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THE POWER OF TESTIMONY (The close of Book One of the Psalter: Psalms 40-41)

DO YOU GET TONGUE-TIED WHEN SHARING YOUR FAITH?

DO YOUR HANDS GET CLAMMY WHEN YOU EXPLAIN WHY YOU BELIEVE?

He drew me upI’m facilitating a summer study for skeptics. Two weeks ago one of the skeptics asked such a good question: “Why do you pray? What do you get?” I fear those whom she was asking looked like deer caught in the headlights, for we so wanted to give the “right” answer. What I heard expressed was platitudes. I could tell that our sincere question-asker wasn’t satisfied! My friend Twila had to miss that week and I e-mailed her we’d dropped the ball. She said, “Oh, I wish I’d been there, because I know what I would have said!” She then e-mailed me a  testimony, based on Psalm 18 (which has many parallels to this week’s Psalm 40.)

I told her that I so wanted her to share her story, and that perhaps God would give her a chance the next week. I didn’t want to force it, but to trust His Spirit, but I also knew that Twila is an introvert, so I decided to sit next to her on the sofa in case I needed to elbow her.

I have been reading an illuminating book on introverts called Quiet, by Susan Cain.

Twila
My “quiet” friend Twila who’s thoughts run deep.

quietIt is a secular book filled with wisdom. It has truly caused me to reflect on how often we let the talkative people dominate and steer, to the loss of discussion groups, church search committees, and all kinds of arenas. (An interesting observation the author makes is that quiet people are more able to speak up on blogs where they are not trampled by loquacious extroverts.) Twila has been a gift to me as I have spent my first year living year round in this remote wilderness of Wisconsin. I know she is a quiet stream that runs deep, for to increase her intimacy with God she memorizes. Last year she memorized Ephesians, James, and Romans — this year she’s memorizing Hebrews. And so, I elbowed her when I thought it was time for her to share her story. (I was actually saying, Do you think this might be the time?  But it is hard to communicate all that through an elbow!)

She looked surprised and asked, “You want me to share my story? On Psalm 18?”

I decided it was the right time, so said, “Please!” (Now there was no hiding that we had conspired!)

And so she opened her Bible to Psalm 18 and explained that she had suffered for ten years in a clinical depression. She said, “Let me read to you how I felt.”

drowning_man_by_the_psycrothic

The cords of death entangled me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.

Then she began to cry, saying she hoped she could get through this. I told her I was sure she could.

She laughed through her tears and continued.

In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I cried to my God for help.

She cried again. Everyone was listening. The woman who had asked the question, my sister Bonnie, and the religious who don’t yet get the gospel. “And this,” Twila said, “is what happened.” Then, with tears streaming and Marietta searching her purse for Kleenex to give her, Twila bravely shared:

bowedtheheavensFrom his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came before him, into his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
    and the foundations of the mountains shook;
    they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
    consuming fire came from his mouth,
    burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
    dark clouds were under his feet.

He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
    the dark rain clouds of the sky.
  Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
    with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
  The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
    with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
  The valleys of the sea were exposed
    and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
    at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

And this is why I cry out to God.” She continued:

psalm-18  He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.

He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.

At our coffee break the question-asker came over and put her arm around Twila and thanked her for her helpful answer. So simple. When apologetics fail us, a testimony has power. I was blind but now I see. I was sinking and He put my feet upon a rock. I was grief-struck and He restored my joy.

Sara Grove’s Conversations says, “We’ve had every conversation in the book — but have I told you this is all that I have and all that I am?” Here’s one video version of that great song:

Sunday Icebreaker:

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

Monday -Tuesday: Your Turn

2. Review some of the psalms in Book One that impacted you and choose one part of one and write a paragraph testimony on a word document, concise and clear, and come back here and paste it in.

3. Tuesday is our own Joyce’s birthday. I don’t usually acknowledge birthdays here, but Joyce has been with us from the beginning and has prayed so faithfully for all of us. She is now standing in the need of prayer — all the problems with her back, her constant care for Kendra, her adult child who is disabled mentally and physically, and the lack of a good resolution on the horizon are weighing on her. Indeed, I know she feels often like this psalmist. May we intercede for her together, using the psalms.

Wednesday-Friday Bible Study

This video from Chrissie Zeph of Redeemer reminds me of Psalm 40:

4. Read Psalm 40 aloud to yourself.

A. What testimony is in verses 1-3? 

B.  What do you learn about God in verses 4-5?

C.  What do you learn about Jesus in verses 8-17?

5. What passage from Psalm 40 quickens you and why? 

6. How is this psalm an answer to Psalms 38-39?

7. Share a time when God seemed silent, but finally, broke through.

8. Read Psalm 41 aloud to yourself.

A. This psalm shows a gamut of emotions, as does Book One of the psalter. Find some of those emotions.

B. How can you see Christ in this psalm? Are you becoming more aware of Christ in the psalms? If so,

        share.

C. What quickens you from this psalm?

D. Pray this psalm.

Saturday

9. . What testimony from your blog sisters ministered to you and why?


 

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  1. 2. Review some of the psalms in Book One that impacted you and choose one part of one and write a paragraph testimony.
     
    The passage from Psalm 18:16-19 has stuck with me; it was easy to memorize and it comes to my mind often.
     
    “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me…He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”
     
    I love this tender image of the Lord. It shows me that He is not up there and disinterested in what is going on down here. It is an image of a mighty Rescuer; One who is strong, dependable, and able to do what no one else can. It pictures for me my salvation; I was in a desperate situation, even when I didn’t know it. I was in the kingdom of darkness and too weak to escape myself. I thought I was free and doing what I wanted to do, not realizing that I was really hemmed in. I love the image of the Rescuer bringing the one rescued out into a spacious place; a place of freedom. When I doubt how He feels about me, I remember the words that He rescued me because He delighted in me. But not only is this about salvation; I continue to get myself into trouble, I am pressed down by life’s circumstances, my flesh often gets the upper hand, I feel overwhelmed and too tired to fight anymore. I need Him to continue to reach down and take hold of me. It shows me how helpless I really am without Him.

    1. love this Susan–“When I doubt how He feels about me, I remember the words that He rescued me because He delighted in me.” And LOVE your picture too, beautiful you! 🙂

    2.  I love the image of the Rescuer bringing the one rescued out into a spacious place; a place of freedom.

       
      Susan, I remember when we studied this verse and you commented so eloquently on it’s meaning for you.   Beautiful word pictures here.  You’ve so clearly woven them into your personal faith story.  

    3. Susan, this is a wonderful passage that also speaks to me in a similar way. Yes, it is a tender image and shows his interest in our deepest needs. thank you for sharing  your feelings  as you say “I continue to get myself into trouble”. Yes, I also feel so helpless but am secure in his tender care.

  2. 4C.  v. 9 says that “I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation”.  The powerful image from Luke 4 immediately came to my mind.  When Jesus came to Nazareth and went to the synagogue……and he read these words from Isaiah  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor; He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  He rolled up the scroll, sat down and said “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  Backing up to v.8…..Jesus surely did delight to do His Father’s will…..as when the disciples questioned him after his time with the Samaritan woman…..and he told them that his food was to do his Father’s will…..again, I see LIFE there….more important even than physical food was Jesus’ desire to do the Father’s will!  And then v. 12 – no one in the history of the world could say more emphatically than Jesus “For evils have encompassed me without number”……and it was OUR iniquities on the cross that caused Jesus to be unable to “see”…..and his heart failed him.  “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”  As in the final verse of this chapter:  in that moment how very poor and needy Jesus was.BUT…..the Lord was going to deliver him……”do not delay,….”  just three short days……and Jesus left the tomb behind, His victory over sin complete.  Providing for us what we see in v. 16…..rejoicing, gladness, loving his salvation and saying ‘Great is the Lord’!

    1. So good, Jackie.  I am blessed by your words about vs. 9.  I completely missed that.  Seeing the layers of meaning in these psalms is life giving and refreshing!

    1. Dee, Any day you pray for me is  a blessing….as I love you so!  Thank you for the Birthday wishes and “Thank you for all you do for us all”!

  3. 3. Interceding for Joyce using the psalms.
     
    First, Happy Birthday Joyce! I will think of you today, getting your house cleaned and having a massage. And getting showered with love on your special day!
     
