Sunday, February 19, 2023

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - No Matter What Cling to God

Psalm 42 is a heartfelt prayer of a soul thirsting for God's presence. The psalmist, presumably a Levite, longs to worship the Lord in the sanctuary of the Temple, but he is unable to do so. Instead, he finds himself in a state of despair, feeling isolated and far from God. Despite his circumstances, he clings to his faith in God and seeks to find comfort and hope in Him.

The psalmist begins by expressing his deep longing for God, comparing it to the thirst of a deer for water: "As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?" (Psalm 42:1-2 NLT). He is consumed by his desire to be in God's presence and to worship Him, but he is prevented from doing so by his enemies. He laments, "Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, ‘Where is this God of yours?’” (Psalm 42:3 NLT).

Although I may thirst for the Lord, I sometimes find myself being my own worst enemy. I allow life to get in my way of worship and just having that special time with the Lord to pray and meditate on His word. Over my lifetime, I have seen that the things of this world have changed our lives and have taken away from our private time. We are constantly bombarded with information from twenty-four hour news programs, our smart phones and all sorts of other things. Even in my own car, it is difficult to spend time with the Lord. 
When I drive during rush hour traffic, my mind is always processing more and more information in order to stay safe. Informational signs are everywhere and flashing road condition updates as I try to watch out for those driving around me. Add bad weather to that equation and you have a crazy situation that leaves me very little time to listen to God talking to me. I used to listen to music and try to decompress from my busy day at the office. I have a couple of playlists that I listen to, but that has turned into a chore. I have to be on the lookout for emergency vehicles and listen for sirens. In short, my attention is focused wholly and completely on the road and just trying to get home in one piece. The only time I have to myself is the few minutes before I fall asleep. I spend that time with the Lord and focus on His message to me. I am so disappointed that I can only give Him a few minutes of my life. It troubles me a lot just like it troubled the psalmist.

Despite his anguish, the psalmist remembers the times when he was able to worship God in the Temple and when he experienced His presence: "My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!" (Psalm 42:4 NLT). He recalls how the people of God would sing and praise Him together, and he longs to be among them again.

When my wife and I had our ministry at Lakeline Oaks Retirement Community, I felt peace in my life and a purpose. Even though we faced technical issues with the sound system or the projection system, we got through it and loved serving our family of faith. It was a special time for both of us and we loved being with our family. They meant so much to us and will continue to be a part of our lives and our souls. Over time, many have gone on to be with the Father, but they will always be a part of our hearts and souls. These moments give me great comfort and joy just knowing that we all came together to worship and sing the praises of our Heavenly Father. Each moment is a source of encouragement that helps me get through a busy day.

The psalmist then begins to encourage himself, reminding himself that he can trust in God even in the midst of his trials: "Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!" (Psalm 42:5-6 NLT). He knows that God is faithful and that He will not abandon him, even when he feels alone and forgotten.

While I was traveling for my own business many years ago, I sometimes found myself dealing with colds and felt that I couldn’t go on any longer. When I was flying during storms, I never felt that I was alone. I knew that God was there with me each mile of my journey. It was that very fact that made me feel glad. I would take time during my travels to thank Him for everything and ask Him to watch over my family. If there was one thing I knew, God never abandoned me and that I never had a cause to feel alone. There were a few times when I allowed the world to bring doubt into my mind, but I could always go to the Lord in prayer and share my feelings and tell Him what is going on in my mind that is causing fear, uncertainty and doubt to creep into my life.

The psalmist then offers a prayer to God, pleading with Him to remember him and to lead him back to the Temple: "Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar. I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life." (Psalm 42:6-8 NLT).

The psalmist concludes by affirming his trust in God, even though he has not yet seen the answer to his prayer: "Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!" (Psalm 42:11 NLT). He knows that God is his rock and his salvation, and that He will not fail him.
Psalm 42 is a powerful reminder of the importance of seeking God's presence and finding hope in Him, even when we are going through difficult times. It teaches us that we can trust in God's faithfulness and that He will never abandon us. 

When you are discouraged or feel alone, I encourage you to read the words of this psalm and know that you are not alone nor have been abandoned by God. He is with you every moment of every day and will not fail you. God has given you hope and you need to rest assured that hope will carry you through whatever you are facing. Do not be discouraged or listen to the lies spewed by Satan. Lean on the Lord to get you through the dark moments of your life. God is your rock and refuge. With that thought firmly planted in your mind, you can stand firm in His grace.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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