Preach the Gospel . . . To Yourself!

Today is Monday, March 30, 2020, in the fifth week of Lent. Peace be with you.

Day 22,663

Thirteen days until Resurrection Sunday.

Our Zoom worship “gathering” went well, yesterday morning. There seemed to be a general consensus that we liked Zoom better than Google Hangouts. And, as an added bonus, our former pastor joined us! It was so good to see his face and hear his voice!

Back to work today, for another week in the Twilight Zone. As far as I can tell, nothing is changing. The number of cases continues to rise, of course, and has risen a bit more sharply, but that is because, so I hear, more people are being tested. But, then, I really don’t know who or what to believe, any more.

C and I watched Once Upon A Time . . . in Hollywood yesterday. It’s quite long, over 2.5 hours. It is also most certainly not for everyone. Typical Tarantino, it is full of language. The violence is not as heavy, until the end. There’s a lot of screaming in the last few minutes. But, honestly, the premise of the ending is downright hilarious. I won’t spoil it here.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!

(Psalms 119:1-3)

Today I am grateful:
1. For another week ahead, with opportunities to serve the Lord
2. That You are “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86.15)
3. That the works of Your hands are faithful and just, and all Your precepts are trustworthy (Psalm 111.7)
4. That You have a much bigger picture in view than we do
5. For the truth of the Gospel, that we need to preach to ourselves, daily

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(Psalms 51:12)

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
(Psalms 86:15)

For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?—
(Psalms 18:31)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
(Matthew 13:47-50)

Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
(Psalms 111:2, 7-10)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

“Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give me this bread, that he may live in me, and I in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
(Matthew 26:26-29)

“Maybe the ‘beginning’ of your story feels messed up. Maybe you don’t think there’s much of a future. But there’s a bigger story. It’s a story of a God who made you on purpose and for a purpose, who took pleasure in you. It’s a story of a God who came to rescue you (Matthew 26:28); a God who put His Spirit in you to renew you and recover your identity. It’s a story of a God who wants to bless you.”
(Glenn Packiam, Our Daily Bread)

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:30-31)

‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”‘ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
(Genesis 50:17)

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
(Luke 17:1-4)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
(Psalms 42:6-11)

This repeated phrase, “I will yet praise him” is “not a mere prediction of change but an active exercise.”

Now, here, the Kellers bring us a statement that fits the current circumstances perfectly. “When we are discouraged, we listen to the fearful speculations of our hearts. ‘What if this happens?’ ‘Maybe it’s because of that!'” In this psalm, the psalmist hears his heart, but then addresses it, “taking his soul in hand, saying, ‘Remember this, O soul!'” He reminds his heart of the things that God has done for him, and that the Lord is still working, even in the troubles. Even the waves that are sweeping over him belong to the Lord (“all your waves and breakers have swept over me”).

“This self-communion is a vital spiritual exercise.” Many discourage the practice of talking to yourself. I talk to myself all the time. It’s not always good. Sometimes, I’m berating myself. But then, sometimes, I do it right. I encourage myself with God’s Word, and I remind myself that, no matter what is going on, “I will yet praise Him.”

Prayer: Lord, I need to learn how to preach to my own heart, rather than just listening to its foolish or panicky chatter. Help me learn how to effectively say to my unruly inward being, ‘Put your hope in God!’ Amen.”

Yes, Father! It is easy to be in fear and panic mode, right now. Help us to speak back to our fearful hearts, proclaiming Your truth and preaching the Gospel to ourselves, daily. We need to be reminded of Your steadfast love and faithfulness to Your children!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.” Job 5.8-9

Grace and peace, friends.