The Better Way

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

If you read your Bible regularly, you have come to realize, God thinks differently than we do, on just about every subject. The values God esteems are different than the values of the world we live in. Jesus spoke of life being found in meekness, righteousness, purity, and suffering for doing what is right in the sight of God. Jesus explained the governing principle of life should be love for God, reflected in love for one another. The world around us might attest to these truths as being important, however, when we watch what is promoted on the TV screen, we find an entirely different set of values. Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways are not only different than ours, but they are better.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways”

Scientists tell us the moon is 238,900 miles from the earth, the sun is 92,960,000 miles away, and the next closest star, Alpha Centauri B, is 4.24 light years away. A light year is measured by the distance light can travel in one year. Light travels at 670,616,629 MPH. That means light will travel 5,878,000,000,000 miles in one year; it would take over four years at that speed to reach Alpha Centauri B.

God is not saying His ways are a little better than ours, but that they are infinitely better. When God’s Word teaches something different than what we think, it is not as though we are facing two equally valuable opinions. His ways are better than ours on every subject. True life will be found when we are willing to accept that His ways are better than ours, and we begin to follow, rather than rebel.

Pastor Jim

 

Profitability 

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Sometimes we neglect reading our Bibles because we do not see the value in it. There are times when we don’t understand what we are reading, or how it applies to the daily struggles we are facing. It is not uncommon when talking with a struggling Christian, to share a promise from the Word, only to see them stiffen up and comment on how they don’t think that will help. In this passage, Paul addresses the true value of the Word of God. He uses a word that all business men will appreciate; profitable. He is saying the Words of God are of great value for our lives and for our daily living; they provide doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction.

The word doctrine means teaching. Paul says one of the great benefits of the Word of God is that it reveals who God is, and what He is like. We live in a fallen world that has been greatly affected by sin. When we look at God through the filter of our circumstances, we develop a skewed view of what He is like. It is only through His Word that we can truly understand God, and begin to understand why we are experiencing the trials we face. The word “reproof” means to rebuke or reprimand. None of us likes to be reprimanded, but we all realize there are times when we get off track and need a little rebuke. Like road signs warning us the bridge is out, or the lane we are in is ending. The words of God will show us what we are doing wrong, in order to keep us from ruining our life, family, relationships and witness. The Bible goes a step further than reproof, and also promises to correct us. Did you ever receive a test in school that had been corrected, only to find it covered in red ink, showing you what you did wrong, but without giving any instruction on how to fix it? That is not correction. Instead of just showing us what we are doing wrong, the Bible will also reveal what things are pleasing to God, and instruct us in how to do them. Paul calls this, instruction in righteousness.

Our Christian growth and our effectiveness in ministering to others, is directly connected to the time we spend in the Word of God. A well-worn Bible is a good sign when it is accompanied with well-worn shoes from living out the teaching of the Word. Let’s commit ourselves to the daily reading of the Word, so we can become a people fit for our Master’s use.

Pastor Jim

 

Be Strong 

2 Timothy 2:1
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

It seems as though men have always been fascinated with strength. We have all seen images of Greek or Roman statutes, they look like they have come off the pages of a body building magazine, making us wonder if every Roman official looked like the Incredible Hulk. We have also seen images of rockets blasting off, volcanos erupting, or a nuclear explosion. The sheer force involved in these phenomena is mesmerizing. Psychologists and business gurus encourage us to recognize our strengths in order to find happiness in life or success in business. It is not difficult to find lists of character strengths by which to measure ourselves. However, it has been my observation, the things Paul tells us to be strong in are strangely absent. While it is important to be strong in things like decision-making, seeing a task through to the end, or being creative, Paul exhorts us to be strong in other areas which have far more eternal value.

2 Timothy 2:1 “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Grace can be defined as the giving nature of God. The Bible teaches us, God loves us and desires to give what is best to us. The highest expression of His grace is seen at the cross, where He gave His Son to pay for the sins of the world. It is when we recognize we are sinners, and He has provided a way of salvation, that we become partakers of His grace. Sadly, many who have trusted in the grace of God for salvation, live out their Christian life as though grace was used up on the cross. They seem to live like Jacob, who was constantly striving and manipulating to get ahead, rather than walking with, and trusting in, the Lord. One of the greatest lessons to learn in life is, once you have received Christ, you are accepted in the Beloved. You are a recipient of God’s favor, and as you walk daily with Him, you will derive the benefits of His matchless grace.

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

The phrase “be strong in” is used one other time in Paul’s writing; he refers to being strong in the Lord. One of the realities of life is there are many times when I am not strong enough. The other day I attempted to carry a piece of furniture out of the house, only to realize I would have to wait for one of my boys to get home. It was simply too heavy for me. Weakness is something we all have, and it stands in the way of us doing what God calls us to. Rather than failing to do what we have been called to because of our weakness, we must be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Whatever He calls us to, He will equip us for.

Pastor Jim

 

Despised And Rejected

Isaiah 53:3
“He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

How would you treat delegates from another nation? It seems likely, we would go out of the way to make them feel as comfortable as possible. It seems, they would not even need to be a dignitary to receive that treatment. I recently sat on a plane with a young man who had never traveled. His every experience, throughout the airport and on the plane, was a new one. I attempted to do my best to acquaint him with what was coming. To me, it was just courtesy to show him kindness and respect.

