October 10, 2011 Devotion Sharing (Psalm 40)

From Gracepoint Austin Church member

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
Lord, you have indeed lifted me out of the slimy pit of my sin.  And oh how slimy my sins have been in the past.  Down in the pit of my sins of lust, selfishness, arrogance, I tried to climb out. I tried to somehow make my situation better as a result of my own efforts, but it was all to no avail.  The slime was real.  It made me  fall back down, such that I couldn’t draw myself out.  Lord, this is the nature of my sin and this is how powerless I am against it. It keeps me down in the unwanted places of life.  It taints me with mud and mire, and tarnishes the picture of cleanness and beauty that You have desired for me

I thank you God, that you have recognized my situation and taken action to rescue me! I thank you that you have taken the initiative to lift me out of my helpless situation. Lord, you have indeed drawn me out of the pit I burrowed and trapped myself in, and you have established me on the firm rock of my salvation, your son Jesus Christ.  You have placed me in an entirely new context, where I’m not helplessly succumbing to the powers and principalities of my sin, but where I can actually be in a position of security.  And not only for myself, but You have set me in a place where I can now in turn help others out of their slimy pits, out of their mud and mire.  Who am I that you would choose to use me? Thank you Lord for setting my feet upon the firm rock of Jesus Christ.  May I never forget the very ground upon which I find myself standing.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
Lord, you have indeed filled my mouth with news words and songs.  Before, I used to be filled with words of discontentment and disdain for others.  I used to have much to say against others and their supposed inferiority.  But Lord, you have revealed my groundless claims about myself, and shamed me to silence because of my sin.  And now, you have filled my mouth with words that sing of your praise, that proclaim your mercy and grace.  You have revealed your loving kindness to me over the years.  You are patient, compassionate, gracious and kind to me.  You do not treat me as my sins deserve.  And because of this good news, I now have a new song of praise in my heart.

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
Lord, you have done many wonders here in your Austin church, and across our churches over time.  You have done many miraculous works in peoples’ lives bringing countless people to the saving knowledge of you.   And looking back just on this past fall semester and all the people you brought to our various welcome nights and the subsequent number who have sought you through lifegroups and course 101s, it is your work O Lord, your zeal that you have accomplished this. I have been blessed to be a part of your amazing work here in Austin, getting a front row seat to the lives of those changing right before my very eyes.  Who would’ve thought that after only three short years in Austin, that upperclassmen, our very own home grown juniors and seniors would be co-laboring with us in the ministry, helping minister to freshmen.  This is indeed just one of the many things you planned for us, that we didn’t necessarily draw up.  You are worthy of praise O Lord for the work you are doing.

From Gracepoint Berkeley Church member

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
You lifted me out by giving me hope when I was overrun by sin and by the consequences of sin.  You have given me a hope and a future by giving me a place to belong, a place to call my home, a people with whom I can share the same sentiment with, and giving me good work to do, so I can reverse the cycle of sin’s destruction.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
You have given me a new thing to praise about.  It’s no longer about my own life, but it’s about you, what you do , what you are like.  Because I always remember that you are a merciful God and I can never stop singing about this mercy that saved me from death.

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
Thank you that I can experience so many wonders.  I see it every day and every week, as I get to hear stories of the work you are doing in our midst.  What kind of blessing this is that I can see and recount what you are doing.   They are all wonders.

I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.
I desire to do your will. Please help me and give me the strength to carry it out.  I need your help.  My flesh and my evil desires are too strong for me.  I need you to help me have the right desires and to be on that path of carrying it through.

For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.
When I focus on sin, I cannot help but feel hopeless and sad, overwhelmed by my state.  However, there is hope in you.

Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.
You are my God.  There is no one else that I can turn to.  What can I do?  I need you every hour and every moment.  You are my deliverer… save me..


From Gracepoint Davis Church member

In what ways have you experienced v.2, v.3, v.5, v.8, v.12, v.17 to be true in your life?
V2: God lifted me out of the slimy pit – the depth of pit that I was in was in my first semester in college. It was the first time my experience that much freedom – all was within my ability and possibility to explore and try new things that I never did. I hit rock bottom when I found myself doing things I never had wanted to do, being in places I had never intended to be, becoming someone I could barely recognize and not knowing who I am anymore. It was a slimy pit because no matter how hard I try to climb out, I couldn’t – I kept on falling deeper and deeper. God lifted me out of the slimy pit when I finally paid attention to his words given at the Bible studies and Sunday services. His words became relevant and convicting that I knew I needed help to get out of this pit. Another pit that I was in was my own pit of sins and self-delusion. I couldn’t see my sinfulness clearly and I couldn’t see my need for Jesus – I felt a more lost and frustrated as I tried to figure God out on my own effort but couldn’t. God gave me his word that convicted my heart, He placed me in the family of God, in the context of covenantal relationship, through which I was able to see the depth of my own sinfulness and selfishness. He pulled me out of some of the strongholds in my life – sins of competitive spirits, selfishness or approval seeking, and He provided just timely words, messages, people, circumstances to allow me to grab hold of it and He pulled me out as I experienced spiritual breakthroughs. After He pulled me out of the slimy pit, he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand in my salvation through Jesus, and through his words and this church. A rock and a firm place to stand was my faith in Jesus. Even though I am a sinner through and through and God still have so much work to be done in my life, I can stand firm because I know that my righteousness comes from Jesus alone and there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Even though at times life’s difficulties and trials come, I can stand firm because I know that God is sovereign, He is ultimately in control and He is able to work through all things for the good of those who love him. He gives me a firm place to stand through time spent in his word and prayers, which brings renewal and refocus. He gives me this family of God, people whom I know and have known me for many years, through whom I can go through life together and spur one another on.

