Weekly Devotional – Take A Power Shower! – Psalm 62

We celebrate Pentecost on Sunday, June 8. Pentecost celebrated the wheat harvest and the Jews used this festival to thank God for his generous bounty and grace.

When Jesus died and rose again, he commanded his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them. This occurred on Pentecost! Isn’t it interesting that what had been celebrated as a harvest of grain would now be celebrated as a harvest of souls into the kingdom of God! We read in Acts 2:41 that “about three thousand were added to their number that day”.

David wrote Psalm 62 many years before the events of Acts 2 transpired. He tells us in Psalm 62 that true spiritual power comes only from God. Further, God wants to shower us with His power! This means that God wants to give us power to live the Christian life! Isn’t that good news!

David makes it clear that this power comes only from God. We must not try and combine God’s power with something or someone else. It’s not God and my family, or God and my intellect or God and my experience; it is God alone! David writes “He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken”. (vs.2)

We must be aware of and resist adversaries to God’s power. David experienced many adversaries. He writes of them in vs.3-4 as he describes himself in the third person. A key adversary we encounter today is the Evil One. We must resist the Evil One through prayer, persistence and determination. Satan works hard to make Christians discouraged, complacent, and fearful. Pray against strongholds of fear, complacency, unbelief and jealousy. Satan’s greatest ploy is to convince you that he doesn’t really exist. This deceptive ploy denies Christ’s experience with him and the entire corpus of the Bible.

Finally, let God’s power work through your weaknesses. God can infuse your weaknesses with his power! David writes of our fleeting existence in vs.9. We are weak but God is strong! What weaknesses do you have that God can work through today and this week?



Weekly Devotional – Godly Desires – Psalm 63

David wrote Psalm 63 in response to a threat on his life and his service as King of Israel. His son Absalom had launched a rebellion against David and David sought God in prayer. “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you”.(vs.1)

As David prayed, he came to realize an important truth: God’s love for him surpasses life itself. David wrote in vs. 3 “Because your love in better than life, my lips will glorify you”. God’s love for him had greater worth, greater value than his own physical life!

I’m impressed with the way David handled adversity. He responded to the threat of losing his kingdom and life by praying with great fervency. David didn’t simply make a courtesy prayer to God. He prayed intently and with great passion!!

When we encounter adversity in our lives we too must seek the Lord with great fervency in our praying. Are you experiencing a hardship today? It might be a problem with your work, family, health, a personal issue. Whatever problem you’re experiencing, remember that God’s love for you surpasses life itself! Seek God personally with your whole heart. Commit your life completely to God. Note how David wrote in vs.8 “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” The word cling means, “to follow hard after”. David followed hard after God! He committed his life, his service as King of Israel, all of it to God. 

Finally, note that David shook off his adversity. David prayed with confidence in vs.9, “They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth”. David prayed with confidence because he knew that he could depend on God to defeat his enemies.

Let’s remember that God’s love for us surpasses life! God will still love us even when our physical life on earth ceases. He has prepared a place for us in heaven, where we will spend eternity with Him.



Weekly Devotional – Winning Over Worry – Psalm 94:19

Worry. We worry about our kids, jobs, health, loved ones, mistakes we’ve made, inappropriate comments we have made, money, family commitments; we worry about many things don’t we?

            Psalm 94:19 teaches that God offers relief from our worries! Psalm 94:19 says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul”. Anxiety often comes from worry. This verse teaches us that God offers relief from our worries through His consolation. The word for “consolation” means “comfort”. It refers to relief of emotional stress and grief as well as satisfaction of mind. Essentially, the word “consolation” means divine relief and satisfaction of mind.

            The verse also teaches that God’s consolations, His divine relief brings joy to our souls. “Joy” means sheer delight! God pours out His consolations, and this floods our souls with joy.

            How should we receive God’s consolations and subsequent joy? Through a prayer of relinquishment. Prayers of relinquishment involve giving up, yielding, releasing control of ourselves and our situations to the Lord.

            As you consider your worries today, ask yourself this question: “have I taken the time to relinquish them to the Lord in prayer?” Or, have I held on to and nursed my worries?

            The Lord wants His children to live in freedom and joy. Jesus warned us about worry in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25ff. May God help you to relinquish your worries to the Lord so you can experience His wonderful consolations!



Weekly Devotional – Worship The Worthy King – Psalm 47

Psalm 47:1 starts out with a command: “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” In my sermon, we explored some of the implications of that for us today. We wrestled on Sunday with the idea of not just writing off all clapping, dancing, singing loudly with joy, etc. Indeed there are many verses in the Scriptures which speak about doing these very things. Perhaps as part of your devotion this week, you could wrestle with these questions:

1. What is it about clapping, dancing, shouting with joy that makes me anxious or uncomfortable? What’s at the root of that?

