Reflections . . . . Sunday, August 16, 2020
PSALM 29 - A Psalm of David
“Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. 3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. 4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. 5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. 7 The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. 8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, "Glory!" 10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. 11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”
How often do we realize the power of God? We look at this creation, the earth, its ecosystem, the balance of nature and the awesome power of a thunderstorm. Did this come about by mere chance? That is what a lot of people believe today. The delicate balance of nature from the heavenly to the micro could not come about on its own. There is such a design and complexity to all we experience with our five senses. It takes a Designer to put all the tiny pieces of life together. It is just not possible that our universe just spit out our reality. King David puts together for us an array of different ways to see God’s creation in areas perhaps we have never noticed. First he honors and praises God for life. Worship begins in the ability to open our eyes and look around. “Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” he writes. The splendor of God begins to take form in the ordinary. We take for granted the vast expanse of the oceans teeming with life, the forests and all nature. We don’t often notice how big and strong the trees are all around us. And when a strong storm blows in we become frightened because of what it might do. Yet we don’t often get frightened enough to think about the power in the One who created all this! Why is that? I believe we have lost the respect required to give God the glory for life. We cave in to our own selfish desires to want more and more of what we want life to give us. Then we lose the vision of what God provides for us day by day. Our focus is on ourselves not on honoring God and His blessings. Each day is a new gift to us from Him. We worry over what tomorrow will bring without praising God for our today. God provides, He strengthens and He blesses His people. What is the result? As David wrote and experienced God in his life, we are reminded that God gives us His peace and that usually is most evident in the midst of a storm. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” . . . "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.” (Psalm 46: 1-3, 10-11) Is our experience with the Creator of all life too narrow to take in all He has done? Do we focus more on the daily grind rather than on the God of all comfort? He is always here to help those who call upon His Name. That happens in our worship. As His children we are comforted as He provides refuge and strength as His power is realized in our life and His victory is complete in us. Let us ‘be still and know’ our wonderful Savior!
Grace and peace from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Pastor Bill
This Week’s Encouraging Word:
“Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act.”
~Psalm 37:3 (NLT)~
Hymn Of Praise and Worship: “Praise To The Lord, The Almighty” #43 “Hymns For The Living Church”
1) Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; Refrain ------------------------------------------
There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Great is Thy faithfulness!
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not; Great is Thy faithfulness!
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be. Refrain Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
2) Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love. Refrain
3) Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Refrain
As we continue to monitor the spread of this disease in and around our community, I want to bring to your attention what the latest facts are that concern our meeting back together in worship. The metro area has made it on the national top 10 list of cities for the spread of the virus. I have been monitoring Johnson and Wyandotte counties for the last two months now. The numbers continue to creep up. If we take in the entire Kansas City metro, the numbers go even higher. We are all anxious to get back to somewhat of a ‘normal’ however we have to be realistic about reopening. The only church that is meeting in our building on Sunday is Grandview Baptist. They are using Fellowship Hall instead of the Chapel due to a bigger area for social distancing. They have been meeting for four weeks now. Everyone else is waiting, like we are, to see when the spread of the virus will diminish. One of the criteria that many are holding to is the rate of new cases decreasing daily for a period of 14 days. Of course we are no where near that at the moment. We are also seeing school districts opening and then having to shut down again and go online with the students. Kansas City, Kansas has already made the decision to start the year with virtual streaming of their classes. Karen and I will be doing this three days a week with our two grandsons. It remains to be seen what it will be like with other school districts in our area once they open. If there is further increase we will have to monitor that also. Meanwhile I pray that our weekly ‘Reflections’ that we mail out are helping us all to maintain a level of worship, prayer and praise. I would encourage everyone that if there is something you would like to contribute to our weekly publication, please contact Jeanine in the office and we will publish your thoughts, prayers, poems, sayings etc. each week. We all know that God is in control over all this and as His children we can rely on His direction and guidance. Stay safe and healthy! If you have any concerns, please feel free to call me anytime! Pastor Bill
Reading of God’s Word:
“At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 27 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:25-30
Our Burden Bearer
I don’t know about you but I have felt the weight and struggle lately of all that is going on in this country and this world. From the COVID reports related to our country, our local districts, the reemergence of the disease, the opening of the schools and what that might bring to our children, to the unrest in our nation. Our lawmakers can’t agree with what to do next and meanwhile millions are without jobs, health care, food and income to get through this pandemic. It is disheartening and at the same time stressful on everyone. I think we all feel the same, wanting to get back to normalcy. However it doesn’t look like it will be happening too soon. We have to put our focus somewhere else to keep our sanity. As Christians, we have a Burden Bearer in Jesus. As we take our focus off this world and its troubles and place our trust and confidence in God we can weather the storm. This is not the first time that people have had to deal with so much and it won’t be the last. As we have already looked at previously, it will get a lot worse before it gets better. So how do we handle our stress? Jesus tells us in this passage what we must do.
Notice that first of all He points us in a different direction. In the form of a prayer, He intercedes for us by revealing to us a Higher Authority over the world we live in. It is in this God-Man relationship that Jesus has with our Heavenly Father, who instructs His disciples and all who will follow, the right way to approach our troubled minds and hearts. Since God created all things, this creation is still subject to Him. At times we wonder why God allows things to happen like we are experiencing. If we think this through, how would we turn to and depend on Him if everything went right in our life? Life comes with a price tag and that price is the freedom to choose. Since the beginning, God has given humanity a choice to follow Him or to reject Him. Both come with certain conditions. To reject Him means that we are left to our own ways of governance. With sin and temptation at the very root of our existence, we turn to self for all the answers to life. It is a narrow and dangerous way to live because rejection of the Truth about God and our own dependence upon Him, we are thrust into the type of issues we see going on in this world today. On the flip side, and this has been proven over and over again throughout history, when we turn and focus on Him, our lives change and we are more compassionate, loving and caring for one another. We come to realize the depth of our own fallen nature and the gift that God gives us in Jesus to restore us back into a right relationship with the Father. This has repercussions all through our life and as Christians we certainly want to follow in His footsteps. It is a change in direction, what we call ‘repentance’ realizing where we were and striving to become better. Over the course of history, true Christians have made a global impact in this world and continue to do so even to this day.
Notice how Jesus begins this prayer: "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” The first thing Jesus mentions are things ‘hidden’ from the ‘wise and the learned’. Why would God do that? Throughout the passage of time most people have relied on their own interpretations of life; how we got here, why we are here, and where we are going when we depart. We have perhaps read all kinds of stories about all the myths and legends regarding these questions. I won’ get into all that, you have heard the fables. However people have come to believe strongly about many false teachings. People then and today are misguided about the Nature and the Existence of God. With all the talk in our own era about ‘coming from nothing’ some people, to reiterate, turn to their own understanding. Doing so they make up all sorts of tall tales. Sometimes when I come across what someone has written about a so called scientific discovery, it is so absurd that I have to laugh. I can’t believe what some people believe, stretching things just a little too far. These are the ‘wise and the learned’ that Jesus talks about. They were in His own day also. But notice then how He changes the prayer: “and revealed them to little children.” We recognize that a child is very formative in their early years. They soak up everything around them. In this same way, God reveals His Truth to those who become like a child so they will understand the nature of God’s self-revelation in the world and in their lives. To become like little children is to trust and believe in Him as Creator and Sustainer of our life. When we take that approach, our focus is entirely different. We begin to see life through His eyes! “Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure” Jesus went on to say. The Truth is revealed in the fact that we see the relationship that Jesus has with God our Father. "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” This revelation is the key to understanding this passage!
In the relationship between the Father and the Son, we have the assurance of our faith in the Personhood of Almighty God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As a child depends upon her parents for nurture and support, we also must approach God in this same way. Total dependence leads to facing this world and our future relying on the Nature of God. As Creator, and stop and think about this world and universe that we are a part of, everything is in His hands. Nothing is too hard for Him to accomplish. We are a part of the family of God and one day we will enter into His Kingdom. Right now we face trials because we are separated from Him due to our state of sinfulness. But that is always our choice and God grants us that freedom.
Jesus gives us the remedy for our fallen state. He went to the cross to redeem us and He asks us to do one thing to overcome our trepidations. "Come to me, all you who are 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." “Come to Me’ he says. Cast your cares and your troubles upon Him and then you can find rest. Interestingly He uses an agrarian example of being yoked. A farmer would break in a young ox by putting it with a mature ox in a yoke. The senior ox would help the younger ox to learn how to plow and steer whatever they were hooked to. The mature ox would actually carry the burden of the load until the younger one would begin learn how to help out. The people to whom Jesus was talking to would certainly understand the concept. They would immediately ‘catch the drift’ of what Jesus was insinuating. To be yoked with our Savior is to give Him the majority of our load so we can learn from Him. Sometimes it is not very easy for us to do because we have been taught all our life to rely on self. If we really want to overcome our tendency of worry and stress, we must look to Him in all our circumstances. When we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, things seem to be less chaotic. That is because He brings us His peace in the midst of the storm. I am not advocating a sense of a utopian existence. What I am advocating is that I have discovered that when I get a little stressed out and begin to worry over things that I cannot control, I must take my focus off the situation and focus on God’s provisions and His love over my life. When I do this, the burdens of my life begin to diminish because I have given it over to the Lord. I have witnessed this time and time again as I have also witnessed the opposite of not trusting in God. More often than not when I find myself worrying or stressing over the things in this world, when I turn my focus upward, things take on a totally different perspective. It is then God lifts my spirit towards His Presence and I can release my frustrations to Him. Then I can move on knowing that I am yoked with Jesus and He carries the burdens of this world. “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." Are you burdened with life these days? You're not alone. Learn to rest in our Lord, let Him teach you His ways and you will find that “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace!”
To God be the glory, forever and ever. AMEN!!
Hymn of Celebration: “O Soul Are You Wearied And Troubled” #252 “Hymns For The
1) O soul, are you weary and troubled? 2) Through death into life everlasting
No light in the darkness you see? He passed, and we follow Him there;
There’s a light for a look at the Savior, Over us sin no more hath dominion—
And life more abundant and free! For more than conquerors we are!
3) His Word shall not fail you—He promised; Refrain ----------------------------------
Believe Him, and all will be well: Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Then go to a world that is dying, Look full in His wonderful face,
His perfect salvation to tell! And the things of earth will grow Refrain strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
Our closing prayer:
Father, we admit that we are lost in this world without guidance and direction. People are turning to their own ways and in doing so have made the matters of this world even worse. As Your children, help us to see how much You care for this world and teach us when we tend to worry, that all is still under Your watchful eyes even when it seems hopeless. Help us in our faith and trust in Jesus to get yoked with Him when we tend to carry the burdens of this world and that affects the way we think and act. Help us Lord to give our problems to You for You promised that when we do, our burdened bearing souls will become lighter knowing that You have already proven that You are the Burden Bearer by going to the cross to bring us back to God. We ask for Your peace and joy in the midst of our problems. Help us to learn from You.
We pray in and through the most Holy and Precious Name of Jesus. AMEN!!
**May the Lord watch between me and thee as
we are absent one from another, AMEN!**
Blessings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus our Messiah!
Have a great week in the Lord! Pastor Bill
Please keep in your prayers:
Carol Fairchild –Feeling better she has had a touch of pneumonia
Continue to pray for Gracie Allen, she is doing much better
Pray for Christy Kresyman who had an MRI to look at a possible torn ligament after having knee replacement; please pray for her complete healing - She will get the test results about August 20th
The reopening of our cities, schools and businesses amid the spread of this virus, keep us safe
All who are suffering through this pandemic and their families
Pray for one another and the wisdom it will take to re-open when God leads us in that direction in His timing
Thank you again for your prayers for our grandson, Levi. He had a little setback from his tonsillectomy a week ago Wednesday when he threw up large amounts of blood at our home. We had to call 911 and have him transported to Advent hospital where his mom, Amber works. She was there to meet him and Karen at the ER. After an hour of intense prayers he was seen by his surgeon and apparently the scab from his surgery had fallen off earlier in the day and bled into his stomach. The surgeon said in 3% of the cases it happens. After a harrowing afternoon, Levi was released and spent the night comfortably. He has been OK since. We want to thank everyone for your prayers. Our Lord is always by our side and we felt His presence in the midst of this panic-stricken situation.