False teachings abound in the world today so why are we so surprised when someone in the church says something that doesn’t sound quite right? This weekend I had the opportunity to talk with a lady who was struggling with exactly this kind of situation in her church. Apparently her church had invited someone to speak before their congregation and during part of his sermon he appears to have spoken about there being multiple paths to God. This statement confused one of the women in the congregation and at a later date she asked a question that she hoped would clarify the point that the speaker had been trying to make. Unfortunately, her simple question for clarification appears to have opened a doorway of dissension within their church whereby a number of people began making negative comments about her!Our conversation had begun simply enough; I’d noticed her daily devotional “Jesus Calling” and had commented about it. That simple comment started us talking about our children and about how God had done marvelous works in our lives. She was particularly thankful for all of the blessings that her son had recently been given at the company that he’d been interning with. Before long she told me about the guest speaker at their church and shared her thoughts and concerns regarding the way that the other people in their church had reacted to her friend’s simple question of clarification.
We talked about seeking peace in God’s word and I recommended a number of verses out of Psalm 34 to her. There’d been a season of my life when I’d had some problems at work regarding the length of time that I would be away from the job on a mission trip. I had my doubts about whether my boss would actually let me go for that long and was very fearful about the possibility that I might lose my job. One Sunday when this issue was really heavy on my heart, I’d stepped forward and knelt by the altar’s steps during the praise and worship portion of the service. A friend of mine came forward and prayed with me about the situation and as the song was coming to a close we arose and went back to our seats. When the music finished the Pastor had stepped forward toward the pulpit; but he just stood there looking out across the congregation without speaking. He stood there long enough that the congregation began to stir and get a bit antsy. Suddenly out of the back of the congregation a man began quoting Psalm 34:17-19 out loud. Those verses say, “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” As soon as I heard those words I knew that they had been an immediate answer to my prayers. The following week my manager came to me and told me that I’d be able to take the time off from work for the mission trip and that I’d still have a job when I returned. God is so good!
Those verses were so impactful in my life that I felt the need to memorize Psalm 34 so that I’d always be able to recall the way that God had used scripture to be able to talk directly to me. I’ve shared those verses with many people in the past, but I’d never seen quite the reaction to them as I did on Sunday when I spoke to the woman about supporting her friend. Each of the first four verses of this particular Psalm seemed to lift a weight off of her shoulders as I quoted them to her.
Psalm 34:1-4 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” When she heard those verses the tension; worry and concern that I could see in her body posture seemed to immediately change. Her shoulders relaxed from being held high and tight to a more natural position; her face no longer seemed so stressed and she leaned forward obviously intent to hear more.
“What verses were those?” She asked eagerly with a tone of hope in her voice that hadn’t been there just moments before.
I told her that they were all from Psalm 34 and finished quoting the rest of the Psalm to her. I specifically pointed out verses 17 through 19 and finished by reminding her that the Psalm ends with the promise that, “The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.”
After praying with her I watched as she walked away; obviously quite different from the person that I’d originally started talking to. The woman I’d originally met was worried, concerned, and frustrated about the events that had happened to her friend. The enemy had sent his minions to attack her attempting to draw her focus onto those worries and concerns and away from Our God. The woman who walked away seemed confident, joyful and at peace; exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit that are promised to us in Galatians.
It is always amazing and wonderful to watch God’s hand change peoples’ lives! Specifically it is extremely comforting to know that Our Saviour is more powerful than any scheme, conversation, or gossip that the accuser tries to use to seperate us from Christ.