Summer of Psalms

 

 

 

 

 

Summer of Psalms

 

Let’s dig right in to Psalm 118, verses 5 through 13:

    I called upon the Lord in distress:

The Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.

    The Lord is on my side; I will not fear:

What can man do unto me?

    The Lord is with me:

Therefore I shall see my desire upon them that hate me.

    It is better to trust in the Lord

Than to put confidence in man.

    It is better to trust in the Lord

Than to put confidence in princes.

10    All nations surrounded me:

But in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.

11    They surrounded me; yea, they surrounded me:

But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

12    They swarmed around me like bees;

but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns:

For in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

13    I was pushed back and about to fall:

But the Lord helped me.

Amid the wreckage that is so many of our situations during trying times we MUST NOT forget that the name we cry out in need is one of POWER!

Our GOD the LORD answers us, but on His terms.

He may set us in places and in times where we are in the open and exposed, but it is the trust we direct toward Him and Place in Him, that guides and comforts us.

What of men, what of Government, what of association can help us in need, it is HIM our Lord! that covers us.  Cry out to him…

Surrounded are we, and still He does not shrink away.
Sudden and forceful defeat befall our enemies, and our victory is His.

Don’t become trapped in your own mind concerning the way out today.
Cry out to your Father. He is listening, He is good.

Peace in God’s Limitlessness

By Erin Bird

This week, we conclude our series in Job 38 by looking at verses 19-21, which say:

19 Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
20 that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21 You know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!

(Job 38:19-20 ESV)

During our little trip through the first half of Job 38, we’ve seen God get a bit sarcastic with Job. But in case you haven’t noticed the sarcasm previously, or just don’t want to admit God would mock someone, verse 21 basically obliterates your attempts to make God sound like a heavenly Tellytubby. I used the English Standard Version (ESV) above, but go ahead and look at whatever translation you want: God is sarcastically mocking Job. Why? Because He wants Job to fully appreciate just how different Job and God really are.

And what is the primary difference God points out to Job in these three verses? That Job is limited, but God is not.

First, we see Job was limited to earth. He had no idea “the way to the dwelling of light or the place of darkness.”

Second, Job was limited in power. He couldn’t pick up the darkness and carry it to it’s home.

And third, Job was limited in time. God sarcastically points out that Job has not had nearly the same length of time in the universe God has.

This is why (as we’ve already seen in this series) that God points out Isaiah 55:8 that His ways are not like our ways and His thoughts are no where close to being like our thoughts. Our ways and thoughts are like Job – limited. But God does not possess the same limits we do. As we’ve been seeing through this entire series, God is not limited in His wisdom, understanding, power, and existence.

And so we may not know…

  • what Sunday mornings will look like when we re-gather…
  • what the economy will do over the next several months…
  • if we will get sick with COVID-19…
  • or if a loved one will pass from the dreaded virus…

…because we are limited. But we can know that God is limitless, and out of His limitlessness, He can carry us and give us peace in the midst of these uncertain days.

So join me in trusting our limitless God, who loves us without limit and can grant us peace without limit.

Peace in God’s Knowledge

By Erin Bird

Let’s jump back into Job 38. This week, we come to verses 16-18, which say…

16 Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.

(Job 38:16-18 ESV)

If You Could See What I See

God sounds like He’s copping a bit of an attitude here, getting a bit feisty with Job, mocking him for not being as great as He is. But God isn’t mocking Job – rather He’s giving Job perspective.

Longtime Baltimore Orioles baseball manager, Earl Weaver, had a rule that a player couldn’t steal a base unless given the sign to steal. All-Star Reggie Jackson felt this was unfair as he felt like he knew most of the pitchers and catchers of opposing teams and knew who he could and could not steal on. So after getting a single, Jackson decided to steal second even though he wasn’t given the sign. He easily took second, flashing a big grin to the dugout as if to say, “See, I know what I am doing!”

But after the game, Weaver pulled Jackson aside and explained why Jackson shouldn’t have stolen second. Because batting behind Jackson was one of Baltimore’s power hitters. But by Jackson taking second, first base was left open. As a result, the opposing pitcher intentionally walked the power hitter because the next batter was in a slump. The pitcher was hoping to induce a double play to end the inning. So as not to waste two men on base, Weaver felt forced to put in a pinch hitter for the batter in the slump, thus reducing the players available for later in the game.

When Reggie Jackson stole second, he had only been thinking about himself. He wasn’t thinking like a manager who was thinking about the entire game. Earl Weaver brought years of experience to the game, and with that experience came knowledge and perspective that Jackson lacked.

