by pastor david
“The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.”
Throughout the Psalms, we find passages that sound very similar to and proclaim the same message as Psalm 19:1. For instance...
Psalm 50:6 “Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is Judge.”
Psalm 97:6 “The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory.”
Even the New Testament makes a similar assertion.
Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
Creation is the unambiguous expression of the Creator.
Autumn is my favorite season of the year. One of the benefits of living in central Ohio is that we get to experience four seasons, none of which is terribly severe – most of the time. However, Autumn is, by far, the best of the four. The temperature is cool but not uncomfortable. The sky is clear and the colors of the leaves are magnificent. For me, it creates a very relaxing atmosphere.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that this beauty, clearly observable by everyone, points us to our beneficent Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. If we follow the line of thought from Romans chapter one, we conclude that there is no excuse for not recognizing the existence of a Creator. One may not understand that it is Jesus Christ, but can at least know to look toward the omnipotent One who spoke the universe into motion.
Consequently, all who wish to know the God of Creation have this personal promise from Jesus Himself. ”All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me].” (John 6:37 The Amplified Bible)
What an amazing promise, this is! The Creator of this massive universe will accept us, if we come to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, I am not suggesting that the things that have been created should be worshipped. On the contrary, these things should only point us to the One who created them. It is then our privilege to enter into a personal relationship with Him, through the finished work of Christ on the Cross.
For the one who is already a follower of Jesus Christ, this is a timely opportunity to turn your attention heavenward, to the Creator. Spend some extra time this week enjoying what He has fashioned for His glory and for our delight. The cool breeze and the colorful foliage remind us that our Lord is the only one who is truly creative. Except He made something out of nothing, a feat that has never been duplicated. Give Him the glory today!
Psalm 123:1 (ESV) “To you, I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens.”
My first thought, as I awakened this morning was, “God is still on His throne!” That thought was followed immediately by, “I need coffee!” What a comfort to begin each day with the assurance that God is still in control, whether I have coffee or not.
A friend of mine was talking with her father who is a believer but is continually worried and anxious about…well everything. My friend interrupted her dad and ask, “What’s the matter? Did God fall off the throne and I didn’t hear about it?”
I am so glad God reigns eternally and that those of us who are His children will be taken care of forever. Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Yes, God is still “enthroned in the heavens”! God sent His son to save you and sent the Holy Spirit to keep you!
GOD IS STILL ON HIS THRONE!
I do not know what you are facing today, however, I know God, the Supreme Being, the Ruler of the Universe, and I believe every word found in the Scripture. For instance, Philippians 4:6-7:
How comforting it is that in this sin-cursed, chaotic, and corrupt world, we can begin and end each day with the assurance that God is still in control. Give Him praise today.
Galatians 6:9 NLT "So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up."
Starting is easy. Quitting is easy. Hanging in there is tough.
If you have ever started an exercise program or a diet, you know that the beginning is easy. We are all excited about the potential outcome of our efforts and even enjoy the process, at first. Later on, it is just as easy to quit. It is easy to sleep in when you should get up and go to the gym or get on your treadmill. It is easy to eat the chocolate cake instead of vegetables. Yes, it is easy to start a new project and just as easy to give up and quit. It is hanging in there, persisting, going on with what you know is right that is so difficult.
Starting is easy. Quitting is easy. Hanging in there is tough.
This is so true when it comes to our spiritual life. It is easy to go to church, hear a challenge about our daily Christian life, and leave there with a new determination to walk as Jesus walked. However, when the temptations come and the going gets tough, it is just as easy to fall back into our old lifestyle.
The difficult thing is to be persistent and continue to live as Jesus lived, in spite of the difficulties and the temptation to quit. Herein is the test of true discipleship – hanging in there when the whole world seems to be positioned against you.
According to the Greek Scholar, Dr. Kenneth Wuest, the language of the Scripture text above implies that we are tempted to quit or slacken our exertion by reason of the weariness caused by prolonged effort.
Often it is the prolonged effort that tempts us to quit – to quit reading our Bible daily, to quit praying on a regular basis, to quit attending church as we should, to quit everything relating to the Christian life, all because we are weary.
Why are we weary? We get weary because we are “doing what is good” and the Christian life is not easy. “Doing what is good” is never easy – enjoyable but not easy, rewarding but not easy. Satan will never let us do the right thing without putting up a fight. (1 Peter 5:8)
I think it was the Southern Baptist Evangelist, Vance Havner who said, “It is almost always too soon to quit” and I agree. It is too soon to quit on your marriage, your job, your ministry, your church, and your goals. The text above suggests that there is a “season” for reaping – “at just the right time”. We must be patient and wait for that “season”. If we quit now, that “season” of reaping what we have sown will never come.
However, if we hang in there, doing all we know we should, there will come a time, a “season” for reaping the bountiful benefits of doing what is right and living as Christ would have us live.
My dear brothers and sisters, “do not lose heart”. You will reap, in due time. You have God’s Word on it.
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
According to Dictionary.com, the word, “Expedite” means, “to speed up the progress of; or hasten”. We certainly live in a fast-paced, expedited world and it seems that the dominating factor behind all we do is speed. We want what we want and we want it now!
We carry a miniature computer around in our pocket from which we can make phone calls, instantly access the Internet, check emails, receive instant messages from a variety of sources, check the weather, get directions to any destination in the world, book flights, start our cars, check security videos, play games, send pictures, and a thousand other things – all in an instant.
We are living in the “Instant Generation”!
Don't get me wrong. I love all the modern conveniences and make use of many of them but sometimes our need for speed, our need to expedite things can get us into trouble – especially when it comes to spiritual and eternal matters.
Let me mention one area of concern. Do you try to expedite your devotional time, your personal time alone with God? What does that look like on a daily basis?
A number of tools have been developed to help us spend a brief amount of time with the Lord and His Word each day. I suppose the thinking behind these tools is that a little time with the Lord is better than no time spent with the Lord – with which I am forced to agree.
However, as I read God’s Word, I hear God pleading for us to spend protracted periods of time with Him in prayer and the reading of God’s Word each day.
Jesus set the example for us: “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35). He had a specific time and a special place to meet with His heavenly Father and that established a spiritual pattern.
The Psalmists knew how important spending time alone with God was – especially time alone with God in the morning. For instance…
• (Psalm 5:3) “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.”
• (Psalm 59:16) “But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning.”
• (Psalm 88:13) “But to You I have cried out, O Lord, and in the morning my prayer comes before you.”
There are so many Scriptural passages that underscore the importance of giving God the first waking moments of each day.
• God asks for the first part of our week – Sunday.
• He asks for the first part of our income – our tithes.
• The Lord also asks for the first part of our day – our mornings!
Believe me, I know how easy it is to rush through a verse or two and recite a quick prayer and proceed on through the day, because I’ve done it. But oh how much more fulfilling it is to quiet yourself before the Lord and pour out your heart to Him in praise and petition and oh how rewarding it is to spend a significant amount of time reading the very words of our Lord addressed specifically to you.
I am often asked, “How much time should I spend in ‘devotions’?” My standard reply is, “Read until you get something fresh from God. Pray until you sense you are in His very presence”. If you make that your daily habit, your time spent with the Lord will always be productive, a blessing to you, and will please the heart of the Lord.
My experience has been that when I spend time with the Lord in the morning, I sense His presence, His protection, and His promptings all through the day – and it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Colossians 1:18 "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence."
It has been my privilege to be engaged in full-time, vocational ministry since 1975. After I served for eight years in Youth Ministry, my Pastor and mentor sensed the call of God to start a new church in Phoenix, Arizona. So on January 1, 1983, at the age of 31, I began to serve as the Senior Pastor of my home church – the church in which I grew up.
Being new to the role of Senior Pastor, I realized I needed to develop a Biblical Philosophy of Ministry that would stand the test of time and the challenges that a changing culture would most naturally bring. Consequently, I spent a great deal of time searching the Scriptures, discovering exactly what a Church ought to be and what a Pastor ought to be and do. The result of my studies was a multi-page document, which has served as a guide for my ministry all these years. It begins as follows:
“The expectations held by a congregation of its Pastor are often rather obscure and vary from member to member and from Church to Church. Therefore, I have undertaken the task of outlining the Scriptural goals and principles upon which I intend to serve this great Church.”
What followed was a list of thirteen principles that serve as a roadmap for ministry. Here is the first.
1. I will seek in my entire ministry to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and to promote loyalty to Him before seeking loyalty for Church, Denomination, or self (Colossians 1:18).
As I read that again, after all these years, I must ask myself, “Is this still true of me? Am I still seeking to exalt Christ in all my ministry and that above everything else? Is Christ still preeminent in ‘all things’"?
I am reminded of Matthew 6:33, where Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”. Am I seeking His kingdom or mine? Am I trying to build His kingdom or my kingdom?
The Greek word translated “preeminence” in Colossians 1:18 is, “prōteuōn”, which means, “holding the first place” . Does Jesus really hold first place in our lives? In our homes? In our places of business? In our communities? In our church?
It was the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, who said, “Christ is either Lord of all, or is not Lord at all”.
I hope you will do as I have been doing today and search your heart. Is there anything outside of the Lordship of Christ and His Kingdom? Is Christ preeminent in all your life? Do you love Him supremely? Are you loyal to Him and Him alone? If the answer to these questions is yes, then rejoice and give God the glory for the opportunity you have to surrender to Him.
First Corinthians 15:10
“But by the grace of God I am what I am”
On December 6, 2019, I will celebrate my 60th spiritual birthday. On December 6, 1959, in the Sunday evening service at the Welch Avenue Free Will Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, Christ came into my life as Lord and Savior. I was only eight years old and yet I knew, without a doubt, that I was one of God’s children. It was One Glorious Moment of Grace.
However, when I think of all of God’s dealings with me, I realize that there have been and continue to be numerous Glorious Moments of Grace. They started back before time began when “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).
These Moments of Grace continued as God created mankind, in order to enjoy sweet fellowship with those who were made in His likeness.
Moments of Grace were obvious as God lovingly and patiently dealt with the wayward and wicked Israelites He had chosen to be His own special people (Deuteronomy 7:6).
No one would question that Christ’s death on the Cross for all the sins of all the world for all mankind for all time was a Glorious Moment of Grace!
God continues to demonstrate His Glorious Grace each day as the gospel continues to be spread around the world. (Titus 2:11) “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men”.
Every time we fail the Lord, doing what He forbids or failing to do what He commands, He pours out His Glorious Grace in loving forgiveness to those who demonstrate genuine repentance. (1 John 1:8-10) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
This Glorious Grace will be evident when “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
These Glorious Moments of Grace will reach their pinnacle when God’s people are ushered into “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) where “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain” (Revelation 21:4). Oh, what One Glorious Moment of Grace that will be!
Take a moment, right now, to thank God for His Glorious Grace – His unmerited favor poured out on undeserving sinners.
Proverbs 18:21A “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”
America has a new obsession. We are now obsessed with saying everything that is on our mind. This is evident from massive protests in the streets to social media. Everyone wants to speak his or her mind and we think everyone else needs to hear it.
I have a news flash for you. Not everything that enters your mind needs to be spoken. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for freedom of speech but where did we get the idea that our puny little thoughts need to be broadcast around the world? What makes our ideas and opinions so important that everyone around us needs to hear them? Also, who told us that our opinions are always right and everyone else is wrong?
As I have been studying the Book of Proverbs, I have been looking specifically for God’s instructions involving the use of the tongue, and to be candid, I have been terribly convicted by what I have read.
For instance, let’s look at a few verses in Proverbs 17.
Nearly every chapter in the Book of Proverbs has similar warnings for each of us to heed. It would be a good spiritual exercise to read the Book of Proverbs looking for exhortations regarding your speech and highlighting them in your Bible. I agree with Will Durant who said, “Talk is cheap because the supply always exceeds the demand. One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say”.
From my exploration of Proverbs, I offer these recommendations regarding our speech and the proper use of our tongues.
1. Say only WHAT needs to be said.
Again, not everything you think needs to proceed from your mouth. (Proverbs 25:11) “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
2. Say only WHAT needs to be said, WHEN it needs to be said.
There are times when something needs to be said but the timing is all-wrong. Wait for the Holy Spirit’s prompting. (Proverbs 15:23) “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is.”
