Living Well – Body, Mind & SOUL

Psalm 42 highlights four things we need to consistently and intentionally do in relation to our spirit, or soul, that will enable us to live well in our inner being, no matter what surrounds us in the year/s ahead.

The psalm teaches us that even when all around is failing, we need to do certain things. The psalmist shows us how he responds to the discouragement and turmoil that surrounds him, and he leaves us a helpful pattern to follow in the midst of our own challenges in life;

1. You must seek to have your soul satisfied in God alone.

‘As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?’(Ps 42 v 1-2)

The psalmist is in no doubt what his soul needs. He knows that the only truly satisfying thing is to know God, to enjoy God, to meet with God, to be loved by God.

If you are looking to a human relationship, to a boyfriend or girlfriend, to a husband or wife, to be the thing, the one, that fills the void, that brings you ultimate satisfaction and fulfilment, then you will be ultimately left disappointed, because that relationship, and that person will let you down, and will not be able to meet your high expectation, and circumstances will change, and tough times will come, and so the saviour that you had hoped would always be your source of satisfaction and fulfilment will turn out to be just another sinner like you, and wont be able to deliver what you are asking or needing?

There is only one Saviour, His Name is Jesus and He alone will satisfy your deepest longing and meet your greatest need, forever.

Are you feeling somewhat empty and unfulfilled? Do you feel dissatisfied and discontent in life? What’s the answer? How do we satisfy our longing? How do we find that true peace? By meeting with the living God. By entering a relationship with God through Christ Jesus. By spending time in the presence of God, cultivating relationship with HIm. Opening His word, communing with Him in prayer, pouring out your heart to Him, trusting in His endless love and grace.

God alone can quench your spiritual thirst. Seek to have your soul satisfied in God alone. Make that your priority.

2. You must remind your soul of Gods past and present goodness.

The psalmist is in the midst of discouragement and despair, tears have been his food day and night, but what does he say?

‘My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    ‘Where is your God?’
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.’(v 3-4)

What does he remember and call to mind?

Firstly in verse 4, we see him call to mind his corporate experience of Gods goodness.

He is intent on reviving his soul through the memory of Gods goodness poured out on His people in worship. In those moments, amongst the worshipping community of God, his heart was stirred, his faith was strengthened, his love overflowed, and his soul was blessed. Maybe we have similar memories to draw upon, where we have been absolutely blessed and stirred by gathering together with the multitude to worship and meet with God.

Such moments, such memories, highlight the importance of meeting together regularly to worship God in song and to hear His voice through the Word. What we do when we gather together is designed for the purpose of genuine encounter with God, designed by God Himself, not us. These moments are significant in the preservation of our faith, the transforming of our lives, and for the stirring of our souls. Don’t’ give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing (Heb 10 v 25), God is at work through the corporate worship of His people, be there!

But then the psalmist also remembershis personal experience of Gods goodness.

‘By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me –
    a prayer to the God of my life.’(v 8)

The psalmist is strengthening his conviction that the God who has been so constant in the past, who leads and loves, day and night, who does not slumber nor sleep, cannot have changed. Even though my circumstances may have changed, and my present experience of God’s nearness may have changed, God has not, and cannot, change. So I will remember that He is good and that He is with me, and that I will soon once again experience the tangible nearness of His love, and until I do, I will call to mind again and again my personal past experience of the goodness and greatness of a faithful God.

3. You must speak to your soul.

Speak to your own soul, encourage yourself in God.

‘Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Saviour and my God.’(v 5)

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jonesused to say that most of our unhappiness in life is due to the fact that we are always listening to ourselves instead of talking to ourselves.

Llyod-Jones says ‘You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why are you cast down — what business have you to be disquieted?’ You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’ — instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged himself to do.’(Spiritual Depression, p21)

Speak to your soul, and tell yourself again and again of the wondrous work of God on your behalf; that He has chosen you and loved you and saved you and secured you. Why so downcast within me? Speak to you soul.

And then finally;

4. Stir up your soul in praise of God.

‘Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Saviour and my God.’(v 11)

This is where we need to understand that our feelings must follow our faith, not our faith following our feelings.

If we wait until we feel like it to do those things that God has designed for our good and our growth then we will very often never get round to doing the right things. We need to do what we know is right and good and trust that as we do what God has called us to do, our feelings will catch up, and our souls will be revived.

I’m sure we have all experienced something of the reality of this truth particularly in relation to Christian community. May be you have been tempted to neglect the meeting together with the saints because you feel tired or you have other things you want to get done, or life is busy and you feel weary, but you stir yourself to go along anyway because you know it is good and right, and afterwards you exclaim ‘I’m so glad I came tonight or this morning, God has strengthened, encouraged, and blessed me.’

This is an example of aligning with the design of God even when you don’t feel like it and then receiving a blessing simply because you chose to do things Gods way.

We open our lives and souls up to blessing when we choose to do what God has commanded us to do. Stir up your soul to praise God, to worship Him, despite your circumstances, despite the surrounding trouble, despite the downcast soul, stir it up, sing some praise, listen to some worship, meet with his people, and take action to get your soul refreshed and built up.

You want to live well in your soul this year, make a commitment to meet regularly with the saints, to make that a priority, to put the corporate worship of God at the very forefront of your schedule. Though my soul is downcast, though it is troubled within me, I will yet praise God, I will sing of His saving love, I will give Him the honour and glory due His name.

Blessed be your name!

Post by: Martin Coleman