Take a Deep Breath

Take a Deep Breath—(2 Timothy 3:16—October 20, 2019–Dr. DennyDrummondtown Baptist Church).Breath.jpg

Introduction:  If you’re able to do it, take a deep breath.  That’s good.  One more time.  My sermon this morning is about breath.  Harvard Medical School put out an article recently with the same title as my sermon.  “Take a Deep Breath!”  Here is what they said:  The ability to breathe deeply and powerfully is not limited to a select few. This skill is inborn but often lies dormant. Reawakening it allows you to tap one of your body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms.

   When you practice deep breathing on a daily basis, your blood pressure will lower and your stress will lessen.  10 -20 minutes a day is all it takes.  You can do it anywhere.

Background.  Paul believed in deep breathing.  But Paul does the most amazing thing in our text this morning.  He turns his attention away from his breath and looks toward heaven where if you listen carefully you can hear heavy breathing.  And it is this divine exhalation that I want to focus upon this morning.

         *Whenever I go to the doctor, he or she often puts a cold stethoscope on my chest and asks me to breathe deeply.  The doctor moves it around to different spots listening closely to the movement of air in my lungs. frog.jpg

         Paul tells us in our text that God breathes.  In fact, he uses a rare Greek word that many commentators think Paul made up.  Can you imagine that?  A made-up word.  *I used to ask my 8th graders once in a while to try to make up a word.  A word that no one has ever heard before.  It’s not as easy as you think.  If you can think up one, write it down in your bulletin.  I have a line for it. __________________

         Paul’s made-up word is θεόπνευστος (God-breathed).  The traditional translation we often see is “All Scripture is inspired by God…”. But that kind of loses the punch of the word Paul invented.  The better translation would be:  “All Scripture is God-breathed.”  Just one word—one imaginative word formed in Paul’s mind as he wrote this letter to Timothy.    And this brings us to the image that I can see in my mind:  God doing deep breathing as He sits on the throne.  And with every breath out, we see the Bible forming.  For the Bible is the breath of God.

         *If you take your Bible and flip the pages quickly near your face, you will feel a slight wind.  That wind is the breath of God still lingering on his pages of Scripture.  For make no mistake about it, this Bible of ours is more than paper and ink—it is God-breathed—the very breath of God.

Outline:  Now that we understand the source of Scripture better, how can we use it in our lives every day for practical gain?  The Bible is not an irrelevant book on a dusty shelf.  It is practical.  And here is how it  helps us daily:

  1. Scripture teaches us ( 1 Tim. 3:16). We all need a teacher.  We started our lives with teachers and if you are to continue to progress, you still need one today.  *Now, I’m going to ask you to go back in time.  Dig deep into your past and try to remember your favorite teacher.  Can you see her or him?  What made this teacher so memorable?

         *My favorite teacher was Mr. Cochran, who taught 6th grade when I lived in Jacksonville Arkansas.  He was a bonafide cowboy who raced quarter-horses.  He was slim, well-groomed, polite and insightful.  cowboy.jpgHe was good with kids.  He taught the smallest things that I still use today.  For example, he taught me how to use a dictionary.  Of all things!  So insignificant, but he considered a valuable skill and he taught us.  He said when you want to find a word, look at the first letter and then when you open the dictionary, think where that first letter would be and open the dictionary there.  That saves time.  And when you find the closest page to your word, use your finger to slide down the words until you find it.

         Paul tells that Scripture does this very thing.  It teaches us daily on endless subjects.  It is a practical guide for living.  Each day, pick a text, a verse, and welcome it into your day.  Let it teach you something.

  1. Scripture corrects us—(3:16). The second thing the Bible does is correct us. Everyday temptations will spring up to take us down.  Every day, moods will attempt to lead us down dark paths.  Every day, some voice will tell you how worthless you are.  And this is where Scripture steps in to make corrections to our faulty outlook on life.  It corrects us. It is patient and offers us direction and hope.