Like Jackson, so often all we can see is our current situation. Right now, many of us…

  • can only see the pandemic before us.
  • are tired of being “locked” in our homes.
  • itch for interaction with neighbors.
  • long for Sunday morning in-person Gatherings to resume so we can see our church family again.
  • are fearful about the future.
  • are wondering what our financial situation will be in the next few months.
  • are worried about loved ones that are either on the front lines or are fighting COVID-19.
And because we only see what is right before us, we get frustrated, and that frustration leads to an absence of peace.

But if we realize through Job 38:16-18 that God not only sees the depths of the sea, knows the gates of death, and can comprehend the expanse of the earth, but can also see eternity past and eternity future, it means He possesses the knowledge and perspective of what life will look like tomorrow.And so may you rest in the truth that God possesses the knowledge of what is next, and because He has a greater perspective than us, He knows how He will carry you through these days into the next chapter.

So trust Him, resting in His unfathomable knowledge.

Value #3: Trust

by Erin Bird

If you’ve been around Riverwood for more than 2.4 nanoseconds, you have probably heard me talk about being Jesus-centered, someone who loves like Jesus loved and lives like Jesus lived. I desire this type of life for you, but I also long for Riverwood be a Jesus-centered community.

To guide us in the creation of this Jesus-centered community, we hold three values – Grace, Truth, and Trust. We’ve already talked about grace and truth, so this week we finish up our little series with “trust.”

(En)Trust

At Riverwood, we want to see people trust Jesus. Trust Him with their lives. Trust Him with their futures. Trust Him in their difficulties. Trust Him through all things.

But being a Jesus-centered community of trust goes farther than trusting Jesus. We also want to entrust one another. Here’s what I mean:

Imagine you have an area of ministry you LOVE. It’s where you feel alive, like it’s part of who God made you to be. Maybe it’s planning events, or teaching kids about Jesus, or discipling youth, or leading a Growth Group, or even building stage designs.

Now, let’s say you not only serve in that area, but you are really good at it. So good, you become an expert. Everyone who see what you do is in awe of your work. In fact, you are so good at your area of ministry, Other churches want to learn from you and people are begging you to write a book so they can learn how to be as good as you. (Remember, we’re imagining here!)

Now, I don’t know about you, but I would be flattered by all of this. But some experts move beyond being flattered. They love being recognized as an expert so much, they hoard their knowledge so everyone else has to come to them for the answers. In other words, they hold so tightly to their area of ministry, the spotlight has to remain on them.

But that’s not how we want to operate at Riverwood.

At Riverwood, we want to be a community of trust, which means we entrust others to do the ministry. So if you become an “expert”, then we want you to pass on your wisdom to others, seeking to make them experts as well. And if you AREN’T an expert – you STILL entrust your ministry to others.

You see, to be a Jesus-centered community, we can’t keep the spotlight for ourselves. We have to put the spotlight on Jesus. And one way to do that is to trust He can use others to serve Him just as much as He can use us.

My Personal Efforts to Entrust

That’s why a couple of weeks ago I gave up my microphone to Jake, our worship leader. Normally Jake helps us connect with God through music. But I firmly believe he can also help us connect with God through teaching. If I wanted the spotlight for myself, I wouldn’t have let Jake teach. But because I want the spotlight on Jesus, I gladly gave the mic to Jake, entrusting him to serve us through teaching.

I remember in the early days of Riverwood, I didn’t really have anyone in the church family to whom I could entrust the teaching. I had to find teachers from outside the church family to help us learn from the Scriptures if I ever needed a week off or was going to be out of town. I used to pray that one day we would have people within the Riverwood family who would rise up to teach us.

And it’s happening! Not only did Luke & Ed teach us in March as elders, they will each do it again this summer (Ed in June and Luke in July). But that’s not all. Our very own Matt Townsley will also preach in July, while Jake and I are working on a date this fall when he’ll be able to teach again.

But we don’t want to just entrust ministry to others in “the pulpit”, but in every area. I long for Riverwood to have a culture of reproduction, where we each are looking to not only find areas to give our FIST (finances, influence, skills, and time), but looking for ways to help others give their FIST as well.

So jump in. Serve. Make Riverwood an amazing church family. But realize part of being a family means serving with others and even entrusting them to do what you do (and possibly even do it better). It’s always more fun to do ministry as a team, because when we do, we are redirecting the spotlight from us onto Jesus.

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