Pastor's Blog

Inauguration Prayer

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people …"

THEN PAUL ADDS in 1 Timothy 2:2, “...or kings and all who are in high positions.” 

I am struck by the urgency with which Paul calls the church to pray for those who rule over us. It seems to me, that currently there is a heightened sense of urgency given all that we have experienced in this recent election cycle.

To what end are we to pray these things? Paul says, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 

I can’t help but think that there is a direct connection between the testimony of leading a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way and the flourishing of the gospel. 

We can live peaceful and quiet lives even when everything around us seems to be in turmoil. How so? We do so by reminding ourselves that we belong first and foremost to the kingdom of God; a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

James K. A. Smith says, “The kingdom of God is something we await. It is not something we create.” I wonder if we have been looking to earthly politics as the vehicle to create what only the coming King can bring. Our center of gravity needs to find itself firmly planted in the kingdom of God.

Today we have the inauguration of a new president and vice president. Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris deserve our devoted prayers. 

With that in mind, I would like to share with you a prayer that Peter Marshall prayed for the President of the United States in 1947. Marshall was the chaplain of the U. S. Senate at the time. I invite you to turn this into an opportunity to obediently respond to Paul’s instructions to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2.

We pray, Lord Jesus, for our President.
We are deeply concerned that he may know the will of God,
and that he may have the spiritual courage and grace to follow it.
Deliver him, we pray, from all selfish considerations.
Lift him above the claims of politics.
Fill him with the Spirit of God that shall make him fearless to seek, to know, to do the right.
Save him from the friends who, in the name of politics or even friendship, would persuade him from that holy path.
Strengthen and empower his advisers.
Bring them, too, to their knees in prayer.
May their example and their influence spread, that we, in these United States,
may yet have a government of men who know Thee, the Almighty God, as their Friend,
and who place Thy will first in their lives as well as in their prayers.
Hear and answer, we pray Thee,
forgiving us all our unworthiness;
cleansing us from every ignoble thought and unworthy ambition
that we may be renewed in spirit and mind and heart, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Seeing the Image of God in Others

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WE SEE VERY early in the story of the Bible that man is created in the image of God.  In the story of Creation we read in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”   

So . . . what difference does it make knowing that everyone you meet is created in the image of God? 

Well for starters, we learn that every life is of value.  This is the basis for the sanctity of human life.  After Noah and his family come out of the ark, God warns them against the taking of another human life.  Why is that a capital offense?  Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”    

 Therefore, we speak up for the unborn.  Psalm 139:13-16 celebrates how the image of God is stamped upon every human being at conception.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

From Noah’s story, we also learn how every family can trace their lineage back to Noah. In Genesis 9:19, after mentioning the three sons of Noah it says, “and from these the people from the whole earth were dispersed.” 

Therefore, we speak up for racial justice.  The Bible does not speak of different races; instead, it speaks of one race: the human race.  So, when Gensis 1:27 tells us that God created man in his own image he was referring to all human beings.  Our fellow human being is our brother and our sister, no matter what color of skin they may have or what country they come from.  Because they are created in the image of God their concern becomes our concern.   

Finally, the fact that every human being is made in the image of God governs how we treat people and talk about people.  Jesus said in Sermon on the Mount that whoever insults his brother by calling him a fool or an idiot is guilty of the same kind of disregard for human life that is found in murdering someone (Matthew 5:21-23). 

Therefore, we speak with kindness to one another, even our enemy.  Why?  Why would I speak kindly to someone who is my enemy?  James gives us the reason why in James 3:9.  Having acknowledged that the tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison, he goes on to say: “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” 

So . . . what difference does it make knowing that everyone you meet is created in the image of God? 

 It makes a huge difference!   

 It makes us speak up for the vulnerable. 

It makes up speak up for justice. 

It makes us speak with kindness. 

May we all see the value of every individual and treat them as precious to God. 

A New Year’s Attitude Resolution

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A New Year’s Attitude Resolution

PERHAPS WE ARE so excited to leave 2020 behind us that we haven’t given much thought as to how to approach 2021. Psalm 90 helps us do just that.

Psalm 90 is a psalm that captures the fleeting nature of time. It describes our lives as being like grass which is “renewed in the morning” and yet,“in the evening if fades and withers.”  Or as verse 10 testifies,“The years of our life are seventy or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone and we fly away.”  So, given the seemingly quickening pace of the passing of time, how should we approach 2021?

I would like to suggest we consider making A New Year’s Attitude Resolution.

Receive 2021 with an Attitude of Gratitude
Psalm 90:1-2 says:                        

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or even you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Here we are reminded of the eternal nature of God. God is the one who formed the earth and the world. God is the one constant in this world from everlasting to everlasting. Therefore, every day you receive in 2021 is a gift from God. And even if there are some hard days ahead for you in the coming year, you are comforted with the reminder that God has always been our dwelling place.  God has always been our comfort and refuge during the storms of life and so with confidence we know that God will continue to be our present help in times of trouble. Receive each day this year with gratitude.

Approach 2021 with an Attitude of Humility
Psalm 90:3-4 says:

3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!”
4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday
when it is past
or as a watch in the night.

This contrast between God and man is a reminder to us of how fragile we really are compared to God. We are dependent creatures, while God alone is independent. This very same reminder is given in Ecclesiastes 12:7, “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”  So, what is the lesson in all of this? A few verses later in Ecclesiastes 12:13 we read, “The end of the matter, all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  In other words, life is to be humbly lived under the good rule of God.  Approach each day this year with humility.

Live 2021with an Attitude of Wisdom
Psalm 90:12, 17 says:

12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.

17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us,
yes, establish the work of our hands.

In view of the fleeting nature of time, this verse encourages us to make the most of what we have been given. Since our days are numbered and each day is precious, we should use them wisely.  How so? We should make the most of our time by fully investing ourselves in people and in the work we are called to do. Paul says it this way in Colossians 3:17 and 23, “And whatever you do, in word or deed do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him…Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”  All of life is sacred, so make the most of it and whatever you do, do it unto God. Live each day this year with wisdom.

Embrace 2021 with an Attitude of Joy
Psalm 90:14-15 says,

14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.

The knowledge of God’s love for us fills us with joy and makes us glad all our days. We are reminded of the all-satisfying love of God in Psalm 103:2-5. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  Because of Jesus and his death on the cross for our sins, we ought to be marked with a deep inner joy that cannot be overcome by the circumstances in life. Remember, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Embrace each day this year with joy.

May your year be received with gratitude, approached with humility, lived with wisdom and embraced with joy. Happy New Year!