         *Mr. Cothran was like that.  One day I was misbehaving in class.  I don’t remember what I was doing, but I do remember Mr. Cochran stopping his lesson and with his finger directed me to the door.  He didn’t yell at me in front of the kids.  Instead, he took me outside the room and there in the hall he looked down at me with those cowboy eyes that had calmed a thousand stallions and corrected me.  cowboyeyes.jpgIt was like a spanking without a switch.  He just corrected me with a soft voice, a masterful gaze that went right through me.  And when I went back in I wanted to be a better boy.

  1. Scripture trains usTeaching gives you concepts while training uses repetition to instill them into your lives and habits.

*When I  wanted my Irish setter to fetch something I began by sitting him down on the lawn and we had school.  I explained it all to him in perfect boy English using hand motions and other teaching tools.  But then—I began the training.  I took him to the field and threw a ball.  And with positive repetition, he learned to get it and bring it back.

*How many of you remember Training Union?  It has faded out of Baptist life today but when I was a kid it was big.  It was always done on Sunday night.  We would learn to read our parts out of the book, we did Bible drills (sword drills), a little public speaking if it was your turn to stand and read. Etc.  Sunday school taught us—Training Union trained us.

Conclusion:

         Paul says we must be equipped (2 Tim 3:17)  and it is the Bible that does that.  It is God deep breathing.  The Bible is more than just a book.  It is the breath of God.  Let it breathe on you this week.

 

Reverend

Pastor’s Point 

(My column in the Sunday bulletin at the Drummondtown Baptist Church, Accomac, Virginia 23301)

 

Of all his attributes, it was the eyes I loved the best.

On a bad day, they encouraged me; on a good day, they laughed with me.  It was all there in his eyes.  And when I want to see him again since he’s been gone so long, all I have to do is summon the eyes, and he is with me.  And then I am at peace.

I knew him from birth.  We grew up together.  I taught him the essentials of the world about him, but I never taught him loyalty.  He had that tucked away deep inside from the first days.

He and I would walk every morning down Cheriton’s main street, skipping past the still sleeping town lawns until we reached the highway.  Then with anticipation growing, we would bolt across the road on our way to the Bay at Cherrystone—back when the campground was a quiet oasis without all the fuss you see today.

On our way, we played hide and seek through fields of gold until we both rounded a corner, pausing to smell the salt air mingling with sunrise fingers that stretched over the harbor.  We sat together and watched little fishing boats slither out across still water in search of buried treasure, crab pots piled high in the stern.

I still miss him today, but when I miss him the most, I just look for the eyes.  And when I do, he is with me again–my Irish setter named Reverend.

Irish setter.jpg

3-2-1-Ignition

3-2-1-Ignition—2 Timothy 1:1-14—Dr. Denny—DBC—October 6, 2019220px-Ham_Launch_-_GPN-2000-001007_(cropped).jpg

Introduction:  On the morning of May 5, 1961, a Mercury-Redstone rocket, 82 feet tall rose from the launch pad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.  Sitting inside the cramped Mercury capsule was astronaut Alan Shepard who was about to kick start America’s future as a spacefaring nation.

It was a critical time in our country because just two weeks before this date the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first human in space orbiting the Earth for 108 minutes.  The American spirit for space travel had been faltering up to this point.  Bu Alan Shepard changed the equation to one of confidence and victory.

The launch happened at 9:34 am EST.  The Chief Test Conductor Bob Moser said this about this launch:  “It was an intense countdown.  Everybody had their job.  There was no joking around.  But we enjoyed it, and it worked….”  And then the countdown concluded with “3-2-1-Ignition.” 

Background:  Now let’s slip back into our text in 2 Timothy where Paul uses a NASA rocket term ἀναζωπυρεῖν  (1 time only) that means to ignite.  It’s an explosive word, literally, and it’s directed first at Timothy and ultimately at us who sit here in the DBC pews.  If I could paraphrase the Greek it would: “3-2-1-Ignition.”  But before we see just what that means to us, Paul wants Timothy to remember something.

