I Will Be Exalted

By Dakota

Psalm 46:10a says:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

In times of uncertainty or of pain a good friend will offer words of comfort to still a turbulent soul. After a break-up, someone might say “Cheer up; there’s plenty of fish in the sea”. After losing a game, someone might say “Hang in there; there’s always tomorrow”. This pattern of condolence is common in our world, and is meant to give hope to the listener.

In this time of uncertainty, with Covid-19, government-mandated shutdowns, loss of employment, and stock market drops, many Christians are looking to Scripture to provide hope and bring peace into their lives. However, it seems everywhere I’ve heard this verse shared – from radio to social media platforms – the deeper context seems to be missing. I understand we live in a time of sound-bites and click-bait, where we move at the speed of instantaneous updates. People want the bottom line, and don’t have time for anything else. But if you’re willing to bear with me, I think taking a look at the context of this passage will help us to both understand the psalm better, and understand God’s heart better, which will lead us into greater worship – in both spirit and truth.

The psalm begins:

“God is our refuge and strength,

    a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam,

    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah”

Notice the verbiage here: “we will not fear” is future; “God is our refuge” is present. The foundation for hope and the source of our help is God himself. Because the psalmist has grounded himself in the Lord, no earthly upheaval will shake him.

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

    the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;

    God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;

    he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us;

    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah”

Moving from physical, earthly forces (mountains, seas, etc.) in the beginning, we now see human forces in upheaval. Nations and Kingdoms are uncertain here, and at the voice of the Lord they melt. The Lord has power over both inanimate and personal forces. The psalmist here calls for God’s people to remain steady, using for the first time what becomes a refrain: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Though God has the power to destroy even our mightiest efforts, he “is with us”.

“Come, behold the works of the Lord,

    how he has brought desolations on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

    he burns the chariots with fire.”

God has ended wars and laid to waste human endeavors. What are we to do? Where do we have hope?

“Be still, and know that I am God.

    I will be exalted among the nations,

    I will be exalted in the earth!”

God speaks here. What action does he call us to? Stillness. For what reason? Our comfort in all the tumult and all the uncertainty of the world is knowing YHWH is Lord, and he will be exalted. That is our condolence. That is our source of comfort. The glory of God’s name will spread throughout all the creation. And notice again the physical and human forces here, “earth” and “the nations”, respectively. Make the Lord your source, and you will have peace. If you put hope in physical health, economic gain, or even meaningful employment, you will likely be disappointed. But if your hope is that God’s name will be praised, you will never be disappointed. That is our comfort.

“The Lord of hosts is with us;

    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah”

The victor is on our side. Nothing can shake us.


Whose Voice?

Patrick Vestal

The Assyrian and, then ultimately, Babylonian exile is one of- if not the biggest events in the Old Testament. Many books- both those you would expect like Ezekiel, Daniel and ones you wouldn’t expect like Ruth and Job- focus on the exile of God’s people. Both exiles were horrible events. Many people were killed, villages were burned and destroyed, livestock and crops killed and many people were enslaved. We simply don’t have anything else to compare to these atrocious events. 

The question surrounding the events leading up to the exile and the exile itself was, “Who’s voice?” Who could be trusted, who even knew the truth to tell it? Who was in authority? Who should I listen to and obey? The Israelites chose to listen to voices that told them what they wanted to hear. The prophets that God sent were mistreated and even killed because they spoke counter-culturally. 

Today, we live in a culture of extremes, fear and panic. We’re sold vast insurances and schemes to protect ourselves from any kind of harm. We go to great lengths to make sure that we are taken care of. At any moment, it seems, the news media wants to shift our attention from one emergent thing to the next. It leaves us scared and exhausted or jaded and apathetic. Neither of those are appropriate responses. 

