“But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)
People who are passionate about the writings and ideas of the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung are sometimes call Jungians. And the Jungians are excited right now. A huge journal he kept of his innermost thoughts and feelings is about to be published after being hidden away and unavailable for nearly 100 years.
I’m not a Jungian; his teachings don’t line up too well with Scripture, in my view. But I can understand why you’d be excited to read the long, lost insights of the person you’ve patterned your whole life after. The Jungians can’t wait to get their hands on that book.
You know where I’m going. We tell everyone that we believe the Bible contains the very thoughts of God — that the God of the universe went to the “trouble” of getting down in language His ideas for us. We say we believe that, but I’m not sure we’re convinced.
If we were, it seems like we’d be a lot more delighted to dive into the thoughts of God every day. We’d be less likely to categorize studying the Book along with eating green vegetables, getting exercise, and flossing. What can we do to increase our enjoyment of God’s thoughts from God’s Word?
Think: How many people do you know who really seem to be fascinated, enthralled, captivated, and excited about the Bible? How did they get that way?
Pray: Ask God to help you to delight in His Word and to learn to really, truly enjoy meditating on it every day.
Do: Grab an online or offline (paper) thesaurus and read a long list of words that mean the same thing as “delight.”
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” (Psalm 1:1)
I don’t like the word “happy.” It’s a slippery word for a slippery emotion. As soon as I start evaluating the level of my happiness, it starts fading for some reason. On the other hand, sometimes I’m hit with a wide-eyed awareness: “I’m really happy right now.
Some scholars say the world “blessed” that we’re going to talk about this week as we study Psalm 1 together means “happy,” but it’s more than that. It means something like “happy because God likes me and He’s taking care of me.” As a Christian, I can always say I’m being blessed by God even as my mood rises and falls with my hunger level.
In other words, blessing can be an emotion, but it’s backed by rock solid evidence of God’s goodness. Any good things or feelings I can point to in my life absolutely come from Him. And when I start counting all the good things I have and feel in a week because of Jesus, it’s easy to call myself blessed. Maybe even happy. Definitely joyful.
What David wants us to hear this week, though, is that blessing come only on the path of God. More tomorrow.
Think: How often do you apply this words to yourself: blessed, happy, joyful? What’s the difference between feeling blessed or happy and knowing for a fact that you are blessed by God?
Pray: Thank God for all the ways He has blessed you with good gifts and good emotions in your life. Ask Him to help you to be willing to walk in His way all of the time
Do: Read all of the way through Psalm 1 as a preparation for the rest of our study this week.
It’s the start of the school year, so let’s do some introductions! In June, several areas in The Salvation Army in Canada & Bermuda got new regional/divisional youth workers. These guys and gals love and work with youth as well as oversee youth events in their areas (including camps)! We’ve asked them some questions to [...]
“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ he said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ ” (John 11:38-40)
What could be more bizarre than this? Jesus, the teacher, the master, weeping and asking for the grave of His dead friend Lazarus to be opened? Was He hysterical, out of His mind with grief, forgetting that He’d come four days too late? Is that what Martha thought?
He has to remind her of His words so she can catch up with their meaning: “If you believe, you will see the glory of God.” How many of God’s most powerful promises have we filed away because we have heard them a million times without ever really connecting what they mean in the moment we’re experiencing?
What is the moment you’re experiencing today? Are you expecting God to do anything? Do you believe that His promises to you matter right now, that He loves to give good gifts today, that He’s with you in this moment?
Are you looking for the glory of God?
Think: What promises have you seen God answer in your real, everyday life? Which ones are you counting on Him to keep?
Pray: Thank God that if you believe, you will see His glory.
Do: Make a quick list of five promises God has made to you in His Word. (Feel free to cheat by looking some up or phoning a friend if you have to.)
A BIG thank you to all of you who voted for our theme for next year’s Youth Together gigs across Canada!
It was a hard fought battle. Really, all themes were great and would make for some awesome conversation, wrestling and soul shaping.
But… you’re probably wondering who the winner was.