  1. Something to Remember: (2 Tim. 1:6).  There was a unique event that happened in timothy’s life that Paul could not forget.  Whenever he replayed this moment in his mind, he always saw the tears;  not his tears, but Timothy’s.   And it was critical from Paul’s perspective that Timothy remember this event always.

                       Memory plays an important part in our lives and without it, we lose our identity and begin to drift away like a fall leaf on a swift-moving creek.

*I went for an annual Wellness checkup Friday at the Rural Health.  The lady took me back into a cramped room with filing cabinets and a small desk shoved against the wall.  I sat down, our knees almost touching and she began her interrogation keeping accurate notes of everything I said.  “The government wants you to stay healthy so they won’t have to spend any money on you,” she said with a little smirk.  Then after a flurry of questions, she said, “Now it’s time for your memory test.”  I shuddered at this statement and my blood pressure shot up.  “I’m going to give you three words to remember and then a little later I will ask you for those three words.  Okay?”   I was going to bolt for the door right then but I figured the government wouldn’t like it so I stayed put and said, “Okay.”  She smiled like she had me cornered and then continued:  “Your three words are RIVER—FINGER—NATION.  Got it?”  “I think so,” I said.  Then she began a campaign of misdirection.  “Now draw me a clock with the numbers on it.” I did that.  “Okay now put the clock fingers at 10 after 11.”  I did that.

Then with her eyes narrowing a bit she looked at me said, “What are the three words.”    (ASK AUDIENCE FOR THE WORDS).

Paul said to Timothy there is something I want you always to remember.  It was just a few years back when I was here with you that I summoned the church together.  We gathered around you.  Your grandmother Lois was there and your mother Eunice who taught your spiritual ABCs from your earliest days.  And now we see that same faith growing within you.  And it was then that I laid my hands upon you and launched your public ministry.  Do you remember that Timothy?  Do you remember how brightly the flame of faith burned within your heart?  Do you remember how you began preaching in the church with zeal and enthusiasm?

And this is the question Paul sets before each of us here this morning.  I want you to remember something, he tells us.  Go back to that time when your faith was new and the call of Christ was ringing in y our ears.  Go back to that time when you trusted Christ and remember how it was.  It’s a memory you must never forget.

  1. Something to Re-Ignite (2 Tim. 1:6)And now we come back to the Mercury capsule quivering on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral. Those huge engines had been test-started many times but now as they lay silent and cold it was time to re-ignite them.  And this is what Paul says to timothy.  It’s time for you to re-ignite that first event when I laid my hands upon you.  It’s time to stir up the embers and get the fire going again.  (READ v6.  KINDLE AFRESH the gift of God which is in you…”.

             *There’s a little wood frog that illustrates Paul’s principle of ignition of our faith.  This wood frog lives in the arctic circle in Alaska.  As the winter slowly descends upon the tundra, this little frog settles down in the water and freezes solid with the water around him.  Slowly he stops breathing and his heart stops beating.  If effect, he is dead.  But when the spring thaw settles in again he slowly comes back to life, re-igniting his body temperature.

*It’s so provocative to hear Paul use this “ignition” word considering where he is.  Many think 2 Timothy is his last letter.  He is in custody at Rome’s worst prison—The Mamertine Prison which had two levels, the lowest level a small confined space in utter darkness.  He senses that his life is nearly over.  He writes in chapter 4:6 “the time of my departure has come.”  There is no tomorrow for the aging apostle.  And yet, in his last days, he remembers the thrill of laying his hands on the young Timothy and lighting a fire that still needs to be ignited every so often.

