Bethany Presbyterian Church http://bethanypresby.org Bridgeville, PA Sun, 30 Nov 2014 05:00:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Waiting http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/waiting/ http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/waiting/#comments Sun, 30 Nov 2014 05:00:13 +0000 http://bethanypresby.org/?p=3808 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/waiting/feed/ 0 Bicentennial Year… http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/pastor/bicentennial-year/ http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/pastor/bicentennial-year/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:02:22 +0000 http://bethanypresby.org/?p=3811 Read the rest]]>  

It is hard to believe it, that the Bicentennial year is almost over. Wasn’t it just yesterday that Dolly Rastetter and Emily Brady and I sat down together and scoped out the year ahead and all the tasks involved? Wasn’t it just yesterday that a group of over a dozen volunteers brainstormed ideas and began breaking things down into tasks? Wasn’t it yesterday that Bud Marlett came up with his crazy idea of doing a radio theater on how Bethany got started…a crazy idea that worked? Or that Carol Willhite embarked on the daunting task of assembling articles and pictures that would be our 200th Anniversary book? Or that Dolly and Barb and Sandy and others would envision how we would celebrate our anniversary with dinner and music and entertainment? Or how we would worship and praise God, with a “tithing man” and a visit from our founding pastor and an alumni choir? Or how we would have a beard growing contest which I campaigned hard to win and thought I would win and should win and am still deeply scarred from not winning and am still plotting my revenge and am the only participant still playing and…well, never mind.

 

Please do mind this: a huge thank you goes to Emily Brady and Dolly Rastetter who were the overseers and Co-coordinators of the Bicentennial planning and teams. And oh, did they have help! Thanks to all who helped.

 

And here are some sound bites and nuggets from some recent sermons from Acts:

- Our question in coming to worship is not,” How did they do, but how did I do?”

It is not, “What did I get out of the service, but what did I give?”

 

-What kind of church does God want us to be?

Outwardly directed, living not for ourselves but for others;

Inwardly connected, knowing we need each other, we cannot do it on our own;

Eternally grounded, built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ.

 

-There is no Acts 29 in the Bible. We are Acts 29, the continuing story of God’s transforming work through his people, the body of Christ.

 

Oh yes, one more theme from the sermons and Bicentennial year: We are blessed to be a blessing…and the blessing continues.

 

May the blessing continue as we serve and praise our Lord and practice his love in compassionate service to others.

 

See you on Sunday,

John Hamilton

 

 

 

]]>
http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/pastor/bicentennial-year/feed/ 0
Devotional: Nov 24 – Nov 29 http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/bicentennial/devotional-nov-24-nov-29/ http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/bicentennial/devotional-nov-24-nov-29/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:10:46 +0000 http://bethanypresby.org/?p=3806 Read the rest]]> Experiencing the Devotional Readings

To help you experience each day’s reading and devotion, it’s suggested that you read the Scripture passage and read it more slowly a second time. Then, read the devotion and reflect upon how God is speaking to you through the passage. Finally, take the time to pray, using the exhortation that closes each devotion.

Nov. 24, 2014 Psalm 119:133-154

This passage begins with “Guide my steps by Your word, so I will not be overcome by evil” (NLT). Cherishing God’s words in our hearts and living by them will give us hope in the face of evil and direct our steps from an evil path. Verses 136 & 139 beg the question of us – are we saddened and indignant when we see God being mocked and His commands being heartlessly and defiantly disobeyed? The only way to combat evil is to continue to trust the Lord, obey His word, and spread His love and truth. We read that, even when “pressure and stress” (v. 143 NLT) invade our lives, we can find joy and gladness in the Lord’s commands. Obedience to His word will bring us indescribable joy so that we can overcome the stresses of this world. The Psalmist acknowledges that God is near, a comforting truth in the midst of the tumult and chaos of this world. The closing verse of this passage refers to our sinfulness and God’s redemption. The English Standard Version translates it as – “Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to Your promise.” 1 John 2:1 tells us that we do have a defender when we sin – “Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (NIV). Thank God for all of His blessings in your life and commit to being a blessing to others.

