Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
The most influential pastor-mentor in my life was The Rev. Harold F. Mante of the United Presbyterian Church in Forty Fort, Pennsylvania; and I’ll never forget how he’d often shout out to us, “Keep the faith!...Blessings on you!”
When I asked what he meant, he explained clearly and compellingly.
“Keep the faith” means to trust God in all things at all times in all places with all people no matter who, what, when, where or why because God always comes through sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end for believers.
“Blessings on you” was his way of saying he wanted God’s best for us even though we’ll never deserve it.
Keep the faith!
We can only count on God in the end.
Blessings on you!
It’s God’s mercy not our merit that matters in the end.
While I’m still just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus, I am scratching and growing in a Christian kinda way.
My trust in God has finally accepted the comfort and hope of God’s providence in the life of a believer with Romans 8:28 as gospel: “God works for good in/through everything for the best of believers. God takes care of people that love Him and are called according to His purposeful providence.”
When we love God, we are called by God to be His in special ways that He has designed for us; and even when things don’t seem right and aren’t liked in particularly challenging moments, we will eventually see how God turns every former or immediate tragedy or test or temptation into triumph sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end.
It’s like David said back in Psalm 37, “Now that I’ve been around a while, I can look back and see how God always takes care of believers. God never abandons people that love Him and lean on Him.”
Like all Christians, I’m learning to keep the faith.
My prayer life has also changed in recognition of being blessed by God even though I don’t deserve it.
Simply, God’s grace or unmerited favor more than makes up for my inability to earn credits in the Kingdom; so maturing prayer spends more time thanking God for what He has already done for us than asking God for what we want.
I think of the fellah that asked a missionary, “What must I do to be saved?”
The missionary answered, “Too late! Jesus has already done that for you!”
Like all Christians, I’m learning to spend more of my time praising God in prayer than petitioning freebies.
Psalm 65 is David’s positive praise and faith-filled thanks to God for how God blesses spiritually and substantially.
Specifically, God blesses the “inner” self of believers and provides the “outer” blessings of His creation’s beauty, splendor and sustenance.
Like any believer all in with God, David’s trust in God generates the inner strength and sanity to live triumphantly amid the meanness, madness, misery and miscreance of life in the world: “You deserve praise. That’s why we worship You. We need You. You deliver. We worship You with respect and gratitude. Because of You, we are not overcome by our sins or the sins of those around us. When we are close to You, we are happy. When we’re worshipping, we are at Your best intentions for us. Strong. Calm. Sane. Happy. Whole. Joyful. Secure. You love us before we love You. You choose us before we choose You. We are blessed to be Yours in time and forever.”
David praised God for the beauty and splendor of His sustaining creation: “All of Your creative wonders are on display. Everything witnesses to Your sovereignty and saving sustenances. You established everything by Your unparalleled power. We join nature in singing Your praises. We are like children that sing in prayer, ‘God is good! God is great! Let us thank Him…for everything!’”
I’ll never forget Julian Alexander who interrupted a clergy meeting on the back porch of somebody’s house in Clark, New Jersey back in the late 70s as he spotted a caterpillar inching across a railing and exclaimed, “Will you look at that? Who could do that? How lavish and loving and awesome is God!”
It reminded me of a cartoon with Ziggy looking out over a sunset and shouting, “Go, God!”
Then there was Bruce Ennis.
He was one of the smartest guys that I’ve ever met.
A totally brilliant top of the class MIT graduate.
Pero he wasn’t too smart for God; and as I prepared for his memorial service, I came across this note that he wrote and placed in his Bible (11/14/76): “If this Someone, whom I call God, has the power to grant life on earth, simple logic would dictate that He could also grant life elsewhere, which I call heaven. To any intelligent and perceptive human being exposed daily, as he is, to the beautiful miracles of this earth, and realizing that only some Power greater than he could produce such miracles, it must seem that an atheist has a low degree of intelligence, coupled with an abysmal lack of perceptivity, a deplorably egotistical self-esteem, and an unseemly arrogance.”
Et the good news is this omnipotent and omniscient Father God is omnipresent in our lives by His Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus to meet every existential and eternal need.
I’ll never forget Ralph Earle, one of the architects of the NIV Bible, telling me about the missionary that couldn’t find a way to explain how God takes care of us until a tired native came into his study and said while resting in a chair, “I’m leaning my whole weight on this chair.” From that moment on for the missionary and God’s children entrusted to him, faith in Father God who takes care of us by grace through faith in Jesus as encouraged by His continuing Holy Spirit presence was understood as leaning our whole weight on God in time and forever.
Maturing prayer and praise aka worship spends more time heralding and esteeming God for His saving graces than asking for more of this or that.
Here’s one example: “Father God, we thank You for everything and everyone in our lives that bring pleasure to us. We take none of it for granted from the air we breathe and food we eat and homes we have and stuff we like and romance providing oases from the chaos of our world and country to the many other blessings that You shower upon us. Indeed, when we start counting Your blessings in our lives, we are overwhelmed to compelled to worship You with unbridled enthusiasm without equivocation. Most especially, Father God, we thank You for Jesus who forgives our sins by grace through faith so that we may live confidently with the assist of Your Holy Spirit in the assurance of heavenly paradise to commence the first nano-second after the last breath. With that naked humility and unashamed heralding to trust Your blessings now and forever, we pray in the name of Jesus. Amen!”
It’s like my pastor-mentor always urged, “Keep the faith!...Blessings on you!”
We can always count on God.
His mercy not our merit matters most.
We are blessed and our worship proves we know it.
We never take God for granted.
He blesses us with everyone and everything that bring pleasure into our lives.
By grace through faith in Jesus, we are permanently destined for paradise with pleasurable tastes in the meantime.
We are so blessed to keep the faith.
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