Eternal Investments

Psalms 49:17
“For when he dies he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him.”

earth-heaven-streetsign.jpegHave you ever heard the phrase “You can’t take it with you”? It seems like this sentiment might be as old as time itself. Thousands of years ago the sons of Korah used it as a lyric in one of their most famous songs. The basic thought is that when this life comes to an end all that we have accomplished will be left behind. In recent years I heard a similar phrase that carries the same thought, “You never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.”

The reality we all must face is that life will one day come to an end and everything we have accomplished here will be left behind for the generations that come behind us. Solomon, because of his extensive worldly possessions struggled with this. He spoke of the folly of working hard to gain wealth only to leave it to those who did not work for it and would not see the value of it. Jesus spoke of the folly of a man who lived to store up earthly possessions without ever taking time to make eternal investments. Jesus commented on his actions and said,

Luke 12:21
“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

While it is true that we cannot take earthly possessions beyond the grave, that does not mean that we cannot make investments in eternity. Jesus spoke of storing up treasures in heaven. This reveals something wonderful about the economy of God. He has established a system where eternal rewards are given for everyday actions. What we do with our time, talents and treasures can have eternal benefits. While we could never bring an earthly item beyond the grave we can send things ahead. We can store up eternal rewards by making investments in the kingdom of God. This is done whenever we serve the Lord in any capacity. Eternity will reveal the vast and elaborate reward system God has established for those who live their lives in light of eternity.

But there is another important truth we might want to consider. When this life comes to an end we will all leave things behind. Whatever possessions we have acquired will become the inheritance of those who we have loved the most. For many the inheritance will be nothing more that an itemized spread sheet with a list of possessions and their earthly value. But for others they will leave behind a heritage worth far more than any piece of property or lump of cash. They are the ones who chose to live for Christ and have made a rut in life’s road so deep that the generation behind them feels almost compelled to keep following Christ.

No matter what your age or how you have lived up until today, it is time to start making eternal investments that will outlast your life and will set a good pattern for the generations behind you.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Psalm 50- Promises
2 Samuel 19- It’s Not Free
2 Samuel 20- Dissenter

Clap Your Hands

Psalm 47:1
“Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!”

Sometimes knowing the setting in which a psalm was written is beneficial to understanding its content. Other times, like in this psalm, the setting is not given because the truth is universal. Whatever our condition, whether we would classify it as good or bad, blessing or trial, God remains the same and is always worthy of the highest praise. The truths tucked away in this psalm transcend every experience the child of God endures. Whatever state you are currently facing, it is a good idea to clap your hands and shout out the loudest praise.

The Psalmist declares that God is awesome because He is the great King who subdues all things under His feet. Our praise is often lost when we become frightened or overwhelmed by circumstances beyond our control. We wonder how anything good could come from the difficulties we are facing. It is during those times that we must realize God is King of all the earth, and capable of moving mountains in order to accomplish His purposes. We can then learn to celebrate Him, even when are circumstances seem bleak.

The Psalmist declares that God will select our inheritance for us because He loves us dearly. For Israel, the inheritance speaks of the land allotted to each tribe. For the Christian, our inheritance is the blessed life God desires us to experience. Israel needed to trust God beyond fear and circumstance if they were to walk in the land. We must do the same if we are going to walk out the life God intends for us. We must be willing to set emotion and selfish desire aside, take up our cross, and walk after the things of Christ if we want to find the inheritance He has laid aside for each of us.

Finally, the Psalmist speaks of the shields of the earth belonging to God. What a blessing it is when we realize, the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. Sometimes, walking with the Lord will make us vulnerable and that can lead to worry and fear, unless we realize the center of His will is the safest place for us. Israel’s fear kept them from entering Canaan, which in turn put them outside of the protective care of God. What frightened them was the very thing keeping them from experiencing the protective care of God.

“Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!”

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
2 Samuel 17- Be Prepared
2 Samuel 18- Pride
Psalm 48- Growing In Christ

Worship

Psalm 45:11b
Because He is your Lord, worship Him.”

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This is a Messianic Psalm, meaning that it is speaking prophetically of Israel’s coming Messiah. In it, the Psalmist is describing the glory of Jesus, our King, and the beauty of His Bride, the church. After describing Jesus as the King of Glory, girded with a sword, overthrowing wickedness, ruling in righteousness and reigning in glory, he speaks of the proper response from His people.

“Because He is your Lord, worship Him.”

The word “worship” is a translation of the Hebrew word “shachah”, which means to “bow down before and to give homage to.” It is a word that would be used of a person who was entering the presence of royalty and giving the proper honor. The Psalmist is declaring that the child of God is expected to enter the presence of King Jesus bowing and expressing worship.

Sometimes, it is surprising to me how some people misuse a time of corporate worship. Some treat it like the previews at the movie theater. For them, the real show does not start until the Bible study. So they regularly wander in missing most of the worship time. Others, look at worship as a concert. If the rendition of the song was done in a style they like (the volume was not too loud or too quiet, the performance did not drag on too long) then it was good worship. Still others treat worship like watching their favorite sport. If their team is doing well, their emotions rise up, and they express it with cheers. If their team is losing they are slumped over, sad and quiet. In other words, worship for some is based completely upon emotion. If they view their current circumstances as positive, then they are filled with expressive praise, but if things are not going the way they want, worship stops. The psalmist has an entirely different view of worship.

“Because He is your Lord, worship Him.”

To him, worship has a lot more to do who God is, than with us. He calls us to worship because of the glory of our Lord. I think we need to place less importance on musical style, and personal experience, and more upon the nature and character of our God. Regardless of what struggles you are facing today, the proper response is,

“Because He is your Lord, worship Him.”

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Psalm 46- Help In Trouble
2 Samuel 15- Memory Lane
2 Samuel 16- Love, Mercy and Grace

 

Vindicate Me

Psalms 43:1
“Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause…”

Unknown.jpegArguments take place when we have differences of opinion. Both parties think they are right and the other is wrong. When these differences of opinion escalate they often lead to serious divisions. Marriages, families and churches have often been the unwary victims of intense argumentation. When arguments take place we have probably learned what to do when we are in the wrong; we humbly apologize and seek to make whatever restitution is necessary. But what about when we are right. Have you ever considered the proper action to take when you are in the midst of a misunderstanding between yourself and someone you care about? Perhaps it would do us good to reconsider what we do when we think we are right. David wrote;

“Vindicate me Oh Lord” 

Vindication is a word that speaks of judgment. It is used when we think that we are right and want other to know it. We want our case examined so that everyone will know that the accusations brought against us are false. This word is most commonly used of someone who has been falsely accused of a crime, but might also fit in a relationship where a misunderstanding or difference of opinion has escalated into an argument that has created a rift. When we find ourselves in a situation like that the best way to move forward is to get alone with God and ask Him to search our hearts and our actions and vindicate us.

I recall an incident when my wife and I had been in an argument. We both walked away upset with the other. When I sat down with the Lord and began to plead my case before Him I soon sensed that He was speaking to me. It is as if I heard Him say that while my position was right the way I went about it was completely wrong. I had not considered my wife, her feelings or her vantage point in the situation. Asking God to vindicate me led to a realization that there were things I could do differently in the situation. When we later sat down to address the situation I was able to apologize, listen to her side and we could rationally address the situation together.

The next time being right leads you to a conflict with another take the time to sit before the Lord and ask Him to search your heart and direct your path.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Psalm 44- Victorious
2 Samuel 13- What’s Love Got To Do With It?
2 Samuel 14- Banished

The Poor

Psalms 41:1
“Blessed is he who considers the poor;
The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.”

images-3.jpegThe Bible has much to say about the poor. The word poor is used almost 200 times in the NKJV of the Bible, Israel as a nation was required to set up a system where the poor was able to glean the edges of the fields to provide food for themselves and their families (This is part of the story line of the book of Ruth). Jesus spoke of blessing the poor, and encouraged His disciples to minister to them. In the book of Acts we see the churches sending aid to believers who were undergoing severe trials caused by famine and persecution and James writes warning the church not to neglect the poor or to treat them any less than we would the wealthy. It is clear that those who are neglected by men are highly esteemed by the Lord. That being said the Bible also places certain responsibilities upon the poor. The welfare system in Israel required the poor to work for the food they received and Solomon wrote that “much food is in the fallow ground of the poor.” When Paul wrote to Timothy regarding the widows he explained that the church had a responsibility to assist the widows who were godly but charity would not help those who were living a wasteful life.

As a follower of Christ it is important to see what you have as a blessing from God and to recognize that it all belongs to God. That attitude will help you hold on much more loosely to what you have received and cause you to be more willing to assist those who are in need.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Psalm 42- Thirsty
2 Samuel 11- It Happened One Evening
2 Samuel 12- Loss

Guard My Tongue

Psalm 39:1-3
“I said, ‘I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me. I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; And my sorrow was stirred up. My heart was hot within me; While I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue:’”

There are times in life when words seem like a raging fire building within us and we are almost forced to speak. This can be positive, like when Jeremiah wrote of being so discouraged he no longer wanted to share the words of God with anyone, until those words became like a fire within him and he could no longer  contain them. Or this can be negative, like when gossip burns within us, pleading to be passed on to others; or when in the midst of an argument, we lash out with hurtful words that shatter someone we love.

Perhaps we can learn something from the pen of David. He wrote,  at those times he restrained himself by putting a muzzle on his tongue. I doubt David is speaking literally of a mechanism that restrained his mouth from moving. I think, instead, he set guidelines for his life that restricted him from saying foolish or hurtful things. We can do the same. The bible gives us some valuable guidelines which will help us control what comes out of our mouths. We can use the following verses like a muzzle, to keep us from sinning with our mouths.

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

1 Peter 3:9 “. . . not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”

Proverbs 11:13  “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”

Proverbs 15:1  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Psalm 40- Miry Clay
2 Samuel 9- Kindness
2 Samuel 10- Courage

Slippery Slope

Psalm 37:31 
“The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”

I am a sports fan. I enjoy watching a variety of athletics, and am always fascinated when an athlete achieves victory, almost effortlessly. No matter what the opponents do, they are unable to stop him. Over the years, I have come to understand that those who seem to win with the least effort, are really the ones who have put in the most effort. They are the ones who are first in the gym and last out. Their diets, workouts, sleep patterns, even off days, are regimented so as to keep them in the best possible condition for victory.

The same is true of the child of God. If we want to have success in our walk with the Lord, we need to be willing to invest time with the Lord. David gives the secret to success for the righteous: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”

Sometimes, walking with the Lord is like traversing a narrow mountain path with loose rock, over a sheer cliff. “Sliding steps” is a picture of falling into sin, and away from the Lord. It is all too common an occurrence to hear that our church friend has lost his way and fallen into one sin or another. The secret to avoiding the fall is: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”

We have all been in church and heard the testimony of someone who is serving the Lord. They talk of the great things God is doing in and through their lives. They share of people coming to Christ, and growing in Christ. We look on with envy, wondering how it is possible that they are being used so mightily by the Lord, while we are struggling just to get by. The secret of their success is: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” We read of the great men and women in Scripture, who overcame great obstacles, and achieved great victory in the fight of faith. They are the champions of Christianity, the heroes of Faith, the ones we long to meet in eternity and hear their stories first hand. They are the ones who conquered giants, knocked down walls, walked on water, led revivals, started churches and won the lost to Christ. The secret behind their success was: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”

If we want to be one who overcomes the struggles with the flesh, impacts the world for the kingdom of heaven, and leaves an example behind that others can follow, the secret is: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Let’s be sure to take the time to get the Law of God in our hearts.

Go to www.ccvb.net and join us as we read through the Bible. You will find a reading schedule, chapter questions, and a daily devotional to help you get: “The law of his God is in (your) heart; none of (your) steps shall slide.”

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:

Psalm 38- Guilt Free
2 Samuel 7- So Far So Good
2 Samuel 8- A Line In The Sand