Conclusion
      How many times had Alan Shepard sat in the tiny space capsule and touched the controls before this launch date?  How many times had he imagined the power of the explosive ignition beneath him as the rocket prepared to burst into the heavens?  And then when the day actually came and clicked his seat belt on for the final time, once again he reignited his imagination and waited for the countdown:  3-2-1-Ignition.

Paul wants us to count down every so often and relive our first days of faith and launch off into new adventures as saints on another grand mission.

 

Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches—Ps 113—September 22, 2019—DBC—Dr. Denny

Introduction:  Our Psalm today was often sung at Jewish festivals and special occasions.  It’s a happy Psalm meant to encourage us on our journey through life.  It reminds us of God’s unique interest in each of us and His interventions in our lives.

It’s a Rags to Riches Psalm. It’s a little like Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations where Pip, an orphan in southeast England comes into money as a teenager and lives the high life.  We hear this theme in verses 7-8:  “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap…”.

Rags-to-Riches.jpg

This is a Psalm to tuck away in your pocket or purse as you prepare for the day ahead.  And whenever you feel lost in this world,  or unappreciated or in some kind of despair, just pull this Psalm out our of your pocket and breath in deeply its fragrance for it will surely lift your soul and give you hope.

  1. This is a happy Psalm and it begins with a startling observation in verse 6: God, who is enthroned on high, humbles Himself to behold…. Isn’t that an intriguing whisper from God’s lips?  He humbles Himself to behold…Behold what, we ask.  What is it that God is looking at?  And in that question tumbles out the brilliant answer:  He beholds you and He beholds me as we start our day, as we laugh in the morning hours and cry in the afternoon—He beholds.    As we labor long hours at a job that is difficult—He beholds.  As we approach a fork in the road and struggle to decide on the way before us—He beholds.  Psalm 113 connects us to a God who cares about every detail of our lives. He’s watching because He cares.

*I read a BBC story this week about life in Kenya’s poorest villages.  There, snake bites are so prevalent that they occur every five minutes, and many times are fatal.  The nearest hospital is often too far away and the roads are too rutted and rough for ambulances.   So one nurse came up with a splendid idea:  She bought a motorcycle and equipped it with emergency medical aid. Then when she hears of a snakebite attack, she jumps on the motorcycle and races to the victim, puts him on the back of the cycle and carries them to the hospital in time for the antivenom treatment to work.  It’s called The Snakebite Squad. It’s an example of effective intervention in life’s daily traumas.

Our Psalm is like this.  God beholds us in our daily lives and rushes to our aid at just the right moment bringing aid and sustenance to help us live.

Example #1– Our Psalmist demonstrates this principle twice in this short Psalm.  First in verses 7-8. He lifts the poor up from the dust…That is such an incredible act of divine mercy!  He beholds your every moment and He can’t wait to lift you up.  It’s rags to riches.  From dust to a throne.  That is what God does for you and me.

     *Andrew Carnegie:  Let me give you an example of this divine principle.  In 1835 a little baby boy was born in Dunfermline, Scotland. His mother and father were destitute laborers and this little boy didn’t get much time in school.  Desperate, the family decided to emigrate to America in 1848 when the boy was 13.  The parents put him out to work in a textile mill where he made $1.20 a week.

Carnegie.jpgBut the boy was determined to help his parents and he soon got a job as a messenger boy and factory worker and then a secretary and telegraph operator at the Pennsylvania Railroad.  Before long he became superintendent of the railroad’s western division.  He saved his money all along the way and invested in a steel mill that by the turn of the century became know as Carnegie Steel Company which he sold for $480 million.

Our Psalmist declares that God beholds us from his throne on his high and lifts the poor from the dust and makes us sit with princesAnd from this simple truth, I can declare with confidence that God watches youHe watches you—and he will lift you from the dust. He will help you make the right decisions.  He will whisper encouraging words to you when you are down.

Example #2—The Psalmist gives another example in case you still doubt That God beholds.  He tells us of a woman whose life is one of difficulty and shame.

