Wednesday, May 11, 2022

 

WISDOM WEDNESDAY

Vol. 1 Issue 12 - 5-11-22

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

- II Peter 3:18

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Greetings Church,

As Christians we often find ourselves putting expectations upon ourselves that we misunderstand. One of those expectations is that those who are in Christ are to be fearless. That following Christ makes us invincible and thus we are to be victorious daily in our walk with Him. Most of this expectation is true when it deals with the promised eternal state that we are to live out today. But we must find the solution to our fear in the daily abiding in Christ. Without Him it is impossible to be fearless.

Yet, when we properly understand this truth we must come to realize that fear is part of our existence in a fallen world. The key to responding to our fears does not come from within us as if we have the power to do so but comes from our dependence upon the Lord. In Psalm 56:3,4 we read, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?" Please notice the first reality and that is fear comes upon us. The psalmist says, "when I am afraid". Fear here deals with the stresses and fears of this life. It is not the reverent awe we are to have before a Holy God. Fear is an emotion that stirs us, that causes us to act in response to a proper understanding of what is feared. We must not think that fear is something a Christian should never have.

The reason we have fear as an emotion we all have and often deal with, is that it causes us to run. The question then is where do we run to or who do we run to. The psalmist again gives us insight into that, as he states, "when I am afraid, I put my trust in you." Fear moves us to seek out the Lord for His grace and protection. His desire is for us to run to Him when we are afraid. Trusting in the Lord is the significant fear catcher. He longs with open arms to receive us when afraid, just like when we were children and we ran into our father or mother's arms when afraid. Trusting in the Lord is not only to be done when afraid but something we are to do always. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:5,6) Here again the realization for our hearts is that we sometimes choose our own ways and we need to strive to trust Him for His ways. This should be an ever growing trust in Him.

How do we come to this understanding of fear before a Holy God? We do so by being in the Word that is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) The psalmist says, "In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid." The Word reveals the promises of God. The Word is to be praised not as if we put it on a pedestal but that we spend time in it and hide it in our hearts. We cannot give praise to something we do not know. "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word....I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Psalm 119:9,11) As we are in the Word we realize that when we are afraid we trust in the One who has revealed His promises that we have kept in our hearts. Therefore, run to Him, run to His Word, hide it in your hearts, let it bring the purity needed to trust in Him.

The last phrase in verse four brings the issue of fear to a conclusion. It references the life we live in the flesh. A life that needs redemption. A life that is born again through faith in Jesus Christ. The question is asked, "What can flesh do to me?" I like how this is translated as it helps us understand that fear can come from without and from within. Flesh then represents not just another human being that is causing the fear but also our own selves can be causing the fear. In either case fear attempts to draw us away from God. But trusting God with our fear brings the flesh into proper focus. What can it do to me? If our fear is given to the Lord by trusting in His promises revealed then the flesh can do nothing to us whether it is from without or within.

We all face fears and trials of many kinds, yet we have a solution to them all. "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?" (Psalm 56:3,4)

Let us trust in Him!!!

Blessings,

PBS

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

 

WISDOM WEDNESDAY

Vol. 1 Issue 11 - 5-4-22

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

- II Peter 3:18

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Greetings Church,

On the eve of the National Day of Prayer I would like to encourage you to consider increasing your daily prayer output. Calling on the Lord should not be an annual event dictated by the world, it should be a moment by moment experience just like breathing. This is what Paul means when in I Thessalonians 5:13 he said, "pray without ceasing". As with breathing, prayer should be a natural expression of our existence. It should not be something we come to when we have exhausted every other avenue but the first place that we go.

Paul in Ephesians 6 in his discussion of the whole armor of God makes prayer a vital part of the armor. Listen to verses 18-20, "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak." He shares three broad things for us to consider in our prayer lives.

The first is that prayer is to be at all times. The time for prayer is always. There is never a time that prayer is not appropriate or beneficial. Thus we need to develop this awareness of the need to pray in the dailiness of our lives. We sell ourselves short when we limit the need to pray. I learned from my Nana that prayer was for all occasions not just a blessing at a meal. Paul clarifies what the prayer life should be like as he states, "in the Spirit". He wants the intercessor to be a part of our prayer lives. The Holy Spirit is to be the one who directs our prayer lives as we depend upon Him to give us insight and understanding. This is one reason at our prayer meeting on Thursday nights we begin with prayer so that we will be guided to pray in accordance to the Lord's will. Paul further gives insight to what this praying at all times looks like when he finishes, with "all prayer and supplication". Here Paul directs us to prayer, as in praying in general or prayer that does not ask but a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. Supplication means that we make a humble petition to the Lord, namely this is the ask. So Paul encourages us to be "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication."

