The Pleasure of Morning Prayer (A Great Way to Start the Day) (Psalm 5)

Sunrise on the Canadian Prairie: by Mark J Booth

How we start our day often dictates how we view the rest of the day.  There are many days when I feel confused or even anxious.  I feel like I am running on empty.  What is the problem?  Perhaps, I have forgotten the pleasure of starting my day with the most important person in my life, my Heavenly Father.  The Psalmist, David, understood the importance of starting the day with a time of prayer with the Lord.  “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)

1. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it reminds us of our need of God.  David lived his life with one trial after another.  These trials were a constant reminder to him that he needed his Heavenly Father daily.  When we start our day with prayer, we are saying to God: ” I need you throughout this day.  I need your wisdom.  I need your strength.  I need your protection.”  Morning prayer enables us to come to God with all humility

2. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it reminds us of the greatness of God.  David recognizes the greatness of God when he writes: “Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God.” (Psalm 5:2)  David constantly writes about the attributes of God.  Morning prayer enables us to start the day focusing upon God.  We remember that our God is faithful, merciful, loving, holy, just, all-powerful, omnipresent, all-knowing, and wise.  We also remember that He is our Father, who wants to take care of us throughout the coming day.

3. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it enables us to sort out our priorities.  David says: “I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)  David was a man after God’s own heart because he had the proper priorities in his life.  David started his day by seeking direction from God.  His relationship with the Lord was the top priority of His life.  When we start the day with the Lord, we are saying to him:  “My relationship with you is the most important priority in my life.”  Wrong priorities create confusion and very anxious days.  When our relationship with the Lord is right, everything else will fall into its proper place.

4. Morning prayer is a pleasure because we can share our burdens with the Lord.     David writes: “Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies: make thy way straight before my face.” (Psalm 5:8)  David faced many enemies.  These enemies were a great burden upon David.  We begin our day with many burdens.  We have burdens in our family.  We have burdens at work.  We have financial burdens.  We have health burdens.  We have many other burdens.  Our morning prayer time is a great opportunity to cast these burdens upon the strong arms of our Heavenly Father.  “Cast thy burden upon the LORD and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”  (Psalm 55:22).

Every day begins with a great opportunity to talk to our loving Heavenly Father.  When you love someone deeply, it is a pleasure to start the day with them.  Prayer is not a chore, but a pleasure.  God is always available to listen to us, but are we ready to speak to Him?

“Dear Heavenly Father, there are many mornings that I forget to take the time to talk with you.  I have forgotten the pleasure I derive from spending this time with you.  You are patiently waiting for me every morning.  You are always ready to listen.  Help me to come to you each morning with an open heart, remembering that you also take pleasure in hearing from me. Amen”

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How Great Thou Art (Have We Forgotten God’s Greatness?)

Have we diminished the Greatness of God in our lives? Are we making God into the image of man? Do we view God as we desire Him to be; or do we view Him as He reveals himself in His Word? The Psalmist understood the greatness of God “FOR THOU ART GREAT, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.” (Psalm 86:10) ”

God is Great in His Attributes. “For thou art Great.”

Do we ever meditate upon who God is?  Do we think about each of His attributes?  I would encourage us to take time each day to meditate upon one of God’s attributes.  For example, one day, meditate upon the omnipresence of God (God is present everywhere).  Read verses that show His omnipresence.  Think about His presence as you work.  Remember His presence as you spend time with family. No matter what happens during the day, remember “God is here”.   The next day, do the same thing with another attribute of God.  Often God loses His Greatness in our eyes because we don’t really know Him.

God is Great in His Works. “and doest wondrous things” 

The word wondrous has the idea of producing “awe”.  Have we lost the wonder of God’s work of creation, His miracles in the Bible, and His working in our lives?  God loses His Greatness in our eyes when we forget that He still is working in our lives and the lives of the people around us.  Paul wrote about the believers in Philippi. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Take the time to meditate upon God’s work in the past and the present.

God is Great in His Uniqueness. “Thou art God alone.”

Have we placed anything or anyone above God?  Anything can become an idol in our life if it comes before God.  God is truly above all.  He alone is God.  He alone merits our worship and our obedience.  God says in Isaiah 44:8: “Fear ye not, neither be afraid:have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.”  Sin, fear and worry enter into our lives when we fail to see the uniqueness of God.  He alone is worthy of our worshipful.

A Prayer to Our Great God

Lord, help me to bow in submission before you. Help me to know you in all of your glorious attributes. Help me to see your wondrous works in creation and all that you do around me. Help me not to place anyone or anything before you. May I see you as you are and not as   I want you to be. Amen”

John McKay (1943-2010) My South African Friend in the Ministry

“He praised the Lord-then went to Heaven!  PASTOR DIED IN A PULPIT!” This front page headline was printed in the Daily Sun, the largest daily newspaper in South Africa.
Pastor John McKay had entered the pulpit to preach on a January morning in 2010. He had introduced his topic as “The Sermon that Must be Preached”.. After the introduction, he entered into the presence of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Two days later, I would hear the news about death of my friend, John McKay. He was sixty-six years old. Six weeks after John’s death, I would serve the Lord’s Supper and preach the Word of God at the Maraisburg Family Fellowship Church, which John McKay had started several years ago. I enjoyed the time with his family and church; yet John was greatly missed in my visit there.

I had met John McKay in 1983. Sharon and I had recently arrived to minister in a church in Hillbrow, Johannesburg.  I had a desire to start an Awana youth program in the church.   At the time, The Evangelical Bible Church of Bosmont had an Awana program. I decided to visit their Awana club. Their Awana Club was impressive, but I also met their pastor, John McKay. His love for the Lord and the Word of God was very clear to me. From this first meeting, our friendship grew rapidly.

God used John McKay in my life in many ways. One blessing was that he introduced me to several other pastors who were like-minded in the faith. We would gather each week for a Bible study and then a meal. I found these times of fellowship extremely helpful. Even to this day, I have never enjoyed being with a group of pastors as much as I did with these South African pastors.

John McKay also came to my rescue in a very difficult time in my ministry. In 1987, our family planned to return to the States to fulfill our furlough responsibility of visiting our supporting churches. A recent Bible College graduate had agreed to minister in the church for the year I was away. Two weeks before we left, he said he was unable to  minister in our church. John came to my rescue as he assured me that he would oversee the church.  I  scheduled many of our pastor friends to preach as well. John did a great job of caring for our people. The church was ready for its next growth spurt when I returned. His help was a very sacrificial gift because he had his own church as well.

John was also a blessing when he invited our church to have joint baptismal services with his church. Our people in Hillbrow always looked forward to these joint services. The singing at the Bosmont church was very uplifting for our people. John and I would baptize each person together. These services created an even closer bond in our friendship.

John McKay and I doing a joint baptismal service.

In 1990, we would leave South Africa to minister in Portugal. In 1996, we returned to the States to minister. During those years, John and I didn’t do much communication with one another.   In 1999, Sharon and I visited South Africa. We were glad to renew our friendship with John and his family. At this time, John and I participated in the ordination council for Grant Hoyland, whom God greatly used in the Hillbrow church until his death three years later.

This is at the Farewell Dinner for us in 1990

John made his first visit to see us in June of 2003. This was a difficult time in my life. My mother was in the hospital living out the last couple weeks of her life.  John went with me on the one hundred sixty kilometer trip to visit my mother. It was an encouragement to have my friend with me for several days during this very trying time. Our church in Charlotte also enjoyed hearing John preach.

The last time, I would see John was in 2005. He invited me to preach a series of messages at his church. John was excited because his church had been able to purchase their own church building. I remember his joy as he showed me each part of the church. Little did I know that this trip would be the last time I would see him.

In the Daily Sun article, John’s son, Marlin (who is presently the pastor of the Maraisburg Family Fellowship Church) said these words. “My father wanted me to become a pastor…but it gives me goosebumps to think that I could fill his shoes.  He was an incredible man–we will miss him.  It (John’s death) was not a mistake that God took him.”

Yes, John is with the Lord. He is not only missed by his family, and his church, but he is also missed by the many people he had greatly influenced. I am one of those lives. I thank the Lord for the privilege of having known John as my friend in the ministry.  “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Note: This is number five in a series of posts on the people who have greatly influenced my life.