Nov. 25, 2014 Psalm 119:155-176

This final passage from Psalm 119 begins with recognizing God’s great mercy. We, likewise, are expected to be merciful in our dealings with others (Luke 6:36) and we will be blessed by the Lord (Matthew 5:7). God’s words are our standard of truth, standing forever. His truth is part of the armor of God, helping us to combat the evil one (Ephesians 6:14). Loving and obeying the Lord’s instructions brings us peace and keeps us from stumbling in our walk with Him. We’re reminded that God is all-knowing, and this should encourage us to be obedient and serve Him wholeheartedly. The Psalmist asks God to “let me live so I can praise You” (v. 175 NLT). Peter notes that because we, as believers, “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God”, we praise the Lord who brought us “out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)! Let’s thank God for His unending mercy, for the steadfast truth of His words, for the peace He gives us, for knowing all about us, and for the gift of praise.

Nov. 26, 2014 Psalm 120

Do you ever feel like the anonymous writer of this Psalm? Like the world is against you? Like your Christian beliefs and lifestyle just don’t really fit into the world’s lifestyle of greed, “if it feels good, do it”, and pleasure-seeking self-satisfaction? Well, I have news for you – YOU ARE AN ALIEN! Not the science fiction type, but a stranger in the world, searching for a better home. It says so right in the Bible, in the Book of Hebrews, chapter 11. Dubbed the “faith chapter”, it tells about notable people of faith in the Old Testament, who trusted the Lord and lived extraordinary lives of faith in a world that rejected them and their God-believing ways. In verses 13-16 (NIV), we’re told that they were “aliens and strangers on earth”, “looking for a country of their own”, “a better country – a heavenly one.” Sound like you and I? Verse 38 says that “the world was not worthy of them” (NIV). Jesus Himself, in His prayer for His disciples in the Gospel of John, said that “the world has hated them” (17:14 NIV) and “They are not of this world” (17:14, 16 NIV). Guess what? The world hates us, too, because of what we believe. In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1:18 NIV) and that “We are fools for Christ” (4:10a NIV). But, he also writes that “the foolishness of God is greater than man’s wisdom” (1:25a NIV). So, if you sometimes feel like a square peg in a round hole, it’s because you’re yearning for a far better home, in eternity, with your Savior and Lord. Like Paul, we can proclaim to the world that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 NIV). Let’s all ask the Lord to help us live for Him in a hostile world, to spread the Good News, and to look forward to our heavenly home with Him.

Nov. 27, 2014 Psalm 121

Happy Thanksgiving! We all have so much to be thankful for. This Psalm reminds us that “(our) help comes from the Lord” (v. 2 NLT). We may look to the hills and mountains, to our family and friends, to our material possessions, even to ourselves for help. Ultimately, however, our help comes from God. He may use our family and friends to help us, or some other means, but He’s the One who sets it all in motion. He made Heaven and earth and the whole universe; He is the Creator and the earth and everything in it are His (Psalm 24:1). Speaking through His prophet Isaiah, God said “I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (41:10b NLT). Isaiah also proclaimed – “See, the sovereign Lord is on my side” (50:9a NLT). All we have to do is believe and trust and have faith and hope in our Lord and Savior. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (NIV). Our faith reassures us that the hope we have in God’s help is certain, even though we can’t see Him nor understand how He’ll provide that help. For that, we are truly blessed, according to Jesus (John 20:29). Let’s thank the Lord for His help, for watching over us, and for faith that enables us to believe in Him, even when the world tells us otherwise.

Nov. 28, 2014 Psalm 122

“Let us go up to the house of the Lord” (v. 1 NLT). What comes to mind when you read or hear the words “House of the Lord?” Do you think of our Sanctuary at Bethany, where we worship on Sunday mornings? Or, do you see a Heavenly Sanctuary, as David refers to in Psalm 23:6, where he will dwell forever? Either vision brings with it being in the Lord’s presence along with the community of saints, worshipping together and celebrating His love and mercy. David was glad when he was asked to go to the Lord’s house. Think of our worship services at Bethany. We get to greet each other, hear a Scriptural call to worship, confess our sins and be assured of God’s pardon in Christ, give back to Him a portion of what He’s given us, listen to and sing uplifting and joyful music, offer up prayers, and hear God’s word read and proclaimed. Are we glad to be in worship, and in His holy and loving presence? Hopefully, if we come with a heavy heart, at least some of that burden will be lifted during the service. And, if need be, a person can find a Pastor or another worshipper to pray with them after the service. That’s why it’s called the community of saints – a group called together by the Lord for worship and building each other up in faith with the love of God. Are you looking for more joy in your life? Come to worship regularly – you’ll be glad you did! Dear Lord, we thank You for the opportunity to freely meet together in worship. Help us to be joyful at the prospect of being in Your presence and help us to always receive Your grace and mercy. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Nov. 29, 2014 Psalm 123

Some of you may remember Eric Perrell, an assistant Pastor at Bethany from the late 1980’s through the early 1990’s. I remember a children’s message he gave one Sunday morning, when he told the kids to “focus on Christ.” He demonstrated this by making a small circle with his thumb and index finger on one hand and reminded the children to concentrate their focus in life on Jesus and His love for them. Isn’t that what the Psalmist is doing in our passage for today? He’s lifting his eyes and persistently looking for God and His mercy. He’s focused his attention, his beseeching and pleading, his very life’s desire, on the tender mercies of the Lord. This same writer may have also penned Psalm 121, where he starts out with: “I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there” (NLT), as if to say “No, my help does not come from there…”My help comes from the Lord (v. 2). Our God is sovereign, and will have mercy and compassion upon whom He sovereignly gives it (Exodus 33:19). Where does your help come from? Focus on God, who is “a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15 NIV). Acknowledge the Lord’s tender mercies upon Bethany Presbyterian Church for our first 200 years, and seek His mercy and compassion individually and collectively as we prepare for ministry into the future.

]]>
http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/bicentennial/devotional-nov-24-nov-29/feed/ 0
Cheering Them On http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/cheering-them-on/ http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/cheering-them-on/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 05:00:53 +0000 http://bethanypresby.org/?p=3800 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/cheering-them-on/feed/ 0 Christmas Pageant – Thu Dec 18 @ 6pm http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/news/christmas-pageant-thu-dec-18-6pm/ http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/news/christmas-pageant-thu-dec-18-6pm/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 14:00:30 +0000 http://bethanypresby.org/?p=3795 Read the rest]]> Just Believe - Trusting in God“Just Believe”

Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014
Appetizers: 6 PM – 6:50 PM
Show Time: 7 PM

A children’s choir prepares to leave for a big city convention center. When their bus breaks down, they end up performing at a Retirement Center and find the true meaning of Christmas is more than glitz and glamour. With hip contemporary music, Latin American music, country music, and a little bit of swing from the 40’s every child will have a favorite style!  All are welcome!

]]>
http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/news/christmas-pageant-thu-dec-18-6pm/feed/ 0
Devotional: Nov 17 – Nov 22 http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/bicentennial/devotional-nov-17-nov-22/ http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/bicentennial/devotional-nov-17-nov-22/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 05:00:11 +0000 http://bethanypresby.org/?p=3793 Read the rest]]> Experiencing the Devotional Readings

To help you experience each day’s reading and devotion, it’s suggested that you read the Scripture passage and read it more slowly a second time. Then, read the devotion and reflect upon how God is speaking to you through the passage. Finally, take the time to pray, using the exhortation that closes each devotion.

Nov. 17, 2014 Psalm 119:1-22

Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm (and chapter in the Bible), with 176 verses. The beauty and blessing of God’s holy word is the central theme. Over the next eight days, we’ll read 22 verses for each accompanying devotion. The devotions will focus on how the Scriptures can bless each of us in our daily walk with the Lord. The Psalm begins with joy, the joy experienced by those who obey God and diligently search for Him. This joy comes from knowing that when we’re obedient to God, we’re expressing our love for Him (1 John 5:3), and He is honored and glorified. The Psalmist has hidden God’s word in his heart. How can we do this? We can read the Scriptures daily (v. 15) and even memorize some verses. Studying God’s word will strengthen our knowledge of Him and draw us ever closer to Him. The more we do this, the more we will recognize the Holy Spirit at work in our lives as we obey the word and see God working in the world. The Psalmist also asks the Lord to open his eyes to the wonderful truths found in Scripture. The Bible promises us that if we ask for wisdom, God will freely give it (James 1:5). When Jesus shared bread with the two folks He met on the road to Emmaus, he opened their spiritual eyes and they recognized Him (Luke 24:31)! Paul refers to this as opening the “eyes of your heart” (Ephesians 1:18 NIV). God’s word is glorious and life giving! Let’s be joyful as we obey it, hide it in our hearts, study it wholeheartedly, and ask the Lord to open our eyes to its abundant truth.

Nov. 18, 2014 Psalm 119:23-44

Upon an initial reading of Psalm 119, one might think that it basically says the same thing throughout. This rush to judgment will be overturned once we really delve into each verse and see the “wonderful things in Your law” (v. 18 NIV). God’s word revives the downtrodden spirit and encourages the sorrowful soul. A “circle of truth” is found in verses 32 and 34 – pursuit of His commands brings wisdom and understanding, and that wisdom enables wholehearted obedience to Him. The Psalmist prays for an eagerness for God’s word to combat a love of money (which turns us away from God). He asks the Lord to help him avoid coveting worldly things, and to turn his heart toward His life-giving commandments (see 1 Timothy 6:17-19). The Psalmist acknowledges that God’s word is his only hope. This truth is so wonderfully expressed in the hymn “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less” (lyrics by Edward Mote) – “On Christ the solid rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.” May our hope in the Lord and His life-giving Word lead us to say, like the Psalmist, that we will obey His instructions “forever and ever” (v. 44 NLT). Dear Lord and God, Thank You for Your word to us and Your Son, the living Word, given for us. In His precious name, Amen.

Nov. 19, 2014 Psalm 119:45-66

What nuggets of blessing do we find in this passage? First, we “will walk in freedom” (v. 45 NLT) when we devote ourselves to God’s commandments. By living according to the Lord’s instructions, we’re free from bondage to sin and free to follow Him and His plan for our lives. When we meditate on God’s regulations, we are comforted. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8 (NIV) that we are to think about whatever is “noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy” – surely the Lord’s word is all of these and much more. By reflecting on who God is, and realizing that He loves us unconditionally and has a perfect plan for us to live by, we are led to obey His instructions (see Ezekiel 20:11). The Psalmist writes that “I am a friend to anyone who fears You…who obeys Your commandments” (v. 63 NLT). He seeks fellowship with others who believe, and they can encourage each other in their walk with the Lord and build up each other’s faith. We can do likewise at Bethany, as well as be free to worship and follow the Lord and be comforted as we meditate upon His word. Praise God for all of His wonderful blessings and share those blessings with others during our bicentennial year and always.

Nov. 20, 2014 Psalm 119:67-88

Have you ever praised and thanked the Lord for your afflictions and His discipline? This Psalmist did – twice (vv. 71 & 75). He tells God that his suffering and affliction was good for him, because it “taught me to pay attention to your decrees” (v. 71 NLT). Maybe he thought that the Lord was trying to get his attention, or that he needed to draw closer to God. Whatever it was, he was now seeking the Lord in His Scriptures – a good thing. Then, the Psalmist admits that he needed God’s discipline, which is as good as a confession of sin and an acknowledgment of his deep need to be closer to Him (even to be disciplined by Him). He also says that waiting on the Lord has worn him out, but he continues to put his hope in God’s word (v. 81). He also writes that even though he was almost defeated by his enemies, he refused to abandon God’s commandments. In John 6:67-68, when Jesus asked His disciples if they were going to leave Him, Peter answered, Lord, to whom shall we go?” (NIV). Like Peter and the Psalmist, our only hope is in the Lord God Almighty! “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:5 NIV). Let’s all thankfully receive God’s discipline and affliction, and put our hope entirely in Him every day.