I find it both saddening and troubling that when the King of Kings arrived, he received treatment reserved for the worst criminals. He was despised by the masses, rejected by those closest to Him, and ultimately condemned to a horrific death. The most troubling thing is not that this happened, but that it continues. After His resurrection, Jesus commissioned His followers to go throughout the world inviting anyone and everyone to receive Christ, and subsequently receive pardon for sin. Instead of being welcomed as ambassadors, the Christian missionary, whether home or abroad, is often treated with contempt. We should not expect better treatment than the Lord we serve, nor should we be any less devoted to ensuring that all hear the message of the hope found in Christ alone.

Pastor Jim

 

Godly Home 

2 Timothy 1:5
When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”

Timothy is one of the stars of the New Testament. His story has all the makings of a blockbuster hit. When we are first introduced to him, he is a teenager described as “being well spoken of in all the churches.” We know that his commitment to Christ struck a chord with the apostle Paul, who invited him to join the ministry team and take the Gospel to the unreached people of the ancient world. While traveling with some of the greatest saints of all time, Timothy rose to the top and became Paul’s most trusted ally and closest friend. By the time his story comes to a close, he is pastoring one of the most influential churches the world has ever known, in the bustling city of Ephesus. We know his success in following and serving Christ had much to do with a teenage decision to surrender to Jesus and the influence of Paul, but we also find that he was greatly impacted at home.

From the few scattered pieces recorded about Timothy’s home life, we can surmise that he grew up in a family with an unbelieving father and a committed mother. Since we know that his mom was Jewish, and as such, was forbidden to marry a gentile, we know that her past included a time of having wandered from the Lord. Rather than letting her past define her present, Eunice determined to raise her son around the things of the Lord. Along with the assistance of her mother, Lois, they raised Timothy on a healthy diet of the Word of God. It is not a stretch to conclude, he was actually taught to read and write using the Word of God as his textbook. With such a godly foundation having been laid, it is no wonder this young man became one of the great saints of all time.

Perhaps you are in a less than ideal family situation. Perhaps you are even the cause of much of the struggle. Instead of letting the past write your future, take the time to surrender all to Christ, and make your home a place where others will be instructed in the ways of God. It is not too late to allow God to use your life to influence others for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Be Prepared 

1 Timothy 6:7
“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

Famous American inventor and statesman, Benjamin Franklin, is credited with saying, “Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” It seems we spend much of our time, effort, and energy, trying to avoid these things, rather than preparing for them. Some of us will exercise regularly, change our diet, and get regular checkups with our family doctor, in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. Others, will avoid any thought whatsoever of death or dying, and live this life as though it will last forever. Some, might have a risk-it-all attitude, where they live life on the edge, while others will attempt to amass as much stuff in this life as possible. Remember the mantra “He who dies with the most toys wins”?While I am not suggesting that eating healthy or enjoying life are bad ideas, I am saying, attempts to avoid or ignore death, are not nearly as important as attempts to prepare for it.

Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Jesus explained the folly of living for this life only. He reminds us that all we have acquired in this life, is subject to theft or decay. Not long ago, a water line under our house sprung a leak and ruined the flooring in our living room. I can remember the excitement on my wife’s face when the floor was first laid. While we knew it would not last forever, neither of us thought it would go so quickly. Life is like that, we live as though things will continue on forever, not because evidence suggests it, but because we do not want to face the reality that we are temporal beings with a shelf life. All of us must take seriously the words of the Apostle, realize the brevity of life, and prepare for eternity.

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

While it is true we can take nothing with us, we certainly can send things on ahead. Jesus maitained, we can store up treasures in heaven. We are all taking a trip one day into the unknown, to a destination where we have never traveled. While we cannot know everything we will face when we arrive, we can prepare in advance for our destination. Step one is to receive Christ; He alone is the way into heaven. Step two, get to know His Word, and live for the things that will outlast this life. The Bible teaches us there are only three things which are eternal: God, His Word, and the souls of men. If we want to live for that which will outlast this life, we must put Jesus first, get to know Him through the pages of our Bible, and seek to impact as many as possible for the kingdom of heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Walking In The Dark

Isaiah 50:10
“Who walks in darkness and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God.”


Life can be confusing. There are times when it seems as though we are walking in darkness and it is very difficult to navigate our way. These dark times can be caused by illness, the loss of a loved one, having a prodigal child, or a host of other hardships. Fortunately, Isaiah was no stranger to difficulty, and writes to give us assistance as we make our way through the struggles we are facing.

“Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God.”

Isaiah uses two verbs to describe the action we should take when we do not know how to handle the things we are facing.

First, he says we are to “Trust in the name of The Lord”. The word trust can mean to believe, depend on or put confidence in. This particular word also could be used to speak of a place to hide for refuge from a storm or attack. What is alluded to, is the name of the Lord is like a bomb shelter, during the greatest trials of life. Not long ago, I was in a bomb shelter, and found it was not only a place of security, but was stocked with everything necessary to sustain life until the attack was over. No matter what we face, we can hide away in the name of the Lord.

Second, he writes we should rely upon God. The word rely means to support yourself, as you would if you had an injury and needed a crutch or a cane. The idea is, the difficulties we face are too much for us and we need assistance. What a wonderful thing it is to know we can always lean upon the Lord.

No matter what you are facing, don’t try to make it through on your own. Instead, look to God who loves you and sent His Son to die for you. He wants to help you navigate through the journey of life, even in the darkest parts.

Pastor Jim