In Isaiah 39, the people are told that exile is coming upon them. It’s no longer a question of “if” but “when.” All of those hardships are going to befall them. It’s a time when we may think God is furthest away. It’s a time for panic and dread- right? No. That’s not how God responds. In the very next sentence God says, “Comfort, comfort my people. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” 

Isaiah rightly asks, “What should I say?!” It’s the same question that we may find ourselves saying from time to time. “What could I possibly say to make things better or to help or to encourage? Who am I to say anything to someone who’s going through something so difficult.” 

God’s response in 40:6-31 is one of the most comprehensive passages on God’s character in the Bible. For Jesus followers, the voice we need to be listening to is God’s. The message that we need to be talking about, sharing with others and focusing on is about God’s character and the Gospel of Jesus. The people that are around you that don’t know Jesus- in the grocery store or on your social media- are scared. They have no foundation for hope of a better future. Don’t get caught in the trap of spreading fear and anguish. You have a better story than that to share. 

In Isaiah 40 a number of questions are raised about present circumstances. God’s refrain is, “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” followed by a statement about God’s sovereignty. Times change, hardships come and go, nations rise and nations fall but God remains. He is faithful, powerful and loving. His word is the “news” we should be tuning into and his gospel should be the refrain on our lips. 

“Why do you complain, Jacob?

    Why do you say, Israel,

‘My way is hidden from the Lord;

    my cause is disregarded by my God’? 

Do you not know?

    Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,

    and his understanding no one can fathom.”

Isaiah 40:27-28


Generosity in Scarcity

Patrick Vestal

I’ve been thinking a lot about the situation in which we find ourselves. Throughout the scriptures there are a lot of examples of widespread hardships. From famines and droughts that lasted for years and oppressive kingdoms and authorities mistreating people, the Israelites were no strangers to hardship. As I was reflecting on this the last two weeks, I couldn’t shake the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17). There’s been a famine for a while- Elijah says it will last for a few years. Elijah had been living by a brook, being fed by ravens. Then, God tells him to go to Zarephath where God has appointed a woman to care for him. When Elijah arrives and asks for water and bread she says, “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 


Whoa! She doesn’t seem prepared to care for another person for a couple years. She hasn’t saved up. She doesn’t have a store of extra that she’s been planning on sharing with others when hardship comes. And yet! God provided for them. Everyday could have been the last day. Each new day they were totally dependent on God to supply for their needs. 


What if she had ignored Elijah in his need? We can’t say for sure- but it’s likely that she would have eaten the last bread and taken her last drink. Instead, she chose to act outside of her own best interest and in the interest of the man in need- because of this great act she was sustained until the end of the famine and her son, who had died of sickness, was brought back to life by God through Elijah. 


I’ve been wondering what the global Church’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic should look like. I don’t have the heavy burden of people who are wiser, more powerful and more influential than I. I’m not in the place to have answers to bigger questions. However, I am in the place to love and care for my neighbor. I am in the place to look out for those who are less fortunate than myself and see what ways I can be serving them. Wisdom and prudence in health and safety definitely have their place- but suppose circumstances don’t get better. Suppose God’s will is that the widespread hardship continues and becomes worse, are we going to be found sitting idly by as people suffer and perish? 

James 1:27

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.


Kingdom Opportunities

By Mike Teague

Last week I was reading about a group of people that left on a 25 day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon before the corona virus outbreak. They returned after 25 days without contact with anyone to a world that was much different than when they left. You can read the entire account here. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/opinion/coronavirus-news.html?searchResultPosition=1

These folks had to grapple with the reality that their life had changed. They had no warning, no time to adjust, for them the shift was dramatic. Relatively speaking, this happened quickly for all of us. We all find ourselves in a world that is much different than it was 2 months ago. For the people coming out of the Grand Canyon to this new world, they wanted to go back onto the river and back to the way things were. This is quite likely our desire as well. However, as believers, we are not called to hide, ignore or run from the difficult things in this world. We should instead look for opportunities in this new world we live in. Who is now more open to hearing the Gospel? Who is more accessible for us to build relationships with?  Who is looking for hope? Who is in need that we can help?

