God speaks our language!

Scripture reading for June 8th: Psalms 19-24

God wrote two books:  nature and the Bible!  Psalm 19 tells of God speaking to all mankind through the glory of His creation!  (Psalm 19:1-4)  Creation cries out concerning the goodness of God to all people of every language and culture.  All mankind draws it’s existence from what God has provided through creation.  It is evident to those who will listen and learn that creation did not just ‘happen’.  It was created with order and precision that could only come from high intelligence and great wisdom and power.  The sun in it’s daily circuit performing it’s duty of warming the earth and providing heat and light with dependable accuracy is but one example of God’s glory!

In addition to nature, God also gave man His law or word.  (Psalm 19:7-11) The law of the Lord is perfect and right revealing God’s holiness and glory.  Those who will be instructed by it and warned by it will find revival of true life.  Light will enter their souls and wisdom for right living will bring joy to each heart.  It is truly more precious than pure gold and sweeter to the soul than honey.  It is able to discern hidden errors and keep man from willful sins that would cause him to be lost forever from the Lord.  The psalmist prays for acceptance of his words and meditations of his heart to the Lord who is his Rock and Redeemer!  God truly has spoken our language and understands what man needs and His love has provided it to those who will partake!

Psalm 20 and 21 remind those who trust in the Lord that He will defend and protect them and that they will ultimately triumph over their enemies.  Life here on earth is warfare.  It often appears that the wicked and our enemies have power and equipment stronger than ours.  They trust in ‘chariots and horses’!  We, however, trust in the name of the Lord our God!  When we do, we will enjoy victory!  (Psalm 20:7-8)  God is our strength and the source of all victory and blessing!  We can only praise Him who will defeat our enemies! (Psalm 21:8-13)  We are confident and will stand firm in His unfailing love!

Psalm 23 tells of a great Shepherd, the Lord, who will lead and protect his people.  This Shepherd will provide safety and green pastures to His people.  They will not need to fear, even when the ‘valley of death’ is ahead of them.  God our Shepherd is with us and leads us forward to a table of eternal blessing!  Oh, what language of encouragement to God’s own!

Psalm 24 tells of God’s ownership and rulership over all the earth and universe.  He is the King of Glory!  This King wants all who come to Him to have clean hands and a pure heart! (Psalm 24:3-5)  When we go humbly to the Lord and ask for forgiveness, He shows us mercy.  He has provided the sacrifice for our sins in His Son, Jesus Christ!    The doors of heaven open for the King of Glory!  Will you open your heart’s door for this amazing King to come in?  (Revelation 3:20)

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Sunday rest and reflection–worship.

Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ, the object of our worship!  When many people think of worship, they think of singing hymns or spiritual songs.  Some people think of a church service with a choir, instruments, and people following a worship leader.  Some people just want to sit outside on a nice day and enjoy nature.  Whatever your worship ideal, spend time today honoring God in worship.

Psalms is the temple worship book of the Old Testament Jew.  This was compiled over 1000 years of time and represents a variety of authors and different worship styles.  Most is poetry set to music and was accompanied by instruments.  There were several kinds of musical instruments mentioned in the Psalms. The sounding trumpet was to praise the Lord!  There was the harp which King David played.  The lyre was a stringed instrument, similar to the guitar or mandolin. (Psalm 150:3-4) The flute and  resounding cymbals are also mentioned as well as the tambourine.  (Psalm 149:3; 150:5)

During times of worship, people might kneel or bow down.  Sometimes they stood to honor the Lord and His Word.  Sometimes they would raise their hands or clap their hands.  They would sing the Psalms or they might sing a “new song” to the Lord that came from their hearts by the Spirit.  At times, they would dance and shout or sing before the Lord with loud voices and passionate dance.  David was judged to have made a fool of himself by dancing before the Lord!  He vowed that he would get even more undignified than that for the Lord, thus rebuking his embittered wife Michal.  Sometimes they would be still and simple recognize that God was God.  However you want to express your honor and devotion to the Lord will be accepted if it is done in a spirit of humility and true worship.   God is always looking at the heart of the worshiper.  He desires honest worship from a pure heart!

May you have a wonderful life of worship, beginning today!  God is truly worthy of all our worship.  We can lovingly give Him our full attention, devotion and love!  When we worship, we join the hosts of heaven!

In His Glorious Worship,  Pastor John

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The fool in Scripture

Scripture reading for June 6th: Psalms 13-18

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Psalm 14:1

The fool in Scripture is the one who denies the existence of God.  Why would anyone want to deny that God exists?  Isn’t God the one who made each person?  Hasn’t God placed eternity in the hearts of all men? (Ecclesiastes 3:11)  Isn’t God evident to all through creation, who’s voice has gone out to all mankind?  (Psalm 19:2-4)   The reason this kind of fool exists isn’t because of an intellectual problem.  It isn’t because there is a lack of proof that God is really real!  It is something much deeper than that!

According to Psalm 14, the reason the fool says that there is no God is because of corruption of character.  These people are vile and do not do anything that would be considered ‘good’ in God’s sight.  These people are not seeking God so that they do not have to answer for their wicked deeds.  They prefer their corruption and want no ‘God’ to interfere with their evil ways of living.  It is very convenient to do away with God or any knowledge of Him. That way God sort of goes away in their thinking.  This liberates them from responsibility and possible judgment.

The Apostle Paul describes the fool’s way of thinking in Romans 1:18-23.  These people have known about God and His ways but have suppressed this truth in unrighteousness.  Having suppressed truth, the lie based on their own futile thinking darkens their hearts and souls.  The lie is that there is no God!   God allows them to follow their darkened understanding and worship creatures and creation rather than the creator.  (Romans 1:21-23)  They go deeply into idolatry.

The next step is sexual perversion.  (Romans 1:24-27)  When a person rejects God because of their wickedness, God allows that person to be deluded and go deeply into perversion and further depravity in the breaking of God’s laws.  This results in all kinds of sexual sin, lying, greed, envy, malice, strife,  and idolatry.  It is where every ‘fool’ in Scripture ends up without the grace of God.

Men and women have no excuse for staying a fool however.  God is always ready to save, heal and forgive.  We must humble ourselves and admit that He exists and that He will reward and forgive those who seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)  God would rather forgive and show mercy than to judge.  If you have been foolish in your words or attitudes about God, take time today and repent.  God is faithful and just and will forgive you!  (1st John 1:7-9)

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The Glory of God

Scripture reading for June 5th: Psalms 7-12

“When  I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care about him?” Psalm 8:3-4

As David worshiped the majestic Lord who was “our Lord”, he began to contemplate creation.  God’s glory is displayed majestically in the heavenly bodies.  The sun, moon and stars all speak of the wonder of a God who breathed out the stars. (Psalm 8:1,3)  In Psalm 33:6, David actually says that God made the starry host by the breath of his mouth!  When looking at those heavenly hosts, David began to think about man and how insignificant man seemed compared to the vast glory of creation.

What is man?  Man has been made or created just a little lower than the heavenly beings.  God has crowned him with glory and honor.  Man is made in God’s likeness and image. (Genesis 1:26)  He has been given dominion and authority to rule over the fish of the sea, birds of the air, and over the livestock and over all the earth!  (Psalm 8:6-8)  God has entrusted man with His creation!  That alone is enough to make us worship this amazing God!  He breaths out the stars but cares enough about us to crown us with honor and glory too!

A proper understanding of who God is and who we are in relation to Him is a great aid to true worship.  We are so blessed by God to be formed in His image!  We are given authority to rule over creation.  We are not victims or cosmic accidents.  God lovingly formed us and gave us significance beyond our size or stature in comparison to the know universe!  We are mere specks of dust in comparison to the vastness of space and the heavens!  Such understanding draws us to worship and adoration!  Take time today to note the glorious creation and the majesty of God displayed there!  Thank Him for crowning you with glory and honor!  Worship His majestic name!

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The Blessed Man

Scripture reading for June 4th: Psalms 1-6

Today we embark on a study of the psalms.  The Book of Psalms was the hymnbook of the Hebrew people and was used in worship and prayer.  The word “psalm” denotes a “song sung to the accompaniment of a plucked instrument.”  These psalms had at least seven different authors and were written over nearly a thousand years, from the time of Moses to the return from exile in Babylon.  David was one of the primary authors of the psalms.  Many reflect his own prayers, worship, fears, and desires as he experience the full range of life in all it’s emotional ups and downs!  As we study this book, let’s ask the Lord to open our eyes to see Jesus Christ and to know Him more intimately!

This book opens with a psalm about a man who is blessed by God.  There are some things this man does not do.  He doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked.  He also doesn’t stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  What is wickedness?  How do we know what counsel we should avoid?  What is a sinner?  What is the mocker mocking?  That’s easy to know from this Psalm.  This man knows because he delights in the law of the Lord!  He is meditating on that law day and night.  From that law he clearly understands good and evil, righteousness and wickedness.  He understands sin by knowing God’s law!

This man who is blessed is pictured as like a tree planted by streams of water.  This tree is always bearing fruit and is leafy and green because it’s roots are well supplied with moisture and nutrients.  Even when it is dry and hot, it is not lacking because of the water supply it draws from.  God abundantly supplies this man because of the Word he meditates on.  Circumstances may change the climate, but the roots are well supplied!  What an encouraging picture to begin worship with!

This blessed man is contrasted with the wicked man.  The wicked man is pictured as the chaff off of the wheat.  The wind comes and blows it away.  It is good for nothing but to be burned up.  Just like the chaff that is separated from the wheat by the wind, so the sinner and wicked man will not stand in the time of God’s judgment!  They will be separated from the assembly of the righteous and blessed!  God is watching over the righteous to provide and protect and ultimately reward them.  God is also going to make sure the wicked perish!

This song about the blessed man is for us today!  We are to meditate on the Word of God and focus on the living Word, Jesus Christ!  Life flows from Him and in Him we find eternal life!  Blessing is favor and a river of good flowing from the source of all blessing, God.  God loves to bless those who sit at His feet, stand in His way and walk by faith in His Word.

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Restoration of Job

Scripture reading for June 3rd: Job 40-42

Finally, we come to the end of this long book of endless arguments concerning the nature of suffering, God’s character and justice, and God’s ability to work out everything according to the counsel of His Word.   God continues His questioning of Job, who is now under conviction of being unworthy to say any more. (Job 40:4-5)  Job was to brace himself and give God some answers.  The first question was:  “Would you discredit my justice?”  The next related to the first:  “Would you condemn Me to justify yourself?” (Job  40:8)

Curiously, God then begins to direct Job’s attention to two of the most fierce animals.  Behemoth is a fierce land animal that is perhaps the hippopotamus or elephant.  Leviathon is a fierce water creature that is perhaps the crocodile or fire-breathing dragon.  These two animals bring fear to the hearts of men because of their power and ability to dominate.  But at the end, God says that there is nothing on earth that is these creatures’ equal–a creature without fear.  He is king of all that are proud!  What is God talking about?  Why this discussion of these fearful animals?  Could it be that God is teaching Job about Satan and his downfall, pride?

Job repents and comes to a new understanding of  God’s greatness and trustworthiness.  God instructs the friends to offer sacrifice and have Job pray for them to avert God’s judgment.  Elihu is not mentioned.  We are not told why. After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored Job to his former prosperity and gave him double all that he had lost.  (Job 42:10)  Job had seven more sons and three daughters.  This is the same as before and implies that he would see his others in heaven as well!  God does everything well!