2. Why do I think God commands us to worship in these expressive ways?
What would it look like for me to express myself more in worship?

These are good thoughts for us to wrestle with. The main point that the psalm proclaims, however, is that God is “a great king over all the earth” (2) and that he “reigns over the nations” (8). Because of His status as king and because of all that He has done for us, we worship Him. Take some time this week to reflect on who God is and what He has done for you. Maybe spend some time writing down aspects of who He is that makes Him worthy of worship. Think of the things He has done for you, delivered you from, or given to you as a gift. Then turn that into worship – through singing, praying, writing, etc.

Let’s worship the Worthy King this week



The True Meaning of Easter

Video of interview on the Dove TV April 16 2014



The Details of Holy Week

Holy Week begins this Sunday, Palm Sunday. The crowds in Jerusalem welcomed Jesus with loud “Hosannas!” There was an incredible amount of energy and excitement. The crowds expected Jesus to enter Jerusalem as the triumphant King and overthrow the hated Romans. But Jesus didn’t come as a military or political king. Rather, he rode a donkey and tried to get the crowds to see that He had a greater purpose than overthrowing the Romans: He came to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

To fulfill this mission, Jesus knew he must suffer, die on the cross and be raised on the third day.

Jesus hosted a Last Supper with his disciples. Today we refer to this Thursday night communion time prior to his crucifixion as “Maundy Thursday”. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word, maundatum, meaning “commandment”. It’s taken from John 13:34 where Jesus, who had just washed his disciple’s feet said, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another”.

The Bible tells us of Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ subsequent arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.  After heartfelt prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and his arrest, Jesus was taken before the high priest and Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect or governor. The crowds, who only days before welcomed Jesus with loud “hosannas!” were now intent on having Jesus crucified. They had been stirred up by factions loyal to the High Priest who viewed Jesus as a threat to his control and power. So, the crowds screamed, “Crucify Him!!!”

Jesus was crucified on Good Friday or what was originally known as “God’s Friday”. Two other men, both criminals, were crucified next to Jesus. Jesus was nailed to the cross, a crown of thorns jammed into his skull and he fought for breath for six excruciating hours. Finally, Jesus cried out, “it is finished”. Jesus finished the work God called him to do! He took all the sins of the world upon himself and died. In dying for us, Jesus defeated Satan and paid the price owed to God for our sin and rebellion. We couldn’t do it, so Jesus did it for us. That’s amazing grace!!!

We know that Jesus rose from the grave three days later, after his death. In rising from the grave, Jesus conquered death, forever! He opened the gates of heaven for all who believe in him.

How can we explain all these important events to young children? I believe that finding a children’s level DVD which accurately portrays the events of Holy Week would be the best way to begin discussing this with your children. Watch the DVD with your child or children and invite them to ask questions. Veggie Tales has an Easter DVD called “A Very Veggie Easter”.



WEEKLY DEVOTION PSALM 34

 

David wrote Psalm 34. He wrote it in response to feeling threatened by a Philistine King named Achish. David felt that God protected him from Achish and David wanted readers to know of the special care God extends to the righteous.

The “righteous” include those who have a right relationship with God. The Lord extends special care over the righteous! What does this special care look like? First, the Lord hears the prayers of the righteous and saves the righteous from trouble.  Look in vs.15 “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry”. What a great truth! This means that whatever troubles you, a family situation, financial matter, health problem, a troubled friendship, God hears your prayers and saves you from trouble.

Second, God provides for the righteous! David wrote in vs. 9 “Fear the Lord you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing”. This means that we have all of our needs met! We read in the New Testament in Phil 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”. What a great promise!

Finally, God delivers the righteous from trouble. As you think about your troubles today, whether they are with people or with your job, or with the consequences of a bad decision you’ve made, remember this verse, vs.19 “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all”. If you are struggling today with a difficult problem, claim this verse! Take your trouble(s) to the Lord in prayer and then be prepared to watch in amazement as the Lord answers your prayer and delivers you from your trouble.



WEEKLY DEVOTION PSALM 55:22

Are you carrying a lot of burdens today? Perhaps you have health concerns which burden you greatly. Or, a loved one has health problems that cause you great concern. Maybe you have financial problems, problems with a child or spouse or personal problems such as loneliness or depression.

The Bible teaches us: “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22).