Nov. 21, 2014 Psalm 119:89-110

More blessings await us in this passage! We read that God’s word is eternal, and never changes nor becomes outdated. Jesus reinforced this truth when He said that “my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35b NIV). Our Lord Jesus Christ is the living Word, of whom it is said in Hebrews – “(He) is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (13:8 NIV). Likewise, we’re told that He is faithful through all generations, like an anchor in the stormy sea of life, and a rock in shifting sand. We can have confidence in God’s word because “everything serves (His) plans” (v. 91 NLT). The Lord told Isaiah that His word always produces fruit when He sends it out and will accomplish His will and purpose (55:11). The Psalmist writes that the word of God is a lamp and a light, guiding us to the truth and exhorting us to follow Him along the path of life. For all of these wonderful and undeserved blessings, we can offer this prayer – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the Heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3 NIV).

Nov. 22, 2014 Psalm 119:111-132

“Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight” (NLT). Reading this verse (111) makes us think about what we truly treasure in our lives. The Psalmist further explains his love for God’s commands, loving them more than the finest gold (127). Solomon tells us that wisdom is “more precious than rubies” and nothing “can compare with her” (Proverbs 3:15 NLT). The Psalmist asks the Lord to sustain him so that he can meditate on His decrees. This request would be very pleasing to God, in that he did not ask for riches and honor (see Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 3:7-12).   He also asks for discernment to help him understand God’s laws. Spiritual discernment enables us to know right from wrong (1 Kings 3:9) and to recognize God’s truth and wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:14). The last verse of this passage records the Psalmist asking the Lord to “show me your mercy” (NLT). God demonstrates His mercy to us by not treating us as our sins deserve, but showing us His unconditional love and forgiveness. In prayer, let’s all commit to treasuring God’s word more than gold or rubies, to trusting His sustenance so we can obey His commands, and let’s ask Him for discernment so we can better know His mind and heart – His perfect will – for us.

]]>
http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/bicentennial/devotional-nov-17-nov-22/feed/ 0
The Pandemic: Small-sightedness http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/the-pandemic-small-sightedness/ http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/the-pandemic-small-sightedness/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 05:00:57 +0000 http://bethanypresby.org/?p=3785 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/the-pandemic-small-sightedness/feed/ 0 Being an Acts 29 Church http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/being-an-acts-29-church/ http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/being-an-acts-29-church/#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2014 05:00:41 +0000 http://bethanypresby.org/?p=3764 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/sermons/being-an-acts-29-church/feed/ 0 Beard…Still On http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/pastor/beard-still-on/ http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/pastor/beard-still-on/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 22:16:18 +0000 http://bethanypresby.org/?p=3768 Read the rest]]> Each time someone sees me these days there is a look of surprise and – sometimes – wonderment. ” You still have your beard. I thought the Bicentennial is over…” is what is said in words or in looks. The reality is, beard…still on.

There are some advantages I have discovered in having a beard. I can find my way around the woods much better. I am able to chop wood, and for that matter, skin a possum, much faster. When I rub my beard, amazing thoughts seem to flow even more freely. Also, I know who hasn’t been to church in a while by their reaction. Shock? Then it’s been a long time. Don’t even recognize me, then it’s been way too long.

OK, the truth is twofold: my wife says I can keep it…for a while. Second, I can’t wait to see the looks on my extended family’s faces when I show up for the Christmas holidays with my beard. Melany’s family, being southern, will be gentile and polite ( I think). My family, being Pennsylvanian, will…let me know exactly what they think and then some. The look on their faces will help make my Christmas.

So, beard…still on…for a while.

Meanwhile, this Sunday is Dedication Sunday. You should have gotten a letter with a card enclosed that enables you to make an Estimate of Giving for the coming year. This is a way of praising God and enabling mission and ministry through Bethany Presbyterian Church. We are incredibly blessed with a dedicated, gifted and faithful staff, an incredible and well cared for facility, an amazing array of ministries for all ages, and a vibrant “shipping department”, that is, mission both near and far. We ARE blessed to be a blessing. Our commitment to giving in the coming year enables the blessing to continue. Bring your card with you this Sunday as we present them to the Lord. The results will assist your leaders envisioning and planning for the new year. (Cards will be provided for those who need them on Sunday.)

The sermon? “Becoming an Acts 29 Church”. You may look up Acts 29 in preparation for the service.

One more note. I had a wonderful conversation with The Rev. Clyde Brown, a former Bethany Pastor now in his nineties. He is doing well after a fall and a bout with pneumonia. He sends his very best to you and us all. Clyde had planned to be with us for our bicentennial weekend.

See you on Sunday for our dedication of our estimate of giving cards. And…beard on! For a while.

Blessings John H

]]>
http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/pastor/beard-still-on/feed/ 0
Devotional: Nov 3 – Nov 8 http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/bicentennial/devotional-nov-3-nov-8/ http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/bicentennial/devotional-nov-3-nov-8/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 05:00:24 +0000 http://bethanypresby.org/?p=3758 Read the rest]]> Experiencing the Devotional Readings

To help you experience each day’s reading and devotion, it’s suggested that you read the Scripture passage and read it more slowly a second time. Then, read the devotion and reflect upon how God is speaking to you through the passage. Finally, take the time to pray, using the exhortation that closes each devotion.

Nov. 3, 2014 Psalm 107

Jesus’ death on the cross was a work of redemption. He paid for us with His life (1 Corinthians 6:20a), ransomed us to set us free from our bondage to sin (Hebrews 9:15), shedding His blood, which cleansed us from the filth of our sins (Hebrews 9:22). Verse 2 asks “Has the Lord redeemed you?” (NLT). We can answer with a resounding YES! So can the people written about in this Psalm. Wilderness wanderers, those in chains and darkness, rebellious fools, sailors on the high seas – they all cried out “Lord, help!” (v. 13 NLT), and the Lord God rescued them, redeemed them, and saved them from their troubles and distress. These rescues could have been redemption from physical distress and worldly troubles, or represent spiritual redemption. Either way, we can be assured, like Job, and proclaim “I know that my Redeemer lives” (19:25 NLT). The work of redemption has been accomplished by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you haven’t already, won’t you come to Him today and accept His free gifts of salvation and eternal life? “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV)! All it takes is a simple prayer – Dear God, I confess that I’m a sinner against You and You only. I know that I can’t work my way into Heaven or take away my own sins. I believe that Your Son Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose again to give me eternal life. I trust Him as my Lord and Savior. I thank You and praise You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. (If you just prayed this prayer for the first time in your life, please tell Pastor John or Pastor Robbie.)

Nov. 4, 2014 Psalm 108

Head knowledge of God versus heart belief in God. It’s one thing to know something about God, but it’s a leap of faith to believe and act upon it from the heart. A summer sign at a local middle school reads – Knowledge gives power, but character gets you respect. Good character is doing what is right, not just having the knowledge of what’s considered right. David begins this Psalm with these words – “My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart” (v. 1 NLT). In his head, he knows about God. But, his heartfelt and steadfast belief in God enables him to not only sing praises to the Lord, but to give thanks and acknowledge His unfailing love and faithfulness. The second chapter of Proverbs explains this very well – “If you accept my words…and turn your heart to understanding…then you will understand the fear of the Lord…you will understand what is right and just and fair –every good path” (vv. 1-2, 5, 9 NIV). Paul writes that our saving belief in God is anchored in the heart and we are saved when we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts (Romans 9-10a). What’s the bottom line? Our knowledge of God has to make the short journey from our heads to our hearts so we can truly believe and begin to live as God desires! Let’s pray for steadfast hearts to strengthen our faith and give us the perseverance to walk with God always.

Nov. 5, 2014 Psalm 109

Once again, David beseeches the Lord to deliver him from his slandering and accusing enemies and he even prescribes their punishment to God. We have encountered many Psalms written by David where he prays for this same deliverance from the same situations. The take-away for us may be the repetitiveness of his prayers to the Lord. We are encouraged in the Scriptures to be persistent in prayer. James says that we don’t receive because we don’t ask God (4:2c). Paul tells us to “pray continually” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV). Jesus taught a parable about a persistent widow who kept asking a judge for justice. Because of her continual asking, the judge finally granted her request (Luke 18:1-7). Let’s be persistent in bringing our requests to the Lord and not tire of praying and trusting Him. He will answer at just the right time! Let’s learn a lesson from Bethany’s history. For nearly 200 years, our members have been praying to God and trusting Him to bless them and show them the way. As we celebrate our long heritage, let’s continue that tradition of prayer and trust in God’s love and guidance.

Nov. 6, 2014 Psalm 110

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, David writes about the coming Messiah, “quoting” God in verses 1 and 4. Jesus confirmed that He indeed will be seated at the right hand of the Father (Mark 14:62) and the writer of Hebrews quotes verse 1 in proving that Jesus is greater than the angels (1:13). Verse 4 mentions Melchizedek, whom Abram met, as he returned from battle, in Genesis 14:18-20. He blessed Abram and he gave Melchizedek and tenth of all the plunder. We don’t hear about this king of Salem and priest of God most High again until this Psalm. But we learn more about him in Hebrews, chapter 7. His name means “king of justice” and king of Salem means “king of peace.” There is no record of his parents or ancestors, literally no knowledge of a beginning or end of his earthly life. All this sounds like a description of God (blessed Abram, Abram gives him a tithe, the meanings of his names, and no record of family or record of his earthly lifespan), so that God can say of His Son, that “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” (v. 4b NLT). Who was this Melchizedek? Some say he was a “type” of Christ, and others Christ Himself. He was not a Hebrew, yet was a priest and king who worshipped and served God Most High. Because Jesus offered Himself on the cross as a once for all sacrifice for sins, He is our eternal High Priest and guarantee of a better covenant. Let’s worship our High Priest, Jesus Christ, and commit to a deeper and more fulfilling walk with Him now and forever.

Nov. 7, 2014 Psalm 111

This and the next two Psalms begin with the words “Praise the Lord!” Our God is surely most worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. The Psalmist gives thanks and extols the Lord in the great assembly of those gathered for worship, an exhortation for us to do likewise. Verses 3-9 were the subject of Pastor Robbie’s sermon on August 3 (from Psalm 77). He shared that, when times are hard and we’re in a season of trial and testing, we can turn our hearts to the great and wonderful deeds of the Lord. This will help us to remember that God has been the source of all our blessings and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and He will not forget about us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Our fear, i.e. respect and honor, of the Lord will grow when we remember His mighty works – provides sustenance, remembers His covenant with us, gives us places to live, and has redeemed us – and this is the foundation and the beginning of true wisdom. This godly wisdom has nothing to do with worldly wisdom, but has everything to do with the righteousness of our holy God. This wisdom teaches us His ways, His love for others, His mercy and compassion. For that, we can shout our praise to the Lord! Pray for God to give you the mind of Christ and be transformed by the renewal of your own mind, a mind awash with His wisdom.

Nov. 8, 2014 Psalm 112

This devotion writer’s second child, a son, was born on January 30, 1983. I accepted the Lord thirteen days later on February 11, 1983. Sometime after that, as our son lay in his crib one evening, I prayed the first part of verse 2 of this Psalm for him. What parent doesn’t want their children to grow up to be “mighty in the land” (NIV) or “successful everywhere” (NLT)? At the time, I was actually praying that he eventually mature into a believing Christian with a strong faith, a thirst for God’s Word, and strive to live according to His will. Besides my love for my son, I also prayed that way because of what is promised in verse 1, that “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands” (NIV). This Psalm contains several such promises for those who fear God – wealth and riches (which can be spiritual as well as monetary), an enduring righteousness, a guiding light in the darkness, and a steadfast heart in the face of bad news. All of these are blessings from the Lord, and being so blessed, we can be a blessing to others! We can share our riches, both monetary and spiritual, with those in need, we can do good deeds that please God and minister to others, we can be the light of Christ in a lost world, and we can encourage those enduring tough times in their lives. I encourage all of you to pray the Psalms and trust the Lord to bless you abundantly.

]]>
http://bethanypresby.org/2014/11/bicentennial/devotional-nov-3-nov-8/feed/ 0