Monthly Archives: January 2017

Thoughts on Psalm 131

universe1

Psalm 131 contains just three verses but gives a good pattern for prayer.

PRAY HUMBLY.

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes not raised too high… (v. 1a)

The Psalmist begins with the inner man. A prideful heart ruins even the most eloquent prayer and haughty eyes spoil even the most lofty supplication. This is not to say that words aren’t important, but that a humble heart matters more.

Lord, help me to pray humbly and acutely aware of what a great grace it is that you hear me. Stamp out any hint of self-exalting pride and make me like the tax collector in Luke 18: “God be merciful to me a sinner!”

I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. (v. 1b)

There is sweet freedom in trusting God for the many great perplexities of life. “God is good,” and “God is sovereign” must be enough. It is foolish to speculate about matters He intentionally shrouds in mystery and better to rest upon the revealed counsel of God. Additionally, there is wisdom in diligently serving Him wherever He has placed us doing whatever He has given us to do. There are no unimportant servants in God’s economy and neither do we serve Him in vain.

Heavenly Father, humble my arrogant heart that insists on placing myself on equal terms with You. Conform my will to Yours and let my actions be pleasing in Your sight. Let me seek what you have revealed in Scripture as valuable treasure, for knowing You only deepens my love and devotion to You. You are my Creator. It is enough that You know. It is enough that You see. It is enough that you hear. I am content; for You Yourself have said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

PRAY WITH CHILD-LIKE FAITH AND IN THE SIMPLICITY OF JOYFUL SUBMISSION.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. (v. 2)

A child who is weaned from her mother’s milk has ceased to depend upon it for nourishment and is content to sit quietly in her mother’s arms. We often come to God with troubled hearts, agitated and impatient, struggling to grab hold of a perceived need when what we really need first is God Himself.

O God, wean me from this world. Wean me from worldly desires, temporal pleasures, and self-seeking patterns of thought. Let me come to you as a contented child, completely trusting in Your provision and wholly resting in whatever Your will is for me. Let my heart be still and simply trust in You.

O  Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. (v. 3)

PRAY WITH UNWAVERING HOPE.

Here the Psalmist exhorts us to fix our hope forever on God and God alone. He is a God who keeps His promises. There is no firmer foundation upon which to rest our Hope than God Himself. He is perfectly trustworthy and cannot lie. His promises are sure, His Word imperishable, and His Covenant is everlasting.

Lord, thank you that my hope in You can never be disappointed. Thank you for the extravagance of my Gospel inheritance that makes it possible to draw near to Your throne of Grace with confidence and receive unending mercy, unmerited Grace, and help for my needy soul.

(Luke 18:9-14; 1 Cor 15:58; Prov 2:1-5; Ps 139; Gen 16:13; Isa 59:1; Heb 13:5;  Ps 46:10; Num 23:19; Heb 4:16)

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

 


The Big Resolution 2017

One of my resolutions for 2017 is to limit my time online. It seems I’ve finally got my fill of screen-staring stupor. Instagram and Facebook apps have been deleted from my phone and 4 out of the 7 news sources I used to check are also gone. And wonder of all wonders, I can no longer check my email from my phone. I’m FREEEEEE!

I didn’t have the courage to actually close the accounts yet (technically, I could download them again and jump right in), and I kept FB messenger on my phone so I can still contact people and they can still contact me. I still have G-mail on my computer so I can check my email from there if needed. So, I haven’t completely cut myself off.

The one reason I have NOT made these changes is to set myself up as an example. Just want to make that clear.

In summary here are the two main reasons for this change:

I’ve found that spending too much time on the internet, checking IG or FB, reading or even re-reading news articles, retards my thought life. Much of the information found on the internet comes in short, underdeveloped snippets of thought. It was common for me to read something interesting and say to myself, “Hmmm, I have to think about this.” And then, SWIPE, on to the next article. Reading on the internet seems to short-circuit my thought process. It inhibits daydreaming and disallows time to cultivate ideas and just let thoughts unfold. There’s certainly a time and place for brevity in information gathering, but a steady diet of it…not so much. Better to actually study a subject or read a book to get a more thorough understanding.

The second reason has more to do with social media. I came to realize that IG and FB only give the illusion of personal relationships. The nature of social media casts such a “wide net”, it kind of gave me an excuse (although unintentional) to skip the hard work it takes to connect with people. I believe the hard work is worth it. I understand that social media can be a way of keeping up with what’s going on in the lives of family and friends, but what we post on social media is only a shallow representation of life. Better to contact people directly by text, a phone call, a note or card sent by (gasp!) good old snail mail, or when possible, face to face.

Also related to this reason, I found that my phone took away from enjoying life in the present. How many times did I miss a beautiful sunset or look away from a precious grandchild in order to fumble with my phone to capture the moment for immediate posting on social media. Why? Better to enjoy life’s blessings singularly and give them my full attention.

These are just the two main reasons. There are many others. Lots of junk online, especially on Facebook. There’s also the fact that I want to simplify my life and avoiding too much time online seems to lend itself to that goal.

And then there’s this: I only have 20 or 25 years (Lord willing) left on this earth. Do I really want to waste more time than necessary staring at a screen?

In order to successfully stick to my resolution, I know that the most important thing is to exercise self-control. This means controlling the urge to re-download (is that really a word?) apps or reach for my phone every time I have a spare moment. May the Lord give me strength to do so.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

 


%d bloggers like this: