Dave Spaite - Community Life Pastor
Daves daily devotional, Saturday, April 4
Hey friends & family.
In our homes & in our church we often thank the Lord for his many blessings!
I’m wondering if we can compile an online list of the many blessings that we are thankful for this weekend?
Email me at [email protected] or fill the form below this devotional with your name & what you are thankful for in this amazing Resurrection season. Let me know this weekend & I will post your grateful responses here on Dave’s Daily throughout this next week- Holy Week.
We call it Holy Week because each year we set aside a week to recall the final week of Jesus life here upon the earth.
The four Gospel accounts; Matthew, Mark, Luke & John chronicle the life of Jesus Christ our Messiah. You might not be yet aware but more than 1/3 of these Gospels is devoted to the last week of Jesus life.
They devoted that much material to His final week because they wanted to leave a complete testimony of what they had witnessed about Jesus Death & Resurrection.
This next week we will examine the eyewitness material about our Savior & the most history changing, life transforming events that ever happened.
To put it simply, the Resurrection of Jesus changes EVERYTHING.
Be sure to tune in to Pastor Michaels sermon tomorrow morning at 9 am on the church website & we celebrate Holy Communion together.
Daves daily devotional, Friday, April 3
What opportunities are we missing?
Whenever we find ourselves in difficult times - like the one the world is facing right now, there's an invitation to refine our focus, and to make sure we're standing on solid ground. We have an opportunity to ensure that everything in our lives, including our attitude, relationships, connection with our families & loved ones, are anchored in God's best for us & for the world around us.
We have an opportunity to engage at a deeper level.
We're finding that being home & engaging face to face gives us the opportunity to lead us to an interesting place in faith.
This is an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Jesus & learn to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Mark 12:31
Here’s a couple of creative ideas......
Last week, I heard of an opportunistic 20-something gal from one of our sister churches in Austin, Texas. She discovered a whole bunch of extra toilet paper that her husband had stockpiled long before the virus fiasco descended. Rather than hoard the case, she decided to wrap each roll in Christmas paper & delivered them one at a time to the doorsteps of her neighbors.
She attached a little note that said, “I’m grateful for my neighbors. Please except this small gift as we roll together thru this crisis. God bless you today!” & left it unsigned:)
Others have gone to the store for their senior neighbors rather than allowing for them to be exposed to the crud.
Several All Star volunteers in our church have been helpful in lovingly providing a ‘groceries for geezers’ service. They will go to the store when someone runs out of food or needs a prescription. The one who came up with such a practical idea - as well as the mischievous name shall remain anonymous. (Just checking to see if anyone, including geezers are reading these devotionals that I labor over every day).
As I was taking a morning stroll in our neighborhood, I noticed that someone from our church had written some positive notes with sidewalk chalk as an encouraging & uplifting way to seize an opportunity to bless anyone who might happen by.
It stopped me in my tracks & I just had to take this photo to share with you all:)
Daves daily devotional, Thursday, April 2
Prayer & Thoughtfulness
The coronavirus is highly contagious, but so are the actions we can take that are inspired by love & joy. We are reminded yet again of the interconnectedness of the lives of the people around us in our neighborhoods.
While, of course, we must heed medical experts to undertake precautionary measures to avoid the spread of the virus, we can also do our best to spread happiness & a friendly attitude to help quell this virus.
At the least, to acknowledge people’s good intentions & engage others out of love rather than fear are ways to help defeat the trials put before us by the coronavirus.
As hospital staffs across the country battle the coronavirus many are turning to their faith to carry them through long, difficult days.
Danny Rodriguez, ER tech at Jackson Medical Center, said Wednesday, “Our team said a prayer, asking God for guidance & protection while we are at work, & to keep us & our families safe," Rodriguez added.
“It felt good to do this with some of my amazing co-workers," Angela Gleaves, a labor & delivery nurse, wrote on Facebook. "We could feel God’s presence in the wind. Know that you are all covered in prayer."
Spread love, spread faith, spread optimism.
Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Church in Southern California brought a good word. “We need to remember that God is greater than the coronavirus," Laurie said. "You may know Jesus, but you will never know Him deeply until He comes to you in the midst of the storms of life. COVID-19 is a massive storm we are all going through. It’s better to be in a storm with Jesus than anywhere else without Him.”
The times may seem bleak, but we can all do our part to ensure that a brighter tomorrow is around the corner. Continue to keep in touch with friends & neighbors.
Today, pray for others on the front lines. Doctors, nurses, EMT’s, firemen, police officers all need prayer for safety & for their families. Keep on Praying! Keep on loving!
