Friday, March 3, 2017

“Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there!  If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right had shall hold me.”
(Psalm 139:7-10 ESV)
            We are taking some time to work our way through the Attributes of God in a multi-part sermon series, and this week, taking a look at the attribute of God being Spiritual.  The simple understanding of this is that God is not limited by physical matter He is thus able to be anywhere and everywhere at once.  This should be a source of great comfort for us, for us to know that He is able to be with us right where we are, and at the very same time, be with our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, or just on the other side of town.  He can be, and is with us wherever we go.
            David helps us understand this with this great psalm about the omnipresent, penetrating nature of God.  Of course, we would expect Him to be there in heaven.  But then David writes, “If I make my bed in “Sheol”, a term used to represent the very center of the earth, or even hell; he was confident God would be even there with him.  Because God is Spirit, He is able to be anywhere and everywhere at once.
            It’s not that David was looking for a way to get away from the presence of God, but stating how completely and comprehensively God looked after him.  Not only was God present with Him everywhere, but David writes in the verses before about how completely God knows him.  “O LORD, you have searched me and known me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” (Ps. 139:1-3). 
            While such thoughts can be a great source of comfort to us, that God is so familiar with us to even know our thoughts, that same concept might be very troubling if our thoughts haven’t been so pure.  While we might try to be careful about our actions, and words, the things other people around us may see, we’re not always as careful about our thoughts.  If we were really honest, we’re probably glad that others can’t read our minds, and know what we are thinking all the time.  Our God, who is Spirit has no such deficiencies, and does know our “thoughts from afar”.
            While we may hide such things from friends, co-workers, even family, we cannot hide these things from God.  So it behooves us to guard our minds against the things we know are harmful, impure or unkind that it doesn’t cause us to squirm when we think of how completely God knows us.  David closes this Psalm with a very vulnerable line:  “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
            May that be our prayer; that God would bring those destructive, impure and unkind thoughts to our attention that we could repent of them, and seek to have God lead us in “the way everlasting!”  Also, don’t forget to rejoice in the knowledge of the attribute of God’s spiritual nature that allows Him to be always present with us, and with all those who are His all at the same time.  What a Great and Awesome God we serve!

By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Pastor's Desktop Article for February 2017

“Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight…And the LORD said to Moses, ‘This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.’”
(Ex. 33:13, 17 ESV)
            Moses had a relationship with God unlike many others, to the extent where it says in verse 11 of this same chapter, “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend…”  It was a time when God was beginning to truly make Himself known to a group of people.  There are a number of very interesting and intriguing conversations they had while up on the mountain in which we learn something about the nature and character of God.
            We now have the balance of Scripture that continues to speak to us about the nature and character of God, and if we will avail ourselves of the opportunity, we will learn about Him—who He is, and how He relates to us, and we to Him.
            We are beginning this first Sunday in February a sermon series on the Attributes of God, with a goal for all of us, myself included, to gain a more biblically based, more accurate view of God.  This more accurate view of God will likely come into conflict with some views we may have long held, but find no biblical basis to support us any longer.  Perhaps we have allowed the culture around us to shape our views of Him instead of relying on the gift He has given us in Scripture to help us know Him.
            As we gain a right understanding of who He is we will be more likely to be changed by Him, following Him more faithfully, living with greater holiness, and be better suited to live in a world that in reality is so counter to Him.  My hope is that His Holy Spirit will help us to have greater clarity in regard to Him and His Word as He turns the spotlight of truth on our way so that we can see things as they really are instead of how we would prefer them to be.
            A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think of God is the most important thing about us.”  Dr. Steven J. Lawson said, “High views of God leads to high holy living”, and ”How we view the attributes of God colors everything else that we see around us.”
            My hope is that as God is exalted in our minds, that we will find ourselves humbled before Him, and ready to step out in faith in anything that we sense that He is calling us to do, both as individuals and as a church.  Perhaps the greatest single thing that I can do as a pastor is to help us all have a more right and accurate view of God, as everything else we believe, and do and become flows from that.
            I would ask that you, too, would pray for clarity to come to all of us through this series, that God would be glorified, and that the church would be strengthened and built up in the process.

