Separated Together: The God Who Knows Me

Though King David was a Warrior King, his biographer in 2 Samuel 23:1 calls him, “The Sweet Psalmist of Israel” (KJV). His sweet songs include not only Psalm 23 (the greatest of all psalms), but also Psalm 139 – the psalm most needed in times of loneliness and uncertainty. I picture David alone in his room as he composes these lyrics with the help of his ancient stringed instrument. He’s in a melancholy mood, feeling a tad insignificant, overlooked, and unsure of himself.

1 Lord, you have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. 3 You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord. 5 You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. 6 This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it. Psalm 139:1-6

“God, you know me,” He says. “You know everything I do and everywhere I go. You even know the thoughts inside my head. You know what I’m about to say. You know me better than I know myself.”

7 Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. 9 If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, 10 even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”— 12 even the darkness is not dark to you. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you. Psalm 139:7-12

Can I ever get away from God? No. “He is always with me. And not just with me. He’s everywhere I am and ever could be.”

13 For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well. 15 My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began. Psalm 139:13-16

“You not only know me now, You have always known me. You were there while I was being made!” Having reasoned all this out with the help of his harp, David comes to a conclusion, “God, I want You to know me even better than You already do.”

23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24

This is a prayer for our moment in time. As our isolation drags on, you need to know that you are never alone and never unknown. During these last few days I have felt like I need people contact more than ever. I’m sure I do. But more than people-contact, you and I need God-contact.
 

Here is our prayer:

Search me, God, and know my heart. Test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; and if there is, reveal it to me so I can confess it to You. Because I want You to lead me, not just through this plague, but through and into Your everlasting way, and into Your everlasting home. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
 

Blessings,

Pastor Don



Separated Together: New Season, New Scripture

I hope you have been enjoying these doses of encouragement you have been reading on the blog, Separated Together.  As we continue this journey together it got me think that Easter seem a long time ago, but it just passed a few weeks ago, and Jesus being risen changes everything. 

One of the first things He did after His resurrection was point us to Scripture. Luke writes that on Easter Sunday afternoon,

“Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.” Luke 24:27

Jesus’ resurrection was a new event in the lives of His disciples. Whenever a disciple experiences a new event or advances to a new level of maturity, they are able to see more and get more out of Scripture. I can read a passage 500 times, then something new happens in my life, and on the 501st reading, the truth sinks deeper.

None of us has been through a pandemic or lockdown before. We’re in a brand new situation, which means as we read Scripture, we’ll see brand new things with brand new eyes.

Listen

“The word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.” Hebrews 4:12-13

Look

“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.”   Psalm 119:105

See

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times.”   Psalm 12:6

Receive

“How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! 2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.”   Psalm 1:1-2

You’re in a new season. God wants to speak to you in new ways. Find one or two of your favorite passages, read them, and hear His voice today!

Pray with me:

Lord, I want to learn Your ways more deeply. I want to think like You, see things the way You see them, and feel the way You do about everything in Creation. So speak to me through the Bible today, and every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Blessings,

Pastor Don



Separated Together: Paying for Impossible Things

Most of us have seen the movie Alice in Wonderland. “Alice” was written by a pastor named Charles Dodgson. He went by the pen name, Lewis Carroll. Dodgson believed God can do impossible things. (For the record, Jesus did too. He once told His Disciples, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27) In Alice Through the Looking Glass, there’s a scene that goes like this:

“Now I’ll give you something to believe. I’m just one hundred and one, five months and a day.” “Oh I can’t believe that!” said Alice. “Can’t you?” said the Queen in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath and shut your eyes.”  Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe in impossible things.” “I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed six impossible things before breakfast.”

My wife Donna and I pray every night together before we go to bed.  During this pandemic it got me wondering why we pray the same things over and over again.  Recently it seems that we are not praying for impossible things, but things we believe may be answered by God.  So the question came to me, “Why don’t we pray for impossible things?”

What are some of the impossible things that you could pray for during this time of isolation?

It might do us well to maybe not choose them all yourself, but during your prayer time, spend some time listening to God and I bet he will give you some impossible things to pray for.  Maybe during this unusual time we could all begin to pray for impossible things.  I know one that has been on my heart is that when this virus threat is over, we will be a nation that honors the Sabbath. Instead of enrolling in extra-curriculars, families will be in church in Sunday mornings, and together or with friends Sunday afternoon.

This request seems impossible to me. I’m going to pray for it anyway. Because, if God answers, we’ll be a nation that puts Him first, values relationships, and practices the virtue of slowing down every seventh day.

Is there an impossible prayer, or three, you’d like to pray? Let’s start tugging on heaven’s coattails and see what happens.

Until now you have asked for nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. John 16:24

Pray this with me:

Lord, I know that nothing is impossible with You. Today I’m asking You to reveal to me requests You’d like me to pray, which only You can answer. As You speak, I’ll make a list. Please do impossible things during, and as a result of, our isolation together. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings,

Pastor Don



Separated Together: We really do need each other

There was a little book someone told me about  a while ago called, “We really do need each other,” by Rueben Welch. For years, Dr. Welch taught at Point Loma Nazarene University. The final chapter of his book describes a class excursion that went awry. The class had decided to take a hike together to a place called “Hennigar Flats,” a three mile hike up the side of a mountain.

