May 26, 2020
For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
What a week it has been! So much planning, preparation, and prayer went into our first Regathering services on Sunday. I pray that those of you who were able to attend in person and online were able to sense our desire to be safe, but also were encouraged by being together again. It truly was a blessing to be able to worship in person. Yet, even with how great Sunday was, it still falls so short of what it will be like to one day bow before the Father and worship with believers from all over the world and throughout all of history. Oh what a day that will be!
A Heart's Cry
May 21, 2020
"And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day."
1 Kings 3:6
There is an incredible conversation that takes place between God and Solomon, as is recorded in 1 Kings 3 and 2 Chronicles 1. Solomon is in the early years of his reign as king of Israel. His father, David, had been well-loved and faithful – a man after God’s own heart. Now Solomon has been chosen to fill his sandals and the weight of rule is beginning to bear down on his shoulders.
It is in this context that God appears to him in a dream and says, “Ask what I shall give thee,” (1 Kings 3:5). Notice that He does not promise that He will give Solomon what he requests. But, He is giving him an opportunity to reveal where his heart is – “Solomon, what do you desire so deeply that, if I were to throw the door wide open, you would reach out and grab for it?”
Solomon’s answer reveals much about where he is, at this stage of his life.
You and I have not been called to rule a nation. However, we HAVE been called to areas of responsibility – responsibilities to which God has called no one else. These callings require:
“The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility,” (Proverbs 15:33).
“The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way,” (Psalm 25:9).
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Are you a little bit jealous of God’s offer to Solomon? Remember God’s promise to you:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,
that giveth to all men liberally, and
upbraideth not; and it shall
be given him.”
~ James 1:5 ~
Prisoners of Hope
May 19, 2020
“Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee."
I’m amazed at how frequently you can be reading a passage, or hearing a message about a familiar passage and something you’ve never seen before jumps out at you. Sometimes it’s a whole verse, other times it’s a phrase. That happened to me this week with the verse above. In it, God describes His faithful people as prisoners of hope. What a picture that is. Imagine being filled with such a hope. Being captivated by the peace and security that comes from being secured as God’s child.
This imagery inspired me to look for other passages to be reminded of how hope plays a vital role in the life of believers. I’ve listed 3 of those verses below. I’ll be meditating on them and trying to memorize them this week. I’d encourage you to do the same.
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
I have been blessed, during this uncertain season, by the ministry of God's Word. My times of personal communion with God have taken on new meaning and my prayer is that spirit will continue when things get back to "normal." Each day, along with my regular Bible reading plan - reading chronologically through Scripture in one year - I have a devotional, delivered to my email box from Pastor Paul Chappell, pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church and president of West Coast Baptist College. His challenge to trust in God's "Unfailing Strength," on Monday, May 11th, was a real encouragement to my heart and I wanted to share that blessing with you, as well.
"When Moses neared the end of his life, he called the people together for a final set of instructions. Included were specific blessings for the different tribes. In the blessing for the tribe of Asher, Moses relayed a wonderful testimony to the strength of God—and to the way in which He provides that strength to us. At a time when the tribe of Asher was about to go into battle against enemies that vastly outnumbered them, they were promised victory, not because of their power, but because of God's power.
The battles that we face will quickly exhaust us if we try to rely on our own strength. Often we experience what Annie Flint described:
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
The secret to victory is found in our reliance on God's strength. His grace is always sufficient for whatever we need. His strength never fails. And for each day and each trial, we have the promise of that strength being available to us. God offers us a refuge if we will flee to Him, and He holds us with arms that never grow tired. This is His promise. As someone said, 'When things go wrong, God is strong.'"
In My Weakness
May 12, 2020
"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
The day after Christmas in 2016 I sustained a head injury that in many ways, up until this point, has continued to change my life. While over the course of time I have improved, some things continue to be difficult. I still have bad days, and at times those days add up to bad weeks. And unfortunately, the last few weeks have been exactly that for me.
I can definitely empathize with the Apostle Paul from the above verses when he states multiple times he’s come before the Lord to remove his ailment. Yet, in God’s infinite wisdom He did not answer Paul’s prayers in the way Paul desired. The amazing part of that passage is actually the last two verses. Paul, rather than wallowing in his weakness he commits to maximize those seasons of suffering for God’s glory.
That’s an incredibly challenging example to follow. But I have found in those times if I am able to draw close to God, not pity in my weakness, and praise Him in the storm my perspective starts to drastically improve.
I don’t know what season of life you find yourself in right now, or if you can even relate to this post at all. However, if you are feeling the limitations of your humanity whether from stress, physical ailments, or the uncertainty of the future I humbly suggest you spend time this week prayerfully meditating on this section of 2 Corinthians.
I’d also like to add if there is any way that myself or someone else at CBC can be of assistance or encouragement to you that you not hesitate to reach out. Know that you are loved and regularly in our prayers.
Do Right Till the Stars Fall
May 7, 2020
"Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.”
One of the things for which the founder of Bob Jones University was known was his ability to turn a phrase. In fact, when I was a student, some of his most popular sayings were on wooden plaques above the chalkboards. When I would enter a classroom for Bible Doctrines, I would be reminded that “The greatest ability is dependability.” Later, in another room, I would be encouraged to “Finish the job.” In yet another class would be the challenge, “Don’t sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.” The most memorable saying, for me, was the simple injunction, “Do right till the stars fall.”
I’d like to be able to tell you that I have always lived up to that injunction – that in every case, since I first heard those words 32 years ago, I have known and done the right thing. Unfortunately, that is not the case. But, neither does it diminish the need to be in constant pursuit to that goal.
In the case of some of the Psalms, we have a good idea of the circumstances surrounding their writing. For example, Psalm 3 was written when David was fleeing, for his life, from his own son, Absalom. The 51st Psalm was David’s response to God’s exposure of his sin with Bathsheba. But there are many other Davidic Psalms for which we have no specific historic reference. Some of them may have been written while he was tending sheep as a teenage boy. Others may have come from his “pen,” in the latter years of his life, as he looked back at God’s faithfulness to him and his family.
Psalm 4 is one of those Psalms with no definite connection to history. Yet, perhaps God chose not to reveal the context because this Psalm’s message is timeless: DO RIGHT. The last four verses do not need a lot of explanation. So, I am going to quote the Psalm and give you one summary statement (per verse) to consider.
The Theme: "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.” (v.5)
Do what is right and let your confidence, in the outcome, rest in God.
Principle #1: “There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.” (v.6)
There will be detractors. In fact, they will be numerous (“many”). So, a steady gaze into His face, and reliance upon Him, is extremely important.
Principle #2: “Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.” (v.7)
There is greater joy in walking with God, on His path, than in times of the greatest earthly prosperity.
Principle #3: “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” (v.8)
There is perfect rest when one acknowledges that He alone (“only”) is the source of our
guidance and our safety.
Whatever anyone else may choose to do, let us make it our resolve to…
“Do right till the stars fall!”
March / April 2020
May / June 2020