    Dear Lord, I pray for You to be Joyce’s shade in all of her circumstances; may she delight to sit in Your shade and may You refresh her spirit. Lord, You know the real physical pain that Joyce endures every day in her back. I know that You know because You felt physical pain Yourself. Lord, I pray that You would relieve this pain, and that this new treatment may help in relieving the pain. Thank You so much that Joyce will have help in meeting Kendra’s physical needs, and I pray that Kendra and her new caregiver will develop a trusting relationship and that Kendra will feel comfortable and safe with her. Lord, as we lay our requests before You for Joyce, we wait in expectation at how You will answer and provide. Keep Joyce as the apple of Your eye, and hide her in the shadow of Your wings. Joyce loves that picture of the mama bird sheltering her babies under her wings; may You shelter her in just the same way. Under Your wings, may Joyce feel safe, secure, protected, nurtured, and loved. You are the Good Shepherd, and we trust You to take care of Joyce. When sadness and tears come, let Joyce remember that You are close to the brokenhearted. You never turn away from our cries, our laments. Please pour out extra blessings upon Joyce today for her birthday. Thank You for making her and giving her life and for bringing her into all of our lives through this place. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    1. A resounding ‘amen’ to Susan’s beautiful prayer for you Joyce.  Happy Birthday!  I’ve been thinking of you all week and just prayed again for you.  May you have a most delightful day and be sustained through the hard times again and again.  Praying for special touches from Him today!   

      1. Thank you so much Wanda.  God blessed us all here so much when you joined Dee’s blog…Love you so!

    2. Susan, tears fog my keyboard, as my tears fall….as you blessed me so with this beautiful prayer.  I don’t deserve all this love,  attention and lovely prayers.I pray I dont get an idol of attention through all your love and wishs and prayers here today!Thank you so much Susan…love you sweet sister of mine.

      1. Joyce, been thinking of you all day and praying you would be showered with blessings…and yes, I think you do deserve all this love, attention, and lovely prayers; that’s why God directed them all your way!

  4. Happy happy birthday, Joyce!

    1. Thank you so much too, Renee…love you sweet sister!A love you all!!!

  5. 4. Read Psalm 40 aloud to yourself.
     
    A. What testimony is in verses 1-3?
     
    David was in trouble. It’s described as being in a slimy pit full of mud and mire. A pit is a place you can’t get out of yourself. I like how we don’t know the specific trouble, because we can relate to his feelings. Today, it could be a place of feeling desperate, depressed, suffering a loss, having addictions – any number of things. David testifies that He waited patiently for the Lord to rescue; that God heard his cries and turned to him. God lifted him out of this pit and set his feet on a solid rock (standing in slimy mud is like being on shaky ground, slipping), giving him a firm place to stand. God healed him, “He put a new song in my mouth”. He enabled David to sing praises. David’s experience is one that many saw and caused them to fear God and put their trust in Him.
     
    B. What do you learn about God in verses 4-5?
     
    God is the One to be trusted above all else. I shouldn’t trust ultimately in other people – they can be proud and turn to idols, leading me to do the same. I shouldn’t trust in myself, either, for I can be filled with pride in what I think is my self-sufficiency, and often my solutions are trusting in idols. God has done many wonders and His plans for us – He has too many to count. This tells me that from the beginning of time, God’s plans are infinite; He doesn’t need my help to remember what He’s doing. He has every detail under control.
     
    C. What do you learn about Jesus in verses 8-17?
     
    Verse 8 says “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” Jesus said that He came not to do His will but His Father’s will. Verses 9-10 could describe Jesus’ ministry, when He went about teaching people about the kingdom of God. He proclaimed righteousness; He didn’t keep the truth to Himself but proclaimed it freely. He spoke of God’s righteousness, faithfulness, salvation, and love. Verse 12 starts to talk about troubles without number surrounding him and being overtaken by sin. In Jesus’ earthly life, there began to be a time where storm clouds were gathering as He moved closer and closer to the time when He would pay for our sins. As He faced His own death, “My heart fails within me”. Verses 14-15 could describe those who sought to take Jesus’ life; those who mocked Him, saying “Aha! Aha!” They were convinced that He was not who He said He was or else He wouldn’t be on a Cross.
     
    These words also describe Jesus as He was on the Cross, “Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.”

  6. 5. What passage from Psalm 40 quickens you and why?
     
    “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry…Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.”  Waiting patiently. But I am not patient when I feel sad, or discouraged, or depressed, or out of control, or when I just don’t like the way things are going. I want things to change – NOW. I want to find an answer, a solution, a way out. Disclaimer – I am not against seeking out godly advice or counseling. But often I will look to someone, anyone, to make me feel better; the faster the better. Or I look to myself. I will take matters into my own hands to solve the problem, to stop the emotional pain. I see myself in the words, “the proud, those who turn aside to false gods”. Instead of praying, waiting, I want to act on my own impulses and at the bottom is my comfort idol. I can get real negative about a situation and find a lot to grumble and complain about instead of looking for the positive and being open to waiting for God to show me what’s going on. I’ve caused myself a lot of grief and regret by jumping ahead of God.
     
    Lord, please forgive me for my pride, for valuing my own comfort above You and others. For acting in my own best interests at the cost of others. There is a situation now, Lord, that I’m not really turning wholly over to You, but would make my own plans instead. Please help me to wait patiently for You to show me what is best. Maybe that’s why I’m always slipping and sliding, because I’m forging ahead and trying to make my own path instead of waiting for You to set my feet. Please expose to me my sin; I know there is much hidden under many layers that I choose to ignore. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    1. Amen, Susan…your prayer could easily be mine as well.

    2. Such good insight here and I see myself so clearly.  ‘I look to someone, anyone to make me feel better, the sooner the better’.   I see where I do this too…..instead of laying it before the Lord as my first response.  Thanks for this. 

  7. 8.  This psalm shows a gamut of emotions as does Book I.   Find some of them.   I can’t remember looking at this psalm before and I felt emotional just reading it. David is seriously and painfully ill and the way his friends treat him is reminiscent of Job.   Yet, he begins with confidence or perhaps resolve.…as he praises God for regarding him, for delivering, protecting and preserving his life from his enemies.  He shows his trust even in the midst of his fear.  David shows contrition over his sin.  He shows anxiety and/or anger and/or shame? in recounting what his enemies are saying to slander him.  To think that his enemies not only slandered him, because of their hatred of him for political or power……but in their malice, they flaunted his grave illness and made it the subject of their slander.  They mocked him saying he would never recover.  ‘Even his closest friend’ did this.  The pain of that is unimaginable as I consider those I love who have suffered and who are suffering with very serious illness.  Friends and family coming together to uphold them is what lifts them up to face another day, another difficult diagnosis, another painful procedure.  To have your closest friend turn on you. What a feeling of betrayal that would be.   And yet, he comes through with hope; true hope because the object of his hope is supremely secure, almighty, and loving.  It is the Almighty that uphold him even as his friends have let him down.   David knows that whichever way the illness goes, he wins.  The Lord will bring him into His presence forever.

  8. I asked the Lord to show me a passage to pray for Joyce, and He led me to Psalm 121. Lord, we thank You for bringing Joyce into our lives, the example of faithfulness she is to all of us. She lifts up her eyes to You alone, Lord, she knows her help can only come from You, Creator of all. Be her Strength Lord as she faces so many trials each day, ones most of us never deal with. You will keep her from falling Lord, You will not sleep as she cares for Kendra even through the night. You are her Keeper, You are the One who shades her from harm. You will protect her Lord and put Your hedge of angels around her, morning and night. Thank You Lord for the gift of JOYce! 🙂

    1. another beautiful prayer, Elizabeth.  I am really learning from these examples of praying the psalms.

    2. Elizabeth…I love that Psalam and just as Wanda says…I am really learning from these examples of praying the Psalms.  Especially when it’s for me! Thank you so much…that was  such a beautiful prayer.

    3. Elizabeth, love this..

    4. AMEN!

  9. Today, in Psalms 41 I saw Christ in verses 1-3.  It is reminiscent of the Beatitudes.  And, I, too, felt that much of the Psalm was similar to Job.  Makes me wonder how many times, when people come to us (or we go to them) are we truly there on their behalf.  Or, are we only there to spout religious platitudes that somehow draw the attention away from Christ and the issue at hand and put the spotlight on us?  That would be some of those issues that God does not like that were mentioned in Psalm 40.  
    So what does this say to me:  I must be careful to keep the focus on Christ and what he desires for those I advise or council.  I need for the outcome to be “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.  Amen and Amen.”  The kudos should always be toward the Lord.  Father, may I be reminded of this as I serve you.  May I continually shift the focus back to you for apart from you I am nothing. Amen.

