Promises

John 14:1
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

We live in troublesome times. Many face the fear of cancer or some other illness. The economy has shattered the comforts we once thought we had, or would enjoy. And after thousands of years of written history, the heart of man has not improved. We read of nations on the brink of war, violent crime haunting even the most peaceful communities, and global acts of terrorism on the rise. All this, and sadly much more, cause us to fear for our own safety, and for the future for our children and grandchildren.

In the midst of this, Jesus gives us His great and precious promises. This chapter begins with a simple exhortation that is followed up with promise after promise, which makes the exhortation possible. Jesus says,

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

A troubled heart is one of the most common ailments men face. When our hearts fail, it is next to impossible to press on. We find ourselves weakened and filled with fear. The promises of Jesus are the cure for the troubled heart.

“I go to prepare a place for you.”

“I will come again and receive you to Myself”

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father”

“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth”

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Cling to the promises of God and watch Him replace fear and worry with confident obedience. John said:

“Greater is He that is in you than He who is in the world”

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 9- Game Day
Deuteronomy 10- Timeless

Foot Washing

John 13:10
“He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean;…”

Living in Israel at the time of Christ, it was impossible to walk the streets of Jerusalem without getting dirty. Open-toed sandals in a desert climate made for dirty streets and dirty feet. One solution was the custom of foot washing. Whenever a guest entered a home, the host was responsible for ensuring that the feet of the guest were washed. When Jesus gathered with the disciples for the Passover meal, he took on the role of the host, and began to wash their feet. As expected, Peter had something to say about the actions of Jesus. First he resisted, to which Jesus explained,

“If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

In response, Peter replied,

“Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

To which Jesus said,

“He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean;…”

The washing of the disciples’ feet serves as a great example of serving one another, but it also illustrates something about the Christian walk. Just as it was impossible to walk the streets of Jerusalem and not get dirty feet, so it is impossible to live in our world and not get a little dirty. Even when we determine to live committed to Christ, we come into contact with things that defile us, and even trigger the desires of the flesh. It might happen sitting in a waiting room, glancing down at a magazine with a seductive photo on the cover; or in the break room at work, when someone decides to share a crude or off-color joke. One way or another, we get the mud of the world on us.

The solution is not to isolate ourselves completely from the world. After all, Jesus sent us into the world as witnesses of the resurrection. No, the solution is foot washing. I am not speaking of reinstating the custom of washing feet, but of what I believe it represents in our walk with God. Paul spoke to the Ephesians about “The washing of water by the Word of God” (Ephesians 5:26). God’s Word has a cleansing effect in our lives. When we get the muck of the world splattered on us, the solution is to sit down and let God’s Word wash it away. How refreshing it is to sit with our Bibles, and allow him to give our minds a cleansing.

Just as there is no better way to start the day than with God’s Word, there is also no better way to end the day.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 7- Winning Daily Battles
Deuteronomy 8- Testophobia

Spiritual Accounting

John 12:11
“On account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.”

The word “account” means “by reason of”. It means, Lazarus was the reason many put their trust in Christ. His life and his experiences with Christ were having a magnetic effect; drawing others to consider Christ for themselves.

We use the word account in another way. We refer to our bank account. At the end of every month we receive a statement reminding us of both deposits and withdrawals. Those statements reveal a lot to us about the way we live, and the things that are most important to us. In some ways, our life is like a financial statement. At the end of the month we can look back and see how we have spent our time.

Lazarus was a man who spent his time following Jesus. As a result, his life became a testimony of the goodness of God. We know Him to have been a follower and friend of Jesus. We know His home was a place where the disciples often gathered, and where Jesus was welcomed, worshipped, and served. We also know his life was a walking miracle. The result of his living for Christ, was a spiritual bank account filled with many who believed in Christ.

The miracle of Lazarus’ life was the work of God in him. He did not raise himself from the dead, but he did determine that he would be a follower of Christ; putting himself in a place where Christ could work in him. God desires to give life. We read in John 10:10, Jesus promised abundant life; and in John 1:4, His life was the light that drew men to Himself. The more of our life we allow Jesus to have, the more of His life we will experience, and the greater impact we will have on others for the kingdom of Heaven.

What is on your spiritual spreadsheet? If we were given a glimpse into your spiritual bank account, what would we find? What treasures are you storing up? Have you determined to live your life in a way that affects others for the Kingdom of God? Very few things are more valuable than living to have an impact upon others for eternity. It strikes me, that without ever preaching a sermon, going on a mission trip, or leading a praise band, Lazarus was able to impact the lives of so many for the kingdom of God.

Wouldn’t it be great to read that many believed in Jesus on account of you?

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 5- 10 Commandments
Deuteronomy 6- Teach Them Diligently

Difficulties With People

John 11:3
“Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

One of the great struggles of life is how to reconcile a loving God with the difficulties of life. Every day, all over the world, people are confronted with tragedies. Difficulties hit like a storm and wreak havoc on their lives. It is not until we find ourself facing one of these trying times, that we are undone by it. It is at that point, we begin to ask, “How could a loving God allow my brother to suffer like that?” or “If God loved me, He would not have taken him from me.”

There is no question we face difficulties, and the illness or loss of a loved one is one of the greatest trials we will ever face. However, these trials are not without purpose. Notice the response of Jesus to the situation His loved ones were facing,

John 11:4
“This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Death is not the ultimate purpose of life. We are not here to simply live, work, pay taxes and die. The trials of life have a purpose, and that purpose is the glory of God. One of the most freeing thoughts is realizing that our lives belong to God. He created us, redeemed us, and did so with a distinct purpose in mind. The things we face that are beyond our control, have been designed by God to bring Him glory. If we will stop in the midst of the tragedy, and seek the Lord for His purpose, we will find that our life, like that of Lazarus and his sisters, will be used for the glory of God. Later we read concerning him,

John 12:9-11
“Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.

How cool is that! The hardship they faced led many to  believe in Christ. We know the result of a person believing in Christ is that their sins are forever forgiven, God takes up residence in their lives, begins to transform them from the inside out, and gives them eternal life. There is no greater reward in life than to be used by God to positively effect someone’s eternity.

Together, let’s live for the glory of God, even in the midst of our difficulties. Life is short, eternity is forever.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 3- Attack
Deuteronomy 4- This Is Wisdom

His Word

John 10:21
“Others said, ‘These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’”

Those struggling to determine if Jesus is truly the Son of God and Savior of man, are influenced by both His words, and the lives of those who believe in Him. Certainly, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, but the believer is the light of the world, casting light upon the Gospel of God. Jesus exhorts us to let our light shine before men, that they may see our good works and glorify God (Matthew 5:16).

It has been my experience that people are most often drawn to the Lord by the lives of others. One family member, co-worker, or friend influences another, and that influence creates a willingness to listen to the Word of God. The more we allow Jesus to impact our life, the greater influence we will have on lives around us. Many of the great works Jesus did in the lives of individuals, were the result of their exercising extreme faith. They believed God to do the impossible in their lives, and the result was impossible things were accomplished. Maybe today it is time to trust that God will do in you what cannot be done any other way. Perhaps you have been struggling with drinking, smoking, pornography, gossip, or some other sin that is holding you back. If that is the case, why not exercise extreme faith; trust God to help you overcome. Not only will you find victory in your personal life, but you will have a testimony that will draw others to the Words of Christ, the very Words that are capable of saving the soul.

Let’s live out loud!

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 1- Walking In Circles
Deuteronomy 2- Victory In Battles

 

I Was Blind…

John 9:25
“One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

John 9 records an event that changed a man’s life forever. That event was an encounter with the Son of God. John tells his readers that Jesus sought out a man who had lived his whole life in darkness, and with the power of God, removed his blindness and provided him with sight. We would expect the rest of this chapter to be filled with rejoicing. Instead, we read of an environment where the work of God in a person’s life put him under scrutiny. Even this man’s parents are afraid to celebrate the work of God, because of the way they will be treated by their culture. How sad, that a nation birthed by God, would become a place where those most impacted by God, would be the most persecuted.

Our world is not unlike that today. It seems the moment a person makes a decision to receive and follow Christ, they become the object of harassment. For some, our families try to talk us out of the decision we have made. For others, our friends make it their aim to get us to return to the lifestyle we were involved in before coming to Christ; even if that lifestyle may have been destructive or deadly. For all, we find ourselves on the receiving end of mockery, prejudice and verbal persecution from the media and popular opinion.

I am encouraged by the response of this young man to the hostility he faced. As he sat before the religious and political rulers of his community, they attempted to convince him that Jesus was not the Christ, the Son of God. This young man did not get into an argument, he did not attempt to answer all the theological questions they threw at him; instead he simply shared what he knew.

“One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

One of the most effective witnessing tools in a Christian’s arsenal is your own personal testimony. How did you come to Christ? What has Jesus done in your life since you received Him? What is He doing in your life today? Take some time today to reflect upon the work of God in your own life, then open your eyes to see someone with whom you can share your testimony. More powerful than all the theological arguments of the Pharisees, was the sight of a man born blind.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Numbers 35- Refuge
Numbers 36- Looking To The Future

Set Free

John 8:34
“ Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”

James explains the process of sin,

James 1:14-16
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

The gist of what he is saying is, while sin promises to bring pleasure, it can only produce death. We have all found that to be true. We all face temptations, and those temptations make promises, but when sin gets its hooks in us, we find that it really destroys. We find that instead of serving us, we are the slaves of sin. One of the worst elements of slavery is the hopelessness  it produces. When a person is bound up in sin, they see no way out. They may have resolved over and over to quit, but the grip of sin is too great, and they find themselves bound to it once again.

Into this hopeless scene, Jesus enters with a message to liberate captives. Earlier, He declared He came to set the captives free.

John 8:31-32
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”

Jesus promises, what resolve, counseling, even incarceration have been unable to do, He will accomplish through His Word. The process is in two parts. First, believe in Him. When you do, He will come into your life and wash the guilt, and penalty of your sins, away from you. Second, abide in His Word. The same Word that spoke the world into existence, healed the lame and the blind, and even raised the dead, is the same Word that can transform your life. It can unloose the grip sin has on you, giving you true freedom and a fresh start.

Today, if you find yourself enslaved by sin, I am sure you have lost a great deal in life because of it. You have given up personal freedom, and both negatively and drastically, impacted those who you love. I am sure you have also tried everything to be set free. You may even feel like the Pharisees who said;

“How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” John 8:33

Rather than question the promises of Jesus, how about obeying them? Let’s determine together that we will receive Him and daily dive into His Word, trusting that He will transform our lives.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Numbers 33- Abundant Life
Numbers 34- Innumerable Promises