May 21, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 40)

Submitted by Timothy R from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

Psalm 40

Key Verse

40:5  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.

God is…

God is One who hears my cry and he is the only One who can lift me up out the “slimy pit, out of the mud and mire” (v.2) of my sins (v.12). Mud and mire are such apt metaphors for sin. For each time I sin, it has the potential to be a slimy and muddy pit that ensnares and entraps me. Each sin that I commit can take on a momentum of its own and continue to drag me down deeper unless I cry out to help from God and receive his rescue.  For example, I have learned from my own experiences and from those I minister to, that sin can drag me further down by causing me to fall into self-pity (e.g., “I will never change,” “I keep messing up,” “there is no hope for me.” These negative, self-pitying thoughts can lower my resistance towards future sin by getting me to think along the lines of “what’s the use of resisting sin when you are so sinful and have messed up so much already?”  And if I am not vigilant, it can become this slippery, slimy, downward slope of one sin leading to more sins. Thank God this psalm assures me that I can break that vicious cycle by crying out to him for help!

Each time I cry out to God, this psalm assures me that God will come to my rescue by showing mercy to me (v.11) by setting my feet on rock, and giving me firm footing to stand upon (v.2).  What is that firm footing and rock that God provides for me? The firm place to stand that God gives me is in the form of relationships that I have at our church. In this body of Christ, I am blessed to say that I have spiritual leaders and friends who have known me for 20 years now. And in the past, God has used these relationships to provide for me a “rock” and “firm place to stand.”  They do this by praying for me when I confess my sins and struggles. They give me accountability so that I won’t fall further into sin. Through these relationships that God has given in the church, these relationships provide a safety net to prevent me from falling deep into slimy pit of sin.

Lessons for me…

One important lesson I can learn from this psalm is to learn the value of reflecting over all that God has done and is doing in my life. The psalmist not only reflects on God’s wonders (v.5) by himself but then goes onto declare God’s goodness to others (vv.9-10).  I think both actions are necessary to better grasp and appreciate all that God is doing.

In order to apply this, one thing I feel convicted that I need to do more of is to slow down my rpm and pause to reflect on God’s many wonders He has done in my life.  When I pause to reflect, I frequently discover that I have lot more to be grateful for than I might have initially thought. And so like the psalmist, I too find that there are more blessings than I can recount and that they are “too many to declare.” And this summer, I want to journal more regularly and deliberately schedule in more reflection times where I can pause and recount what God has done. Especially as we wrap up our second year of ministry in Minnesota, I want to be able to reflect on these past 2 years and take ample time to give thanks to God for all that he has done.

Another important lesson I learn from this psalm is to see how important it is to share with others and to hear from others about what wonderful things God is doing in their lives (vv.9-10). By doing so, it helps me to realize how active God is, and opens my eyes to all that God is doing beyond the scope of my tiny life. One way we experience this together as a church is through our annual Thanksgiving Retreat. I thoroughly enjoy this retreat every year, when all the members, including church plant members, gather together for one single purpose — to share praise and testimonies about what God has done in our midst. I always come away from the Thanksgiving retreat filled with awe and wonder at seeing all that God is doing. And I come away realizing that our God is way bigger than I had envisioned him to be.

Prayer

Lord, I thank You for being the One who hears my cry for help and for always being ready to lift me out of the slimy pit of my sins. Oh Lord, like the psalmist, I too confess that at times it feels like my sins threaten to overtake me. But I am so thankful that even in the midst of such situations, I can cry out to you. And when I do, you are ever ready to hear and respond to my cry for help. You lift me up out of the slimy pit and you give me a firm ground to stand on. And Lord I am also thankful that I have many opportunities to proclaim your righteousness to other believers and that I also get numerous opportunities to hear others’ declaring their praise of you.  Lord, I get so blessed by these times when we can gather to share about your faithful work and your goodness.  Lord, I thank you that you have led me to our church where I can personally experience concretely these aspects of this psalm. And Lord I am thankful that I can honestly say that this psalm is not just abstract or theoretical but true to my own experiences. Lord, I pray that as I have been on the receiving end of this kind of blessing for so many years, that I can now give my all to help create this kind of spiritual community here in Minnesota as well. In Jesus name, Amen.

Submitted by Mia C. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

Psalm 40

Key Verse

He lifted me out of the pit of despair,

out of the mud and the mire.

He set my feet on solid ground

and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see what he has done and be amazed.

They will put their trust in the Lord.

God is …

God is the one who rescues from sin. He hears the cries of those in trouble and responds.  God is merciful and persevering with sinners. He rescues sinners from despair, sets their feet on solid ground and walks alongside them, steadying those who try to live in obedience.

Lessons for me …

The psalmist expresses how he cried out to God and God lifted him out of his pit of despair, out of the mud and mire and set his feet on solid ground and steadied him as he walked along.  As he recognizes God’s great mercy in rescuing him, giving him firm ground to stand on and steadying him, he says that God gave him a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to God.

I recognize this same redemptive work in my own life. When I first met God personally, I was depressed and wrapped in hopelessness regarding the way my life was panning out. As I cried out to God, he responded to my cries and rescued me from my pit of despair. As I repented of vain ambition and a self-serving, willful way I had lived my life, I experienced God turning my life around. As I tried to live out my commitment to follow Jesus, God placed my feet on the solid ground of His word and surrounded me with other Christians and spiritual leaders who would help me to live out God’s Word. Over the years, I discovered that I am a great sinner. If I am not vigilant, I can easily be distracted by the world, veer off the path of living as a disciple of Christ and find myself far from God, stuck in what the psalmist calls “the pit of despair,” and “mud and the mire,” a place where God is far and distant not because he has withdrawn but because I have strayed away from God out of my desire for the world. I often end up in these places when I try to compromise and keep a part of my life for myself or when I allow myself to idolize something in this world. When this happens,

I find myself overwhelmed by my sins as the psalmist describes in v12.  But God never abandoned me but addressed me repeatedly through His Word or through my leaders/other Christians who spoke the truth to me. He never gave up on me or left me alone but continued to bring me His words of truth to correct, encourage, and convict me of my sins all for the purpose of leading me to repentance and restoring our relationship. What is amazing to me is that I am this sinner and yet God not only perseveres with me but also includes me in his redemptive work. As we wrap up our second year of ministry at the University of Minnesota, I got a chance to think about the past 2 years, particularly at the salvation decisions we were able to witness and the fact that we are sending 3 of our students on summer mission trips. Among many things I am thankful that somehow God sees fit to include me in all of this.

In light of all of this, I need to be a person who properly treasures this privilege of ministry and not see opportunities to serve and love people as something I am supposed to do. God does not delight in or require sacrifices or offerings. He wants me to come to him and take joy in doing his will because I understand him to be the one who rescues, sets my feet on solid rock and steadies me when I falter. It is out of this conviction and intimate knowledge of God that I need to find my motivation and desire to tell others about the gospel of Jesus Christ and of how that gospel saved and continues to transform me. As we start of another year in Minnesota, I want to recommit to serving God wholeheartedly to honor all God has done.

Prayer

Father God, thank you for being a merciful God who hears the desperate cries of sinners and responds by rescuing, setting on solid ground and providing your steadying hand all the way to the very end. Thank you for hearing my cries and rescuing me when I thought I could only despair, setting my feet on the solid ground of your Word and truth. Thank you for watching over me and steadying me when I faltered. I want to sing this new song of your mercy not only over my life but over those you have called me to serve and love. Though my sins are great and I am a sinner through and through, Father, I trust that you who called me as a minister is greater than my sins and you will continue to change and mold me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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