The word for “cast” means “to throw or hurl”. The Bible uses the term both as a physical object of throwing an object or figuratively, such as casting our cares upon the Lord.  The next two lines of the verse provide two promises: first, God’s promise to “sustain us”. The word “sustain” means “to support, nourish”. When we commit our cares or concerns to the Lord, He sustains or supports us!

The second promise, “he will never let the righteous fall” teaches us that God will never let the righteous, true believers, move or be shaken in a destructive way. When we truly cast our cares upon the Lord we will not self-destruct!

God wants us to commit our concerns to Him and He will support us. Do you do this? Or, do you do everything you can possible think of to solve your concern or problem and only when it seems insurmountable, do you seek the Lord?

When we truly commit our concerns to the Lord, we can avoid taking unhealthy escape routes such as substance abuse, quitting a job, getting involved in an adulterous relationship, etc.  We can also avoid wasting time worrying about our concerns. Did you know that worrying is a BIG waste of time? Jesus commanded us not to worry in Matthew 6:34. Finally, we can live with confidence and hope!

So, whatever concerns you have today, commit them to the Lord in prayer and He will support you!



Pray without Ceasing?

It has been one year since my first article as prayer elder appeared in the Bell Ringer with the same title, “Pray without ceasing?” What a blessing I have had in studying the subject of prayer over these months, and also praying with many of you as we have grown in our prayer lives together.

The theme of that first article began with a phrase from a devotional by Oswald Chambers encouraging us to view our prayer life as “Spiritual Breathing”. That is the totally normal, healthy, uninterrupted, process of living moment by moment with our loving heavenly Father.

My question, both then and now is: are we all accepting our status in the family of God and “Breathing” His life? From our study in Romans – we were shown the truths of our union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Can there be anything greater that we can imagine or comprehend than being so joined together with God and His Purposes for now and eternity? And in addition: He invites us to “draw near (approach, come) to the throne of Grace with CONFIDENCE, so that we may receive mercy and find GRACE to help us in our time of need (that is well timed)” Hebrews 4:16.

Just as it is important physically to breathe oxygen deeply into our lungs, what an encour- agement to deeply breath the wind of the Spirit. We can then enjoy the strength and grace of “walking with God” even as Enoch did in Genesis 5:22 and 24! Living in God’s pres- ence set Enoch apart from all others named in Genesis, with the conclusion: “…and he was not; for God took him” rather than “and he died”! We have the privilege of being citizens of heaven now, so that our physical dying is now defined, by the apostle Paul, as departing and being with Christ!! Philippians 1:23.

To paraphrase Ephesians 6:1: “To sum it all up, be being made strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (and v.18:) “and with every kind of prayer and supplication, and praying in every season, in tune with the Spirit’s guidance, keep being relentless in praying for all your fellow saints.”

As Paul asked for prayer in Eph. 6:19, would you also pray for us in leadership, that as Paul stated it, we would be bold as well, fearlessly making known the mystery of the Good News?



Church Mission and Identity Statements

At the January Session meeting, our church elders took several actions related to our church’s identity and mission.

First, we decided to retain our identity statement which defines who we are as a church. For the past six years our identity state- ment has been, “A family church for the family of God”. We publish this statement in our mailings, web page and on the front page of our weekly worship bulletin.

This identity statement defines who we are as a church. As a family church, we empha- size building relationships among church members.

• We want people to feel a sense of belonging in our church!

• We want everyone to feel included!

• We encourage people to get to know each other on a deep level.

• We stress relational living in our church because we believe a lot of spiritual growth and maturity results from relational connections in the church.

Our identity statement leads to our new mission statement. This new mission statement is: “Connecting people with God, each other and ministry”. This simple mission statement replaces our statement of purpose, statement of vision and philosophy of ministry statement, which were all developed twenty years ago.

What does “Connecting people with God, each other and ministry” mean? First, our church wants people to be connected to God! We get connected to God through faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord. We want people who attend and belong to our church to grow in their relationship with God. We do this through encouraging an active prayer life, attending worship regularly, and reading the Bible.

Second, we want people who attend and belong to our church to be connected with each other. We don’t expect you to have all of your friends in this church, but you should have some of them in our church. We encourage people to participate in Bible studies, Care Groups, and various other groups in the church so friendships can be built.

Third, we want people who attend and belong to our church to be connected to a ministry for Jesus. Being connected to God in Christ is the most important connection, and being connected to each other is second in importance. Being actively involved in a ministry is also important! Our ministries for Christ vary in nature; some of us serve as ushers or ministry team members, others of us serve in the ministry of music or making prayer shawls or helping out on the Properties and Maintenance team or as deacons or elders. Every single one of us should be involved in a ministry of one kind or another!

Pastor Larry Jung