Accusations 

Psalm 130:3-4
“If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.”

The Psalmist is rejoicing in the pardon the Lord provides. In doing so, he considers what would happen to us if the Lord treated our wrongdoings the way we do. What would happen to us if, instead of forgiving sin, God kept a detailed record of it. Instead of removing it as far as the East is from the West, or casting it into the depths of the sea, He held it close by, to remind us of it each time we struggled or fell.

At one time or another, we all struggle with receiving the complete pardon offered at the cross. We lie in bed tossing and turning, unable to find rest, because we are haunted by a failure of the recent, or at times, even the distant past. We find ourselves crippled with guilt and feelings of unworthiness. Keep in mind, it is not God who is bringing up your failures.

The Spirit of God will shed a brilliant light on our sin in order to bring us to confession and repentance. God will never rub our nose in our past failures, like an angry man reacting to a puppy’s little gift on the carpets. There is one who is quick to bring up yesterday’s sins in order to keep us from today’s victories.

One of the descriptions the Bible gives of Satan is “The Accuser of the Brethren.” We are told, day and night he brings accusations against the Christian. The prophet Zechariah (3:3-4) was privileged to witness Satan bringing accusation against Joshua, the High Priest. The Scripture says Joshua stood before the Lord in filthy garments; an apt picture of a man who has sinned. Right away, we read of the Accuser of the Brethren, poised, ready to hurl guilt upon the child of God. However, before a word can pass his lips, Satan is rebuked by Jesus. He not only silences the mouth of the Accuser, but also removes the filthy rags and replaces them with robes of righteousness. God refuses to listen to the insults and accusation Satan hurls against the child of God.

All sin is forgiven when we take hold of the cross. It is vital to our growth and success as believers, to lay hold of that forgiveness, rather than wallowing in the failures of countless yesterdays. Instead of thinking of all the ways you have disappointed God, how about spending your time musing over His amazing love which has provided complete and total pardon from all your sins.

Pastor Jim

 

Heavy Lifting 

2 Chronicles 2:5-6
“And the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him?”

Solomon faced a great predicament, he desired to build a temple where God and man could meet, but he realized that all the heavens were too small to contain Him. He knew the dwelling place for God must be grand, but he also knew that no earthly building could ever truly reflect the glory of God. The temple he would build would be a mere shadow of the real glory of God, and was designed to point Israel to the Lord. For generations to come, this building would serve as a place where man worshipped God, and was the focal point of many revivals within the nation. It interests me that this glorious building was the byproduct of a multitude of people investing their many different gifts. In fact, we find thousands of men were hired for the work of quarrying stones alone. Seemingly, innumerable man hours were spent doing nothing more than working with rocks.

Sometimes, it is difficult to see the value in what we are doing for the Lord. We might have a role in the ministry much like a wood cutter or stone mason. We swing a hammer or lift heavy objects, and do not see the intrinsic spiritual value in what we are doing. I think it is important to step back and see the big picture. Without the massive foundation stone, there would have been no altar, tabernacle or mercy seat. The stones were truly the foundation upon which the ministry was built.

The temple serves as a illustration of the church. There are ministries like worship, prayer, and Bible teaching that are clearly spiritual. However,  for these ministries to be effective, there are a host of things that must take place. Cars need to be parked, people need to be welcomed, children need to be cared for, the rooms need to be properly prepared, the lights have to work, and the list goes on and on. In many ways, those who are laboring in the things that may seem mundane, make it possible for people to encounter the Lord. Don’t reduce any service for the Lord as though it didn’t matter. If you are a stone mason, then cut away with all you heart.

Pastor Jim

 

Slip Sliding 

2 Chronicles 1:15
“Also the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedars as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland.”

