The Pastor’s Page January

BE STILL. What a great command at this time of the year. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy being still after all the hustle and bustle of the season. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the Christmas Season. I love the get- togethers and the lights and the visiting of family and friends. I love the music. But…when Christmas day is over and the sprint to the New Year comes, I am ready to crash.

For me, the start of a new year comes in more with a whimper than a bang. Give me a good night’s rest, followed by a brisk early morning walk in a winter wonderland on January ONE. Follow that with a nice hot breakfast and a hotter cup of coffee and that is an idyllic manner in which to greet the New Year.

On my walk, I’d reflect on the year that was and dream of what the coming year will hold. At some point, the worries and wants would fall away, and I would find myself mesmerized by the beauty God’s hand has wrought in this world. Then, it would be brought to mind that I should be thanking Him for the beauty of the earth and the skies and all that surrounds me.

I almost feel guilty confessing that I—a pastor and spiritual leader nonetheless—take so long to getting around to giving God praise. But is that not a great part of the human condition? The New American Standard Bible translates the beginning of Psalm 46:10 as Cease striving. Ah, another great command. We chase after so much wind as Kohelet (King Solomon) puts it in Eccesiastes 1:14 and 6:9. We chase after so much that we can never possess. We strive after nothing and become discontented when we cannot own it. After all, how foolish is it to possess nothing or to strive after that which never satisfies [see Proverbs 27:20].

For us, our desires seem ceaseless apart from God as nothing will truly satisfy save for His presence with us. That’s why Psalm 46:10 continues after Be Still by stating, “and know that I am God.” This psalm reminds us that God has all things under control. Mountains can fall into the sea (v 2) or waters could rise as ice caps melt, and still if God is our refuge and strength we will not fear (vv 1-2).

The nations can rage, kingdoms can tumble down, and administrations can come and go, but God and His protection remains the one constant in our lives. He is the one who brings peace (v 9). For us to enjoy that peace, all we need to do is rest with Him. We need to cease from our strivings and abide with Him (see John 15:4) and then we will see God exalted in the earth—and that is how Psalm 46:10 concludes.

It takes time to get to the conclusion of just that one verse. How much more time it takes for us to get the truth of the Bible into our hearts and our minds. Like the time it takes for me to think of God on my New Year Day jaunt, our busyness and worries push God from our hearts and minds. It takes time to walk away from those thoughts and concerns that often consume us. We have to learn to be still and to stop striving and to simply what God is doing and who He is in our lives and in this world.

That is why each year I encourage the Church and our church to turn to God’s Word in a consistent and prayerful manner. I hope you will use the reading plan in this newsletter and endeavor to journey through the entire Bible in 2020. This has been a practice of mine for years now. Each time I travel through those holy words, I discover something new, I am reminded of ancient truths, and I am comforted by the presence of God who speaks to my heart if only I will stop and listen.

The Lord will do the same for you. He desires to have a relationship with you through His Son Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will give you the wisdom and insight you need to understand the Word. The Father has sur- rounded you with a church family that will aid you in your understanding. After all, we are here to build up one another in the faith (see Ephesians 4:12, 16).

But it is the Father who grants us the full understand- ing. He wants us to seek after Him. Even more, He wants us simply to spend time with Him. That is one of the amazing themes that God has revealed to me and affirmed to me year after year. Over and over again, God’s Word speaks of how He humbles the proud and exalts the humble (see James 4:6 for one example).

God is not impressed with our efforts. That is why we are saved by grace. God just wants us to be in His pres- ence. When we are not distracted by the cares of this world, we are more easily filled with the Spirit. The more we are filled with the Spirit, the less we will chase after empty things and the less we strive for something we cannot obtain.

This is why I encourage you to be in the Word. I pray for this—that we would be a people of the Word. That we who call ourselves Christian would know Him so intimately that we would act like a true sister or broth- er to Jesus and a true child to our heavenly Father for we have been adopted into the family of God through our redemption in Christ (John 1:12-13).

The more we are steeped in the Word, the more it be- comes a part of us. It saturates our souls and infuses itself to our being. The character of God and His saints that it expresses on its pages becomes our character.

We have nothing to pursue or grasp; we simply need to BE in the word. So my brothers and sisters in St.

John’s, as we turn to a New Year may our faith grow as we simply hold fast to God’s command in Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” In so doing, may our faith grow and true Christlikeness be our character as individuals and as a church. Amen.

Standing on the Rock and in the Word,

Pastor Randall