May 25 Devotional

Happy Memorial Day! Despite it being weird to think that staying home isn’t as joyful this year as it normally is, I’m grateful to have time to remember and be grateful to live in a country where people have given their lives for us to celebrate the freedom we have.
Today we’ll be looking at Psalm 6:
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.
O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
    nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
    heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
    But you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
    save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
    in Sheol who will give you praise?
I am weary with my moaning;
    every night I flood my bed with tears;
    I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
    it grows weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
    for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
    they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
David in this Psalm is dealing with discipline. It’s reminiscent of Proverbs 3:12, “the lord disciplines those he loves.” God wants us to so be like Christ, that He will allow us to be tested often beyond what we think we can handle. In the midst of his despair, David cries out to God. When you’re frustrated, upset, stretched beyond what you can handle, where do you turn? Do you look to earthly things to satisfy? Those things will numb the pain for a little while, but then what? See the only thing that can handle our frustration, endure it, and provide an end to it is God. Charles Spurgeon said “I have learned to kiss the wave that threw me against the rock of ages.” No matter what difficulty we face we can choose to use it to cling closer to God. But notice how David complains to God. He appeals to his covenant faithfulness, his steadfast love. Now I don’t think God forgot that he was steadfast in his love. God doesn’t forget anything! David was the one who needed to be reminded that God would never abandon him. That’s why we need to sing songs that remind us of the truth of who God is! Think of the song ‘Your Grace Is Enough’ where the pre-chorus says, “So remember Your people, remember Your children, remember Your promise, oh God.” Do you think God needs to remember? No! We do! That’s why we sing these truths: to remind ourselves the truth of who God is!
The second half of this Psalm reminds us that even when God doesn’t test us, we have our own issues to deal with! Our emotions can make us a wreck, we can wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or we could even have other people tormenting us! Even in the midst of those difficulties we can still cry out to God who will hear us. We can also have confidence that at some point all our enemies will be put to shame. That may not be during our time on earth, but at some point we can be guaranteed that God will triumph over them! So put your hope and trust in God!
One of my favorite singer/songwriters that I found out about in college was Jon McLaughlin. He’s a phenomenal piano player, and has recently released a piano album! Today’s song is the first one off that album called ‘Changing’ and as always you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

May 22 Devotional

Sorry for the delay today! I spent most of the morning editing this week’s service video! Hope you’re all doing well and we’re holding your breath waiting for today’s devotional 🙂  Don’t forget! The service will be live at 10 AM on Sunday on YOUTUBE.
This week we’ll be studying Luke 8:4-21 together on Sunday! The text says:
And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
I’m guessing many of you have read this parable before! It’s one of Jesus’ more well known stories. The primary character is the seed that is being sowed, and as Jesus tells us later in the story, that seed is God’s Word. God spreads his word seemingly indiscriminately any and everywhere he can. Despite the resistance of some of the soil, God continues spreading His seed there. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hard path, if there’s weed nearby, or if there’s rock, God will continue spreading His seed anywhere. Similarly, we should do our best to be indiscriminate in our sowing of God’s Word. But it’s not just in the sowing or sharing of God’s Word, it must go further than that to influence our lives. 
Jesus ends the explanation of the parable ends with the need to bear fruit. This is sharing God’s Word with others, but it’s also a changed life. The next parable is about a light. Light is useful for seeing (if you didn’t know!) If you have a light and then hide the light it’s useless! Jesus is saying that’s nonsensical. Instead, when we are the good soil and have allowed God’s Word to take root in our lives we must then become a light, an example to the watching world. Then, the culmination of all this is the last story with Jesus’ family. Jesus says that the point of hearing God’s Word, of shining as a light, is to be a part of his family, of his kingdom. This isn’t meant to diminish the significance of family, but instead to have different priorities. Your priority to God should far exceed your closest earthly connections. That’s what it means to hear God’s Word and do it!
Today’s song is by one of my favorite bands from high school (who also has one of the best drummers I’ve ever watched) called Mutemath, and the song is called ‘Control’ you can listen to it on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