This story has a happy ending and teaches us all valuable lessons of faith and trust in God.  We won’t always have all the answers and we must be careful when trying to help those going through trial and affliction.  We certainly don’t want to become like Job’s comforters!  We can be thankful that God is in control and that He is merciful and answers prayer.  We can also rest assured that God will work everything for good to those who love Him and keep the faith!

“Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.  You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.  The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:10-11

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God speaks to Job!

Scripture reading for June 2nd: Job 38-39

Job had been longing for an audience with God so that he could state his case and find mercy.  His friends had accused him of harboring sin in his life and being under God’s punishment.  They had tried to define God’s ways and actions to him but Job had needed to hear from God Himself!  Job had maintained his integrity and faith in God but had lots of questions for God.  Finally, Job got the desire of his heart and it turned out differently than expected!

God appeared to Job out of a storm or whirlwind.  (Job 38:1)  God’s first question was: “Who is this that darkens My counsel with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2)    I feel that this is a strong word of rebuke for all of Job’s friends, particularly the last speaker, Elihu.  (He claimed perfect knowledge in Job 36:4.)  God was also there to correct Job’s understanding as well!

The next four chapters are filled with questions that only God can truly answer. There are about seventy questions about the world that God created and about the animal kingdom.  God never answers Job’s questions about why he is suffering.  He never tells Job his purposes for allowing the suffering.  God only shows Job through these questions that He is in control and knows more about creation than we do. He implies that we do not need to know everything while here on earth.  Just knowing God and his great power and total authority over all creation should give us hope and peace.

When it comes down to it, God’s wisdom and understanding make us look small indeed!  To think that this God who created the vast heavens and unique earth would care about man is difficult to understand.  I am humbled and amazed that God would come to Job and personally talk to him!  It reminds me of Jesus Christ when he said: “Come to me all you who weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)  God is humble too!  He stoops low to speak to us and teach us about Himself.  We are blessed to learn and to hear His voice!

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One perfect in knowledge is with you!

Scripture reading for June 1st: Job 35-37

“I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker.  Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you. Job 36:3-4

Have you ever been around a person who thinks he knows everything?  For every question, he has an answer and he even has information you did not ask for.  Elihu seems to be such a person.  He boasts of his great wisdom and does seem to have some good information.  However, as I read this section, I get the feeling that Elihu is not much different from the other three friends.  He seems to talk down to Job and subtly accuse Job of not knowing God.  He claims to know God perfectly.  (Job 36:4)

Elihu stated that God commands sinners to repent and that if they listen, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity.  (Job 36:11)  This argument has already been hashed around by Job and Job reminded them that this was not always the case.  Sometimes the wicked prosper and nothing seems to touch them here on earth.  (Job 21:7-14)  We cannot always presume that our life on earth has to be a certain way based on our behavior. God may allow other things to work out His purposes in our life, but they will all be for our good if we love him.  (Romans 8:28)

Elihu also stated that our sin has no effect on God.  (Job 35:6)  Sin does have an effect on God.  It provokes his anger and all sin is against God first.  Without His Law we would not know sin, good or evil.  God’s revelation of His Law and the consequences of sin show God’s concern.  Of course, Job is before the Law was written but God never changes and His character is the same then as now!

Elihu also warned Job not to turn to evil and accused him of preferring evil to affliction.  (Job 36:21)  This also is presumptuous on Elihu’s part.  When we think that we are perfect in knowledge, we can easily become judgmental and critical of others.  Knowledge puffs us up, but love builds us up!  (1st Corinthians 8:1b)  Elihu’s analogy’s of God’s greatness and majesty must have caused Job to think and further examine his own heart.  Elihu’s last words told of God coming in majesty and splendor, but beyond our reach!  How ironic that God Himself next speaks to Job!

As I ponder these dissertations by Job’s friends, I am reminded of my own need to be more quiet and listen longer before I speak. (James 1:19-20)  No one is perfect in knowledge and understanding but the Lord!  He is our helper and guide!  In all our ways we must acknowledge Him, and He will direct our paths!  (Proverbs 3:5-7)

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Sunday rest and reflection–Pentecost!

Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ!  Today is Pentecost Sunday and a time to celebrate the precious gift of the Holy Spirit!  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and is the personal gift of the Father who was sent to dwell in followers of Jesus Christ. (Luke 24:49)  Jesus told His followers to wait for this promise and that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. (Acts1:8)  This power would be a divine enablement to be witnesses for the Lord.  God’s command was for these believers to go into all the world and preach the Gospel message with signs that would follow! (Mark 16:15-20)

On the day of Pentecost, 120 believers were gathered in a room of the temple praying and waiting on the Lord when suddenly the room was filled with the sound of a rushing wind.  Visible tongues of fire descended on this company and they all began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (Acts 2:1-4) These believers went out into the temple area and caused quite a stir among those Jews gathered from around the world for the Feast of Pentecost.  Each one heard them glorifying God in their own language! (Acts 2:8-10)  What a miracle!  Peter preached that day and many came under conviction through the power of the Holy Spirit!  (Acts 2:37)  They were told to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!  (Acts 2:38-41)  Three thousand were baptized and added to the church that day!

Today, nearly 2000 years later, God is still empowering believers to be witnesses for Him.  He is still pouring out His Spirit on all flesh.  He is still sending His Church to be witnesses to the nations.  He is still baptizing people in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues!  He is still confirming His Word with supernatural signs!  God shows no partiality and wants all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth!  (1st Timothy 2:3-4)  If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit, why not pray and ask the Jesus to baptize you with power to be His witness?  You can become even more effective as a witness with power!  God bless you this Pentecost Sunday!  May you be filled with power again and again.  (Ephesians 5:18-21)

Pastor John

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God is impartial!

Scripture reading for May 30: Job 32-34

“So listen to me, you men of understanding.  Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong.  He repays a man for what he has done, he brings upon him what his conduct deserves.  It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.  Who appointed Him over the earth?  Who put Him in charge of the whole world?” Job 34:10-13

After all the older and presumably wiser friends of Job are silent, Elihu opens his mouth to speak.  Elihu is a younger man, also a friend of Job, and has been listening in on their conversations and debate.  Elihu claims to be full of the Spirit of God and to have wisdom by the Spirit.  (Job 32:8)  He says he is sincere and has an upright heart.  (Job 33:3)  He acknowledges that God has made him and given him life. (Job 33:4)  Elihu dares to confront Job about his complaint that God has not answered him.  Elihu tells Job that God speaks in many ways and it is sometimes we who are not paying attention or listening.  (Job 33:13-14)  He stated that God sometimes speaks through a bed of pain, which Job was then enduring himself.

Elihu pointed out to the friends that Job had tried to justify himself.  (Job 34:3-7)  God was the one who should have been justified instead of Job, because God is perfect and impartial.  He is always just and never does wrong! (Job 34:10-12)  He gives each person what he deserves.   He is in charge of the earth and no one tells Him what to do!  He is not partial to rich or poor and He knows each person perfectly.  (Job 34:19)

As we look at the words of this younger man, we sense that he understood God and had placed much of his understanding on a knowledge of the Almighty.  The Spirit of God did give him insight that did not depend on age.  Elihu had correctly discerned God’s impartiality and ability to judge each person justly.  However, Elihu still didn’t have complete wisdom.  He made some assumptions.  One assumption was that Job was getting what was due him.   As we know from the first two chapters, this was not the case.  God, Himself, had declared Job righteous.   In Job’s case, he was not guilty, but only being tested!   This young man, Elihu, may be wise in some things, but still is short on full understanding!

What do we learn from this?  We do understand that God is impartial and knows everything.  We also learn that God can use pain and other means to speak to us.  But, in addition, we  learn that we as mortals cannot be presumptive.  We do not know everything about every situation.  God is sovereign and we must let Him be God!  Check your own heart today and allow the Lord to set it in order!  He is truly able!

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