Much Love?

Luke 7:40
“Simon, I have something to say to you.”

IMG_1492The event which occurs in the house of Simon the Pharisee stands out to me as one of the most fascinating in the New Testament. No miraculous healing takes place: the deaf do not hear, the blind do not see, nor are the dead raised. Yet this story is both priceless and timeless in the truth it reveals. It is the story of two people and their view of Jesus. Simon was a religious man that showed interest in Jesus. He valued Jesus more than many of his contemporaries.

While other religious leaders were plotting the death of Jesus, Simon was opening his home to Him. He was willing to invite Jesus in, dine with Him, and listen to what He had to say. Then there is the woman. She is quite different from Simon. She is described simply as a sinner. In all probability, she was a prostitute. When she entered the house she did what was customary for the host to do, she washed the feet of Jesus, but  in a very unorthodox way. Instead of a bucket of water and a towel, she used her tears and her hair. It seems she came to Jesus with the purpose of anointing Him with perfume. As she approached Him, she became overwhelmed with emotion, and began to express worship with reckless abandonment. Those who looked on were shocked, both by the behavior of this woman, and by the reaction of Jesus. In response to this Jesus said,

“Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

This woman’s unrestrained worship flowed out because she knew what Christ had done for her. She knew she was a sinner and desperately in need of the Savior. She placed the highest value upon Jesus, and gave all that she had. Simon was no less in need of Christ than this young woman. His sins, though different, were no less. He was as desperately in need of a Savior as she, but his religious activities blinded him of his need.

How about you? Have you seen your need for the Savior? Do you understand that He has forgiven you of a debt greater than you could ever pay? How do you respond to this? Do you come to Him prepared to worship? Are you willing to give all you have and all you are, to show your love to Him, for all He has done for you? After all, Jesus said the greatest of all commandments was to love Him.

To understand His love for us, we do not need to sin more, we simply need to understand that we are sinners. Take time right now to worship Him, and when you gather for public worship, come prepared to give of all that you are.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Leviticus 12- Bad Connection
Leviticus 13- Unclean

Forgive

Luke 6:38
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

IMG_1489Giving is an important part of being a Christian. Our checkbook often reflects our heart. The things that matter most to us are the things on which we spend our hard earned money. When we are struggling about whether we can trust God with our finances, we are sometimes reminded of this verse. While it is true God is trustworthy and we will never be able to out give Him, I think we have missed a key message from this verse. Note with me the context; Jesus has been speaking of the Father’s mercy. He tells us God is kind to the unthankful and the evil, and we should be like our heavenly Father. Rather than being critical of every action, we should forgive one another.

Forgiveness is a simple concept: it means to treat someone as though they had never wronged you. In the U.S., once a person has been acquitted of a crime, they can never be charged for that crime again. It has been forgiven. In the same way, when someone wrongs us, we must forgive them; we must acquit them of all charges, and treat them as if it never happened. A common phrase today is “forgive and forget”, but the reality is, the things that are hardest to forgive, are the things we cannot forget. Forgiveness is a choice. I must determine not to let the wrongs done to me stand in the way of behaving like my Heavenly Father and being merciful and kind to the unthankful. When we choose to forgive, Jesus promises that within us we will experience an overflow.

Perhaps what you need is a release from some past hurt that is holding you back. This morning, will you choose to forgive? Then you will see Him fulfill all He has promised.

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Leviticus 10- Holy Life
Leviticus 11- Forbidden Food

Jesus Saves Sinners

Luke 5:30
“Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

IMG_1486The scribes and Pharisees are complaining about Jesus’ actions. They do not think He should meet with sinners. I hear this complaint every time we gather as a church for corporate worship. It is not the voice of the Pharisees that I hear, but my own voice. I begin to think of all the reasons why I cannot enter into the presence of God, enjoy access to the throne of Grace or experience His work in my life. I am reminded of my sins, both the things that I have done and what I have failed to do. Along with those thoughts, comes an overwhelming sense of not being worthy to enter His presence. It is at that moment when this great truth rings out from His Word:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32

Although hidden and unconfessed sin will hinder your relationship with, and experience of, God, Jesus came for sinners. When He entered the synagogue in Capernaum He was drawn to the man with the withered hand. In a room filled with people, He did not avoid the one who needed Him most, but was drawn to Him. He does the same thing today. The very things that we think keep us from being able to meet with Him and experience His grace, are the very things He wants to address in our lives.

If you have sin you have yet to deal with, that you are holding onto, confess it, lay it at His feet, and let Him wash you and empower you for victory. Don’t let your failures keep you from coming to Him, worshipping Him, and experiencing His marvelous grace and power in your life. After all, it was not the voice of Jesus that was keeping the sinners away, He is calling for you.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Leviticus 8- By The Blood
Leviticus 9- Let’s Worship

The Brokenhearted

Luke 4:18
“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, . . .”

IMG_1483Since man’s greatest problem is sin, man’s greatest need is for a savior. We don’t have to look too far to see that we are a fallen race. War, prejudice, and crime are all around us. Even within our own homes we have anger, lust, fear and unforgiveness. We are a people desperately in need of God. The great news of the Bible is that God came to save. The Bible speaks of the all-sufficient work of Christ upon the cross. So effective was His sacrifice, that any and all who believe on Him will be saved from the penalty of sin. That my friends is the good news of the Gospel.

But the good news does not stop there. When Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth, He declared to His friends, neighbor, and relative that He had come not only to save us from our sins, but also to repair the damage sin had done to us.

