Friday, May 30, 2014

Pastor's Desktop Article for Mt. Pleasant News, June 2014

From the Pastor's Desktop

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.  The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.  You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.  No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate.  But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married.   Isaiah 62:1-4 NIV

            The words of the song, Sweet Beulah Land, the men’s quartet is to sing for special music were rolling around in my head the last few weeks, and I decided to find out where the term “Beulah Land” came from.  The only place in all of Scripture that I can find a reference to it is in Isaiah 62:4.  If you were to look up the passage, you may have notes in your copy of the Scriptures that help you, but the definition is right there with the Scripture if we know how to find it.  The whole passage uses a pattern of two phrases that are similar and comparable.  We see it in verse 1.  The key words in that verse are “silent, and quiet” and also “dawn and blazing torch”.  The words help confirm the word picture contained in the sentence.
            The words Deserted and Desolate describe Israel after the time of exile and captivity.  The land lay basically deserted and desolate.  His plan was that upon their return to the land, that He would bless them, and no longer would their neighbors think of their land as deserted and desolate, but as a delight, and that they, in a sense, would be married to the land.  Verse 5 helps make that point.  “As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”
            So when we sing, “Beulah Land, I’m longing for you, and some day, on thee I’ll stand, there my home shall be eternal, sweet Beulah Land,” we are singing of the land that God has promised us as an inheritance, our home in heaven, that we are longing for it, and that we will be married to it eternally as when a man takes a wife and that union is to be a lifelong union.
            Deserted and desolate describe for us our time before Christ, and maybe even some of our time while in Christ, but still on this earth.  We are, or at least should be, in some sense longing for that place God has prepared for us that we will rejoice in as when a couple who has been waiting and waiting finally get married, and are delighted in their new life together.     Thank you Squire Parsons for the rich words of this song.
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen

Friday, May 2, 2014

Mt. Pleasant Pastor's Desktop article for May 2014

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
(Psalm 19:1-4a NIV)
            Spring has got to be my favorite time of the year, but I think that has something to do with the relief that spring brings after a cold hard winter.  The words to an old camp song come to mind as well: “What a wondrous time is spring when all the trees are budding, the birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming…”  The new life bursting forth all around us is so evident in spring especially after the landscape has been dull shades of gray and brown, or in the case of last winter, white for so long. 
            Nancy and I had the opportunity to walk through a park with my son and his family that I remember walking through nearly every Mother’s Day afternoon of my childhood with my grandparents, mom, and siblings.  The flood of memories was rich, but so was making new memories with my grandchildren.  Pointing out hollow trees, stopping to admire wildflowers, listening for woodpeckers, and other birds was a poignant reminder of those who had done the same with me so many years ago.
            All those memories cause me to reflect as well on the glory of God who has provided both the material for the memories, and the loved ones to make them with.  Helping others to know, appreciate and love the one who made all of this is both humbling and gratifying.  The psalmist closes this song with a similar thought.  “Who can discern His errors?  Forgive my hidden faults.  Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.  Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:12-14)
            Take time to stop and admire the wonders of spring, but remember then to worship the one who created it for His glory and our pleasure.  Then may that time of reflection on Him cause us to humble ourselves before Him and examine our own hearts and lives.
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen