Longsuffering 

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Peter writes, as the day of the Lord approaches there will be an increase in those he calls “scoffers.” A scoffer is one who shows his contempt for an idea or concept, by not only rejecting it, but mocking it, and those who believe. Peter goes on to explain, one of the signs that Christ’s return is drawing near, is an increase in those who mock Christ and Christianity.

2 Peter 3:5-6 “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.”

Their mockery does not stem from a lack of evidence, but rather as the result of removing God from their thinking. Peter states, they have willingly forgotten the God who created and sustains all things.

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Instead of writing of the intense anger of God toward those who mock Him and mistreat His children, Peter supports the reason for God’s patience. Knowing the longer He waits, the more He will be mocked, and the worse things will get, God remains patient, because it is His desire for all to be saved. We know God takes it very personally when His children are mistreated; He calls us the “apple of His eye.”

We also know, He considers blaspheme to be a violation of His Holy Law. Yet, He still waits patiently for more to come to saving faith in Christ. Keep in mind, more than anything, God’s desire is for you to be in heaven. He has paved the way through the death of His Son on the cross. He has given us His Word, and sent His servants around the world with a simple message, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).”

Have you trusted your life into His hands? If not, do it now. Simply pray, “Jesus, thank you for dying for my sin, I invite you into my life and give my life to You.”

Pastor Jim

 

Get Out Of Jail

Jeremiah 52:31

“Now it came to pass in the thirty- seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, that Evil-Merodach, King of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin, King of Judah and brought him out of prison.”

Jehoiachin, the last King of Judah, will forever be known as the one sitting on the throne when the nation fell. The collapse was not entirely his fault, although his wickedness did play a part. While very few details are preserved regarding his actual reign, we are told that after 37 years in prison, he was suddenly released and treated favorably. Jeremiah does not give an explanation of the details leading up to his release, but as Scripture unfolds, we can uncover the heavenly reasons behind it.

Thirty-three years after Jehoiachin was released, Cyrus, King of Persia, allowed Israel to return to Jerusalem to repatriate the land and rebuild the Temple. The remnant that returned was led by Zerubbabel, who would serve as their governor and liaison between Israel and Persia. Zerrubabel was the grandson of Jehoiachin. That means, although imprisoned for 37 years, God still had a plan for Jehoiachin’s life. Although he failed as a king, he seems to have succeeded as a grandfather, by raising a son, who in turn, would raise a son, who would serve the Lord.

Zerrubabel would become a great leader in Israel. His ministry would combine the gifts of Moses, who led Israel into the land, and Solomon who built the first temple. In the midst of great opposition, he would find great victory.

None of us should aspire to take the route of Jehoiachin; a wicked life that results in bondage should never be our aspiration. However, if we have traveled a road that has cost us our freedom, and perhaps even our family’s, it is not too late to get off that road and determine, from this point forward, we will live for the Christ and His kingdom. It may be, in the time you have left, the Lord may use you to influence those who will influence the nations.

Pastor Jim

 

Not Forsaken 

Jeremiah 51:5

“For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God, the Lord of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.”

As Jeremiah writes this, Jerusalem is smoldering in the rubble of its own destruction. Babylonian forces have taken the people captive, burned the city to the ground, and set up their own government to rule over Israel. Since the cause of Judah’s fall was their stubborn rebellion against the Word of the Lord, it would seem logical to conclude that God had forsaken His people. Jeremiah declares that those who are in covenant relationship with God, will not be utterly forsaken, even when we have sinned against Him.

Obviously, sin is damaging and has long lasting effects upon our lives. The children of Israel experienced this first hand, as they were defeated in battle, taken captive, and became strangers in a foreign land for seventy years. The same will be true of us. A man who is unfaithful to his wife and family, may destroy his marriage and lose the trust of his children. A person who is  dishonest at work, may lose his job and find it very difficult to support his family. But a child of God, no matter how hard he falls, will not be forsaken.

Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

The promise that God will never leave us should keep us close to Him, not living on the edges as far away as possible, while maintaining a relationship with God. This promise should drive us closer and closer to the one who loves us with an everlasting love. This truth should motivate us to cry our for mercy, and allow ourselves to be washed in His amazing grace.

No matter what you have done, His mercy is new every morning, and your relationship with Him can be restored.

Pastor Jim

 

In The Pig Pen 

2 Peter 2:22
“But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.’”

A few years ago, I was in northern Ghana with a group of people from our church. Our purpose was to bring the Gospel to remote villages that had yet to be reached for Christ. Just as Paul developed a custom of going first to the synagogue, then to the market squares, we too, had developed our own custom. Because of the practices of their culture, it is customary, when a traveler arrives at their home, to gather the family, offer the traveler a drink and ask “What brings you here and do you have a message for us?” As you can imagine, this provides a wide open door to share Christ.

On one particular day, as we were walking through a village, going from hut to hut with the gospel, I turned a corner and startled a large pig. He immediately arose from his mud hole and walked off. When he stirred up the mud, the stink was so strong it almost knocked me over. I continued down the path, then turned back, thinking of this verse in 2 Peter 2, wondering what would happen next. Sure enough, as soon as he thought it was safe, the pig walked back to the mire and plopped down.