Daves daily devotional, Wednesday, April 1
While mankind is groping for a scienchtific solution to the awful coronavirus, people of faith (that’s us) are groping for a solution behind the solution. We seek to connect with the ‘ultimate solution’ because we know that - to do so - is to know God, or, at least - to know Him in part, (1 Cor. 13).
While we are significantly interested in both science & God in seeking a solution for the coronavirus, we believe that science without God is relatively meaningless.
In fact, we know that most of the ‘Fathers of modern science’ looked to God as the center of all things. They were astounded at the intricacies of how God had created the human body, as well as His handiwork in all things of the natural world that they were discovering.
Galileo, Copernicus, De Vinci, Bacon, Newton, Mendel, Pasteur, Volta, Pascal, Marconi & Lister & a host of others professed their Christian faith as the basis of their discoveries in the natural world. Their study of the Bible led them to view the world in a way that helped them understand the connectedness of the natural world & the supernatural world.
While in the 20th century, many perceived science & faith to be at odds, it is historically obvious that it was religion that birthed modern science by way of such prominent scientists who held a Christian world view.
From the time of the Reformation (1517), the Christian world view pervaded Western Europe & the Americas (1620 going forward). Christianity formed the basis of the modern world & brought countless improvements to human life & the development of civilization.
In the Twentieth Century, two world wars cost millions of lives as the world was made aware of the insidious problem of evil - as carried out in the lives of evil men.
If Mankind was to be allowed to be the center of the world, then, evil would reign supreme & enslave & destroy vast numbers of people. Man as the center of the universe proved to be an untrustworthy & utter failure (again).
Let me take a moment to dig a little deeper into the relationship of what we can see as a clashing of biblical values with that of the majority of the worlds material values. Some might refer to it as the clash between a God-centered universe & a human centered universe. In a philosophical sense it is Theocentrism vs. humanism.
As Christians, we believe that God is the Creator & the center of the universe. The Bible is our Divinely Inspired roadmap to life & the center of human history. Jesus is God come to earth & His life & victorious resurrection is the center of the Bible.
Almost 50 years ago, Dr. Francis Schaeffer’s book, “How Should we then Live, the rise & fall of Western Civilization”, shook the world. It was a documentation of how that our western culture & Christendom specifically had been under assault from secular anti-God sources for 100 years or more.
The central premise of Dr. Schaeffers monumental work is that a God-centered approach to forming society leads to a harmonious existence for humans.
Schaeffer chronicles that throughout history, societies that base themselves on ‘humanistic principles’ were bound to fail. Schaeffer explains that the main flaw of humanistic societies is that people disagree on what is best for people, which creates conflict & inequality.
He explains how various societies throughout history failed because of their reliance on humanism. These include the fall of the Roman Empire (500 A.D), as well as the humanistic systems of the Middle Ages of Europe. Schaeffer praises the Christian elements of the Middle Ages, but he suggests that the gradual incorporation of humanism, which culminated with the Renaissance & Enlightenment corrupted the Bible-based foundation of those societies.
After discussing the failings of the Renaissance, Schaeffer, discusses the Protestant Reformation & why the reformers wanted to leave the Catholic Church. He details how the Reformation impacted even non-Christians positively.
During the Enlightenment, however, society separated the achievements of humans from the influence of religion. Schaeffer suggests that the flaw of this approach is that it assumes God can be easily understood or controlled by man.
In fact, he discusses how over time, certain scientists completely disavowed religion altogether, reaching the dismal conclusion that humans are simple animals who exist only by chance via a series of natural accidents. How could it be that we were created by random purposeless forces? Schaeffer credits this philosophy with society’s de-prioritization of God.
“When people began to think this way, there was no place for God or for man as man. Therefore, God died, & consequently man murdered love.”
Schaeffer proposes that all societies based upon a biblical worldview can live in harmony as culture rediscovers Gods intended purpose for them in history. This leads to what Schaeffer calls "Freedom without chaos."
To discard a Biblical culture leaves mankind with the pursuit of two basic ‘relativistic values’;
1) the quest for Personal Peace (the desire to be personally unaffected by the world's problems) &
2) Affluence (the pursuit of wealth).
He warns that when we live by these values we will be tempted to sacrifice our freedoms in exchange for an authoritarian government who will provide the relative humanistic values.
He further warns that this government will not be obvious like the fascist regimes of the 20th century but will be based on manipulation & subtle forms of information control, psychology, & genetics. “This is so because humanists, having no god, must put something at the center, & it is inevitably society, or the state.”
