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

Old Testament:
2 Chronicles 3- Established
2 Chronicles 4- House Of God
Psalm 129- Under Attack

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 affected, 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

Old Testament:
2 Chronicles 1- Slip Sliding
2 Chronicles 2- Heavy Lifting
Psalm 128- Family 101

Cannot Be Moved

Psalms 125:1
“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.”

4,000 years ago Abraham was instructed to take his son to Mount Zion and offer him to the Lord. 2,800 years ago David purchased the threshing floor of Ornan on top of Mount Zion so his son Solomon could erect a permanent house for the Ark and a place for Israel to worship. 2,000 years on that same mountain the son of God was sacrificed for the sins of all mankind as a means of providing salvation for anyone who would humble themselves and call upon the name of the Lord. And today countless people from all over the world make pilgrimages to mount Zion to reflect upon these events and so many more. Millions of visitors, thousands of storms, hundreds of wars and mount Zion has yet to be moved.

The psalmist boldly declares that those who trust in the Lord will be just like mount Zion. Although time passes and difficulties come, those who trust in the Lord will be as unmovable as mighty mount Zion. Not only will our lives be unshakable but they will one day have a testimony to share with all who are willing to take a look. That testimony will declare the faithfulness of the Lord regardless of our failures or the tragedies and triumphs of life.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
1 Chronicles 28- Looking Ahead
1 Chronicles 29- Investment
Psalm 126- Sowing In Tears 

Free From Sin

Psalm 123:1-2
“Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He has mercy on us.”

The Psalmist compares the way he looks to the Lord, to the way a servant looks to a master. If we are going to understand the comparison, we need to consider how a servant would look to a master. It seems to me, one word would describe it best. A servant looks to his master obediently. The role of the servant is to do the will of the master, and in order to do that, he must look to the master for instruction and respond with obedience. The servant does not have the right to argue with the master, nor the time to complain about how unfair his task, in light of what the other servants are doing. The servant obeys.

The Psalmist is not the only Bible writer to compare himself to a servant. One of Paul’s favorite terms to describe himself was servant. I imagine that if you and I were attending our high school reunion, we would not brag to others, that after years of education, we had become servants. What is it that caused these men to be so thrilled, even honored, by the idea of being servants of the Lord? I think it has something to do with freedom.

The Psalmist understood it was God who had set Israel free. Their history was marked with bondage. They had been the slaves of Egypt, sitting under the threat of death, while being ruled by a harsh task master. They watched as the Egyptians beat their friends, and attempted to kill their children. They also watched, as God came to the rescue; overcoming the impossible and delivering them from the hand of their harsh task master. Later, Israel, again and again ,found themselves in bondage to their enemies. Throughout their history, their desire to be like the world around them, and their compromise with sin, led them into bondage. Time, and time again, they would compromise and fall, and God would intervene and rescue.

Paul understood that the same is true for the Christian. While we might not be the slaves of an Egyptian king, we are no less enslaved. When writing to the Romans, Paul declared, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked, that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:16-18

Prior to coming to Christ, each of us was a slave of sin. As a result, we were missing out on the abundant life God intended for us to live, and we were on the fast track to eternal separation from God. On Calvary’s cross, freedom from sin was secured. Christ made the way for us to be set free from sin, and become the servant of righteousness. The celebration, of being a servant, is found in understanding that we were never free; we were once the slave of sin and death, and now we have become the slave of a holy and loving God, who desires the best for His children. The highest place you can ever attain in life, is that of a servant of Christ. Take some time right now to look to your Master. You will see His unfailing love and matchless grace. You will see his nail pierced hands and his unlimited power. You will see His ways are so much higher than your ways; and you will find, as you follow obediently after Him, you will experience life to the fullest.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
1 Chronicles 26- Small Things
1 Chronicles 27- Behind The Scenes
Psalm 124- One Size Fits All

Sticks And Stones

Psalms 120:4
“Sharp arrows of the warrior,
With coals of the broom tree!”

I grew up hearing “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I am quite certain that those who shared that sentiment with me were trying to help, but I also learned at a rather young age that it simply wasn’t true. Wounds caused by sticks and stones tend to mend both quickly and completely leaving little if any scars. The wounds caused by unkind, abusive or slanderous words have a tendency to linger and sometimes affect us for a lifetime. When it comes to the sharp arrows of the tongue there are a few things we need to keep in mind.