Peter explains, while it is expected for a pig to return to its mire, you are not a pig. Once you have come to Christ, it is unnatural for you to turn back to the sins from which He saved you. He writes that returning to our past lives, results in being in a worse condition than we were prior to being saved. That worse condition is caused by the hardening of our hearts.

Each time we take a step away from the Lord, the Holy Spirit convicts us, reminding us of the promises of the Word, and the danger of that course of action. When we ignore His warnings and continue to move toward sin and away from God, our hearts become just a little harder. Soon we are able to sin without feelings of guilt or remorse. That is in no way a sign of freedom, but of extreme bondage. When sin no longer shames us, we are shackled by its deadly grip.

A good application from this text would be to take inventory. Are you allowing things back into your life that might lead you away from the Lord and back into your old life style? Turn those things back over to the Lord, before you find yourself neck-deep in the mire.

Pastor Jim

 

Pardon The Preserved 

Jeremiah 50:20

“‘In those days and in that time,’ says the Lord,
‘The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none;
And the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found;
For I will pardon those whom I preserve.'”

One of the greatest benefits of being in a relationship with God is the forgiveness of sin. God explains that although we have transgressed His laws, the covenant provides pardon. In Israel’s case, it was through temple sacrifice, in ours, it is through the blood Christ shed at Calvary. The forgiveness He offers is complete. All sin, and it’s penalties, are washed away in the priceless blood of Christ. When God forgives, nothing will ever be brought up again.

I am captivated by the statement in this verse where sins are sought, but cannot be found. It is not saying that we cannot find a way to sin, but rather that the sins of the past have been completely pardoned. Whoever might bring a charge against the child of God, the answer will remain the same, “What sin, I don’t remember it.”

Guilt is one of the strongest anchors which holds us back, from accomplishing great things for the Lord, but it is not God who is filling our minds with guilt from past failures. Those things have been forgiven and we can move on to a life which brings glory, honor, and praise to God. I have often thought, how little Paul would have ever accomplished if he let his past failures hold him back from pursuing and serving Christ.

If you are feeling guilty about present sin, turn from it and to the Lord, but if you are plagued by past failures, it is time to look past them and at the cross, where all sin was washed in the blood of God.

Pastor Jim

 

Excuses Excuses 

Jeremiah 49:4
“Why do you boast in the valleys, Your flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? Who trusted in her treasures, saying, ‘Who will come against me?’”

Some things never change. The sun will always rise in the East and set in the West, water will always be wet, and a person in a backslidden state will always deceive themselves, about their spiritual condition. This was true 2600 years ago in Ammon, and it is true today.

When we drift from the Lord, we develop a skewed perspective about our spiritual condition and the reasons for it. There are a number of pretty common deceptions that keep a person from turning back to the Lord.

It is not uncommon for a person, who has backslidden, to have a list of excuses for their sin. They might have an elaborate story about how another Christian, or the church in general, let them down or treated them badly. In reality, by doing this, they are simply blaming their actions on someone else. This did not work for Adam in the garden, and it will not work today. Sometimes, the first step to getting things right with God, is taking ownership for what we are doing wrong.

Another common deception is thinking we have gone too far and God is no longer interested in us. I have even known backslidden believers to quote obscure verses out of context, convincing them it is too late for them. Keep in mind, the entire underlining message of the Bible is that God is in the business of bringing wanderers back to Himself. You may have made some big mistakes and gotten way off track, but the Cross provides forgiveness for that, and the Lord is waiting to restore you to Himself.

It is also typical for backsliders to think they have time to put off getting things right with God. We often realize we are not where we should be, and we have intentions of returning to the Lord, but we think it is something we will do later. Either we are enjoying our backslidden state, or we are not willing to do the work necessary to return to Christ.

The thing we are forgetting is, the longer we stay in our condition, the deeper our roots go, and the more difficult repentance becomes. Don’t put off repentance for another day. Keep in mind, that while the trip may seem far, it is really as simple as turning to God, and recommitting yourself to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Clean Me

Jeremiah 48:11
“Moab has been at ease from his youth; He has settled on his dregs, And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, Nor has he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, And his scent has not changed.”

Jeremiah is describing the judgment that will fall upon Moab. He explains, in vivid fashion, that one of the chief causes of their wickedness was the fact that they were like a vessel which had never been cleaned. Their failure to allow the difficulties of life to purify their actions, ultimately lead to their judgment and destruction.

Trials are not the most pleasurable experiences in life. Whenever we face difficulty that is beyond our ability to endure, we wonder if there is a God, and if so, why He is allowing such hardship to come our way. One reason for the difficult seasons of life, is that they are designed to stir things up in our lives, in order to purify us.

Like taking a dirty cup, filling it with hot soapy water, and shaking it back and forth to release the dregs, hardship is designed as a means of getting things out of our lives that will ultimately bring the judgment of God. Instead of questioning the love of God, we should allow difficulty to serve its purpose, and examine whether or not we are living in a way that pleases God. Had Moab turned from their wicked ways, they would not have been facing heaven’s wrath.

What about you? Are you practicing things that are unacceptable to God? I am not talking about wanting to live for God and slipping along the way, instead, I am referring to a person who is looking at the Word of God and saying, “I don’t care what it says, I am going to do what I want.” Be careful, that kind of living will lead you face-to-face with the judgment of God.

Pastor Jim