  10. Happy Birthday,  JOYce!     I hope your day is full of pleasant surprises!

    1. I like the visual of her name,  Deanna!  

      1. I like that too!!   I was once nicknamed Jo…but never Joy for some reason…and I love it!

  11. 8. Read Psalm 41 aloud to yourself.
    A. This psalm shows a gamut of emotions, as does Book One of the psalter. Find some of those emotions. 
    Concern for the poor. Sick. Sustained while sick. Hope of physical restoration. Despair – “O Lord, have mercy…” Repentance. Desire for forgiveness. Assaulted. Mocked. Humiliated. Rejected. Threatened. Unvalued. Deceived. Betrayed. Hurt. Hopeless. Friendless. Hope in the Lord and His mercy and power. Belonging in the Lord. Praise.
     
    B. How can you see Christ in this psalm? 
    Christ had regard for the poor, both in circumstances and spiritually and he is THE blessed man. God sustained Christ through sickness, even through death, and brought Him back. Christ’s enemies were ruthless, mocking Him. Pharisees would come seeking “advice” but really were just gathering evidence and partial quotes to convict Him and kill Him.  Even the reference to Judas – the man who broke bread with Him but then betrayed Him. His enemies were sure that once they got their way He would never “get up from the place where he lies.” Christ’s enemies were also certain that “a vile disease had beset him” (v. 8) and told many of it. They truly believed that Christ was wrong, was crazy, and against what was good! They had no vision to search their hearts.
     
    Are you becoming more aware of Christ in the psalms. If so, share. Christ is becoming much more apparent to me in the psalms. I never realized there was SO much cross-reference amongst the scriptures (not just Christ in the psalms but in the whole Bible). It truly is one continuous story that connects. As beautiful as scripture is individually the entire masterpiece is even more breathtaking when you step back and look at the whole mastery of the artist. He is amazing.
     

  12. C. What quickens you from this psalm? I am intrigued by the friend betraying the psalmist.  Especially in the context of Christ. Christ knew Judas would betray Him and yet Christ trusted Judas (v. 9). Christ befriended Judas, trusted Judas, even though he was not trustworthy and ended up hurting Jesus in a major way! Jesus had to have know this? And yet he still tried to bless Judas.  I am convicted. To BE the blessing. To BE the friend. (Thinking back on John Piper’s message a few weeks back.) If Christ had used conventional wisdom, or advice, he would have distanced himself and “kept himself safe.”  But he didn’t. He loved Judas, he tried anyway, invested anyway.
     
    D. Pray this psalm.
    God bless those who are helping the poor in Iraq. God give them strength! Preserve their lives that they may continue to do Your work and fight evil! Bless them and do not surrender them to the desire of the enemy! God sustain those hurting and sick that they would rise again off their bed and be able to help those around them. The enemy looks devouringly at Your children in Iraq and desires to have them all perish! They deceive and lie for the enemy’s cause! The enemy spreads lies and teaches others that Your children are to be disposed of. God even those that were thought to be trusted are hurting people…have mercy on Your people, God, raise them up and let them fight back for You! Give them strength that the enemy would not triumph over them. We know You are pleased with Your children please uphold them and set them in your presence forever. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel! From everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.

    1. So good, Jill.  I would not have thought to apply this psalm to what is happening in Iraq and yet you saw it and it fits so well.  I am so glad to learn from everyone here.

    2. Amen.

    3. Amen  to the beautiful prayer, Jill. My heart aches for those who are suffering in Iraq. May God strengthen them in their suffering and uphold them.

  13. AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOYCE!!! I hope your massage and clean house were a true blessing today! =)

  14. Oh – and I really like the new pictures Susan and Laura-Dancer! You are both so lovely! =)

    1. Agreed Jill.  I smiled when I saw both of those pictures.  😀  !!

  15. Beautiful ! Jackie R

  16. Sorry, so behind (finally home/on computer).  What quickened me in Psalm 40.
     
    In general:  The whole psalm quickened me because it reminded me of Ps 116, which is part of my fiber.  I memorized it 25+ years ago, and the Lord brings it to my mind periodically.  Psalm 40 sheds more light onto similar verses. 

    Some examples:   I was using a paper (vs electronic) Bible that was left out at the lake, probably because it was one of my mom’s “extras.”  It was a Good News Bible.

      Vs. 4 (I think some of you will see why it quickened me 🙂  ):

    Happy are those who trust the Lord,    who do not turn to idols    or join those who worship false gods.

    SO, I pondered idols more, particularly control and approval — and also wondered what it means to join those who worship idols.  At this point, I have more questions than answers.  The application of the verse in my day-to-day life definitely is God’s invitation to seek him.  I wonder what it means not to join those who worship false gods.  Even if I don’t join them in worship (I know I sometimes do — so this prompted self-examination, seeking forgiveness), I do join them in collaborative efforts.    ???End of vs 6 through vs 8

    Instead, you have given me ears to hear you,and so I answered, “Here I am;  your instructions for me are in the book of the Law.
    How I love to do your will, my God!  I keep your teaching in my heart.”

    “Here I am” quickened me.  I do want to be sensitive to him and want to eliminate extra junk (not sure what) in order to hear him, especially as all the fall craziness is about to increase.   These verses also reminded me of “thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin…”   I probably hadn’t thought about the verse much before and sorta assumed that having the Word hidden in my heart would help me know what to do, guidelines or instructions.  But when I thought about the group of verses, including the ones about idols, I believe that when God’s word is in my heart, he uses to to draw me to him (i.e., Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”).   That is, listening to him, being open to his work THROUGH his word is HOW he replaces the idols with himself.   It seemed as if Dee had pulled the message of Idol Lies directly from these verses.  I want to do His will rather than follow idols when I know Him.  And I know Him because he draws me to himself through his Word.

    🙁   Vs. 9  “In the assembly of all your people, Lord…”   This is the most difficult place for me to speak of His work.  It’s easier for me to speak in other “assemblies” or on a one-to-one basis.  However, the combination of difficult church experiences and being depressed is what has made it relatively easy for me to connect with unbelievers and the unchurched so I do see how God has worked through these situations.  It is much easier for me to teach or speak to a large secular or university group (hundreds) than to even teach a small (5-6) kid’s group in church (and part of my background is child development — and I enjoy working with kids), although Speaking to a Group of Christian leaders and interacting regularly with Christian leaders during the last few years had made that easier.

      In a “secular” audience, I am okay at considering Scripture and weighing the evidence before taking any advice seriously.  But somehow, I have the idea that when I’m in church, I should be able to trust people.  I’m used to “stupid” advice, but I tend to want to follow it when I get it from believers — and that has taught me to be very careful when bringing up anything depression-related in church settings.  Over time, I’ve become good at sensing who to trust/not to trust, but sometimes I want to trust so badly that I turn off my brains and am totally caught off guard.  I’ve also thought more about this in light of earlier postings (Marriane’s and Sherryl’s, I think) this week.  Might (????) post more about that later.

  17. Happy birthday, Joyce. Sorry to be late. Just getting on the computer now.

    1. Diane, any news of Krista’s interview? Hoping it went well.

      1. Susan, Krista did not get the job. She said there were over 60 applicants and she was one of 5 interviewed. It is kind of discouraging not to get hired, but a bit encouraging to get to the interview at least. We have to remember that God is in control and He has his reasons.

        1. Sorry to hear this, Diane.  I also have been wondering.  To be one in five out of 60 IS a big step.  But, now back to the waiting process which is so hard.  I like Jackie’s thoughts below on the verse  (40: 17)  about being poor and needy…….and the Lord ‘has thoughts of us’.  May Krista be encouraged with knowing the Lord has not forgotten or forsaken…..and as you said He is in control.  

        2. OH…I feel disappointed for her. Will keep praying for a job for Krista; however, it is encouraging that she was one of five chosen out of 60!

    2. Thank you Diane!  Actually you have been on my mind!   Praying for some precious quiet time for you to spend with the Lord.  Praying your dizziness goes away and for your time when Aubrey will be gone….to go smoothly. 

      I had a wonderful Birthday….even tho the Massage lady had to cancel because she will ill….it was actually a blessing, as I had time then to read all my cards and take calls and texts and facebook messages and   quite time with My Lord, as Kendra was with the sitter.   I have so much to Praise God for…how Blessed I am!  You ladies made my day very…very special!  Thank you so much!!

      My husband actually baked a cake and brownies and got nuts/ ice cream and planned a party with family tonight here…it was wonderful.  He gave me $200.00 to spend on myself and got me flowers too!  I have a awesome husband! 