First off, it is important to remember that our words will have an impact on others. If we speak kind, uplifting and challenging words we will find our relationships enhanced and see others develop into healthy individuals. If we speak harsh, bitter, angry and demeaning words we will find that the spirit of others is drastically and negatively impacted. This is particularly true in marriage and child rearing. The words we speak can be like arrows that destroy the lives we are seeking to help.

Secondly, if you have been negatively shaped by the harsh words of others it is important to remember that there is grace for that. You may carry insecurities because growing up you heard things that caused you to think you would never measure up. As real as those insecurities and their impact upon you actions might be we can take comfort in knowing that God is always able to provide what is lacking. Instead of being crippled by them we can look to the one who will provide the Spirit of Christ Jesus and find that we are more than able to succeed even with all our shortcomings.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
1 Chronicles 24- Raising Leaders
1 Chronicles 25- God Speaks
Psalm 121- Lift Up My Eyes

Ashamed?

Psalm 119:5-6
“Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments”

The devil is crafty and a master of deception. Paul referred to him as an angel of light, because of his ability to disguise himself in order to fool the Christian.

When we are first introduced to him in the garden,  we watch as he tricks Eve into thinking the one thing that her loving God has forbidden, is of more value than all the fruit of the garden or the freedom she has been given. He has been deceiving people ever since, fooling us into thinking the ways of God are too restrictive and that sin will satisfy us. Once he has convinced us to walk outside the boundaries of God’s Word and get involved in that which is forbidden, his job is only half done. Instead of leaving us alone and moving on to deceive another, he turns his weapons back on us and begins an assault of shame. His fiery arrows begin to assault our minds with shame. We are defeated by the sin we have committed, and continue in defeat as we wallow in shame and guilt. We are repulsed by our failure, and instead of entering boldly into the throne of grace, where mercy and grace flow from our loving Father, we cower back with feelings of unworthiness. We question how God could love us and fear that we will never overcome the weaknesses of our flesh. There, in our miry clay, the devil holds us bound in shame and guilt; keeping us from abundant life or from impacting others for the kingdom of Heaven.

I want to assure you, that if you have received the pardon of sin that Christ offers on Calvary’s Cross, ALL your sins have been washed away. The blood of Christ is rich enough to pardon the sin that you have stumbled back into. Right this moment, receive that pardon and rise from the ashes of your failure to walk in the victory that is yours in Christ.

That being said, the Psalmist speaks here of one of the greatest ways to avoid pitfalls of the devil and ending up overcome with shame.

Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments.”

The key to avoiding the pitfalls of the enemy, is walking in the right direction, and staying in bounds. The key to remaining on track, is allowing the Word of God to shine continually upon your life and guide your steps. One of the ways we fail, is when we come to a crossroad and find ourselves face to face with temptation. On the one hand, we are being greatly pressed to step outside the boundaries and pursue what we know God has forbidden, while on the other hand, we desire to please Him and do what is right. Right there, in the midst of the battle, we will find great strength from the perfect Law of liberty. Like a valiant soldier, as we reach into the sheath, removing the Sword of the Spirit, we will find the enemy is vanquished with the power of the Word. Later, in times of confusion, when we are not sure what the way of the Lord is, we can find guidance that keeps us on track. Have you ever, when facing decision time or great temptation, taken a moment to search for what the Scripture has to say? Using an online concordance, you can look into the statutes of God regarding the situation you are facing. The light of the Word will shine in your life, and you will find the help you need to avoid falling again into shame.

Let’s be sure, today, to allow our steps to be directed by His statutes.

Pastor Jim

Short But Sweet

Psalm 117
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!
For His merciful kindness is great toward us,
And the truth of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord!”

It is not always the longest, or even the most creative works, that become the most well known. I am not a poet, and cannot speak to the artistic side of things, but I doubt whether any poem is as well known as “Roses are red and violets are blue…” Sometimes, the simplicity of things is exactly what is most needed. In a songbook filled with some of the most elaborate and beautiful expressions of praise, we find a simple song, consisting of only two short verses. It is the brevity of this song that magnifies its content. We find the Psalmist emphasizing two things that make God worthy of the praise of all the nations. He states, God is kind, and His word is true.

Perhaps, rather than going into great detail to explain these things, it might do us good to simply put  the teaching of this psalm into practice. Take some time to express thanks to God for His merciful kindness. If you need to confess things you are doing wrong, then go for it, and allow Him to wash away all your sin. Then decide that you are going to forever view His Word as the truth, and live by its statutes.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
1 Chronicles 22- The Word Of God Is Greater
1 Chronicles 23- Everyday
Psalm 118- Killer Bees