Welch’s writes, “So they set the day, and made the sandwiches, and made the chocolate, and brought the cold drinks,  and the back packs, and they got all gathered up for the safari, and they started up the mountain – together. “But it wasn’t long until the strong, stalwart ones were up in front and the other ones were back in the middle, and way back at the end of the line was a girl named Jane – who was, you might say, out of shape.”

“…the people in the level above called down, ‘Come on up. It’s great up here.’ “And Jane yelled, ‘I don’t think I can make it.’ “And they hollered, ‘Yeah, you can. Try harder, come on up.’ “And every time they called to her, down went her own sense of worth, down went her own sense of value…“So the strong went on ahead, and the weak hung behind, and here was Jane. And she never made it to the top.”

Welch continues, “They decided that was no way to end the fellowship of that class, and they got together and decided to do it again. “But they made some new rules – it was everybody go or nobody go, and they were all going together. “So they set the day, and made the sandwiches, and made the chocolate, and brought the cold drinks, and the back packs,  and they got all gathered up for the safari, and they started up the mountain….

“It took them four hours to make it to the top, and the water was all gone, and the cold drinks were all gone, and the sandwiches were all gone, and the backpacks were empty, but they all made it, together.”

Welch’s point is, “…we’re all just people who need each other. We’re all learning, and we’ve all got a long journey ahead of us. We’ve got to go together. “And I dare say that by the time we get there, all the sandwiches will be gone,  and all the chocolate will be gone, and all the water will be gone,  and all the backpacks will be empty. But no matter how long it takes, we’ve got to go together. Because that’s how it is in the Body of Christ.”

That’s a great image, isn’t it? All of us going together. It’s not easy for humans to be separated. It’s doubly hard for Christians. Just look up all the “each-others” in Scripture.

God intended people in the church to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith (Romans 1:12); have concern for each other (1 Corinthians 12:25); serve each other (Galatians 5:13);

build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11); encourage each other daily (Hebrews 3:13); and show brotherly love to each other (1 Peter 1:22).

Right now we are Separation Together. Because we really do need each other, don’t we?  It’s been over a month since the day of separation together. Today would be a really good day to FaceTime, Zoom, or call someone in your church and see how they’re doing. Before you end the call, say, “I want you to know that we’re in this together.”

 

Pray with me:

Lord, You have made us to need each other. Instead of asking You to soften my feelings of isolation today, I’m asking that You use me to soften someone else’s feelings of isolation. Call to my mind a member of my church who might not have the same strength of relationships as I do, and use me to encourage them today. In Jesus’ name, amen!

Blessings,

Pastor Don



Separated Together: 40 Days

We have all been told recently by our Governor that we should maintain our social isolation at least until May 15th.  That will take us past the 40 day mark. In one sense, that’s discouraging. Forty days is a long time. In another sense, it’s encouraging. Let me tell you why.

When God was judging the earth, He made it rain for 40 days (Genesis 7:12).

When He was creating a spiritual nation out of Israel, He spent 40 days with Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:18).

The twelve spies spent 40 days scouting the Promised Land (Numbers 13:25).

Goliath ranted for 40 days while God prepared David to defeat him (1 Samuel 17:16).

As he prepared for a transition in ministry, Elijah walked 40 days without food, to Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:8).

Through Jonah, God gave the people of Nineveh 40 days to repent (Jonah 3:4), and they did!

To prepare for His public ministry, Jesus spent 40 days in prayer and fasting (Matthew 4:2).

To prepare the Disciples for public ministry, Jesus spent 40 days instructing them, after His resurrection (Acts 1:3).

Forty days is a spiritually significant length of time! Does God have a specific purpose in mind for our 40 days of isolation? I don’t know. What I do know is that God once used 40 days to transform the world (via the Flood). He twice used 40 days to transform nations (at Mt. Sinai and at Nineveh). And on four occasions He used 40 days to prepare people for significant new ministry (Joshua and Caleb, Elijah, Jesus, and the Disciples.)

Which leads me to believe He might be changing our world right now.He also might be changing our nation. And He definitely wants to change you and me, in preparation for significant ministry. Which is very encouraging, isn’t it? And worth praying for, wouldn’t you agree?

Moses entered the cloud as he went up the mountain, and he remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. Exodus 24:18

After he had suffered, he also presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3

Pray with me:

Dear Lord, we want to remain with You like Moses during these 40 days and nights. We ask that You appear to us, alive, and by many convincing proofs, like You did for the Disciples. We pray that You will revive our world spiritually during these 40 days. And revive our nation. And revive us. Your kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven. Make us into Joshuas, and Elijahs, and Peters, and Esthers during this time. In Jesus’ name, amen!

Blessings,

Pastor Don