Psalm 42:4, 7 NIV These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
“Soul” refers to our whole being, all of who we are. In the psalmist’s expressions of praise, despair, and even complaint, he doesn’t hold back, filter, or censor. He prays to God as if his life depends on it. He cannot leave this place of prayer without meeting God.
When we pour out our souls to the Lord we are finally opening our lives to him. And when we open our lives to God, he pours into us. That’s what the psalmist experiences. In his deep empty he cries out “my soul thirsts for God” and he comes to the stream expecting a little drink. How does the Lord respond? The Lord responds with the flood of his Deep waters, he pours into us wave after wave of his presence and power.
Prayer: Lord, you already know everything about me – I lay before you my fears, my frustrations, my needs. We open our lives to you and may you pour into us your Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Let’s worship to “Holy Spirit” (click here) by Jesus Culture.
Hebrews 10:19-22 NLT And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
Today as believers we can draw near to God any time, any place because Jesus has made “a new and life giving way” for us to come to him. “Any time, any place” means we don’t need to wait for a special moment or circumstance to pray. Through Christ, now any moment is the right time and right place to meet with him – even in the middle of the day, in the middle of class, in the middle of work.
“Any time, any place” also means we don’t need to do anything “extra.” Sometimes we think—I’m not holy enough, I don’t deserve enough, maybe later when I get right with God. But the truth of God’s Word tells us we are invited to boldly enter into prayer. There’s no need to make an “extra” way because God has already made it possible for us to draw near to him through his blood.
Prayer: Lord, with thankful hearts we answer your invitation to come into your presence today, fully trusting you will meet us. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Let’s worship to “Here I Bow” (click here) by Brian & Jenn Johnson.
Psalm 42:1-2 NIV As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
“Here it is understood and said very clearly that life depends on God. The body cannot live without water. Its lack, quicker than anything else except breath itself, is felt as desperate desire. The soul cannot survive without God. That is true of every human soul, not just the deeply pious.”
(James Mays, Psalms)
Just as water is life, meeting God in prayer is life. What the psalmist demonstrates for us is that encountering the Lord in prayer is not an option if we are to live fully. Nothing else will do as there is no substitute for the living God.
Today our starting point for prayer isn’t self discipline, duty, or technique. Our starting point is simply responding to the deep thirst for God which exists in each one of us. The reality is we are just like the psalmist who in his deep empty cries out “my soul thirsts for God!” – each of us long to pray because we hunger and thirst to meet with God.
Prayer: Lord, we need you! We recognize in this moment how much our souls thirst for you. You are our source of life. Come and meet with us! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Let’s worship to “Lord I Need You” (click here) by Matt Maher.
“Through faith they overthrew kingdoms, established justice, saw God’s promises fulfilled. They muzzled ravening lions, quenched the fury of fire, escaped death by the sword… Others were tortured to death… Others, again, had to face jeers and flogging, even fetters and prison bars. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were put to the sword… They were too good for a world like this. They were refugees in deserts and on the hills, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. These also, one and all, are commemorated for their faith; and yet they did not enter upon the promised inheritance, because, with us in mind. God had made a better plan, that only in company with us should they reach their perfection.”Heb 11.33-40 NEB
“To the martyrs we give the love we owe them as disciples of the Lord. They have loved their king and master with boundless love. How we wish to become their companions and fellow disciples! There we will celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom like a birthday, in memory of those who have fought and won the fight before, and for the strengthening and preparation of those who still have to face it.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp, February 22, A.D. 156)
“Every child of God is victor over the godless world. The victory that defeats the world is our faith, for who is victor over the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”1 Jn 5.4-5 NEB
“The whole of Scripture makes it plain to us that the battle is not our personal battle. It is part of a war. We are led by the Unconquerable One. And good general that he is, he knows his soldiers by name and concerns himself with their safety and well being.” (J. White, The Fight)
“Labour together with one another; strive in company together; run together; suffer together; sleep together; and awake together, as the stewards, and associates, and servants of God. Please Him under whom you fight, and from whom you receive your wages. Let none of you be found a deserter. Let your baptism endure as your arms; your faith as your helmet; your love as your spear; your patience as a complete panoply. Let your works be the charge assigned to you, that you may receive a worthy recompense.” (The Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp)
Let’s sing “Surrounded (Fight My Battles)” (click here) by UPPERROOM
Let’s pray: Lord, the battle belongs to you. The victory belongs to you. Together with my brothers and sisters, may we live in your victory today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”Romans 8.2
“When Paul uses the word flesh, he is often not talking about our bodily desires but about the habits, instincts and tendencies of mind as well as of body that we retain from the time before we met Christ.