How Can I Go from Despair to Delight? (Psalm 13)

Photo by: Karla Da Silva (Used by Permission)

Despair creates a feeling of hopelessness. This affects our  life and the lives of others.  God seems distant.  The joy of our walk with God has disappeared.  Guilt permeates our life.  We are confused.   We don’t know what to do.

David, the Psalmist, was filled with despair.  He had fought the enemies of God’s people. He was also fleeing from King Saul.  God seemed very distant to David.  He was weary.  What was David to do?

Psalm 13 shows us how to move from despair to delight.  David starts out the Psalm in great despair.  He ends this Psalm with great delight in God.   What changed in David’s life.  What must change in our lives to go from despair to delight in God?

BE OPEN WITH GOD: THE FIRST STEP OF MOVING FROM DESPAIR TO DELIGHT
David shares his feelings with God in total honesty.  God wants us to be open with Him.  We think we can hide our feelings from God, but He knows all about us.  When we are open with God, it enables God to begin his work in our lives. Here are some ways that we can pour our heart out before God.

1. I am impatient with God “How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever?”  (Psalm 13:1)  We wonder when is this all going to end?   We silently say to ourselves: “Why isn’t God answering my prayer?”  We soon develop a spirit of complaining.   We hang on to our faith, but we are becoming weary of waiting.

2. I feel deserted by God. “How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?”(Psalm 13:1b)  God’s face doesn’t shine upon us as it once did.  It seems  like a dark cloud has come between God and us.  This dark cloud can be caused by our sins, our circumstances, or our  doubts.

3. I am confused. “How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?” (Psalm 13:2a) We don’t know what to do?  There are no answers in ourselves. We don’t know where to go for help?  God’s  Word doesn’t seem to help in giving us direction in our lives.

4. I am defeated. “How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:2 )  We quit living our lives with joy.  We are going through the motions.    We feel as though we have been kicked to the ground. We can’t get up.  We just want to quit.

BE FOCUSED UPON GOD: THE SECOND STEP OF MOVING FROM DESPAIR TO DELIGHT.
Despair has overtaken David’s life; yet he remembers that God is alive.  He hears our cry.  God has the only answer to his despair.  After pouring out his heart to God,  he makes his plea unto God.  David remembers certain truths about God in his prayer that enable him to move from despair to delight.

1.God remembers me. Consider and hear me, O LORD my God.” (Psalm 13:3) When we pray unto God, we face the reality that God hasn’t forgotten about us.  We are His children.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  Even the worst of circumstances can’t separate us from the love of God.

2. God hears me.  Prayer not only acknowledges that God remembers us, but we also know that He hears us.  God is always available to hear our cries unto Him.  He hears even the most silent cry from our heart.

3. God enlightens me.  “Lighten mine eyes.”  (Psalm 13:3b)  We despair because we stop seeing life from God’s perspective. We start to view life from our perspective.  We don’t see the big picture.  We allow our circumstances to affect our view of God,  instead of allowing God to affect our view of circumstances.   When God is in the picture, we view everything from a different perspective. (See Psalm 13:4)

BE FULL OF PRAISE UNTO GOD: THE THIRD STEP OF MOVING FROM DESPAIR TO DELIGHT.
David’s circumstances haven’t changed, but he has changed.  He has moved from  despair to delighting in God.   We long for God to change our circumstances, but God’s goal is to change us.   David expresses his delight in three ways.

1. I trust in God’s loving-kindness.  “But I have trusted in thy mercy;” (13:5a)  David’s faith is renewed in God’s love towards him.   We often speak of the love of God, but forget to live in accordance to His love.  When we climb out of the depths of despair, we see the sunshine of His love again.  We delight in all that He is.  Our despair dissipates in the warmth of His love.

2. I rejoice in my salvation.  “My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” (13:5b)  When we move from despair to delight, our hearts are open to the joy of the Lord.  We realize that our salvation not only gives us forgiveness and eternal life, but we also are a child of God.   Our Father is always ready to carry our burdens and hold us in His arms.