The question, which troubled Francis Schaeffer so much in 1976, troubles all of us now.
How will we live now?
We’re about to find out if Christians in this generation are going to believe & live an authentic biblical Christianity.
Gods truth is absolute & it is pervasive, clearly seen throughout the world. Every Christians worth their salt would believe that. But Schaeffer so astutely handles truth, in such revealing ways, that our faith is made sight in ways that can’t be anything but exhilarating and confidence-inspiring in all that is good, true, & beautiful in the world.
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” - Jesus in John 8:32
“For since the creation of the world, Gods invisible attributes, His eternal power & divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that man is without excuse.” - Paul in Romans 1:20
“Regardless of a man's system, he has to live in Gods world.” - Francis Schaeffer
Daves daily devotional, Tuesday, March 31
We should trust God in all things, but be careful to not test Him (see Matt. 4:1-7). In these momentous days, there is much that we can do to trust in the Lord without the need to test the limits of His capricious providence. Let me explain...
Martin Luther chastised Christians of his day who said that ‘taking precautions’ against the Bubonic Plague showed a ‘lack of faith’.
He rebuked those Christians who made “no use of intelligence or medicine.” This, he said, “is not trusting God, but tempting him. God has created medicines & provided us with intelligence to guard & take good care of the body so that we can live in good health.”
The aforementioned Plague arrived in Europe in 1347, when 12 ships from the Black Sea docked at a port in southern Italy. People that gathered on the docks were met with a horrifying surprise: Most of the sailors aboard the ships were dead, & those still alive were gravely ill. Authorities hastily ordered the fleet of “death ships” out of the harbor, but it was too late: Over the next 5 years, the “Black Death” would kill more than 20 million Europeans, almost 1/3rd of the continent’s people. It took 200 years for Europe's population to recover to its previous level.
“Do not be afraid” is a recurring theme throughout Scripture. Since God is on His heavenly throne, we, His servants can trust Him in all things, no matter how grim life might become. Our faith in Gods healing power can be balanced with the greatness of scientific knowledge that God has imparted to us. Trust God, but you don’t need to test Him by tempting His specific will in limitless situations (Luther). I will expand on this more completely in tomorrow’s devotional.
We find it difficult to fathom all that we are going through with this global health crisis. Just a month ago, we took it for granted that we could meet together for worship. Now the whole world is dealing with the virus & we are seeking solid scientific answers & life-saving strategies.
While God is able to deliver us from many things, as 21st century Christians, we are grateful for what God has given to us through the knowledge of medical understanding. Therefore, we agree with Luther who proclaimed 500 years ago, “God has created medicines & provided us with intelligence to guard & take good care of the body.”
When we face illness, our Biblical belief system encourages us to pray - & to pray for all that we are worth, plus, we take our medicine.
Faith, plus common sense is a spiritually wise response to how we face health problems. While God chooses often to heal us supernaturally from illness, He also works through modern medicine to heal our infirmities. Whatever method God chooses to heal us, we gratefully consider to be in His providential intentions.
An ancient Middle Eastern saying states, “Trust God, but tie your camel.”
Certainly, it is wise to do both:)
“Our God is a refuge & strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is shaken & the mountains are toppled into the depths of the seas, though their waters roar & foam & the mountains quake in the surge (Psalm 46:1-3).
Daves daily devotional, Monday, March 30
One of the most ancient Books of the Bible is the heartbreaking & profound story of the patriarch Job.
Ultimately the Book of Job presents the question: Will you choose to trust God even when everything in your life goes wrong?
Job lost his livelihood, his wealth, his health & even family members. Yet, he remained resilient in faith by choosing to trust God in the midst of his challenges. Job’s story reminds us that we honor God, not by praising Him once our problems have passed, but by staying committed to Him in our difficulties.
It’s easy to think our faith is developed when things are good, & we can easily praise God. But what weight & power are there to our faith if we can only trust Him when life is hunky-dory?
Job didn’t praise God because He put the original plans back in place. Job chose to praise God even when his life’s plans were derailed.
As we believe that God is who He says He is, we need to ask ourselves: How can we allow this season to shape our faith to be as deeply instilled as it was for Job? It is within these seasons that our faith is truly being formed.
In our Christian walk, we can often assume that as trials come, we will innately have the faith to keep our eyes on God. But what we often fail to recognize, is that in the hard moments we must choose to keep our eyes set on our Savior.
In the end, the Book of Job tells us that God rewarded Job for his trust in God when every circumstance around him was trying to convince him to lose his faith.
