- Video Games
by Brent Baker
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.
I don’t mean quiet. We can achieve, tolerate, and even enjoy quiet. We love to go on a quiet run away from the noisy world and its worries. We love to take a long, peaceful walk by the lake. We love the idea of a quiet hike in the Rockies with nothing but the chirping of a bird or the scampering of a squirrel to break the stillness. We love the idea of a quiet autumn morning on the back porch with a cup of coffee and a favorite book or weekend newspaper. We can tolerate—and even enjoy—quiet. But silence is difficult. Quiet is the whispering wind; silence is the muggy absence of it. Quiet often creates peace; silence creates anxiety. Quiet requires seeking and discovering; silence requires waiting and surrender. Silence is empty. Silence is worrying. Silence is uncontrollable. Silence is a vacuous. Silence suggests a noise or voice is desired and expected but isn’t coming. Silence suggests the absence of something capable of responding. A desire unmet. An invitation unrequited. There is a relational feel (or absence) to silence. Silence is difficult.
In our lives, God sometimes feels quiet. That is tolerable, or if we lean in to listen and discover, even enjoyable. But it’s a whole other thing when God feels silent. What do we need when we sense God is silent with us? An ANSWER! To our request. To our issue. To our problem. To our doubt. Right? No. An answer isn’t enough. It’s too temporary and too small. It’s not worth placing your hope in. It won’t last and might not lead to what you hope it will lead to. New requests arise. New doubts surface. New issues emerge. New pain develops. God may graciously answer our requests, but we won’t find peace in the waiting until our hope is Him. That’s what the psalmist is proclaiming to his own soul, and that’s what we must re-preach to ourselves time and time again:
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for your hope is from Him.”
If you are growing bitter or resentful waiting in silence, it might be because you are still waiting on the wrong thing. You have misguided hope. Your desire for an answer has become your beginning and your end. So God lets you wait because He knows what you ultimately need is not an answer, but Him. He is the answer. You just aren’t convinced of it yet. Your answer is still more important than Him. Only painful silence could be so convincing. An answer simply won’t do. He won’t let you settle for less. He quietly, with bridled power and steadfast love (see end of Psalm 62), guides you through silence to a hope unfailing—a rock, a fortress, and a refuge for your soul. If ever you feel utterly alone in the waiting, find company and comfort in Another whose desperate cry was unresolved, whose question was left unanswered in His hour of need:
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”
The Lord Jesus. He already asked the question you struggle with in the silence. How did He endure such painful silence? He delighted above all things in the Father. So should you and I. Our Rock. Our Salvation. Our Fortress. Our Refuge. Our hope is from Him. Cling to Him, O my soul.
“Trust Him at all times, pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.”
About the Author
Assistant Pastor to Youth
Park Cities Presbyterian Church
Brent was born and raised in Wichita Falls, TX. He professed faith in Christ as a child after hearing his father present the Gospel at church. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University earning a BBA in marketing. At the end of his senior year of college, Brent began working with high school students at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX. Today he is the pastor to youth at PCPC. He earned his MDiv from Westminster Theological Seminary. Brent is married to Alison, and they welcomed their first child, daughter Brynn Eleanor, in May 2013.
February 10, 2017
by Isaac Banegas
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
If you ask an aficionado about his passion, buckle up. He will tell you with love and conviction about how to grill the best steak, what truck has the best towing performance, where the best coffee beans are grown and roasted, or why soccer is the most beautiful game. She will persist in her impassioned rehearsal of God’s gift to humanity until you tell her you need to freshen your drink or begin your own litany of praise for whatever your own delight is. Many of the psalms offer that same type of conversational space.
Psalm 139 delights in the work of God albeit through the prism of the self. It uses data points of creation and redemption to describe the virtuosity with which God has made man to delight in God alone. The assumption of the imagery is that creation and man is the theater of God’s glory—or in everyday language: “You’ll find yourself only when you find your ‘self’ doesn’t belong to yourself.” (We find ourselves insofar as we are found in Christ). The psalm invites the reader to consider God’s love in crafting and the love for His handiwork. It’s in seeing God as the psalm depicts that the self is rightly understood.
The psalm enacts a Jonah-type journey of the praying David. Beginning with the confession that, “God has searched me and knows me,” the psalm is pleased to consider the implications of God’s acquaintance with man, “You know when I sit and when I rise…You search my path and my lying down.” Yet it’s in finding how much God is acquainted with man that David sets to flight. David runs through the theoretical end of how a fleeing from God will eventually be brought to its end. “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea…” David plays the hypothetical, employing the help of a demi-god to reach the edge of creation—the edge of the known. Yet it’s in going rogue that David learns that it is God’s hand leading! “Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”
The intimate and human mode of describing God leading by the hand is key to understanding how God is choosing to reveal Himself in these verses. No matter how deep or far one goes, God’s presence is profoundly simple in its ability to just stand next to you wherever you are. It takes you by the hand. It covers you with a hand. We know this to be true insofar as we confess Jesus to be the actual presence of God. He understood men’s thoughts from afar because He knew what was in the heart of man. He descended to incarnate—descended into Sheol. “Darkness is light to Him” because He is the Light of life.
Therefore, this psalm must first be true of Jesus before it is ever true of us. We find ourselves only when we find our ‘self’ doesn’t belong to ourself. We belong to Jesus by virtue of Him belonging to our state of flesh. In His temptation, He was brought to the edge of the known kingdom and offered rule of it in rebellion to His Father. His prayer in that moment very well could have been, “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.” His blamelessness in that prayer led Him in the way everlasting. But because of our rebellion to find ourselves in ourselves, God charted the way everlasting through our neighborhood. Sin caused Jesus’ road to the everlasting to pass through Sheol. The Father’s gracious chase of us rebels required that the Son prove Himself—as the man—obedient unto death. And He did. That hard news for Jesus is the best news for us.
Now, friends, we pray/sing this psalm in freedom. We invite God to search us because we are so enmeshed in the person of Jesus and He is so enmeshed in us that we must ask God to search us to find that He will find Jesus there. This psalm is the presence of Jesus to us—in that He prayed these verses before we ever could—and makes it now a prayer/song of praise to God’s handiwork in creation, man, and redemption. It’s now a House of Eternal Return of sorts.
There is a community space/art installation in New Mexico that has taken a warehouse and put a home in it. This home is surrounded and interspersed with different spaces and artscapes— a beautifully crafted labyrinth of sights, sounds, and smells. The fun and wonder of it all is that every space, sight, sound, and smell perpetually reminds you that it is all contained inside a home. Whatever space you enter and however imaginative and big or small they and objects might be; you are ever at home. It’s in the act of exploration that you come to find that you only eternally return insofar as you are eternally held. God is an aficionado of creation, man, and redemption and He is rehearsing His passion to us in His Word. This is His conversation to us. Lean in and listen. Because:
In the prayer/praise of this psalm, in the presence God, we are being held by the hand of Jesus and are ever at home.
About the Author
Park Cities Presbyterian Church
Isaac is a son, husband, student, and poet. He is from the enchanted deserts of southern New Mexico and has made a home in Texas, where he attended Redeemer Seminary, Dallas. He and his wife Ashley are members of PCPC and love her people. You may spot them walking their dog through Lakewood or imbibing at their neighborhood chill-outaries on Greenville.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 7, 2017) – Approximately 1,000 elected officials, community leaders and private citizens from across the Commonwealth today joined Gov. Matt Bevin for the 51st annual Kentucky Governor’s Prayer Breakfast at the Frankfort Convention Center.
Gov. Bevin encouraged participants “to not simply call out to God when things are great and we want to thank Him or when things are tough and we need help,” but rather to engage in “regular dialogue and relationship with Him.”
“I would ask us to remember to stay humble,” he said, “But also remember that we are called to be people of action.”
Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton called on attendees “to pray for our Commonwealth, our nation, and especially for our leaders.” “My prayer is also that people who share differing perspectives can come together in a spirit of love,” she said.
Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day delivered the keynote address, and Luke Hancock of the 2013 NCAA national champion University of Louisville men’s basketball team offered the message of faith. Day was introduced by Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Glenn Acree, and Hancock was introduced by Lt. Gov. Hampton.
Lonnie and Belinda Riley of Harlan County received the 2017 William Cooper Faith and Community in Action Award—named for the late Rev. William Jefferson Cooper, Sr., founder of the Kentucky Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. The Rileys direct Meridzo Center Ministries, which has mobilized more than 35,000 volunteers since 1999, to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of Appalachian residents.
“Lonnie and Belinda are a testimony of what can happen when people live in faith, following God without reservation to meet the needs of the community and adhere to the values on which Kentucky was built, ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall,’” said Gov. Bevin. “The Commonwealth is honored to recognize the Rileys’ serving spirit with the 2017 William Cooper Faith and Community in Action Award.”
Pastor Kyle Idleman of Louisville’s Southeast Christian Church delivered the invocation, and Rabbi David Wirtschafter of Lexington’s Temple Adath Israel shared “gratitude for the new day.” State Representatives Kenny Imes and James Tipton led scripture readings, and State Treasurer Allison Ball offered the closing prayer.
Musical guests included Iron Bell Ministry, Steve McWhirter, Joel Gerdis, and The Nale Family, and the presentation of colors was led by the University of Kentucky Color Guard ROTC.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel....
At first glance, we are not sure whether the word "Spirit" in this passage should be capitalized. Further contemplation reveals to me that the word "Spirit" should be capitalized. As we've read these past few days, the love we share for each other and the unity that we have in Christ are inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We stand together, we are part of the same family, because of the tie we share together in the Holy Spirit. Our strength to strive for common goals and to make every effort to be one comes from the unifying power and presence of the Holy Spirit. The love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control we have in our lives come because of the presence of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). So now, let's seek to let the Spirit's influence mold us and shape us so we can work together for the sake of the good news of Jesus.
Almighty God, whatever happens in my life, I want to honor you, share Jesus, and display the fruit of the Spirit. I want to bless your people and stand together in unity with them, working for the cause of the gospel. So I ask for your help to honor this commitment, to keep it foremost in my heart, and not to be distracted or deterred by disappointment, hardship, heartache, or my own fleshly desires. I ask for this grace, in the name and power of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.
Unity is more than just getting along. At the core of maintaining unity and keeping the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3), there is ONE core reality. Paul emphasizes this core reality by using "one" seven times. These seven immutable and essential elements of our faith include the "one Spirit" — the Holy Spirit of God who is at work in us. We must never let the Spirit of God become relegated to a place of diminished importance. We must, however, realize that just as the "one Lord" animates and defines the "one hope," the "one faith," and the "one baptism," so also the "one Spirit" empowers and defines the nature of our being the "one body" as we seek to honor the "one God."
YAHWEH, you are the one God. I commit to love you with all of my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. I praise you for revealing yourself as Father, Son, and Spirit. I thank you for the Lord Jesus, the Son, the basis of my Christian faith, the source of my hope, and the focus of my baptism. I thank you for being present in me as the Spirit, my connection to your body, the church, and to you. May what I think and how I live bring honor to you as the one God. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
Devotional provided by Heartlight®
© 1996-2017. All rights reserved.