3. I give thanks unto the Lord.  “I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” (13:6) David’s song is one of thanksgiving unto the Lord.  When we delight in the Lord, we recognize the many blessings that we receive.  We agree with the song writer who says: “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

David’s despair turned to delight when he turned his eyes upon the Lord.  Yes, the Lord seemed distant and uncaring to David; however, David demonstrated faith in reaching out to God even when God seemed beyond his reach.  Our despair can also become delight when we reach out to our Heavenly Father who cares for us.

 

Reflecting upon an Unexpected Death-George Comrie (1958-2012)

George Comrie (1958-2012)

“Pastor Mark,  have you heard about the accident on I-69 (The freeway by our home)?”  This question came over my phone from a young lady in our church.  “Yes, I have heard about the accident.” I responded.   Everybody knew about this accident on August 6th in the evening because traffic was backed up for miles in each direction.

“My Aunt Trixie is in the hospital with injuries from the accident. ”  the young lady continued.  There was a pause and then she added: “My Uncle George didn’t make it.”  I was in my chair sitting and quite  stunned.  I had seen George yesterday in church and now I hear the news that he is dead.

The next day, The Lansing State Journal published the details of the accident.  A truck had run into George and Trixie’s car.  The traffic was already stopped on the freeway because of another accident.  George had no way to escape as the truck smashed into the line of cars without braking.

I don’t always understand the ways of God, but this whole event has helped me to focus on the Lord, death and my life.  A sudden death has a way of making one think about eternity and one’s relationship with God.

1. George’s death reminds me to be grateful for my salvation.
Several  months before, I had heard George share his testimony of how he had come to know Jesus Christ as Savior.  When I saw him the day before his death, he didn’t know that the Lord would call him home the next day.  One of the most difficult things to do as a pastor is to do a funeral of a person who dies without the knowledge of the Savior.  I am glad that when I do George’s funeral later this Friday, I can say: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  George is in the presence of the Lord because of the saving grace of His Savior, Jesus Christ.

2. George’s death helps me to see the reality of God’s grace.
In recent days,  I have visited Trixie a few times in the hospital and now in rehab.  Thankfully, she is improving physically.  I am amazed by the peace of God that is radiating from her life.  She grieves for the temporary loss of her husband, but God’s grace and comfort is obvious in her life.   God has used Trixie to show me that He is real in times of great hardship and pain.  Trixie’s faith has encouraged me to know in a fresh way that God’s grace is real.  As the Lord said to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

3. George’s death helps me to see that each day is a gift from God.  George had invested his life in helping others.  He had a gift of helps and service which he used in the lives of others.  I definitely have different gifts and talents than George, but am I using what God has given me for His glory each and every day?  Paul near the time of his death was able to say:  “I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) Will I be able to say these same words?

In the coming weeks, I will have more thoughts concerning George’s entrance into the presence of the Lord   I am glad for the words of Christ: “I am the resurrection and the life.”  For the believer, death is the entrance unto eternal life.   This is only made possible by the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Some people may feel that George’s death is a waste, but from God’s perspective this is far from true.  George affected many people’s lives while he was alive, but he is now affecting many lives in his death, including myself.  I thank God for the privilege of having known George.

George and Trixie’s wedding six years ago.

George helped a lot of people with construction and landscaping needs.

George and his dog!

A Sinking Saint in the Midst of a Storm (Peter’s Brief Walk on the Water)

Do you ever have the feeling that you are sinking deeper and deeper into the sea of sin, doubt, despair and discouragement?  Do you feel that you are in the midst of a storm and there is no end in sight?  The Apostle Peter understood the storms of life.  He also experienced sinking deeper and deeper into the sea.  Let’s join Peter and see how he handled his sinking deeper and deeper into the sea.

The disciples are in a boat in the midst of a storm.  Jesus comes to them, walking upon the water.  He tells them: “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid. (Matthew 14:27)  Jesus always desires to calm our fears even in the midst of the greatest storm in our lives.

Peter asks the Lord if he also could walk on the water.  Jesus answers with one word: “Come“.  Jesus wants us to join him in the adventure of faith.  Peter enters into the water, and he begins to walk on the water; however, the scriptures say: But when he saw the wind boisterous; he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried , he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:30

 What are some causes of Christians sinking spiritually in the midst of the storm?

