Victory

I am pastor Gerald Malkus, pastor of Jehoash Presbyterian Church in Catlett, VA, and I am your pastor for this Day.  Greetings from the congregation of this historic church in Fauquier County, VA.

I am a tennis player and have been playing since I was in 10th grade in high school. That was a long time ago.

Next week the US Open tournament begins in New York.  The best players in the world enter that tournament, but on September 12, at the end of two weeks of play, one man will say, I can beat anyone in the world, except him And that runner up will be the loser in the final match.

Wins and losses are the very things that dominate life. Don’t you think that is true- even in the the life of the Christian disciple?

Horatio Bonar, a Presbyterian minister in Scotland in the 19th century wrote this: “Life is not one battle, but many. It is made up, too, of defeats as well as victories. Let us not be unduly troubled or grow moody when a battle is lost. There is always time to win another, and such a thing as flight or demoralization should be unknown in the army of the Living God.”

Do you view your Christian life that way?  Defeats and victories?  The highs and the lows? I like that classic song by Linda Randall- The God on the mountain is still God in the valley. You see this taught in the Bible.

Paul was a man who knew something about the terrible sting of that lurking and insidious indwelling sin in his life, and the lives of all other believers.  He wrote about that pain and sorrow of it in Romans 6 and 7. He concluded with those powerful words, “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” But he answers himself, the Roman believers and us in the very next verse:

“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Then in Romans 8, you find those wonderful words that energized Paul and have energized all believers as they read them over and over again.

“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.. Who shall separate us from the love of God?.. nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Consider the picture of the Christian life painted upon the canvas of the wilderness as the people of Israel came out of Egypt. Their first stop on the way to the promise land was an oasis where they stopped thirsty and weary, but unable to drink of the water there for the place was called Marah- bitter. Yet in the verses that immediately follow, they come to the second stop where they found 70 palm trees and 12 springs of wonderful water, and they called the place Elim – the place of large trees.  There they camped by the springs.   [Exodus 15 ]

That is what life is about as we make our pilgrimage to the Holy City, the way that leads from Calvary to Zion. There are Marahs and there are Elims;  – In the images of John Bunyan in the Pilgrim’s Progress- there are the Sloughs of Despond and Delectable Mountains. There are tears and there is laughter. There are terrible defeats and stunning victories.

All along the way, until the day we will lay the arms of our warfare at the feet of the King, who passed the same way before us. And there, in his presence there will be peace, and victory, and joy- forever!

Keep pressing on Brothers and sisters. Fight the good fight of faith.  Cling daily to the Gospel of the grace of God in the person and the work of Jesus Christ. And be assured that there is victory in the One who has overcome the world.

I am pastor Gerald Malkus, I am pastor of Jehoash Presbyterian Church in Catlett, VA, and I am your pastor for this Day.

It’s Hot!

Hello, I am Pastor Gerald Malkus from Jehoash Presbyterian Church in Catlett, VA, and I am your Pastor for this Day. 

It’s Hot! How hot is it?

It is so hot that it seems like every little annoyance in life can turn into a huge conflict. 

Since the Bible teaches that everything that happens is directed by the good providence of God, then even those minor or major conflicts with other people are given to us to glorify God, and  to grow to be more like Jesus.

There are very simple ways to do that every day.  

Jesus indicates that when a conflict arises there is usually some way in which we have offended another person.  So, he says, 

 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42

In their wonderful book and instruction on being Christlike peacemakers, Ken and Corlette Sande give the first step in responding to our conflicts in the form of the 5 A’s of Confession- 

So, let me give you 5 A’s you could use today to get you started in resolving some conflict you might be involved in at home, at the office, with a family member,  or at church. 

#1. ADMIT   Admit what you have done wrong.  When we begin by taking responsibility for our own sinful choices of words or actions we take the first step. 

Of course, you and I both know that no matter what I did, what she did is far worse- right!  But look at Luke 6 again and you will see that no matter what is involved, from God’s perspective it is usually a log in your eye, while it is only a speck in hers. 

So, we begin by saying these words,  I admit that I was wrong when I. . .

#2 Apologize. Express your own sorrow for how your choices affected another person

It is easy to say, I am sorry.- But am I sorry we got caught, sorry for the loud angry word, or am I sorry that what I did offended God, then the other person. 

Practice words- Do you need them?  I am sorry for . . .

#3  Accept– Gladly accept the consequences that come because of your own choices without arguing, blaming or excusing. 

Bad choices of attitude, of words, or of action always bring bad consequences: I have to learn that I might not get my own way, or I might have to go without something because of my actions.  

     Practice words?:   I understand why it is that I now need to . . .

 #4  Ask Forgiveness:  Obviously we ask forgiveness first from God, for our sin is against him most importantly, but I also need to go to that person I sinned against and seek out their forgiveness. 

Asking forgiveness comes after Admitting, Apologizing and Accepting consequences, because showing those first might make it easier for the person to forgive you.   It shows a real desire you have to make things right and restore your relationship with that person. 

Finally A # 5   Alter your Behavior

      Make the decision to change your pattern of choices and behavior. 