May 20 Devotional

Today we’ll be in Hebrews 2:5-9:
For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,
“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
    or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
    you have crowned him with glory and honor,
    putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
It’s important to note here that when the author says “It has been testified somewhere…” that the reason he doesn’t give chapter and verse is because the Scriptures they had access to were in scrolls. The scrolls were not labeled in easy to distinguish places so people would know he was quoting from the Old Testament, and may even be able to tell it where it was from, but they hadn’t broken the Bible down into chapters and verses the same way we have in our Bibles today. In fact, there’s even some debate as to where the verses are drawn up! My former Greek professor would sometimes joke that some verse markers were put in place because as William Whittingham was putting the verse markers in, his horse would jolt and he’d put it in the wrong spot! The verse numbers sometimes are (I’ve found!) detrimental to effectively tracing the flow of thought, so some Bibles have recently come out that remove those entirely (Places like Bibliotheca and the ESV Readers Bible). These have opened to me a whole new way of trying to read and faithfully interpret the Bible, and I’d encourage you to check them out! It’s also the reason I’ve been removing the verse numbers as I’ve sent out these devotionals the past few months!
As we saw in last week’s passage, the author has just finished reminding us to not drift away from our salvation. Now he moves on to comfort us, instead of being scared and operating out of fear, we can remember that God has given us dominion to oversee certain things and spheres of his creation. Looking at the larger context of what was quoted here, David is saying in Psalm 8: “What I look at the 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.” If you haven’t spent extra time outside during this quarantine something’s wrong with you!! I’m convinced that Colorado has the most beautiful sunsets in the world! Seeing the colors change from night to night, and the starts starting to poke out is awe-inspiring! Yet God cares more about us as humans than the rest of that creation.
The author then specifies his focus to Jesus. Jesus serves as the pinnacle of everything God created. Jesus serves both as the ultimate example for us, and the firstborn of the new creation order. Everything is under Jesus’ sovereign control. This is what we see in places like Colossians 1, everything is held together by Christ! However, this is key, we don’t see the full ramifications of that yet. The lion still eats the lamb instead of lying down with it! There’s still wars and rumors of wars. There’s still discord even among those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That’s why the author reminds us that we don’t see the spiritual reality taking place in the physical reality, yet. This is the inaugurated eschatology that  preached about a couple weeks ago! The Kingdom is here, being built, but we don’t see the full outworking of that yet. We see just a taste of it. As we sing in ‘Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery’ “What a foretaste of deliverance, how unwavering our hope!”
I’m going to throw it back a bit to my upbringing here with an old Rich Mullins song that was released after he died called ‘My Deliverer.’ I would crank this song up every time I heard it on the radio! If memory serves me correctly I even copied it to a cassette tape so I could listen to it whenever I wanted! You can listen to it on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

May 18 Devotional

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you had a good weekend and are looking forward to another week. We’ll be in Psalm 5 today:
Give ear to my words, O Lord;
    consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
    my King and my God,
    for to you do I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
    in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you[a] and watch.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
    evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
    you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
    the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
    will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
    in the fear of you.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies;
    make your way straight before me.
For there is no truth in their mouth;
    their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
    they flatter with their tongue.
Make them bear their guilt, O God;
    let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
    for they have rebelled against you.
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
    you cover him with favor as with a shield.
Once again, part of the reason the Psalms are so helpful for us today is because they cover so much of human emotion! David begins by begging God to hear him, to pay attention to him, to listen to his groans. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen in movies when people start to pray, but they have a tendency to use overly flowery language and end up sounding nothing like they normally do, which doesn’t do anything to bring us nearer to God! David asks God here to consider his groaning. Groaning isn’t easily interpreted or understood, but it’s enough for God to hear us and respond to us. Romans 8 reminds us that the Spirit helps interpret and translate even our groans to God. So do you groan out to God? 
However, there are things we still need to do! Look how God responds to those who do evil. It says God does not delight in wickedness, and even that he hates all evildoers. Have you ever thought that God hates people? The most commonly known and talked about characteristic of God today is that He is love. The problem is people have a very flawed definition of love! The fact that God is love means God gets to define what love is! And he does all throughout the Bible, in places like John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 13. Not only does God hate wickedness, but he also destroys those who speak lies. Speaking is important to God. He is a speaking God. He spoke to create us. He continues speaking to His people through His Word and through each other. That’s part of how we take refuge in God! So let’s continue looking to Him!
Today’s song is a fun song by one of my favorite artists, Ben Rector. He’s released a song about the quarantine that’s a fun jam! It’s called ‘It Would Be You’ and you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

