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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


SEEING HEAVEN ON EARTH

We have been given glimpses of heaven.

Think of the fruit of the Spirit as Christians experience God’s love and joy and peace.

Granted—we don’t always see them perfectly or, for a sustainable time.

But….we get a taste of what heaven will be like.

 

I have always enjoyed the imagery in Ephesians 1:13-14 which says:

            In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

 

The Holy Spirit NOW in our lives—gives promise for WHAT WILL BE.

I have known God’s love and shared His kindness and been overwhelmed by His mercy.

Sadly—it only lasts for awhile but it DOES give me a glimpse of what I will find in heaven.

 

I thought of this, too, in relation to people.

Currently, we are having riots and protests and people are divided over so many things.

Yesterday, I spoke about the heart change needed to bring unity and that comes through Jesus.

 

In ‘seeing heaven on earth’—I was reminded of the great imagery of Revelation 7:9.

            Here is how Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message paraphrase:

I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing:

Salvation to our God on his Throne!
Salvation to the Lamb!

 

Tonight {Wednesday}, I get to meet with my small group.

As I pictured them—I pictured heaven.

In my small group—I have the following:

            People of Asian descent

            People of Mexican descent

            People with children and/or grandchildren who are African-American

            People who are native American

            People who represent a spectrum of ‘white America’

We gather together—for no other reason—then because of salvation from the Lord.

In heaven—that will be the image—people of all types—joined together because of Jesus.

Politics cannot make us one.  Government cannot make us one.  Edicts cannot make us one.

Only ONE can make us one.

And that ONE gives us a glimpse of heaven on earth each time we see His church!




TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


A REVOLUTION OF LOVE

Somewhere you have probably heard this quote from Napoleon:

            “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.”

 

I do not think anyone would now die for Alexander or Caesar or for Napoleon.

But, the French leader was correct—millions of Christians “die daily.”

Many of these ‘deaths’ relate to sacrifices made on behalf of Christ.

Some…….to be very sure—are literal, physical deaths for the cause of Christ.

 

His message of love overpowered the most powerful.

His message of meekness conquered the strong.

His message of grace transformed injustices into manifestations of God’s working.

People have literally been changed into new creations because of the love of Jesus.

 

Romans 5:8 must stand as the bulwark of God’s working:

“But God demonstrated His love toward us IN THAT WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS—Christ died for us.”

He did not ask us to clean up our act or go to church or do anything…He simply loved.

Who loves the ‘worst of these?’

Who loves their enemies?

Who loves those with whom they disagree?

But that is exactly what Jesus did for you and me and all who call Him by name.

 

My wife has a cousin who has lived out the ideals of Jesus in vivid ways.

Born and raised in Canada—he attended Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago.

He had to do a practical Christian service so…he chose one in Cabrini-Green.

Yeah…..’that Cabrini-Green.’

When he first went there, he would have glass bottles shattering around him.

Looking up—he realized that people were throwing them at him from above.

He came to find out that a white man there was either a policeman or drug dealer.

Why else would a white man be found in this notorious housing project?

He kept going—doing a Bible study for children.

Over time—he became consistently well-known and respected.

The word got out from drug dealers and gang leaders that if anyone hurt Dan…well.

We would visit Dan and walk with him in downtown Chicago.

We would not get far until someone stopped ‘brother Moses’ {he had quite a beard}.

He was the first white person to apply for housing in Cabrini-Green.

His reasoning—if he was going to reach the people there, he needed to be with them there.

Was that not the same reasoning as Jesus?

To reach us—He had to be with us.  And, in being with us—He brought a revolution of love.




MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


I AM SAD

I am thinking about all that is going on around us and it makes me sad.

Obviously, the senseless death of anyone should make us mad.

Then, protest turned mayhem should make us mad again.

Add to this the lockdown we are under without constant contact and…well…I am sad.

Churches have not met and people have suffered and it is, as a friend says:  “a hot mess.”

 

Much of my emotion goes toward the evil that just seems palpable.

Satan is alive and well and running rampant in the homes and streets of America.

With family deterioration has come chaos in structure.

With political machinations from all sides has come a lack of respect.

With the message of the cross lost to so many—there are so many without hope.

 

Granted—this is absolutely nothing new.

From the very first pair of people—there has been disorder.

From the very first brothers—there has been violence.

From the nation chosen by God—there was grumbling and chaos.

Nothing has changed…. nor, will it…apart from the Spirit of God.

 

I have thought a great deal recently about the working of the Spirit.

Obviously—99% of that work concerned reconciliation with God.

But…God’s design then was drawing people together by that same power.

Today, we have divisions between black and white.

In the days of Jesus—it was between Jews and Gentiles.

 

Jesus broke down the walls so we could all be one at the cross.

Every person worshiping the same Lord; chosen by Him to be a part of one family.

Jesus calls His children to look at the heart-not the skin-of those called by Him.

Jesus calls us to look at the heart-not the heritage-of those called by Him.

A heart changed by Jesus “should” recognize His work in others.

 

I kept coming back to an almost obscure passage in Luke 13.

Some people talk to Jesus about some Galileans whom Pilate had killed.

Jesus asks:  ‘do you think they were greater sinners because they suffered this fate?’

His reply is:  ‘unless you repent—you will also perish too.’

Every single person on earth is lost without the Savior.

And, without Jesus comes suffering unlike anything we see on earth.

That, my friends, is the saddest news of all.

 

My prayer is that God’s children will live out the good news of the gospel in a hopeless world.

As He transforms our hearts—I pray that God’s children will help transform our world.

And…………..that He will turn our mourning into dancing.




SATURDAY & SUNDAY, MAY 30-31, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


CHRISTIANS NEVER SAY GOODBYE

Tomorrow would have been my oldest sister’s birthday.

Actually, it is still her birthday, she is just not alive on earth to celebrate it.

She went to be with the Lord several years ago and I think of her often—especially on May 31.

As my other 4 siblings and I have talked about her we have realized that she got to heaven first.

In every way plus more she is very much alive.

 

Christians speak often of heaven as we consider the promises made in the scriptures.

We were with friends from college tonight who we have known for over 45 years.

As we look at the fact that we closer to the end of life our discussion turned toward heaven.

Paul’s words to the Philippians ring true when he said:

            “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 

We talk about heaven and we think about heaven but do we really hold to that truth?

Years ago, I read a quote from C. S. Lewis to a man with whom he had shared the gospel.

Lewis said:  “Christians never say goodbye—only so long for now.”

 

I want to get the most out of the time I have on earth.

But I realize that heaven awaits me as it has greeted so many before me.

Tomorrow we celebrate again the first day of the week that signals ‘church.’

I pray that even though we won’t be together that we can enjoy the Jesus Who is in each one.

And….until we get together again—‘so long for now.’

 

 


FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHEN YOU HAVE GOOD NEWS—YOU HAVE TO TELL SOMEBODY

I have spoken on this topic before for an Easter sermon.

There is just something about getting good news that makes us want to tell someone else.

It may be someone who has gotten engaged or, having a baby.

It may be someone getting the job they wanted or getting a promotion.

If we hear good news—we want to tell somebody.

 

The reference to Easter comes from Luke 24.

Jesus has met the two disciples on the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

The whole chapter is worth reading—if nothing else-for the coy way Jesus speaks with them.

At the end, Jesus breaks bread with them and they know it is Him.

Right away—they HAVE to go back to Jerusalem to tell the others.

Does not matter that it is dark.

Does not matter that they have just traveled miles on an empty tank of emotion.

NOW, they are energized because they have gotten good news and they have to tell someone.

So, back to Jerusalem they go to tell the others about seeing Jesus.

 

Yesterday—I began getting texts saying that we can meet again as a church.

Some came right when the governor spoke.

Some came late at night.

Today, the news continued as people told me that we can start meeting again as a church body.

So, I am telling you—we can meet again as a church body.

 

That is not only good news—it is GREAT NEWS!

 

Now, I will just temper that news slightly in saying we are not ready to meet this Sunday.

The leaders have been meeting and planning and working to a July 5 starting date.

So, this is welcome news but it caught us just a bit off guard.

 

However—now, all our focus is going to be on doing what we can to reopen the doors of Faith.

Not everyone will feel comfortable coming and that is okay.

We do not know yet how we will handle distancing and the rest—but we are working on it.

I am not sure people will like not being able to eat wheat thins during the message or…

            Pausing to have family discussions during the sermon.

 

But……….our focus now is on how to reopen effectively and safely.

And……..that is good news and I wanted you to know it!




THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


THE DAILY CARE OF PEOPLE

When you think about life—there are things that keep coming up over and over.

Go to work one week—go the next.

Mow the lawn this week—mow the lawn the next.

Birthday party this week—next year too, by God’s grace.

Church one week—next week again.

 

            As a minister—I find there are three things that keep coming up over and over.

One—spend time with the Lord today—do the same tomorrow.

            I just cannot eat enough in one day for two days’ worth of spiritual vitality.

Two—studies prepared each week.

            I can have a stellar sermon one week but…I must still produce one the next.

            Devotional thoughts and small group materials—they come, and they come.

Third—people.

            The people do not go away {NOR would I want them to}—they are always here.

            Now—along with people comes the incredible joy of seeing people grow in their faith.

            On the other hand, there are always needs and those things for which to pray.

                        There is a daily need to care for the people assigned to my care.

 

At Faith, we have dozens of people who care for other people.

Besides our elders and deacons—we have small group leaders and women’s ministry leaders.

We have a ministry specifically called ‘faith cares’ comprised of people who care for people.

We have others who just are gifted in mercy and serving so reach out to others.

Now—some of the needs people have are not weekly but they are constant.

Paul warns about not being weary in well-doing which can happen in caring for people.

On the other hand—think about the ministry of Paul.

 

I was reminded of this as I was working on the sermon for this week.

In 2 Corinthians 11—Paul lists many of the afflictions he has faced because of the gospel.

Included in this list are such things as:  whipped 5 times 39 lashes each.

            Do the math and you realize his back must have looked like swiss cheese.

He was beaten and stoned.

He was imprisoned.

He was in constant danger….and on the list goes.

But it is in verse 28 that I am brought up short as I consider his calling by God.

            He writes:

“Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches.”

These are not just individuals—these are whole churches!

Yet—God had called Paul to minister daily in caring for those people God had entrusted to him.

Do not lose heart in doing good, Paul would say—but daily care for those God has given to you.




WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


THE GOOD HAND OF GOD ON US

For those who are a bit older or, students of the Word— you know the name Chuck Swindoll.

In many ways, he has influenced my style of presenting a sermon. 

I will throw in that he offered the thoughts I have as a foundation for my preaching.

Although I do not remember him ever using this acronym—here is what he shared.

            A sermon should be like a CAR {he provided the 3 points—I put them into this form}.

When you think about a car—it is something you want to have riding smoothly.

That is the way a sermon should be.

So the three points then are that a sermon should be:

            Clear

            Accurate

            Relevant

I never want someone walking away from a sermon wondering what I said.

I also want it to be something that can be applied to life right now.

And I double check to make sure I am accurate in what I am presenting.

Now, at one point—folks began to speak of my name in the same sentence as Chuck Swindoll.

They would say:  “That Bob DeKlavon—he is NO Chuck Swindoll!!”

 

I chuckle as I think about this realizing that God DOES provide models for us to emulate.

For me—Chuck Swindoll has been great and even being named in the same sentence…well.

 

Something that has struck me about great ministers over time is how God is upon them.

The fruit produced speaks volumes about what is working through them.

Such is the case with the older testament leader and speaker Ezra.

I will confess that I am almost overwhelmed by Ezra.

I do not know if you have read his story, but it is one worth reading.

What strikes me as much as anything is what is said of him.

Consider the following:

            “…the good hand of his God was upon him.”  {Ezra 7:9}.

 

Think about having the good hand of God on you.  What an amazing thing to consider.

            

However, we find a reason why God’s good hand was upon him as we look at the next verse.

            For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”

Note the ‘for’ here indicating a cause.

Ezra did not haphazardly spend time with the Lord.

He sought Him out and consistently studied and practiced and taught what he learned.

No wonder God’s good hand was on Him…right?

As I say—take time to make time to spend time with the Lord.

Who knows what His good hand will do with you?




TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


JESUS THE SAME

I will confess that Hebrews 13:7 is a verse that has challenged my life in many ways.

In fact, I could spend this day and several more just offering thoughts from what is there.

I WILL use it as the foundation for what I share today.

Ultimately, though, I really want to draw attention to verse 8.

 

However—let me start with what is written in verse 7:

 

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

 

If you have been in the church long enough—you have observed ‘those people.’

These are the people who just seem to have a genuine faith.

They are vibrant and joyful.

They are passionate without being legalistic.

            They study and know and apply God’s Word to life.

In short—they are people worth imitating.

 

Now, notice from verse 7 that the writer is not implying that they are perfect.

No matter how much someone grows—they WILL have weak spots upon which we can focus.

But the writer says—focus or imitate {mimic} their faith.

Look at how Jesus is lived out through their life and then let that come out through you too.

 

I have been blessed to have several people in my life who have modeled faith for me.

            A Bible teacher who taught me how to love God’s Word.

            A mentor who showed me how to serve.

            A mother who prayed and demonstrated how to do that.

            A family of siblings who loved Jesus and provided aspects of faith living through them.

There are so many others but each one provided something worth mimicking.

 

Now—here is the argument I have heard from people over the years:

            “Well, it was so much easier for them to follow Jesus because times were simpler then.”

 

That is where verse 8 comes into play.

The writer says:  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Times change—but Jesus doesn’t.

Culture changes—but Jesus does not.

Each generation goes through things unheard of in the prior—but no matter what—Jesus.

Ultimately, those with genuine faith in each generation mimic what they see in Jesus.

And-that does not change which means desiring a faith lived out that is also worth following.




MONDAY, MAY 25, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


DYING FOR OUR ENEMY

This Memorial Day is quite different from any other.

Parades are canceled or have been scaled back.

Gatherings at memorials have been closed to the public.

Yet, we still take time to pause and remember—those who sacrificed their lives for us.

 

Over the last decades, I have said the same thing over and over related to that sacrifice.

Those who died while serving America died to protect this country and its allies.

No soldier went to war to die for their enemy.

In fact, that thought just seems somewhat ludicrous, doesn’t it?

 

But here is the thought that hits me—that is exactly what Jesus did for us.

Having been at Faith for any length of time then you have heard me talk about Romans 5:10.

To paraphrase, Paul writes:

“If while we were enemies—we were made right with God.

How much more will we be saved by His life?”

 

This is found in a section where non-Christians are described as:

            Helpless, ungodly, sinners, enemies.

 

Now—I have been a Christian for a long time.

It is hard sometimes to picture myself as God’s enemy.

After all, even before I became a believer, I was a relatively ‘nice guy.’

I never murdered anyone {in the sense we normally would think}.

I did not rob stores or commit egregious sins {from my perspective}.

Yet, based on the standards of God’s perfection—I was an enemy of God.

 

Now—here is the ‘other side’ of this equation that makes me pause.

God did not require anything of me for me to be right with Him.

Easily, could He not have demanded we go to church some, and give some, and serve some?

But…He did not.

And in that great exchange referred to in 2 Corinthians 5:21…here is what happened:

            He took all the features of us as enemies and put it on Himself.

            In return, He made us friends…and…even more…part of His family.

 

So, today, no matter how you remember the sacrifices made for our freedom:

    Remember the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Who willingly laid down His life for His enemies.




SATURDAY & SUNDAY, MAY 23-24, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


DEVOTED TO...?

What is something to which you are devoted?

In this regard, I am NOT thinking of a relationship to someone. 

I am thinking more like a hobby or a ‘thing’ {sport’s team, collecting things, etc.}.

For years, my brothers and I were devoted to collecting books.

Each year, my two most immediate older brothers and I would have ‘book counting day.’

We would count the numbers of books we had and note the increase from year to year.

In our ‘heyday,’ I am guessing that between the 3 of us we had around 25,000 books!

Each of us DOES enjoy reading, but part of the fun was finding and buying more books.

 

There is a Greek word that hits me when I think of those things to which I am devoted.

It is used about 10 times in the Newer Testament and it IS translated ‘devoted’ in the NASB.

It is a compound Greek word and it carries the thought of ‘putting your heart toward.’

In other words—‘be devoted.’

 

The use of this word that hits me hardest is found in Colossians 4:2.

There, Paul writes:

“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”

 

I will confess that prayer is my weakest spiritual discipline.

Don’t get me wrong—I pray and I enjoy praying but the words here reveal my weakness.

Are you like me in that you go to pray and suddenly think of all the things you should be doing?

Do you go to pray and find that the list you made needs to include 15 more things?

That is why I so appreciate the phrase Paul adds here:  “keeping alert in it.”

I can get sidetracked and I can lose focus and I can simply find my mind wandering everywhere.

There are times when the battle is so severe that I need to walk and pray out loud.

Graciously, during this isolation—it is easy to do this without people thinking I am a bit crazy.

 

What I am convinced of is that what is important to us we will find time to be devoted.

If there is a show on TV I like—I will work my schedule to view it.

If there is something I want to get—I will arrange my money and energy to pursue it.

So—what if we developed that habit with prayer?

What if each day we would make time to take time to be devoted to prayer?

And, in that prayer, that we would purposely find ways to stay alert?

 

In this time, I can change nothing with my anger or frustration or angst.

But we know the One Who can and I pray that we will pray and stay alert while doing so.

By the way, as I have gotten older, I am devoted now to ‘getting rid of books.’

Over the last decade, I have given away or sold around 2,000 as we try to ‘unhoard’ our lives.

That is a good thought to keep in mind as we also unclutter our lives and pray.




FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


RELATIONSHIPS

Today marks a momentous anniversary in my life.

Fifty years ago, today, I met my best friend.

66 years ago, today, I was introduced to my 4-year-old brother [it was HIS birthday}.

 

I will talk about these more in a moment but let me start here with some thoughts.

God has us on earth to love Him and to love others.

The idea is that we would have symbiotic relationships whereby we help others and they us.

In His providence and out of His grace—we get to meet ‘some’ people who stay with us forever.

 

Solomon rightly wrote in Proverbs 17:17:

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Our social media world gives an illusion of friendship.

We can say we have hundreds of friends on Facebook but how many love at all times?

 

50 years ago today, it was a Friday night and I attended a Bible study group.

Dozens of teens crowded into a house to sing, hear a Bible study and connect with others.

My friend, Mark, had been invited by another friend and we met that day for the first time.

For 50 years, we have lived almost parallel lives as God called us each into ministry.

We have adopted children and have gone through ups and downs with our kids.

We have both been loved by the church and suffered setbacks due to God’s people.

Through it all, we have enjoyed a David-Jonathan relationship whereby we love each other.

 

My brother whose birthday is today—has always been a great older brother.

In many ways, I have followed very imperfectly in his footsteps.

We had both considered being lawyers, but God had different plans.

He went to Bible College and I went to the same one.

He went into vocational ministry and so did I.

We diverted only in that he went into teaching and administration in an academic role.

His love for the Lord provided a consistent foundation for my human understanding of God.

 

Time is so short when you consider a 50-year anniversary.

The exhortation is to value the time God has given to you.

 

I have been graced by God with these 2 men and others who may show up in later blogs.

But, today, these two came to mind because of our introduction by grace.




THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


PROVEN CHARACTER

On May 1—I spoke about the goal of tribulation from Romans 5:4.

Part of the process is “proven character.”

This means that someone has been tested and tried and their character is shown to be good.

 

On May 7—I wrote about the question:  ‘what is said about you?’

I cited the Sons of Issachar and the Bereans and the Thessalonians.

All of the above were people who had proven character.

 

    Today, {Thursday, May 21, 2020} I want to get personal related to proven character.

I am not going to name names but those who belong to Faith will know of whom I speak.

 

            We have a group of men who have named themselves:  “the over the hill gang.”

They are a group of retired men who are in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

They have faithfully worked on projects at Faith for years.

Such was the case today.

I got to the church around 8 and several of them were already here.

From 8-2:30 they worked—no fanfare, no headlines, no great applause.

Just faithfully working and doing what was needed to be done today.

 

In the midst of the day—I received a need from someone who had car issues.

My standard line is:  “when it comes to car issues—I can do a good funeral.”

I am NOT the guy to call when there are car issues.

However—I had 5 faithful men in the building who I knew would respond or could help.

Sure enough, without ‘blinking an eye’ one of them suggested one of their other members.

He wasn’t needed at church today, so I caught him at home.

As I shared the need, he immediately adjusted his plans with the intent of going to help.

 

As I thought about what to write today—I thought of these 6 men.

There are more who are part of the ‘group’ but I want to focus on them.

Today—they did not share the gospel with anyone or lead a Bible Study.

They did not lead worship or write profound spiritual lessons for anyone.

All they did was do what God gifted them to do.

And, in so doing, each of them showed the proven character of their lives.

Sometimes we think that we have to part Red Seas or have burning bush experiences with God.

Most times, God just asks us to live out our faith in obedience to the opportunities presented.

As we do so—we develop proven character that speaks volumes for our walk with the Lord.




WEDNESDAY, MAY 20, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


SACRIFICES

As we read through the older testament—we are confronted with sacrifices all over the place.

Leviticus gives us sacrifices for different reasons using different means.

It almost gets overwhelming as we see one after another listed.

Then, throughout the older testament—we find sacrifices offered for such things as:

    Rejoicing or, penitence or, as a way to show someone’s desire to walk with God.

 

When we get to the newer testament, we get the idea that sacrifices are done.

Indeed, Jesus was the last sacrifice offered for sin so that is finished.

 

It is easy then to think that the concept of sacrifice is foreign to the Christian today.

That is why Hebrews 13:15-16 provides an interesting glimpse of what God desires.

                                                Here is what it says:

“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.

And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

 

Two sacrifices are given for the Christian and I have touched on them at different times before.

                                    ONE—a sacrifice of praise.

                        1 Thessalonians 5:18 should hopefully come to mind:

            “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Right now—we are all inconvenienced and some are struggling mightily.

            I am not thanking God ‘FOR’ the virus but I am striving to thank God ‘IN’ the virus.

Is it a sacrifice?

Yes, certainly not to the extent of killing an animal but it is still a sacrifice.

But, it helps me keep focused on the Lord rather than what is happening here.

 

                        TWO—do not neglect doing good and sharing

Paul wrote to Titus about this over and over.

James wrote about showing our faith by what we do.

The way we do this now is different and, perhaps harder than 2 months ago.

But this is a sacrifice we make in order to please the Lord.

 

Understand—we don’t HAVE to do these things.

But since it pleases God—why wouldn’t we?

So—make it a point to give thanks for what God IS going in your life.

And…as you have opportunity—look to do good and share with someone else.

Kinda’ nice to think that those simple acts please the Lord Who gave so much for us.




TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


NO REGRETS

I think of the words ‘no regrets’ and two different thoughts come to mind.

            The first relates to a very sad testimony of a king of Judah.

The story of the king is bad enough in itself but it is amplified by the one who was his father.

                        Jehoram was the evil king who was the son of Jehoshaphat.

                                    Jehoshaphat walked in the way of the LORD.

            It is he of whom I wrote yesterday that he sought the LORD in a tough time.

 

His testimony is given in 2 Chronicles 20:33:

 

“And he walked in the way of his father Asa and

did not depart from it, doing right in the sight of the LORD.”

 

To find one king of Israel who was righteous was amazing—two in a row was incredible.

But then…there was Jehoram.

Here was his legacy:

                                    He killed his brothers and some of the rulers of Israel.

                        “He did evil in the sight of the LORD.”  {1 Chronicles 21:6}.

            “He made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot and led Judah astray.”  {21:11}.

 

                                    Finally, the LORD had enough of him.

                        Elijah the prophet writes to tell him that his family will die.

The king himself will die from an excruciating illness {you will have to look to see what it was}.

            He did die and here is the statement that haunts me every time I read it:

                        “He departed with no one’s regret.”  {21:20}.

 

Think about that—no one missed him.

                                                What a wasted life.

                        What a sad testimony, especially in light of the heritage given to him.

 

I think about my life and, of course, you as well in the midst of the time in which we live.

            Things have certainly changed—but the opportunities for serving Jesus have not.

The second way I think about ‘no regrets’ is living a life that is filled to the full for Jesus.

When God calls me home, I want to have no regrets when it comes to my faithfulness.

                        I want to hear ‘well done’ and be able to say like Paul:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” {2 Tim. 4:7}.

                        Which paraphrased means:  “I have no regrets.”




MONDAY, MAY 18, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


THE BATTLE REALLY IS THE LORD'S

For several weeks, our elders and staff have offered a verse for the day.

Pastor Jay, {our visitation pastor} has the verse for Wednesday which he passes along to me.

I type it up on Monday morning, along with mine, and then it is sent along.

 

       If you have been involved in studies of the Bible then you know the following situation.

            You go to a Sunday school class and then the sermon touches on the same theme.

            Or, you do a small group and you hear a radio minister share similar thoughts.

I had a similar thing happen today as I received Pastor Jay’s verse to type up.

It is from 2 Chronicles 20:12 and it reads:

“We are powerless before this great multitude coming against us, nor do we know what to do:

                                          BUT OUR EYES ARE ON YOU.”

 

Now—the reason why that struck me today is that this is where I am in my yearly Bible reading.

                        King Jehoshaphat is a good king of Judah {southern Israel}.

            Three kingdoms have come against Judah and it is reported to the king.

            What he does next is a pattern that should be followed by any of God’s children.

 

20:3—He turned his attention to seek the LORD; and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

20:4-11—He cries out to the LORD as all the people are gathered with him

20:12—The eyes of the people are on the LORD

20:14-17—A prophet by the name of Jahaziel shares what the Spirit of the LORD tells him.

Now, understand that this was a specific message to a specific king for a specific time.

But…listen to the promise given to the people from the LORD:

                        

“Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours butGod’s.”  v. 15.

“You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf…Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.”  V. 17

 

The response of the people is one you would like to expect anytime God speaks:

                                    The King and the people bow with their faces to the ground.

                                                            They worship the LORD.

            The worship leaders stood up to praise the LORD God ‘with a very loud voice!’

God has called us to follow Him—we MUST fight various enemies…but we never do it alone.




SATURDAY & SUNDAY, MAY 16-17, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


DON'T LET THE END RUIN THE BEGINNING

Each year, as I read through the Bible, I am struck by the kings of Israel.

As a reminder—AL OF ISRAEL had ONE KING for only 3 generations.

There was King Saul followed by King David followed by King Solomon.

After Solomon—the kingdom split:  north {Israel}, south {Judah}.

          All the kings of Israel were evil.

Most of the kings of Judah were also evil with some exceptions.

One that stands out for me with great sadness is King Asa.

The story I will share here is based on 2 Chronicles 14-16.

 

                        Some background:

Asa was the great great grandson of King David.

He was appointed king in about 911 B. C.

                                                1 Chronicles 14:2 says of him:

                        “And Asa did good and right in the sight of the LORD his God.”

 

            In that same chapter—verse 9 tells us that the Ethiopian army gathered against King Asa.

                        That army has ONE MILLION MEN and 300 chariots.

                        Let that number wash over you for a minute—1,000,000 men.

We are told that Asa had available 580,000 warriors from both Judah and the tribe of Benjamin.

                           But by a margin of almost 2 to 1—Asa was going to battle.

                        We are told that he calls on the LORD by way of intercession.

                              God shows up and the Ethiopian army is routed.

 

A prophet comes to King Asa and says:

“Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin:  the LORD is with you when you are with Him.  And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you….But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for you work.”

 

                        It is said of Asa that for decades he did well.

                        He made reforms and he got rid of most of the idols in the land.

                        In so many ways—he was the ideal king.

 

HOWEVER….don’t you hate that word in a story like this?

It is implying that the story is going to take a twist and that is exactly what happens.

In the 36th year of his reign.  Let me repeat that—in the 36th year of his reign:

       The King of Israel comes to do battle with Asa and, RATHER THAN CALL OUT TO THE LORD… 

                                    He reaches out to a foreign power to rescue him.

God is ticked with him and do you blame the LORD?

                                    After all He has done—this is how Asa repays Him?

           Sadly, his ending comes when he gets diseased in his feet, but we are told…even then…

                        “Even in his disease he did NOT SEEK THE LORD, but the physicians.”

He began so well and lived most of his life in a way that honored the Lord.

But the end ruined the beginning.  

Don’t let that happen to you.  Remember all that He has done and Keep walking faithfully with Him.




FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


MOURNING TO DANCING

Years ago, I heard the following story:

Back in the days before fathers were allowed in the delivery room—a man paced back and forth.

            Obviously, he was anxiously awaiting news about the child who was coming.

            Finally, he was told that his wife had given birth to a healthy baby girl.

His reply was, “whew—at least she won’t have to go through what I have gone through tonight!”

 

Jesus spoke about the anguish of birthing followed by the joy of the child in John 16:21.

The context of those words relate to His telling His disciples that He is leaving.

His response is that they would be sorrowful for awhile but their sorrow would be turned to joy.

Their joy would come when they would see Him again.

His implication was that His leaving was “just for a moment.”

Indeed, compared to eternity—all of life, especially the ‘stuff’ we endure lasts ‘just for a moment.’

 

On May 22, I will celebrate the 50th anniversary of a very special occasion.

It has nothing to do with Jan or my family.

It IS the birthday of one of my brothers but that is not what this marks in my life 50 years ago.

            On May 22, 1970, I first met my very best friend who came to a Bible study I attended.

We have shared life in its many forms together—same college, graduate school and profession.

            Adopting children and having struggles with children.

            Hard departure from churches but also great opportunities to see God work.

Now—my bottom line in sharing this is:

even though this has been half a century—it is still ‘just a moment’ when compared with eternity.

 

            It is to Psalm 30 that I find great comfort as it relates to mourning and sorrow and joy.

            It is a psalm of David entitled:  “Thanksgiving for deliverance from death.”

            If you have grown up in the church then you know some of the verses from here:

 

Psalm 30:5-6:    “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime;

                        Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

 

Or, verse 11:     “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing,

                        You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.”

 

Tonight, May 15—I am just feeling a bit tired.  Many, if not all of you, are feeling the same way.

It seems like the ‘goalposts’ keep shifting as to what will return us to normal.

Many are struggling with the usual things of life but then this virus creates another weight.

And then, we realize that JUST 3 months ago we could go out to eat or have gatherings without guilt.

We were preparing for Lake Ann Camp and Jan and I planned a vacation to Seattle with lifelong friends.

But….all that is on hold right now.

However…..here is the promise:  it is temporary.

Don’t get me wrong—it could go through the rest of my lifetime but that would still be temporary.

And then…..we will be with Jesus and He will make sense of all of this and…..guess what?

When we are with Him—we will forget what we have faced here as our mourning is turned into dancing.




THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


TRUST

I am experiencing with my 3-year-old grandson what happened 30 some years ago with my daughters.

            There is just something about kids jumping into the arms of their father or grandfather.

 

                                    As I thought of my 3-year-old, I was reminded of the following:

 

                        ONE—Unbridled joy—just a HUGE smile and laughter accompanying.

                        TWO—Repetition—if it was good once why not do it again…and again…and again.

                        THREE—Trust—never a doubt that grandpa will catch him—and so he jumps.

 

Some of the most familiar verses in the Bible have to do with trust.

                        They come from Proverbs 3.

On May 11—I wrote about Proverbs 3:9-10.

Today—I want to focus on Proverbs 3:5-6.

                        

                        It says:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

 

As usual—The Message paraphrase brings this out well when it says:

 

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
                             he’s the one who will keep you on track.

 

What I find is that I can trust God with ‘many’ things but not necessarily ‘everything.’

Consequently—I trust with some of my heart but not all.

But think about this with me—what if my grandson only trusted ‘some?’

       What if he was not sure I would catch him?

Rather than unbridled joy there would be a bit of apprehension.

 

Solomon’s exhortation is that we would:

Give God ALL our heart.

That we would acknowledge God in all our ways.

That we would not be left to figuring anything out on our own.

The result is a clear sense of where we are going and…..more trust.

 

I find when I can give God EVERYTHING—I have unbridled joy.

This leads to repetition as I trust Him over and over and over again.

This leads to a deeper trust in the One Who will never drop me.




WEDNESDAY, MAY 13, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


SO CLOSE...DON'T LET THE FOG STOP YOU

Let me start with the following story.

                        I first read it years ago and it has had a great influence on my thinking.

 

In 1952, Florence Chadwick attempted to swim the 26 miles between Catalina Island and the California coastline. As she began, she was flanked by small boats that watched for sharks and were prepared to help her if she got hurt or grew tired. After about 15 hours a thick fog set in. Florence began to doubt her ability, and she told her mother, who was in one of the boats, that she did not think she could make it. She swam for another hour before asking to be pulled out, unable to see the coastline due to the fog. As she sat in the boat, she found out she had stopped swimming just one mile away from her destination.  Two months later, she tried again. The same thick fog set in, but she succeeded in reaching Catalina. She said that she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her mind while she swam. 

                        Can you imagine being so close to the end of a long journey but giving up?

     I think of that story whenever I am inclined to stop doing what I know I am supposed to do.

There ARE times when things get a bit ‘foggy’ and when we just do not think we can go any further.

     Yet—this is where the Holy Spirit can lift the Christian way beyond what they think they can do.

 

            One of the ‘hardest’ sermons to do is the Sunday after Christmas.

                        Think about it—for weeks before, the emphasis is normally on the birth of Christ.

            When we start the new year, the usual pattern is to begin a new series.

                                   Thus, we come to the “Sunday in between.”

            With that in mind—how many sermons have you heard then from Philippians 3?

This is where Paul talks about ‘forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.’

