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Today's Scripture Passage

1 Peter 3-5

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The greatness of God

From Spurgeon, Morning and Evening Devotions:

Isaiah 40:9a-“Get you up to a high mountain,”

Our knowledge of Christ is somewhat like climbing one of our Welsh mountains. When you are at the base you see but little: the mountain itself appears to be but one-half as high as it really is. Confined in a little valley, you discover scarcely anything but the rippling brooks as they descend into the stream at the foot of the mountain. Climb the first rising knoll, and the valley lengthens and widens beneath your feet. Go higher, and you see the country for four or five miles round, and you are delighted with the widening prospect. Mount still, and the scene enlarges; till at last, when you are on the summit, and look east, west, north, and south, you see almost all England lying before you. Yonder is a forest in some distant county, perhaps two hundred miles away, and here the sea, and there a shining river and the smoking chimneys of a manufacturing town, or the masts of the ships in a busy port. All these things please and delight you, and you say, “I could not have imagined that so much could be seen at this elevation.” Now, the Christian life is of the same order. When we first believe in Christ we see but little of Him. The higher we climb the more we discover of His beauties. But who has ever gained the summit? Who has known all the heights and depths of the love of Christ which passes knowledge? Paul, when grown old, sitting grey-haired, shivering in a dungeon in Rome, could say with greater emphasis than we can, “I know whom I have believed,” for each experience had been like the climbing of a hill, each trial had been like ascending another summit, and his death seemed like gaining the top of the mountain, from which he could see the whole of the faithfulness and the love of Him to whom he had committed his soul. Get thee up, dear friend, into the high mountain.


The Spirit of Prayer

The spirit of prayer makes us so intimate with God that we scarcely pass through an experience before we speak to Him about it, either in supplication, in sighing, in pouring out our woes before Him, in fervent requests, or in thanksgiving and adoration. –O. Hallesby

Walking with God…

From the desk of Pastor Hugh Diggins, Reformed Bible Church, West Rutland, Vermont:

“And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Genesis 5:24

This Verse is a short and distinct commentary on a life well worth living. Enoch was a man who knew the best that life on earth has to offer is found when you walk with God. There are numerous passages that teach us how to walk. Here are a few:

“…walk in newness of life…” (Romans 6:4)

“…walk by faith, not by sight…” (II Corinthians 5:7)

“…walk by the Spirit…” (Galatians 5:16)

“…walk in love…” (Ephesians 5:2)

“…walk as children of light…” (Ephesians 5:8)

“…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…” (Colossians 1:10)

“…walk and please God…” (I Thessalonians 4:1)

“…walk according to His commandments…” (II John 6)

When we take this composite list and apply them we will, as Enoch did, be walking with God in a way that brings us into an extreme closeness with Him. Our lives will take on a new and richer dimension that will carry us through the end of our days when God takes us home to forever be with him. It is amazing how quickly the “things of earth grow strangely dim” when we’re walking with God. Equally amazing is the vibrant life that accompanies such a walk.

Christians sometimes talk about and pray for revival, a “Great Awakening” as took place in our country many years ago. Interestingly Enoch didn’t need a special “re-viving”* because each day he experienced “viving”* that kept him alert and alive and excited and overwhelmed with the special presence of God. As one old preacher said, “Real revival is simply daily living the New Testament life”.

Do you need a little spiritual adrenaline? Need some “viving”? Don’t look for the next revival meeting in your neighborhood, look a little closer, look in the Word and look in your heart and look at your life. If the three are in accord and you set out today to walk with God you’ll experience revival as it is meant to be.

(* the words “viving” and “re-viving” were coined by a preacher from the past to illustrate a similar point)

God our hiding place...

From the desk of Pastor Hugh Diggins, Reformed Bible Church, West Rutland, Vermont:

“You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” Psalm 32:7

Most if not all of us remember playing hide and seek as children. We did our best to find a place where we hoped whoever “It” was would not find us. In this morning’s Verse we are reminded God is, for the Christian, a special place to hide. We read elsewhere He holds us in His hands and covers us under His wings. He is a Strong Fortress, an impenetrable Refuge and an unmovable Rock upon which we can stand. Hiding in Him is the safest and securest place any of us can be. There we are preserved and protected from whatever trouble may come our way. What makes this so exciting is when you consider the attributes of God such as His perfect wisdom, power and grace we know trouble may be looking for us and at times find us but we’re never left alone. We may be vulnerable but not unprotected.

What adds a special dimension to God being our hiding place and takes us beyond protection and preservation is the accompanying symphony of peace that surrounds us in His presence. “Songs of deliverance” echo and reverberate around us as we hide in safety from the distractions that fill the air with fearful noises. Words of assurance such as “I will never leave you nor forsake you” and “I never change” and “I am the Good Shepherd” are music to our ears as we rest in safety.

As always there is more to consider, another blessed truth to encourage our hearts. We are never far from this “hiding place”. It is as near as a prayer whispered quietly or a shout sounded in desperation. Reaching out to God is the door that opens to the “hiding place” where trouble cannot get to us and within are the delightful, restful, peaceful and ever so comforting songs of deliverance sung by our King, the great Deliverer and Rescuer of all who come to Him seeking safety. Does trouble lurk in the coming hours? None of us know. But we do know this, “God, you are our hiding place, You preserve us from trouble. You surround us with songs of deliverance. Selah (Pause and meditate on this)”

Do everything to the glory of God...