        I just pray that he  will become the spiritual leader of our home.  I know he believes…but he keeps that all bottled up inside of him.   But I’ve seen the Lord working on him….he actually said he would go to church with Kendra and I if it was a casual setting…where he didn’t have to dress up and prefered it to be like the night before. 

        We did get an invite to a very small church in town that does do that on Sat. evenings.  It is called ” Family of Christ Lutheran church”   Dee…Wiebe’s go there.    They take communition every sunday morning for the ones that have been baptized.  I have been submursed and baptized…but Maurice and Kendra have not….so not sure about that. Luthern are more like Catholic right?

      I am also interested in a church called ..”Grace  Fellowship Church”…It says…”Grace is a non-denominational, evangelical, spirit-empowered church that focuses on biblical teaching and preaching.”

      The other one that I use to go to a few times was the “Seventh Adventist Church”…only because I have family that go there and I love the Pastor and I have been a vegan for a few years….but Maurice is not.

      I would appreciate your thoughts…honest thoughts on these churches.  Dee may know the churches in Kearney I’m speaking of.

      Sorry I got on that subject…I needed to bring that up on Dee’s private facebook page….but so may of you are not on there yet!

      1. Joyce, it sure sounds like you had a very special birthday…that makes me happy for you! I hope you can make-up that massage at a later date…
        How neat that your husband baked for you and planned a party, too!

      2. Joyce, so glad that you had a wonderful birthday.
         
        Also, I would caution you about Seventh Day Adventist Church. Their beliefs tend to be legalistic, believing that they must earn their salvation, rather than understanding that salvation is by grace. They insist on meeting on Saturday as the Sabbath, for example, and have dietary rules. Does anyone else have any thoughts of this?

        1. Yes, I think that is right, Diane.  While I’ve had friends and have known many good and compassionate people who go to SDA churches, they do have some emphases that I think are not necessarily solidly biblical…..(regarding prophecies and the 2nd coming also)  Also, Joyce….regarding Lutheran churches, there are many, many differences in denominations under the umbrella of Lutheran teaching with practices ranging from very legalistic to extremely liberal .  From very solidly Biblical to denying the essence of Biblical teaching.  It would depend somewhat on the type of Lutheran church it is and quite largely, on the pastor and local congregation.  I wouldn’t say ‘they’re kind of like Catholic’…..as there are many differences in doctrine…but they use varying  liturgical practices,  again depending on the denomination and congregation.  A lot of what I grew up with in a conservative Lutheran denomination is what I miss in my evangelical church……but we are all different in our backgrounds and so are the churches!  I would think that in a town your size, there would be a church just right for you…..The Lord will lead you! 

      3. Joyce – I noticed Diane and Wanda’s very good answers to your questions about possible new churches.  I just had to chime in and echo with extreme caution regarding Seventh Day Adventist churches.  I don’t need to say more as they covered it so well!  Just wanted to add my “amen” to what they shared!  

  18. Okay…I answered questions 4 & 5 this morning – now my posts have disappeared!

    1. that is so frustrating, Susan.  Curious as to what browser you used.  So far, that’s not happened to me…..so I’ll be aware. 

    2. Susan….That happened to me also about the different churches. ….it just disappeared….but I was glad because I felt like I shouldn’t of brought up the subject anyway
       
      But then it appeared  much…much later anyway!

  19. B. How can you see Christ in this psalm? Are you becoming more aware of Christ in the psalms? If so,
            share.
    Seeing Christ in the psalms energizes me as it unlocks a whole other level of meaning that, in many cases, I had never known before.  I so love it, when it stands out to me!  I often miss something that someone else saw, so this forum is SO valuable to me.  In 41, I see Christ in his passion in vs. 5 and 6 when the malice and indifference of His persecutors is evident.  They waited for him to die.  They gambled for his clothing.  They spoke falsely of him and ridiculed Him to his face and to others.  Vs. 9 made me gasp.  ‘Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’   Actually, the first time I read it, I was so fixated on a man gravely ill, who was the object of scorn and betrayal, even by his friend….that I missed it.  And then it suddenly leapt off the page…….Judas.  This is a perfect description of Judas.  God’s Word SO amazes me.  And then, vs. 10,  “you raise me up”  YES!  We call it EASTER!  and then vs. 11  ‘I know that you are pleased with me”..…. Jesus baptism.  God voiced his pleasure with His beloved Son.  And ‘my enemy does not triumph over me.’  YES!  Jesus defeated ALL of the enemies that had the power to ultimately harm him or us.  Sin, death and the devil are defeated!   And vs. 12….Jesus is ‘set in God’s presence forever!”

  20. 4. Read Psalm 40 aloud to yourself.
    A. What testimony is in verses 1-3? 
    When I wait on the Lord, He will rescue me from any seemingly impossible trouble I might be in (sometimes/often I may have chosen to go down the pit) . I shudder when I think of the illustration of a slimy pit. Can I ever come out of it? But I have a God who can do the impossible.
    B.  What do you learn about God in verses 4-5?
    He can do wonders (Ephesians 3:20-21) when we trust Him. 
    C.  What do you learn about Jesus in verses 8-17?
    His desire is always to do the will of the Father. In the midst of unfair treatment, Jesus calls to the only One who can bring justice and the only One who deserves praise.
    5. What passage from Psalm 40 quickens you and why? 
    “v.4 Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” I can look to idols of approval and significance but they would never bring happiness to my life. When I trust the Lord, I have a sense of happiness in and through my circumstances though difficult they might be.
    6. How is this psalm an answer to Psalms 38-39?
    Psalm 40 reflects a keen awareness that despite the psalmist expressed trouble and difficulties, God is the one whom he trusts; the one who hears his pleas and who gives deliverance. v.17 “You are my help and deliverer.”
    7. Share a time when God seemed silent, but finally, broke through
    Many years ago, I prayed for a man to love me unconditionally and marry me. I thought that man came in the form of a classmate and good friend while we were both in nursing school. We planned and dreamed of our wedding day but then he broke off with me and married somebody else. I was devastated. He was my life! I couldn’t think of a future without him. I went into the pit of loneliness for a couple of years going though the motion asking God, why, Lord? God was silent through those years it seemed like but I know in retrospect He was at work. Finally, I came to a point of accepting His will (the breakthrough)that is after godly friends counseled and loved me through those years. Now, 🙂 after 26 years of marriage to my wonderful husband, the pain of past unrequited love is but a shadow. The memory comes rarely (like this time of vulnerable sharing) ALWAYS to give praise to God who knew what is best for me.

    1. Ernema,  thanks for sharing your story with us.  You said it so beautifully.  God knew what was best.  A simple statement that speaks volumes.

    2. Yes, Bing,  I too am grateful for you sharing your story in answer to #7.   I know that it takes courage to share in that vulnerable way!  I can look back on several things that didn’t go the way I planned, but God had a much better way.    Aren’t we lucky that God doesn’t give us everything we ask for?!    

    3. Ernema–what a beautiful story! I know it must have been very painful at the time, but what a testimony of God’s faithfulness! “after 26 years of marriage to my wonderful husband, the pain of past unrequited love is but a shadow.”

  21. Ernema…I love your answer to No 7.
     
    It was all in God’s timing wasn’t it?  Thank you Dear Jesus!

  22. 7. Share a time when God seemed silent, but finally, broke through.
    God has broken through in my fear of getting up in front of people, and in leading. It started with my story in Idol Lies and He is coming mightily it seems over the past 5 years! It has been a slow process but that is good! God came through this Psalms study and the penny is dropping in regard to the Gospel and I am resting-I noticed this when I sang with our worship team last month for the first time-oh my..I don’t recall a time when I was completely this free to worship Him on a team. Our worship leader said, “You are a worship leader”. I haven’t been told that before so my first thought was..nah..maybe a soloist on a worship team-that is where I am comfortable but leader? maybe not..:) He is working on my heart. Yes, He is my life..Just ‘saying’ that in order to calm my fears and ‘meaning’ it are two different things. The penny had to drop with the Gospel first and I do believe it is dropping deeper! SO yes, He has come and He sure hasn’t been silent these past five years. Just like in Psalm 18.. I am learning to lay down and let him peel off my layers. He is my joy in the pain-I hope that makes sense! 
     

    1. Rebecca, Oh yeah, makes sense 🙂

      LOVE the word “resting!”  A little while after I read your testimony, the word “resting,” I thought “kinda like being on vacation all the time.”  I dreaded un-vacating 😉 this year, because my heart did rest while on vacation.  Now I see that He is inviting me to have a heart at rest in him all the time.  Thanks for your testimony!  So helpful to read of the process and to remember what you shared back in earlier blog days.