Actually all of these, especially including the last A- make up what the Bible calls repentance. 

When I have acted sinfully, I need to repent of that sin and begin to live a new way by God’s grace and power. 

But, often before I can begin to act that new way I have to determine exactly what new way I should choose. 

So- Practice words: With God’s help, next time I will  . . .  instead of  . . .

You can be a Peacemaker today.  Try some of the practice words with someone you know today. 

I am Pastor Gerald Malkus from Jehoash Presbyterian Church in Catlett, and I am your Pastor for the Day

Pastor for this Day: Freedom

Hello, this is pastor Gerald Malkus, I am pastor of Jehoash Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Catlett, and I am your pastor for this Day.

This week we celebrate  July 4th. I have right here in front of me, the document written by Thomas Jefferson, – The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America. Perhaps you have read it before, and maybe you even memorized these lines in school:

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Liberty – Today we call it freedom. Actually, freedom is a frustrating, or maybe even a dangerous concept because so many people today do not understand freedom properly. Christian people are greatly comforted by the many passages in the Bible which speak of our liberty, or freedom:

Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:32 & 36

And the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans: “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:2

You have to be careful with biblical freedom, because as many have said before, freedom is not the right to do as you please, it is the liberty to do as you ought. You have probably heard the illustration of the man who wanted to display the power of a locomotive – so he got one of the huge steam engines and to give it the most freedom, placed it in the middle of his field. While a locomotive in the middle of a field remains powerful, it is also useless. Only when that train is placed on the limitations of steel tracks does it have the ability to do what it was made to do. 

So it is with us. St. Augustine said it very clearly:  Man is most free when he is controlled by God alone. In his first letter, recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter reminds believers in Jesus of their rich privileges as a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God. 

Then he gives this very clear exhortation:

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1 Peter 2:16
Our release from the bondage of keeping the law of God perfectly was purchased for us by the work of Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. Through him we are indeed free. But now, today, as the people of God, as the disciples of Jesus, we are free to show ourselves at liberty from the practice of sin, and free to love and serve God in all of life. I hope that this July 4th you will have an even greater appreciation for the marvelous freedom that is found in Jesus Christ alone.

Pastor For This Day: Worry

         

I want you to thank God with me today that our Lord often reminds us in some of the most familiar portions of the Bible to look again and concentrate on the most basic issues of life. 

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount [Matt 6:26 ] Look at the birds of the air.

You will remember that this portion of his famous sermon has to do with the issue of anxiety / worry.  The Savior wants us to be sure that we know our God and Father well enough to know that the experiences we have with the cares of this life will not pull us away from trusting in God’s grace. 

Later in Matthew 13, Jesus equates the cares of this world, with what he calls the deceitfulness of riches.  It is as if he speaks directly to the people of the United States of America in June of 2021 saying: “Remember that the accumulation of stuff does not drive away the tendency and the temptation to worry and doubt.

Amazingly, one of the sure antidotes for that sort of worry is to look at birds. So I did, the other day.  And I observed a couple of valuable lessons. 

We have a back deck at our home and just outside the storm windows we hang bird feeders.  Let me tell you two things I observed among the birds. 

1. The food is right there for the eating. Many come and eat, but some of the birds will fly just to the branches of the tree a few feet away and yet will not come and eat.  Recently I read again in  Isaiah 55 where the prophet declares for God, Come, you who have no money, come, buy and eat. We don’t need any money, we can’t buy what God offers- and yet the Word of God is there, the mercy of God is there, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is there to receive forgiveness, righteousness before God and therefore peace with him.   Yet sadly many will not come.    

      Why?   Perhaps it is fear. A second lesson.

2. We have a small black cat that lives a couple of doors away, but comes to visit us many mornings. When the cat is on the porch, the birds will not feed.   The cat could never catch the birds, but the birds do not believe that. 

I am reminded of Bunyan’s splendid picture in the Pilgrim’s Progress:

Pilgrim lifted up his eyes, and he saw before him a very stately palace, the name of which was Beautiful, and it stood by the highway. So I saw in my dream that he made haste, and went forward, that if possible he might get lodging there. But before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage. As he went, he spied two lions in the way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers – ( but The lions were chained, and he did not see the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also he would go back; for he thought nothing but death was before him. But the Porter at the lodge, whose name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian stopped, as if he would go back, cried to him, saying, Is your strength so small?. Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for the discovery of those that have none: keep in the middle of the path, and no hurt shall come to you.

You can find a copy of that well read book and discover the whole story. As Christian moves on, even with small faith- that faith is proven. God’s mercy has protected him, so that He may proceed to the Celestial City. 

Today are you are struggling with the circumstances of this life? Jesus tells you to take a look at some birds. In their simple way of living, you will find peace and confidence in your Father and Savior again. 

This is Gerald Malkus, I am pastor of Jehoash Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Catlett, and I am glad to serve as your pastor for this day. 

Pastor for This Day

I heard the phrase again this week, I think it was in the context of a conversation with a couple of my friends. The one man said he was having a tough time in some situation at work, and the other man said what we so often hear when someone is in a tight situation, Hang in there!