We can view this crisis as a time to hide from reality or at the other extreme, fight against reality. But if we choose to do either of these things, we are investing time and energy in something that will be fruitless in the end. Instead, let’s embrace this new reality, not because we love it or because it is what we would have chosen, but because there is opportunity for the Kingdom of God in this difficult time.

We can look to Galatians 6:9-10 for the call for us: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

This is a world we did not imagine 2 months ago, but that does not mean that we should retreat. Rather we should be grab ahold of the opportunities that we now have. The reality is that at some point, these opportunities will pass. People will find a new normal and will come up with ways to cope and numb the glaring need for hope that they feel right now. Let is not grow weary or wither, but boldly build the Kindgom of God. Take a few moments right now and consider where there are new opportunities for the Kingdom of God to advance in your circle of influence. Take action on those opportunities now while people’s eyes and ears are open to the Truth.


Living Hope

By Stephanie Teague

Hope is a funny thing. To hope is to be human. And hope is tricky, because in everyday life, it can be difficult to really grasp and understand what our hope is in. God speaks to us, as believers, very clearly about what our hope should be in. I think most of us would say that our hope is in the Lord. And that’s good!

But nothing reveals the truth of what our hope is in like crisis.  Gone are the flowery words and feelings of hope when calamity threatens everything we have. Hope begins to feel distant.

When we come to this place, my prayer for all of us is that we would let this be an opportunity. An opportunity to clearly see what we have placed our hope in.  To honestly look at our hearts.

Am I more worried about my stock portfolio than my neighbors who don’t know Jesus?

Am I so worried about health that I am neglecting the Word?

Am I so fearful that I am not reflecting the goodness and sovereignty of our great God?

Do I care more about my earthly life than the reality of heaven and eternity with God?

Do my actions reflect the belief that Jesus is the King?

If you are like me, some of these will make you cringe or think more deeply. But lets not stop there. Lets push in on some of these things and draw near to God.

When we look at this place as an opportunity to see clearly, we begin to assume the correct posture. Lets confess our false hopes, repent of our false hope. But then what? What do we replace those hopes with?

The next step is to examine carefully in the scriptures what our hope really is.


1Peter 1:3-9

“”Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Our hope is alive! Our hope is Jesus! Our hope is the salvation of our souls!

Our hope isn’t in changed circumstances, better security, physical safety, perfect health or any other earthly thing that will pass away.  Our hope is in the One we love, though we have not seen Him. This is hope that can never be extinguished. This hope in the one who ransomed your life with His own, took your  sin, shame and guilt on himself, can never be extinguished.  The perfect, sinless, Son of God has paid your debt with His own life so that you can have eternal life with Him in heaven.This is the hope that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you. No earthly circumstance will change that.

As things all around us look bleak, dark and frightening, we cling to the promise that our hope is alive.  We rejoice and praise God because we know that our short time on earth is nothing compared to the beauty of eternity spent with our Savior.  We rejoice in the face of trials. As Jesus followers, our hope should be on full display in these challenging times. Talk to everyone you see about why you don’t fear. Why death is not the end for you. What Jesus has done for you.  And praise God who has caused you to be born again to this living hope!


Fear Not

Submitted by Dave Busch from Our Daily Bread

Mark 9: 30-32


They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

We’ve all been there. In a place where we simply can’t accept what is right in front of us.

But take note: This isn’t stupidity. This isn’t obstinacy. This isn’t a rigid unwillingness to face the facts. This is fear. Listen to Mark’s description again: “But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.”

Why such fear? Simply because they could not imagine how anything of what Jesus was saying could be true. How could Jesus, who spent his time teaching and healing and feeding and driving out demons…how could Jesus suffer the way he described? How could someone this good be killed.

