Prayer for Old Age: Psalm 71

The fire was intense, but locust wood burns like that – hot — I thought as I looked at the flickering flames and sparks flying off in the wood stove.

But it would still need an oak log to make it thorough this cold winter damp night.

So I rose up from my crouch, exited the pine boarded door and stepped out onto a snow dusted ground to gather a couple logs from under the wood pile cover and hurriedly went back to the cabin to escape a wind now beginning to howl — threw the log in quickly, closed the stove door and turned the draft screws in slightly for a slow burn overnight.

Everyone was gone. The kids were grown and gone. No laughter, no one to have to fix breakfast for, and a half-moon became visible through the log cracks.

This was my thought in the middle of winter of 1994 yet I’d be blessed with a little food, money, and some humble native friends with family young and old who loved the Lord. It doesn’t take much to be happy.

But consider the brevity of life. The Book of James says it is as a vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes (James 4: 14). The years pass quickly.

Fortunately God has provided the Bible for a guide to life.

Psalms 71 is a prayer for old age, For thou art my hope, O Lord, God, thou art my trust from my youth (Psalms 71: 5).

If you don’t know God’s peace, consider reading some scripture or visiting a local church.

Your happiness is only a prayer in Christ.

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Job’s Three Friends

( I send a devotion to the newspaper in town  every week but occasionally put them here on the blog also if anyone wants to read them.)

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are long known as “miserable comforters” to their friend Job, who suffered loss of family, livestock, farm, and his health after being attacked by the devil.

But Job’s friends weren’t too miserable, because each of them after hearing of Job’s problem left his home, sat down with Job on the ground (for seven days, wept, tore their clothing ( a sign of penitence), and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven (Job 2: 12).

They saw that Job’s grief was great, and none spoke a word (Job 2: 13).

Looking upon senseless destruction of property and people leaves one speechless. A tragedy has happened, there is a loss of goods, an emptiness of friendships, and a hopeless feeling that nothing can be replaced.

Unless you know God.

And so they waited for the appropriate time to speak – to first hear Job’s words, and as you may remember, Job began to curse the day he was born (Job 3).

Sensitive leader Eliphaz was the first to respond to Job’s complaint, and he politely asked to speak.

Without rebuke, he carried on with his message of hope in Chapter 4 and 5.

“But as for me, I would seek God,
And to God I would commit my cause;
Who does great things, and unsearchable,
Marvelous things without number (Job 5: 8-9).

Consider these three friends, much as they have been maligned, that they also were dedicated to seeking God’s will and counsel in this matter.

There is no mention of them restoring a water trough, shelter, or food grain after the assault, but they humbled themselves to be with Job and wait upon his desire.

Such friends are priceless. For In their speeches, they kept the Spirit alive through God by innocence, wisdom and humility, to which Job attained.

Maybe you are suffering like Job, but staying around God’s throne and knowing there are godly friends praying for you goes a long towards recoverlng from hardship.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15: 13).

Hope In Despair

It always amazes me that in the darkest of times of life God will suddenly manifest His presence in different ways.

Consider that a cabbage plant can easily be destroyed by insects, yet a bird will come along and eat the insect invaders; a lizard silently waits on a porch screen to quickly find a gnat or fly to consume ridding the area of nuisance insects; or how flood waters ravage a field but sunflowers bloom alongside it under cloudy skies.

Sit quietly alone and God will often visit us with a message of hope to solve a problem, give encouragement, or heal a wound. Worship other gods, and all that disappears and may even be catastrophic: we would miss communion with our Creator.

Imagine the shepherds who were watching their sheep on a moonless cold night without bread or money at home and who had no Savior or redeemer for sin – they listened for hope and heard an angel’s message of Christ’s birth (Luke 2: 8-11).

What is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that thou visits him? Psalms 8: 4. Psalms 8 shows God’s glory over earth and its inhabitants.

Sit quietly alone and God will visit you with a message of hope. He provides it to anyone who listens, calls upon God, and accepts Jesus as Savior over life – and gives victory over fear and death.

 

The Greeting Word

Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians gives us a good example of how to greet and brother or sister: Grace to you, and peace, from God, our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1: 3).

A similar greeting was given to me every morning when I used to deliver mail to an old white boarded house with a fenced in yard where a kind old gentleman would be sitting on his front porch in a old weathered couch.

“Praise the Lord!” he would exclaim as I was putting mail in the postal box. Of course he was disabled but still praising God.

And so we began a friendship until one day he wasn’t there – he had passed onto God’s kingdom.

But I looked forward to discussing the Bible with him every morning in those brief moments and quoting scripture: it encouraged me throughout the day.

The Bible says: And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works (Hebrews 10: 24): the Apostle Paul also encourages us to admonish each other (Romans 15: 14).

Consider your greeting to another person and an opportunity to present God as a blessing.

It may be that you will find a friend who knows God, and if not, be able to present Jesus as Savior.

Mountain and Valley Worship

Far back in the Appalachians there was a small church group that met Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings in a little brick building at the foot of a mountain.

On cold mornings, the wood stove would have to be fired up with kindling, scrap bark cleaned off the floor, sidewalk cleared of snow, and towels placed inside the front entrance to catch dripping water from everyone’s shoes as they entered the door.

There might be sunlight shining through the crucifix stained glass windows if not so low in the winter and trying to find its way through a gap in the mountains, but more often than not, its ray slept far into the morning and the windows remain frosted while the parishioners exhaled steam.

Yet the sweet music from a solitary figure with a guitar filled the room as she chose to keep her talent in the church.

“The God on the Mountain is still God in the Valley . . . the God in the good times is still God in the bad times.”

And no one really cared about how cold it was when hearing Linda sing.

