Philippians 3: 14-16
A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow. “Do you ever get anywhere?” he asked with a mocking laugh.
“Yes,” replied the Tortoise, “and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race and prove it.”
The Hare was much amused at the idea of running a race with the Tortoise, but for the fun of the thing he agreed. So, the Fox, who had consented to act as judge, marked the distance and started the runners off.
The Hare was soon far out of sight, and to make the Tortoise feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for him to try a race with a Hare, he lay down beside the course to take a nap until the Tortoise should catch up.
The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully; and when at last he did wake up, the Tortoise was near the finish line. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time. The Tortoise won the race. Slow and steady proved the best intent.
I have often felt as though I was a Hare who longed to be a Tortoise. My nature is to run and leap and bound; I am just full of energy all the time. The doctors may call it hyperactivity and a disorder, but I am fairly sure the whole world struggles, to some degree, with the same problem.
The problem is, I have changed and now I see this story in quite a different light. I have changed. My life is no longer anything like it was a year ago. The world has changed, and everything is different. Still, I feel as though I am a spiritual turtle surrounded by spiritual rabbits. I would see and hear about the chaplains, my peers, who all did and were such great things. Some were jumping out of planes, some were sliding out of helicopters, others were praying with generals and others were preaching at the best and most up to date chapels across the Army. For me, I was still counseling young soldiers and preparing staff slides for a battalion that rarely recognized I was there unless, there was a problem or a party that needed a prayer before supper. And even now I compete against ghosts who are no where near me and have no effect on my life. The human spirit is a strange thing O Lord.
If I am honest, I still tend to bounce around and be that spiritual rabbit zipping along as if I were having to prove myself to someone. But the truth is, I do not have anything to prove to anyone except Jesus who calls my name and who reminds me what race I am actually running.
In the 1980 movie, Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams compete in the 1924 Olympics. Liddell is a Christian running for the glory of God and Abrahams is a Jew who runs to overcome prejudice and inequality. Both are good men running for different reasons. They both struggle with their faith and seek what is good and right for their lives. Liddell believes he is called by God to be a missionary in China like his parents and that God made him a runner and when he runs, he feels God’s presence. Both compete in the Olympics and win gold medals for their country. Liddell goes on to China and becomes a martyr for his faith.
I suppose that I feel the strain of pressing on towards the goal set before us as faithful Christians. And I suppose, the feeling of strain is one that turns many away from faith and back to the easy life, where we get off the track, boast of what think we are and nap like Rip Van Winkle until we have overslept and learn we lost the race we were running.
The words spoken to Abraham ring true for us all, he says stubbornly, “If I can’t win I won’t run.” And the reply from his girlfriend was, “If you don’t run you can’t win.” Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we are all running a race that is long and at times difficult. We must keep our eyes focused on the prize of salvation and remember that it is Christ Jesus who cheers us on from the sidelines. We are running this race for Him. So, lets run it to win.
Should you feel the urge to quit remember, the price that Jesus paid for us all and the prize we received for the stripes that he wore.
Oh my, am I ashamed of my lack of consistency for preparing a weekly devotional. Please accept my apologies. On the flip side, I have been busy and that is a good thing. Family is here and settling in and folks are coming to the church regularly. Life is good – I won’t complain.
And now…From Jeremiah 31:31 31“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
My wife is my better half for sure. Melani is my second brain, I need two. I rely on her to fill in the gaps that I often overlook in messages because of my fast-paced thinking that ignores little details at times.
For instance, in Sunday’s message on the new nature we are offered in Christ, it escaped me as I shared the importance of knowing and understanding the unity of the Divine Covenants made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David and the lesser agreements made with Isaac and Jacob and a guy named Phineas (Numbers 25:12). I realized that I did not define the theological basis of “Covenant.” The following is a crash course on the divine covenants of God with humanity; completed in Christ. [Starting point – COVENANT means a contractual promise. It’s a beret in Hebrew – no not burrito!] The following are the historical perspectives of God’s promises with God’s people.
- Adam: The covenant of the beginning of life and creation. God created all things good and asked humanity to follow the rules. But we dropped that ball.
- Noah: The covenant of preservation of life. We broke the first covenant and God offers a new opportunity and a promise to never destroy life through mass devastation (the flood) again.
- Abraham: The covenant of redemption and hope. This is the promise to stay the course with God’s people (first a small group – the Jews). Through this God will teach humanity how to live.
- David: The covenant of kingdom, lordship, and leadership. God offers humanity a king. The king is a noble, honorably, and righteous representative of humanity. The kingly lineage will lead to the final king, the Messiah.
- Christ Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King: The covenant of grace and consummation. In Christ, all other covenants are completed, fulfilled, and abrogated. God with us is the sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world; broken from the first covenant. This is the completion of the Old Testament obligations that were made for the small group of people, the Jews, and as God increased the promise grace makes its “Way” to all people. Through this covenant, we receive the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sin, and life everlasting redemption by grace thru faith. The land of promise is now a city on a hill. The acceptance of Jesus as your personal Savior, is acceptance of the contractual agreement, the Covenant of Redemption, is Jesus our Lord the transforming act is Christ crucified and raised from the dead.
So, I hope this helps you understand the importance of knowing our biblical history. The consequential lesson to learn here is how God wants to be a part of our lives. God created to be involved and implicated that relationship with love, a love so strong He was willing to die for you.
The Bible was written centuries ago out of the Hebrew People’s experience to meet their needs, but it was written for you and me as well. It was written for its own time, but it was intended to outlive those who wrote and worked to make it what God intended it to be for that generation. The truths it contains are permanent and living. They are absolute truths. They are truths that come from God; thus, they are infallible truths.
