2021 Pastors' Blog
A Prayer of Blessing
June 3, 2021
“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
I have the privilege, on Wednesday mornings, to share a time in God’s Word with the staff of Canaan Christian Academy. This group of believers is dedicated, faithful, and loving and it is an honor to serve with them. They approach each new school year with a renewed love for the Lord and a vision to see the students grow both spiritually and academically. Part of my calling, as the Senior Pastor of Canaan Bible Chapel, is to encourage them, support them, and (most importantly) pray for them.
This past Wednesday was my last opportunity to share with them before they depart for summer break. I wanted to leave them with something they could chew on over the summer, but that would also encourage them as they start to plan for the next school year. I found a wonderful summary of my prayer for them in Numbers 6:24-26.
The Lord is giving Moses instruction in how Aaron, as one of their spiritual leaders, is to pronounce a blessing on the children of Israel. Whether He intends for the blessing to be recited word-for-word (as some believe and practice) or whether it is intended to be a pattern for future “blessings,” this was to be an expression of Aaron’s desires for the people. But, even more so, it was a verbal expression of God’s desire for His people – His desire for the most intimate of relationships with them.
This, too, is a verbalization of my desire for the entire staff of Canaan Christian Academy, for the church family of Canaan Bible Chapel, and for all who might be reading this post.
- “The Lord bless thee,…” – May God shower you with His benefits. This extends far beyond our ideas of material blessing. By our very relationship with God, we are blessed. We are granted benefits that will last for eternity.
- “And keep thee…” – May God hedge you about – cover you with His protective hand.
Admonition: May we never forget his benefits. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:” (Psalm 103:2).
- “The Lord make his face shine upon thee,…” – May God continue to look with favor toward you. Praise God, because of His Son’s finished work, He does, indeed, look with favor upon His children, even in seasons of pain and tears.
- “And be gracious unto thee:…” – May God stoop in kindness toward you. I need to be ever reminded that all that I am and have are gifts of God’s grace.
Admonition: May we always recognize grace for what it is – grace. “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy,” (Exodus 33:19).
- “The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee,…” – May God continue to take loving notice of you. This is similar to the phrase at the beginning of verse 25. But it does remind us that God continues to watch over us and is aware of our every need.
- “And give thee peace.” – May God grant you well-being and peace (shalom).
Admonition: May we be publishers of the message of true peace. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publishet salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7).
Certainly, my prayer is that this summer will provide opportunities for rest and refreshment. But it is also my prayer that it will be a season of incredible spiritual growth.
God bless you!
Because He Lives,
* * * * *
United in Worship of the Holy One
May 13, 2021
“And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
Several months ago, a pastor friend challenged a group of us to pray through the names and attributes of God. As a part of that discussion, he gave us a list of thirty names and attributes used throughout Scripture. The list included a definition of each term and a passage of Scripture which used that term. This challenge has been particularly meaningful for my worship, this year, because it has compelled me to focus on Him and renew my vision of how He reveals Himself in the Bible.
A couple of days ago, the emphasis was on God’s holiness. I was reminded that His holiness is not a better version of the best we know. God is utterly and supremely untainted. He is untouched and unhindered by our sin. That means everything He does is perfect.
The four beasts, described in our passage above, focus their worship on this perfection, emphasizing it with the three-fold refrain, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” They are joined in worship by the twenty-four elders, representing the believers of the church age. The united worship reinforces the importance of God’s holiness.
- God’s holiness makes Him worthy of our worship. “The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever,…” (v.10). Worship is an acknowledgement of the surpassing value of that which is being worshiped. God’s holiness can never be diminished. Therefore, He ought always to be our sole object of worship.
- God’s holiness makes Him worthy of our credit. “…and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power:…” (Vv.10-11). Because everything about us is tainted by sin, any good God’s children can accomplish is because of Him. The act of casting the crowns (the rewards) is a visible representation of that reality.
- God’s holiness reinforces His purpose for all He has created. “…for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (v.11). If I were to make this statement about things I had created, you would probably consider me to be conceited because I can’t claim that kind of authority. But God – in His holiness and untainted by sin-driven limitations – can rightly claim that authority and so much more.
I would challenge you, as you read God’s Word over the next week, to read it in light of God’s holiness. It will give you a new perspective on the world and God’s interaction with His creation.
Because He Lives,
* * * * *
Conviction Over Convenience
May 6, 2021
“Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.”
From a certain perspective, Nehemiah appears to have received a demotion. When we are first introduced to him (Nehemiah 1), we learn that that he was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes – a position of great responsibility and which required the absolute trust of the king. But, from that position, God called him to return to Jerusalem and head up a building project – the re-construction of the walls around the city. There was not as much prestige, honor, or financial compensation. But Nehemiah went willingly and with a passion to see the work completed. He went with a CONVICTION that anything God calls you to do is a “great work,” (Nehemiah 6:3).
The work was not without opposition, as Nehemiah quickly learned. When he arrived back in Jerusalem the people were discouraged by the lack of progress and had all but given up. Forces from the surrounding nations were sneaking in and tearing down any work that had been accomplished. The leadership of those enemy nations had also initiated a “whisper campaign” to frustrate the people of Jerusalem and convince them that the job would never get done. Finally, representatives from the opposing forces tried to talk Nehemiah into a “negotiating” session – while, in reality, intending to physically restrain Nehemiah and halt the significant progress that had been made.
Nehemiah’s response (Vv.3,4) is a powerful one and should provide a framework of encouragement when we are tempted to give up on whatever God has called us to do.
- Nehemiah was convicted. “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down:…” His evaluation of the task was based on the conviction that, when God calls you to do something (whatever that might be and wherever that might be), it is an important work. That conviction took priority over everything else and fortified his resolve against the call to give up.
- Nehemiah was concerned. “…why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?...” Much progress on the wall had already been made. So, because of his conviction of the importance of the work, Nehemiah was concerned that there be no setbacks keeping the job from being finished. He would not stop, even with a supposed offer of peace.
- Nehemiah was consistent. “…I answered them after the same manner.” The pressure to give in did not relent. Four separate times the enemy pushed the call for Nehemiah to stop and meet with them. But his conviction was so established that he consistently answered the same way.
Has there been a time when you have been tempted to give up, when opposition arose to what God has called you to do? Strengthen your Biblical convictions and be prepared to stand.
Because He Lives,
* * * * *
To Everything There Is a Season
April 29, 2021
For all our friends, in the CBC family and the South Canaan community, who are facing a season of uncertainty and pain: "To Everything There Is a Season" - Written by Adam Morgan; Sung by Megan Morgan.
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