Weekly Devotional – April 29, 2020

Devotional on Psalm 29

Effingham Presbyterian Church

April 29, 2020

One of the best lines in the hymn, “Abide with Me,” is “Change and decay in all around I see, O Thou who changest not, abide with me.” In the present time, it is hard not to think about all of the “what ifs,” and to direct our prayers and petitions in a want list of our needs, focused upon our self. It is not wrong to come to Jesus with our needs, he instructs us to do so, but to focus on the object of our prayers and the one who can help us, is worship.

Sometimes we seek Jesus for his hand, but we should seek him for his face. To know him and to relish who he is, getting caught up in his person and resting in the knowledge of who he is. Psalm 29 is a hymn of worship, celebrating the King over a battle and his mighty abilities, to praise him for who he is.

The Psalm is divided into three parts; a call to worship vs.-2, a description of the Lord’s presence in the midst of a storm vs. 3-9, and a recount that he is King vs.10-11. It could be set to music and our earlier Presbyterians would have sung this A cappella, in the Trinity Psalter, it is set to the tune, “We Gather Together.”

Psalm 29 begins with the call to worship, calling us to ascribe, or give to God what he is due, that he is glory and strength, that his name is due glory. It ends with a call to worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. The splendor of holiness, is to be caught up in how holy he is and to resonate that fact in our souls. We are not holy, except that he makes us so by royal decree through the blood of Jesus Christ. He has bought us with his blood, and in our own capacity, our righteousness is as filthy rags. To worship his holiness is to marvel at his being and to recognize his worth, our unworthiness, yet we are brought near by the blood of Jesus and are bought and brought near to this Holy God.

The storm depicted in verses 3-9 is a violent thunderstorm that had its origins over the “many waters,” a term used for the Mediterranean Sea and it now over the land. The voice of the Lord is equivalent to thunder. In that voice is power and majesty that shakes us to our very core, especially when it is directly over us…resonating deep in our bodies and bringing a fear of its awesome power. “The God of glory thunders,” is a line that we understand as we have experienced many South Carolina thunderstorms. They are a wonder to behold, sitting deep on a porch where it can be witnessed with wonder and awe.

Trees breaking form lightening and wind, the earth shaking from the rolling thunder, is clearly pictured by the psalmist as he speaks of cedars breaking and Lebanon skipping like a calf. The flame of fire, flashing and the shaking of the wilderness, he causes the deer to give birth and stripping the forests bare, all in his temple cry Glory! It seems like chaos, but over all of the action is One who is sitting on his throne and commanding the action. The call for “Glory!” is a call of worship in the midst of the storm, bringing a reality check to the reader, that, He is really in control. It is worship when all around is being wrecked and changed, perhaps a call, “to abide with me!”

At the end of the psalm we are called to recount that He is King. We are told that he sits enthroned over the flood. He is not clamoring or ruined because of his commands, but instead, he sits on a throne and speaks….all are subject to him. The earth was created by his speaking and is upheld by his hand and will be kept by his speaking from his throne. He is over the flood, the flood does not overwhelm him, and it soes not overwhelm us, as we are protected by his hand. “His rod and His staff, they comfort me,” because He is with us always. We are his children, chosen by him before the foundation of the world, that we might proclaim his praise. And, he is King forever, which is beyond our imagination.

The Last lines of the psalm, recount what he can do, but also ask for his blessing. “May the Lord give strength to his people!” He is the ultimate strength and power, the call is that he would bless us with his presence. He in the midst of a storm can bring peace. Many pray deliverance out of a storm, but most often he takes us through the storm to grow us, what we need most is his presence. His presence is peace. He is able to take whatever is turned upside down and make it right. It might not be the way that we envisioned his working, but his way is always best. His way is peace, and it is a blessing that only his children truly know.

Let us seek him for his face, to know the true and living God, and in doing so, we will receive his hand, in overflowing abundance. “Solid joys and lasting treasures, none but Zion’s children know.” John Newton- Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken- 1779

Lord help us this day to praise you for who you are. For all that you have done for us and that your love and kindness to us are great. May we cry “Glory!” in chaos, knowing that you are in control, and may our worship of you not be waning in light of our wants. We are like sheep, shepherd us as only you can do rightly. We love you Jesus, you are worthy.