Her home is silent without the pitter-patter of children’s feet.  She is barren—a curse for any woman of the ancient world.    But God beheld her daily sufferings and he stepped in and smiled upon her giving her joy and wonderful children to brighten her days. It’s another rags to riches intervention.

*Catherine 1 of Russia:  When I thought of this woman in our text my mind went to a modern example of such divine intervention.  In 1684 a little girl was born into a family of Lithuanian peasants.  The little girl’s parents who struggled daily each day with life died from the plague when the girl was only three.

catherine1.jpgTaken in by a local pastor she spent her days as a housemaid in Latvia.  When Russia conquered the city in 1702, the girl, now 18, was captured and taken to Moscow. She became a servant in a high-ranking government official and it was there that she met the Russian Emperor Peter the Great. She was illiterate and uneducated but she charmed the emperor and they married in 1712.  When he died in 1725, she became the first Russian empress.

She, like the woman in our text, went from despair to joy because God beholds—He follows our lives.  He knows of our failures and limitations.  But he longs to help.

Conclusion: 

In verse 5 we hear these words:  Who is like the Lord our God who is enthroned on high, who humbles himself to behold…

As you leave today to go home, remember this one truth:  God goes with you.  He follows your every movement and waits to hear from you.  Call upon him and watch him spring into action to lift you from the dust.

 

Nightmare on Straight Street

Nightmare on Straight Street(Acts 9:11).  May 5, 2019.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when a difficult but necessary task lies before you.  You can try to run from this challenge like Jonah did, but chances are if you resist the challenge you will encounter a whale, (in other words, there will be consequences).

I want to take you to such an event this morning and show you how an ordinary person—a person like you and me, faced a difficult decision, and how he handled it.  Perhaps this story will inspire you to face some fear in your life or to move forward on some difficult decision.

Background

There are two streets mentioned in our story this morning—one is unnamed and one is called Straight.  On the unnamed street near Damascus Saul travels on a ruthless mission.  His face is hard and set on murder.  With every labored breath, he utters a threat against the Christians who live peacefully in the ancient walled city of Damascus.

*On an old map dated 1855, tradition marks the place that Saul fell to the dusty street and fought against a heavenly voice and a bright light that blinded him.
Map of Damascus 1855.png

He was nearly there.  He was so close to committing the crimes against innocent saints.  He could see the walls of the old city looming just beyond the gardens and olive groves on the southern side of the city.  But God stopped him in his tracks before the untold atrocities could erupt in his untethered heart.

But there is another street mentioned in our story:  the street called Straight.  It was an ancient Roman road built in the fashion of Roman logic and orderliness. It ran 1500 meters (nearly a mile) west to east, perfectly straight, with a series of north/south corridors like river tributaries crisscrossing this main artery.

*I have an old photo made in 1900.  It has been colorized and it shows people strolling casually down the narrow street called Straight.  A few are on horseback dressed in Syrian garments.  Some are westerners wearing London suits carrying parasols to shade themselves from the fierce midday sun.

Street called Straight.png

It is on this thoroughfare that history was forever changed.  For it was here on the western side of Straight Street not far from the city where a disciple of Jesus named Judas lived. And it was here that Saul the raging bull lay trembling with confusion, blinded by a terrific light.  And it is here in Judas’ house that we have the Nightmare on Straight Street.

 

  1. God often used ordinary people to do difficult things.

Now we must pause and pick up our protagonist for this story on the northeastern side of the city.  On my old map, I see the house of Ananias near an old cemetery that lay just outside the wall. And it is there that we meet a believer in Jesus.  He is an ordinary man.   And it is here that I must pause and make the first of two points this morning:  God often uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  I see this principle at work throughout the Scriptures:  It was an ordinary low born Hebrew child in Egypt—just a little baby of slave parents, who rose to become Moses the liberator of a nation.  And it was just a lowly, ordinary lad who kept sheep in the hills around Bethlehem that pick up a few stones and slew Goliath.

