Enemies

Psalm 69:1-2
Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.”

This Psalm is fulfilled in at least three ways. First, it expresses an actual time in the life of David. His enemies have mounted up against him with such great force that he feels like one who is drowning in a mighty flood. The enemies he faces are those who have sided with Saul, to seek his life; those who were against him because he had chosen to follow God, and finally, and perhaps his greatest enemy, is his own sin. In the midst of the battle for his own life, sin had mounted up like an army, seeking to destroy him. David’s victory over these enemies is found as He seeks the mercy of God. He writes, “Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.” Psalm 69:16

Second, this Psalm has fulfillment in the daily life of the child of God. At times, we find ourselves facing enemies far greater than ourselves. Trials can be like a mighty force that we cannot overcome; there are even times when people turn against us. Like Job, when we need someone the most, we often feel like we have been deserted. However, the greatest enemy, the one that wages the most intense battle against us, is personal sin. We all know those times when our easily besetting sins seem to mount an offensive so great that we wonder when we will be taken down. It is in those times, we must follow the example of David, and look up to Heaven’s throne of Grace and cry out, “Hear me, O LORD, for Your loving-kindness is good; turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.”

Finally, this is another of the Messianic Psalms. It has it’s fulfillment at the Cross of Christ. Verse twenty-one draws our attention to the crucifixion; “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psalm 69:21). Jesus was also surrounded by enemies. The enemies He faced were the religious leaders, Roman soldiers, a multitude of onlookers, and even some who had once followed Him. They were all now crying out for His execution. When Peter explained the events of the crucifixion in Acts 2, he made it clear that it was not the Romans, or even the Jewish leaders, who were responsible for the execution of Christ. He said to a group of people, many who had traveled from a distant land, and were not present at the death of Christ, “ . . .you have taken (Him) by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:23). Jesus went to the cross to satisfy the wrath of God. His death provided a way for the insurmountable forces of sin to be conquered, and eternal life to be provided. Our cry for mercy can be answered because of the atoning death of Christ. Even when our sins wage war against us, and it seems like a force too great to withstand, we can cry out to heaven for mercy, forgiveness and victory.

Take time to look to His mercy today.

Pastor Jim

 

Walking Through The Land 

1 Kings 16:32
“Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.”

If a traveler from a distant land were to arrive in Israel during the reign of Ahab, there would be little to convince him that these were a people chosen by God. If he entered from the north, the first thing to catch his eye would have been a massive altar built on a high hill in the area of Dan. This altar was erected to give worship to a massive golden cow the people revered as their god. If he came from the south, he would see a similar site erected in Bethel. If he made his way into the heart of the nation, to the newly built city of Samaria, he would find the focal point of the city was an altar built to Baal, the god of fertility. If our traveler were to continue through the towns and villages of Israel, he would see a wide variety of altars and high places built to almost every imaginable god under the son. Essentially, Israel had deteriorated from a nation whose purpose was to glorify YHWH, and be a beacon of light to the world, to a nation just like their neighbors. They had all the same problems, and addressed them with all the same solutions, as those who had never met the Lord.

I wonder what our fictitious friend would find if he were to enter our homes? If he opened the video cabinet, the refrigerator, or scanned through the search history on our computers or mobile devices, would he find different results than our neighbors who have never met Christ? If he observed the way we treat our spouse, or the time we give to personal devotions, would he conclude we were a people who desire to please God and obey His Word? If he were to measure the amount of time we spend instructing our children in the Word, and encouraging the behaviors that please the Lord, would he have hope that the next generation will follow Christ more closely than the current one?

Israel failed because they never got off the path on which Jeroboam put them. The longer they walked that road, the farther they got from the Lord. Perhaps it is time to stop going down the road you are traveling and make some changes in the way you apply Christ to your daily living. While this may seem like an insurmountable challenge, it is really as simple as turning to the Lord for help.