            We are told to leave ‘last year behind’ as we anticipate the ‘new year to come.’

It is hard to ‘preach’ that message every year and have it be fresh.

            Years ago, we had a minister and his wife visit our church on that Sunday every year.

I asked him about preaching the ‘in between sermon’ and his reply was:

                                    “that is why I am always here visiting on this Sunday—so I don’t have to!”

 

            In the verses in Philippians 3, for today’s thoughts—these are the phrases I want us to note:

 

            v. 12—“I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Jesus Christ.”

            v. 13—“reaching forward to what lies ahead.”

            v. 14—“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

There is a sense of exertion here—Paul is pressing on like a marathoner in a race.

There is a sense of perseverance here—like someone working through a problem with a project.

There is a sense of direction here—Paul’s goal is laying hold of “that’ for which Jesus laid hold of him.

 

In times like this—it is easy to just want to take a nap and hope it becomes 2021 soon.

It is easy to think—‘well, there is not much I can do so I will binge watch something on TV.’

                                    ‘Don’t give up,’ Paul would exhort.

                        God WILL use you and strengthen you and help you.

                        It may get foggy at times—but do not let that stop you.  




TUESDAY, MAY 12, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


KNOWING YOU AREN'T ALONE IN SUFFERING

I have used a phrase to describe what is an incredibly sad situation during this pandemic.

We are all isolated, but I feel bad for people who are ‘isolated alone.’

This applies to some who literally have ‘no one.’

It also applies to those who end up in a hospital and die with no one ‘physically there.’

 

There are times when we can feel alone due the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

I have spoken before of the fact that everyone wakes up each day with this pandemic underlying us.

For some—it is an inconvenience at best.

For others—it is literally a matter of life and death.

But, all of us have had to change our lives and our thinking and our attitudes based on these times.

 

Add to this the ‘normal’ stuff of life that can seemingly pile up to where we reach our breaking point.

    This may be health issues or relational issues or financial issues or emotional or spiritual, etc.

 

Here is what I have found—often, it seems like when we are going through ‘stuff’—we feel isolated.

     There may be that sense of wondering if God abandoned us or just went away for a while.

Then, as now, when we can’t have close connections with a church family…well…we can feel alone.

 

Years ago, I was doing a study on Satan and his tactics and I came across a familiar verse to many.

In 1 Peter 5:8 it says:

                        “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

 

            We know that Satan can only be in one place at a time, but his legions are always working.

Part of his working has to do with isolating those who are God’s children.

A lion’s roar can cause a herd to run in which case those who are separated can easily be picked off.

So, Satan’s roar can cause fear in God’s children and make us wonder if we are alone.

 

But it is in 1 Peter 5:9, that I found a great sense of comfort.  Let me give it to you from the Message:

 

             You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.

 

I have put in bold the lines I want you to note—you are not alone!

Others are going through the same types of things {maybe NOT exactly} that you are going through.

Do not let Satan overpower you by a sense of aloneness.

Do not let the enemy make you feel like you are alone.

                        You aren’t—the Lord is with you and so are others.

So, do not keep your sense of suffering to yourself—share with the Lord and others.

What so often happens is that once we share—we find others going through the very same things.

       It is then in that connectedness with others that we realize again that we are not alone.




MONDAY, MAY 11, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


GIVING THE FIRST TO GOD

Over the years, there are verses of scripture that have impacted my life.

                        Have you had that happen to you?

I know some people who will mark a date next to a Bible verse that hits them at a particular time.

            So it was that I came across some verses in Proverbs—decades ago.

            These are verses that have greatly influenced how I relate to the Lord.

They are Proverbs 3:9-10 and they speak, specifically, to how we use material things.

However, I find the principle that I will share below to be far reaching in scope.

 

                        Here is what the verses says:

 

                        “Honor the LORD from your wealth,

And from the first of all your produce;

So your barns will be filled with plenty,

And your vats will overflow with new wine.”

 

I thought of these verses in terms of two areas in my life:

 

ONE—in relation to material things—do I give God the first of what I have?

Years ago, I heard a children’s sermon where the pastor was giving out one dollar bills to the children.

            He had 10 of them and he gave out 9 as he spoke about paying bills, and going out to eat, etc.

He asked the logical question which is:  “if I only have one left—do you think I will give that to the Lord?”

            I was a college student at the time, visiting the church, but I thought about what was said.

            It IS easy to do all manner of things with my ‘stuff’ and then to give God what is left over.

But when I honor Him first—it helps me when it comes to other decisions I make about material things.

 

                                    TWO—as it relates to time—do I give God the ‘best’ of my day?

When was younger—I used to be a nightowl.

When our girls were little—we would get them to bed around 8.

Since Jan got up earlier than me—she would normally be asleep by 9.

I came awake after the house was quiet and there were no phone calls and no interruptions.

That was my favorite and most effective time to spend with the Lord.

Often at midnight I was listening to music and reading my Bible and just relishing the time.

                                    NOW—my metabolism has totally shifted.

            By 9—I am trying to hang on to reality and keeping my head from bobbing up and down.

Consequently, now—most mornings find me spending time reading and praying and memorizing.           

The point is—finding THAT TIME that is the most productive to offer to the Lord.

It is giving God my best in order that He can bless the rest.

            For many, right now, this pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways.

                        Many people are trying to ‘find things to do’ to fill up their days.

            So, let me offer a suggestion if you are not already doing this:

                        Will you give the Lord the best part of your day?

                        Will you take time to make time to spend more time with Him?

He does not demand it—but He does bless it

And we find, then the satisfaction of knowing we have used our time best while we have it.




SATURDAY & SUNDAY, MAY 9-10, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


THE PEOPLE GOD CHOOSES TO USE

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

With that in mind, I prepared a sermon that focused on some of the mothers in the line of Jesus.

            When we think of mothers—it is normal to think of those who have stellar character.

     When we think of followers of Jesus—it is easy to think of those who are holy and righteous.

            When we look at the genealogy of Matthew 1—we find neither of those to be true.

                        I am not going to go into detail—you will either have to:

ONE-- look at the other verses listed here to do that and/or…

TWO—listen to the sermon tomorrow to get more insight

 

This genealogy in Matthew 1 shows us a couple of things:

ONE--God’s desire was to break down barriers

            This is shown in two ways through this genealogy:

                        First—there are women included which would not normally happen

                        Second—2 of the women for sure and possibly all but Mary are Gentiles

TWO—God’s desire was to show that perfection was not needed for Him to work

    This is where it gets quite interesting as we consider the particular women listed in this genealogy.

I am going to offer just snippets of their life as a way to remind us of the people God chooses to use.

                                                The first is Tamar.

She is mentioned in verse 3 as the woman who bore Perez through Judah.

What it doesn’t say is that she had to trick Judah into thinking she was a prostitute for this to happen.

                                    That story is told in Genesis 38.

                                       The second woman is Rahab.

Whenever she is mentioned in scripture, she is called Rahab the harlot.

That was her profession but that didn’t define her—

she became a follower of the true Lord {Joshua 2} and an example of faith and works {James 2:25}.

                                    The third woman is Ruth—Matthew 1:5.

She lost her husband and went from Moab back to Bethlehem to be with the woman called “bitter.”

                                    Her descendants, obviously, were Moabites. 

They came about through the incestuous union of Lot and his daughter.  {See Genesis 19:37}.

            Her past didn’t define her and her willingness to sacrifice resulted in being an ancestor of Jesus.

                                    The fourth woman is Bathsheba—Matthew 1:6.

It is interesting that Matthew does NOT mention her by name.

Solomon was born through the union of David and ‘by her who had been the wife of Uriah.’

David had 19 sons but God chose Solomon.

David had several wives but the Lord picked Bathsheba.

            The fifth woman is Mary, mentioned in Matthew 1:16.

She exemplifies God’s choice of all these women and, indeed, of all people.

In Luke 1, twice, it is shared that she has been chosen because of God’s favor.

It was not what she did that gave her the favor of God.

            God simply reached down and chose her.

In the same way, He chose the other women who are here AND—He chose us.

            Imperfect, failed people who are chosen simply because of the grace of God.

Now—having been chosen—live up to the fact that you are just the type of person God chooses to use.

 



FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


INTERRUPTIONS ARE OPPORTUNITIES FOR MINISTRY

Ever made plans and then gotten interrupted by someone needing help with something?

The first time this ‘most clearly’ happened to me was in the late 70’s.

I was doing ministry with youth in Miami but had a Sunday off with no plans to be with people.

It was a rare time in my family’s house too, since no brothers or sisters or mom were around.

The Miami Dolphins were in a playoff game and I was happy to have some time to watch-uninterrupted.

   The game got under way and the phone rang.  {Back in the day when all you had was a house line}.

   I hesitated to answer but just did not know who might be calling—so I did.  Big mistake on my part.

                                    At least, that was the way I looked at it.

It was one of the fringe students I worked with and he needed to talk to me…….right now.

I still remember being torn—the TV was on mute and I was trying to listen to him but…

--you know where I was focused, right?

            I can clearly remember the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

            I turned the TV off and listened for I cannot remember how long.

I would like to say that call changed this student’s life and he is now an evangelist or something like that.

                        That did not happen to him.  {Although he is still walking with the Lord}.

                        What I do remember about that incident is what happened to me.

I realized there are times in life when we are given opportunities to pursue two different things:

One is what we want to do or what we have planned.

The other is seeing interruptions as potential ministry opportunities.

        I am NOT trying to imply that every interruption is valid.

What I AM saying is that often God gives us opportunities when we do not expect them.

 

I was especially mindful of this as I thought of Peter in Acts 10.

At noon, one day—Peter goes to the rooftop of a house to pray.

He gets hungry and has a dream about eating all manner of unlawful foods.

     If you recall the story, this was God’s way of preparing Peter for some servants:

who would interrupt not only his life but the entire course of the gospel.

The servants are sent by a Roman leader who has had a vision from God to send the men to Peter.

            They come—tell their story—and Peter’s life and reputation are interrupted.

       These are Gentiles—don’t you know—and the Jews have nothing to do with Gentiles.

                        Peter could have balked and said:  “I am not doing this.”

            Peter could have spoken of ‘other plans’ and other things he was going to do.

            Instead—he saw the interruption for what it was--a ministry opportunity from God.

            Peter goes to the house of Cornelius who has gathered his family and friends.

                        {Think about the risk Cornelius was taking at this time as well}.

But when Peter gets to the house—he asks Cornelius the reason why he was summoned.

The answer Cornelius gives is one of those ‘proof positives’ that God is at work here.

In v. 33, he says:  

“Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”

            Peter spoke—the Spirit falls—and Gentiles become a part of God’s family.

How many times does God interrupt your thinking with someone’s name who needs ministry?

How many times does God want to take you from YOUR plans to do HIS plans?

        Certainly, every interruption is not a ministry opportunity.

But look and listen when God interrupts for how we can do ministry to others in His name.




THURSDAY, MAY 7, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHAT IS SAID ABOUT YOU?

A book that has greatly influenced many people is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

There are several things of note but for the purpose of today I will just refer to one thought.

Stephen Covey challenges us to think about 4 people who will speak at our funeral.

Someone is lined up from:  family, community, business and church.

                                    The question is:  what will they say about you?

                                                What would you like them to say?

            What are you doing now that will allow them to say what you would like them to say?

 

                        What made me think about this today was reading about the sons of Issachar.

                                                You remember them, don’t you?

                                                   In 1 Chronicles 12:32 it reads:

 

   “And of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.”

 

                                    What a great statement to be said about these men.

Especially, in light of the fact that David was just getting those gathered who would serve him as King.

            He would need those who had knowledge and wisdom and that describes these men.

 

Now, in thinking of the sons of Issachar, I was reminded of others about whom great things were said.

                                                Think about the Bereans.

                                                Acts 17:11 says of them:

 

“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

 

Think about the Thessalonians of whom it is said the Bereans were more noble-minded.

                        In 1 Thessalonians 1—Paul writes of them:

 

“You also became imitator of us and of the Lord…so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.” 

 

So—if someone were asked to describe your character—what would they say?

                        What would you want them to say?

What are you doing now that will allow them to say what you would like them to say?

 

Each day God gives us allows us to build into our character and what people will say about us.

          I can choose to serve ‘me’ and what ‘I want’ and that would be reflected in what is said about me.

                        Or, as I say often:  I can take the opportunities God gives me and serve Him.

                                    Often, as I serve Him—I am then also serving others.

Wouldn’t that be a great thing said?

         “He faithfully served Jesus by faithfully reaching out and serving others.”

I think I will work on that in my life- hopefully if asked to share about me—this is what you could say.

                                                            What about you?




WEDNESDAY, MAY 6, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


SAY GOOD JOB MALACHI

A man was talking to another man and asked:  ‘say, have I ever told you about my grandchildren?’

                        “No, and I cannot tell you how thankful I am for that!!”

        Undoubtedly, you have heard the saying that: 

 “If I knew grandchildren were so much fun, I would have had them first!”

 

My grandchildren provide me with a variety of emotions and thinking.

Sometimes, they say things that are BOTH funny and thought provoking.

So it was, earlier this week, when Malachi {3 years old} and I were ‘building a bridge.”

       This was being built out of Legos and Malachi is at an age where he can now connect pieces.

                        He connected a piece and without blinking an eye he said:

                                    “I did it!  Say:  ‘good job, Malachi.’”

Well, in between stifled laughter and wanting to encourage him I said the words he wanted me to say.

                        Several times in our building venture—he repeated the same thing.

                                    “Say:  ‘good job, Malachi.’”

Each time I had the same reaction as we went about finishing our project and ‘a job well done.’

 

                        By now, you probably know where this is headed.

Christians look forward to the day when the words Malachi desired to hear will be said of us.

It is in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 25 that we hear Jesus commending those servants who did well.

   In what is called “the parable of the talents”--different servants are given riches by their master.

                                    One is given 5, one is given 2 and one is given 1.

The ones with 5 and 2 invest their talents and they get more.

It is to them that the master says the words with which we are so familiar:

                                    “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 

There are a couple of thoughts that strike me from this account and maybe you have seen them too:

            ONE—each servant is given a different amount.

                        In other words—everybody does not get the same.

            TWO—each servant is judged for what THEY have—not for what someone else has

                        I take great comfort in the fact that I will NOT be judged compared with Billy Graham.

                                    God has given me what He wants me to have and for that I am accountable.

            THREE—each servant has the same opportunities

                        In other words, we take what we have {little or much} and we invest it—all can do this

            FOUR—each servant hears the same words

                        This is similar in thought to #2 but it is comforting to know that we all hear the same

            FIVE—each servant is rewarded for faithfulness—not for perfection

                        We know we are not perfect but that should never be an excuse for not being faithful

 

When we look at what God rewards—

       we find that it can be something as simple as offering water in His name.

It does not take much talent to do that but, guess what?  In so doing—we hear:  “well done!”

In this time of uncertainty—will you reach out to others in whatever way God gives opportunity?

            You won’t even have to ask Him—He will just say:  “good job.”   




TUESDAY, MAY 5, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


TO HUG OR NOT TO HUG?

On Saturday, my grandson and I met someone for the first time. 

I naturally did what I have done 10 thousand time before—

                                                I shook his hand!.....Gasp.

                        Honestly, I did not even think about it until after we were walking away.

I said to my grandson—“I had physical contact with someone I don’t know—what if I have the plague??”

We chuckled…yet….I did make sure I washed my hands thoroughly at the first opportunity.

 

            Later that day, Jan and I visited the homes of the young children in our church.

                        In most places, we did not even get out of the car.

However, at one, we did—and without thinking, a young child came up and—quite naturally:

Gave me a hug!....Gasp again.

I did not think I had either gotten the virus or passed it on—

but it struck me as ‘odd’ that twice in one day I had physical contact with someone outside my family.

 

            Isn’t it fascinating that in just two months, we have gotten skittish about something so basic?

          When going to stores—do you make it a point to allow plenty of space between you and others?

If you get a bag of food or a receipt for a purchase—

do you make sure you wash your hands until they are raw?

            Physical contact has become something that has entered a new realm for most of us.

 

                                    Here now comes the dilemma for the church.

            The governor has just said that Bible study groups under 10 can start meeting together.

                                    {Maintaining social distancing, of course}.

            At some point—Faith Bible will have decisions to make related to public worship services.

                                    {Again—while maintaining safety decorum}.

            I can tell you right now, we are going to have disagreements related to physical contact.

     Do we have ‘non-touch’ zones for those who are will come but do not want touch?

Do we wear buttons that list with what touching we are okay?  Handshakes?  High 5? Light hug?  Etc.

 

A fairly prominent minister just wrote about this potentially being something that divides the church.

                        Those who don’t mind touch can accuse others of:  ‘having no faith.’

                        Those who don’t want touch can accuse others of:  ‘being insensitive and unwise.’

Other than the command to:  “greet one another with a holy kiss,” we are left to preferences.

And, when coming to preferences we are drawn to Romans 14.

Paul talks of 2 things that are not essentials of faith, but which can divide Christians from one another.

                        Some ate meat offered to idols and others did not.

            Some regarded Sunday as more special while others regarded every day alike.

In Romans 14:5, Paul writes:  “Let each person be fully convinced in their mind.”

In 14:23, I am paraphrasing what he writes when he says: 

 “if you believe as to what YOU should do is from the Lord —then do it.”

The bottom line is love.  If you want to hug and someone else agrees—then do it.

                        If not—then do not judge those who think differently.

            And, if you do not feel comfortable attending in the first place—that is alright too.

      Just look forward to the day when we can hug and high 5 and shake hands and all the rest.

Although, I will say—I will still probably wash my hands ‘till they are raw’ for a long time.




MONDAY, MAY 4, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


ASSEMBLED TO ENCOURAGE

It is one of those verses of scripture that gets wrested away from its full meaning at a time like this.

            It is Hebrews 10:25 and Christians have used this verse as guilt inducing for many years.

                                                Here is what it says:

 

“Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”

 

For many people in my spiritual age and background:

—if the church doors were opened—we were expected to be there.

 

Sadly, one of the markers of spirituality was whether or not someone attended ALL services.

Now—let me be clear—someone who does NOT attend church probably IS lacking in spiritual maturity.

    But just because someone comes to every meeting available—does not guarantee a spiritual giant.

In fact, I have known people who have neglected their families in order to be MOST active in church.

   Years ago, a minister said to the Lord—“You take care of my lambs and I will take care of yours.”

            Meaning—he would neglect his family for the sake of church activities.

                                                Guess how his children turned out?

 

Assembling together IS important but it must be done with consideration for other verses of scripture.

                        And…it needs to be seen with a fuller understanding of this verse of scripture.

 

     What I want to point out is what this verse says beyond the fact of getting together.

Notice the phrase midway through the verse that oftentimes gets forgotten:

“but encouraging one another…and all the more…as you see the day drawing near.”

 

Our English word ‘encourage’ literally means:  ‘to put courage in.’

So, the writer of Hebrews says:  when you come together—"put courage into one another.”

            Further, he notes—do this even more as you see times getting tougher. 

 

So, when you put the thoughts together—we MUST have times when we are together.

          But getting together is NOT the only reason to assemble.

If we are growing in our faith—our attitude in gathering should be one of “coming to give.”

In other words, I want to get together with other Christians so I can give courage to them.

And, with the technology available to us now—we can ‘assemble’ with others even when not with them.

 

For years, I made it a habit to pray the following prayer whenever I was meeting with other Christians:

          “Lord, help me to encourage one person tonight {or today} so they will be stronger in their faith.”

            Then, when I walked into the room where we were meeting, I came with an attitude of giving.

                                                I was not coming just to ‘show up.’

            I was coming to let “Jesus show up” through me as I looked to encourage others.

   I have said this many times over the last weeks but, right now, it is hard to physically assemble.

   However, it is ‘easy’ to encourage others and, especially, because many need comfort right now.

                                  Each day, would you pray the prayer I offered above?

Would you let the Lord guide you as you seek to encourage others-even if we can’t assemble right now?




SATURDAY & SUNDAY, MAY 2-3, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHAT MORE CAN JESUS DO?

When I was getting ready to propose to Jan—I wanted to try something which I will share in a moment.  

Jan and I got the ring we wanted for her and after all the things needing to be done—I went to pick it up.

                        At the store, I asked if they would include a box with the ring?

            The sales woman looked at me somewhat cross-eyed as she said:  “yesss.”

She said it with great hesitation like:  “that is the dumbest question I have ever heard.”

            Which is exactly how I wanted her to look because of the following.

 

Years ago I had heard an illustration that has influenced my thinking for decades.

If you buy a diamond ring for someone—how much trouble do you think it is to throw in the box?

            I mean—once you pay for the ring, the box is nothing by comparison…right?

 

    So, here is the verse that drove that home to me years ago and comes into play for this day.

                                    In Romans 8:32, Paul writes:

 

“He Who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

 

                                    Once Jesus died for us—isn’t everything else just the box?

                                    That is the point Paul is making with this verse.

            When Jesus gave up His life—that WAS the greatest sacrifice He could have given.

            So now, when we come to Him with our requests—it is as nothing for Him to answer.

 

                        This virus has created a myriad of requests from God’s children.

                                                Some just want it to be over.

Some are wrestling with life itself having contracted this virus OR—something else that is debilitating.

   Some are going stir crazy while others are literally going crazy trying to sort through all the issues.

            As a follower of Christ—I am praying that He will use this time to get our attention.

Will we seek Him more and will we appreciate His church and the gifts He has given to each one?

            Will we look for ways to share hope when so many feel hopeless in so many ways?

                        How hard is it for His to answer these prayer requests?

                        Not at all, right, compared to what He has already done.

 

            I read a great prayer today which captures the thought of what is written above:

 

                                    “What more could be done than thou hast done?

                                                Thy death is my life.

                                                Thy resurrection my peace.

                                                Thy ascension my hope.

                                                Thy prayers my comfort.

 

Jesus has already given the absolute best—anything else you and I ask of Him is just like asking for a box.

Fitting into His will—we can have the assurance that He hears and He answers to bring glory to Himself.

 

            


FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


EXULTING IN TRIBULATIONS

If you have grown up in the church, then undoubtedly you have heard the following exchange.

                        Normally, it is a newer Christian who prays for patience.

   Right away, every older Christian within earshot says: 

 “oh, don’t pray for patience—because that comes through tribulation.”

 

The biblical foundation for this is from Paul’s writings in Romans 5.

He reminds us that we have ‘peace WITH God through Jesus Christ.”

   He states in verse 2 that ‘we exult in hope of the glory of God.”

Who doesn’t like those thoughts?

 

                        But it is in verse 3 that Paul changes gears to speak about tribulation.

                                In fact, he says that ‘we also exult in our tribulations.’

So, in one phrase following another Paul says:

we exult in hope of the glory of God but we also exult in our tribulations.

 

It is here that we land as we ask:  “how in the world can someone exult in tribulation?”

It is when we understand the purpose of trials that we can see God’s hand and so exult.

Paul points out that tribulation brings about a process that leads to spiritual growth.

 

                                    Here is what happens:

                        ONE--Tribulation brings about perseverance

We use the expression:  “no pain no gain” and that certainly applies here.

If we want to get stronger—we must go through hardships of some kind.

        Want to be a better athlete?  You must work hard and be disciplined and make sacrifices.

            Want to be a better cook?  It will take time and work.

Any time we want to be better it will mean trials and sacrifices of some sort.

 

                        TWO—perseverance brings about proven character

Issues are going to face anybody who wants to do anything well.

    A big question becomes:  “how do they handle stress?”

It is easy to be godly and spiritual and to walk in righteousness when all is going well.

But how someone handles tough situations is a great indicator of the character of the individual.

                                                And that is what tribulation produces.

 

                        THREE—proven character brings about hope

Once again, when all is well, I don’t need to ‘throw myself on the mercies of God.’

But it is in the midst of the tribulations of life I need to know that God will be with me.

As we go through this whole process we find then that our trust and hope in the Lord grows stronger.

    It simply cannot happen when everything in life is going well because then we grow complacent.

                                    I don’t like trials; I will be honest with you.

But if I am to grow stronger—I want to embrace the Lord Who loves me as He helps me to grow in Him.




THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


THE MANY COLORS OF TRIALS IN LIFE

This Sunday, May 3, 2020—I will be speaking about finding peace before finding the breaking point.

For years, I have used an illustration related to people who ‘hit the end of their rope.’

Someone gets cut off on the road and there is a violent occurrence.

Someone looks funny at another person and before you know it a fight ensues.

   Many times, the last incident happens because of many events that took place before that.

            Someone has a bad day at work and finds out they have ‘the virus’ and their child is sick.

Then…they get on the road with this buildup of pain and it can boil over into rage when they get cut off.

 

I contend that most of us can deal with a few ‘trials’ in our lives—in fact, we do it all the time.

            There may be some health issues or financial situations going on with us.

            There may be car issues or house repairs that are hanging over our heads.

            We may have some family issues or work issues or issues with friends.

            Regardless, we CAN handle a couple of things at a time without falling apart.

 

But…what happens when there are multiple trials in our life beyond our ability to handle them?

                   How we respond then becomes a great demonstration of our character.

 

            So it is that James begins his letter with a discussion about trials and their purpose in our lives.

                                                            

            “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

            

            The word ‘various’ used here is the same word used for Joseph’s coat of many colors.

I have found in my life that it usually takes 3 or more trials {or 1 or 2 BIGG ones} to fit into this category.

            What happens is that we can get overwhelmed with what is taking place.

When that happens--God has our attention.

            What we do with what is happening is part of what helps us to grow in our faith.

 

            Right now…..every day….everyone of us starts the day with what I will the ‘virus trial.’

Every one of us is inconvenienced at least: for others, it is more serious.

The point is that when we start our days—we are all going through this trial.

 

Add to that whatever else takes place and you have the potential for growth or for grumbling.

Notice what James says we KNOW about the testing of our faith:

                                    It produces ‘endurance.’

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:  “your faith brings out endurance and steadfastness and patience.”

 

            See…it is easy to be ‘patience and steadfast’ when I can handle my situations.

                        But if I want to grow in my faith—I must be tested in my faith.

And one way to be tested in my faith is going through a variety of trials at one time.

As we go through this time of ‘virus’ and add other things to it—realize what God wants to do.

He wants His children to grow in our faith so we will be mature and complete and so nothing is lacking.

So, give thanks in your trials knowing God will use them to help us be strengthened in our faith.




WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


ACCEPTING GOOD AND ADVERSITY

I will confess that I have hesitated to make reference to Job during the time in which we live.

What we are going through does not remotely compare with what he endured.

I say if often that all of us ARE at least being inconvenienced right now.

Others, of course, are facing life and death issues due to the pandemic.

            None of us is going through what Job went through.

 

But it is not how Job’s affliction came to him—it is Job’s response that I want to note.

    Quick summary for those who may have forgotten:

Job loses his material possessions and all his children {10 of them} in one day.

   Then—Job himself is afflicted with boils “from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.”

                He takes a potsherd to scrape himself while he is sitting among the ashes.

                        I cannot even begin to fathom the depths of despair for him.

 

                        It is at this time that we are introduced to:  “Mrs. Job.”

Realize that she is going through this hardship along with her husband so her words should not surprise.

                                                She says to him:

“Do you still hold fast your integrity?  Curse God and die!”

 

If you were Job—what would you think had caused this?

Why do you think this happened to him of all people?

    Well, that is the subject of the rest of the book as Job and his friends ‘spar’ over ‘why him?’

                        Wouldn’t YOU think you had been cursed by God?

Wouldn’t YOU think you or someone in your family had sinned greatly to bring the judgment of God?

 

                                    What would have been your response?

I go through so little in comparison and yet I sometimes grumble and complain and wonder ‘how long?’

               I cannot even imagine what I would have thought or said if I were Job.

            

But…here is what we do get as this ‘man without nothing’ responds to his wife:

 

“But he said to her: ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.  Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

 

                        I am always taken back by this comment and by Job’s integrity.

                        He WILL wrestle with God as you read through the book.

But he understood a fundamental concept--God does not always preserve His children from adversity.

 

            Over the next few day, I want to talk about trials and their purpose.

As Christians, we DO encounter things that non-Christian do not.

But right now, everyone is going through this time of adversity in one way or another.

            But the great difference is that we see a purpose behind what happens.

            We DO see the good and the blessings and the mercy and the grace of God.

            But we also understand that it is often in the trials that God is seen the most.




TUESDAY, APRIL 28, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WAITING...FOR WHAT?

Waiting causes a couple of different emotions.

There have been a couple of times when I have been ready to land at O’Hare airport…only to wait.

      Sometimes, the plane has been in a holding pattern quite a while waiting for others to land.

            Then, upon landing, there have been times of waiting while a gate is cleared.

Then, having to wait for everyone in front of me to get their bags and deplane and…waiting.

                                    Can you say:  “frustration.?”

 

     On the other hand, there are times of looking forward to a holiday or special guests arriving.

When my daughters were little, we lived on a street where a stop sign was one house down from us.

Anyone coming to visit us—had to stop at that stop sign.

So, our girls would find out the time someone was coming, and they would begin their “waiting vigil.”

            As a car would get to the stop sign they would say:  “there they are!”

            As the car drove past—“that’s not them.”       Next car—same story.

They would do this until the guests arrived and then a shout of glee would ring out:  “THEIR HERE!!!!!”

                                    Can you say:  “anticipation?”

 

I was thinking of this, of course, in relation to where we are right now.

It has been 5 weeks since we have shut things down related to public gatherings at church.

Now—as things slowly start to open up—we are left “waiting.”  How long until we can meet again?

            Will we have to do multiple services so we can maintain social distancing?

How long until ALL of us can be in the same place at the same time?

And, of course, one of the big questions is:  “what will the ‘new normal’” look like?

 

I have spoken before and, taken great comfort in, one of the prophets known as a Minor Prophet.

His name is Habakkuk and his 3-chapter book is worth reading to understand the “big picture” of God.

                        Most prophets bring exhortation to the people about God.

            Habakkuk brings his exhortation directly to God about how He is running Israel.

                   Habakkuk had just seen revival but now he sees the decay of Judah.

            In 1:2, he cries out to God asking: “how long do I call to You but You do not hear?”

He decries the injustice he sees, and the iniquity of the people and he questions how God can allow this.

 

God gives him:  “good news and bad news.”  Good news—God IS going to judge Judah.

Bad news—He is going to use Babylon to do this.

The end of the book is worth a look as Habakkuk says:  “I must wait quietly for the day of distress.”

                        He knows judgement is coming—he just does not know when.

He offers great honesty of his anxiety and physical angst yet he ends with the following:

 

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,     and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails, 
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields, 
    and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!      I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!  He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.

As followers of Jesus, I pray that we can still rejoice and be joyful as we wait for whatever God will do. 




SATURDAY & SUNDAY, APRIL 25-26, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHAT IS THE PATTERN I AM TO FOLLOW?

One of my standard lines when it comes to construction projects goes like this:

                        “When it comes to building things—I can do a good funeral.”

                                                This goes for other things as well.

            Years ago, I was part of a foursome for golf in our church’s golf tournament.

            As the senior minister, it ‘just so happened’ that the other three golfers were all golf pros.

                        Yes, I was ministering to them, but, on that day, I needed them.

However, when the rules of the day were spelled out, I knew it was going to be a long day.

The way this tournament would work--a certain number of my swings HAD to count.

Understand, I grew up playing sports, but I just could never master golf.

                 So it was, about 3 holes in that I quoted my line from above.

 

        I have done a multitude of funerals. 

I find it ‘relatively easy’ to get people to talk about their loved one and the type of service they desire.

            I have a template I follow which gives me a pattern in covering the essentials for each person.

             With that in hand—services go on and I can do that which is somewhat comfortable for me.

                                                Back to construction.

I have a friend who can fix just about anything.

It happened that when we were moving into a new house—he came and spent some days with us.

He put in our electric garage door opener which to me was the equivalent of building a spaceship.

            When he was done, I remember asking him if doing that gave him great satisfaction.

                        He said, “Not necessarily—only if I did it without instructions.”

He went on to explain that he had once bought an opener that came with no instructions.

     By the time he would have gotten them he just decided to go ahead and put it in—which he did!

 

            Now, I CAN put together certain things and do certain things.

It just takes me longer than someone who knows what they are doing.

AND, I have to carefully follow the instructions that are given—to make sure I am doing it right.

Yesterday, I wrote about the church of the Thessalonians who provided: “A Pattern for others to follow.”

The question arises:  what is that pattern?

             What are the instructions as to what our spiritual lives should be like?

     In chapter 2 of Paul’s letter to Titus—he tells him what example, or pattern he should set.

Again, as we face where we now are—what a great contrast to so many following a different pattern

 

Paul tells Titus the following:

                        ONE—in ALL things show yourself to be an example

                                    TWO—in good deeds

                        THREE—with sound teaching as your foundation

                                    FOUR—being dignified

                                    FIVE—sound in speech

 

While we have more time to consider our spiritual lives—look at the pattern Paul lays out and ask:

                                    How am I am doing in these areas?

                                    How am I different from others around me?

                        How can I follow God’s pattern and so be a pattern to others?




FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


A PATTERN FOR OTHERS TO FOLLOW

Years ago, my wife and I went to a theme park where a mime performed.

The mime’s job was to provide entertainment before the ‘main act’ was to occur.

However, my wife and I found that the mime himself could have charged admission.

We laughed out loud as he followed people and then imitated them without knowing.

Finally, sensing that people were laughing—the person would turn around—

whereby the mime would look quite innocent as though there was nothing to see.

 

            I think about that incident every time I read about the church of the Thessalonians.

            In chapter 1 of his letter to this group of believers, Paul writes the following about them:

 

                        6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.

 

            Note from the bold print that they imitated Paul and Silas and Timothy as well as the Lord.

                        In other words, those men were worth imitating.

            In another place, Paul writes the following about imitating him as he tells the Philippians:

 

            “The things you have learned and received, and heard and seen in me, practice these things.”

            In other words, Paul is saying to look at every area of his life and practice what he has done.

 

            When you look back at the verses to the Thessalonians—here is a pattern to follow:

            The Thessalonians imitated the spiritual leaders “SO THAT THEY BECAME AN EXAMPLE.”

 

                                    The word ‘example’ is the word used for a pattern.

                        In ancient days, teachers would write the letters of the alphabet on a clay tablet.

                        Students, then, would trace over or follow the pattern that was made by the teacher.

 

                        Paul commends these believers for looking at what is worthy to be imitated.

                        Then, he commends them again for providing a pattern for others to follow.

 

This is what strikes me in a very significant way.

Whether we know it or not—people are watching us.

              Whether we are consciously or unconsciously doing or saying things—people are watching.

Our lives are setting a pattern which others may ask:  is how they are living worth imitating?

 

            We are living at a time when many can be acerbic in their opinions.

            We are living in a day when many can grumble and complain and worry.

 

            As Christians—our lives set an example which others are watching.

My prayer is that we say and live as those who have a pattern worth others following.

 


THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


FAITHFUL EVEN WHEN OTHERS AREN'T

Years ago, I heard a story about a prophet who kept prophesying against the sins of a city.

One day, a boy came to him and asked:  “why do you keep prophesying when no one changes?”

            The prophet replied:  “I do it so they won’t change me.”

 

This story hit home to me again as I was reading through 1 Kings 22.

Let me just summarize what transpires in this chapter:

Israel has been divided into two parts for quite a while.

The king of Israel {the northern part} and the king of Judah {the southern part} are together.

            The king of Israel looks to go to war, and he asks the king of Judah to join him.

Jehoshaphat {Judah} wants there to be an inquiry of the Lord.

The king of Israel gathers 400 prophets who worship false gods.

They tell the kings to go to battle for they will have success.

     Jehoshaphat worships the true God and he asks if there isn’t a prophet of the LORD who is available.

 

                                                            Enter Micaiah.

            His very name gives an indication of his loyalties for it means:  ‘who is like Yahweh?”

            The king of Israel does not like him because he always prophesies evil against him.

                        {Maybe that has something to do with the fact that the king ‘DOES EVIL!”}.

                                    Micaiah is told ahead of time what he is to say.

            In fact, probably in a sarcastic tone—he tells the king what he wants to hear.

            But—the king presses him to tell what God has said and Micaiah proceeds to do so.

 

                                    Now—put yourself in the prophet’s position.

            There are 400 false prophets prancing around and telling the king what he wants to hear.

                        The king himself is awaiting confirmation of what he expects to hear.

The penalties for not going along can be severe {Micaiah WILL be thrown in prison}.

            One of the chief prophets will slap Micaiah on the cheek and mock him.

                        How easy it would have been to cave under the circumstances.

            But Micaiah doesn’t.  He prophesies against the king and tells him he will die.

            In so doing—he shows himself faithful even when others weren’t.

 

Just to end the story.

      King Ahab throws Micaiah in prison and says to feed him little ‘UNTIL I RETURN SAFELY.’

In v. 28—Micaiah says to everyone:  “if you return safely then the LORD has not spoken to me.”

A blog for another time says the following about King Ahab’s death:

    “A certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel in a joint of the armor.”

 

Here is what I thought as I finished this chapter again.

Many will say they belong to the Lord but there are many who will also fall away.

                                    Where do you stand in that choosing?

Micaiah…..Elijah……Daniel……Ezekiel……Jeremiah……and on it goes

—stand as testimonies of those who were faithful—even when others weren’t.

Will you remain faithful too?  Keep ‘prophesying’ so the world doesn’t change you!




WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


THE POWER OF PRAISE AND PRAYER

For the last two days, I have focused on a passage of scripture I first saw when I was 14.

     My father had died, and we received numerous cards from a variety of people. 

One of those cards included 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 just as an inclusion for consideration.

I DID read the verses at the time, but they didn’t mean very much then.

   Who knew the impact those verses would have on my life over the next 50 years?

Over the last two days, I have written the following based on those verses:

 

                                      ONE--“Comforted to offer comfort”

God provides strength and grace in our afflictions so we, in turn can offer the same to others.

                                    

                            TWO--“Why do we sometimes get afflicted with so much?”

    In Paul’s afflictions, he shares that he learned the purpose for being burdened so excessively:

that he would not trust in himself but he would trust in God.

 

     At the very end of what is written—Paul writes the following as given in the Message paraphrase:

 

                        And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of usa rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.

 

                                                Focus on the bold print above.

   The believers knew of Paul’s struggles and they turned to prayer in order to a part of the solution.

            Then, when God DID answer—they could lift their hearts in praise for what God had done.

 

                        Several times in his letters, Paul mentions his great need for prayer.

 

Consider:

Romans 15:30--  Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.

 

Philippians 1:19:   For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.

 

      Paul asks for prayer to the churches of the Colossians and the Thessalonians and the Ephesians.

   He writes a somewhat awkward letter to his spiritual child, Philemon, and in v. 22 he asks for prayer.

 

I will be quite honest--I don’t understand HOW prayer works, what I know is that IT works.

God’s children are called to prayer—and, in so doing, we are enabled to support and help one another.

In 2 Corinthians 1:11—Paul says:  “you also joining in helping us through your prayers.”

            The words “helping us’ are from one Greek word comprised of the following 3 words:

                                                “With…under…work”

It is a picture of laborers working with others under the burdens of whatever load they are carrying.

We have been given the privilege of joining with others in prayer in order to praise the Lord together.




TUESDAY, APRIL 21, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHY DO WE SOMETIMES GET AFFLICTED WITH SO MUCH?

Yesterday, I wrote about the death of my father and the card someone sent with scripture included.

The passage is 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 and I wrote about God comforting us so we can comfort others.

        As we read along in this passage—Paul talks about afflictions and sufferings he has endured.

                        It is easy to speak about God’s care when you don’t have any cares.

            At times, people speak of God’s strength when they have never felt weakness.

                                    That was certainly not the case for Paul.

            He suffered mightily for the sake of the gospel and he writes about it in several places.

            In this passage—he shares the following which comes from The Message paraphrase.

                                    Let me give this to us in two parts:

 

PART 1:  DESPAIRING OF LIFE

 

                        11 We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us.

 

Years ago, I read a book about depression.  

A thought that stuck out to me is how many people in the Bible suffered with bouts of depression.

            Just a quick glance gives us Elijah and Jonah and Job and…Paul.

            Here—Paul enter a point where he just doesn’t think he is going to make it.

                                                Another translation says:  

            “we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired of life.”

Remember—this IS the apostle Paul we are talking about.

If he despaired of life—realize at times that the same may happen to us.

                        However, I am glad Paul didn’t stop there but he goes to:

 

                                                PART 2:  THE REASON WHY

 

As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. 

 

                                                Notice the part in bold.

If “I” can handle my afflictions by myself—do I really need God?

If I can deal with my problems apart from any help—well, again, why would I need God?

 

It is when the afflictions build up and the weight is too much that I am forced to do one of two things:

                        One—rely on my own strength and be depressed or to despair even more or,

                        Two—trust totally in God and His power and His strength.

 

God’s desire is that we continue to grow in Him.

Without afflictions in our life—how will our faith be tested and how will we learn to trust in Him?

    His afflictions come in our life so we will turn to Him—no matter how many times we must.




MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


COMFORTED TO OFFER COMFORT

On March 23, I shared about my father dying when I was 14.

That blog was about grieving and the fact that Christians DO grieve—but not like others.

            

Something else that has stayed with me for over 50 years is a passage of scripture included in a card.

The passage is from 2 Corinthians 1, and I shall use it as the basis of the blogs for the next 3 days.

 

                                    Here is how the chapter begins:

 

            “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfortwith which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

 

                        The word “comfort” is used 10 times by Paul in verses 3-7.

                        Our English word ‘comfort’ comes from a Latin word meaning “strong together.”

                        The Greek word means “to come alongside and help.”

Believe it or not, the same word is used of The Holy Spirit when He is called ‘the Comforter.”

 

So, notice the progression Paul offers here:

ONE—God comforts us in whatever afflictions we are suffering.

TWO—we then, take the comfort given to us and share comfort with others going through suffering

 

                        Obviously, afflictions come in different shapes and sizes.

            Experiencing God’s comfort in affliction DOES allow me to offer SOME comfort to others.

BUT HERE IS A KEY POINT TO BE MADE:  

When I experience God’s comfort in a particular affliction—

I can offer much more comfort to those going through the same SPECIFIC thing.

 

Let me take you back to my father dying.

I had not asked for or planned for or prepared for that in any way—he got leukemia and he died. 

                        So, as a 14-year-old, that became a part of my story—I had no father.

            Years later, as a youth pastor, I was leading a discipleship group with 7 young men.

In one of those ‘enlightening’ moments that God gives—I realized that none of these teens had ‘fathers.’

    Obviously, they had someone whose name they bore but none had fathers present in their lives.

                        Some had died, some had left, some were from homes of divorce.

                        For each one of them, I could honestly share that “I understood.”

Granted, they may not have gone through the same particulars as me—

but I understood what it was like being a teenager without a father present in life.

In a very pointed way—I could share about the comfort God gives in that particular situation.

 

Being part of a church means, among other things—having people who have known God’s comfort.

Now, as people are hurting all around us—remember what it was like to have others comfort you.

          As God brings people to mind—will you reach out and comfort others?

You may not know what to say but remember—just a note with some scripture stuck with a young teen                                              to this day-who knows what your comfort will do?




SATURDAY & SUNDAY, APRIL 18-19, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WORDS FOR THE 'UN'-WORTHY WORRIERS

Often, I have thought of the basketball player who replaced Michael Jordan.

Can you imagine—trying to take the spot of the player many consider to be the greatest?

This weekend, a documentary is being shown with the title:  “the last dance.”

      It will highlight the last season the championship Chicago Bulls were together as a team.

            Basketball life went on in Chicago and with Jordan, but it just wasn’t the same.

 

                Here is where I make the analogy when it comes to the spiritual realm.

                                                Consider these words:

“Since then no prophet has risen in Israel like ________, whom the LORD knew face to face.”

                        Can you imagine being the person replacing ‘that prophet?!’

 

            Such was the task given to Joshua who was going to take the place of Moses.

                                    For 40 years, Moses has led Israel.

            Moses parted the Red Sea and he made water come from rocks and he is quoted as the man:

  “{known for} all the mighty power and for all the great terror performed in the sight of all Israel.”

 

                        For Joshua then—this is good news, and this is bad news.

                        The good news is that he will become the leader of Israel.

            The bad news is he must replace the greatest—he must take the place of Moses.

 

I am mindful of this, first as a pastor, but then as a child of God representing Jesus on earth.

Who are ‘we’ to represent Almighty God as His ambassadors on earth?

Who am I to tell people how to feel and what to do during a worldwide pandemic?

Who are we to offer permanent solutions to what we know to be temporary issues?

 

But—I remember the authority Jesus gave His children as those who others may see as ‘unworthy.’

            You and I have very little to offer to others once we go off the script of the Bible.

But when we come to the pages of Scripture—we know what “worthiness” Jesus gave to us.

Along with this--think how often God encouraged Joshua who would take the place of Moses.

 

Deuteronomy 31:7—Moses to Joshua:

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with the people into the land the LORD will give them.”

                                    Joshua 1:7—the Lord to Joshua:

“Only be strong and very courageous…so that you may have success wherever you go.”

                                    Joshua 1:9—the Lord again:

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.

Do not tremble or be dismayed,

For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

Joshua knew the LORD and he was chosen by the LORD and he was going to touch people for the LORD.

Put your name in that last sentence—you know and have been chosen and are going to touch people.

There will be times of hesitation and even fear and perhaps bewilderment—but think about this:

The player who replaced Jordan couldn’t ‘channel’ Jordan’s skills or abilities—he was on his own.

You and I can be strong and courageous—because the Lord is with us wherever we go.   




FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


GOD IS BIGGER THAN THE BOOGIE MAN!

If you are a parent or grandparent who has watched Veggietales—than you have seen the title before.

The premise of the cartoon is that the monsters we imagine are nothing compared to God.

                        By way of reminder:  the main song goes:

 

God is bigger than the boogie man. He's bigger than Godzilla, or the monsters on TV.

Oh, God is bigger than the boogie man. And He's watching out for you and me. 

 

We may smile at the tune or the characters, but every parent knows the need to calm children at times.

   God IS bigger, we remind them, which is good to remember when we face our own ‘boogie man.’

 

            Right now, the world is somewhat shut down due to something we can’t see.

Like children fearing shadows or the monsters under the bed—so we are facing something similar.

I will not minimize the concern, except to remind God’s children that God is still bigger than this.

 

            Years ago, I came across a book that firmly cemented in my mind the majesty of God.

                        It is the book, Knowing God, written by J. I. Packer.

In chapter 8 of the book, he writes about the majesty of God and it was here I was struck by Isaiah 40.

     I would encourage you to read Isaiah 40, and if possible, read chapter 8 of Knowing God as well.

 

Let me just summarize what he writes and then look at what Isaiah said:

It is as if God is saying to you and me—when you are afraid of ‘other things:’

 

FIRST—look at the tasks I have done.  

            He has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand and gathered all dust together.

            He has weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.

                        God IS greater!

SECOND—look at the nations.   

            We may tremble at them, but they are as nothing to God.

                        God IS greater!

THIRD—look at the world.  

            The world dwarfs us—but God dwarfs the world and makes it His footstool.

                        God IS greater!

FOURTH—look at the great men.  

            God is the only ruler of princes.

                        God IS greater!

FIFTH—look at the stars.

            The millions upon millions of stars are in His hands.

                        If He can keep track of them all—can He not keep track of you?

                        God IS greater!

 

When anxiety builds or fears arise—remember that God is greater than all.

When we wonder ‘what is next’ realize that He knows it all.


God IS greater than anything that can come—just look around you to see that that is true!




THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WANT TO SEE GOOD? THEN, DO GOOD.

As a Bible College Student, I read the following about a minister of a large church.

         He had found a unique way of dealing with the stresses of his job.

He had a back door to his office which would let him leave without notice.

Obviously, he would let his secretary know he was heading out—but she knew where he was going.

When things started piling up on him, he would leave and go to the hospital.

    Then, he would be able to show mercy and compassion to those who needed it the most.

It would remind him that there WERE needs he could meet without getting bogged down with his job.

 

            This story came to mind as I kept going over a word from Psalm 34.

This psalm is the basis for the sermon this week {April 19} and the word is found in the following:

 

            v. 10:  But those who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any GOOD thing.

            v. 12:  Who is the man who desires life, and loves length of days that he may see GOOD?

            v. 14:  Depart from evil, and do GOOD.

 

I would ask a rhetorical question:  do you want to have an abundance of good things in your life?

                        Another would be:  do you want to see good in your life?

                                    The key from David is:  leave evil and do good.

                                                Seems fairly simple, doesn’t it?

                                                Leave evil and do good.

 

At a time where very little ‘seems simple’—this is where Christians can exercise the ‘goodness of faith.’

            The idea of ‘doing good’ in Psalm 34 reminded me of Paul’s words to Titus.

            Alternating between two different Greek words for good, Paul offers the following:

 

                                    2:7:  Be an example of Good deeds

                                    2:14: {Christ redeemed us so we would be} zealous for good deeds.

                                    3:1: Be ready for every good deed

                                    3:8:  Be careful to engage in good deeds

                                    3:14: Learn to engage in good deeds

 

What I find in these verses is that ‘doing good’ is not necessarily something that comes naturally.

 

            Starting with—staying away from evil—the Christian is to be an example of good deeds.

                        From Titus 3, here is what I take away in the midst of the times in which we live:

 

                        FIRST—as a door opens for me to do good—then I should be ready to do so

                        SECOND—I should make a point to do good—Paul exhorts—be careful to do so

                        THIRD—from v. 14—this is something that is learned—in other words—keep doing it

 

I have been reminded repeatedly about the power of doing good in the midst of that which seems bad.

            Phone calls means more.  Cards have great power.  Acts of kindness carry more weight.

            Perhaps the Lord will give you ways to do good that you might never have imagined.


    My hope is that we see good as we do good because of the good God has already shown to us.




WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHAT ARE YOU DOING "UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES?"

On several occasions, I have referred to a Bible teacher I sat under during my teenage years.

            He had a great way of teaching the Bible and offering poignant thoughts to remember.

       One of his favorites and one which I have shared before comes from the following exchange:

When asking how someone is doing—often the response is:

            “Fine…under the circumstances.”

To which this teacher would bend down and in an exaggerated voice say:

            “Well…what are you doing under there??!”

 

The Christian, just like everyone else—can get caught up in the circumstances we are facing right now.

                                    Each one of us have the same questions:

                                                Will this isolation ever end?

                                    Will we be able to gather as a church body again?

                                                When will we be able to go out to eat?

                                                Will some kind of cure be found?

 

We can dwell on these things so much that we get bogged down ‘under the circumstances.’

Granted—these ARE legitimate questions to ask—but the Christian asks with a different viewpoint.

 

                                                Paul, to the Colossians wrote:

“If {grammatically emphasizing that this is true so better “SINCE”} you have been raised up with Christ,

    Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

                          Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

 

For the Christian—we need to improve our sight to look from above rather than from below.

                                    What does that mean?

Three thoughts come out from verse 1 alone:

 

First—Christians have been raised up with Christ-this is a new position

Second—keep seeking the things above—this is a new pursuit

Third—Christ is seated at the right hand of God—this is a new authority

 

Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth—which means He rules over all.

Since He rules over all—this gives us the incentive to look to Him to see what He is doing.

My circumstances haven’t come about by accident—they have come as a means to get me to ‘look up,’

So rather than get keep your eyes on an earthly plane—keep looking up and see Jesus.

He is the One Who gives us eyes to see what He is doing and a new perspective as to how to view life.

 

            So, when someone asks how you are doing—you can answer like everyone else.

                                                            OR—

You can answer something like: “your eyesight is improving every day.”

When they ask what that means:  share Jesus—Who is the ultimate sight giver.




TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


HANGING ON

James Dobson wrote about preparing for adolescence.

Think about it—can anything really prepare a parent for adolescence?

            We have two daughters who are 7 months apart [story for another blog].

Needless to say, we were gearing up for a double dose of what adolescence would bring.

Dobson uses the analogy of white-water rafting.

The goal of this kind of rafting is having fun while trying to make sure everyone is in the raft at the end.

            There will be times that are smoother than others and times when you barely talk to each other.

                                    The goal is:  have fun while hanging on.

 

So it was that we got to go white-water rafting with our two teenage daughters.

            Having gotten all the proper equipment—helmets, life vests, etc.

            Having signed all the proper forms—no liability, etc.

            We heard what some have called ‘the death speech.’

This is where someone tells about all the things that can go wrong with the adventure. 

            At the end of ‘scaring us to death’ the guide said:  ‘have fun and hang on.’

                        So we did—and we lived to tell about it.

There WERE times of just enjoying the scenery and being able to chat together.

There WERE times when we were just trying our best not to be knocked overboard.

            Through it all—we found ourselves—‘hanging on’ no matter what.

 

Lord willing, on April 26, we will be looking at what David wrote in Psalm 13.

            4 times in this psalm—David asks the LORD: 

                                    ‘HOW LONG?”

 

                        “Will You forget me forever?”

                        “Will You hide Your face from me?”

            “Shall I take counsel in my soul—having sorrow in my heart all the day?”

                        “Will my enemy be exalted over me?”

 

David pleads with God:  

“Consider and answer and enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.”

 

You just get the sense that David is ‘hanging on.’

As with us—he is facing the unknown and unknowable.

As with us—he is trying to see God’s presence when things seem so cloudy.

 

At the end, though, David writes in v. 5:  “but I have trusted in Your lovingkindness.”

            He adds that:  “he will rejoice in God’s salvation and he will sing to the LORD.’

I have a note in my Bible that says:  “circumstances haven’t changed—but David has.

 

Sometimes our life seems smoother than others.

Sometimes, like now, there is the underlying tension of what will happen next.

But…no matter what…because we know the LORD…let us hang on and have fun.


He knows what He is doing and plans to do even if we don’t—so ‘hang on’ to His lovingkindness.




MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


THE DAY AFTER THE DAY

In some cultures—people save their best jokes for the Monday after Resurrection Sunday.

The thought behind this is that the best ‘joke’ of all was that Satan had won and Jesus was defeated.

   Obviously, the joke was on Satan, as Christ rose from the dead to show He triumphed over death.

 

            Years ago, I preached a Resurrection sermon with the title:  “Jesus plays peek-a-boo.”

                        It developed as I read over the resurrection accounts again and again.

                 What I can’t escape is the sheer joy that came as a result of Jesus being alive.

This is shown clearly by those who saw Jesus, but I must believe it was also the demeanor of the Lord.

 

                        Yesterday, {Resurrection Sunday} we were sitting down for supper.

    It was about that time, 2000 years ago that two disciples were walking on a road to Emmaus.

                        Jesus joins them but they don’t know it is Him.

                        He asks what they are talking about as they are walking.

                        Luke 24:17 says:  “And they stood still, looking sad.”

Cleopas said:

  “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here?”

            In a two-word response, and I am thinking, while stifling a smile, Jesus asks:

                                                “What things?”

HE KNOWS FULL WELL “What things,” but He doesn’t let on to them that He knows anything.

            They walk and talk and while breaking bread—they recognize Him and He vanishes.

                                    Now you see Me—now you don’t—peek-a-boo.

 

                        Twice, the disciples are gathered after the resurrection.

On the first Sunday—Jesus appears as 10 of them are huddled behind locked doors and simply says:

                                                “Peace be with you.”

Eight days later, Thomas now included—Jesus does the same and He says the same words:

                                                “Peace be with you.”

Can’t you hear a disciple saying:  ‘would you stop doing that!!  We are going to have a heart attack.”

Now you see Me—now you don’t—peek-a-boo.

 

Mary thinks He is a gardener until He calls her by name.

According to John 20:16—she had already turned to leave when He said her name.

As she turns back around, can’t you picture Jesus smiling as she recognizes that it is Him?

 

In John 21—some of the disciples went fishing while Jesus became a cook.

He directs them in their fishing and they have to drag the net—it is so full.

They see it is Him and Peter jumps in the water while the others drag the catch to shore.

                      Even as He beckons them to come and eat, John tells us:

“No one of the disciples ventured to question Him, ‘Who are You?’ knowing it was the Lord.”

 

            In those first weeks—Jesus came and left—but wherever He was—HE brought great joy.

            Now—He is with us always {Matthew 28:20}; He will never leave us {Hebrews 13:5}

            Nothing can separate us {Romans 8:38-39} and nothing will condemn us {Romans 8:1}.

                        Now you see Me—now you see Me—and that is no joke!




SATURDAY & SUNDAY, APRIL 11-12, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


ANTICIPATION

            For several years. at our church in Fort Myers—we did a Christmas Eve service.

We had a young church with lots of children, so we tried to make it a very friendly family service.

I would use props of one sort or another and I would try to include the children where possible.

                                    One year, I focused on the word “anticipation.”

If you know your music, then you will recall the song by that name done by Carly Simon.

Going one step further, some will remember the ketchup commercial that used the song.

People would wait in ‘anticipation’ for the ketchup to pour while the song was played.

So it was that that Christmas Eve—I got 12 children to volunteer and come and hold letters.

If you have ever done something like this, you know there can a bit of confusion and maneuvering.

                                    We finally got:  anticipation.

            Putting both groups together, we got the word and then we talked about what it meant.

 

The word “anticipation” comes from the following:

                                     Meaning "action of looking forward to.”

That is the meaning that strikes us about Christmas Eve as we look forward to Christmas Day.

But I often think about that in relation to the Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

We look forward to Sunday because we know the end of the story {or, should I say the beginning}.

            We make plans to celebrate Resurrection morning with our best clothes and loudest voices.       

Churches tend to be fuller on this day as people come to gather with family and friends.

Many get candy and baskets as we celebrate the gladness of that day together.

There is a certain joy when the leader at church says:  “He is Risen.”

                        And, as one voice—the congregation responds with:  “He is Risen Indeed.”

 

            This year, though, unlike any other—much of this will change.

                                    The church building will be empty.

            There will not be a congregational call to the response about the resurrection.

            People will be reticent to get together especially if there are older relatives involved.

                        The joy and celebration of Resurrection Sunday just will not be the same.

 

And so, I am writing today thinking that, in many ways, this is what it was like 2000 years ago.

            The disciples had questions and wonder and fear and anxiety and…anticipation.

            They had to have anticipation as they looked forward to what was going to occur next.

                                    They simply did not know but they had to wonder.

 

This Resurrection Sunday IS unlike any other.

Right now, we have anticipation as to when THAT DAY will come that we can gather again.

But we don’t wonder like those who don’t know Jesus.

            Because, the promise given in Philippians 1:6 still holds true as Paul writes:  

“I am confident of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

We know that Friday came and Sunday was coming.

We know that right now things are not how we would want them to be.

But I pray that ‘this day’ we will live in anticipation of the work of Jesus done through us until…

 ‘that day’ when we are with Him.




FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


THE "GOOD" OF GOOD FRIDAY

I am writing this at a little after 5pm on Good Friday.

    Each year, I go through this day in my mind thinking about what transpired 2000 years ago.

                        That is what got me thinking about the good of Good Friday.

                        Think of some of those involved in the events of this day.

 

The risky rulers

 

     It was at this time that Joseph and Nicodemus were getting the body of Jesus to the tomb.

                        Nicodemus was called by Jesus ‘the’ teacher of Israel in John 3.

            Both he and Joseph were rulers in Israel which implies they were a part of the Sanhedrin.

                                    At a time of great hostility from so many:

these two men risked their reputations and revealed that they were public followers of Jesus.

 

The fleeing followers

 

            Of the 12—Judas has hung himself and 10 others have fled the scene.

            As the Sabbath is nearing—have you ever wondered where they were?

            Did they flee ‘alone’ or did they dare to meet somewhere?

            What would they be thinking and what would they be planning?

            I can only slightly imagine the agony they were enduring at this time.

     But here is the ‘good’ that struck me about them—they didn’t flee forever.

                  How easy that would have been, but they did not do it.

Nine of them will meet again with John on Sunday night—turned into ‘fearless followers of Jesus.’

 

The dedicated disciple

 

                        And, then, there is John. 

Rightly is he called the disciple Jesus loved.

He was at the cross and he is entrusted with the mother of Jesus.

As a minister, I have had to comfort people who have suffered loss.

Certainly, easier if someone has lived a long life and died peacefully.

Can you imagine trying to provide solace to Mary after watching the brutal way in which her son died?

 

The suffering Savior

 

            How many times do we want ‘the good guy’ to get off the mat and win the fight?

                        How many times do we wait for good to triumph over evil?

                                    On Friday—that couldn’t be seen.

                        Yet—Jesus had the power to make all the suffering go away.

            With one word—thousands of angels would have destroyed those who hurt Him.

            However, He knew what He HAD to do if He was going to have relationship with you and me.

            So, He endured the cross—despising the shame—looking forward to the joy that would come.

                                    He willingly died so we could have life.

                                    That is the ultimate ‘good’ of Good Friday.




THURSDAY, APRIL 9, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHEN GOD WANTS TO GET OUR ATTENTION...AGAIN...AND, AGAIN...

Many years ago, I had a father in my church concerned for his young adult daughter. She had strayed from the Lord and he had prayed that God ‘would do something to bring her to Him.”


A few months later, shortly before Christmas, she drifted to the side of a road.

She overcompensated and ended up in a head on collision.

      The family lost count of the number of doctors who worked on her—trying to save her life.

                        By God’s grace, she survived and that is where God ‘showed up.’

The appearance of God was not through a burning bush or through a fiery angel.

God showed up through a ‘church’ filled with people who loved Jesus and wanted to help a young adult.

                        They bought and brought a Christmas tree for her room.

      They brought presents and…’their presence’ to spend time with her while she recovered.

Through the love of God shown through His people—He got her attention and she came back to Him.

 

                        Yesterday, I wrote about God wanting to get our attention.

Just like any parent—we want our children to do what is right because…well…it is right.

            We give incentives and rewards and we offer boundaries and encouragement.

                        Look through God’s Word and what do you find?

Over and over He is exhorting His people and pleading with His people to do what is right.

            He gives incentives and rewards and He provides boundaries and encouragement. 

 

Sadly—there are also consequences for doing what is wrong.

Even in those consequences, though, there is the desire for our children to learn and do what is right.

 

It is when we come to the book of Judges—that we see this pattern: 

    There is:  wrong…punishment…restoration…wrong…punishment…REPEAT..over and over again.

            Several places in Judges we find this revealed, but it is clearly offered in Judges 2:

v. 15—“…the LORD was against them for evil.”

v. 15—“…they were severely distressed.”

v. 16—“The Lord raised up judges who delivered them.”

v. 19—“…when the judge died, they would turn back and act more corruptly.”

 

God has gotten the attention of the world.

                        Right now:

Money isn’t the answer to this problem and with all the reliance on science—it hasn’t found a solution.

     Government or education or anything else upon which we rely can’t overcome this right now.

            

                        God has gotten the attention of the world.

            But here is what really struck me today:  has God gotten the attention of the church?

                        Has God gotten the attention of ‘me’ and ‘you?’

I thought of the questions above as I read this prayer—may it be your prayer and that of Faith Bible.

            “May I never vex Him {the Holy Spirit} by my indifference and waywardness,

                        Grieve Him by my cold welcome--Resist Him by my hard rebellion.

                        Answer my prayers, O Lord, for Thy great name’s sake.”

The church has an incredible opportunity to ‘be Jesus’ for so many right now.

As God gets ‘our’ attention—may we help others see Him…over…and over…and over again.





WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHEN GOD WANTS TO GET OUR ATTENTION

One of the hardest things I have done as a pastor was trying to explain God’s role in 9/11. A man in our church had a radio sport’s talk show and he wanted me to join him to give some insight. I remember praying much and reading much and listening much for God’s voice. Of all the things said—here is the one that stood out the most:


                                    

“Above all else—God wants to use this to get our attention.”

“Above all else—God wants to use this to get our attention.”

 

                        You may recall that churches were packed after that happened.

                                    People sought the Lord, and many came back to Him.

            I had some deep conversations with people related to God and their spiritual condition.

                                                God got the attention of many.

 

            Sadly, as with most things—when the crisis ends—commitments are easily forgotten.

People on airplanes will make vows to God in turbulence—but when on the ground—life just goes on.

                        During illnesses—pleas are offered to God for healing.

                   When the sickness ends—too often so do the promises made.

 

            As a parent and grandfather—I so appreciate when my family does what they should.

                        Incentives may be offered for doing what should be done.

                                    Ice cream would often be involved in those rewards.

                               That is so much the way I prefer to live life with my family.

 

However—there WERE {and ARE} times when stubbornness gets in the way.

            There are times when sheer rebellion comes into play.

At those times—punishment comes as a CONSEQUENCE in order to get attention.

            Certainly not what I WANT to do—but something that is sometimes needed.

 

        I thought about this in relation to the time we are in right now.    

            If nothing else—God wants to use this to get our attention.

 

            I thought of the Israelites and how often God blessed and blessed and blessed.

                        And how often they rebelled and rebelled and rebelled.

I will talk more on this tomorrow, but I was reminded of a verse from the book of Haggai.

                        In 1:11, God tells the people that:


I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”

 

               Do you really think God wanted to do that?

                 But they had disobeyed, and He wanted to get their attention.

By the way—it worked—because the people repented and did what God desired.

 

Does God have your attention?

Will you use this time as a time to search your heart and to pray for others to do the same?


God loves to get our attention through grace-but whatever it takes—He WILL get our attention.




TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHERE IS GOD?

That is the question that strikes us every time a major disaster occurs.

                                   

 “Where is God?”


Ironically, those who do not believe in God should not even ask the question. For them—all that happens is just ‘random’ randomness which means then that there is no reason. When was the last time you heard an atheist speak at a time of great crisis?

 

It is ironic, perhaps—even Jesus wondered “where is God?”


How many Good Friday services have you heard about the 7 last sayings of Jesus from the cross? Quoting from Psalm 22—Jesus cries out:  “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” When you look at Psalm 22 you find the feeling David had of his prayers not being heard. For Jesus—it was the feeling that God the Father had turned His back on the Son.

 

Where is God?


Right now—this world-wide event pales in comparison with other events in human history. We ARE inconvenienced at least and there IS life and death for some. But read history about the plagues that have swept over human history. Read about the Holocaust and the killing of millions in the Soviet Union and China. Read what the Romans did to Christians and Jews in the first centuries.  

 

Think how often people have wondered where God was in the middle of pain and suffering.

Guess what?  That has been an age-old question that can legitimately be asked only by His own.

 

            In Philip Yancey’s book, The Question that Never Goes Away, he cites the following:

 

Gideon:  “If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?”

Job:  “though I cry, violence, I get no response, though I call for help, there is no justice.”

Psalms:  “awake, LORD!  Why do You sleep!  Rouse Yourself!”

Isaiah:  “truly you are a God who has been hiding himself.”

Jeremiah:  “why are you like a man taken by surprise, like a warrior powerless to save?”

 

            For those who are His own—we know that He is with us.

            For those who are His own—we know He has not abandoned us.

            For those who are His own—we know that He WILL redeem all.

 

Perhaps not in our lifetime and perhaps not in a way we will see it.

            But this week, above all weeks—reminds us that God IS RIGHT HERE.

His ways are not our ways and His deeds are not always understood by us.

            

            As His children, there ARE times we may wonder ‘where is God?’

But remember—He answered that question through the coming of Jesus showing us His presence.




MONDAY, APRIL 6, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


I DON'T WANT TO SURVIVE—I WANT TO LIVE

Someone stopped into the building today to drop something off. It was so good to actually see someone that we stopped to chat while maintaining social distance. With so many things closed—this person’s schedule has radically changed—as with many of us. Instead of being able to go out for a few hours a day—now, there is just nowhere to go. The thought was shared that they felt like they were just surviving—I knew exactly what they meant.


 

I had used a phrase related to surviving just a couple of days ago. The phrase I cited then,—and which is the title for today—comes from the animated movie “WALL-E.” Currently, this is the movie of choice for my 3-year-old grandson. If we have him for a full day—we may easily ‘watch’ this movie 3 times.


 

I cannot give you the whole plot of the movie, but I will try to summarize the story. The inhabitants of earth had to abandon the planet centuries earlier due to pollution. Now that there is hope of a return—there is a plot to stay in space rather than go back. The captain of the ship wants to go home no matter what the risks. The plotters say it is just too dangerous—so why doesn’t the captain enjoy the fact that he can survive?


            

That is when he offers the quote:  “I don’t want to survive—I want to live.”

 

That is what strikes me about the condition in which we find ourselves.


                                                Different?—absolutely.

                                                Inconvenient?—no question.

                                                Anxiety inducing?—in varying degrees for all—yes.

                                                Just trying to survive?—in too many cases—yes again.

 

                                    But be reminded of what has not changed.

 

In John 10:10, Jesus says to those who are saved:

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;         

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

 

Our circumstances have certainly changed—but Jesus’s promises haven’t. Just as He wanted us to have life a month ago—so He wants us to have life now.


            

Christians have a choice to make:

We can focus on our circumstances and feel like we just have enough to survive.

Or—we can keep our eyes fixed on the One Who came to give life.

 

Have extra ‘time’ in your day?

  • Think about investing it in your spiritual life in ways you might not otherwise have been able.
  • Pray a bit more than usual.
  • Serve in ways that might be a bit unusual.
  • Read and study in ways you haven’t before.
  • Choose to invest your life in the Lord in ways you may always have wanted but weren’t able to do.

                     Don’t look to merely ‘survive’ through the crisis—choose to live!




SATURDAY & SUNDAY, APRIL 4-5, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


GOD'S TIMING—NOT OURS...

What if you knew—absolutely KNEW—that God had called you for some great purpose?

What if you knew—absolutely KNEW—that God had a great plan for you?

            What if that purpose or plan wasn’t shown clearly right away?

                        How do you think you would live life?

Would every day be a day of expectation that perhaps THIS is the day that God fulfills His plan for you?

 

A friend of mine once said:  

“God is never early, and He is never late in His promises.  However, His timing is not the same as ours.”

 

If you are God’s child—do you honestly believe God has a plan for what is happening right now?

                                                            Me too.

I don’t know what that plan is or what His timing is, but I know His timing is different from mine.

I pray each day that He would bring revival and that I would trust Him no matter what today holds.

I pray that every day would be a day of expectation for what He is going to do today.

 

The thoughts above were written as a result of what I read today in my devotional time.

In itself—the verse is not one that strikes us EXCEPT WHEN WE THINK BACKWARDS.

            Here is the verse—2 Samuel 5:4—ready to be gripped?

                        “David was 30 years old when he became king.”

            Again:  “David was 30 years old when he became king.”

 

What is the significance of that verse?

You must travel backward in scripture to 1 Samuel 16.

In that chapter, we are told that Samuel came to the house of Jesse and anointed David king.

You may recall the story as the youngest son being called in from the field to be anointed king.

                        How old, do you imagine, David was when this happened?

Most historians and Bible scholars say that David was somewhere between 10-15 when this occurred.

                                                So—can you do the math?

       For 15-20 years—David had been told he was king, but he didn’t BECOME king until 30.

                        Doesn’t it make you wonder what he did all that time?

Besides kill a giant and hundreds of enemies and then pursued by the king of Israel—he had to wait.

                        He couldn’t make himself king before God was ready for him to be king.

But, every day—don’t you think David lived life in anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise?

He knew God had chosen him and God had a plan for him—so rather than just survive—he lived.

                        He lived in anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s plan for his life.

God has chosen you and He has a plan for you—so will you live in the promises He has made for you?

 

By the way—one other older testament character experienced the same thing as David.

                                                Remember the ‘dreamer’ Joseph?

At 17—he had dreams about his father and brothers bowing down to him.  {Genesis 37:2}.

                        Do you remember how the brother’s responded to that?!

God’s promises to him did not come to pass until he, too, was 30 years old! {Genesis 41:46}.

For 13 years—he was accused, betrayed and yet—he faithfully waited—for the promises to come true.

        God’s timing—not ours.  Make a choice to live each day in anticipation of what He will do today.




FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


IT TAKES AN-OTHER TO SHOW WE KNOW JESUS

Today, I want to start with a verse of Scripture which provides the foundation for the rest.

 

In 1 John 2:3, John writes:

            

“And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”

 

This verse resonates with me because of the sermon for this Sunday. We are talking about what are called ‘the reciprocal commands’ given in the Newer Testament. These are commands that are all about what we do with and for ‘one another.’ There are over 30 of them and they consist of such commands as:


“Love one another” {13 times in the Newer Testament—see John 13:34-35—said 3 times by Jesus}

            

Hebrews 10:24 - “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.’

            

Romans 12:10 - “Be devoted to one another…give preference to one another in honor.”

                                                And, on they go.

 

What is the point?

If we are going to know Jesus truly—we must become committed to others.

 

At this time of isolation—it seems to be driving home the point as to how much we need each other. My phone conversations are longer. People stopping by the church building tend to stay longer (at least 6 feet apart, mind you). Text messages and emails are more abundant and there is a longing to have contact with each other.


 

I have a friend who is a chaplain at a nursing home. You can imagine the distancing that is taking place there! Family cannot visit and people there cannot even visit with each other. But with ‘non-essential’ employees staying away—he is considered essential.

                               

Why?


Because people need connection with other people. The state has mandated that his post is needed for the morale of the people. He is now doing things he has never done before by way of ministry. He is doing video devotions several times a week that patients can receive on their televisions. He is literally taking a karaoke machine from floor to floor and leading hymns. In many ways, he is connecting now to more people in more ways than he did before. And the people and the staff appreciate Jesus more living through him.

 

At this time of isolation and loneliness and frustration and anxiety—we need one another. More than any other time in my lifetime—people need to be needed and connected.

 

So—I just want to encourage you to reach out and touch others. Offer words of encouragement to people for whom you have not done that before. Send cards, do Bible studies, hold others accountable to be more of what Christ wants us to be. We need ‘others’ so we can fulfill the ‘one anothers.’


Make sure you are doing your part to make that happen.




THURSDAY, APRIL 2, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


GROANING

PART 1:  “WHIMSICAL”

 

Isolation has meant people doing things they might not otherwise do. My wife decided to scan all our pictures so she would have them on our computer. Sounds reasonable—right? Some 10,000 pictures later—she noticed that her left arm was sore. Doing that same motion over and over and over….well……groan.


 

A man at our church decided to work at the church during isolation. He is on the ‘other side’ of 80 but he decided he would paint by the steps leading up to our stage. This meant, lying down and meticulously painting over one ‘brand new step’ after another. When done—he could barely get up, let alone move. Groan.


 

A relative who shall remain nameless talked to me about eating all the time since she can’t get out. Literal groaning.

 

PART 2:  “CRITICAL”

 

On the other side of this are people going through situations of ‘real groaning.’ We hear of doctors and nurses working to the point of exhaustion. One nurse wrote about losing 3 patients in 8 hours and one had done well a half hour prior to passing. We just sent a friend of a relative to the hospital and he is there alone. A relative of church members has the virus and cannot have visitors. People in our church have lost jobs and some are facing tough times. These are critical times of groaning.

 

PART 3:  “BIBLICAL”

 

As a minister, I have been asked:  “is this virus God’s judgment on the world?” My ‘simple’ answer is that the world has already been judged—this is just the result of that judgment. In John 3:17—we are told that Jesus did not come into the world to judge the world. The end of that verse says that Jesus came that the world should be saved through Him.


So, we find in Romans 8—that the world ‘groans’ too as it suffers the effects of sin.


Romans 8:22 says:

“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”

                                                

Romans 8:23 adds:

“And not only this, but also, we ourselves…groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”

 

One day—there will be a new heaven and a new earth. One day—the effects of sin will be destroyed. Until then—we ‘groan’ yet, as Christians—not in the same way as those without Christ. We know the beginning of God’s story and we also know the end—we just groan until we get there.




WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


STRENGTHENED IN THE LORD

David is fleeing from Saul. He is wandering from place to place waiting to see what the Lord will do. He makes some strange alliances and in the midst of everything he makes a consistent discovery. In 1 Samuel 29—we are told that he is going to battle against the Israelites while with the Philistines. Rightly so, some Philistine leaders do not trust David, so he and his men are sent away.


 

It is in chapter 30 that we find David and his men returning home only to find they have no home. The Amalekites had raided the city where David and the people’s families had lived. We are told that all the wives and children had been taken captive and the city had been burned.


 

AT THAT TIME—they had no idea what happened to their loved ones—they just knew that all was gone.

            

                        There are two very different reactions to what happened here.

                        V. 4 tells us that the people wept until they could weep no more.

            V. 6 tells us that the people spoke of stoning David because of what had been done.

 

                In the meantime—we find that David was impacted just as much as anyone.

                        V. 5 tells us that his two wives were among those taken captive.

                        V. 4 reminds us that he also wept bitterly along with all the people.

V. 6 also tells us that David was greatly distressed because the people were embittered against him.

 

                     Now—here is the great difference between David and the people:

            The people sought refuge in stoning while David sought refuge in strengthening.

 

V. 6 tells us:  “But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.”

 

This is the key in the midst of overwhelming catastrophe—being strengthened in the Lord.

 

It is interesting that in just three chapters the words ‘greatly distressed’ are used twice.

In 1 Samuel 28:15—It says that King Saul was ‘greatly distressed’ [same word] so he sought a medium.

In 1 Samuel 30:6—when David is ‘greatly distressed’ he sought the Lord.

 

These really are the two choices for people during catastrophes.

 

People can seek help in a variety of ways apart from the Lord:  alcohol, drugs, pleasure, even suicide.

But for Christians—when the pressures build up outside—we look to the Lord Who calms us inside.

 

                        In a tough time—Ezra was strengthened in the Lord—Ezra 7:28

            In the midst of a terrifying vision—Daniel is strengthened in the Lord—Daniel 10:18-19

In the beginning of leading Israel after Moses—Joshua is told several times to be strong in the Lord

 

The message for the Christian has NOT changed. Do not settle for any other way to find strength than by being strengthened in the Lord.




TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHAT WILL GO DO FOR US?

For Christians—this is one of those head-scratching times when it comes to knowing God’s plan.

 

Most, if not all of us, have endured hard times before. Growing up in South Florida, I weathered [sorry, pun intended] hurricanes. A big difference with hurricanes is that after they were over there would be no electricity, water or gas. Endurance, perseverance, and wisdom were all needed to navigate the times.


Some have gone through medical issues or family crises or financial difficulties. As Christians, we know we don’t go through these things in a vacuum. God has plans for us although we may not see it at the time.


Most Christians can quote Romans 8:28, knowing that God DOES work things out for good.


Years ago, when I was doing a funeral for a couple who had lost a baby, I really pondered Romans 8:28. What was the ‘good’ to be shared at that time? I added an addendum to the verse that I hold onto to this day. This is what it is:

“We know that God causes all things to work together for good…{seen either in time or eternity}.”

           

I have done too many funerals involving babies and teens and people who died suddenly. For each one, the question remains:  ‘what good will come from this?’ At the time—I have no answer but this:  ‘I don’t know but I know the One Who does.’

 

It almost sounds like a cliché but as a young adult said to me years ago: The reason why it is said so much and sounds true is because it IS TRUE.”

 

I say honestly: “I don’t know what God’s plans are NOW but I will hold on to Him as the One Who does.”

 

I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone in trusting the Lord when I don’t know what will happen.

 

                        In 1 Samuel 22—David is running for his life from King Saul.

            David’s family has left their home to come to him at the cave of Adullam.

Knowing he can’t adequately run with them he goes to the King of Moab and in 1 Samuel 22:3 he says:

“Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?”

            

                        Think about it:  David has already been anointed king by Samuel.

                        He knows that God will put him on the throne at some point.

            He just doesn’t know the details yet so—‘until he learns’ he entrusts his parents to this king.

 

Just a side note that David’s great grandmother was a Moabite.

            Going through a puzzling time of her own—God provided for her THEN to help David NOW.

                                    {You can find the lineage in Ruth 1:4 and 4:18f}.

 

God has a plan for right now—do you believe it?

Rather than be anxious—approach each day with the excitement of what God will do for us this day.




MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING

There are two thoughts that made me consider what I am writing today. One is a lesson from scripture. The other is an application from the coaching my wife does with others.


 

SCRIPTURE

Before my junior year in high school, I dedicated myself to the Lord.

This was the ‘living sacrifice’ spoken of Paul in Romans 12:1.

I had become a Christ follower two years before but had not fully surrendered.

I still remember folding laundry—my daily task for our family—on a hot summer day in Miami.

                        As I folded—I prayed as to what God wanted to do with my life.

In that prayer, I ‘heard’ [one of a few times I have clearly sensed God’s voice] God say:

                        “I want you to carry your Bible to school.”

By way of background—I went to Miami Carol City High School.

It was a school with a couple thousand students, and I did not know of 1 Christian among them.

            Again—I asked God if I had heard Him correctly and I received the same answer:

                        “I want you to carry your Bible to school.”

            I asked if there was a plan B but I knew I had heard correctly.

 

I had almost 5 weeks to think about, agonize about, pray about, and stew about what I was going to do.

                                    That is when I came across James 4:17.

 

James 4:17 says: “Therefore to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

            The immediate context demands an interpretation related to commerce and making plans.

                        By way of application, though—that verse knocked me right between the eyes.

Think about it—what is it you are SUPPOSED TO DO?  If you don’t do it—it is sin.

Now—even things like trying to avoid taking out the garbage took on a whole new meaning.

            I knew I should but if I didn’t then, according to the Bible—I was ‘missing the mark.’

So—back to day one of my junior year of high school.

What did I believe God wanted me to do?

I would like to say I carried my big black Bible {that was all I had} with great confidence but I cannot lie.

                                    Honestly, I put it under all my other books.

                                    When asked what it was I mumbled:  {my Bible}.

For the next two years, though, I did the right thing and carried my Bible to a my high school every day.

                        My confidence grew and opportunities to minister occurred as well.

To this day—I cannot ‘get out’ of taking out the garbage when I am supposed to because of James 4:17.

 

APPLICATION

As a nurse, counselor, and life coach my wife is often asked:

                                    “What should I do next?’

                        Her ‘standard answer’ is:  “do the next right thing.’

During this time of isolation—our lives have been changed from what they have been before.

So….what do we do now?

IF we can’t minister ‘face to face’ then minister in some other way.

       If you have always wanted time to pray or study the Bible or memorize scripture—why not now?

If you have wanted to impact other’s lives—what a great time to hear of needs and seek to meet them.

Doing the ‘next right thing’ may not be a big thing.  But if that is what God leads you to do, will you do it?




SATURDAY & SUNDAY, MARCH 28-29, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


NEVER SAY NEVER

In counseling couples for marriage, I encourage them to avoid absolute terms.

These are terms like:  ‘always’ and ‘never’ or ‘every.’

 

In a moment of frustration, a wife may say to her husband: “You never take out the garbage on time!!”

Like most people, what runs through his mind is: "Wait a minute, I remember July 9th, two years ago, I did!”

 

            That one exception breaks the rule of the absolute—thus destroying the argument in his mind.

 

            You may have heard people say that they don’t believe in absolutes.

            Simply reply by asking them if they are sure there are no absolutes. They'll likely say, “Absolutely!”


 

My wife’s father had a series of sayings that stood well over the course of time. I cannot recount the number of times I heard someone say, "That could never happen again.” In his quiet voice, I can still hear him say:  “never say never.”


 

            I often circle around to two verses of scripture that speak of absolutes.

 

                        On March 20th, I focused the blog on Philippians 4:6.

Paul uses two absolute statements in reminding us to keep our reliance on the Lord.

                                    Remember what they are?

                                    Be anxious for...NOTHING.

                                    But in EVERYTHING…bring your requests to God.

 

            This is a practice that needs to be cultivated continually among those who are God’s children.

 

            Then, I have already referred once to a verse that is impossible to do without the Lord.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says: “In EVERYTHING give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)

 

How in the world is this possible?