But it was more than that, too. Because Jesus doesn’t just predict that he will suffer, but that he will be betrayed. And you can only be betrayed by those you trust. Which implicates them in the dark events to come. How could any of them betray their Lord? How could any of this possibly be true?

This whole picture is simply too terrible to face. It is too frightening. They don’t understand and, quite frankly, don’t want to. Not out of stubbornness, but out of fear.

Which makes me wonder if they even heard the last part, “and three days after being killed, he will rise again.”

Fear does that. It consumes you. It narrows options and constricts your vision of the future. Fear saps hope and strangles the imagination. Fear renders us powerless. Fear of the future. Fear of being alone. Fear of harm, of hopelessness,. Fear of never being accepted or loved or valued. Fear destroys possibility. And in this sense, fear, in some ways even more than death, is the opposite of life.

Which is why Jesus came. To take on our fear and die for our sins. To face what we could not. To travel to the cross, alone if necessary, because everyone else is too afraid.

And having mastered his fear, having born ours, having endured the fear of death and death itself by hanging on the cross, he creates a new possibility. Notice, he does not defeat death. What Jesus does, finally, is die.Yet God raises him from the dead. That is, Jesus conquers fear in the only way possible: by trusting the love and mercy of God. By trusting that the life God promises and gives us, is finally, greater than death. The only way through fear is by love and trusting God. And that’s what Jesus does, trusts the love of God. And in doing that He makes it possible for us, also,to know and experience God’s love and find the ability to trust as well. 
Our Daily Bread, July 12th, 2012


Oh Death, Where Is Your Sting?

Pastor Mike Teague
I was reading in 1 Corinthians this week and I came across this passage. I was struck by how Paul approaches the chaos in his own life and the lives of believers in the Roman empire. The whole chapter is great but I’ll cite verses 51-58.
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Paul is calling the Corinthians to hope and he is pointing them toward the return of Christ. These believers were well aware of the danger, uncertainty and volatility around them. This book was written in 57 A.D. and by 64 A.D. Nero was burning Christians in his garden. They were looking for hope and Paul points them to the reality Jesus is the victor over death and sin. And because of His death, burial and resurrection, we are now also victorious over death in Christ. We no longer need to fear death, it has no sting for us anymore.
In light of this truth, Paul then calls believers to have a Kingdom attitude, to be steadfast and immovable (despite the chaos around them) in the security and victory that we have in Jesus. And from that victory, we should be “abounding in the work of the Lord.” My prayer is that we as a church will take this truth to heart and will be faithful to work hard at Kingdom things, especially now. We can give hope, encouragement, time, resources, the Gospel, care, support and a whole list of other things that will show the love of Christ to the world around us. Our call is to be sacrificial in our love for those around us, let’s choose to lean into this call and serve Christ wholeheartedly, “knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”


How Majestic

By Dakota Searles
Mt. Adams sits 12,307 feet tall (more than 100 feet taller than Mt. Hood!) on the tip of a perfect triangle, due north of Hood River, due east of Mt. St. Helens. Yet, because of other hills in the area, and its distance from Portland, it’s not frequently seen or known. At one particular spot that I drive by on 222nd Ave. on my way to work I may get a good view of the mountain. On Monday morning as I drove to work, the beauty of this towering rock struck me. I stared (longer than I should have while driving) at the brilliant white against the blue sky. It was majestic. And as I looked and pondered the view, two passages popped into my head, the first being Psalm 8 which says:

O LORD, our Lord,

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens…

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,

    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

    and crowned him with glory and honor.

You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

    you have put all things under his feet…

Our God knows us and cares for us. Though we stand minuscule in comparison with the moon and the stars, and even the mountains, we carry God’s own image, giving us a crown of glory and honor and dominion over creation, setting us apart from the rest.

The second passage comes from Matthew 6:27-33 where Jesus says: “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “

Let’s seek Him in this time of uncertainty, convinced that He cares for us.

O LORD, our Lord,

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!