Mark 3:5
“Stretch forth your hand.”

hands-worshiping.jpgWhen Jesus entered the Synagogue, it seemed everyone in the room knew He would address the man with the withered hand. His disciples were watching carefully. This event would be seared into their memories, and written down in the timeless Word of God. The Pharisees watched Him closely, knowing His compassion would lead Him to the man, even though it was the Sabbath. I imagine the man with the withered hand also watched eagerly, hoping Jesus would do for him, what he had done for so many others. As Jesus approached him, this man must have been excitedly anticipating what Jesus was about to do. It is here, where the story gets most interesting to me. Instead of touching the man’s hand, speaking words of healing, or even asking him to do a religious task, Jesus simply says, “Stretch forth your hand.” What sounds like a simple request to you and me was actually an impossibility. Jesus asked this man to do the one thing that he was not able to do. Had He asked him to run to the priests, to offer a sacrifice of 1000 sheep, or even travel to the pool of Bethsaida; difficult as those things might have been, they were possible. But to stretch out his withered hand, he could not do. Something happened within this man the moment he chose to obey Jesus. The impossible, not only became possible, it happened. His hand was restored.

Often, we feel like this man. Jesus highlights something in our life, and calls us to change. We look at Him as if to say, “Jesus, I can’t. I’ve tried so many times and this is too hard for me.” Christian, allow me to encourage you. The moment you decide you will obey, is the moment He provides the supernatural ability to bring about change. Together, let’s stop looking at all the reasons we cannot overcome our weaknesses, and let’s focus on His ability to transform our lives and stretch forth our withered hands.

Pastor Jim


Free Pass

Exodus 12:13
“…when I see the blood, I will pass over you…”

IMG_1406There are many pictures of Christ portrayed in the Old Testament narrative. We see Him as the offering of Abraham on Mount Moriah, the Angel wrestling with Jacob, the Captain of the Lord’s armies in Joshua, and on and on. One of the clearest pictures, is found here in Exodus. We see Jesus as the Passover Lamb. Paul, writing to the Corinthians put it like this,

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5:7

We see some of the most important aspects of our relationship with Christ illustrated in the Passover story.

Like Israel, who was in severe bondag under a harsh task master, and facing the threat of death, we are in bondage to sin and death. All other plagues, which represented natural events and Egyptian gods, were unable to deliver Israel. It was only through the shed blood of the Lamb of God that deliverance could be found. In the same way, Scripture declares boldly and consistently, there is NO salvation apart from faith in Christ. If a person wanted to be delivered from the curse, they must hide under the blood of the lamb. As exclusive as the offer of deliverance was, it was made openly to all of Egypt. All Israel, and anyone in Egypt, could have obeyed the message from Moses and been delivered from the curse.

Israel was instructed to eat the meal with their shoes on. It seems God wanted them ready to walk, once they had partaken of the Lamb. This walk included getting all the leaven out of the house. As the years passed, they would commemorate this event by removing leaven from their homes for a week after Passover. Leaven is used in Scripture to illustrate sin. Once a person comes to Christ, it is time to take inventory of life, and remove anything that is not pleasing to God. It wasn’t cleaning up their lives that delivered them, but once delivered, it was time to clean house.

The Passover changed the calendar year for Israel. From now on, their year would start with this event. It became the beginning of months for them. The same is true of all who put trust in Christ. No matter what our past holds, we become a new creation, once we respond to Christ. ALL old things pass away and ALL things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). We no longer have to live with the guilt, fear, disappointment, weight, or baggage of the past. All has been washed in the blood of the Lamb, and we can press toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).

Will you make Christ your Passover? Will you partake of the Lamb whose blood was shed for you? His blood was spilled so your sins could be washed, and you could be made right with God. Partake of Him today.

Pastor Jim


Stand Out

Exodus 11:7
“…that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.”

IMG_1405Many of the plagues that fell upon Egypt did not affect the children of Israel. God, by His grace, made a distinction between those who were His and those who were not. Part of the reason for that distinction was that others would desire to join the ranks of Israel and become followers of God. Although the Bible does not go into great detail listing all those of Egypt who chose to join Israel, we do know that along with the twelve tribes, others left their homeland and became part of the tribes who made their way to Canaan. In many ways, it was the distinction that was made between the follower of God and the rest of Egypt that drew others to forsake all and follow God.