“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, . . .”

Living in this fallen world, none of us are immune to heartbreak. We have experienced the pain of loss, departure and even abandonment. For some, the pain has been with you for years; you wake up with it. For others, it is seasonal. We function normally until something in our lives stirs up the feelings again and we are transported back in time to the moment of our pain. These times can be difficult, even crippling. Isn’t it encouraging to know that Jesus came to heal your broken heart? Sometimes, the best way to experience His comfort is to lay your burden down at His feet, and pick up His promises. We must make a conscious decision to leave the memories behind and to walk out the door with His promises.

Today, instead of focusing on the cause of your broken heart, focus upon the heart-healer, the one who can restore to you the joy of salvation.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Leviticus 6- Always Burning
Leviticus 7- Giving Your Best

In Need

Luke 3:8
“We have Abraham as our father.’”

IMG_1480John the Baptist had a thriving ministry. We read that multitudes, or large gatherings of people, came out to hear him preach. We read that this crowd was made up of a cross section of society. There were religious people, tax collectors, and soldiers, as well as what we might call the everyday man; all of whom had come out to hear John speak.

Crowds formed the same way then as they do today. One man tells another, who tells another, and pretty soon a multitude forms. We are not told who the first people were to hear John speak, but we can imagine the message they declared to their friends, “You gotta come hear this guy speak. I listened to him, was baptized and my life has was changed.” One after another, they gathered to hear John. His message was very simple; Jesus is coming and we need to be ready. To get ready required a public declaration that they were sinners in need of a savior. Many responded by walking into the water with John to be baptized.

Not everyone who heard was jumping at the chance to respond. Some said, “I have Abraham as my father.” This essentially meant that they thought they did not need a savior. The same is true today. When a person truly meets the Lord he has a message that he cannot contain. He finds himself telling everyone he knows and inviting them to come hear the message for themselves. The problem is, although we are all equally in need of a savior, some attempt to satisfy that need with religion.

They might say “I don’t need Christ because I…”

* go to church

* was born in America

* was baptized as a baby

* am a good person

* give to charity

The list goes on and on; to which John says, ” do not even begin to say…” Those things will not save you from the righteous judgment of God. Ask yourself, do you trust in Christ for salvation? Have you made a public decision for Christ, declaring your need for Him? Or are you trusting in something else that is keeping you from full surrender to Christ?

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Leviticus 4- Oops
Leviticus 5- Restitution

New Opportunities

Luke 2:37
“This woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”

IMG_1477-1Sometimes, we wonder if our lives could ever really make a difference. We see others who are being used by God, and we think, “of course God uses them, they are so…” But when it comes to us, we think, “God can’t use me because…”

I think Anna is a great example, as well as a source of encouragement. We all know, as we age, the body breaks down. We are not able to do some of the things we did when we were younger. That is true of us and it was true of Anna. I love, that instead of regretting what she could not do, Anna found a way to effectively serve the Lord. She fasted, prayed and hung out around the temple. What a source of encouragement it would be for those coming to the temple, to always see this woman. She was a landmark. Just being there would afford her great opportunities to serve the Lord, and be a blessing to others. We read,

“She spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption. . .” Luke 2:38

I think of Jesus’ words to the church of Philadelphia,

“See I have set before you an open door, . . .” Revelation 3:8

I believe that is true for each of us. What door is open right in front of you? Instead of looking at all the ways we cannot serve the Lord, let’s determine we will look for the ways we can serve. Let’s keep our eyes open for any door that cracks open, and push through it to speak of Him to those who are searching for redemption.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Leviticus 1-Sweet Aroma
Leviticus 2- Leaven
Leviticus 3- Confession

Raising Godly Children

Luke 1:80
“So the child grew and became strong in spirit, . . .”

IMG_1473Every parent has the same goal. We desire the best for our children. We want to see them achieve more than we have. We want them to make it through childhood not having been distracted or derailed by vices, but to be prepared to live godly lives and make good life choices. What a blessing for Zacharias and Elizabeth to read that their son, “grew and became strong in spirit”.

This statement reveals the grace of God, but it is also the byproduct of the way they lived their lives. We read in Scripture, and see in life, there are godly children produced in ungodly homes, however it is much more common for godliness in parents to be transferred to their kids. Notice for a moment the way Zach and Liz lived, we read,

“They were both righteous. . .”

Zach chose a godly wife, she a godly husband.
Zach served the Lord.
Together they were committed to the Word of God.
Even before John was born, they were praying for him.
They were real people with real struggles. Not having children and being older, caused Zach to question the promises of God; yet they continued to faithfully follow and serve the Lord.
They stood up to the culture – because Zach was mute, Liz named their son John. The people opposed her, yet she stood on the Word of God.
They worshipped the Lord. The moment his tongue was loosed, instead of blaming God for the difficulties of the last 9 months, Zach worshipped God.
They were filled with the Holy Spirit. Parenting is perhaps life’s greatest challenge, we cannot face it alone, we need a daily outpouring of the Spirit to succeed.

Perhaps the key to it all, they parented with a purpose. In Verse 76, we read they taught John the Word and ways of God. They taught Him God had a plan for his life, and taught him to live up to that plan.
We all want to see our kids and grandkids walking with the Lord. While we trust them to the grace of God, we also must set an example of walking with the Lord. Let’s commit today to put the things of the Lord first in our lives

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Exodus 39- Dress For Success
Exodus 40- Glory Of The Lord