Glory Of Creation

Psalms 8:1
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!”

Webster defines glory as “Great beauty and splendor, even magnificence.” David is declaring things about the magnificence of God. It seems this Psalm was penned as a result of looking at the beauty of creation, in light of the Creator. He realizes that as glorious as creation is, it pales by comparison to the Creator.

How sad, that we often neglect to consider the creation’s glory. We seem to be surrounded by the works of men. We live in a manmade house, drive a manmade car, on manmade streets, to a manmade office, eating manmade food, from manmade packages; and wonder why we have lost sight of God. What if we took time to consider the works of God’s hands? We are, after all, surrounded by it. It was designed to reveal His glory.

When was the last time you went outside, looked up at the vastness of the heavens, and considered the power of God? That can be a very humbling experience. A few years ago, I walked across the tarmac in Accra, Ghana, to board an A380 Airbus; the world’s largest commercial aircraft. It was an amazing sight. With each step toward the airplane, I felt smaller and smaller. I was dwarfed by this massive machine. It amazed me that something so large would ever be able to get off the ground. Soon the engines fired up and we began to race down the runway. Moments later, we were in the air. I looked out the window and watched as the city of Accra seemed to get smaller and smaller. My attention was soon taken to the vastness of space. This giant airplane, that only moments before, had seemed so great, was now just a tiny dot in the air. I pondered the vastness of space. There I was, a speck of dust, traveling on a speck of dust, in the limitless heavens. Rather than feeling insignificant or unimportant, I began to think of David’s words recorded here. “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?”

Although creation is great and glorious, God’s glory outshines it all. Perhaps the most glorious thing about Him, is that He loves us, and wants to meet with us. Rather than feeling insignificant, the greatness of God’s glory should fill us with wonder that He loves each of us so deeply. Take some time, not only to consider the glory of creation, but to consider the glory of God.

Pastor Jim

 

Will This Ever Work

1 Samuel 7:13
“So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel…”

Israel faced a constant threat from the Philistines. They had come into the territory promised to Israel, taken land, and threatened the people. Earlier in 1 Samuel, the nation mustered all its strength to drive the Philistines out of their territories, only to suffer a devastating loss. In that earlier battle, the people gathered around a religious artifact, went forth in all the strength they had, and were defeated. Now, some years later, we find them once again facing the same threat. This time, however, their efforts resulted in a great victory. What was the difference? How were they able to defeat an enemy which had plagued them for so many years?

1 Samuel 7:3
“Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, ‘If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.’”

Notice the steps that led to their success. First, they were to return to the LORD and put away foreign gods. The order here is of the utmost importance. Too often, we think we must make great changes in our lives, in order to come to the LORD. We think all that is wrong with us, must be cleaned up and fixed, before we can take the steps forward and receive forgiveness for sin. This may be the ultimate in putting the cart before the horse. We don’t clean up our act and come to Christ. We come to Christ and allow Him to clean us up. The first step is to come, and let Him transform our lives.

Step two in their return, was committing themselves to the things that mattered to the LORD. We read that they “Served Him only…” One of the main reasons people fall away from the LORD is they never really committed themselves to Him. There was the initial realization of the need of forgiveness, but never the commitment of their lives to Christ. If we want to ensure victory, there must be a commitment to serve. Ask yourself “In what way do I serve Jesus at my church?” If you have no answer for that question, then figure out how you can get involved. Help in a Sunday School class, hospitality, greeting, parking lot ministry, or join a Home Fellowship. The possibilities are endless and the impact in your personal walk will be tremendous.

Pastor Jim

 

The Way I Am Feeling

1 Samuel 8:6
“But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us., So Samuel prayed to the Lord.”

images-1.jpeg Samuel was given some very bad news. He was informed that the people no longer wanted to be governed by God, and personal responsibility, but wanted to have a king to lead them. We read, their actions displeased Samuel and his displeasure drove him to pray. It was in prayer that he was able to hear the word of the Lord.

The word “displeased” describes Samuel’s emotional state. This same word is also translated as troubled, afflicted, or angered. We learn Israel’s godly leader was affected by the same emotions that we struggle through and he allowed his emotional condition to drive him to prayer. Samuel is not alone. We find a variety of Biblical characters experiencing a vast array of emotions, which was the driving force that directed them to pray.

Back in chapter seven we read that the nation feared the Philistines and that their fear drove them to prayer.

1 Samuel 7:7-8
“…And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. So the children of Israel said to Samuel, ‘Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.'”

 David was no stranger to emotions. His poetic writings are filled will examples of his emotional condition leading to prayer. In times of anger, fear, anxiety, and disappointment, he learned to go before the Lord for comfort and for answers.

In one of the most beautiful and practical promises in Scripture, Paul wrote that when we are anxious we should not worry but pray with thanksgiving and the peace of God will guard us (Philippians 4:6-7).

Whatever emotions you are struggling through today, whether life is causing you fear, anxiety, bitterness, or joy, the best place to unload these feelings is at the throne of Grace, where God promises to give you help in time of need.

 

Pastor Jim

 

The Mornings 

Psalms 5:3 
“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up.”

On a regular basis, how would you describe your mornings? Do you wake up grumpy, dreading another day? Or late, rushing to get your responsibilities done? Or perhaps you arise and rush to get the morning paper, check the news, or peruse Facebook, or the web.

David declares that his mornings began with the Lord. Even in the midst of difficult and trying times, he would start his day off enjoying fellowship with God. David determined that before he spent time walking about in this life, he would first spend time with the Lord. There is something special about beginning our days with the Lord. Like the early morning offerings sacrificed at the Temple, we should bring our lives before God as a morning offering. When we give the Lord first place in our day, we will find that He prepares us for what is ahead.

There have been so many days where I have had encounters with others, and realized, what I read in my morning devotions, proved to be the very counsel they needed. I have found that during morning prayer, the Lord will impress upon my heart someone who needs prayer; and later find that they were going through something difficult. I was able to participate in their victory by simply praying for them. Most of all, I have observed, when I start my day with the Lord, I avoid many of the pitfalls that I trip over on the days that I neglect to give Him first place.

Begin today making a commitment to start your day with the Lord. If you are not reading through your Bible regularly, go to http://www.ccvb.net and follow along with us, in the Through The Bible Reading.

When you give the Lord first place, you will find your life being transformed by Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Hard Heart

1 Samuel 6:6
Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart?”

Tucked away in the story of the Philistines return of the Ark to Israel, is this powerful exhortation regarding the danger of hardening our hearts to God. We are reminded of the difficulties Pharaoh endured because of his refusal to humble himself and obey the Word of God. The lessons from this exhortation are twofold.

First, we need to examine our lives to be certain we are not hardening our hearts. If there is any area where we are making excuses for an attitude or behavior that is unbiblical, then we are in danger of hardening our heart to the Word. This may seem obvious, but the danger of hardening our hearts is that we will ultimately end up with a hard heart. Each time God speaks and we refuse to listen, we become a little less sensitive to his voice, until one day we find it almost impossible to hear Him. This can stop immediately, all we need to do is obey what His Word teaches.

There is a second lesson here. This exhortation did not come from a Hebrew priest or king, but from the lips of an unbeliever. Here, we find a person who knew the truth of God enough to instruct others, yet he himself was unwilling to make a decision to follow God. Imagine knowing the stories recorded in Scripture, seeing the hand of God at work in the life of others, and yet refusing to surrender to the Lord personally. Sadly for some, we do not have to imagine, because that is exactly what they are doing. This man could have passed a written test on who God is, yet when it came to his own life, he refused to surrender to God and walk with Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Spoils Of War

1 Samuel 5:7
“And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, ‘The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god.’”

The Philistines mustered all their courage as they confronted Israel on the battlefield. They soon overpowered the Israeli army and took the spoils of war. In this battle, the spoils included the Ark of the Covenant. Upon returning to Ashdod, the Philistines placed the Ark in the their temple, and found themselves facing an interesting predicament; they now had two gods. As night fell, so did Dagon the Philistine god. When morning’s light appeared, they discovered the image of Dagon had fallen before the Ark of Jehovah. Their reaction was to help Dagon back to his feet. However, the next morning, they found Dagon had once again fallen, and this time, been destroyed. Realizing Jehovah would not share His position as God, the Philistines had a decision to make. Which God would they serve? Sadly, they rejected the true and living God and selected a man-made god.

Matthew 6:24
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

We all face the same decision. We have before us the true and living God, who loves us, and will set us free from the bondage of sin and death. We also have countless other things demanding our worship, service, devotion, time and hearts. We must decide who we will choose to serve and follow. The Philistines not only made the wrong choice, they made a foolish one. They saw the folly of Dagon, yet chose him anyway. Their decision was no doubt influenced by many things, including the fact that for generations their fathers had worshipped Dagon.

For some, the strong tie that keeps them from coming to Christ, is the realization that in accepting Christ, they are admitting they have been doing things wrong in the past. Don’t be so foolish as to let your pride keep you from surrendering to the One who will forgive your sins and transform your life.

Pastor Jim

 

Surrounded 

Psalms 3:1
“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me.”

We go through seasons in life.   Some are calm and pleasant, while others seem to be like violent storms, with waves crashing upon us from almost every direction. While we may feel as though we are under assault, this is not a new phenomenon. King David, Israel’s most godly king, was no stranger to difficulty. He faced the same struggles we face, and perhaps a few more. At this point in his life, he was blindsided when he learned that his own son had turned against him, organized an army, and was attempting to overthrow the kingdom. His response to this hardship is filled will practical examples for us to cling to, in the midst of our own trying times.

First, David prayed. His prayer consisted of crying out for help, rehearsing his circumstances to the Lord, and choosing to cling to the promises of God. Whatever you are facing, it is important to keep in mind that you can cast all your cares on the Lord, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Perhaps it was in prayer that David made a decision that would prove to protect the nation and save countless innocent lives. Unlike any other king, David chose not to fight to save his kingdom. Instead, he retreated, giving Jerusalem to Absalom and his forces. What may have looked like giving up, proved to be a move that would ensure victory and save the nation.

Second, David knew the Lord would help Him. He writes,

Psalms 3:3
“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”

Because God was his shield, David knew he did not have to defend himself and God would protect him. Because God was his glory, David sought above personal feelings or comforts, to do only what was right in the eyes of God. Because God would ultimately lift David up, he knew that the best place to be was prostrate at His feet.

No matter what you are facing, the solution will be found as you follow the example of David and cry out to God.

Pastor Jim