Sunday, September 16, 2012

Psalm 71 - God Our Help: Past, Present, and Future

LINK: Psalm 71

BACKGROUND

This is an anonymous psalm written by an elderly man who prays in faith because God had sustained him since his birth. Some commentators believe it was written by the aged prophet, Jeremiah; but others believe it may have been one of the temple musicians assigned to praise God day and night in the sanctuary (71:22-24; 134:1). It combines elements from other psalms (22; 31; 35; 40).

The psalmist gives four affirmations about the Lord.

The Lord . . .
  1. Helps him in the present (71:1-4)
  2. Helped him in the past (71:5-13)
  3. Will help him in the future (71:14-21)
  4. Will be praised! (71:22-24)
And the psalmist tells us four ways to praise:
  1. "I will PRAISE you with the harp."
  2. "I will SING PRAISE to you with the lyre."
  3. "My lips will SHOUT for joy when I sing praise to you."
  4. "My tongue will TELL of your righteous acts."
REFLECTION (written in 2008)

We have had so many people ask us how we are surviving in this time of unemployment for George, and we always reply, "This is our sixth time of unemployment in our 18 years of marriage, and God has always been faithful to provide in the past, and He will be faithful to provide now and in the future." We can trust Him! And we can tell of His righteous acts! Sometimes in these times of uncertainty we must remember with this elderly psalmist that our faithful God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

2011 Update: God ripped George out of that job so that he could get a job smack dab in the middle of a college campus because He knew we would be working with students even before we did! God is SO good. We took a big cut in pay but a big INCREASE in eternal benefits!

APPLICATION

Do you sometimes have trouble trusting God? Be like the psalmist and take a trip down memory lane with your God and recall how He has been a "help in ages past."

I think I have mentioned this before, but I will mention several ways to take that trip:

Journals - If you have kept them over the years, set aside some time and start reading! You will see God's working throughout your life and walk away from the time refreshed and encouraged! Recalling God's faithfulness in the past helps you to trust Him in the present and future.

Time line - Do some recollecting of the past and chart out a time line of your life either by journaling memories throughout the years or by plotting significant events on an actual time line. Here are some questions to consider when doing it.

1. SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES

What have been the “spiritual markers” in your life? A spiritual marker is “a time of transition, decision, or direction when you clearly knew that God had guided you.”[1]


What things did God use in your life to bring you to where you are today? What people, circumstances, or events did God use to woo you to Himself? Reflect upon your desires, passions, longings, and struggles in your early years. How have they affected your spiritual journey in positive and negative ways? What have been the most meaningful and decisive times with God in your life? When were the times that you were not growing? What were the circumstances surrounding that time?

2. PAINFUL EXPERIENCES

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)
God uses everything for His eternal purposes. I talked to a young single mother today who has a Down’s syndrome child. When her child was first born, she was mad at God. As a single mother, it has been tough for her to cope, but she sees how God has used this for her growth and maturity in Him. God never wastes a hurt.

What are the problems, hurts, and trials that you have learned from? You may have already covered these when you answered the questions for your spiritual experiences because often God uses painful experiences to help us grow spiritually! Don’t worry about the overlap.

3. MINISTRY EXPERIENCES

How and where have you served God in the past in the church, in the community, and/or out in the world? How have those experiences confirmed your gifts or made you realize you were outside of your gifting?


[1] Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Nashville:LifeWay, 1990), p.101


These exercises are adapted from a SHAPE class that I teach and are real faith boosters! May we be able to praise God for his help in our old and gray years like this psalmist!

PRAYER

"Oh God Our Help in Ages Past" is a classic hymn written by Isaac Watts in 1719. Here is a beautiful video of it being sung in Westminster Abbey:


https://youtu.be/rsHIwXTjAOU




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