Ultimately, God is our creator & protector. We can take this season & allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by uncertainty, or we can allow it, in faith, to remind us that we are recipients of His protection. We are incredibly precious to Him.
“Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.” - Isaiah 26:3-4
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” - Luke 12:25-26
“Snakes. Why do there always have to be snakes?” - Indiana Jones “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
Daves daily devotional, Saturday, March 28
Hello church! I encourage you to listen to Pastor Michael‘s excellent sermons along with heart felt musical worship & the essential announcements of the week each Sunday morning. You can access these worship services all week long by going to our website VisaliaNaz.org. It is a way to stay connected in a time that we are feeling somewhat disconnected with one another.
I think that it’s a healthy sign that we do truly miss one another. One of my young friends Nate Amstutz texted me the other day, simply, “Pastor, I miss church.”
Nate speaks for a lot of us in this season of life. Perhaps we have been taking the beauty of gathering together for worship for granted.
The Lord longs for us to worship Him every day:) However, missing worship time together is making me hunger for the hundreds of relationships that we have with one another & how our corporate worship is magnified when we are together!
So here is what I’m feeling & maybe you relate. Im sensing that we are experiencing a deep need of community at the same time that our community is really wanting to be together! We are hampered by constraints imposed upon on us by this deadly virus.
It has brought to mind a profound analogy from Gods great creation. Our famous Sequoia trees have something important to teach us about community.
The Redwood groves are referred to by botanists as ‘communities’ for a special strategic reason. Although some of the Sequoias rise over 300 ft high, they do not have a very deep tap root. However, their root systems extend out from the base of the tree up to a hundred feet! God has designed them to interlock their roots together. Therefore the Sequoias rarely fall. They have withstood strong winds, earthquakes, fires & storms over the centuries.
Because their root system is intertwined with the others, they literally hold each other up. The trees are dependent on one another for nutrients, as well. Because they live in community they interlock with each other & strategically & foundationaly hold each other together.
So it is with the church. We desire the strength of community and when we are not able to worship together like we have become accustomed, we feel vulnerable. Therefore, let us draw close to God, our Great Creator & He will help us stand against this storm.
Our community will soon be restored and we will be able to worship again together in our family groups & community worship center. As we wait upon the Lord, continue to seek community, stand tall & strong against the stormy blast.
“Let your roots go down deep into God‘s marvelous love.” - Eph. 3:17
Dave’s daily devotional, Friday, March 27
Author Robert Frost, & later musician Jimmy Buffet, observed if we couldn’t laugh we would probably all go crazy.
If that’s true, then the hard times we’re all experiencing as a result of the coronavirus might just be when we need some lighthearted thoughts to make us smile.
There is, of course, nothing funny about the coronavirus nor the disruption it has brought (& will bring) to so many lives & livelihoods. Yet, laughter can be the best medicine, so long as it’s within the bounds of good taste.
How about the church sign posted above at the historic ‘Real’ 1st Baptist Church in N. America (1638) which reads: “Had not planned on giving up quite this much for Lent.” - join us online for worship.
I was just thinking the other day (Pastor Glenn says that is dangerous for me).
So I was thinking, remember when we used to save those rolls of toilet paper in order to go TP our favorite friends house after the football game? Changes....
Or in discussing the irony of it all with Charles Shannon, he quipped; “50 years ago you could seal a business deal with a handshake. Now we can’t even shake hands.”
Then, my young friend, Mariah Boland texted me, “Due to the quarantine, from now on, I will only be telling inside jokes.”
Then there’s Fox News anchor Julie Bandaras tweeting: “How long is this social distancing supposed to last? My husband keeps trying to get into the house.”
However corny the humor might be, it is at least a way of escaping some of the weirdness of this unintended season.
One parent thought of calling their kids school teachers to try to get back the hand sanitizer they sent at the beginning of the year. ha!
Here’s an idea - Maybe we can all text Pastor Michael a photograph selfie, so that we could print out our pictures & tape them up where we usually sit in the worship center. So, when Pastor video’s his sermon for the website for Sunday Morning, he won’t feel so all alone. lol
I also thought about putting up some signs on the church office door that said, “Gone Fishin’ - Mark 1:17” but I was afraid that people wouldn’t get it & simultaneously make the mailman jealous.
We know that humor is good for us & has been around for a long time. Solomon wrote, “A merry heart makes good, like a medicine.” (Prov. 17:22)
Certainly when bad things happen to good people, we share in their sorrow. Yet, somehow James challenges us to “consider it all joy when you encounter trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (Chap. 1:2 & 3)
To quote Army General George Patton, “It’s Not How Far You Fall; It’s How High You Bounce.”
