Kinsman Chapel of the Christian & Missionary Alliance

'God is good, all the time'

Good Prayer

 

SALEM, Ore. — Alice Decker, 61, says she prayed all of her children and grandchildren into the Kingdom and keeps them safe with her daily intercession. But her family sees her not as a prayer warrior, but as a classic worry wart.
    "She putters around the house cleaning and fretting all day," says one daughter. "That's not prayer. It's a bad habit."   

Alice admits to spending most of her time "in concerned thought and prayer for" her family, she says, even while shopping for discount clothing for the grandkids.
    "I am always laying my family before the Lord," she says.

But according to her daughters, Alice's intercession amounts to "constantly obsessing about our health, the kids' grades, our marital and financial well-being."
    "There are no normal conversations with Mom," says one. "She's always quizzing me and digging for something to 'pray' about. I tell her to relax in the goodness of God, but she won't do it."   

Many family members have stopped sharing bad news with Alice because they don't like to send her into "worry overdrive."   

For her part, Alice insists her daily battles in prayer make all the difference in the world.
    "The enemy wants me to stop being concerned, but I won't do it," she says. "If I stopped, this whole family would fall apart." 

We all have things we fret about. Not a person here hasn’t been sorely tempted to worry or give into discouragement. 

"Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24. 

First off, this scripture is written to men and women of hope, those that hope in the Lord.

O LORD, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be put to shame. Rescue me, for you always do what is right.  Bend down and listen to me; rescue me quickly. Be for me a great rock of safety, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.  You are my rock and my fortress. For the honor of your name, lead me out of this peril. Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me, for I find protection in you alone. I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, LORD, for you are a faithful God. I hate those who worship worthless idols. I trust in the LORD. I am overcome with joy because of your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to my enemy but have set me in a safe place. Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am in distress. My sight is blurred because of my tears. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Misery has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within.  I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors—even my friends are afraid to come near me. When they see me on the street, they turn the other way. I have been ignored as if I were dead, as if I were a broken pot. I have heard the many rumors about me, and I am surrounded by terror. My enemies conspire against me, plotting to take my life. But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, "You are my God!" My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly. Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, save me. Don’t let me be disgraced, O LORD, for I call out to you for help. Let the wicked be disgraced; let them lie silent in the grave. May their lying lips be silenced—those proud and arrogant lips that accuse the godly.

Your goodness is so great! You have stored up great blessings for those who honor you. You have done so much for those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.  You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.  Praise the LORD, for he has shown me his unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack.  In sudden fear I had cried out, "I have been cut off from the LORD!" But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help.  Love the LORD, all you faithful ones! For the LORD protects those who are loyal to him, but he harshly punishes all who are arrogant. 

Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.

In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.  Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. You hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD. I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have taken heed of my adversities, and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away. I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. For I hear the whispering of many—terror all around! —as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.  Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love. Do not let me be put to shame, O LORD, for I call on you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go dumbfounded to Sheol. Let the lying lips be stilled that speak insolently against the righteous with pride and contempt.

O how abundant is your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you, and accomplished for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of everyone! In the shelter of your presence you hide them from human plots; you hold them safe under your shelter from contentious tongues. Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was beset as a city under siege. I had said in my alarm, "I am driven far from your sight." But you heard my supplications when I cried out to you for help.Love the LORD, all you his saints. The LORD preserves the faithful, but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD.

This Psalm isn’t a happy Psalm. It’s filled with danger and dangerous thoughts. This is a Psalm of Disorientation. The writer is in trouble, the dangers are real. Rescue seems far away. As we start this time of Lent we must remember You have a hope which gazes into the future past our death made sure by the work of Jesus on the Cross.

But you also have a hope that hears Jesus’ words that he would never leave of forsake you. You have this good hope?  Situations can be hopeless, I grant you that . . . But dear brothers and sisters our hearts are never hopeless.  His hope makes His home in your heart. 

1 Corinthians 2:9 -10 But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

There should be no shame in needing your heart strengthened if its God himself who tells you it’s needed. David the apple of God, Slayer of Goliath, the bear and the lion, and you, no matter how close to God, will experience feeling hopeless.

You need your heart strengthened when attacked by besetting sins. We have all felt the bitterness of time and time again having to confess the same sin so that you see your imperfection more than anything.

You need your heart strengthened when your body is sick or in pain. 

You need your heart strengthened when your job doesn’t pay a living wage. Your heart needs strengthening if you must choose among life’s essentials because there is not enough to make ends meet. You need your heart strengthened when the angry root of seeing other people having so much more than you, be it material or spiritual.

You need your heart strengthened when you are lonely. The deep loneness that occurs when there is no one who shares your love for the Lord be it in your church or the workplace.

A Christian needs his heart strengthened when he is weary of doing well. When you and I see very clearly the imperfections in our service or piety,

A Christian in a tough spot holding on to victory over sin or circumstance needs his heart strengthened when in need he is met with cold ungenerous hearts.

This is the hope that all of God’s children have. It is He who strengthens your heart to make the timid brave, the lonely full, the weak strong. 

Your situation may be hopeless and in desperate need of God’s miraculous hand but you my friend have a heart with God given hope. The feeble heart will find many excuses for failure But God himself will uphold those who trust in Him.

There is an AND in this verse Be of good courage AND he shall strengthen you heart. There is an exhortation here because one can not be without the other. 

HOW does this happen? Do I need to run around looking for it. The ancients called this How it happens Gracious providence.  Look for the unexpected. Sometimes we miss the miraculous when we only look for the spectacular.

How does this happen? The Lord strengthens our hearts with the fellowship of other Christians who will so happen to speak just the word you need to give you courage and affirmation.

How Does this Happen? The Lord may quicken a precious promise to reality in you’re here and now.

How does this Happen? God has a way of reviving your heart with his very own touch. In the midst of the storm an unexplained peace descends perhaps of his own or at the urging or another’s fervent prayer.

This is the hope that all of God’s children have. It is He who strengthens your heart to make the timid brave, the lonely full, the weak strong.