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Summer in the Psalms: Bringing Our Emotions to God

This Lord's Day we are beginning a new sermon series. We are spending our summer working through various chapters in the book of Psalms. It's fitting, considering the tumultuous times we find ourselves in.

There's so much I could say about the Psalms. Bring it up to me in conversation some time and I'll tell you all kinds of things I learned in seminary. For now, I'll emphasize something one of my professors used to say as he encouraged us to sing from the psalter regularly. The book of Psalms is God's hymn book. And in this hymn book, God's people are called to express every possible emotion.

There is joy, sorrow, anger, delight, and everything in between in Psalms. Therefore, as we read (or sing) the Psalms, we are encouraged to understand and express our own emotions. Let me emphasize that we get to express those emotions to God. The old hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" remind us, 

O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear.


Why?

All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

When emotions are cut off from God, disorder ensues. We lose peace and we bear pain.

Psalm 2 comes to mind. In it we see the nations raging. They're angrily conspiring against God, His Messiah, and His kingdom. What if they had taken their concerns to God Himself instead of trying to figure things out themselves? What if they had voiced their rage to God instead of meeting together and fanning one another's rage?

You can take your anger, frustration, and confusion up the ladder. You can go to God Himself. He's big enough to handle it, trust me. Isn't that what we see in the gospel anyway? In the gospel we see mankind - individuals, the church, and the government - collectively forming a raging mob against God Himself. They're shouting, "Crucify him!" But Jesus steps into the angry mob. You're not going to shock Him by telling Him you're confused and angry. He's seen the worst of human confusion and anger. He's tasted the worst of human confusion and anger.

If you're healthy and happy, thank God. If you're lonely and confused, tell God. Express your emotions to Him. It will help you through things. He's not called the "Wonderful Counselor" for nothing.

Posted by Heath Cross

Crown Him the Lord of Years

I will continue providing some video meditations on the book of Ecclesiastes in the coming weeks. My purpose in doing this is to encourage you to stay in God's Word. And to encourage you in general. I think we all need some encouragement right now. You are still in my thoughts and prayers. I am mindful that at the moment some of you are working harder than you have ever worked in your life while others of you are feeling alone and isolated and bored, just wondering when life will get back to normal.

I am seeing a lot of references online to the movie Groundhog Day lately. It's a favorite of mine. In that movie, Bill Murray's character is stuck in the same exact day on an infinite loop. He wakes up every day hoping that February 2nd will be over so that he can move on with his life. We get to watch him go through the five stages of grief as he copes with reality: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

For many of us, life feels like Groundhog Day right now. You wake up each day hoping for change. For a new day. For some good news. For all the sad things to become untrue.

Part of the good news the Bible proclaims to us is that we are not on an infinite loop. In Ecclesiastes 1, the Bible acknowledges that life can appear this way sometimes. From one perspective, it looks like life is a big circle that only ends when we breathe our last. But God shatters that circle by telling us that He is the Lord of time: "Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time." That He is sovereign over our days. That He will fulfill all His holy purpose. And that when we do breathe our last, we will be ushered into the presence, and joy, of our Master.

Life, like time, is not happening to us. It is happening for us, to get us into the presence of Christ. For Jesus Christ entered this world of time, and bled and died and resurrected in this world of time, to assure us that no matter how cyclical life may feel, Christ has blazed a straight line into the joy of heaven. This means for the Christian that death gives way to resurrection and sorrow gives way to joy. Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5). Practically, the death and resurrection of Christ shows us that, for the believer, sudden reversals and happy endings are not only possible, but inevitable.

Join me in praying for a happy ending, this side of heaven, for the Covid-19 pandemic. And plead Christ's resurrection as the reason for believing, and knowing, it is possible. And thank God that Jesus is the Lord of our years.

Posted by Heath Cross

Words You Can Take to Heart

Let's talk about how the book of Ecclesiastes is the perfect book for the situation we're facing right now. It's a great book to think about right now. Many of us are sitting around with a lot of time to think. That's exactly what Solomon is doing in Ecclesiastes. He's thinking. He's reflecting. He's advancing in years and taking the time, as a mature man, to sit still and reflect on the purpose of life in this fallen world. And on the past mistakes he's made living in this fallen world.

One of the most intriguing verses in the Bible is Ecclesiastes 7:3: "Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad." We need to hear this verse. Solomon is reminding us that in God's economy sorrow leads to joy. We see hard times as setbacks. But, in God's world, sorrow is often a setup for future joy. As Jesus says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

Another piece of wisdom Solomon shares: "Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you" (7:21). Is that a verse for the times or what? When mixed messages are leading to confusion and anger, it's good to remember not to take the things people say to heart. Words are dangerous and can be hurtful, especially when you allow them to penetrate your heart. I encouraged my daughters to memorize this verse at a very early age. Let the gospel of Jesus' great love for us penetrate your heart. Don't let the words of man pierce you.

I share these verses to whet your appetite. There's much more wisdom to learn from Solomon. In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing some video meditations on Ecclesiastes. These videos will be posted on our YouTube and Facebook pages. As many of us continue to shelter at home, I pray that God's words, delivered through Solomon, will give us encouragement. And that it will give us some much-needed perspective on how to live with wisdom in a confusing, sin-shattered world.

Posted by Heath Cross

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