3. Say only WHAT needs to be said, WHEN it needs to be said, and the WAY it needs to be said.
Very often, we ruin what should be said by the way we say it. How something is said is just as important as what is said.
I’m certain you are beginning to get the picture. Surrender your tongue to the control of the Lord Jesus Christ and it will prove to be a benefit and blessing to the Kingdom of God.
May I ask one last question in closing? Why are we so anxious to spout out every opinion and idea that comes to mind but so hesitant to share the Gospel with our unbelieving friends and family members? Why are Jesus and the good news of salvation the only things about which we are reluctant to speak?
Oh God, help us be silent when we should be silent but speak when we should speak.
Second Corinthians 9:7 "God loves a cheerful giver."
Why do we give to the local Church? Why do we give our tithes and offerings to our local church? Well, that is a good question.
•Some might say, “I give because the Bible commands us to give and I want to obey God”.
•Others might say, “In the Covenant I signed when I joined the Church, I promised to give and I always keep my word”.
•Someone might add, “The Church needs the money to operate”.
All of these are valid reasons to give our tithes and offerings to the Lord through our local Church.
•The Bible does command us, in both the Old and New Testaments, to give our tithes and offerings to the Lord. (Malachi 3:8-12 and Matthew 23:23)
•It is also true that in our Church Covenant we promised, “To contribute, as the Lord directs, to the financial support of the Church by the systematic and sacrificial giving of tithes and offerings (1 Corinthians 16:1-4, 2 Corinthians 9)”.
•Any thinking-person also knows that the local Church needs money to pay for buildings, salaries, programs, insurance, etc.
But, isn’t there something else?
Isn’t there something more than just obligation and pragmatism that drives us to give one tenth of our income to our local church? Or, at least, shouldn’t there be?
In the Book of Exodus we read that God commanded the people of Israel to bring offerings for the building of the Tabernacle, a temporary place of worship. About this we read, “Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments” (Exodus 35:21). Note the phrase, “whose heart was stirred”.
Before the story is finished we read that, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do” (Exodus 36:5).
Finally, “The people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done – indeed too much” (Exodus 36:6-7).
Upon reading this Old Testament account, I am immediately reminded of a New Testament passage in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, which reads, “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver”. Imagine that – “a cheerful giver”.
•It is one thing to simply obey God with our money but it is quite another thing to give because we delight in doing so.
•It is one thing to give because we made a promise but how much better it is when we look forward to dropping that offering envelope in the box or plate.
•It is one thing to know we are helping to meet the financial needs of the local church; it is something all together different when we experience the joy of being a viable part of the local family of believers and enjoy giving our fair share.
Did you notice the words I used? “Delight” “Look forward” “Joy” “Enjoy”? Do these words describe you as you write that check and worship the Lord with your hard-earned money? Are you a cheerful giver? The word translated, “cheerful” is the Greek word, “hilaros”, which is related to our word, “hilarious”. Are you hilarious as you give your tithes and offerings or are you simply paying a “bill” each pay period?
Yes, I admit that it would be wonderful if the leadership of our Church had to ask you to refrain from giving because we have “too much,” as they did in the Book of Exodus. However, wouldn’t it be better if you gave systematically and sacrificially with an “hilarious” attitude? Wouldn’t you and your Lord, to Whom you are giving, experience much more joy if you were a “cheerful giver”?
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
Several years ago, I was teaching a class in a Bible Institute on the subject of prayer. I asked the class this question: “What should one do when he finds himself distracted during his prayer time?” An elderly gentleman, named Dale, who had participated very little during the previous lessons, spoke up immediately and without hesitation and said, “You should apologize to the Lord for being so rude”.
I have never forgotten that profound statement and the wisdom behind it. I am reminded of it often, as I am going about the daily practice of prayer. I often find myself apologizing to God for allowing my mind to wander away from my conversation with Him.
Let’s be honest. It is so very easy to be distracted during our prayer time, the result of which is disjointed, undisciplined, and often, unfinished prayers.
