Lord, Save Me!

MIRROR, MIRROR –  LORD, SAVE ME! – SERMON RESOURCES

  1. Sermon Manuscript
  2. Sermon Audio
  3. Sermon Video

ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP

The real challenge to discipleship and faithfulness  is how do we persevere in the face of pain, disappointment, and suffering? Where do we find God in the midst of our daily, messy, and sometimes, out of control lives? Is he at work on your behalf? Absent? Or worse, disinterested?

The story of the people  of Israel is the story of a people on the edge of hope, occupied in their own land, demonized because of their ethnicity and faith. When your options are limited, and you find yourself stuck, overwhelmed, and crying out for help without a clear answer on the way, what do you do? I think you try to activate whatever measure of faith and hope you have to fuel your life and allow yourself to keep your head above the crashing waves. For the people of God, there are two basic reactions to painful situations: we cry out to God for help or we cry out to God to right a wrong. After praying and praying, seemingly without answer, our cries often turn to lament. This is the acknowledgement that God is wanted and desperately needed to intervene on our behalf.

Our fears  hold us back. When we are living on the edge of hope, they trap us. They keep us in the same routines, the same patterns. They invite us to trust our false selves. They prevent us from growth.

Sometimes we can see Jesus and we know what to do and do it. And sometimes, he calls out to us from the uncertainty of life and asks us to simply trust him. This requires a lot from us, starting with our willingness to believe something about ourselves: we won’t be forsaken, abandoned, or discarded.

When he asks us this, we need to remember that Jesus knows what it feels like to be abandoned. Remember he went to the cross alone. Even Jesus lived at the edge of hope. In the garden, the night before his death, he was hoping that there was another way.

As we follow Jesus and become his disciples, inevitably, we will experience the conflict between our faith and our doubt. This is represented by the faith we think we have or want to have and the faith actually reflected in the decisions we make and actions we take. There is a reality we all must enter into; even in the midst of these situations that produce the storms of our lives, God asks us to have faith in the midst of them.

Faith doesn’t save  us from the storms. What it does is give us strength to face them. It gives us hope, when despair threatens us. When we learn to live by faith, we develop a source of strength and inspiration, hope that allows us to keep on treading water and calling out to Jesus, especially in the midsts of our storms. Remember, it’s not we who keep the faith. It’s the trust in the faithfulness of God that keeps us keeping on .

Many of us are well versed in celebration, but we lack a framework for suffering. Learning to lament provides a way to enter into suffering.

WRITING A PSALM OF LAMENT

Take some time and reflect on how the last week (or a time frame of your choice) has been for you. Make note of the predominant emotions you have been feeling during this time, in particular the more negative ones. Reflect on a particular situation or recurring theme that you know has been causing you distress, pain or anxiety and that you feel is beyond your control. Imagine that God is with you and that He has given you complete freedom to lay it all out, to complain fearlessly without judgment, in order to get it all off your chest.

With a piece of paper and pen, invite God’s presence and follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Address and introductory cry: Identify the Lord as the person to whom you are addressing your complaint. Request for His presence as you express what is on your heart.
  1. Complaint or Lament: Articulate the problem you are wrestling with. Detail how it is affecting you, the pain it is causing, and ask the Lord for His help.
  1. Confession of Trust: Verbalize your trust in the Lord. Share your hopes that He will come to your aid, that He will be present with you in your situation.
  1. Prayer for Deliverance: Request deliverance, or God’s intervention in the problem.
  1. Praise: Offer praise and thanksgiving to God for God’s many blessings and faithfulness.

WRITING A PSALM OF THANKSGIVING

Take some time and reflect on how the last week (or a time frame of your choice) has been for you. Make note of the predominant emotions you have been feeling during this time, in particular the ones centering around feelings of gratitude. Reflect on a particular situation or recurring theme that you know has caused you distress, pain or anxiety, and that you feel God responded to, and delivered you from. Imagine that God is with you and that you have the opportunity to thank Him and also tell others of His goodness and mercy towards you.

With a piece of paper and pen, invite God’s presence and follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Address, Invocation or opening statement: Call out to the Lord, announce the intent to give praise to the Lord. Write a summary of how God helped you.
  1. Distress: Articulate the problem or crisis you were facing. Explain how you felt during your distress. Share your fears or anxiety as you wrestled with this issue.
  1. Appeal: Articulate the appeal that you made to God, how you called out for his assistance.
  1. Deliverance: Write about how God delivered you. Describe how you felt when God started to hear your prayers.
  1. Testimony: Acknowledge God’s help or aid in your time of greatest need. Offer praise for God’s deliverance, and for His goodness and mercy.

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: spiritual.practices@annarborvineyard.org.

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