      “Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what thou art…”

    2. Yes Rebecca
      ..it makes perfect sense!
       
      God has blessed you with a beautiful gift of singing and you should use it to Praise him!!

  23. 8. Read Psalm 41 aloud to yourself.
    A. This psalm shows a gamut of emotions, as does Book One of the psalter. Find some of those emotions.
     
    The Psalmist is joyful, anxious, depresssd, and hopeful, all at once! A menagerie of emotions. I so get that right about now.
     
    B. How can you see Christ in this psalm? Are you becoming more aware of Christ in the psalms? If so,  share.
     
    Absolutely! The Sermon on the Mount comes to mind here. The writer mentions those who betray him, as Jesus was betrayed. He asks for mercy from God and praises God for being his savior. 
     
    I am finding Jesus in these verses. I don’t think I would have on my own, so I am thankful we studied them together and now I feel so smart about the reading the Bible! In almost every passage I see Him, weird. Written by David, but apply to Jesus as well. That is what I don’t understand. It’s prophetic, but have I learned that David was a prophet? I don’t think so. Did he write them knowing or just write them as himself and what he was going through at the time? Did God just make it that way without David having the knowledge (David is just plugging along in life, hard as it was for him, and we see now how it fits?) so weird to me…..
     
     
     

    1. Laura, I believe in one of Mike Reeve’s sermons he said that David was a prophet; he cited a verse from the OT but I don’t remember the reference.

    2. Laura, I think I found the verse I was thinking of; not in the OT but Acts 2:30, “But he (David) was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.” Verse 31, “Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that He was not abandoned to the grave, nor did His body see decay.”

      1. Thanks Susan and Dee! Will ponder this.

  24. 5. Psalm 40:17  “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.  You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!”  Just the phrase “the Lord takes thought for me” makes my heart beat a little faster!  If I could remember just that one phrase when I’m feeling like I cannot take another step….”the Lord takes thought for me”……though so many days I do feel “poor and needy”……materially poor – a business that is a shadow of what it once was …….relationally poor – a terribly difficult marraige, my two unbelieving children battling cancer and alcoholism……and the list goes on, as we all can relate to in some way!  How I long to see my life’s circumstances molding me into the “poor in spirit” that Jesus calls BLESSED in Matt 5!  To me, being poor and needy can present as both actual anguish over life’s circumstances……but, more importantly, as I recognize that it’s a GOOD thing to be poor in spirit; to be needy for Him in every moment!  That’s a BLESSED place to dwell!

    1. Oh Jackie….I am so sorry for all your problems.  I had no idea.  I will be praying for you.   Can you email me?  Are you on facebook?   jopete49@gmail.com

      Dang…it won’t let my email address go through:(

      1. It did let it go through!! When it was posting it blocked it out!   Jackie…if there is any way I can help…besides prayer…I want to.   Love you sister!

    2. Jackie,
       
      I hear you.   As I was reading your post here tonight, this song came on…. one I play on my guitar and sing to the Lord at times.    It is a lament with heartfelt hope.   I may have posted this several weeks ago as well.
       
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxiCVQ9fzZI
       
      Only by his mercies.

  25. 6.  It’s been pointed out here on the blog that in both chapters 38&39, it’s important to see that the Psalmist may be in dire straights….with no obvious relief in sight!……yet clinging to His God.  Psalm 40 starts right out with the fruit of that faith (“waited patiently for the Lord”).  He 1. inclined to me, 2. heard my cry, 3. drew me up from the pit, 4. set my feet upon a rock, 5. made my steps secure, 6. put a new song of praise in my mouth……beautiful!  Then “many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord”.  It’s good to see that the Psalmists’ response to all of this is “I will proclaim…  I have told the glad news of deliverance….I have not hidden your deliverance…..I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation.”  I just picture the Psalmist overwhelmed with the greatness and care of His God…..running to worship with fellow believers and bursting at the seams with the need to testify of all His wondrous deeds!  In that process (v.16) inviting others to also rejoice and be glad in the Lord.  

  26. 4. Read Psalm 40 aloud to yourself.
     
    A. What testimony is in verses 1-3?
     
    The big thing I see is that David waited patiently for the Lord to rescue him. The particular problem is not named, but is described as being in a slimy pit full of mud and mire. It sounds most uncomfortable-the kind of place you would be desperate to get out of, quick! The Lord lifted him out and set his feet on a solid rock, firm footing instead of that nasty mud and mire. Then I see the Lord giving David a new song of praise. As people observed God working in David’s life, they were moved to fear God and put their trust in Him.
     
    B. What do you learn about God in verses 4-5?
     
    First, that He is the only One worthy to trust. Then, David says that the Lord has done many wonders. The OT is full of the miraculous things God did, like parting the Red Sea. He says, “The things you planned for us no one can recount to you”, I am thinking the “us” he refers to are the Israelites. David knows the history of his people; how God chose them as His own particular people to belong to Him. The plans He has for His people are so many that no one could tell them all.
     
    C. What do you learn about Jesus in verses 8-17?
     
    Backing up to verse 7, which someone mentioned this already, this sounds like when Jesus read from Isaiah in the synagogue, which says that He is anointed to preach good news to the poor…and He said that the Scripture was fulfilled by Him. Psalm 40:7 says, “Here I am, I have come – it is written about me in the scroll.”
     
    Jesus went about teaching, proclaiming, talking about the Good News and the Kingdom of God, which can be seen in verses 8-10. He was not silent but shared the truths of God with all; the rich, the poor, women and children.
    Verse 12 talks about being surrounded by troubles and being overtaken by sins. This happened to Jesus as He was “overtaken” by our sins and paid for them on the Cross. “My heart fails within me” describes His anguish.
    Verses 14-15 describe people who seek to take His life and desire His ruin and those who say “Aha! Aha!” There were those who were always trying to trap Him and discredit Him.
    Jesus emptied Himself completely for us, becoming “poor and needy” (verse 17). The Father was His only help and deliverer.

  27. 5. What passage from Psalm 40 quickens you and why?
     
    As I answered this yesterday, and didn’t save my answer, I won’t be able to repeat it exactly, but I ended up with a passage I didn’t originally mean to. It quickened me because it convicted me.
     
    “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry…Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.”
     
    The waiting patiently convicted me, because I am not patient when it comes to suffering, whether big or small things. I want out, and I want out NOW. Underneath I see my idol of comfort. I want my life to be comfortable, problem free, smooth sailing. David was in a desperate situation, but he waited patiently. Verse 4 talks about not looking to the proud or those who turn to false gods. When I fail to wait on God, fail to trust Him, I go looking about for someone or some thing to solve my problem. The part about not looking to the proud – well, that’s me when I say I will go about finding a way, a solution. I am proud in my self-sufficiency, quick to allow my emotions to rule and as we say, following my heart, not my head. But it is all pride in me that wants to take action and not wait. There is a situation now that I’m unhappy about, and I am tempted to start the ball rolling to find a way out of it instead of praying about the situation and waiting to hear. I can be quite a grumbler and a complainer, seeing only the negative and why moving “over there” would solve everything.
     
    This passage is telling me to stop looking to myself – the proud person who turns to her idol, but to wait for the Lord and trust in Him.

    1. Good, thorough answers, Susan.  And you must have had to re-type them all…since they were lost?  Way to persevere!

    2. Susan…I have no patience either and tend to want to solve my own problems rather than wait upon the Lord.  Give it some more time tho…he is faithful.

  28. Love this quote from Tim Keller (found on FB) “God does not begin to save us because we repent. We repent because he’s begun his saving work in us.”
    And from the Jesus Story Book Bible (also on FB):  God Makes a Way video (shared in FB group).   These fit with one of the questions I’ve been thinking about:  7. Share a time when God seemed silent, but finally, broke through.
     