Secondly, Paul gives us direction or subject matter for us to pray for. In the midst of the armor that is put on we have a focused place of attention or use for the armor and that is prayer. Yet the prayer life is not just for the armor bearer/wearer but for all the saints. The second portion of verse 18 says, "To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints." The alertness comes from our pursuit of the Lord in prayer. We are to do so with all perseverance. Being alert means we are aware of the battle around us and that we maintain this alertness with all our strength and follow through. The purpose for such is that we are "making supplication for all the saints." Our prayer lives then find their greatest strength not in just praying ourselves but praying for others. Here that prayer is broad in nature for all the saints. Yet it suggests that we take note of and are aware of the needs of others around the world. We need not only research those needs as published by various mission organizations but realize at the heart that our own struggles are not much different than theirs. So we pray not in generalizations but growing out of our own needs we pray with perseverance for them.

Lastly, Paul moves to himself as he asks for the Ephesians to cover him in prayer. He becomes the example to follow as we pray for all the saints. The saints here are those who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior. Paul is very specific about what to pray for, which helps us to know that we need to be specific about the needs of the saints around us. Take care to note that unspoken prayers are not found in scripture and Paul is very specific about what to pray for. Thus we need to be in relationship with one another to know how to pray for each other. We need to be consistent in asking how we can pray for one another. We need to be consistent in following up with those needs so that we are enabled to continue to pray for each other.

It is my prayer that you will be encouraged to pray daily and often. To be a prayer warrior for the church God has called you to be a part of. I would also like to invite you to make prayer meeting on Thursday nights a new weekly habit. I know you will be blessed as you pray with and for the saints.

Blessings,
PBS

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

 WISDOM WEDNESDAY

Vol. 1 Issue 10 - 4-27-22

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

- II Peter 3:18

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Greetings Church,


It is so amazing that we welcomed little Kinsley Joan into this world just a month ago. Now she is one month old and we are puzzled over where the time has gone. Yet in that time the world continues to move toward the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When we find ourselves thinking about the passing of time we often take the tack that somehow we have to control it. That somehow we must be able to use it more wisely and thus control its passing and impact. When you have young children or grandchildren in your life you realize quickly that life is made up of many so called interruptions or as some would call them God moments.

Let us be mindful of our understanding of time concerning our value and our submission to our sovereign God. We looked recently at James 4:13-16 and I would encourage you to read it again. But I want to make note as a reminder of what it says in verse 14 about us. "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." The question and answer puts into perspective our lives and what we boast in or pursue for our own sake, if we are to understand this in context. In the grand scheme of things James sets us in the realm of eternity. So as we live in light of eternity we gain understanding that our lives here on earth are but a mist, a vapor in proper perspective. Therefore, we are to use our lives, our time in a manner that is in submission to the Lord and His will, not our dreams, wants and desires. This thought, as is evident by the piercing in your heart or stomach, goes against all that we are taught to pursue in this world. The reason for this is that those who follow Christ are not of this world, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (I Peter 2:9)

So, if we are a mist, then how are we to live? How are we to use the time we have? The Apostle Paul calls us to, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1,2) Later in verses 15,16 he says, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." When you put the two together and there is much in between that helps to understand what being an imitator is all about, we see that an imitator uses time wisely. The ESV doesn't translate it as redeem the time as if we must buy it back to use over again. The time given is to be used wisely or making the most of your time or making the most of every opportunity. The use then is focused upon using our time to be faithful imitators of God. If that is the focus, which I believe it is, then we must see all the details of our day as an opportunity to imitate God. We must walk in love. We must give ourselves to others. We must offer our lives as living sacrifices.

Notice that there are two motivating factors in these verses. The first is the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus loved us by giving himself up. By laying down His life for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. As we imitate the Lord, Jesus is our example to follow. We must not follow others if they are not following Christ. We must not elevate another as our ultimate example of one who imitates God. The example can only be Jesus.

The second motivator brings us to another expression of time, "because the days are evil." The days were evil just as much then as they are now. The focus is not upon the evil times and finding despair but to focus upon being empowered to be ever more faithful to be imitators of God in the midst of evil. For it is in those times that our faith is tested to be genuine. Paul says to look carefully. To pay attention to how we are living. To walk in love, as Christ loved us. To live our lives as those who pay attention to how we love the Lord in the dailiness of our lives. To be wise not unwise, for "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight."(Proverbs 9:10)

So, when life seems to be filled with many interruptions. Remember, that even then we are to be imitators of God and walk in His love and be wise in how we use the time given for that moment for His glory.

