Shortly after the beginning of this year (it was not a New Year’s resolution), I placed my Bible on the bedside table next to my bed so that the first thing I would be encouraged to do when I wake up in the morning before I even get out of bed is to read a psalm from the Book of Psalms (in no particular order). Sometimes I read more then one psalm (there are 150 psalms to choose from), and sometimes I use a guide titled, “Praying Through the Most Beloved Psalms in 30 Days,” by Dolores Smyth that is available at this link.
This morning when I opened my Bible to the Book of Psalms, the page I opened to included Psalm 145 (NIV). As I read through it, I was reminded in verse 18 that “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” That means he is here with us in Spirit (see John 4:24); he is an “ever present help in trouble” (see Psalm 46:1); he “will never leave us nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5); and Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). God’s presence is spiritual, and these promises are given to those who genuine believe in him. God is not a God who is distant or disinterested in our day-to-day, moment-by-moment lives; he is a personal God (read Psalm 139, and article titled “Is God a Personal God?” at this link).
After I read Psalm 145, I got out of bed and started my morning routine, and one of the first things I do one is to check the morning emails that have arrived in my inbox while I was sleeping. Since I was online, I decided to do a Google search on Psalm 145 to see what might show up. One of the links from my search led to an article published on October 27, 2015, on Crossway.org titled, “How Psalm 145 Saved My Ministry,” by Paul David Tripp, DMin, pastor, speaker, and a best-selling and award-winning author of over 30 books and video series on Christian living. He writes:
I can’t tell you how many times in my early days of ministry I questioned if God had really called me into pastoral ministry. It’s embarrassing to admit how many times I decided to quit. I thought my problem was that I had been called to a difficult place. I reasoned that I had been sent to work with unusually resistant people. I envied the ministry of other people who seemed to have it better than me. I dreamed of a series of other jobs. I did a lot of moaning and complaining. I felt weak and unprepared. I knew something was wrong. I knew something was missing, but I simply had no clue what it was.
Then one day, in the mystery of God’s loving and wise sovereignty, I bumped into Psalm 145, and it changed my life.
No, it’s not an exaggeration. It really did change me and everything about my ministry. And I have been living off those changes ever since.
While I wish I could say that the battle is over for me, it’s not; I’ve just become a more knowledgeable and committed soldier. Yet Psalm 145 gave me what I was so desperately missing: the big picture.
Ministry’s Grand Agenda
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The LORD is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]
The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
One Little Phrase
It’s all there. What I desperately needed and didn’t see. It opens doors of thought, insight, and understanding. But it did more than that for me. It began to rescue me from me.
Let me explain. I had read Psalm 145 many, many times. But this time, one single phrase in verse 4 that I had never noticed before hit me hard. I think it is the linchpin of the psalm. It’s the door that leads you to what this psalm is about, what ministry is about, what life is about.
I began to think that this psalm was getting my ministry where it needed to be; what was really happening was that God was getting to me. I am so thankful for that one little phrase. God used it as a tool to rescue the life of this man who had lost his ministry way.
One generation shall commend your works to another.
That was exactly what I needed. It immediately hit me that every moment of ministry must contribute to this goal. Whether it’s the worship service, the children’s lesson, the small group, or the sermon itself, each must share the central goal of holding the awesome glory of the works of the Lord before his people once again. (Quote source and entire article available at this link.)
As Tripp stated above, the words–specifically in verse 4–began to rescue him from himself. And isn’t that what we all need–to be rescued from ourselves and to be open to what God is doing all around us and in us (like changing our attitudes) each and every day in whatever set of circumstances that we find ourselves in. We need to learn to shift our focus from ourselves and turn our focus back onto “the Lord who is near to all who call on him.” I’m not saying that it is easy but it can make a world of difference in both our attitudes and how we view our circumstances. Psalm 145 is one of many psalms that help us to do that.
I’ll end this post with the words from Psalm 145:18-19 (ESV): The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
He also hears . . .
Their cry . . .
And saves them . . . .
YouTube Video: “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” sung by Matt Redman: