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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.”