I’m sure you have seen that very cute poster of the kitten perilously hanging from a rope with just one tiny claw dug into the strands of hemp, and the caption is, Hang in there, Baby!  It is as if the lives of some people are in just that much danger. Just one more thing, and over the edge they fear they might go.

And I think many a Christian believer has that sense from time to time.  Feeling so perilously close to utter life and even soul disaster that we fear just the slightest bit of pressure or weight will make us lose our grip. 

But, if you stop to think about life from the perspective of the Bible, you will realize that we often have it all backward.  It is not I that hang on to God. It is not I that might lose my grip on my salvation, my joy, my hope, my heaven. I am not to hang on to anything of my own. Why? Because the Gospel tells us that it is God who holds on to me!

Jesus taught his disciples, and us,  this truth in the context of the whole chapter about Jesus being the Good Shepherd- He said:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them our my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them our of the Father’s hand.

That grand truth is  this: that anyone who has a saving union with Christ by faith stands secure. That is true because it is never what we do, how well we hang in there,  in the midst of struggle and pain, sorrow and heart ache, trial and even temptation. It is what Christ has done for us in history that secures our right standing with God.  We believers are always secure because we stand clothed in his righteousness, given to us by our Father in heaven.

But in few pages over in John’s Gospel Jesus improves even on that wonderful thought. He tells us that if we are united to him by faith- we are part of him, as a branch is part of a vine- and in the middle of those trying – He calls them pruning, times- those who are in him by faith- are not just surviving, but surely bearing the fruit of God’s grace in life. 

Read that fifteenth chapter of John today, and you will see that even though there may be trouble and sorrow in life- it is not for us to consider- hanging on by a thread- but it is abiding in the true vine that assures us of producing fruit to the glory of God, and even for our own good. 

  • It is in those hard times that we, and even others, can observe the peace of God ruling our thoughts, our emotions and our decisions. 
  • It is in the time of trial that we can have the joy of reflecting on the fact that whatever we suffer here and now is not worthy to be compared with the sheer perfection of heaven with God, forever.
  • It is in the time of suffering, suffering for being a believer, that we display the genuine compassion for those who do not know our Savior and King. 

I don’t know what some of you listeners are up against today, but your Father in heaven does, and he wants you to know that you are secure with him by your faith in the saving work of Jesus, and you can show the fruit of a conquering child of God in all of your life.  He will give you grace and strength. Trust him for it. 

This is pastor Gerald Malkus, I am pastor of Jehoash Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Catlett, VA, and I am your pastor for this Day.

The Lord Himself watches over you!

The Lord Himself watches over you!

(J.R. Miller, “Guarded from Stumbling” 1906)  

from Grace Gems (https://www.gracegems.org/)

God Himself is the refuge of His people.

“My help comes from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth! He will not let you stumble and fall; the One who watches over you will not sleep. Indeed, He who watches over Israel never tires and never sleeps. The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not hurt you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all evil and preserves your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go–both now and forever.” Psalm 121:1-8

The promise of Heaven is very alluring to Christian hope–but how can we get there? Seen and unseen perils beset the way–and we have no strength to defend ourselves, or to keep our lives from hurt. To meet these dangers, however, we have the promise of a Guide who is able to guard us on from falling, even from stumbling–and to bring us at last unharmed, without blemish, to the door of our Father’s house. “For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death!” Psalm 48:14

The Bible gives many assurances of protection to the children of God, as they pass through this world. They dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. They take refuge under the wings of God. We never can get out from under the shadow of the Almighty. Wherever we may have to go–we shall always have the love of God over us.

There are also promises of protection. We have the assurance that God will not let you stumble and fall. So the divine thought extends even to our feet and to our steps, one by one. There is not an inch in all our pathway through this world, which is unwatched, on which the eye of God does not rest. The most watchful human love must sometimes close its eyes in sleep. The most loving mother must sometimes steal from the bedside of her little sick child, for a minute’s rest. But the divine care never slumbers nor fails, even for a moment! Indeed, “the One who watches over you will not sleep.”

In this world of danger, we need never vex ourselves with fear or anxiety–for God is watching, and He never sleeps! There is not a moment by day or by night when we are unguarded. There can be no sudden surprise or danger, by which God can be taken unaware.

Christ surrounds His people with an invisible protection, which nothing can tear away. In all our perils, struggles, and sorrows–He has us in His heart! “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

A Christian woman walking alone at night, was approached by a stranger.
He said, “I see you are alone.”
“No, sir, I am not alone; I have a friend with me.”
“I do not see anyone,” he said, looking round.
The woman quietly answered, “Jesus Christ is with me,” and the man turned and fled into the darkness.

So while Heaven seems far off, and while the way is full of enemies and dangers–yet no believer, not even the weakest, need perish on the way, nor fail to get home. Christ the mighty One, has build a road through the world–a safe and secure road, on which all His friends may journey under His guidance and guardianship, without hurt until they enter the Father’s house. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish–ever! No one can snatch them out of My hand!” John 10:28