From a biblical standpoint, it is clear God has a future plan for Israel. He has not cast them off, and will work mightily, in and through them, as end time events unfold. That being said, it is also true, in another sense, God does not make a distinction of one nation over another. Peter saw a vision of a blanket descending from heaven filled with all kinds of animals, and was told to kill and eat. The purpose of the vision was to make clear that God makes no distinction; all who come to faith in Christ will be saved. Later Paul, a former Pharisee, wrote, that once we come to Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Today, we do not see it raining on the picnic of an unbeliever, while the believer, across the park, enjoys the sunshine. Jesus declared, “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust“(Matthew 5:45). However, that does not mean God will not make a distinction between those who belong to Him and those who don’t. In fact, God wants to do things in the life of His children that will draw the entire world to desire Him, and even make the nation of Israel jealous, and trust in Christ. This distinction is made internally, more than externally. God will fill the life of the Christian with love, joy and peace. It will radiate from their lives, in the midst of the storms they face, and become like a beacon of light, drawing the world to Jesus. The more we grow in Christ, the more fruit we will bear, and the more others will be drawn to trust in Him.

Let’s seek to abide in Christ, and bear the kind of fruit that makes us stand out in a world desperately in need of Christ

Pastor Jim


A Snare To Us

Exodus 10:7
“Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, ‘How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?’”

IMG_1399Pharaoh thought the problem with his nation was the believers, and as a result, he attempted to suppress or destroy them at all costs. What he failed to see was, it was his attack upon God, His word, and His people, that actually destroyed his nation. What was once a powerful empire, and the delight of the nations, was being weakened by rebellion against the ways of God. Egypt is not an anomaly. The same is true of any nation that seeks to remove the influence of God.

Proverbs 14:34
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

I cannot help but see the parallels in the modern world. Almost every day we see immorality heralded as a form of free expression, or even as a civil right, while at the same time, righteousness is looked upon almost as if it were a disease. Those who suggest that certain behaviors or lifestyles are sinful, are considered to be intolerant, and looked upon almost as a virus that must be destroyed. It is not that the world does not like religion, but like Pharaoh who suggested they worship without any personal cost, the world calls out for moderation. If you are willing to be a Christian without letting it affect your behavior, your family, or your political and social viewpoints, then by all means, be a Christian. But those who dare to trust in, stand upon, and live by the Word of God, will not be tolerated and must be stopped.

How sad that the very thing Pharaoh thought would save his nation, is the very thing that destroyed it.

Pastor Jim



Mark 2:3
“Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men.”

There are so many fascinating aspects to this story: the crowd that gathered to listen to Jesus teach the Word, the healing of the paralytic, the fact that Jesus put a higher priority on the man’s spiritual condition, than upon his physical suffering, and the claim and proof that Jesus is God. All are worth noting and taking time for more careful observation. However, in the midst of all of that, it might be easy to look past one of the most important lessons in this text. Did you notice the actions of those who brought the paralytic? The effort these men went through in order to bring this man to Christ really struck me.

First, notice the value they put upon Jesus; they would seek to bring others to Him. They must have truly believed that the most important thing for this man was an encounter with Christ.

Second, notice the value they placed upon the man; they would risk missing out on getting a good seat, to carry him to Jesus. Keep in mind, in ancient times, a paralytic would have very little chance of doing anything but beg. In some cases, it was thought illness was attributed to sin, causing some to think that perhaps he deserved this condition. Certainly, there was no monetary or social benefit gained by associating with this man. Instead, the four men simply knew a man who was in need of Jesus, and they did whatever they could to get him there.

Third, notice they would not let any obstacle get in their way. When they arrived at the house, there seemed to be no way in; yet these men found a way. We are not told how, but they found a way to get up on the roof, they found a way to hoist the paralytic up with them, and they began to tear off the roofing, in order to get the man to Christ. This becomes even more striking when we realize it was not their house. They were taking a huge risk. To them, the cost was not greater than the prize of getting this man to Christ.

Finally, notice they did not complain when Jesus responded differently than they expected. Jesus was more interested in the man’s spiritual condition, than his physical suffering. This upset the religious leaders, but we hear no complaint from the four men. It is as though they understood that Jesus knew what was best for the paralytic, and they trusted the man into the care of Christ.

