Monday, July 23, 2018

The Rock

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (NIV)

One of the privileges of being with a congregation for a long time is watching people grow in faith, especially during times of adversity, hardship, and loss. I am often touched by the spiritual strength that church members have which has been built up by their regular commitment to worship, study, fellowship, and prayer. Over the years, they have deposited a great deal of faith, hope, and trust in God, so that when the inevitable happens, they pull on those resources that they have banked within their souls, enabling them to both endure and overcome. It’s a remarkable process which I cherish; it’s something that I often wish others in the community would recognize in lives of church folks today.

King David, the writer of today’s psalm, had his share of problems, too. Psalm 18 was written at a time when David as a young man was a fugitive, fleeing from the rants, wrath, and instability of King Saul. David sought refuge in another land, but he still looked to God to deliver him from the threats of violence and his enemies. Throughout his entire life, David depended on God to enable him to overcome his troubles and effectively solve his problems. His faith never faltered, even though his personal life included times of weakness, pride, and sin. Overall, he fully relied on God’s grace to both forgive and sustain him which is why in both the Old and New Testaments David is referred to as ‘a man after God’s own heart.’ (1 Samuel 13:14 & Acts 13:22).

Perhaps you are going through a hard time, a heartfelt loss, or a severe issue. Maybe you feel overwhelmed, lost, or confused. Whatever the case, please know this: The God who actively helped David in the past lives and watches over our lives today. In the midst of your pain or problems, lean on God’s love. At a time of turmoil or trouble, let God be the solid rock of faith, trust, and comfort that you need. God will not leave you or forsake you; instead, God will cherish and embrace, enabling you to endure and overcome.

Point to ponder

What is currently troubling me? Am I willing to place my burden prayerfully in God’s hands?

Prayer: Lord God, You know us completely and are fully aware of our present circumstances and difficulties. Allow to lean on You; enable us to rest on You; permit us to rely on You. In Christ’s Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville. If you have any questions or feedback about this message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com. If you are looking for a church or are in Knoxville at the weekend, come and join us for worship at Erin on Sunday at 11:00 AM. You will be made very welcome among us.


Today’s image is one of John’s original Psalm drawings based on another verse from Psalm 18. If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Psalm 18.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Prayer for Today

Prayer for Today

Gracious Lord, remind us that we live under Your Sovereignty and dwell in Your creation.
Direct our daily paths toward Your righteousness and speak the truth to our hearts.
Keep us from demeaning others or gossiping about our neighbors.
Teach us to recognize all that is wrong; enable us to promote all that is good.
Help us to keep our promises, even in difficult times; protect us from becoming unreliable.
Encourage us to give to those in need and prevent us from pre-judging the powerless.
Allow us to do these things faithfully and cheerfully in Christ’s Name. Amen.

(based on the words of Psalm 15)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trouble Sleeping? - Psalm 13:2

Psalm 13: 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (NIV)

            Do you ever have trouble sleeping at night because you have too many thoughts rattling through your head? Do you go through days when your heart is hurt and heavy because someone wounded or disappointed you? Do you have moments when you want to pack everything all in because your problems are overwhelming and you can’t focus on any one of them? Me, too – welcome to the real world.

            Psalm 13 is one of the shortest songs in the whole Bible but it contains so much truth and relevance that I find myself returning to it repeatedly, especially when I have personal issues. The words appeal to me because of the boldness of the author – this is someone who knows trouble and needs to vent to God about it. It’s a hymn of complaint which we call a lament – the writer has been deeply hurt and wonders why God hasn’t done anything to remedy the situation or deal with the problem. There is an initial element of disappointment in his words as if the psalmist is saying to God “I have placed all of my faith in You, so why aren’t You sticking up for me? Why aren’t You helping me to overcome my foes and clear up this messy situation, God?”

            This is why I love the Book of Psalms – the candid complaints and painful protests are very human and clearly directed toward God. God’s inactivity is bewildering; His indifference is frustrating; His forgetfulness is almost infuriating. The psalmist feels let down and depressed, isolated and vulnerable. He cannot find peace, happiness, or hope. He struggles with his dilemma and he wrestles with God. Do you know that feeling? Me, too.

            In the end, the songwriter surrenders himself to God’s will. In a remarkable leap of faith, he decides to remain connected to the Lord. No matter what happens, he trusts God completely – the psalmist has vented his spleen and voiced his complaint. He now leaves it in God’s hands and aims instead to praise God for past blessings. This is not fair-weathered or a convenient faith; this is hard-to-endure and on-the-edge faith. This is what it truly means to believe in God.

Points to ponder

What is presently troubling me? What issues am I experiencing? Have I complained to God? Am I willing to leave my problems in His hands? Do I still want to praise Him?

Prayer: Lord God, You know us completely and fully understand the worries that weary us and the problems that presently burden us. Give us the will to hand them all over to You. Allow us the blessing of praising You in both good and bad times. In Christ’s Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to give some feedback or ask questions about today’s message, please send John an email to Traqair@aol.com.


Today’s image is one of John’s Bible drawings of Psalm 13. If you would like to view a larger version, click here: Psalm 13.