christ move us beyond ourselves opening up time to pray for people who may not have anyone else praying for them, and centering our lives on the only source that delivers what we need most

Prayer: The Request for Presence

I call with my whole heart; answer me, O Lord, that I may keep your statutes. Hear my voice, O Lord, according to your loving-kindness; according to your judgments, give me life. —Psalm 119.145ff

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 6 (Listen – 3:13)
Psalm 89 (Listen – 5:29)

This Weekend’s Readings
Deuteronomy 7 (Listen – 4:13) Psalm 90 (Listen – 2:03)
Deuteronomy 8 (Listen – 2:58) Psalm 91 (Listen – 1:39)

 

The Shifting Sands of Crisis

Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.

―Charles Spurgeon

Scripture: Psalm 88.1

O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you.

Reflection: The Shifting Sands of Crisis
By Steven Dilla

Halfway through the winter of 2009 construction crews were working to dig a parking garage under a 13 story apartment building in Shanghai. The workers, mostly untrained migrants, had dumped tons of excavated dirt on the bank of a nearby creek. What happened next was was likely a result of unfavorable winds, soft soil from unseasonably high amounts of rain, and the creek bank collapsing under the weight of the dirt.

Photos from the site are arresting. A nearly-intact 13 story building lays on its side—as if a toddler had knocked over her dollhouse. Fortunately, because construction was incomplete, there were no tenants in the building and only one person lost their life in the tragedy—a remarkably low number based off the size of the building.

Weak foundations lead to catastrophic events.

Psalm 88 is a desperate cry to God in the midst of catastrophic events. Charles Spurgeon called it “the darkest of psalms.” The psalmist pleads with God, “Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!”

Spurgeon continues, “It is a sorrowful wail, and it comes to a close when you do not expect it to finish. It really has no finish to it, as when men wind up their songs with proper finales; but it is broken off, like a lily snapped at the stalk.”

The psalmist pours his pain and frustration before God in prayer. “Prayer is always best when it rises to pleading,” Spurgeon concludes. “The man who understands the sacred art of prayer becomes a special pleader with God.”

Even in the seconds before the building in Shanghai fell over it would have looked no different from the other two buildings on site. The outside architecture was nearly complete. The paint color naturally complemented existing structures. And the view of the city from the top floors would have been wonderful.

The foundation was built on shifting sands.

We can attempt to solve life’s disappointments and crises with emotional strength or shear will. But it’s in our relationship with God through Christ’s sacrifice, our prayer and worship, the community of believers, and the scriptures that we find the foundation which can sufficiently support a thriving life.

Prayer: The Cry of the Church

In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice.

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 5 (Listen – 4:25)
Psalm 88 (Listen – 1:58)

Trusting God

As prayer without faith is but a beating of the air, so trust without prayer is but a presumptuous bravado.

―Thomas Lye

Scripture: Psalm 86.11

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Reflection: Trusting God
by Thomas Lye (c. 1675 C.E.)

To trust in God, is to cast our burden on the Lord, when it is too heavy for our own shoulder; to dwell “in the secret place of the Most High,” when we know not where to lay our heads on earth. It is to “look to our Maker,” and to “have respect to the Holy One of Israel;” to lean on our Beloved; to stay ourselves, when sinking, on the Lord our God.

In a word, trust in God is that high act or exercise of faith, whereby the soul, looking upon God, and casting of itself on his goodness, power, promises, faithfulness, and providence, is lifted up above carnal fears and discouragements, above perplexing doubts and disquietments. These acts are either for the obtaining and continuance of that which is good, or for the preventing or removing of that which is evil.

More particularly, there are three ingredients of trust in God:

1. A clear knowledge or right apprehension of God, as revealed in his word and works. Knowledge of God is of such necessity to a right trust, that it is put as a synonym for trust: “I will set him on high, because he hath known,” that is, trusted in, “my name.”

2. A full assent of the understanding, and consent of the will, to those divine revelations, as true and good, wherein the Lord proposes himself as an adequate object for our trust.

3. A firm and fixed reliance, resting, or recumbency of the whole soul on God. Or a firm persuasion, and special confidence of the heart, whereby a believer particularly applies to himself the faithful promises of God, and certainly concludes and determines with himself, that the Lord is able and willing to make good to him the good promises he hath made. This indeed is the very formality of trust; one of the highest and noblest acts of faith.

Prayer: The Request for Presence

Come to me speedily, O God. You are my helper and deliverer; Lord, do not tarry. —Psalm 70.5-6

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 4 (Listen – 7:22)
Psalm 86-87 (Listen – 2:36)

 

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