Pastor Jim

 

It’s Time 

1 Kings 15:12-13
“And he banished the perverted persons from the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. Also he removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah. And Asa cut down her obscene image and burned it by the Brook Kidron.”

We recently had a friend visiting who we had not seen in a number of years. One of his first comments was how much our children had grown. When he last saw them, they were pre-teens, now they are young men. He was shocked at how they had changed, in what seemed to be such a brief period of time. For us, the changes do not seem quite as drastic, because we are watching what happens from day to day. It is only when we bring up a photo or video that we see how much things have really changed.

This same thing was true of the moral condition of Israel and Judah. Gradually, over the reigns of Solomon and Rehoboam, the nation drifted from the precepts of God’s Word, and became more and more like the surrounding nations. Morality slipped, and what was once considered obscene, was now commonplace. While these changes may have come gradually, they needed to be addressed quickly and decisively. As Asa came to the throne, he began to immediately address the sins of the nation. We read that idolatry, perversion and obscenity were removed from the landscape of the nation.

It is high time that we, the church of Jesus Christ, pray fervently that those who rise to power would have the courage to stand against the rising tide of immorality. We are living in the times that Isaiah described, where people are calling evil good and good evil. We need to see God raise up men and women who will stand for what is holy, godly and right. That being said, I suggest, of equal and perhaps even greater importance, is that each of us would take the Word of God seriously in our personal lives. Instead of always looking outward at what is wrong with the world today, we would take a look inward, and allow the Word of God to operate on our personal lives.

A move of God, that stirs revival, is always the greatest deterrent to the flood of immorality that spreads across a nation. Revivals have always begun when individuals are moved by the Spirit and the Word of God, to commit themselves completely to Christ. The question that remains is, “Will you be an Asa. Will you be willing to commit yourself and your home to live devoted to Christ?” It is high time we remove the perversion and obscenity from our own lives.

Pastor Jim

 

The Spoils

Psalm 68:12b
“…and she who remains at home divides the spoil.”

The physical battles Israel faced illustrates the spiritual battles the Christian faces.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

He also reminded the Corinthians that, “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Our battle is not for land to be occupied, but for souls to be won. Our weapons are not the sword, spear, or slingshot; they are prayer, the Gospel message, and a righteous life. David, who knew battle as well as any man, gives insight into a spiritual principle of warfare. He reminds us that, “she who remains at home divides the spoil.

At least two spiritual principles are tucked away in this little phrase. First, the battle belongs to the Lord. It is wrong to glory in victory, or to shy away in fear, because the battle truly is the Lord’s. We do not win others to Christ, He does. We are but the messengers declaring the truth of God; which has the inherent ability to convert the hearer. Second, in Israel, the spoils of war were shared equally among those who went to battle, and those who remained home. In God’s economy, faithfulness is rewarded more than accomplishment. Those who are being called out to the mission field, and those who are called to make their community a mission field, have equal reward in the kingdom of Heaven.

If you are heading out to make a new address your home in service of the Lord, remember the battle belongs to the Lord. Trust not in your own strength, but in His. Cling to Him and His Word, as the weapons of your warfare. If you are called to remain, join those who are sent by covering them in prayer. No force in heaven, or on earth, can resist the power of God. “. . .she who remains at home divides the spoil.”
Pastor Jim

 

Faking It

1 Kings 14:26-27
“And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made. Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house.”

Rehoboam is known for being the king that split the nation of Israel. His greed drove him to make decisions that ultimately divided the kingdom. Sadly however, this was not the worst policy he implemented. During his seventeen year reign, he continued to ignore the Word of God and to introduce idolatry to the nation. As a result, this once powerful nation fell prey to their enemies. Like a shark smelling blood in the water, Egypt saw the weakness of Israel and sent troops to Jerusalem. Their armies easily overcame any and all resistance and began to loot the city. Just a few short decades after the Temple was completed, it was ransacked by foreigners and its prize articles were stolen. Among the items Shishak took, were the golden shields that hung as a symbol of Israel’s strength. Rather than turning to God, Rehoboam decided to hang bronze shields in their place. After all, from a distance, who would really be able to tell the difference. What a different story this would have been if Rehoboam would have fallen on his knees and turned back to the Lord.