    Hard to know what to share.  I can think of some times when God changed the situation, but I’m sharing one in which the situation hasn’t changed much (i.e., one step forward, five steps back), but God is changing me.   Last summer, I felt trapped in a miserable situation at work.  I was trying so hard to “do the right thing,” remain ethical, go through the right channels in the midst of behavior that had become unethical (or incompetent, still not sure which).  I gave someone the benefit of the doubt when, I found out later, he didn’t deserve it.  Finally (I can’t remember if there was an additional “trigger” moment), I reached the end of myself, had nothing left to give, and missed a phone call I was supposed to initiate. Typically, I am (or was) dependable!  About 10-15 min late, I received the call I was supposed to make and only held myself together long enough to say “hello” — then started sobbing and saying that I couldn’t “do it” any longer.  The person I was meeting with acknowledged that I was exactly where God wanted me (knowing I wasn’t in control) and prayed for me.  God broke through. Since that time, I’ve had to repent regularly for seeking control. It’s “on the books” that I am in charge of large projects — but these large projects occur in the context of systems.  I’ll probably always struggle with a control idol, especially when I want to get things done (good reminder right now in the face of deadlines).  My situation has improved a little (it’s up and down), but the bigger related picture has worsened.   I know God will make a way; the way he makes may involve allowing me to become so desperate that I recognize that HE is all I have and all I need.  My church also was praying for me during this time, and based on this week’s study, I can see that it is time for me to pray for an opportunity to share what He has done, as well as request continued prayer, in the assembly of his people.  (I did update people on the specific situation, but not on the bigger picture).

    1. oh Renee, wow. This is BEAUTIFUL. I was reading my kids yesterday from Jeremiah– “And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.” As I read your testimony here, your breaking down in tears–I pictured you as that lump of clay in His hands, broken down and letting Him re-create…such beauty in you Renee. Thank you for this. I needed to be reminded that it is when we let Him break us down in humility that the true beauty of His work begins. Somedays (most) my struggle with control seems at every turn and too easy to justify, but your model here convicts and inspires me–thanks for sharing this. 

    2. Thank you for sharing this, Renee.  A great testimony of seeing His hand in your life.   Not only does it speak to my heart about God’s faithfulness, it also ‘unlocked’ the mental block I was having in answering this question myself.  

  29. 8.B How can you see Christ in this psalm?  Several ways, including — how he received sustenance from his Father, how people plotted and spoke against him, friends betraying him, victory over the graveWhat perplexes me somewhat in the midst of all the ways that Christ is evident is one verse which clearly does NOT describe him:  v. 4 “As for me, I said, ‘O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!’”I feel kinda mixed up in how to handle Scripture in this situation.  Is this “picking and choosing?”  Anyhow, cognitive dissonance!!
     
    Are you becoming more aware of Christ in the psalms? If so,  share.   Oh yes! Here’s a cheesy example:  I burst out laughing when I started to read Psalm 40 and saw the word “patiently!” That triggered me to look for Christ in Ps 40.   I still jump too quickly to see how this might fit me rather than first looking carefully to see Christ in the psalms.  It’s not automatic yet, but the Spirit is developing a habit in me.  Side note:  It’s the really tough times that develop patience in me.  I don’t pray for general patience though because I prayed one of those prayers before the longest, most difficult episode of depression I’ve ever experienced.

    1. Good question Renee.  Although in Ps. 40, when it says ‘my sins have overtaken me’, at first I thought that wouldn’t fit either and then I remembered that Jesus became sin for us.  Clearly our sin burdened and overwhelmed him.  I wonder if the vs. in 41 is also an allusion of this?  But as for ‘picking and choosing’……I can see that Christ is IN every psalm but not in every verse.  (I think, anyway)

      1. Wanda, Good point about Jesus becoming sin for us!

  30. 8. Read Psalm 41 aloud to yourself.
    A. This psalm shows a gamut of emotions, as does Book One of the psalter. Find some of those emotions.
     
    (1)  The psalmist prays for mercy.  (2) Needs healing. (3) Feels slandered by his enemies.  (4)  Knows his enemies are looking forward to his death. (5) Feels betrayed even by his close friend.  (6) Knows that the Lord loves him and will protect him from all of the above.  
     
    B. How can you see Christ in this psalm? Are you becoming more aware of Christ in the psalms? If so,  share.
     
    Christ went through all of the same things that the psalmist is saying he is going through.   Jesus knew his enemies were plotting his death, and he definitely experienced that he was betrayed even by some of his disciples.    Those Jewish leaders who were plotting Jesus’ death were feeling quite sure that they were in the right and Jesus was wrong — perhaps he was a radical lunatic (from their viewpoint).    Vs 12 in particular says “In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.”    Jesus did this for us through his death and resurrection. 
     
    Well, yes,  I do see Christ in the psalms more frequently, because until Dee has pointed this out to me,  I wasn’t noticing it at all.    
     
    C. What quickens you from this psalm?  
     
    I am quickened that this psalm, which is at the end of the first book of psalms,  ends with a sort of doxology.    It takes us through “the gamut” from deepest sorrow and pain to the heights of joy and praise — but it ends saying that “you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.”    That warms my heart — perhaps I just love happy endings!  🙂       
     
    D. Pray this psalm.
     
    O Lord,  like the psalmist I have had all of these feelings in my life at some time or another.   I can identify with his feelings of remorse, repentance, being betrayed; but I also have known the “mountain-top” experiences of mercy, salvation, joy, and praise.     Thank you for being there with me through all of it and for promising me that I will be with you forever!   In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.   

    1. Deanna,  I love your words about ‘happy endings’!   Such a great doxology it is!

  31. C. What quickens you from this psalm?     vs. 3  “The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness’.     More often, I see the sustaining and restoring as the way the Lord comes near and brings peace and comfort through the trials….physical illness being one that I am very close to at present….rather than in healing or complete physical restoration.  ‘Restoring our souls’ as in reinforcing, renewing, reinvigorating our inner being, during our weakest, most humbling and vulnerable times, is what gives strength and sustenance to go through the trials and troubles of this life.  And when our trust is fully in Him, we are clothed in His righteousness.  His integrity.  We are upheld by Him and are brought ultimately into His eternal presence.  vs. 13  “In my integrity, you upheld me and set me in your presence forever” 
    D. Pray this psalm.
     
    Almighty Lord of mercy, healing and restoration, bless those who care for the weak, for those who speak up for the oppressed,  the victims  of racial strife and hatred, the strangers who are mistreated and regarded as ‘less than’ at our borders.   Provide for the weak, those on sickbeds, those whose enemies and even friends and family have abused, neglected, avoided, insulted and slandered.  Provide for them deliverance.  Preserve them in your abundant love and goodness.  Bless them for you have promised that through we will have trouble in this life, you have overcome the world.  You have overcome sin, death and the devil.  So sustain them and make them confident that, with you, is everlasting pleasure, peace and life.   Righteous and true God, we seek your justice for those who conspire and act maliciously against others.  Those who oppress and defile the poor, the needy, the weak, the aliens among us.  Those who do not welcome the stranger, but without mercy or dignity, turn back and do harm to those seeking refuge and fleeing the oppression of poverty, war and malicious rule.  Forgive us our sins against our fellow man.  Forgive us for clinging to the idols of privilege and affluence.  Forgive us for excluding those who are different from us. Forgive us for seeking the idols of comfort and familiarity and not seeking justice and compassion.  Lord YOU exemplified every righteous and pure motive by leaving the glory and exclusivity of heaven to walk among the poor, the needy, the outcasts in our world and your Almighty, and All Knowing Father upheld you in your time of sorrow and compassion and now you are seated at his right hand where there are pleasures forevermore.  Save us and bring us into your eternal peace and joy.  In your holy and eternal name, Amen.

    1. Wow!   What a prayer, Wanda —  Amen and Amen!
       

  32. 7. Share a time when God seemed silent, but finally, broke through.    I skipped this question earlier because it paralyzed me.  I felt like I had answered this in a previous lesson and wanted to share something different, yet struggled with what to say.  It seems that I am still ‘waiting’ for God to ‘break through’ in what matters most to me.  The return of my two oldest kids….to the truth of the gospel.
    And then, when Renee said that for her, the situation hasn’t changed but God has changed her…..the lightbulb went on.  Thanks, Renee!   I can see now, that it has been a gradual and not an instant breakthrough.  And that it was not a circumstantial change, but it is a continuing heart change.
    God has changed me.  I no longer cry incessantly for hours and days when I hear of something that disturbs me about my ‘kids’.  I no longer am instantly depressed when I see the adult children of my friends (who are also the friends that my ‘kids’ grew up with) at church and involved in God’s kingdom work.  And it does not automatically make me sad and distracted to be in church because I automatically grieve as I once did, that my kids have not been to church for years, other than a few family events and/or Christmas and Easter.  (though, if I am honest, this is still troubling to me at times).  I realize that I don’t quickly run to the internet or to obtain a copy of a book describing some new ‘spirituality’ that they may be investigating, for the sole purpose of trying to understand it and search for how they may possibly be finding God there.  I realize that I don’t obsess over every belief they allude to or those that they have dismissed.  I realize that I no longer am angry and nursing the huge disappointment with God or the feeling that God failed me……as I did for a short while.  And I look forward to heaven again.  For awhile, I kept thinking…’how is this good news to me, when I don’t know if my children will all be there?’  Though this question still grips my heart, it no longer keeps me from seeking the reality and the truth and the joy of eternity in heaven.    I admit that I have not ‘arrived.’  I will fall back into any of these sins of mistrust in the future.  But, slowly and gradually, I can see that my HOPE, my reliance is falling solidly on the One who lavishly loves me and loves my children abundantly more than I ever can.  

