Do you ever feel frightened at the violent and virulent opposition to Christ and to Christians that surrounds and threatens us today? I do. But I’m more scared for my children than for myself. If it’s like this now, what it be like for them in ten years or twenty years time? How do we fight fear of faith’s foes? How do we find peace during the world’s war against Christians. In a very real sense, this is the first world war. It’s first in time (the oldest), intensity, devastation, and casualties.
When fear of faith’s foes froth and flood my heart, I turn to Psalm 2 and there I find the calming confidence of Christ.
Why would anyone want to be an elder or a deacon? You have to give up several evenings a month, you have to take on extra responsibilities on Sundays, you’re involved in stressful situations, you have to take hard decisions, and you’re setting yourself up for criticism. At least pastors are paid for all that. But elders and deacons are not? So why would anyone want to be an elder or a deacon?
Sadly, some are motivated by control (1 Peter 5:2-3). They want to have power in the church. They want to advance their own agenda and have their own way. They want to have power over people’s lives and use controlling techniques such as lies, moodiness, unpredictability, and intimidation to achieve their ends. Controllers devastate those they control as victims suffer from chronic stress, fear, passivity, distrust of authority, and low self-worth.
Controllers themselves are often victims of insecurity and anxiety which drives them to try and exert maximum control over people and situations. They are controlled by insecurity and therefore try to control for their own security. Although we may not be full-blown controllers, yet most of us still have controlling tendencies and temptations that we need to be aware of and fight against.
Therefore, as our elders, deacons take up their new roles, and as Jordan is installed as a commissioned pastor, we want to ask: What should be our motivation as we take up roles and responsibilities in the church? Why do we serve? Paul answers in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
The Psalms are perfect psychology. What is psychology? The scientific study of how people behave, think, and feel. It investigates the connections between feeling, thinking, and doing. It’s more focused on the inner life but it does explore how the inner relates to the outer and vice versa.
That’s what the Psalms are. They explain the connections between feeling, thinking, and doing. But whereas psychology makes mistakes, often proposing theories that don’t match the data, or can’t explain the data, the Psalms are perfect psychology.
Of course, psychology isn’t just about explaining. It’s also about healing, fixing what’s broken in the inner life and the out life. That’s what the Psalms do also, again perfectly. Psychology often goes wrong in its diagnosis of the problem, in its idea of perfection, and in its plan for how to get there. The Psalms never do that, because although they are penned by human authors, they are also inspired by God and therefore perfect expressions of the human psych which he made. Psalm 1 answers the most common question in psychology, “How can I be happy?”
While we’re going to be looking at psychology in the Psalms by looking at individual Psalms, we need to step back and see the big picture of praise throughout the Psalms. In that songbook we have 150 reminders that praising God is key for a healthy psychology. The Psalms are perfect psychology and perfect our psychology.
The best stories end on a high note. I hate movies that end on a low note. They are such a disappointing anti-climax leaving me feeling I just wasted my time to depress myself. Stories, though, that build towards a wonderful climax leave me feeling inspired and hopeful.
So, how does the story of Jesus end? The previous forty-nine devotional studies have built up our hopes of an exhilarating ending to Luke’s Gospel. Will our hopes of a high note be fulfilled or frustrated? Let’s turn to Luke 24:44-53 and soar.
What do we do with our doubts? As a young Christian, I did not see any place for apologetics. The idea of presenting proofs for our faith was the opposite of faith, I thought. My ‘apologetic’ was, “Just believe what God says. That’s faith.”
However, as I grew from baby faith to toddler faith, I began to see that God graciously and gently uses evidences, reasons, and proofs to bring to faith and strengthen doubting faith. There’s no greater proof of that than Jesus’s first appearance to all his disciples in Luke 24:35-43.