Often, when a person begins to backslide, their response is much like Rehoboam’s. Instead of addressing the real issue and focussing upon returning to the Lord, they begin to pretend that everything is fine. Church attendance continues, they may even keep talking the Christian lingo, but they have stopped abiding in Christ and begun to drift from Him. If that describes you, don’t hang bronze shields on your wall, pretending that everything is OK. Call a friend, confess whatever sin you are struggling with, and get back to walking with the Lord. Remember, His mercies are new every morning

Pastor Jim

Pray For Me 

1 Kings 13:6
“Then the king answered and said to the man of God, ‘Please entreat the favor of the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.’ So the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him, and became as before.”

Jeroboam had been called and anointed as king of Israel. He was given the same opportunities and promises that David was given. His problem was, instead of drawing near to the Lord, he followed the gods of the surrounding nations, and turned Israel away from the Lord. God, in His unparalleled mercy, sent an unnamed prophet to win Jeroboam back to the ways of the Lord. The man of God declared a powerful message of rebuke to the king; and with a stunning show of the power of God, the altar split in two. Jeroboam’s heart had become so hardened, his response was to demand this young man be imprisoned. As the king’s hand stretched forth condemning the prophet, his hand suddenly withered. With a withered hand, and a broken altar, the king pleaded with the prophet to pray for him. Sadly, his prayer was not one of repentance, he simply wanted things restored to the way they were.

Unfortunately, Jeroboam is not alone in this. Too often, when calamity comes our way, as a result of wandering off the path of God, we seek only to have things returned to normal. The king should have taken this as a time to repent of ungodly activities, and get to the business of following the Lord. It is both wrong and dangerous, if we are only seeking to have the Lord take our difficulties from us, and not seeking to live a life that is well pleasing to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Who Are You Wearing? 

Psalm 65:6
“Who established the mountains by His strength, being clothed with power; . . .”

Have you ever noticed, when movie stars are walking the red carpet, for one of their many awards presentations, they are not asked what they are wearing, but who they are wearing? One of the marks of success is getting a particular designer to make you a one-of-a-kind outfit.

Here the Psalmist declares to us what God is wearing. He is “clothed with power.” I picture God getting ready for the day and choosing to put power on as His garment. His power is infinite. No power on earth or in heaven can be compared to it. The power of the storm, the devil, sickness, and death, were all overthrown by the word of His mouth. Without sweating, straining, grunting, or pulling a muscle, Jesus spoke and conquered the greatest powers on earth. The people were fascinated by His great power; the whole nation was in awe of the One to whom even the demons were subject.

Between the resurrection and ascension of Christ, forty days transpired. During those forty days, Luke tells us Jesus was doing two things. First, He was appearing, to prove beyond a shadow of doubt, that He had, in fact, risen; conquering sin, death and hell.

Second, He was giving commands to His followers. These commands fit into two categories: go and wait. He was sending them out into the world with the message of eternal life. They were to start at home, then travel the globe, sharing with everyone the glorious message of salvation through faith in Christ. Before they went, they were commanded to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus instructed them that when the Spirit came upon them, they would be clothed with power from on high. Just like the Twelve, we have been commissioned to live a holy life in an ungodly world; to declare the hope of salvation with our family, friends and community.

Just like the Twelve, we have been promised power from on high to accomplish this. As you prepare to face your day, with the unknown temptations and opportunities that await, who are you wearing? Are you walking out the door clothed with all the strength that you can muster? Or have you taken time to sit at the feet of Jesus and be filled afresh with the Spirit of holiness? Let’s clothe ourselves with the power of the Spirit.

Pastor Jim