    1. This is really good, Wanda. You give so many specific examples of the ways you are being changed; ways your attitudes are changing, towards your children and towards God; ways your actions are changing. I know it’s hard when your adult kids turn away. Mine have too. Your post is helpful to all of us here who have the same circumstances.

    2. Wanda – you took the words right out of my mouth….except you said it all ever so much more eloquently than I could have this week!!  What seems so impossible sometimes ……becomes miraculous…..as He changes us!  I know that I carry about a deep grief for my children daily – but more than that, I’m experiencing the joy and peace of Christ.  For real.  As you said so well, SLOWLY, over time I’ve begun to see more and more of my identity in Christ rather than in my circumstances and relationships.  Which of course, happens to be a very good thing for my relationships!  Loving as HE loves is infinitely better than loving as I, on my own, love!

      1. So true Jackie

    3. Loved that Wanda

  33. 8C. What quickens you from this psalm? (Psalm 41)  What quickens me is seeing Jesus in this psalm, especially in vs 7-9.  Vs 9 describes betrayal by a close friend.  I am reminded (from Keller’s earlier sermon) that Jesus was abandoned, separated from his Father, so that we will never be abandoned.  That is SO comforting.  I love that the Lord’s presence and sustenance is a theme throughout the psalm.  The psalm ends which such a contrast to the difficulties that are described earlier in the psalm, as well as throughout the first book of the psalter.  LOVE this:

    But you have upheld me because of my [Jesus’] integrity, and set me in your presence forever. Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.

    (Psalm 41:12-13 ESV)

    These verses are SO hopeful.  This week, after Robin Williams died, many articles and blog posts about depression and suicide, including some from Christian perspectives, surfaced.  Some were sound; and some were questionable (and I only read a few!).  If I believed or took the advice of everything I read OR if I focused on circumstances related to health problems, work, people, life quickly would seem hopeless.  But I KNOW what Jesus has done for me; I know that God is FAR bigger than even the biggest problems on the planet.  And HE IS HOPE.  HE IS LIFE.  God is good.  And He is greater than the most unsettling world events, and obviously greater than the circles in which I travel.  It’s so easy for me to settle in to thinking that the world revolves around my life (or even around people in general).  Not true. Blessed be the Lord!

     

    1. Renee – I think you found the heart of things here.  Well said.

    2. So glad for the HOPE.  A hope that is sure because the object of our hope is steadfast and true.  Good to read this Renee.

  34. 8. Read Psalm 41 aloud to yourself.
    A. This psalm shows a gamut of emotions, as does Book One of the psalter. Find some of those emotions.
    thoughtful, hopeful, repentant, discouraged because of his enemies, devastated , betrayed
    B. How can you see Christ in this psalm? Are you becoming more aware of Christ in the psalms? If so,
            share.
    v.9 Judas’ betrayal of Jesus; v.10 Jesus was raised by God the Father; v.11 The Father is pleased with Jesus and death (the enemy) did not triumph over Jesus-He arose-praise God! v.12 Jesus’ integrity upheld Him and he is now seated at the right hand of God (set me in your presence forever)
    C. What quickens you from this psalm?There is only one Person who can deliver me from myself (sinful as I am) v. 4, from death (physical and spiritual) v.3 ; from my enemies vs. 5-9; only One and that is Jesus. To Him be the praise!
    D. Pray this psalm.
    Lord, I pray your sustaining power for those of us (v.3) who are with health concerns, serious and mild. I think of my sister, Grace and my blog sisters here. You are the GREAT restorer of things. Whether you restore here on earth or in heaven, you do it for your glory and for our good. Grant that I will not look to man’s manipulating to be the determining factor of how I live my life. May you silence my enemies as they whisper lies and accusations against me. (vs. 5-9) Remind me that I have victory in you. Have mercy on me, on us, O, Lord. And no matter what, may your praise be ever on my lips.

  35. 8A.  The first thing I see is probably “exhileration” in v.1-3.  Resulting from pondering how incredibly GOOD God is to those who are His.  Of course, to be one who considers the poor, there must be “compassion” as an emotion as well.  In verse 4, David is expressing repentance – which could include remorse and regret for sinning against the Lord.  It’s interesting to me how repentance is tucked into this chapter – as in so many Psalms – as a key part of understanding more and more the goodness of God and the hardships of this life.  The hardships of life are exhibited in v. 5-8…..my version (ESV) says that his enemies spoke in malice of David.  Malice is a pretty potent word.  Malice wants you dead…..but also wants you to suffer as well.  I think that, emotionally, this could be felt as “hopelessness” or even “numbness”……perhaps “despair”.  But the kicker is v. 9 – betrayal of a close friend.  To me, that would multiply the hoplessness, numbness and despair exponentially.  This would be an arrow in my heart that goes WAY deeper than the same malice coming from an enemy.  I think of Jesus on the cross again….”My God, My God,,WHY hast thou forsaken me?”.  NOT that the Father has betrayed Jesus, of course.  But we know from Scripture that “it was the will of the Lord to crush him” (Isaiah 53:10).  Clearly though, Jesus’ emotions in that moment were heartbreakingly human.  Forsaken, despairing, utterly alone….crushed.     
    Thankfully, this Psalm ends in great praise and hopefulness again!  Knowing that my God is good and faithful and WILL set all things right sets me free to “soar on wings of eagles”.  I think an emotion here at the end might be described as “elation”!  Even “jubilation”.

  36. 8B.  In John 13:18, Jesus quotes this Psalm and begins by saying “But the Scripture will be fulfilled. ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.”  Jesus plainly speaks of Judas and uses this Psalm’s prophecy to do so.  Of course, for a long time in Jesus’ ministry we see the Pharisees saying “when will he die, and his name perish?” (v.5)  in one way or another.  And they really thought that could be done!  As in v. 8, “he will not rise from where he lies.”   Wrong.  God delighted in Jesus’ sacrifice, raised him up, and set him once more in his presence forever!!  Amen!

  37. 8C.   Well, I don’t know if this would qualify as “quickened”, but I know that it’s the very first line of this Psalm that CONVICTS me….”Blessed is the one who considers the poor!”    I’m pretty sure this doesn’t mean reading about the poor, discussing the poor or pondering the agony of the poor.  All of Scripture tells us that Christ’s love should motivate ACTION in our daily lives.  And I don’t see any excuses either……ie/ the Macedonians Paul talks about in 2Cor. 8:2….”for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.”  SEVERE affliction, EXTREME poverty……we can’t be in “worse” shape than that, can we?  How could this be?  Reading further in the chapter we see that they “gave themselves first to the Lord”.  I love how clearly Isaiah chapter 58 amplifies this thought…..the covenant people of God were seeking God daily, delighting in Him, asking for righteous judgements, fasting………but IT DIDN”T AFFECT THE WAY THEY DEALT WITH ONE ANOTHER!  In verses 6-14 God sets them straight…..there is too much there to try to share….but verse 10 fits well with the 1st verse of Psalm 41.  “if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted. then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the midday.”  Isn’t that beautiful?  I’m thinking I need to get serious about asking Jesus to show me where He wants me to begin to pour out my soul, from the wellspring of the  Spirit that He has poured into me!  

    1. Jackie, SO GOOD:  “‘Blessed is the one who considers the poor!’    I’m pretty sure this doesn’t mean reading about the poor, discussing the poor or pondering the agony of the poor.  All of Scripture tells us that Christ’s love should motivate ACTION in our daily lives.”