Another way of saying that is - ‘it’s not so much about what happens to you in life that measures your resilience, it’s how you learn to trust in God when bad things happen.’
Laughter does, however, provide reprieve from worry, if only for a moment. And then, in a more lasting way, laughter reminds us of how much that we need one another. It’s relationships that bring a deeper meaning to life - relationship with God & relationships with one another.
If we remember this, then, when we come out of this coronavirus misery – and we will come out of it – we will not have suffered in vain & our relationships will be there to bring many a smile:)
“Trust in the Lord & do good. Dwell in the land & cultivate faithfulness.” - Ps. 37
Dave’s daily devotional, Thurs. March 26
In a negative world that is magnified by a skeptical & critical media, I find myself researching for positive information for “Dave’s Daily”. In doing so, I gratefully came across this uplifting story that magnifies Gods presence in our world.
A coronavirus survivor told his story on Monday’s Fox @ Night (3/23).
Clay Bentley, a retired sheriff’s deputy from Georgia, shared the story of his miraculous recovery after a bitter battle with coronavirus.
He believes he contracted the virus after attending a gathering at the Church at Liberty Square in Cartersville, Georgia. He rapidly declined, going to urgent care the next day after struggling to breathe. He was ultimately diagnosed with pneumonia & sent him home.
However, he went back to the hospital days later after his condition worsened, & they eventually confirmed that he had contracted the coronavirus.
“I was in the hospital for about 12 days. I guess it was around the fifth or sixth day, the doctors told me, ‘we tried everything,
we ran all these antibiotics through you. We’ve done all these tests, & he said, ‘You’re worse today than you were when you came in the hospital,'” he continued, noting that the doctor stressed the importance of getting the fluid out of his lungs.
At that point, Bentley said he heard God tell him, “You’re getting better.”
“I’m just going to tell you, I heard the voice of the Lord tell me as He was telling me that,” he says, ‘You’re getting better.” Then, “At about 3 o’clock in the morning I got to the point where I couldn’t even breathe, & I tell you I felt like I had a man laying on my chest & the weight of this man was so heavy that he was taking my breath,” Bentley said.
“And then all of a sudden I felt this — I felt air blown into my lungs & I know as a believer that God was there with me, & He began to blow air in my lungs & I took a deep breath.”
“The doctor came in the next morning & checked me & he said, ‘Clay, You hardly — yesterday you were worse than you’ve ever been & I come in here today & you don’t have hardly any fluid in your lungs at all.'”
“Then he questioned me, ‘I just want to ask you if you’re a praying man,’ & I said, ‘Yes sir, I pray. I’ve been praying constantly,’” he explained.
“And the Doctor said, ‘Well I have found in my practice when people pray, that positive energy causes the body to begin to heal itself.’ And I told him, ‘You can believe that if you want to, but I’m telling you, God came in my room last night and healed me.'”
We serve a wonderful & powerful God!
He daily baffles doctors & nurses around the world with his capricious & compassionate healing of our physical, emotional & spiritual issues.
Many of you in our fellowship testify of Gods supernatural healing in your life, as well.
May the Lord encourage you today & remind you of how that He has healed you in the past & how that He continues to heal you today!
“Come, magnify the Lord with me & let us exalt His name together.”! - Psalm 34:3
Dave’s daily devotional, Wed. March 25
In Your presence is fullness of joy
Our world is changing at a pace not seen in years, and it is no time to become captives of fear despite the real dangers brought about by the covid-19 virus.
Unfortunately, lying, deceit, & cover up surrounded the mysterious birth & spread of the virus that emerged late last year. It has now infected close to half a million people & caused more than 20,000 deaths worldwide.
In our nation, we are attempting to rise up & pull together by staying home as much as possible. Millions of us across our nation are looking to the Lord for His continuing help & protection. As He has been faithful in the past, He is faithful still today.
On both the spiritual & practical side of this challenging season, we are making progress:) (So you might ask, ‘Pastor Dave, when is spiritual not practical? ha!)
Here’s what we are trying to accomplish:
•improved hygiene - slowing the spread of the virus by staying at home & hand washing & obsessively cleaning (Lysol commercial inserted here),
•keeping essential infrastructure in place so that we can still obtain food, gas & medical help,
•each day we obtain more technical medical knowledge about the creeping crud & how to fight it,
•we are seeing better medical protocols discovered which will increase the rate of survival throughout the nations of the world (super!),
•we are discovering that some drugs that were created to deal with other serious maladies are miraculously working on this virus. (Yay God!)