V3: He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to my God when I came to realize that I have a Creator, a loving heavenly Father who loves me so deeply. I am not an orphan who needs to provide for myself or strive hard to clutch onto temporal things in life. I sing praises to God when I see that my sins do not have the final word, that God is able to forgive through Jesus Christ and give me a brand new start each time I repent, that God still welcomes me home no matter how many times I stray away from him. I praise God as I learned that my life was created to be engaged in meaningful work – that God could use a sinner like me to be a blessing to others – this moves me to tears and fills my heart with much joy and praise. He gives me a new song in my heart as my life takes on new meaning, purpose and relationships. And many will see my transformed life and what God is able to do and hear my testimonies of His faithfulness, and they will put their trust in him. Many will hear about how God can convicts my heart or how truth prevails, and many will fear Him because He cannot be mocked.

V5: many are to wonders God has done – I see this truth, not only in creation and the work of His hand, but also in the lives of many people I have witnessed. Starting with the team sisters, some of whom I know since they were freshmen, but seeing how they’re co-laboring with me now, I am amazed and thankful. To see their hearts changed, becoming more interested in sharing the Gospel, reaching out to the students, running around for sports even though they hated sport, doing things that they normally wouldn’t do, seeing them dying to themselves, going out of their ways, stretching beyond the capacity, interceding earnestly for others in order to embrace the calling God has called them. This is a wonderful work that God has created in their lives this is a testimony of what God is able to do. And to look outward – to see all the churches in Gracepoint, all that God has been doing since the start of the new church plants or even this past semester/quarter, not only with a good turnout for our events but also hearing stories about how God has been preparing the hearts of those who have been coming out or how God has worked in the hearts of our current members. And not only in our churches, God has been at work since the beginning of history, working in and through the lives of those who listen and obey, and in other churches or through godly people. So many of the good works God has been doing, and I share the same sentiment as the Psalmist that if I were to count them, speak and tell of all that happens, even just within my life time, they would be too many to declare.

V8: I desire to do God’s will – this desire was not always there but the more I come to know God, the more I grow in my relationship with him, the more I desire to do things that are in line with His will. And there are still many more areas of my life that I don’t desire God’s will because I want to be the god of my own life, but this is my prayer and this is where I am striving forward to desire to do God’s will. I have truly experienced this in my life – before I became a Christian, I only desired to please myself and do whatever I wanted to do. I had no interest to find out what God wants, what God is like, what his heart is like or who He is. I only desired for personal gains – what blessings can I get from this church, what can God do for me, how can these friends be there for me, who can give me the recognition or approval that I wanted – many were my desires, and my life was dictated to do what I desired. But God gave me new purpose and meaning for life, and he has given me a new heart and put His law, His words, in my heart so that I can recognize and respond to what is true and good. Now I see that when I obey and do what God wants me to do, I am living the way I am meant to live, and that what God says good is good. I’ve experienced my desires have slowly changed to become more aligned with God’s.

V12: troubles without numbers around me and my sins overtake me – there were many times I felt like this when one sin after another, on-going strongholds, circumstances that did not go my way, difficulties and trials that keep dragging on and do not seem to get any better, storms of life that don’t seem to ever calm down, or when is hard to find bright spots in my life and troubles without number surround around me and the overwhelming sense of my sins overtake me. Times like this, when my heart fails within me, when I feel like I don’t know if I can take on another difficulty or another trial or another time of surrender, or another test of patience, or another leap of faith to take, or another dying of myself and letting go again. These are times of troubles that I can think of throughout my journey with God in personal life as well as in ministry. But this verse is surrounded by verses 11 and 13: “do not withhold your mercy from me”, “always protect me”, “be pleased to save me”, and “come quickly to help me”. It is God who has pulled me through those times. And it is this kind of prayers that I need to go back to again and again, esp. when trouble seems overwhelming and my heart begins to fails within me.

V17: I am poor and needy – this is the true condition that describes me even though a lot of times I desire for competence, security, self sufficiency, having everything that I need and my life being well provided for and protected, that I don’t feel needy and lacking. I experienced that I was poor and needy when I first began to recognize the empty void in my heart because of my broken relationship with God despite all that I had, experienced and enjoyed in life thus far. And this led me to seeking God that even though I was physically enriched, I was spiritually poor. I am poor and needy even as a Christian as I daily need God’s mercy and grace to live the kind of life that pleases God each day. I am bankrupt inside: even though I know what is good and true, many times I fail to do the good that I ought to do. I am poor because without God daily nourishment, I cannot survive spiritually – my own strength, competence, realization, experience or sheer will power cannot sustain me. I am poor spiritually because I did not know how to properly relate to God and others, and I need constant reminder and guidance to riches in relationships. I am needy and helpless as I see more and more of my limitation, inadequacies, and weaknesses as I get older, as I see God’s holiness more clearly and as I strive to daily obey God. God is my help and my deliver, esp. from my own self and my sins. Even though circumstances may not change, believing that God is my help and my deliver gives me strength to push forward. And I echo the same sentiment as the Psalmist that when I see my poverty and neediness clearly, my prayer and plea is “God please help me, come quickly and do not delay” and each time I experienced helped through His words, messages, peace that transcends understanding and regardless of circumstances and the people God placed in my life. And I experienced His deliverance as I am reminded again and again why I need a Savior and who Jesus is to me personally.

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