  38. 8D.  Oh Father….today I’m not sure I’m meant to get past the first verse of this Psalm as I pray to you.  How I want to be one of your children who “considers the poor”.  And I know that “poor” can manifest in many different ways.  But You know who You have divinely appointed into my life who needs me to “consider” their struggles.  I think of the precious lady I’m getting to know well in my church…..her husband left her for another woman and she has been so very poor and struggling ever since….you know who she is and I lift her up to you in this moment…..and I ask you to show me how to help.  Consistently.  Creatively.  Thank You for the connection there that you engineered!  And then there’s my nephew in prison…Your child….he needs my ACTIONS as well as my prayers….my letters, photos and good books……and how I thank you that You showed me how good it is to stay with the jail ministry…..with all of it’s problems, it is a beautiful place to bring You the glory You deserve.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with “the poor”….and to remember that the ground is level at the foot of the cross.  And then there’s the racetrack ministry……the hurdles and problems that imigrants face……the addictions, the broken relationships over and over again…..the almost obscene wealth juxtaposed with the poverty…..but the power of the cross of Christ.  So much You are bubbling up in my heart today Lord.  Thank You.  “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!  Amen and Amen.”

    1. So many good and heartfelt thoughts and yearnings here, Jackie.  I never tire of the expression…’the ground is level at the foot of the cross’…..for it is there that we are all exactly the same…..sinners in need of God’s mercy.   
       
       

  39. 8. Read Psalm 41 aloud to yourself.
    A. This psalm shows a gamut of emotions, as does Book One of the psalter. Find some of those emotions.
    Contemplating God’s goodness to him, then detesting his enemies evil against him, then back to resting in God’s control of vengeance on his enemies, and then to shouting praises to God.
    B. How can you see Christ in this psalm? Are you becoming more aware of Christ in the psalms? If so, share.
    OH YES I am becoming more aware and it is the sweetest kiss.. I see the resurrection in v1-3 for God didn’t give Jesus up to the will of his enemies he rose from the dead! Then in v4-10 I see how men hated Jesus, and in v. 9 when Judas who broke bread with him then betrayed him. v 11-13 Only Jesus can be upheld by God because of His integrity for He is 100% Holy and because of the cross and resurrection His enemies won’t triumph over him ever and there will be a day satan will be thrown in the pit. :))
    C. What quickens you from this psalm?
    That God is gracious to me, He delights in me as He does Jesus. 
     

  40. 9. . What testimony from your blog sisters ministered to you and why?
    I have one I really liked but I don’t have time to comment on it! We are heading out to Salina this morning for an evening wedding and will be gone all day-back really late tonight. I will read your comments on the road-love doing that! 

  41. Rebecca — please disregard my email that I just sent now……I went on this site through Internet Explorere rather than Chrome….and the problem is resolved…..??????  thanks!  enjoy the weekend.

  42. 9.  I didn’t read a testimony here that didn’t move my heart in some way.  Wanda’s testimony of God breaking through and changing her in the “waiting” with regard to her children just pierced my heart though.  As I mentioned earlier to Wanda, I felt I could have written it….though maybe not so well!  I believe it was Susan who acknowledged that many of us here will be helped by what Wanda shared.  Of course, it must be re-stated that is was Renee who broke through a barrier in Wanda’s thinking and helped her see what was there all along!   This is such a lovely snapshot of the body of Christ working together and building one another up!  And God gets all of the glory! 
     
    Renee shares…..Wanda sees Christ at work in her own life as a result of what Renee shares…Susan immediately discerns that Wanda’s testimony will help many of us here who have prodigals, and I felt like I was reading my own thoughts…..only GOD can accomplish this!  To Him be the glory.  

    1. This is a very sweet synthesis, Jackie.  And also the thoughts that Jill shared about the uniqueness of this ‘place’.  I feel the same.  How we build up each other here.  There is no other place I am currently experiencing that is like this .  

  43. 9. . What testimony from your blog sisters ministered to you and why?  They all minister to me. Each testimony of God coming, each revelation of God’s love, each truth settling in a little deeper, each layer removed…I am so blessed by each of you sharing your stories and thoughts. God speaks to me through them. My faith is increased because of them! “Many will see and fear and will trust in The Lord” Ps 40:3 Even though I don’t reply as often as I would like, I read each of your answers and am always blessed! There is something beautiful about this place: encouragement, honesty, vulnerability, repentance, turning each other to Christ, edification, no judgement… It is friendship. 

    1. Yes, it is a friendship here.   I have only participated from a distance this week as my labrinthitis kept me from being able to read much.  But I am on the mend now.    Thank you all for such encouraging stories.   I hope to share mine at some future time.  
       
       

      1. Nila – I’m so thrilled to see that you are getting better!  I’ve missed your sweet and deep words and was concerned about your condition.  Thank you Lord !

      2. I am so glad you are on the mend, Nila.

  44. Praying Psalm 41.Blessed be Your name Lord Jesus, “that though [you were] rich, yet for our sakes [you] became poor, so that [we] by [your] poverty might become rich.”  You, O Lord, have experienced and understand the plight of and plots against our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.  Their lives and deaths are in your hands.  Even when it appears that evil is out of control, we know you are in control.  Grant us wisdom as individuals, groups, as a nation to know how to respond in ways that lift you up.  Thank you that you restore and will continue to restore your own to full health, when we see you face to face.

    Forgive me for my selfish, short term view of life and death, sickness and health, poverty and wealth.  Jesus, you were abandoned so that I never have to be abandoned.  You were abandoned so that believers who are being killed by terrorists are not alone.  Grant them a sense of your presence in this life; sustain them with your hope; keep them faithful until they meet you face to face.

    Grant us your grace and strength to be faithful, to honor you, through illness, depression, family challenges, conflicts within churches, political upheaval — the difficult situations that are part of life in a fallen world.  We know you delight in us because of Jesus.  Because of Jesus, we are in your presence forever.  Remind us of you, and embolden us to share you with our worlds.  Lord God, you alone are from everlasting to everlasting.  May your glory shine throughout all nations.   In Jesus’ name.

  45. C. What quickens you from this psalm?
    “But may you have mercy on me, Lord; raise me up, that I may repay them. I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me. Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.” (‭Psalm‬ ‭41‬:‭10-12‬ NIV)
    I know He is always with me and I am thankful for that. I am a sinner and He loves me and cares for me anyway. I like the imagery of Jesus ascending to heaven to be with his Father. I like the idea that when I strive to know Him I am  in His favor.
    D. Pray this psalm.
     
    Dearest Lord, thank you for caring for us although we are weak people who are prone to sin. Help us be strong against our enemies because we know You know us intimately; You know our hearts, they do not.  
    Have mercy on my life! I lift my worries to you, for you to bear, not me. I expect You to intercede in my life because you are pleased with me. Strike the enemy who haunts my thoughts so he doesn’t triumph over me!  I beg to be in your presence always here on earth and in heaven. You are glorious oh Lord! I praise Your Holy Name!
     

  46. 9. . What testimony from your blog sisters ministered to you and why?
     
    Very difficult question because what ministered to me most was the combination of EVERYTHING, all testimonies here and some situations outside of this blog.  Even the order in which everything was presented/took place (or at least the order in which I read it cuz I was someone random!) ministered to me.
    The combination of Twila’s and Joyce’s testimonies and Marianne’s response was what helped me see more clearly that God has changed/is changing me, even though the most difficult circumstances may not change (or may reoccur).  Marianne mentioned Eugene Peterson.  The mention of his name plus the initial testimonies reminded me of the phrase “a long obedience in the same direction.”  (When I googled to double check that Eugene Peterson wrote the book by that title, I learned or was reminded that the phrase came from Nietzsche.).

    All the testimonies encouraged me — I saw God’s faithfulness and his work — a whole bunch of evidence.
     
    And what caused my brain wheels to turn most was Marianne’s comment that in the church, we need a new paradigm for depression.  After reading a few articles that popped up on FB following Robin Williams’ death, I believe that society needs a new paradigm for depression. (and I just cut my “what and why” during editing 😉 )

  47. Thank you all for the many ways you have ministered to me this summer. I am so glad I found this blog, Dee. I have started school (I teach health science to high school seniors) and this year will be very busy for me personally. I am not sure how often I can come here and comment but I will stay in touch through Facebook. Warm hugs to everybody across the miles and I hope someday I will get to see some of you,  if not all, face to face this side of Heaven.:-)

    1. Bing, Will miss you here.  Glad you will stay in touch through FB.

    2. Have a wonderful ‘back to school’ beginning, Bing.  Let us know how Grace is doing.  Prayers for her and also hoping/praying that Ruth Ann’s year in France is a wonderful experience.  Blessings to you!

    3. Blessings to you, Bing – I hope you have a wonderful school year and will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  48. Ernema, you will be missed here very much.  Please keep in touch and know that we are praying for your sister, Grace and  for her healing.  Love you sister!