1. Sin causes us to sink spiritually.  Peter could have thought; “Look at me, I am walking on the water.  What is wrong with those others?”  Peter’s pride could have caused him to sink.  When sin enters into our lives, we are no longer secure in our walk with Christ.  We let go of His guiding hand; so that we may go in our own direction.  There is nothing but danger when we walk separate from Jesus.

2. A lack of faith causes us to sink spiritually.  After Jesus delivers Peter from the sea, He says: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matthew 14:31)  Peter sees the waves and the winds and decides that they have greater power than Christ.  Often, we allow our doubts to destroy our faith.  As a result, we soon sink into discouragement and despair.

3. Difficult circumstances cause us to sink spiritually.  Peter has begun his great adventure in faith, but he sees the wind and the waves.  They are terrifying, and he feels as though he has no hope.  Difficult circumstances make us forget that GOD IS IN CONTROL.  He is the Master Potter and we are the clay.

4. Wrong priorities cause us to sink spiritually.  Peter begins well.  He leaves the boat and heads for the Lord.  However, he becomes preoccupied with the wind and the waves.  We have all experienced times in our lives, when we put our relationship with Lord on the back burner of life.  We know that He is with us, but we become preoccupied with other things in this life.  Wrong priorities lead us on a dangerous pathway away from our Lord.

The Cry of the Sinking Believer

Peter sees that he is in a very desperate situation.  His life is slipping away.  He could try to save himself, but this would result in disaster.  He responds with a cry out to His Lord Jesus Christ.  “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:31)

We can describe Peter’s cry in three ways:
1. It was a desperate cry.  Peter knows that death is near.  He has only one hope. Likewise God is waiting for our cry of desperation to Him.  The Psalmist wrote:  “This poor man CRIED and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.”  (Psalm 34:6)
2. It was a cry of faith. Peter calls out to the Lord in faith.  He knows that the Lord alone can save him from sinking to the depths of the sea.  Faith is believing that the Lord hears our cries and that he will respond.  “I sought the Lord, and he heard me.” (Psalm 34:4)
3. It was a cry based on his knowledge of Christ.  Peter knows that the Lord can save him.  He knows that the Lord is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving.  As we know the Lord in deeper way, we can cry out to him with greater confidence and freedom.

The Deliverance by the Loving Lord

Jesus hears Peter’s desperate cry and he immediately responds: “And immediately Jesus stretched form his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?  And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.” (Matthew 14:31-32)

Yes, there will be times when we seem to be sinking deeper and deeper.  All hope seems lost, but Our Lord is waiting for us to cry out to Him.  His hand is always ready to pull us back out of the tempest.

“Dear Lord, there are many times that I seem to sink deeper and deeper into sin, despair, or discouragement. My circumstances seem too difficult to bear.  Help me, to learn to cry out to you in the times when I am sinking.  Thank you for always being ready and willing to pull me up from whatever is causing me to sink. Amen.”

Personal Thoughts from the Chick-fil-A Discussion

Chick-fil-A and the issue of marriage has caused me to reflect upon my own life.  It has also brought about several questions concerning my  life and my view of God.  The following questions have helped me to make this whole controversy a learning and growing experience.

1. What is my view of God?  Do I see God as He presents Himself in His Word; or do I see God as I want Him to be?  Do I believe in all of God’s attributes or only the ones that are appealing to me?  Do I understand that God doesn’t change with society?  God says in His Word: “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6)   How I view God will often dictate my decisions, actions, and viewpoints..

2. What is the condition of my heart before God?  Is my heart right with God?  Do I seek to please God in everything I do?  Do I pray with the Psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts.”? (Psalm 139:23)  It is easy to take up a cause, but am I willing to take up the cross of Christ? Am I willing to sacrifice my all for Him?

3. What is the condition of my marriage?  I can’t control if people accept or reject the Biblical teaching of marriage, but I can do something about my marriage.  Do I love my wife as Christ loves the church?  Am I the spiritual leader that God calls me to be?  Does our marriage bring honor to the Lord?