May 15 Devotional

This week’s message is looking at the end of Luke 7:
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
The text doesn’t specify why this man invited Jesus into his home, but it does specify that he didn’t treat Jesus like a normal guest! It was customary at the time to have meals take place in the center courtyard of a home, and because they didn’t have cars people’s feet would be filthy! So the first thing anyone did when they got to your house was have their feet cleaned. The next thing they’d do is anoint someone’s head as a welcoming sign. Simon didn’t do either! So everyone would have seen the rudeness! This would be a little bit like inviting someone over, then ignoring them when they got to your house! You would be able to cut the tension with a knife! And then in the middle of that tension, a “sinner” walks into their midst! At this time, sin was treated as a contagious disease, so Pharisees would avoid sinners like, well, the plague! So this sinful woman walks in and falls at Jesus’ feet. What those nearby should have expected was Jesus to kick her away, but he didn’t. Instead, he addresses the man who rudely ignored his needs. I read a book sometime (can’t remember which one) that stated imagine how a woman like this would have felt when she met Jesus for the first time. Instead of men looking at her to objectify her and use her, he looked at her with compassion and love and no ulterior motives. Think of how that would completely change her view of men! 
Jesus then uses a parable of debts. When someone owes someone else a debt they could never repay, you feel destitute! You feel like you’ll never get out of that burden! But if it’s only five bucks, it doesn’t feel like as big of a deal. The women knew she had many sins to be forgiven of, and the idea that she could be forgiven so overwhelmed her she was willing to anoint Jesus with oil! The irony of this is both Simon and the woman owe the same debt that they could never repay: their entire lives. There’s no sin so big that God’s love does not cover. You can’t out-sin God! That should be freeing for us! Freeing to not continue living in our sin (Rom. 6:1-2), but freeing in that despite our propensity to sin, God’s grace covers our sin, freeing us to relentlessly pursue Him with all we have!
Today’s song is by Brooke Fraser, who also sings with Hillsong! You’ll recognize her voice from songs like Hosanna or King of Kings. This song is called ‘C.S. Lewis Song’ and you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

May 13 Devotional

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today we’ll be in Hebrews 2:1-4:
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Remember last week’s passage, where we were looking at how much better Jesus is. Better than any and everything! So because Jesus is better, we then move into this new argument where we’re commanded to pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. I can still remember my first time going to the beach. After growing up in the Midwest my whole life (they’re all landlocked states, and the Great Lakes are cool and all, but no ocean!), I finally saw the Ocean for the first time during a missions trip to Mexico when I was 13. I was overwhelmed by the vastness of the water! And a little scared of what I knew was hiding underneath! My friends and I spent hours playing in the ocean, riding the waves, tentatively going deeper and deeper. After a while of playing we looked back and realized we had drifted far away from where our leaders were! So we began the arduous journey back to where we were supposed to be! The drifting was hardly noticeable at first, but over time it became a drastic change. The same thing can happen to our faith. I’ve been told there’s no neutral zone in the Christian faith, we’re either growing closer to God or drifting further away from Him. This is where it’s so important for us to remind each other of our rich, wonderful gospel truths. And not just remind each other, but remind ourselves! Keeping our eyes find on Jesus!
The author then goes on to remind us how much greater our salvation is. What began as a message from the angels, yet punishment was still given for disobedience, how much greater is the salvation given to us by God Himself? This salvation was declared by the Lord at first (as we saw in Jesus baptism in Luke 3), but then other lives started to be changed by that same news, and finally, God Himself demonstrated the trueness of this message by sign and wonders and miracles. You don’t have to read far in the book of Acts to see the miracles done! People were even being healed just by touching Peter’s shadow! (Acts 5:15) Therefore, we can trust all the more in the salvation that has been given to us. God has proven that it’s true, that He’s faithful, and that He will give us everything we need, if we ensure that we don’t drift away. This is done in conjunction with the Holy Spirit at work in us, which means we can’t do it on our own or in our own strength. So trust in Him, pray for strength, and remain diligent in your pursuit of Him.
Today’s song is a reminder that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. It’s called ‘He Will Hold Me Fast’ you can listen to it on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