And so don’t be alarmed if God taps you on the shoulder and asks you to step into a challenging task, a difficult assignment that you might feel is beyond your ability. Just remember our first lesson this morning:  God often uses ordinary people to do difficult things.

And this was the case when God slipped quietly into Ananias’ life with a vision(Acts 9:10).  “Ananias, I have a job for you.”  “What is it, Lord?”  “I want you to slip down the street called Straight just a few blocks from you live and lay your healing hands upon a murderer of saints.  He trembles in blindness in Judas’ house.  Go and touch his eyes for me.”

An ordinary man asked to do a difficult task.  He should have said no!

*I read an article the other day entitled 10 guilt-free strategies for saying no. In each scenario, the author shows us how to gracefully and effectively say no.  I don’t think Ananias had read this article.  He tried to say no but he couldn’t pull it off.  It isn’t logical to liberate murderers and criminals.  But his no carried no power with Jesus who quickly brushed his protest off and told him quietly clearly to just get up and GO!

*I often wondered how he would explain this assignment to his wife: Honey, I have to go out for a while.  “Where?  Just out. Where?  Down to Judas’ house.  Birthday? No.  Why?  To help a murderer!

So let’s all learn from this.  God sometimes asks us to do things that are difficult, out of the ordinary, things that we don’t understand.

  1. Difficult challenges make us stronger. It was Peter who said in 1 Peter 5:10 that difficult challenges always result in wonderful personal benefits.  And so is the case here.  Ananias is ordered to do a difficult thing:  Go and help Saul your mortal enemy.  It was a supreme challenge but it led to the birth of the world’s greatest missionary—the Apostle Paul.

*George Washington was given this impossible task.  Defend NYC against the British.  But the British had unlimited resources, and scores of powerful ships and 20,000 well-armed soldiers.  In Ron Chernow’s book on Washington he said, “For some soldiers, their only weapons consisted of sharpened scythes fastened to poles, forming primitive spears” (p. 253). Washington lost NYC but in that struggle, he learned about himself, and somehow gained a new strength that eventually led his forces to victory at Yorktown.

Conclusion:

Perhaps the greatest example of an ordinary man facing a difficult challenge is seen in the garden of Gethsemane.  There Jesus, a man born of poor ordinary parents, was now challenged to save the world and die upon the cross.  He kneeled in the garden that night and Luke tells us that he was in such agony and distress that he prayed for the cup to pass from Him if possible and He sweats drops of blood, so great was His inner turmoil.

As we leave the Nightmare on Straight Street let us bid Anania’s farewell and leave determined that we too will face life’s difficult choices with courage and hope knowing God is with us all the way.

The Necessity of Daily Ascents

The Necessity of Daily Ascents—Luke 9:28-36- March 3, 2019—DBC—Dr. Denny

Introduction:  This morning we are going to take an exhilarating hike up one of the most iconic mountains in Palestine.  It will be a sacred ascent in the tradition of Jesus our Savior who made this very trek before us.  And in this journey, we will see the value of daily ascents.  I believe every Christian should make a daily ascent, a daily spiritual journey. Spiritual ascents help us to rediscover our purpose in life and they also recharge our spirits as we absorb the power and grace of the Savior.

Anyone who has the physical strength and mental determination can walk the Appalachian Trail in our country created in 1921. It runs 2200 miles and passes through 14 states from Georgia to Maine.

However, if you go to Israel they too have such a trail—TheIsrael National Trail–that runs across the entire country of Israel from the north to the south—636 miles.  It takes about 60 days to walk the entire trail.  It is listed in National Geographic’s 20 most “epic trails.”  It is said, “to delve into the grade scale of biblical landscapes as well as the everyday lives of the modern Israeli.”

This trail passes by our mountain this morning—Mt. Tabor—located in the world that Jesus knew just 11 miles west of the Sea of Galilee.  It rises nearly 2000 ft out of the Jezreel Valley. It is a strange place because it is not a part of a mountain chain.  It is an island all to itself, a majestic respite from the lowlands around it.

Our Ascent up Mt. Tabor

As we follow the Savior up the mountain we will remember that 8 days before this trek up Mt. Tabor, Jesus fed the 5000 down by the Sea of Galilee.  And now Jesus needs to find some quiet time with God.  And so he gathers his closest disciples—Peter, James, and John- and invites them to join him in prayer on the Mt. Tabor.  (The mountain’s name is not mentioned in the Bible, but Origin, a luminary of the ancient church fathers of the 3rdcentury tells us that he believes Mt. Tabor to be the mountain).

The climb to the top is a beautiful one.  Mt. Tabor is covered with vegetation including oak trees and over 400 varieties of plants including the large yellow crocuses, the Persian lily that stands several feet tall dressed in royal purple flowers and black-eyes red tulips that take your breath.

Mt. Tabor.png

Chromolithographic card 1870-1880 by Helga Von Cramm

 

As Peter, James, and John followed Jesus up the long trail to the summit, they felt the presence of God in the beauty of the mountainside.  Finally, they all stopped at the top and each found a place to kneel and pray. But it wasn’t long before all of the disciples were fast asleep and Jesus was left alone to reflect on His life—its purpose and plan, just as we must do daily in our ascents, our moments alone with God.

But then a most remarkable thing happened, missed entirely by the sleeping disciples—Jesus was transformed.  The Greek text tells us his face changed much like that of Moses when he too climbed ancient Mt Horeb and received the law. Moses’ face glowed so brightly with the presence of the divine upon it that he had to cover it with a veil when he descended to talk with the people below.

And here the same thing happened-  Jesus’ face brimmed with a heavenly light and his garments sparkled with the dazzling brightness of lightning (a Greek word used only one time n the NT-ἐξαστράπτων).  If only we had not fallen asleep!  The disciples missed this at first.  Can you imagine?  But that was not all they missed.  For as Jesus prayed two men joined Him.  Moses and Elijah appeared upon the mountain and they all conversed.  This was predicted in the final verses of the OT. If you turn to the last page of the OT you will read in Malachi 4:5-6 that Moses and Elijah would come in the final days and this prediction is now happening on Mt Tabor while the disciples sleep.

Could we pause here and just gaze at the wonder of it all?  It is a heavenly scene like none other.  Thomas Aquinas called this the greatest of all Jesus’ miracles.  It is here that we get a glimpse behind the veil of time.  Here we see what one day we will all experience. Heavenly beings shining like lightning, speaking of heavenly things.

Would you like to know what they spoke of specifically?  We know what the conversation was about because Luke records it just as the disciples told him later.  What did they talk about?—They talked about the Cross and the impending departure of Jesus after the resurrection (Luke 9:31).

But now comes the part of the story I love.  Peter awakens and steps into a living dream.  Only it’s not really a dream.  For heaven is not a dream.  He witnessed the realities of heaven and could scarcely speak.  When his voice did come to him he could only stutter something silly like let me set up a tent for each of you so you can stay awhile.  The Bible tells us that he didn’t even know what he was saying!

Why do we need daily ascents?

  1. First of because they clarify our purpose for living.

When we pause in each day and step aside from our busy lives and venture up the mountain with Jesus we begin to rethink our purpose in life.  Why are we here?  What has God called us to do with our lives?  We need this time of reflection for without it we merely get lost in the world of endless activities.

  1. Secondly, we need to recharge our spirits. We need our faces to glow again.  We need to absorb the power and glory of God into our lives.  We need this daily and thus we need ascents daily.

