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Verse of the Month - Nov 2017

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[4] Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!  (Psalm 100:4 ESV)

On Thanksgiving Day, many families and friends will draw together around a table to celebrate the blessings that we have.  Although we as Christians should and are called to be thankful for the freedom, abundance, and many other material blessings that God has bestowed upon us, God invites his sons and daughters into something much deeper.  The call to be thankful is not limited to a day in November, nor a thankfulness that is limited to our possessions, but rather it is an invitation into a life of thankfulness centered upon who God is.  The month of November and Thanksgiving Day are an opportunity for us as believers to orient our hearts back to the Lord.  This is the beckoning of the psalmist in Psalm 100 as it calls us to be grateful at all times based upon the character of our God.  

A thankful heart that has been liberated is only thankful because of its Liberator.  We see this truth in this Psalm.  We are called to be make a joyful noise (v 1); to serve the LORD with gladness and come into His presence with singing, thanksgiving, and praise (v 2, 4); to know that the Lord is God and we are His (v 3); and to give thanks to him by blessing his name (v 4).  Yet, all of these commands are based upon the who God is.  Verse 5 tells us that we are commanded to do these things because the LORD is good, loving, and faithful.  These characteristics of God are fully seen in the Lord Jesus.  

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who displayed God’s goodness, steadfast love, and faithfulness when He purchased us by His blood on the cross and then resurrected from the dead.  Truly He cares for us, the sheep of His pasture.  He loves us with a love that endures forever!  Because God is good, loving, and faithful, we are able to walk in this calling.  So this month, may we as believers dwell upon the deeper things orienting our hearts to who God is.  Let as a church “enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!”

Written by Pastor Rick Bartek

Posted by Rick Bartek with

Verse of the Month - Oct 2017

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[3] But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. (Psalm 3:3 ESV)

One of the things that I love about the Bible is that it doesn’t sugarcoat life.  It always meets us where we are at.  There are most definitely seasons of life that are filled with joy and abundance, but there are also seasons of difficulty.  The good news is that the Bible doesn’t shy away from this reality.  Truth be told, we have all experienced difficult, whether it is relational strife, loss of a loved one, addiction, financial issues, etc.  These are all realities of living in a world that has been ravaged by sin.

In Psalm 3, David has found himself in an extremely difficult season of life.  David’s son, Absalom, has led a coup to remove David from the throne and now David is fleeing for his life (see 2 Samuel 14-15).  It is in this mess that David writes these words.  In verse 1-2 David explains the situation saying that many are rising against him.  He gives us this picture that he feels like a man who is being crushed by a boa constrictor.  The pressure is continuing to mount against David and in this pressure we get a glimpse of four truths about God’s character found in verse 3.  David stands on these truths in his time of need.  Those truths are that God is sovereign, a shield, a great reward, and the one who accepts us.

In verse 3, David uses God’s name, Yahweh (LORD), which speaks of God’s total sovereignty over everything.  It brings to memory how God defeated Pharaoh’s army and parted the Red Sea in order to lead the people of Israel out of slavery on dry ground.  David goes on to write that Yahweh is a shield about him.  The Israelite warrior had a variety of shields to use, some shields were smaller and some larger.  David draws on the imagery of the largest shield available.  This shield covered the entire body of the soldier so that there was no vulnerability.  This is the type of shield that God is for those who fear him.  No matter what flies our way, we can know that Yahweh is a shield about us.  David next says that God is his glory.  David’s reward is not found in the throne that he has lost or a reconciled relationship with his son, but rather God alone.  God is his prize and great reward.  The final truth that we see is the beauty of God’s acceptance.  When David writes that God is the lifter of his head, it is a way of speaking about God’s approval.  David knows that even in the ugliest of situations, he has been accepted by God. 

In our difficult seasons of life, we too like David can know that God is sovereign, a shield, a great reward, and the one who accepts us in Christ.

Written by Pastor Rick Bartek

Posted by Rick Bartek with