May 11 Devotional

Hello all! I hope you had a great Mother’s Day and good weekend! Thankfully, each day brings us one day closer to being able to meet together! Today we’ll be taking a look at Psalm 4:
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! 
O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? 
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him. 
Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. 
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD. 
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” 
You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. 
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
This Psalm seems to be taking place in the midst of an economic downturn, or a recession or a Great Depression. For the nation of Israel at this time, their entire livelihood depended on how well their crops did. If they had a bountiful harvest then they did well and everything would be ok. If they didn’t have a good harvest, then they would starve and the economy could collapse. So this Psalm helps us answer the question: what do we do when things are not going well, even to the point of being in a recession? Does that sound familiar to anyone? David begins this Psalm by asking God to answer him. Do you ever ask God to answer you? One of the things I so appreciate about the Psalms is they don’t sugar coat emotions. David in his distress demands an answer from God.
For the nation of Israel, and us today, where do we turn when the bottom falls out from under us? The temptation is to turn to other things that give us a quick fix, which God would call idols. When David says “how long will you seek after lies?” That’s exactly what he’s asking! Amos calls idols lies because they can’t back up any of their promises, but we’re so often tempted to look to them instead of God as our source of comfort and strength. But unlike the other idols which lead us to anguish and sin, God will always hear us when we cry out to Him. He doesn’t leave us to our own devices or let us try to figure it out by ourselves, instead He intercedes and gives us exactly what we need. Even when we don’t have enough food to eat, we have our joy in God. That, again, lets us go to sleep in peace, knowing that God will keep us safe! So we can trust God in the highs and the lows, in times of scarcity and times of prosperity.
Today’s song talks about God being our hope. It’s called ‘Mountain’ by Hillsong. You can listen to it on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

May 8 Devotional

Happy Friday everyone! Also, happy last day of “shelter in place” for Boulder county! Tomorrow we move to “safer in place” meaning if you are careful and practice social distancing we can begin meeting in groups of 10! We over in Weld county have been enjoying the safer in place for the past week and a half, so welcome to the club 😉 
As I mentioned on Monday, I’ll be using Friday as a quick devotional about Sunday’s message, which this week is on Luke 7:18-25:
The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way before you.’
I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)
“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
This week we finally get to see John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin again. If you remember all the way back to Christmas (I know it feels like a decade ago) I got to preach about John the Baptist then, and warned you that he’d be back! Well here he is! John has been sitting in a prison cell for preaching against the Herodian dynasty. So while John’s been sitting and rotting in a jail cell, Jesus’ star has been rising. And with the Messiah came the expectation that the Roman government would be overthrown and the Jews would rise up victorious. So John must have been wondering why he was stuck in a jail cell if Jesus was the Messiah. John’s expectations were not being met. So Jesus replies quoting from Isaiah, some of the prophecies related to the Anointed One coming. Jesus is telling John that he’s been focusing on the wrong things. Jesus came to call the sick, not the healthy! So he’s doing exactly what the Bible had prophesied, but John missed it! 
Then Jesus reminds people what John’s role was. John came to prepare the way for the Messiah, a crucial role! John was the greatest person to ever live! Jesus himself says it! But at the same time, the one who is least in God’s kingdom is greater than John! What a dichotomy! See God’s kingdom takes the world’s kingdom and turns it on its’ head! Speaking of turning the earthly kingdom on its’ head, Jesus then addresses the accusations against he and John. John came as an ascetic, living in the wilderness and eating bugs and they accused him of having a demon. Jesus comes and does the opposite, often being the life of the party! (Just read his first miracle in John 2!) And then they accuse him of being a drunkard! So Jesus is asking them which one do they want? They’re talking out of both sides of their mouth! Jesus is reminding his people that God’s way doesn’t fit into our preconceived notions. So let’s follow him instead of demanding he fit into our box!
Today’s song is a newer one called ‘Way Maker’ that you can listen to on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