“…Other aspects of the war might scare us, but this aspect more than any other discourages and disheartens us. And since morale is vital to victory, discouragement is deadly.
“…What would you think of a soldier who in the midst of battle sat down and said, ‘I’m no good. It’s no use trying any more. Nothing seems to work’? There is no place for giving up… You hold Excaliber in your hand! Get behind the lines for a break if you’re too weak to go on, and strengthen yourself with a powerful draught of the wine of Romans 8.1-4. Then get back into the fight before your muscles get stiff!” (J. White, The Fight)
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus… Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” 2 Tim 2.1, 3-4
It’s challenging to live for the Lord in our culture. It’s even more difficult when people around us start to lose their faith or give up on church. Timothy had to stand his ground as people abandoned the truth and even tried to undermine his ministry.
“It is not a summons to Timothy to be strong in himself—to set his jaw and grit his teeth—but to ‘be inwardly strengthened’ by means of ‘the grace that is in Christ Jesus’. NEB expands the sentence thus: ‘Take strength from the grace of God which is ours in Christ Jesus.’ Timothy is to find his resources for ministry not in his own nature but in Christ’s grace.” (J. Stott, Guard the Gospel)
Let’s sing “Grace Is on Our Side” (click here) by Vertical Worship.
Let’s pray: Lord, may I be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. May I be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus! I know that I am not alone in my struggle. May I be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“War is not something that illustrates aspects of Christian living. Christian living is war.” (J. White, The Fight) Living the Christian life is a matter of life and death—becoming a Christian, being a disciple of Jesus, walking in the Spirit, engaging in church life, and so on. The Christian must have a fighting mentality to live it out successfully.
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2.15-17
To fight successfully, we must fight intelligently. When we realize the warfare context of the Christian life, we can then understand the urgency of Jesus’ call and the apostles’ teaching. Reminder: We are not fighting for victory, but from victory. Because of Christ’s victory, as long as we fight, we will win.
Let’s pray: Lord, I want to fight for my life in Christ. When I feel like quitting, I’ll put my trust in you. Victory is mine in Christ! May I have the love of the Father in me today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Psalm 63:1-4 (NIV) I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
As we received together on Sunday, we are called to live a life of continual commitment and recommitment to Jesus and his kingdom purposes.
Let’s take a moment to enter into the sanctuary of God and meet with him again. As we do, let’s declare that his love is greater and better than life itself! And just as the psalmist responds to this truth in worship, let’s also lift our voices, our songs, and our lives to him.
Prayer: Lord, because I have seen your goodness, help me to live a life of genuine worship. More than songs, may my decisions, life-orientation, and actions please you and reflect the goodness you have shown to me! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Let us worship to the song “Better Than Life” (click here) by Phil Wickham.
Philippians 3:7-9a (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.
“As for me, I’m hooked. I’m committed now, not because I’m a superior Christian, but because I’ve become an addict. I know what I want, and I want what I want. His hook is in my jaw, and it’s painful but it’s also ecstasy to be pulled.” [John White, Magnificent Obsession, 21]
Selling everything to follow Jesus can seem daunting. But it is tough only when we allow it to be. If we see things from God’s eyes, selling everything and surrendering our all to him is freeing, it is life-giving, and it is the only natural and appropriate response when, standing before us, is the reward of Christ himself!
Prayer: Lord, I want to live for you with all that I am. Fill me with joy and gladness as I surrender my life to you. You are my reward and my treasure. There is nothing in this world worth giving my life to you than you! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Let us worship to the song “I Surrender” (click here) by Hillsong.