These improvements, plus the fact that warmer weather has frequently caused other flu viruses to diminish in their contagiousness combine to offer us hope that we will soon be beating this thing.
At some point in the near future, we will see the number of infections drop & certain areas of our nation will able to improve both physically & economically.
Then, presumably, our lives can resume with reasonable precautions with hyper focus on the specific places that outbreaks of the virus are still raging.
Let us remember that in past times of national crisis, our country has been communally resilient in as much as we found our sufficiency in God:) He has providentially sustained us through some really terrible things.
In our self driven world, it is easy to think that life is ‘all about us’, when life is really all about Him! “In Him was life, & this life was the light of men.” (John 1). Profoundly, we are not the center of the universe, rather, our Creator is. The more we treat Him as such, the greater will be our understanding of what God is up to. And, He is always up to something good!
In Psalm 139 - twenty-six times, King David reminds us that “His Mercy endures forever.” The word, “mercy” also means compassion & forgiveness:)
Prayer - “Today we give thanks for your great mercy, Dear Lord. We are grateful for your everlasting compassion & cleansing forgiveness. We remember that You are “rich in mercy” (Eph. 2) & “your mercy endures to all generations” (Ps. 100). “From everlasting to everlasting, You are our God.” (Ps. 90). We look to You in these challenging days as did our ancestors who loved & honored You. They reaped the eternal rewards of trusting in Your everlasting mercy. May we learn from our rich heritage of your everlasting mercy. May we not seek Your blessings more than Your presence. (Ps.16), “For in Your presence, is fullness of joy”. Amen”.
Dave’s daily devotional Tuesday, March 24
From Chaos to Cosmos through Caring
When God created the world, he brought perfect order out of that which was “without form and void.”
But with human rebellion against God, disorder (chaos) was introduced into His creation. Thankfully, God continues to redeem us & the world (Gr. Kosmos)back to His desired paradise of creation:)
Since Genesis 3, mankind has experienced various forms of chaos caused by the sin of the Fall & it’s consequences. Satan’s embezzlement of the Kingdom of God & his methods of deception have reeked chaos upon us. Personally, we all have suffered from the chaos of the Dark Side.
However, throughout the Bible it seems that God is trying to restore us back to Himself.
Throughout redemptive history, we observe;
•God’s grace for us,
•His aim to deliver us,
•His faithfulness to His promises
•& His intent to restore His creation to a paradise that was lost.
So biblically & theologically, when a person embraces Jesus great salvation, they are restoring a bit of what was lost in the garden:) As we embrace God‘s forgiveness, He restores that which the ‘Enemy of our souls’ has intended for our chaotic destruction - an actual, ‘Highway to Heck’.... (hey, so I’m a Pastor)
We are currently experiencing all sorts of chaos. It has been avalanched upon us by way of this microscopic bug
Apparently, these sorts of bugs have caused incredible devastation throughout history. Cholera, bubonic plague, & influenza are some of the most brutal killers of humankind. Before we discovered a cure for smallpox, it’s estimated that it killed between 300-400 million people in its 5,000 year existence. Glad we have that vaccine! Yikes!
As of Tuesday mid-day (March 24), Tulare County has a total of 17 positive cases; 13 contracted by folks out traveling who brought it home. There are also approximately 135 people under self-quarantine & being monitored by Tulare Co. officials. (I thought that we are all pretty much under quarantine under the ‘stay put’ rule?)
There are also 13 cases in Fresno & 2 in Kings County & a couple in Kern. Fortunately, no one in the 7 county area of the San Joaquin Valley has died of ‘the crud’ yet, Praise God! I wish that we could say the same for alcohol related deaths during the same period.
So, where are Gods people in all this chaos?
Can this chaotic moment become a time of holy helpfulness?
Can this be an opportunity for God’s people rise up with wisdom & courage, transcending the fray & the fear?
With a little communication & compassion I believe that chaos can transform a really bad situation into hundreds, perhaps thousands of kind & thoughtful acts.
In the past week, I have heard that good hearted folks in our church family have delivered food, dropped off prescriptions, & braved Costco on behalf of others.
The crazier (& darker) that things get, the more clearly Gods light can shine through us!
Be smart about your health but don’t live in fear. If you can’t get out - use this time to pray for others.
“Shine your light & make a positive impact on the world; there is nothing so honorable as helping improve the lives of others.” - Roy T. Bennett
“Hide yourself in God, so when a man wants to find you he will have to go there first.” - Shannon L. Alder
“Shine. Let it shine before all men.