By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Pastor's Desktop Article for Jan 2017

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling not because of our works but because of his own purpose before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do.  But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”
(2 Tim. 1:8-12 ESV)
            As we look out upon a fresh New Year, it is just that—a blank slate ready to be filled in.  We all have hopes and dreams, aspirations and goals, but none of us know what this year really holds for any of us.  We tend to mark years as good or bad by what comes through the course of a year, such as new births in a family, or a promotion at work, or some unexpected significant hardship that had to be faced whether we wanted to or not. 
            As I thought about this article, and what encouraging thoughts I could plant in your minds, I was reminded of a favorite hymn of mine based at least in part on this passage, and particularly the latter part of the last verse of it, “for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”
            “I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me He hath made known, nor why, unworthy, Christ in love redeemed me for His own.  I know not how this saving faith to me He did impart, nor how believing in His Word wrought peace within my heart.  I know not how the Spirit moves convincing men of sin, revealing Jesus through the Word, creating faith in Him.  I know not when My Lord may come, at night or noon-day fair, nor if I’ll walk the vale with Him, or meet Him in the air.  But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”
            While in the chorus, Major Daniel Whittle takes a direct quote from the KJV of that passage, we find in the verses the message of the gospel that gives us hope despite knowing how unworthy we are.  It is that chorus that we can find peace with the unknown of another year.  Perhaps the past year wasn’t so great; perhaps there are parts of it that we would like to forget.  Maybe for you, it was a great year, and something to look back at with great fondness.  Whatever is the case for you, in this next year, we can still trust that “He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that Day.”
            He’s good for it.  He knows what is coming, and how He will use it for His glory and our good.  I hope you’ll be looking to see His hand guiding your days, helping you up when you stumble, carrying you when you’re too tired to go on alone, and celebrating the growth and progress right along with you.  I pray for a blessed New Year for you all.

By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen

Friday, November 4, 2016

Pastor's Desktop Article for November 2016

“Then Job answered the Lord and said:  I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:1-6 ESV)
            Who is this God we claim to know?  Do we really know Him?  Have we not created in our own minds a god who is less disgusted with our sin; a god who second guesses, and changes His mind like we do?  We have created in our minds a god who is weak like us; who is faulty like us?  And because we have created this weak faulty god in our minds, we are not able to trust Him, because this god we created is prone to the same failures as we are.  But this is not the God of the Bible, the God who has created us; given us life and breath; given us redemption through the blood of His own Son, Jesus Christ. 
            When we fail to recognize the sovereign nature of our God, it’s no wonder that we worry that this one or that one will be elected to the presidency, or that this party or that one will be in power in our government.  When we have forgotten that God inspired Paul to write in Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the government authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God”, it’s no wonder that we act and think as though the world as we know it is coming to an end.  If the world comes to an end, it is the end that the Lord, the sovereign God of all has set for it.  If our once great nation ceases to exist, it will be because the Lord has deemed it so. 
            If that were to happen, if our worst fears were to come to pass, what might be God’s purpose in allowing it to happen?  Just as the nation of Israel got fat and happy when they had finally arrived at the Promised Land, and subdued so many of the nations around them, they began to think it was because of their own strength, their own goodness and righteousness that won them that position, and they soon forgot the provision of the Lord that made their current status possible.  They forgot how they were slaves in Egypt until the Lord delivered them out by His own might and supernatural power.  They forgot how the Lord fed them in the wilderness where there was neither food nor water for them, but He provided it to them.
            Have we not traveled down much the same road?  Before this nation took shape, before patriots dreamed of such a nation, this land was sought out as a place of refuge where people could freely worship God; a place where force of government did not determine the mode or model of their relationship with their God.  Now we have largely forgotten who this God is, and we have made a god that is much easier to please, a god who has lowered his standards to smile at our scandalous behavior.
            One thing will be true on November 9, 2016, whether we choose to recognize it or not.  God, the Lord Almighty will still be on His throne in heaven with Jesus Christ, His Son at His right hand.  He will still be a God who is perfectly righteous and holy, but for those who would be truly repentant before Him, He will quickly pardon through the shed blood of His Son.  Let us leave room for Him on the throne of our own hearts and lives, and allow no other, not some political leader, nor our own ego to reside there.  Let God be God, and let us faithfully serve Him, and not pretend it to be the other way around.           

By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen