Two interesting articles from one of my daily devotionals that gave me pause and led me to consider two very real issues of faith. The blog this week is inspired by two devotions published this month in the “Upper Room”. One challenges us to look at circumstances in which we may have forgotten that our God is constant and unchanging. The scripture reference is Psalm 46: 1-7. The devotion is written by Dave Brandon and puts forward the issue of living life by the “what if’s” instead of by “what is”. The other issue is one many of us struggle with every day. In our world today there are many obstacles that challenge and at times keep us from living a christian life. The author is Marvin Williams using as scripture reference Philippians 3: 12-21. Today I will reference only verses 17-21. The message is to “Press On”, something that the problems of this life can make difficult. So lets look at these verses up close and see how they might apply to living for what is and pressing on in difficult times. First we look at Psalm 46: 1-7.
I would suggest you open your bible and read by verse as we go through this. Albert Barnes has this introduction to this Psalm. “This psalm has been called Luther‘s Psalm. It was that which he was accustomed to sing in times of trouble. When the times were dark; when the enemies of truth appeared to triumph; when disaster seemed to come over the cause in which he was engaged, and the friends of the Reformation were dispirited, disheartened, and sad, he was accustomed to say to his fellow-laborers, “Come, let us sing the 46th Psalm.”
A very good explanation of the very core meaning of the 46 Psalm and translates well into our situation today. What do we do in times of trouble? What do we do when the enemies of the “True God” come against us? What do we do when we struggle to tell “The Story” and are marginalized and persecuted. Do we become dispirited, disheartened, and sad, or do we turn to God….our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. This being the very first thing we encounter at the very beginning of the Psalm. Trust in whomever and whatever you want but we have found him to be present and effective in meeting our needs in times of trouble. Verse 2 states plainly that we should trust in God. We shouldn’t let the political and natural commotions taking place in this world separate us from our God. Verses 3 and 4 are symbolic in depicting the many rivers and streams, possibly referring to people being converted to the faith and flowing as rivers and streams to the “City of God” which most commentators believe to be Jerusalem. God being gladden by this. So what can we take from these first four verses. Life is what it is, but with God we can find refuge in his strength that nothing can overcome. There may be chaos all around us but we must continue to bring people to the faith and thus persevere in his name.
Looking at these last three verses we see a God who appeared in times of distress, brought his people out of troubles and kept his covenant with their families. We are also reminded in verse seven that even though we may be feeble and outnumbered the Lord of hosts is with us. Summing up part one of this post, we will find no peace in the misery of the past living for “what if”. We must live for “what is” adding to that “to be”. Simply put, trust in God….The Lord of Hosts is with us.
Again, open your bibles to Philippians 3 starting in verse twelve and going through verse 16. Paul shares with us that he is not by any means a complete Christian, but is striving to press on. Some of you will be familiar with the Wesleyan question asked of all Pastors as they are ordained, “are you going on to perfection”. Paul knows he will never be perfect but he continues to press on. If you feel you have been called out by Christ be assured that the calling has a purpose and only if you press on will you understand the full purpose of that calling. To carry that a bit farther, when you accept Christ you are called out to his purpose, all of us must press on throughout this life. It is interesting that Paul refuses to rest on his “laurels” so to speak having eyes and purpose only for what yet needs to be done. We need to remember that… “the fields are white for harvest”, we waste time seeking to harvest where it has already been done, we must press on to newer fields. Too often we lower our standards and relax our efforts to “tell the story” relaxing our resolve when God is calling us to press on. Always looking forward, keeping our eyes on the goal. If we wish to mature in the faith as Christians we have to accept that a certain amount of discipline is necessary which will include much effort and at times some agony. William Barclay put it this way.
“As Paul saw it, Christians are the athletes of Christ.
We close this chapter looking at verses 17-21. Paul begins in verse 17 by asking the people to “unite in imitating me” Paul was the one person who could invite people not simply to listen to him but also imitate him. Are we living in such a manner that we might invite others to imitate us in our passion to live for Christ, so they might “press On”? Paul reminds these people that “our citizenship is in
heaven” painting a picture in their mind that they could understand.Paul says to the Philippians: ‘Just as the Roman colonists never forget that they belong to Rome, you must never forget that you are citizens of heaven; and your conduct must match your citizenship.’ Paul closes on a note of hope of all Christians. Because we press on these mortal bodies which are subject to decay will become heavenly bodies which will live with Christ in the splendor of their reward. Press on for the goal of life everlasting in the presence of our Lord.
Join me in the pew next week, as we look forward to what is to be and press on to our goal. jk