As a result of the actions of these four men, one individual had his life changed. He was healed, but more importantly, he was saved. I think we can learn a lot from the actions of these men. I think we need to put a greater value upon Christ, and upon each and every person, and be willing to risk more to bring people to hear about Jesus. Perhaps now would be a good time to pray for some of your friends who don’t know Christ.

Pastor Jim


Free To Serve

Exodus 9:1
“Let My people go, that they may serve Me.”

IMG_1397Upon being set free from Egypt, Israel was called to serve the Lord. We get some keen insight about true service as the story continues to unfold. First off, Pharaoh suggests that Moses and the men go, but they leave their families behind. This has been the enemy’s tactic ever since. Moses responds to Pharaoh’s suggestion,

“And Moses said, ‘We will go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.’” Exodus 10:9

As you move forward in your relationship with Jesus, seek to do all you can to influence your family to a deeper commitment to Jesus. Establishing Biblical guidelines for the home, encouraging family devotions, using life experience to teach Biblical principles, and bringing the family to a solid Bible teaching church, are some of the best ways to get things started.

Exodus 10:24-25
“Then Pharaoh called to Moses and said, ‘Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you.’ But Moses said, ‘You must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’”

Pharaoh made another suggestion about their worship. He stated they should go, but they should not give anything to the Lord. “Keep back all that is valuable for yourself” was the mantra of Pharaoh. Moses realized, all true service is costly. Later, David would state he would not give to the Lord that which cost him nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). At times, it is the cost of doing ministry that keeps us from getting involved. Jesus exhorted us to be like a home builder who counts the cost, before getting to work on building. He did not say that to discourage us from serving, but to understand that no matter the cost, it is worth it.

We have been set free, not from physical bondage to slavery, but from the bondage of sin and it’s consequences. Just as Moses was to lead the people to a life of worship and service, we are called to serve. Pray about ways to get involved in serving the Lord, as He seeks to further His kingdom, one life at a time.

Pastor Jim



Mark 1:28
“And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.”

IMG_1394In the synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus encountered a man with an unclean spirit. While there is no way of knowing what lifestyle he had lived which led to his condition, we can surmise from other accounts of dealing with demons, he was living in great darkness and difficulty. Whatever turmoil he faced, the solution was encountering Jesus. What the world could not do, Jesus did with seven simple words,”be quiet and come out of him.”

The Word of God has been overcoming darkness ever since. The Bible records many cases where people’s lives have been forever altered by the Words of God. We read of prostitutes, tax collectors, insurrectionists, religious zealots, as well as common everyday men and women, who encounter the Word of God, and are forever changed. The Word of God is still driving out darkness and changing lives.

A number of years ago, a plot of land, more than 20 acres, was given to the Calvary Chapel Bible Training Center in Ghana, West Africa. This pristine plot of ground, on a mountain overlooking the Volta river, was the perfect site to build a facility for the school, and later a church. We were amazed that it was gifted to us, and could not understand why it had not been developed earlier. Since that time, the facilities were erected, others have built homes, and established farms in the area. We recently heard, the reason it lay dormant all those years is, the people believed the area was filled with evil spirits. When the Training Center was built, and the Word of God taught, they saw that the evil of the area was driven away. The whole village has been impacted by the teaching of God’s Word, and Jesus is continuing to make Himself famous.

What we need, more than ever, is for the Word of God to be proclaimed so darkness can be overcome, and lives can be transformed.

Pastor Jim


One More Night

Exodus 7:23
“And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. Neither was his heart moved by this.”

IMG_1391Have you ever wondered how different the story of Exodus would read if Pharaoh had only listened to the Lord? Instead, Pharaoh is an example of what we should not do, when we hear the Word of the Lord. We read, Pharaoh refused to allow his heart to be moved. Before ever hearing the Word of God, he had already determined he would not obey. A good friend of mine went on a vacation to a new hotel that was selling time shares. They received a very inexpensive rate on their room, under the condition that they would sit through a sales pitch. Before entering the meeting, he and his wife made a pact, they would not allow themselves to be swayed into purchasing something, no matter how good it sounded. That may be a good way to approach hard sales, but it is a terrible way to approach listening to the Word of God.

Exodus 8:9-10
“And Moses said to Pharaoh, ‘Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only.’
So he said, ‘Tomorrow.’ And he said, ‘Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.’”

As things heat up around him, Pharaoh’s heart is finally starting to stir. He looks around at the conditions in his nation, because of his rejection of the Lord, and begins to see the need for change. Calling for Moses, he requests that the frogs be removed, to which Moses asks, “when?” The reply from Pharaoh is shocking! He says “tomorrow”, instead of pleading for them to be removed instantly. It is as if he is desiring just one more night. Sin can have that kind of hold on us. We can realize it is destroying us, and still desire to keep it around. The right way to react, when God reveals sin, is to forsake it and cling to Him.

Exodus 8:19
“Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had said.”

The more Pharaoh hardened his heart to the Word of God, the worse things got. Those around him began to recognize this was the Lord. Yet, Pharaoh’s heart continued to resist the Lord. There are times, when we refuse to hear from the Lord, He will send someone else to encourage us. Instead of becoming upset at him or accusing him of judging you, the right response is to recognize the loving hand of God, and turn to Him.

Pastor Jim


I Am With You

Matthew 28:19-20
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

IMG_1389As Matthew 28 opens, we find a few women on their way to Jesus’ grave-site. Filled with despair, questioning how they will get to the body to show their respect, they are met by an angelic messenger with the greatest news they had ever heard. Jesus had risen! Oh, how their hearts must have leapt within, as we read “they went out quickly filled with fear and great joy.” The hope that seemed lost at Calvary, was restored in the garden. Along with the promise that Christ was alive, came the commission, “go quickly and tell His disciple…” When the disciples met the risen Christ, the commission was repeated to them, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” The greatest promise was coupled with the great commission.

Just as the first followers of Jesus were commissioned to tell their world about the salvation available to man through Christ, so have we been commissioned to tell our world. As great as that news is, we often shrink back from declaring it. I am so glad the command to tell others is coupled with the promise, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” What great comfort, knowing that Jesus does not send us alone. He says when we go forth to tell others about Christ, or to show the love of Christ with a kind act or deed, or when we invite someone who has wandered from Christ to church, Jesus promises to be with us. Something caught my eye this morning concerning how Jesus assists us in this great commission.

“And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
Matthew 28:7

“He is going before you…” When we arrive at an opportunity to share Christ with others, it is critical that we recognize Jesus is with us, He is there to help, to direct our steps, and even our words. But it is also important to remember, He got there first. He is sending us into opportunities He orchestrated.

Keep in mind, as you go about your day, you have been divinely sent. God chose you for the encounters you will face because He wants to use your life experiences to have an impact upon the lives of others.

Pastor Jim


Pharaoh’s Failure

Exodus 5:2
“And Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.’”

IMG_1387All of Pharaoh’s foolish decisions can be traced back to this statement. The fact is, he did not know the power of God, which caused him to view the miracles as parlor tricks, and have his magicians do the same. It was a failure to understand the provision of God. He couldn’t see how releasing his work force would ever be good for the prosperity of his nation. Most of all, it was his failure to comprehend the plans of God, which caused him to harden his heart and resist Moses. Week after week, month after month, Moses preached to Pharaoh. He explained the plans of God, and yet Pharaoh resisted. He failed to realize these oppressed slaves were part of the plan of God, to save the human race. What he saw, was an immigrant work force to further his kingdom. God saw the nation from whom the Messiah would come, and the world would be saved. Pharaoh’s hardened heart and resistance to Moses’ message did not thwart the plans of God, but it did cost Pharaoh dearly. It cost him in this life. He suffered, his family suffered, and his nation suffered, all because he refused to submit to the plans and purposes of God. What a different story we would read, had Pharaoh only accepted the Word of God.

The same remains true today. God’s purpose is still to save humanity. Week after week, month after month, His message is being declared, and many are responding by placing trust in Christ. Sadly, however, many follow the foolish example of Pharaoh. They harden their hearts and resist the Word of God. Instead of resisting God and suffering loss, both now and in eternity, will you respond to His call, and surrender to Christ? His love for you is great and His plans are perfect.

Pastor Jim