Let ‘em see good works & then,
Let ‘em glorify the Lord.” - Newsboys
“Believers are lights, but it helps us keep that in proper perspective when we realize that our light is derivative—we get it from God. We do not originate the light, we reflect the light.” - Mark Grislier
“Don't be afraid to shine. The world needs your light.” - Timi Nadela
“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, & glorify your Father who is in heaven.” - Jesus (Matt. 5)
Dave’s daily devotional Monday, March 23
“They were Giants”
One of my favorite contemporary authors is Stanford professor & Selma raisin farmer, Victor Davis Hanson.
As a fourth generation Central Valley farmer & classic historian, he brings profound thoughts into practical words.
Recently, Dr. Hanson wrote about the contrast of what we currently face & what our previous generations accomplished.
“Does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years?
Who were those giants of the 1960s responsible for building our interstate highway system?
America went to the moon in 1969 with supposedly primitive computers and backward engineering. Does anyone believe we could launch a similar moonshot today?
Our ancestors were builders & pioneers & mostly fearless.
We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, critics & social media junkies. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle & gripe.
Contemplatively we ask: ‘Who were these people who left these strange monuments that we use but can neither emulate nor understand?’ In comparison to us, they now seem like giants.”
Wow & Ouch.
Dr. Hanson brings a painful reality to bear in our challenging current world.
Without wanting to downplay the problems that we currently face, it is true that our grandparents fought in wars for us. Yet, in stark contrast - In facing this virus, all that we’re being asked to do is to sit on the couch. Our governor asked that we “Shelter at home” or as I wrote last week- obey the ‘stay put rule’.
Without sounding harsh, asking several generations that love to sit on the couch - to sit on the couch, require us no sacrifice whatsoever.
“There are very few monsters that warrant the fear that we have of them.” - Andre’ Gide
Dave’s daily devotional Sunday, March 22
“Sabbath - a weekly festival having its origin in the fact that God made the world in 6 days & was arrested on the 7th.” - Ambrose Bierce
Eugene Peterson, author of “The Message “ exclaimed, “If you don't take a Sabbath rest, something is wrong. You're doing too much, you're being too much in charge. You've got to quit, one day a week, & just watch what God is doing when you're not doing anything.”
As a hard working Pastor, I have been asked by a concerned friend or two “when do you take your Sabbath?” I suppose it is because they are astutely aware that I am running around the church on Sunday in high gear. I have often quipped, “I’m a 2nd Day Adventist, I take Monday’s off.”
No matter what day of the week that you choose to rest, we are definitely charged to do so by the Lord. (My little brother MD, Dan wrote a book about this very thing)
Before Jesus transformed the traditional Jewish ‘Friday night at sundown to Saturday night at sundown’ through a Sunday morning resurrection, an obedient Jew was not to do one little smidgen of anything that could be considered ‘work’. To do so would be to incur the wrath of the Levitical priesthood & to be labeled “a Sabbath Breaker” which apparently had some serious social ramifications.
For us modern dolts, the keeping of Sabbath is much more than physical rest. It involves spiritual renewal and worship. But keeping the “Sabbath day holy” is much more than going to church. It is a day of rest that God intends for us to keep. Unfortunately, next to lying (#9), the breaking of Sabbath is probably the next most often of the 10 Commandments that we brake.
There are continual distractions that our culture has devised to help the Enemy keep us away from the challenge of keeping the 3rd of Gods original Commands.
It seems to me that Sabbath contains both ‘active rest’ & ‘passive rest’. I think that ‘active rest’ is fulfilled by gathering together to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Ps. 96;9).
Conversely, ‘passive rest’ means not that I watch golf or football (back when they played such sports) all afternoon, but that I take a nap or some other sort of restful, physically restorative time with the Lord:)
Let me say something before I say something.... hang with me.
I’m semi-secretly wondering if perhaps this whole strange imposition brought on by this virus is a sort of sneaky way of God whispering to us - ‘you’re breaking Sabbath & you Americans have been doing so for a very long time’.
Let me follow that up by clearly explaining that God is not the author of disease but it is Satan that has caused all disease & our eventual physical death. Biblically, The Scoundrel deceived us long ago (Genesis 3 & following) & he is the one that is to blame for the problem of evil, disease & all suffering in the history of the world.
So now that I’ve said that - let me say this
The Year of Jubilee, which, for the Old Testament people came every 50th year, was a year full of releasing people from their debts, freeing all slaves, & returning property to who owned it. It was like a HUGE Sabbath year & was universally dedicated to REST.
The Israelites were not supposed to sow or harvest crops; it was a time for the people to return to their families & loved ones & to focus on the Lord.
So, I’m kinda wondering; in the here & now, stuck at home, contemplating the forced solitude....what is God whispering to you in this strangely bizarre viral Sabbatical?
You might think that old Pastor Dave has finally lost it theologically or you might just sit quietly & listen to that wonderful whisper that is so hard to hear amongst the wasted noise of a culture that worships things - other than WHO we are supposed to truly worship.
Dave’s Daily Devotional Saturday, March 21
OK, SO NOW WHAT DO I DO?
So much has changed in such a brief time. Our daily news cycle is filled with reports of the global Wuhan pandemic. Government leaders, medical professionals, researchers & scientists are diligently working to stem the tide of the virus & to protect folks like us from the crud. We have all been impacted in great & small ways.
As our lives have been disrupted, I’m sure that you have been experiencing a variety of emotions, frustrations & fears.
I think that it is time that we ask the Lord to help us face these problems & ask for His ability to transform these negative life experiences into redemptive situations.
This certainly it is a chance for us to spend time at home, love on our families, reach out to our neighbors & encourage one another via social media.
I have received fine words of encouragement from many of you in our wonderful fellowship. However, I am searching for those that might feel isolated & challenged in this strange season. I need your help in order to find them & minister to them:)
While I was writing this short devo, I received this encouraging text from my musician brother Matt Haus. “With all the closings, cancellations & reschedulings going on, I'm comforted to know that our Lord Jesus is still risen! No matter where we are or what inconvenience we are facing, He has not, nor will He ever forsake us! In these trying times He sustains us - so that we can proclaim His holiness.”
The people of God do not live in fear nor respond in trepidation because, as Paul reminded the Phillipian congregation; “The Lord is near” (4:5). These four words have the power to transform our reality wherever we find ourselves emotionally, physically & spiritually today. Because the Lord is near, we need not fear.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but has given us power, love & a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7.
“I’m not afraid of storms because I’m learning to sail my ship.” - Louisa Mae Alcott
Dave’s Daily Devotional Friday, March 20
OK, so now what do I do?
Some of you may have heard that last night, our governor (was he appointed or elected? Ignore this thought). He proclaimed that we should all stay put in attempt to negate our collective sharing of all things microscopically viral & bacterial. He called it “shelter in place”. I call it ‘the stay put rule’.
So, I ask you - What are you going to do while you ‘stay put’ in your place?
I have a few suggestions. To begin with, you can take any negative thoughts or grumpy complaints to God. King David got away with it. I mean half of the Psalms are him complaining, right?
Long ago one of my professors suggested that good old king David might even have been bipolar? Nonetheless, we can take the initiative to find peacefulness in our ‘stay put’ time with God.
However, what about moms with young children? Do Gods promises reach to the single (or even married parent) that is tired of doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen & attacking the unending mess that is created by their offspring?
I respond with a resounding YES!
My friend, Chris McClain reminded me that Susanna Wesley, mother of John & Charles Wesley was a ‘stay put’ mother of ELEVEN children! At prearranged times during her day, she would escape the mayhem by quietly sitting in a chair & would throw her cooking apron over her face. Her children learned that during those moments she was spending with God!
How about with us? We can do it too! Let’s start with Psalm 1.
“Blessed is the man (or women) who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of scoffers but his (their) delight is in the law (word) of the Lord & in His law (word) does he meditate day & night.
So there you have it - you have a grumpy old bipolar King that writes to us saying that the way to be blessed is to meditate every waking moment on the Holy Promises of Gods Word & apply them to your sequestered soul
I think that some really peaceful God moments can be birthed in YOU during these very strange days, but you will have to ‘seek Him’ while you ‘stay put’.
Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while he is near.”
Dave's Daily Devotional Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Good Morning Church!
These are unprecedented days of challenge. However, from the very beginning, the ‘Church of Jesus’ had to be creative & tough as it faced severe persecution and a variety of life threatening issues.
It is in the latent DNA of the church to face change with faith and not fear.
This ‘need to not fear’ takes many forms for the Christian.
In this daily devotional I will remind you about what you already know about God & your faith over the next few weeks.
We as a church hope that you will find it inspirational because our God is the source of inspiration!
Let me start by reminding of this verse from the Prophet Isaiah -
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you & help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Is. 41:10
May the Lord grant you health & wisdom today!