 

Notice Paul does NOT say FOR everything give thanks. It is while we are ‘in’ everything that we give thanks.

    

WHY?


The Christian’s life should not be dictated by the circumstances in which they find themselves.

I will write more on this in a later blog, but all of our faith comes down to this: "Do I trust the Father?”

                                    

And…do I trust Him ALWAYS?

 

We may have no clue what is going to happen in terms of our present circumstances. But how often do we say that we know the One Who does?


So, give thanks to God IN EVERYTHING—trusting Him ALWAYS—knowing He will NEVER abandon us!




FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


SO, YOU THINK YOUR DAY IS BAD?

This post is going to go in a couple different directions—so hang in there until the end...

 

My wife has a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling.

I say often that she got it so she could understand me (a story for another blog...).

 

As she began counseling people, she would run into the following dialogue:

            Client:  “I know I have it bad—but others have it so much worse.”

            Jan:  “That may be true—but since you are here, why don’t we talk about you?”

            Client:  “I feel guilty talking about my problems when others have it so bad.”

            Jan:  “Just because others may have worse problems, doesn’t make your own situation less hard for you.”

            Jan:  “So, let’s talk about what you are going through right now.”

 

Right now, the whole world and—OUR own world—is going through a tough time.

Each of us is being inconvenienced at best or dealing with life and death scenarios at worst.

My issues and your issues are real issues no matter what they are.

 

However, as I read Psalm 34, I thought, "The day I'm having could be much worse."

 

You may recall Psalm 34...

                                   

David writes several wonderful and encouraging verses such as: 

     “O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” {8}

     “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.” {3}

     “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” {19}




THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


GRIEF MAGNIFIES EMOTIONS

I need to offer a long introduction before I get to the point...

 

As a pastor, I get the privilege of sharing in great events:

Weddings, baptisms, child dedications and…funerals.

 

In my very first pastoral position, it came time to do my very first ‘live’ funeral.

What?  You didn’t think pastors’ practice these services in graduate school?

Well, there would be something awkward about doing a "funeral" for a classmate who is lying flat while still breathing...

 

                                    So…I came to do my first real funeral.

            To make things complicated, it was for someone I'd never met!

            This woman was moving with her husband down to Fort Meyers, and she died along the way.

 

                                                What to do?  What to do?

I prayed for the rapture to occur or for a resurrection of the body.  Neither happened.

 

I called a former pastor "long distance." This was back in the day when you had to pay individually for those types of calls.

                        I asked him what I should do and how I should proceed.

                        To this day, over 30 years later, I can remember him saying the following:

                                    “The most important thing you have to do is…………….(long pause)...”

I sat forward in my chair—pen ready and palms sweaty—as I waited for this “most important thing.”

                        Again, he said:  “the most important thing you have to do is…show up.”

                        I can still recall the nervous chuckle that came as he then explained:

In the midst of crises, your presence means more than anything else.

 

Over the years, I have lost count of the number of funerals I have done.

I share the advice mentioned above at most of these.

 

There is just something about crises that makes our presence all that more valuable.

Right now we are experiencing a worldwide crisis.

People are in isolation and people are scared, nervous, or both.

 

This is where the church comes in.

This week, the sermon will remind us that Christians are connected to one another because of Jesus.

Next week, we will talk about how simply 'being present' can have an impact on those who don’t know Him.

 

In John 13:35 Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

I have seen people absolutely ‘GUSH’ at funerals about the flowers sent by Aunt Marge and Uncle Joe.

I have heard people say while walking by the open casket:  “doesn’t he look good?”

            {I will say that I often think:  “no, he looks dead,” but that is another blog for another day}.

Mostly, though, I have seen people break into tears as they see people who come to offer a hug.

It is in the moments of grief that emotions are touched the most.

I pray that now, more than ever, we will be ‘present’ as God gives us opportunities to deal with grief.




WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHAT IF I AM CURED BUT NOT HEALED?

In the midst of this pandemic, many are asking, “Can someone have the virus again once they have recovered?”

 

This is a good question, but in my very first blog I said that I would not offer medical information.

            So, I'll answer that question by saying, "check with the medical experts to see what they say..."

 

            Yet, with that question in mind, I was considering the question at the top of the page...

                          What if someone is cured but they aren’t really healed?

 

            What brought this to mind was a study our church family just did through John 9.

                        The theme of this chapter is that a man born blind is healed by Jesus.

                        During the first 37 verses of the chapter the man is only cured physically.

            Then, in verse 38 he acknowledges his belief in Jesus which leads him to eternal healing.

 

John 9 gives us a case study in the work of Jesus who sees a man sitting by the side of a road begging.

From that point, the man moves from calling Jesus a man (v. 11) to a prophet (v. 17) to ‘one from God’ (v. 33).

Finally, he acknowledges that Jesus the One Who is Lord and worthy of worship—and he puts his trust in Him.

 

In our study of John 9 I said, “How sad it would be if he had been physically healed yet stayed spiritually blind.”

 

            Imagine only gaining sight for his time on earth, yet being lost for all eternity!

 

Jesus offered this very sentiment in Matthew 16:26 when He said:

 

            “What does it profit a person if they gain the whole world yet lose their soul?”

 

There will be many who will be cured from the virus, but they won’t really be healed. Sadly, death may be put off, but it will still come. What is avoided now will one day come to pass.

 

For those who are followers of Christ—this is a time to pray for God’s Spirit to move in a great way. As a church, we have prayed for revival and for that revival to start with us.


NOW NOTE—the word revival comes from a Latin word meaning “to live again.”

 

Unbelievers are still dead in their sins, so they cannot be ‘revived.’

However, my hope at this time is that God’s Spirit would work in the hearts of His children. My hope is that we will move away from spiritual complacency or apathy. My prayer is that this virus and all it brings will remind the church that we have the eternal cure.

 

And then…as those who are spiritually blind seek physical cures—pray that ultimately they will find spiritual healing that will last for all eternity.




TUESDAY, MARCH 24, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon

    

REFLECTING GOD'S LIGHT

      Think about this prayer:

 

                        “While Jesus is representing me in heaven, may I reflect Him on earth,

                         While He pleads my cause, may I show forth His praise.”

 

Years ago I was given the book, The Valley of Vision:  a Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.

            This year, I've chosen to read it as a part of my devotional reading for each day.

            With all that we are facing this has proved quite providential.

            Many of the prayers and thoughts are resonating now in ways they may not have otherwise.

            The one above reminds me of the opportunity we have to reflect Jesus.

 

As Christians, we must remember that when things seem dark the light shines the brightest.

How often is this played out at a candlelight service when all the lights are turned off?

As dark as it may get, still one candle breaks through the darkness.

 

John 1 tells us that Jesus “was life, and the life was the light of men.

            And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overpower it.”

But Jesus doesn’t stop there.  He will be gone and what happens to the light then?

 

To His disciples Jesus offered an incredible image of US being lights in the world.

            In what is called the Sermon on the Mount we find the following:

                “YOU {emphasized} are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

 

Over the years, my family has enjoyed road trips.

Some of these have required driving in isolated areas late at night.

As we drive—small at first, but then more pronounced the closer we get—is light.

Alligator Alley in Florida had what we called the tower of light.

Coming around a turn in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we were amazed at the lights we could see.

Driving to Chattanooga, there was a house on a hill whose light shone forth for miles before we got to it.

 

                                    A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

And so Jesus offers words in Matthew 5:16 which my church has heard many times:

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.”

 

It IS in darkness that the light shines brightest.

My prayer is that as the world faces this dark and unknown time—that God’s people will reflect His light.

The goal is not for people to think highly of us.

The goal is that they will see Jesus—THE Light of the World—letting His light shine through us.

 

            So “While Jesus is representing {us} in heaven, may {we} reflect him on earth.”





MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


HOLY LAMENTING

My father died when I was 14.


I was part of a very active youth group with a very dynamic Bible teacher.

A few weeks before he died, she asked me if I would cry when he was gone.

To get the whole story you need to know that he had just given his life to Christ a few months before.

At 14, a young Christian myself, talking to a Bible teacher, I gave what I thought was the right answer...

                                                

                                                      “No.”  That simple.


            I figured he was going to heaven, so wasn’t that the answer I was supposed to give?

 

                        She challenged my thinking with words from the Apostle Paul.

                        To the Thessalonians he wrote about those who died, and he offered these words:

 

                        “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep,

                        That you may not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” (emphasis mine)

 

Her point?  That even as Christians we still grieve, but we grieve differently because of our hope in Jesus

 

            I have been a minister for decades walking with people through incredible grief.

            Often, people will share the same sentiment that I shared.  


Words like:

                        I am angry and I know I shouldn’t be.

                        I am sad and I can’t stop crying and I know I should just trust God.

                        I am…….well……you fill in your blank.

 

            Often I share my story with this reminder:  God knows us and God made us.


Part of our make-up is the ability to grieve.

To try and hold in our grief means trying to hide our emotions which God knows anyway.

 

During times like we are facing now it is easy to feel we are letting God down by being anxious or sad.

Yet, the pages of Scripture are filled with people who grieved—yet, put their trust in God.

 

            The word lament means, "to express grief."

            When I cannot relate to the pain of another, I will often tell them I am lamenting for them.

 

Jesus lamented over facing the cross.

Yet, at the end He said:  “Father, not my will but Yours.”


Habakkuk lamented over the injustice and sins of Israel.

Yet, read the end of his book to see that even though his body hurt—he would exult in the Lord.


David asked 4 times “how long” in Psalm 13 as he wrestled with what was happening in his life.

Yet, even though his circumstances had not changed he can say at the end:

“I have trusted and I rejoice and I sing to the LORD…because He has dealt bountifully with me.”

 

We DO grieve—we just don’t do it in a vacuum.

We have a God Who knows us and Who knows our circumstances and will use them for His glory.

During these days of unknown and suffering for many—lift your voice in lamentation.


Then—remember the One Who gives us hope even during our grief and exult in Him.





SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THIS DAY?

This is a Sunday and we have not gathered together as a church.

This has happened before due to weather...

That was something predictable as we saw the snow falling…and falling…and falling some more.

We could look at a weather map or television channel and see how long it was supposed to last.


What is happening now is something unknown without a foreseeable end.

 

As I shared with our church family today, I was struck by Psalm 118:24 and the reminder given.

 

            It reads:  “This is the day which the LORD has made,

                                    Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

 

If you are reading this, you are alive TODAY.

                                    Who knows what will happen tomorrow?

                                    And, obviously, you can’t go back and rejoice ‘yesterday.’

 

                                    God has graced you and me with THIS DAY.

                                    So—what will you do with this day?

 

The verse reminds us to use EACH day as an opportunity to rejoice in the One Who has given us the day.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

 

                        YESTERDAY—Jan and I decided that starting TODAY we were going to start walking.

                        TODAY—after getting shoes and coats and everything on we were ready to head out.

                                                THEN—it started snowing!!!

                                    I am not making this up!!

                        What a great excuse to wait until TOMORROW….

 

But…we had THIS DAY and THIS moment…so out we went since who knows what TOMORROW holds?

            We almost froze, but we gave thanks for the opportunity to get out of the house.

 

                        I am reminded of a verse often cited at Thanksgiving which says:

 

            “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

            This is one of three places in the Newer Testament where we are told that something is God’s will.

            In other words, we need not wonder if giving thanks is ever something we should not do.

 

During this time would you take some time to give thanks for this day?

During this time would you focus on what you see God doing rather than what you think is not being done?

 

What will you do with THIS day?

Take some time to rejoice and be glad in the Lord Who has given you this day in the first place.





SATURDAY, MARCH 21, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


GOD SPEAKING SO WE WILL HEAR

When people are sick I pray that the Lord will speak in ways they might not otherwise have heard.


                        For many of us, our lives are marked by how much ‘we do.’

                        Some boast of not having had vacations for years.

                        Some spend little quality time with family or friends due to ‘busyness.’

                        We tend to be marked by ‘doing’ and not by ‘being.’

 

And then…we are forced to be still due to illness or surgery or…..a pandemic.

These are times when Christians can hear God speak in a uniquely powerful way.

 

                        In his book Soul Survivor, Philip Yancey writes:

 

“Suffering has a singular ability to break through normal defenses

and everyday routines, and to remind us of mortality.”

 

For several years when conducting a funeral I would cite Ecclesiastes 7:2, where the writer says:

 

                                    “It is better to go to a house of mourning

                                    Than to go to a house of feasting,

                                    Because that is the end of every man,

                                    And the living takes it to heart.”

 

We know life will one day end so we should take heart TODAY with what God wants to say.

 

I can get so busy that I miss God—how about you?

I can hear so much noise that I don’t hear His voice—are you the same?

 

We know we should take time to be still and listen—but how often do we?

So, at a time like this, I pray that I {we} will hear what He has to say and take it to heart.

 

I venture a guess that most Christians are familiar with Psalm 46:10 where the sons of Korah write:

 

“Be still and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

 

In times like we are in right now will you take some time to be still?

Will you take advantage of this moment in our earthly journey to hear the voice of the eternal God?

 

                                    Take time to ask God to speak so you will hear.


                        Then listen and follow, give thanks, or simply enjoy His voice.




FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


BE ANXIOUS ABOUT BEING ANXIOUS

Part of the training for most professions involves intensely working on some essential things.

For instance, while an auto mechanic cannot be trained on EVERY kind of car, they can learn some cars well and take what they have learned and use it on others. The same is true with doctors and patients or teachers and students—and on it goes.


 

As this applies to others—so it also applies with ministers.

I spent 4 years in Bible College and 4 years in seminary {...I crammed the 3-year program into 4...}.

As part of our training, we studied chunks of the Bible at a time {e.g., the 5 books of Moses}.

            Then, classes were offered on specifics books {e.g., Philippians}.

            Even then, it was impossible to adequately ‘tear apart’ every one of the 104 verses.

Consequently, we would get a few verses at a time and be taught to ‘tear them apart.’ 

 

                        So it was, that I came face to face with Philippians 4:6-7...

 

These verses say:   Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

As I tore these verses apart, I was aware of becoming anxious about a paper on anxiety.

Seems silly, doesn’t it? Yet, how often do we as Christians get that way?

Obviously, when all is well: no anxiety. After all, why would we need to be anxious?

However, when things fall apart it is so easy to focus on our worries and forget the God Who cares for us.

 

As I looked at Philippians 4:6-7 I was struck by three thoughts:

                        {Please note the alliteration—we learned that in college}

 

1.) COMPLETENESS

Do you notice the words ‘nothing’ and ‘everything’ here?

We are to be anxious about ‘not one thing’ but pray about ‘every single thing.’


2.) CONTINUANCE

The verbs Paul uses here are in the present tense.

            This implies something that is done continually.

                        So—‘stop being anxious and keep bringing your requests to God.’

                        God does not get tired of our asking even if we ask 1001 times an hour.


3.) COMPREHENSION

For those who have peace WITH God—they find the peace OF God.

I often say:  “I don’t need the peace that passes comprehension unless I am going through trials beyond description.”

 

I know this time is hard, but our God is stronger and wiser than anything that comes.

And remember, the person who wrote Philippians 4:6-7 was in prison at the time.


He learned the secret of being content which is:  “I can do all things through Christ.”





THURSDAY, MARCH 19, 2020

By Pastor Bob DeKlavon


DON'T BORROW WORRY BECAUSE YOU CAN'T BORROW GRACE

I am not a doctor and I do not play one on TV.

These will not be posts that are medical or political.

What will be shared here will be biblical.

I can be a bit quirky at times—just a warning.

 

DECEMBER 16, 1971...

 

Do you know where you were on that Thursday mid-afternoon?

I know exactly where I was—lying on the side of the road with a broken leg.

My brother had picked me up from school on his motorcycle and we headed home.

We never made it because a man in a car ran a stop sign and hit us.

My tibia and fibula were broken and {sorry} one of my bones was sticking out of my leg.

 

Now the point of this story is not what happened on December 16...

The point is what occurred the Thursday before.


I had a friend with whom I talked every Thursday evening [full disclosure—the friend was a girl].

We had an agreement that we would not talk unless we had memorized a verse of Scripture.

So—one week earlier, on December 9—I shared the verse I had memorized.

 

It was Matthew 6:34 and here is the verse from the New American Standard translation

            “Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.

            Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

 

The Message paraphrase states this so incredibly well.  Here is what it says:

            “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now,

            And don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

            God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

 

Right now—it is easy to be anxious.

Many people are playing the ‘what if’ scenarios over and over in their minds:

                        What if this thing lasts for months?

                        What if I lose my job?

                        What if there are no more trees to make toilet paper???

 

I hadn’t planned on being in a cast for 7 months with the outlook that I may never run again.

My immediate life changed in a moment and I took a different turn.

You want to know what I did with the extra time I now had?

                        I listened to sermons/memorized scripture/read my Bible more

                                    Hmm…how do you think that impacted where I am now???

 

Who knows what God wants to accomplish in your life right now?

Take the energy of anxiety and use it for learning grace.

 

“Don’t borrow worry because you can’t borrow grace.”