-Joseph Crump

Passion Week Devotional – Monday, April 6, 2020

Passion Week Devotional

Monday, April 6, 2020

One of my favorite Hymns is “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” written by William Cowper (Pronounced Cooper). It is called one of the Olney Hymns and is written in a time of great friendship between John Newton (famous Minister and Hymn writer, of “Amazing Grace”) and Cowper. Newton and Cowper lived in the Village of Olney, England, and were backdoor neighbors. To be painfully honest about Cowper, he was a brilliant scholar and lover of Jesus, but he also struggled with depression, and not just depression, but sometimes severe depression. He was known in English literary circles for his brilliance, but his place of comfort and true acceptance was in the church.

This is the last hymn that he wrote and it is after a serious time of personal difficulty. It has become a favorite of many as they face times of trial and difficulty. A good friend sent this to me in a letter when Renee was diagnosed with cancer and we were in a very difficult time of our lives. There was no where to look but up. I remember in Chapel at Seminary a few weeks later, that we sang this and I stood unable to mouth the words, painfully numb to the chaos that was my new existence. I hated the song, because I hated the difficulty that I was facing. Not knowing that the line from the hymn was true; “the clouds you so much dread are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head.”

In pain and fear we look around us at all the problems, however, we are called to look up. In this Hymn, Cowper reminds us that God is completely in control. He uses the word, “providence” to describe the reality that God is really there and is working out his purposes and that in the end, will be glorious. Often, we only want to trust the Lord for his hand, meaning, “What he can gives us to make us happy” but we are called to trust him for his “providence” to know him and to draw near to him in all of his purposes.

A little over a year ago, the same friend who sent this hymn to me was in a desperate place, everything normal in his life was upside down. I sat with him and read this hymn and we prayed. He had forgotten that he had given this to me at a very difficult time in my life. We both marveled at how good God is to his children, even in times of distress, we are not abandoned.

“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 comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

God Moves In A Mysterious Way

William Cowper, 1774

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants HIs footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unsearchable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign wil.l

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings, in blessings
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes, will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Palm Sunday Devotion

All Glory, Laud and Honor 

 On Palm Sunday, this popular song has been sung for hundreds of years by people celebrating Jesus and Passion Week.  It was written by an ancient Bishop by the name of Theodulf of Orleans, who was born in Spain circa 750 and died in 821 imprisoned in a monastery at Angers France. He was known for his reforming of clergy, churches and establishing free schools for the poor. He was also Charlemagne’s theological advisor and established Hospice (forerunner of modern hospitals) for the ill.

This hymn has been used in its original Latin form, but more lately in its modern form, being translated by Anglican Hymn writer, John Mason Neale in 1854. He was unsurpassed in his translation of ancient texts to modern use for the church, 10 from Greek and 31 from Latin. He valued the truth of God’s word and worship from earlier generations and he is known for his many translations of ancient text, such as two well known Christmas hymns; “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” and “ O Come , O Come,  Emanuel.”

The Text for this Hymn is found in Matthew 21:1-11, and it is quickly noted in this passage that the people knew this person of Jesus to be a great prophet, but treated him as even more; he was given a King’s welcome. In that culture, a donkey was the fit animal for a king, and it was even prophesied to be so in Zechariah 9:9. The people were jubilant in their welcoming Jesus, throwing down palm branches for him to ride over and waving them in the air, even to spreading their cloaks on the road for him to ride over.

The animal was a colt, a foal of a donkey, not yet weaned and not yet broken in for riding. Yet this was the animal in this triumphal parade. The spreading of cloaks and palm branches, the colt and the call of Hosanna (which means, “save!” shows that he was recognized as more than just a prophet. The people believed that he was who he claimed to be, the Savior of the world.

When Jesus was getting serious with his disciples, he asked them the hard question, “Who do you say that I am?” This is always a good question to ask of ourselves and our relationship with Jesus. Our behavior dictates our true beliefs….who we say he is, and what we live in conjunction should not differ. This Passion week, let us draw near to the one we profess, and emulate Christ likeness as we meditate upon his Word. May he be our King, and we his loyal subjects…. seeking to be obedient to his commands and to live by his grace alone.

 Lord forgive us when we fall short and sin. Lord renew us in your image that we might be faithful and true. Watch over us this week that we might gain new insight into our personal sin and your abundant grace. Amen

-Joseph

Covid-19 Update

Sunday worship and the gathering of the saints for that purpose are of utmost importance for the ordering of our lives in accordance with God’s Word. It is a Spiritual time of connection, to place him first, to sing, read the Word, to recite what we believe and to receive the word as a means of grace. It is also a time of physical connection and much love between our members as we gather for Sunday school and for worship services, handshaking and hugs.

However, in light of the escalating reality of a changed world due to the Covid-19 virus, the Session has decided to halt services and church activities.

We will take this up on a week to week basis, as to advisement from the Center for Disease Control, our State Leaders and Presidential advisement. This is a very different time in our lives, as we have not lived in a time where such measures have been taken and or have been advised. The safety of our congregants is of utmost importance and especially the more vulnerable. The CDC recommendations are very clear at this time, and some things which are still fluid in adherence may become more serious.

The leadership in this church is available to you. Our communication will be through the internet, phone calls and mailings. You are free at to contact any of us with concerns or prayer needs.

In light of our not meeting, recommendations for worship services are that you have family worship, readings aloud of scripture, readings of hymns, singing of hymns. Reading the book of Proverbs daily as there are 31 chapters, these are easily read at meal time.

As for giving, tithes, offerings, and memorials may be given on-line or mailed to the church via the post office: Effingham Presbyterian Church P.O. Box 25 Effingham S.C. 29541

This has not been an easy decision. Much prayer and thoughtful research has brought us to this place. We will be evaluating weekly for changes. You are loved and being covered in prayer. Remember Phillipians 4:6-7; “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. “

-Joseph Crump
Pastor

Devotional – Sunday March 22 2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020

A Lord’s Day devotion:  based on Romans 12:12-13

The chapter includes this pertinent section of what are, “the true marks of a Christian, “in verses 9-21, today we are focusing on verses 12-13.

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

Rejoicing in hope is a call throughout the scriptures, a call to place our hope outside of ourselves and in the One who is over all. When hope is placed in the unmovable, unstoppable and unchanging person of Christ, our hope is sure. To realize that hope, you must focus on that hope and not on the circumstances occurring about us. Sometimes keeping focus is a challenge…everything is vying for our attention, calling out, grabbing at us, but it is a learned Christian discipline (practice) to place hope, which translates into trust, in Jesus alone. Not Jesus plus something else, like Jesus and all things working the way that makes me comfortable or Jesus plus no troubles in this life. Difficult times give us practice in this discipline, allowing us to become more accustomed and learning to trust in our time of need.

In the words of scripture, in John 14:1, Jesus told his disciples,

“Let not your hearts be troubled, trust in God, trust also in me.”

This was a favorite scripture of Charles Dennis, and he quoted it in times of trouble.

The hymn, “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” has the refrain,

“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!”

 

This refrain includes the proof of times past and the need for his grace in the future. Our hope is always to be exercised, may his grace enable us to do so!

Patience is also a part of character that takes exercise to get it into shape. Easily flabby and not strong, it does not get perfected on its own, but through trial and practical application. The American culture is about comfort and ability to obtain whatever an individual wants, this is so at all economic levels, depending on what makes someone happy. Patience is allowing God to intervene and looking to His will, not our will.

We are taught in the Lord’s Prayer,

“ Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

This is literally Jesus teaching us to let go and let God have first place, in all things. The impatience we have with others and situations are due to our lack of control or inability to control our personal situation to our liking.  If God is in control, then we need to approach life in that manner.

He has this situation and may this be our prayer…

“Lord help me to submit to your plan, may my plans all be part of your plan, and may my response show forth that I am trusting you…..”

 Tribulation is never easy; we live in the wealthiest nation in the world. We are called the “First World” as to living conditions. We do not live with the problems of Third World nations: hunger, poverty, and sickness without help. In light of our current tribulation, may we show trust in God and exercise patience with others, especially with those who are in close quarters.

Being constant in prayer is a call to be a person of prayer. This is not abnormal for Christians, but rather the standard. It shouts to all involved that Jesus is in charge and that we are dependent upon him.

We are also reminded of this in I Thessalonians 5:17-18,

“ Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

When we pray, we are saying to God, “I am submitting to you, help me in my time of need.”

In Psalms 14, we are told, “the fool has said in his heart, there is no god,” when we fail to trust God in prayer, we are agreeing with the fool.  Prayer is best in simple form, with direct requests and with thanksgiving while praying, Thy will be done.

Last but not least today, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Seek out each other in our church through phone, email, Facebook, Skype/Facetime or for a few, over the fence. Encourage one another and seek to help those who are in need.

May the blessings of Jesus overflow among us.

In Love,

Joseph