March 21 Devotional

For today’s devotional, we’re going to look at one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 19! David writes: 
The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
   which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors?
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
I love the way this Psalm begins, because it’s a reminder that everything we see should point us back to God! Creation itself is the canvas upon which God painted his creation, which He described as good way back in Genesis 1. As I’m writing this it’s pretty foggy out, so I can’t see either the sky or the mountains that I love seeing so much, but I know they’re out there! And the fact that I know that reminds me that God’s love and faithfulness will similarly always be there. The fact that we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the sun will rise tomorrow points to the consistency of God. One commentator stated “If you are a believer, God has surrounded you with a hymnbook. Wherever you are, day or night, you can look up and see the majesty and power of your God. And you can praise him.” (James Johnston, Preaching the Word: The Psalms Volume 1) As of now, we’re not confined to our houses, so if you’re able to, I’d encourage you to take some time today and walk outside (keeping at least 6 feet between anyone you run in to!). But don’t ignore them or pretend they aren’t there 🙂!
But that’s not the only thing God has given us! The Psalm tells us that we have two things that point out the grandeur and goodness of our God to us: the skies and the Scripture. David says “The law of the Lord is perfect.” What word! Perfect. Yet all around us we see things that aren’t perfect. We see the brokenness of sin, we see the way today that this virus is running rampant around the globe. A tiny little virus that we can’t even see is completely changing the way we function. Yet over all that, God’s law is perfect. This was one of the first theological truths I remember being taught as I was growing up! God’s revelation has 2 parts: general revelation and special revelation, and this Psalm has both of them! General revelation is the created order, which this Psalm tells us points us to God, but it’s not enough for salvation (Rom. 1:20). That’s where special revelation enters the frame. Special revelation is God’s Word, and the Word became flesh (John 1:14). This special revelation is so critical to the life of the believer that it is described as “reviving the soul,” but not just the soul, the body as well where David goes on to compare God’s Word to be more desired than your favorite desert! (Mine isn’t honeycomb, I prefer a delicious cake, but that’s besides the point!) Jesus even reminds us that we don’t live by bread alone, but by God’s Word. Therefore, if we aren’t spending time in God’s Word we’re anemic Christians, missing out on a feast the Lord has given us. During this time of social distancing, Pastor Ben is having his students read a chapter of Hebrews a day and use the SOAP method to study the Bible. SOAP is an acronym that stands for: Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. If you’re a normal human being who struggles to dig in to God’s Word, I’d encourage you during this time of a forced new schedule, to commit to reading through a book of the Bible. Hebrews is one of my favorites, but the Gospels are another great place to spend time, particularly John! And as you’re reading, if you have any questions, please let me know! I love learning more and studying the Bible together!
Today’s song expresses gratitude for how God has created everything we see, it’s called ‘All Shall Be Well’. You can listen to it on YOUTUBE or on SPOTIFY.

March 20 Devotional

While there are no passages of Scripture that specifically address COVID19, there are some passages that give us great comfort and strength no matter where we find ourselves! We’ll begin our devotional looking at Philippians 4:4-7:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Joy is one of the unique markers of Christians. It’s even included in the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5! Let’s think about where Paul was when he was writing this exhortation. He wasn’t (as I am!) sitting in a comfortable chair at his house drinking a delicious cup of freshly brewed coffee. No! He was under threat of persecution, not knowing if or when he’s be killed for his Christian faith. Yet in the midst of that, he exhorts Christians throughout the centuries to be JOYFUL! How joyful are you right now? As you perhaps wrestle with your kids at home 24/7 now, or with trying to figure out what “social distancing” looking like, or worrying if you’ve got enough toilet paper stocked up, are you able to rejoice in God’s goodness?
Paul goes on though, and his second exhortation is “let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” Another way of translating that is gentleness. This is another marker of Christians! Being gentle no matter how people may malign you! What do you think being gentle looks like right now? Maybe it’s bringing your extra toilet paper over to a neighbor. Maybe today it’s shoveling their driveway or sidewalk! (Yes, I realize it’s heavy!) But look for ways that you can be gentle today!
Next, we see a pretty short phrase that I don’t want you to miss! Paul said “The Lord is at hand” God NEVER has to practice social distancing! We’ve seen that a couple times as we’ve been studying the Gospel of Luke together on Sundays. Jesus didn’t have to distance himself from anyone, his cleanliness abolished the uncleanliness of those he came into contact with. Now, I’m not advocating we then run into places where the COVID19 is known to be affecting people, that would be foolish! But we trust a God who is sovereign even over viruses, so while we’re being careful, wise, and obeying the governing authorities God has placed over us, let’s pray that God will bring an end to this current global crisis. 
So with these three things in place, we then can read the rest of these verses. We’re commanded to not be anxious. If there ever was a time I’ve lived in to start being anxious, this is it! My retirement accounts are NOT doing well. I can’t find paper towels anywhere (I’ve looked at 4 stores so far!). People are holding toilet paper, some states are even forcing people to stay in their homes! Yet in the midst of that, we don’t need to be anxious! Instead we can pray! God is with you and will continue guiding you.
Then, the outworking of that is a sense of peace that the world will never know. We have peace because God has saved us from spiritual death, which means death no longer holds power over us! The Lord has numbered our days from before we were born, thus we can trust Him implicitly! 
An almost brand new song I’ve been listening to gets to this hope we have in Christ. It’s called ‘Christ Our Hope in Life and Death’ and you can listen to it HERE.
And if you’d like to hear the story behind the writing of this song, you can listen to it HERE.
I’ve been posting songs regularly on Facebook and Instagram as a way to encourage people during this time, I’ve been compiling them into a playlist on Spotify that you can listen to HERE if you’d like!