May 6 Devotional

As I mentioned Monday, the schedule is a little bit different this week, but I hope it’s still encouraging! We’ll be going through Hebrews on Wednesdays section by section, as I’m not sure when we’ll be able to meet again, we’ll see how far we can get! Just so you’re all aware, what I’m hoping to do, based on Pastor Jeff’s recent video, is once we are able to meet in groups of 50, start having the regular teams leading the music section. We’ll still be recording the services early so people that don’t feel comfortable meeting in large groups can still follow along on YouTube, which means we’ll be adding recording the service to our regular Thursday night practices. More details will be forthcoming, but I wanted you all to be aware of what we’re aiming for! I’m really excited to be able to get back together making music! 
Also, please note that we’ll be meeting on Google Hangouts again tomorrow night at 7:00 PM, you can follow THIS LINK to join in! 
Today we’ll be looking at Hebrews 1:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you”?
Or again,
“I will be to him a father,
    and he shall be to me a son”?
And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
Of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels winds,
    and his ministers a flame of fire.”
But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
    the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
    with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
    like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
    and your years will have no end.”
And to which of the angels has he ever said,
“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?
Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
One of the primary points the author is making throughout this entire book is: Jesus is better. Better than what you may ask? Exactly the point the author is making! Anything you put in the statement: Jesus is better than _________ is true. The author begins like any good story “A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.” He’s reminding his readers of their place in history. God has always been at work in and through His people, but something unique has now happened because the Son has come. Where He used to speak through prophets, He now speaks by Himself in the flesh, by His Son. But not only is He the Son, He is also the exact imprint of His nature, meaning He IS God. He didn’t look like God, He didn’t appear to be God, He was God in flesh. Then he turns to the primary point of this first chapter, the superiority of Jesus to angels. 
Angels are terrifying beings! So often we think of angels as chubby little babies playing harps on clouds (at least I have a tendency to do this based on Looney Tunes!). But when you read through the Bible and see the various times people see angels they are awestruck, and at times even attempt to worship the angels! But angels are not meant to be worshipped, they instead are to point us to God, who is to be worshipped. The word “angel” in Greek can literally be translated as “messenger.” They are God’s messengers sent to carry out His commands. But the angels in all their glory can’t hold a candle to Jesus, and the author reminds us of 4 ways Jesus is superior.
First – Jesus has a superior name. What’s in a name? As Shakespeare says in Romeo and Juliet. In this era of human history, a name carried with it a sense of identity. Everything you needed to know about a person was found in their name. Jesus was called the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the one who had come to save the people from their sin. The title “Messiah” could be given to no one else. 
Second – Jesus was given superior honor. The angels, instead of being worshipped, are commanded to worship this Jesus. Think of what happened when Jesus was born. The angels were sent as messengers to tell everyone about the arrival of the Messiah! 
Third – Jesus is given a superior status. While the angels may at time be seen as fire, as terrifying beings, Jesus is completely sovereign. All the attributes we ascribe to God the Father we should also ascribe to God the Son. He is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and nothing can stand against Him. This is not true of the angels.
Fourth – Jesus has a superior existence. As we see in the beginning of this chapter and in Colossians 1, the world is created and held together by Jesus. Nothing exists or continues to exist apart from Him. And then as if to hammer this point home, the author ends this section by reminding that angels are merely ministering spirits sent for our benefit. They give testimony to the salvation freely given and accomplished by Jesus by his death, burial and resurrection. That’s a God we should all serve!
Today’s song is one we sing regularly at church! And this passage is the reason I love singing it! It’s called ‘Jesus is Better’ by Austin Stone Worship. You can listen to it on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