Consider your worship of God, whether it is on the mountain or in the valley, and whether it is in the right place, (read Deuteronomy 12).

But above all, know also that God’s Son Jesus says that God is a spirit, and we are to worship him in spirit and truth.

If you don’t know Jesus, learn about him in the Bible, and then you will be in the right place to worship as God chooses.

The Torture of Samson

One example of torture in the Bible is when a former ruler of Israel, Samson, was captured by the Philistines, chained, put in the prison house, and made to turn a millstone wheel to grind grain into flour; Judges 16. Samson’s eyes had been put out; his hands must have been calloused, and his feet bruised.

But the Spirit of God was still present.

That’s just it: when life seems intolerable because of faithful processions, the Spirit of God intercedes for God to get glory.

And so Samson would follow through on getting God’s glory when the authorities brought him to a public arena to show off in sport activities.

Samson had vengeance on his mind – neared the limestone supports to the stadium, and after prayer, pulled them down much to the detriment and of the thousands of people that died that day.

This is one example of God avenging his elect (Deuteronomy 32: 43).

But there is no avenger if there is no faith, and Jesus sustains this principle.

Consider his words in Luke 18: 3: “I tell you that he will avenge them [the elect of God] speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

Torture takes place daily in the world with people in cruel bondage, slaughtered because of Christian faith, and mentally defamed, but God is still present.

Consider your faith, and the present of God to have vengeance.

But more so, that God has mercy on all believers with examples of faith and the love of Jesus Christ that perseveres in all matters.

God as Guide for Life

I was approaching a trail junction high on the crest of an Appalachian mountain years ago when a heavy fog descended and limited visibility to about ten foot.

The fog can be heavy in the mountains, and this one was.

I knew my bearings roughly viewing at moss on the north side of a tree, ash tree vegetation growth, and some dim light overhead, but the fog was very thick.

And so I sat, perplexed — even the trail appeared to narrow with bushes suddenly dropping down with the weight of the foggy water.

And I thought about the safety of the Lord and Psalm 16:

Thou wilt show me the path of life. In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore (Psalms 16: 11).

Well, the old adage in the hills is if you get lost, just follow the downside of the hill to its stream of water and keep going down; but I knew from experience there would be strangling rhododendron, fallen trees, unseen insects, and slippery rock.

And so I waited on the Lord.

Consider the paths available in your life if you can see them: one may look easy but full of troubles; another may look beautiful but take a swift turn of vines, poison plants, and snakes; and then there is the one unseen, the one in which to trust God upon prayer.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11: 1).

And when things just seem too foggy, consider accepting God’s Son Jesus to take away any sins and uncertainty — and give confidence to find the right way home or success.

 

 

God’s Protection

It was a warm autumn day sitting beside by a south side of a barn where horses were swishing their tails and my commanding officer motioned at me to come inside a nearby house to visit a German family.

So I dusted off my fatigue clothes, grabbed my M-16 rifle, and flipped away a straw chew to wearily arise after a morning’s convoy run to pick up my helmet and walk over to the farm house where a family sat around a large hardwood table in a tall domed living area grateful in remembrance of allied troops protecting their lives 27 years earlier.

And with bowed heads, we prayed.

Consider God’s protection though we can’t always see it.

This family had prayed to be spared of bombs and unwanted intrusion by merciless soldiers.

The Bible says, Rejoice O ye nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful to his land, and to his people (Deuteronomy 32: 43).

But God only protects us if we please and petition God. And fortunately, we have Jesus who shows us the way.

“Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God believe also in me”; (John 14: 1).

In these perilous times, it is good to pray to God for protection but also to know Jesus is our true Savior.

Fighting for God’s Glory

There are multiple instances in scripture of fighting for God’s glory such as Joshua conquering foreign tribes to enter God’s land of promise, David fighting the giant Goliath for victory over the Philistines, and Moses who lifted his hands to defeat Amalek (Exodus 17: 8-16).

But fighting is vain without seeking God’s glory: it leads to hurt, emotional conflict, and loss of material. It is a lonely experience, and it can take weeks to recover from the wounds.. And it makes us wonder why it happened.

The Bible says, Strive not with a man without a cause, if he hath done thee no harm; and do not envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways (Proverbs 3: 30-31).

Thus the Bible gives us divine direction if there is an urge to fight.

But if strife occurs, make sure it’s for God’s glory by the law of God.

Consider reading Deuteronomy 6-8 for the promise of victory and how to get there.

Rather than get mixed up in a vain affair, know God is in control and will get the glory. Personal glory will only lead to more strife but God’s glory will lead to peace and success.

Know also God’s Son Jesus who conquers inward fighting and gives us rest.

Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matthew 11: 29).

Physical fighting leaves us weak, but knowing Jesus gives us wisdom and strength.

Abraham’s Humility

Hardly anyone mentions Abraham’s humility probably because he is known more for God promising him an extended family and offering his son Isaac upon a sacrificial altar.

But Abraham was very humble at times: in front of two angels who visited him and wife Sarah (Genesis 18), letting nephew Lot choose prime grazing land for a herd of animals (Genesis 13), and humble when dealing with a foreign king (Genesis 20).

Yet Abraham could also be a man of war, distant traveler, and builder of altars for God; Genesis 12.

Because of Abraham’s humbleness, he was made rich with gold and livestock, and was blessed with a big family.

But had God not visited Abraham, or Abraham been willing to listen and be obedient, Abraham would have never got the blessings..

It takes humility, patience, and obedience to receive the promise of blessing from God.

And often that is learned by suffering, such as Abraham, who was starved for food and had to travel many miles to receive help.

May we not have to suffer before finding God’s blessing. We can have the blessing by learning and knowing about God’s Son Jesus, who died for our sins, takes off the burdens of sin, and allows us to be richly blessed.