After Solomon ascended to the throne of David, he was gifted by God with everything necessary to become the greatest king the world had ever known. Because of his father’s military campaigns, the nation would experience a time of peace unlike anything they had ever known. The wisdom of Solomon and the wealth of the nation made it seem as though they would have years and years of abiding peace, strength and growth. It seemed as though nothing could stop the nation that had been birthed by God. Tragically, in a few short decades, this nation would go through a heated civil war, dividing the nation, and costing many their lives. Not too much later, this nation would be defeated over and over again by their enemies, until they were finally overthrown and carried captive to Babylon. What happened? What caused the rapid fall of a nation with such promise?

The collapse of the nation began with the compromise of its leadership. By the end of Solomon’s life, the nation was filled with altars to false gods, and the people were involved in strange and immoral worship practices. This did not come suddenly. It was the byproduct of a slow, but slippery slope that began with just a little compromise. Solomon ignored the warnings of God, and began to multiply horses, money and wives unto himself. Soon his trust was no longer in the Lord, but in his army and his wealth. His wives began to turn his heart away from the Lord.

I wonder, if we were to truly examine our lives, if we could find things that do not belong? These things did not suddenly appear, instead we let them in gradually. A casual look at something forbidden, has led to an addiction that seems to control us. A neglect of the Word, has made it more difficult to get back in the habit of reading the Word, or a misunderstanding with someone, has led to a failure to be consistent in fellowship. Whatever it may be, understand this slippery slope will end with a tragic fall.

Before things get worse, it is time to get things right. Let’s determine, today, that we will walk with Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

Why Worry? 

Psalm 127:2
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.”

The Psalmist is describing a scenario common to all of us. There are times, when the hand life deals us is difficult to cope with; sleep is effected, and our minds are tormented. There are many terms that describe this condition, but perhaps the most common is worry. One dictionary defines worry as, “to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; to fret.” I think that is a pretty apt description of worrying; to torment yourself. When we lay in bed unable to sleep, or rise up to pace the floor, filling our minds with what-ifs and worse case scenarios, we are really tormenting ourselves. It is as if we are waterboarding ourselves, and wondering why we are suffering so greatly. The question is not whether we will face things that fill us with dread, concern and anxiety, the question is how we will react. What is the proper response for the child of God when he is faced with things bigger than himself?

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” First, notice that Solomon declares that worry is vain. The word vain means empty. In his other writings, he defined vanity as attempting to grab a handful of wind. Imagine the folly of taking a handful of cool air and placing it in your pocket for later in the day when the temperature rises. In the same way, it is foolish to worry, because it is an empty endeavor. Worry cannot produce anything positive. Jesus put it like this, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6:27) Worry will never produce growth. It will produce a deeper level of anxiety, making us irritable, incapable of performing our responsibilities, and can even produce negative physical effects, like an ulcer. Life often throws things at us that fill us with worry, yet worry has no positive value in our lives. How should we handle those times when we are filled to the top with anxiety?

Again Solomon declares, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” The wonderful truth for us to grasp, is that the Lord will give rest to His children. We experience this rest when we realize that the things we are facing, while much too big for us, are never too much for Him. Our life is like a walled city, and the Lord is our watchman. Nothing gets in that He has not allowed. He is able to use even the gravest of circumstances to produce His desired effects within the child of God.

Instead of filling your mind with the things that create anxiety, fill your minds with the promises of God, and enjoy the rest that only He provides.

Pastor Jim

 

Investment 

1 Chronicles 29:3
“Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver.”

David, and others, invested in the temple at great personal cost. They devoted their time, talents, and treasures to ensure that the house of the Lord was built. Their devotion to this project stemmed from realizing that the work of God would outlast them. David would not live to see the temple, but knew that his investment would impact the nation long after his departure. For years to come, this building would be a place where the Word of God was proclaimed, and commitments to the Lord were made, as each of Israel’s revivals centered around the events that took place at this building.

It seems we have lost the concept of thinking generationally. We live in a time that we want immediate return on any sort of investment we make. If a stock does not act the way we want, we sell, if a relationship does not give back what we think it should, we move on, and if the church does not meet our needs, we look for another one. Those who are willing to break this trend and look at their live as it relates, not just to time, but to eternity, are the ones who will make investments that will impact generations to come. I recently stood in a large chapel built in the late 1800’s. Over the past 125 years, thousands of souls have entered eternity by entering its doors. Those who invested in its construction have treasures being stored up in eternity long after they have passed.

Take some time to consider what eternal investments you have been making; they may impact eternity long after you have gone to be with the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Looking Ahead

1 Chronicles 28:8
“Now therefore, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, be careful to seek out all the commandments of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land, and leave it as an inheritance for your children after you forever.”

David lists two very important reasons, even motivators, for keeping the commands of God. First, he states by doing so, they would posses the land. Second, they would have something to leave behind for the next generation. These same principles should motivate each of us to live according to the Word of God.

The land of Israel was an integral part of the promise of God. Declaring they would possess the good land, was a way of saying they would experience the life God intended for them. Jesus referred to abundant life as the possession of every one of His followers (John 10:10b). This life is found when a person receives Christ, and walks according to the Word of God. Instead of making decisions that will bring immediate gratification, we should be seeking the ways of God, and making decisions based on His promises.

Realizing the effect on the generations that follow us, is another great motivator for walking with the Lord. Too many decisions are made in life without considering the long term consequences. Marriages end because things have become difficult; not realizing others are watching and our decisions effect everyone around us, especially our children. Laws are passed that give a generation freedom to behave in immoral ways. These decisions will have a long term, devastating effect upon the generations to come. They not only weaken the nation and put us under divine judgment, but they also confuse young people, causing them to grow up with baggage that will make the rest of life difficult to navigate.

We would all do well to take the advice of David and seek the commandments of God.

Pastor Jim

 

Sowing In Tears 

Psalm 126:5-6
Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Genesis, Chapter 1, describes the creation of the universe. We read the earth was without form and void until God spoke, and all things were brought into being. There is a clear contrast between the chaotic state of things before God spoke, and the orderly universe that He designed. Ever since that day, man has been discovering laws that govern the physical world. These laws were designed by God to keep order, and we have learned to trust in them . I believe it was Sir Isaac Newton who was attributed with the quote, “What goes up must come down” in response to his findings about gravity.

Here, the Psalmist speaks of another basic law of nature, the law of sowing and reaping. Scientific laws are formulated by observation and experimentation. The law of sowing and reaping is a principle that is discovered, not in the lab with test tubes, but on the field by farmers. For centuries men have cleared the ground, tilled the soil, planted seeds and awaited the harvest. For centuries men have not been surprised by what they gathered in. If the farmer planted corn seed, he harvested corn, if he planted millet, he harvested millet.

Over and over again, this basic law has been proven throughout the history of mankind. It is the Word of God that brings this same principle out of the natural world and into the spiritual one. When writing to the Galatian believers, Paul declared, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7-8). What is true in the natural world, is also true in the spiritual one. Whatever seed we put in, is the fruit that will come out. If we sow into our lives things that will tantalize the desires of the flesh, we will find that the battle against the flesh will be too great for us to withstand. If we sow into our lives, the building blocks of a healthy relationship with Christ, i.e. daily reading of the Word, prayer, Christian fellowship and service, we will find we are reaping a strong, and vibrant relationship with Christ.

Paul added one more element to the law of sowing and reaping when he declared in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” It is this basic idea that the Psalmist is referring to here. We live in a world where things come to us instantly.

When we are hungry, we take pre-cooked meals, microwave them, and within minutes we are eating. When we want to find the answer to a question, we grab our smart phone, Google it, and within seconds have more answers than we could ever read. In fact, if our device takes more than a few seconds to load, we complain about how slow the connection is, and begin to covet a newer, faster model. We must realize, there are some things that take time. Some things are governed by the law of sowing and reaping. They may take consistent sowing, over a long period of time, before we ever see the desired results.

Personal righteousness, victory over easily besetting sin, and winning loved ones to Christ, are things that often require long periods of faithful sowing. Instead of losing heart, we ought to rejoice in the promise given here,

“Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Pastor Jim