May 4 Devotional

May the 4th be with you! Happy Star Wars day to all my fellow Star Wars aficionados! Well, we have officially entered a new month still under lock down! So I’ll be changing the schedule up a little bit again. I’m hoping that we can start having smaller meetings (of 10) by next week, which would be fantastic! So instead of doing Monday through Friday, I’ll be sending these out Monday, Wednesday, Friday with specific themes. Monday will be from the Psalms (just working through them systematically), Wednesday we’ll go through Hebrews similarly, then Friday it will be looking at the sermon text in preparation for the Sunday gathering. I’d also like to try doing our Thursday night Google Hangout to be able to see some of you again! (Hi Cunninghams!) I’m continuing to pray for all of you, and am anxious to be able to meet again! Since we’ve already gone through the first 2 Psalms, we’ll begin today with Psalm 3:
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
Lord, how many are my foes!
    Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
    “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept;
    I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord!
    Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
    you break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
    your blessing be on your people! Selah
This Psalm begins with a description of when this Psalm was written: after Absalom’s insurrection and David fleeing. David knows that he is under threat of persecution and torture, that people who have held grudges against him are now rising up against him. And they use this time to mock him, to belittle him, to antagonize him. And because he is the king, he also serves as the emissary of his God. That because he is out of his palace, his God can’t support him or has given him up to his sin. Then this Psalm takes a weird turn. In the midst of David complaining he inserts one word: selah. The Psalms were originally written as songs to be sung, and that little phrase meant an extended instrumental to reflect on what was just sung. The Babylon Bee one time made a joke about this, saying that the best translation is “extended guitar solo.” Which isn’t too far from the truth! David, and the Holy Spirit, are reminding us to reflect on this complaint. How often do you complain to God? This is part of the reason I love the Psalms! They cover the gamut of human emotions!
So after David has encouraged us to complain for an extended period of time, he reminds us that God is a shield. He protects us from the flaming darts of the evil one, and will at times even protect us bodily from harm. Who knows what we’ve been spared from because of the gracious hand of God. A friend posted on Facebook a couple weeks ago about leaving Home Depot and driving away, and just 25 feet in front of them witnessing someone get hit by a car. He reminded his kids that God has a plan for them, and if they had left just 10 seconds sooner they would have been hit! God cares about his children! And even in the midst of this difficulty, David goes to sleep. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stressed out about things going on in my life and been unable to sleep, but I’ve never faced my son leading an insurrection against me! Yet because his hope is in God, David can sleep in confidence, because he knew God will continue to sustain him. We all know this doesn’t mean that God will never let us die! Hebrews 11, the hall of faith, reminds us that some people were sawn in two, some were boiled alive, some were burned to death. But even in the midst of those situations, God is still with us. We don’t ever have to experience separation from God because His Son did it in our place! 
Many of you may not know that I had the wonderful privilege of participating in my high school choir, leading to the opportunity to sing in some pretty amazing places, as we had one of the best choir programs in the state! (Thanks to a world renown music school being in the same town) Because of this, I was exposed to the writer and conductor Eric Whitacre. He writes some of the most beautiful choral pieces I’ve ever heard, including one about the outcome of this Psalm, titled ‘When David Heard.” Just to warn you, the song is 17 minutes long, so don’t start listening to it until you’ve got a good chunk of free time! You can listen to it on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.