Blessings,
PBS

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

 

WISDOM WEDNESDAY

Vol. 1 Issue 9 - 4-20-22

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

- II Peter 3:18

Greetings Church,

This past Sunday was a pivotal event in the life of our church and every church that calls itself Christian. The resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ powerfully authenticates the work done on the cross. The incarnate Son of God laid down His life for us and took it up again, all to the glory of the Father.

As I have been thinking about this reality and the reality of many factors in my life, I have come to realize the powerful privilege I have to be living in these times. Watching my grandchildren grow into little people and then young adults is such a powerful responsibility. This watching reminds me of our spiritual heritage in the scriptures. The Apostle Peter used a very familiar line of reasoning when preaching in Solomon's Portico when he said, "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses." (Acts 3:13-15)

Peter builds upon a common foundation for all listening to him to consider. That foundation is that God established a relationship with the fathers of the faith, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Men who lived their lives imperfectly yet longing to express their faith through those lives. Men God used to safeguard a people unto Himself. Men God molded and shaped as instruments of His grace. As each day passes I find myself longing to be used as such in the lives of my grandchildren. When I see the joy in their faces, the hope of what their lives will become and the wonder of how God will bring that all about, I find myself wanting to be more faithful to Jesus. To be laying a foundational heritage that is built upon Christ and His Word.

Peter also makes it clear that he and John are witnesses of the events he speaks about. Witnesses who have eyewitness testimony unto the person and work of Jesus Christ. Witnesses who are emboldened by the power of the Holy Spirit that came upon them at Pentecost. Witnesses who were willing to share the wonder and love of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Each time I whisper into a grandchild's ear I love you, I feel the love of the Father whispering the same into mine. For my love for them is firmly rooted in His love for me. This love is something no one can take from me. "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus the Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

What a joy to know with such confidence that my love is secure in God's love. What a joy to pass on to the next generation that same love I have experienced. What a joy to ponder the many lives to be lived beyond mine, if the Lord tarries, that will hear of that great love because of a simple whisper of love into the ear of a child.

It is my prayer that each of us consider how we should build a faithful heritage to pass on to the next generation as we await the return of our Lord. We wait with security because His word is faithful and true. His word never returns to Him empty or void. His Word is the very Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May we all find in our daily walk the wonderful privilege it is to be loved by God and to share that love with the world. May we be as bold as Peter and John in the midst of confronting those who were part of God's plan to put Jesus to death, to offer to this world in which we live the love of Christ to their longing hearts. May we be known by our faithful heritage that we are not just church goers but followers of Jesus.

Blessings,

PBS

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

 

WISDOM WEDNESDAY                                                         

Vol. 1 Issue 8 - 4-13-22

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 

- II Peter 3:18

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Greetings Church,

Depending on your church and liturgical background this week has spiritual and historical significance. We call this week Holy Week as it leads up from the triumphal procession through to the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The week has much to teach us of how Jesus taught and prepared His disciples for the task He gives them to be His witnesses to the world. It thus gives us encouragement to contemplate how we should prepare to share Jesus to our world.

Over the years I have taught several times on Christ's seven statements from the cross and would like to do so again. Here they are in what is considered their chronological order:


And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Luke 23:34

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:43

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”
John 19:26

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Mark 15:34

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”
John 19:28

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:30

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
Luke 23:46

I would encourage you to read them again and again to begin the process of discernment concerning the Lord's purpose in laying down His life for you and me. Several things leap to my heart. First the focused attention to accomplishing the Father's will, to see the task to its glorious conclusion. Second, to extend the hope of forgiveness to those who had no understanding of their need for it. Thirdly, to live in anticipation for the reception of faith in the paradise of the Lord, the wonderful life of living in the promised presence of Christ. Fourthly, to experience the pain and suffering He endured for the payment for our sin as He took what we deserve to death and yet was victorious over death. Lastly, to let the love and trust Christ had and has in what the Father was doing through Him for us.

All these things and many more can be gleaned from these passages. Passages spoken from a position of being brutally put to death to satisfy a guilty world yet powerfully displaying the ultimate sacrifice for that world. We have the wonderful privilege of knowing these truths and sharing them with our world in our lifetime. May this Easter bolster our faith and faithfulness to tell the wondrous story of redemption through faith in Jesus.

Blessings,

PBS


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

WISDOM WEDNESDAY 

Vol. 1 Issue 7 - 4-6-22

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 

- II Peter 3:18

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Greetings Church,

If we take a moment to reflect upon our lives we would find that we all have or will experience all the stressors of living in a fallen world. The reality of sin which so easily entangles is something we often let our minds forget about. Not because we are forgiven but because we think we can in our own strength live above an awareness of sin in our own lives and thus in the world in which we live.