From the desk of the pastor:

1 Corinthians 10:31-“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” ESV

Each day we have the opportunity to either honor God or dishonor Him. Tomorrow we have the opportunity to come together to worship (or glorify) God. Will we come to honor Him or honor ourselves?

In this verse, Paul is sharing that even in the ordinary things of life we should seek to glorify God. When we eat, we should glorify God because we have food to eat. When we work, we should glorify God because we not only have a job but also the ability to do it. When we are cleaning our homes, we should glorify God because we not only have a home but have things to clean up. When we are playing, whether fishing, hunting, snowmobiling or whatever, we should glorify God because He has given us these wonderful things to enjoy.

Why should we glorify God at all? We should because He is the One who created us for the purpose of glorifying Him. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks as the first question, ‘What is the chief end of man?’ The answer is ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.’ Ask yourself, maybe for the very first time; do I glorify God in the ordinary, monotonous and nonspiritual things of life? Take time to glorify God today in all that you have the opportunity to do!

Help me...

From the desk of Pastor Hugh Diggins, Reformed Bible Church, West Rutland, Vermont:

“Help me, O Lord my God; save me according to Thy lovingkindness” Psalm 109:26

Have you ever come to the end of a particularly taxing day when “Murphy’s Law” was in full force and everything that could go wrong did? You come in the door plop down in a chair; shake your head and sigh. Maybe you try to pray but being overwhelmed has distracted you to the point where you feel there is nothing more to say, except “Lord, you know how it is, help me, O Lord my God”.

Though a short prayer that may seem a bit desperate the words, when spoken from the heart, demonstrate faith seasoned with hope. God does “know how it is”, doesn’t He? After all, isn’t He omniscient? He never slumbers nor sleeps; He knows our comings and goings, when we lay down to sleep and when we arise and every moment in between. Therefore, in faith we pray and in prayer find ourselves infused with a much needed dose of hope. Not only does God “know how it is”, He is also our “…refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Among the many comforts that come from placing our weariness in God’s hands is the knowledge that whatever the situation there is one thing that never changes and that is God’s loving-kindness. One of the ways He demonstrates His eternal, unchanging love is by taking all the loose ends and ragged edges of life and binding them together into a perfect tapestry. With the skill of a master artisan, God weaves the events of the day that have a tendency to overtake us in a flurry of disappointments and uses them to make us complete in Him. Therefore, a simple prayer at the end of a long day such as, “Lord, you know how it is, help me, O Lord my God” is not so much a prayer of desperation as it is a prayer of acknowledgement that God is at work to will and to do His good pleasure in our lives.

Looking forward to worship…

From the desk of the pastor:

Hebrews 10:23-25–“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” ESV

It is Saturday once again…another week has drawn to a close and we look forward to another eventful week. One of the best ways to prepare ourselves for the coming week is by heeding the words in the above verses. When we gather together we have the opportunity to encourage one another in the common faith that we hold in Jesus Christ.

When we gather together to worship God, we have the opportunity to ‘give’ encouragement to one another and, when we do so, we will ‘get’ encouragement in return.

I look forward to having the opportunity to encourage you tomorrow!

We belong to Christ…

From the desk of the pastor:

Galatians 5:24-25–“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” ESV

What do we choose to follow each day? Do we follow the passions and desire of the flesh or the Holy Spirit? As those who have been bought with a price and are no longer our own we should embrace the fact that things are different. Because the old self has been crucified with Christ we should not give credence to that lifestyle any more. We are no longer slaves to our sinful human nature but have been freed to serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

One of the great transforming truths in the Christian life is the ‘newness’ we have because of Christ’s work on the cross. Our passions and desires have changed. God is going to continue and finish the work that He began. God is our new master and desires the very best for us. What are some of the things that we long for that do not honor God? What appetites are we feeding that are detrimental to walking by the Spirit?

May we take the time each day to make sure that we are walking in a manner worthy of the Lord because we desire to please Him and be that effective witness for Him.

God’s way is best…

From the desk of the pastor:

Romans 11:33-“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” ESV

In our day and age there are many programs that promote an answer to your problem or the things that you struggle with by following these “three easy steps”. It appears that given enough time there could be a formula for everything and maybe these formulas would work if everyone were the same.

This same ideology has crept into the church as well. What areas in the church can we simplify into a neat little program or formula? In light of this I want you to seriously contemplate the words of Paul in Romans 11. God is infinitely deep in His knowledge and wisdom while man is shallow and clouded by his own pride.

God cannot be placed into a box or a lamp like a genie. God knows each one of us better then we know ourselves and has the exact thing that we need to live the Christian life to its fullness, yet we fight Him at every turn. We need to quit fighting God and trust Him because His ways are unsearchable and inscrutable. May we this day surrender some area in our lives to God because then we will gain the real victory, a custom fit way!

Draw near…

From the desk of the pastor:

James 4:8-“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” ESV

Do you desire to foster a more intimate relationship with God? Is the extent of your commitment like what is mentioned in…Isaiah 29:13-“And the Lord said: ‘Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,’”

Has your relationship with God dwindled to the point of being mere rote repetition leaving you unfulfilled? Do you feel like you are in a wasteland with nothing to feed your spiritual soul? Do you desire the heart of Paul as he said in…Philippians 3:10-“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,”

God desires for us to draw nearer to Him. He does not force us to tap into His limitless source of power and refreshment but waits patiently for us to come to Him. We are the ones who are holding onto sin, which keeps us from seizing this promise. May God grant us the ability to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts through the only One who can perform these transformations…‘draw near to God, and He will draw near to you!’