Why did Jesus rise “in the morning” a “long while before daylight”? Why did our Lord depart to “a solitary place”? Why did He choose to be apart, away, and alone during His private time with His Heavenly Father? Could it be that He knew that any other setting would be fraught with distractions.
Read through the Gospels and you will find Jesus withdrawing time and again, only to be interrupted by the clamoring crowds.
Let me ask you a few questions?
• Do you find yourself checking your email before you open your Bible in the morning?
• Do you have a number of conversations with people before you begin your morning conversation with God?
• If you get a text message during your prayer time, do you stop to read it?
• If, during your devotions, you remember something urgent you need to do, do you stop and finish your task before finishing your time alone with the Lord?
• What do you do when you get a phone call in the middle of your prayers?
• Does your family know when and where you will be spending time with the Lord?
The answers to the questions above will help you understand the many distractions that keep you from having the dynamic and effective prayer life you always wanted.
If we follow the example of our Lord Jesus, in Mark 1:35, we will apply several principles to our daily devotional time that will transform our prayer from mediocre to mighty.
1. Jesus had a specific time to pray.
(1:35a) “in the morning…a long while before daylight”
When do you pray? Apparently, morning is the best time to pray, according to Jesus.
• He asks for the first part of our week - the Lord’s Day.
• He asks for the first part of our income - our tithe.
• He asks for the first part of our day – the morning.
2. Jesus had a special place to pray.
(1:35b) “a solitary place”
The first thing He did when He arose each morning was to depart “to a solitary place” – away from the people He loved so much, away from the calling and ministry, away from everyone and everything except His Heavenly Father.
3. Jesus had a solemn reason to pray.
(1:35c) “there He prayed”
Jesus knew He would be unfit and ill-prepared for the task at hand, if He did not prepare Himself with this essential, spiritual exercise. Just look at the verses that follow. When His disciple found Him they said, “Everyone is looking for You” (1:37). His reply reveals the clarity for His ministry gained by that time alone with His Father; “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth” (1:38).
Oh, distractions! Each of us is plagued by them. However, if we follow the example of our Lord, we will better stay on task and enjoy the focused and fruitful time alone with the One who is more important to us than anyone or anything else on earth. I pray that we will all work hard at…
• Setting a specific time to pray
• Finding a special place to pray, and
• Having a solemn reason to pray.ay.
(1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV) “Pray without ceasing.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT) “Never stop praying.”
The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, from the pen of the Apostle Paul, is all about “Living in the Light of His Coming”. The emphasis throughout is the fact of Christ’s return to the earth for His church and our faith in that immutable fact. Paul is encouraging his readers to live in such a way as to welcome the return of the King; to walk in a manner pleasing to Him and to have a conscience that is not fearful at the thought of standing before our Lord.
As Paul made his closing remarks in Chapter Five, he tells those believers that they already know that “the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (5:2). In light of the imminent return of Christ, Paul then gives a number of practical instructions to guarantee their readiness for His return.
One of the most important directives given is found in (5:17 NKJV), where Paul simply and succinctly instructs his readers to “Pray without ceasing” or “Never stop praying”, as the New Living Translation reads. Obviously, that does not mean for us to go about our daily routine with our head down, our eyes closed, muttering a constant prayer under our breath. Nor does it mean that we are to cloister ourselves away in some monastery, secluded from the world, engaging in non-stop supplication.
What then does “Pray without ceasing” actually mean? To answer that question we must understand the prayer is both an act and an attitude. Not only are we to engage in prayer at specific times and places each day but also, we are to be in a constant attitude of prayer throughout the day.
There must be nothing in our lives about which we cannot pray.
When I think about praying, “without ceasing”, I picture myself walking through my day with Christ walking right by my side, step by step. There are times when we talk. There are times when we are silent. There are times when we laugh and at other times, we cry.
However, no matter where I am or what I am facing, whether comical or catastrophic, Christ is right there beside me, step by step. At times I call out to Him for help. At other times, I seek His advice. Much of the time is spent praising Him for who He is and thanking Him for what He has done in my life and family.
Even when there is no dialogue between us, I have His promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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