4. Am I willing to believe and obey the Word of God in every area of my life?   I can confuse human opinions with God’s truth.  There is absolute truth.  Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  The ideas of society may change; however, the Word of God doesn’t change.

5. What am I doing to reach others with the Gospel of Christ?  Paul clearly didn’t seek to reform the Roman culture.  He desired to see each soul  turn to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.   Paul stated: “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. ” (Romans 1:15)  Do I get caught up in social issues and forget the main issue?

6. Do I truly live as though I am a citizen of heaven?  Do I want to fit into the society around me?  Do I feel rejected and upset if I am not accepted by society?  The Apostle Peter said: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)
A believer in Christ is merely a pilgrim in this world.  My goal is not to please the world, but to please the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Dear Lord, I see that our society often disregards your Word; however, I have also disregarded your Word.  Please forgive me for the sin in my life.  Please forgive me for comparing my life to other people. I need to compare my life to your absolute standard of holiness.  Help me to keep my eyes focused upon you in spite of what is happening around me.  Thank you for being merciful towards me.     Your love for me is beyond my comprehension. Thank you for working in my life, even in times when it is painful. Amen.”

Can I Be Open and Honest with God? (Psalm 88)

Does God really want me to be honest with Him?  Can I share my doubts?  Can I share the pain that I am presently feeling?  Can I be sad before Him?  So often, we pray with pious platitudes instead of with an honest heart.  Psalm 88 is called the saddest Psalm in the Bible, because the Psalmist is negative throughout the Psalm.  God doesn’t seem to be giving him an answer.

Why did God include this Psalm in His Word?   This Psalm may seem very discouraging;  yet it is encouraging.  God wants us to be open and honest with Him.  He does understand.  He does answer though it may not be in our time.   Please take the time to read this Psalm and then open your heart to God.  He is waiting to hear from you!

I. THE FAITH OF THE HONEST SOUL (1-2)
Ps 88:1 O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;

II. THE DESCRIPTION OF THE HONEST SOUL (3-8)
3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:
5 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.
6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.
8 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.

III. THE EARNEST PRAYER OF THE HONEST SOUL (9-12)
9 Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
10 Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.
11 Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?
12 Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

IV. THE STEADFASTNESS OF THE HONEST SOUL (13-18)
13 But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.
14 LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?
15 I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.
16 Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.
17 They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.
18 Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.

God wants us to be open and honest with Him. God begins His work in our lives when we become honest with Him.  He may not respond to our honest appeals to Him when we desire a response, but He will respond in His way and in His Time

CAN I BE OPEN AND HONEST WITH GOD? (PSALM 88)
(An Outline to Psalm 88)

I. THE FAITH OF THE HONEST SOUL (1-2)
A. Faith in God’s Sovereignty (“LORD”)
Note: Four times he says” “LORD” (1, 9, 13, 14)
B. Faith in God’s Salvation
C. Faith in God’s Ability to Hear Prayer
II. THE DESCRIPTION OF THE HONEST SOUL (3-8)
A. The Troubled Soul (Probably because of sin)
B. The Focus on Death (3b-4a)
C. The Lack of Strength (4b)
D. The Perceived Separation from God (5)
E. The Great Darkness (Great Grief) (6)
F. The Great Humiliation (6) (Jeremiah 37:1-21)
G. The Discipline of God (7)
H. The Rejection of Others (Social Outcast) (8)

III. THE EARNEST PRAYER OF THE HONEST SOUL (9-12)
A. The Weeping before God (9) Matthew 5:4
B. The Continual Prayer before God
C. The Desperation before God (9c-10)
D. The Knowledge of God (10-12)
1. His Wonders
2. His Loving-kindness
3. His Faithfulness
4. His Righteousness

IV. THE STEADFASTNESS OF THE HONEST SOUL (13-18)
A. Confidence in prayer (13)
B. Circumstances that could make him quit (14-18)
1. Broken relationship with God (14-16)
2. Broken relationship with others (17-18)

Here is web address to the message I preached on this Psalm: http://www.calvarybaptistcharlotte.org/Media/The%20Mourning%20Song.mp3