Reflecting upon these past three years I have grown dramatically in my faith. I have laid to rest both of my parents. I have welcomed more grandchildren into our family. I have begun to look closely at how I will live the rest of my days. Yet, in doing so I must find the Word to be central in that evaluation.

I have often quoted James 4:17 in a call to faithfulness for those who I have shepherded, "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." The goal was to encourage those who needed a nudge to realize the need for follow through to do so. But as I read the text in context I have realized it is more than just a nudge. It is a need to understand the sovereignty of God in every detail of our lives. To see with eyes of amazement the joy of His salvation and His purpose for us daily and for all eternity.

Listen to James 4:13-16, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit' - yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."

First we see an invitation to consider the planning of our time. James speaks to the heart of those who plan things on their own accord and not in the Lord's. A recent conversation with Dale helped to keep in perspective the decisions we make. He was asked a question and he responded that he needed time to pray about it. How often we find ourselves jumping into decisions whether great or small without the Lord's counsel.

Secondly, we are to keep ourselves humble before a majestic God, "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." v14b It doesn't say we have little value but that our time here on earth is limited in the scope of eternity. If we are just a mist, how misty are we going to be? How will we use our time wisely? How will each day have its greatest value? How will we redeem the day for the Lord's glory?

Thirdly, we are to realize the greatest worth in our lives is to do the will of the Lord and to seek it faithfully. Knowing the will of the Lord begins with time in the Word, bathing it in prayer that we would understand and apply it. The will of God is clearly displayed in the Bible even if we have to spend much time searching its pages. Pouring over the scriptures always brings out the best in us as it changes our hearts and transforms our lives. In "rightly handling the word of truth" - II Timothy 2:15, we will begin to see the right things we need to do.

Finally, we are to live for today and make God led plans for tomorrow. With all the stress we endure we can find today overwhelmingly focused upon tomorrow. Jesus said, "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" - Matthew 6:34. Let us purpose, to live each day to the fullness that God has designed for us and we will find our lives accomplishing all the good, the right things daily.

Blessings,
PBS

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

WISDOM WEDNESDAY 

Vol. 1 Issue 6 - 3-30-22

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 

- II Peter 3:18

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Greetings Church,

This last week has caused me to be busy with family and fellowship. Time has run a muck, even though I asked a brother to pray for my proper time management. This busyness has prompted a reflection upon how well do we prepare for worship each week. It has also brought thoughts as to whether it should be weekly or daily.

Scripture encourages us to realize that worship is not just a once a week act but one in which we are called to daily. We often consider this personal or private worship. From this perspective we also find the need for family worship. In Deuteronomy 6:6-7 we are taught, "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." This focus of attention covers the fullness of our lives as we strive to bring to application the truth of God's Word each and every day and in every situation we face.

Paul in Romans 12:1 states, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." Here Paul brings into perspective that our daily living is an act of worship. This text along with I Corinthians 10:31, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God", help us to realize that preparing for worship is not only to be daily but that worship is to be daily. We as individual followers of Christ are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices daily. This daily act is the foundation upon which we prepare for corporate worship as we gather as the body of Christ on Sunday. It is out of this nourishment that we come prepared to worship.

As we build upon and prepare our hearts for corporate worship through personal or private worship we must heed the Word's instruction for that worship. In Psalm 100:4 it says, "Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!" The psalmist gives us guidance as to how we are to prepare for our entrance into the Lord's presence. We are to do so with thanksgiving and praise but it must be accompanied by a full recognition of His name. Blessing His name carries the acknowledgment of the fullness of God's character and attributes. In Ecclesiastes 5:1, Solomon writes, "Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is far better than to offer the sacrifice of fools for they do not know that they are doing evil." How we come into our worship setting is vitally important. The current church culture wants to make the setting so casual that we make it about us and our comfort and not about God and His glory. We must walk a balanced approach to the Lord recognizing our need for reverence and our need to be welcoming. This balance can only be maintained if we are spending the necessary time preparing for worship. We cannot put on the attitude of worship when we walk through the doors as if putting on the right clothing for church. The whole focus of worship is about Him and His expectations not our comfort or habit.

In Hebrews 10:23-25 we read, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Worship in these last days is critically important to our growth as individuals and as the body of Christ. Without it we will slowly grow weary and weak in our faith. Gathering as the body of Christ as each part does its work to prepare will build us up. "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit." - Ephesians 3:19-22. May the Lord Himself continue to bring us into His presence as we respond in faithful preparation for worship personally and corporately.

Blessings,
PBS