Some may think that it is a dated book, some may argue its truth does not pertain or is no longer relevant for this day and age of COVID19, political ideas and arguments that divide, or even holy wars that rage on in the middle east as if thousands of years never mattered. Still, its truth matters. Its truth is the same for Moses as it was for Abraham, as it was for David or any of the prophets. Yes, it may have been started as a rule of thumb for one nation, Israel, but it grew and in God’s plan became the rule for one people, God’s people united by His Son Christ Jesus the Lord. So, with all the events of this present day, go to the Bible and find out what is relevant now and how things do not change that much. Go read your Bible.
How then should we read the Bible you might be asking? Great question. Here are some principles to guide you in your search for truth and enlightenment into God’s amazing Word.
- Remember the unity of God’s Word in Scripture. – The whole Bible is 66 books. 39 books make up the Old Testament, and 27 books make up the New Testament. There are 16 prophets, four are major, which means they get more attention. The rest are small books but with a bigger punch at the end. There are 5 books of history, and there are 4 books of wisdom. There are 2 books of Chronicles; they are the history with a different amount of detail. And lastly, there are 2 books named after women. As for the New Testament, there are 4 gospels, lots of letters from Paul. The Acts of the Apostles and epistles from them also ends in the book of Revelation. No ‘s on end, BTW!
- Commentaries, Devotionals, and other media stuffs are excellent, but nothing compares to just reading God’s Word. You can get an App, or you can use commentaries here at the church; these resources will allow you to dig and think more in-depth about the meaning it possesses. But in the end, you hold the key. What does scripture say to you and, more importantly than what it meant to some a dead guy a hundred years ago or to me for that matter?
- Read it over and again. And over and again. And again, and over and again and again. Did you catch that? Keep reading it. I have had something jump out at me years later. Read a small verse each and every day, and you will find a day when you miss it, and you cannot wait to get back and catch from where you left off. Meditate on the Word of God. Allow it to penetrate you, heart. Allow it to change the way you think. Share it with others and find a reward that is better than any trophy.
- Listen to the Scriptures at night before you go to bed and find peace.
- Read the stories of Jesus to your children and grandchildren and know that you are planting seeds to grow the gospel in the next generation.
Good News!! Session has given the go-ahead for our church rummage sale. The sale will take place on Saturday, August 22, 10a-4p. Donations will be accepted following worship on August 16, and need to be here by Friday, August 21. Please take a look at your items and throw out any things that will not sell, and should be tossed. Proceeds this year will be divided between Family Promise of Grays Harbor and our Uganda Mission.
As with any under taking of this size, volunteers are welcomed and encouraged. Contact Linda Anderson or Linda Taylor if you can help.
Montesano Presbyterian Church Soft Open Guidelines ~ Policy Letter
Dear Montesano Presbyterian Church Family, we are pleased to announce that our Oikos family will be able to worship again as a church family.
The following are basic guidelines for in-person attendance:
Social Distancing — Based on https:coronavirus.wa.gov-compliance. Observe all signs posted for safety and social distancing, following the requirement of policy order NO. 2020-07. Follow the direction of the Welcome Team and Pastoral Staff for entering, seating and exiting.
Entry will be from the glass Foyer Entrance doors, follow the flow of traffic to the sanctuary (from east) and sit at first come seating sections as indicated by staff members.
Exit will be to the right thru the (west) wooden exit double doors to the parking lot. Unless you are in special parking area.
Face Masks—Masks are mandatory. The Welcome Team, staff and volunteers will be required to wear masks. We ask that everyone please bring your own face mask to use while on campus. Extra masks will be available at the entrance should you forget yours.
Please remember these recommendations are for your protection and your church family.
Seating Capacity—Seating capacity will be limited to 50, excluding church staff, due to reduced capacity with social distancing. We ask for your patience, and willingness to continue to experience our online streaming service at WWW.MONTEPRES.ORG if you desire to stay at home. We will continue to record the services and present them online.
Attendance Planning—Congregants will be seated on a first-come, first-serve basis, and we encourage you to let us know if you plan to attend by calling Susan on Friday for an RSVP (with your name and contact phone number). This is a measure for everyone to see how close to capacity we may be so we can all plan accordingly. We may need to do two services which would be AWESOME>>>> I’d dig that…so please call. Susan or Patrick will be at the church all day and if you call on Thursday you can leave a message. Thank you.
Monitoring and Reporting – Under the guidelines of the administration we are required by law to have a plan in place for monitoring and reporting possible or confirmed cases of COVID19. In order to mitigate these circumstances, we will be utilizing an RSVP and attendance roster that will include where each and every person attending sat on the date they attended.
Under these guidelines are policies for sanitization. Church staff has sanitized all areas common to our worship area. They will be sanitized again after each service. This includes all bathroom and kitchen areas. Church staff has been trained and prepared through the guidelines of Grays Harbor County Health order NO. 2020-07.
At-Risk Worshippers—We ask that those 65 and older or high health-risk individuals PLEASE consider staying at home to watch the service on our website. ALSO, please call us to let us know how you are doing and what we can do for you. YOU particularly are our greatest concern. If you DO plan on coming…we will assist you and prioritize your movement in and out of the building with extra precaution.
Recovery and Plan of Action for Possible Infection – Should a member of our congregation be diagnosed with COVID19 we will ensure that all movement and directives will be reviewed and those in close proximity will be notified, in a manner appropriate to confidentiality of our institution.
Other Activities—Children will sit with their families. No childcare will be available until further notice.
There will be No coffee hour at this time. Plans are to resume coffee hour in late June.
1 John 3 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so, we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
You are beloved in Christ and our Oikos family looks forward to coming together as the Body.
Sincerely, Rev. Patrick E. Cobb
Pastor, Montesano Presbyterian Church