Conclusion:

Last year one of the most amazing physical feats anyone has every accomplished happened in Yosemite National Park.  Alex Honnold, 33- climbed El Capitan, a 3000 vertical cliff face without any ropes or assistance. He planned this climb for 10 years and when he finally decided it was time to climb, on June 3, 2017, he had flutters in his stomach looking up at the peak in the clouds.  And then he took the first step up and for four hours he climbed straight up a cliff that all the experts said was impossible to conquer. When he finally scrambled up on the top, he posed for a selfie holding all of his gear: shoes and a bag of chalk.

As amazing as this was, it pales in comparison with the transfigured Jesus on little Mt. Tabor.  Maybe you can’t solo up El Capitan, but you can climb Mt. Tabor with Jesus and renew your purpose in life and recharge your spirit with the presence of God.

The Power of Meditation

The Power of MeditationPs 19:14, Drummondtown Baptist Church, Dr. Denny, January 27, 2019

Review:
Last week we discovered the Fountain of Life (Ps 36) mentioned by David.  God’s wants you to drink from Him, to commune with Him daily.  And in this constant spiritual dialogue, He will infuse you with love and joy and a purpose for living.

Introduction:
Today we will take another step in our relationship with the divine.  We will learn the power of meditation. When you first hear this phrase, the power of meditation, you might conjure up images of crazy people sitting high on a mountain communing with nature.  But let’s not be alarmed by meditation.  David himself valued it and took daily time to calm himself and connect himself to God.

*The University of Rochester Medical Center in NY has an informative article on the Power of Meditation https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=2509

Meditation1.png

The staff at the school reminds us that our modern lives are already very stressful.  And as we focus daily on our worries and anxieties, the stress level in our lives often rises to the breaking point.  (We all can see this especially in the federal workers who have been furloughed).  Lingering on life’s problems can affect your health and your mental well-being and the medical staff urges everyone to cultivate the art of healthful mediation.  One quote from the article says, “Meditation allows you to become more awake and more purposeful about your actions.  It teaches you how to respond, rather than react, to situations in your life.”

             **I watched a short video from another source on the basics of mediation.  Here is what the instructor said to do:

—Sit on the floor with legs folded or in a chair if needed.  —-Place your hands before you—Spine erect—breathing from the abdomen in slow breaths—Avoid distractions—Let them pass by and merely witness them—don’t linger on them.  Start with only a 1 minute and work up to 10-20 minutes a day.  The effects will linger long after the session is over.

  1. David’s Troubled Life:

Today we take our inspiration from King David who mediated daily and wrote the Psalms that came from his that flooded his heart during these quiet times with God. But we must remember that David had a troubled life.  His family was in disarray most of the time.  He had multiple wives as was the custom of the day.  His children fought with one another.  One son,  Amnon, raped his half-sister Tamar.  The infuriated another son named Absalom who managed to get revenge by killing the brother. Absalom ran away home to avoid the wrath of the king.  David wouldn’t speak to his son for years. Etc..  An yet—still David found time to meditate and through these quiet times, he always found hope and forgiveness and direction.

  1. David’s Meditation: Let’s step quietly into David’s palace that looked out over the Kidron Valley below the great temple mount.  https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/jerusalem/did-i-find-king-davids-palace/Davids Palace.png

*Archaeologists think they may have found David’s palace in this location according to an article written 2017 by Eilat Mazar.  The remains of a massive structure date to the times of David.  Let’s imagine we are setting on edge of the great palace looking out toward the valley and the hills beyond.  There David settles himself in the morning breeze and begins to quiet his soul.

He calms his breathing and discards the anxieties that roil his soul.  He begins by contemplating the majestic movement of the sun as it rises slowly across the horizon (Ps 19:1-6).  He images god sending out the sun like a bridegroom stepping out of his chamber.

Next, he finds immense pleasure in thinking of the majesty of the commandments and law of God (7-12).  These words of God are sweeter than honey and in his meditation, he tastes the honeycomb and finds peace in God’s guiding words to him.

Conclusion:
Then after a certain time, he closes his meditation with a short prayer:  (v14):  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

David R.Denny Ph.D.
Visions501@gmail.com