The winner was… a tie! So we [...]
“Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’ ” (John 11:35-37)
The Jewish mourners gave Jesus credit for His tears. They made the assumption that He cried for dead Lazarus because He “loved Him.” But even they wondered why that love didn’t translate into using His power to heal the man.
Of course, God had other plans for His power, plans to make obvious to everyone paying attention that this was the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah. God used the death of Lazarus to prove His power over death; He used the resurrection of Lazarus to prove that His love was not powerless.
If the most loving thing your compassionate Father can do for you — or for someone else — involves allowing you to experience great suffering for a short season, would you still want Him to stop it? Will we insist on judging God’s love for us by the intensity of our pain today or will we judge the intensity of His love today by the power of Christ’s suffering for us on the cross?
It’s a hard question on painful days.
Think: Does your understanding of God’s love for you grow or shrink on painful days? Does His actual love for you ever grow or shrink? What is the evidence of His love for you if it is not an absence of suffering in your life?
Pray: Thank God that He has proved His love for you by the sacrifice of Jesus’ suffering and death in your place, to make you His child through your faith in Christ.
Do: Read (memorize?) Romans 5:8.
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.”
“Jesus wept.” (John 11:33-35)
Both of Lazarus’ sisters have run out to meet Jesus and have said those devastating words to Him: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” We talked yesterday about how that is a perfectly appropriate response to loss in our own lives: Run straight to God with our tears and our most difficult questions — and a stubborn commitment to trust His character.
How does God respond to our grief, to our loss, to our tears? Jesus shows us. He wept. He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
Now, think about this for a minute: Did Jesus know He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead? Did He know that “all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose”? Did He know it was going to be okay in the end?
Of course He knew! God feels deep compassion for His children all the time. He loves us like a good Daddy. He doesn’t sit in heaven and say, “They’ll be fine in a few minutes.” He feels for us even while He is working for our good, even when we don’t get, yet, why He didn’t do what we’d hoped.
Think: Do you really believe God feels compassion for you when you are sad? Do you think of Him like a good dad who cares deeply about you as His child, even when you’re questioning His actions
Pray: Ask God to help you to be more and more convinced of His compassion and love for you.
Do: Read about God’s deep and irrevocable love for His children in Romans 8:28-39.
“And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ . . . When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ ” (John 11:28, 32)
When she sees Jesus, Mary repeats the statement that lands like a question — or an accusation: “If you had been here . . .” She throws herself at his feet and doesn’t ask the one thing all of us have wondered about God’s choices at some point: “Why?”
I wonder how often God hears this sentiment from us: “If you had acted, I would not be feeling this pain right now. I would not be alone. I would not be abandoned. Where were you, God?”
Is it okay to ask that question? I think so. Many of God’s most faithful servants have questioned His decisions with great eloquence and emotion: Abraham pleading for Sodom. Moses pleading for the Israelites. David in the Psalms. Even Jesus a few days from this moment would shout out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
We’ll see tomorrow that God’s heart breaks with ours in response to the pain of death and grieving. I don’t believe He resents our honest questions about His plans, but we cut off our source of comfort if we refuse to keep trusting Him because we don’t like how He has spent His power. We’ve got to trust His heart and keep waiting for the resurrection.
Think: Have you ever distanced yourself from God because you couldn’t understand why He would let something terrible happen in your life? What might be a better response when we feel that way toward Him? Can you express that feeling and stay close to Him at the same time?
Pray: Ask God to help you to trust Him — and to allow Him to provide you with comfort through the Holy Spirit — even when He doesn’t keep a hard thing from happening in your life.
Do: Read Revelation 21:1-4 and notice the short list of things God immediately reverses at the end of time. (Hint: “There will be no more . . .”)
The topic of fasting has intrigued me over the years. I grew up in a church where fasting was practiced often and my dad fasted quite regularly. The idea of fasting is to deny oneself of an otherwise normal function (generally eating) for spiritual reasons. It was regularly practiced by Jews and Christians in bible [...]