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 

In His Image

Psalm 115:8
“Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.”

I remember being in a cultural anthropology class in college, when the professor said, “the Bible says man was created in the image of God, but I believe God was created in the image of man.” While I totally disagree with his rejection of Biblical truth, I do agree, that man has been creating gods in his image since the beginning of time. We like to pretend we are a more evolved and sophisticated race than our ancestors, but the reality is, mankind has not changed. We are still creating gods in our image. Whenever we pick and choose verses we like, and reject the ones that make us uncomfortable, we are creating God in our own image. The Psalmist speaks of the folly of that, when he declares;

Psalm 115:8 “Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.”

When we reduce the God of the Bible to the creation of our own mind, we create an impotent god who is unable to save from sin, or help in our times of weakness. Again, the Psalmist declares about their gods,

“They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat.” Psalm 115:5-7

Not only are man-made gods unable to aid in times of trouble, but those who fashion them become like them. One of the great values of following closely after Jesus, is that we in turn, become like Him. Instead of being reduced from the purpose for which we were created, as we follow Jesus, we are transformed. Walking daily with Him, will result in our lives being transformed into His image, and we will be able to live up to the potential for which we were created.

Instead of rejecting God because there are things about Him you do not understand, or have a hard time believing, why not submit to Him, and allow Him to reveal Himself to you? If He is not real, what have you really lost? But if He is, you will find that your life is transformed and you will begin to experience what Jesus called “living waters,” welling up in you like a fountain of life.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
1 Chronicles 20- Let’s Battle
1 Chronicles 21- Full Price

He Humbled Himself

Psalm 113:6
“Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?”

A few years ago my wife and I were window shopping at an outdoor mall in southern California when we stumbled onto a crowd of people huddled around a large telescope. We decided to stand in line and see what they were looking at. When our turn came to look through the view finder we were stunned. From the courtyard of the mall we were able to see the rings around Saturn. We took advantage of the moment and allowed the young man who owned the telescope to point out distant stars and even a distant galaxy. Technology has provided us with things that were unthinkable during most of human history, and there in the mall we were able to observe the heavens. I was struck both by the majesty of the heavens and by the advances of science that would allow the casual shopper a glimpse into the heavens. But I did realize that this was only possible because of the highest reaches of human development. Centuries of studying the stars had come together at that moment to provide a telescope that could view the heavens.

I often think of that when I read the Psalmists words;
“Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?”

What takes the height of human development to glance at, God has to bow to look into. As majestic as creation may ever seem the creator is much more magnificent. His glory is above the heavens.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
1 Chronicles 18- Team Work
1 Chronicles 19- When Things Go Wrong
Psalm 114- Rock Into Water

In The Congregation

Psalm 111:1
“Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.”

God created us as social beings; we need the companionship of one another. Knowing that being together is a necessary part of healthy development and spiritual growth, God established seven feasts that took place during three different seasons of the Jewish calendar year. During these feasts the children of Israel were to journey together to the city of Jerusalem. The journey itself became a time of celebration. The closer they came to the city, the more they would celebrate. As they hiked up the hills where Jerusalem sat, they would sing a series of psalms, now known as the Psalms of Ascent. Upon arriving, the feasts consisted of corporate gatherings, sacrifices, teachings, worship and eating. Like the festive times in our calendar year, I am sure these were the highlight of the year for the people.

In the New Testament, God established another means by which to satisfy the social needs of His people. He created the church. Now the primary purpose of the church is to be a place where God is glorified, and the Word of God is taught, but in order to do those things, we must gather together in corporate worship. When that becomes a regular part of your weekly schedule, you will find you are not only growing closer to Christ, investing in eternal things, but you are also much healthier, socially. God knows our needs and designed corporate worship for our benefit.  When it is neglected, our growth is stunted, but when we regularly participate in it, we begin to grow in ways that we never thought possible.

Let’s follow the example of the Psalmist, determining that we will praise the Lord in the assembly of the righteous. Here are a few tips that will enhance our worship experience. First, determine now that you will not be a random attendee in your local church. Plan now to attend Sunday morning and a mid week service. Plan for things that regularly interfere, perhaps even making dinner in advance. Get the kids involved with the ministry at their age level. My kids love church because of the relationships they established with others.

Corporate worship is key to spiritual growth. Get plugged in today

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
1 Chronicles 16- Let’s Talk
1 Chronicles 17- Not Now

Divine Justice

Psalm 109:2
“My knees are weak through fasting, and my flesh is feeble from lack of fatness.”

When I read the songs of David, I am fascinated with the level in which He knew the Lord. He expresses praise in a way that reveals the depths in which he understood the majesty of God. He speaks of mercy, grace and loving-kindness, not as one who studied it in a classroom, but as one who experienced it daily. This psalm reveals the level in which David understood the justice of God. If this Psalm seems harsh, it may be partly due to the limited understanding we have of God’s justice. We live in a world that finds it difficult to reconcile love, mercy and justice. We see it as unloving to punish an offender, yet we know it to be unjust to allow them to go free. It is common to project our limited understanding of righteousness on the Lord, only to then accuse Him of wrongdoing when He judges the ungodly. We must never forget, God is a holy and just God. When sin is committed it must be judged, God will bring justice upon those who have rebelled against Him, and mistreated His children. Ultimately, this judgment will be punitive and those who have rejected Christ will be separated from God.

CS Lewis put it like this, “God in the end really gives people what they want, including freedom from Himself. What could be more fair?”

But until then, the judgment of God is meant to draw people to Himself. God does not want the rebellious to continue in their sin, ignorant of how He feels about it. Instead, He desires all men everywhere to be saved.

Before we are too hard on David for the intensity of his prayer regarding the wicked, I think we have to visit where he had been. I am not talking about going through the kind of hardship that make us callous to others, but rather I am referring to the statement David makes in verse 24,

“My knees are weak through fasting, and my flesh is feeble from lack of fatness.”

To be honest, I am humbled by these words. David describes the physical weakness he experienced as a result of the intensity in which he was seeking the Lord. His prayer for the wicked to be judged was not birthed out of their mistreatment of him, but rather out of his time spent seeking the Lord on their behalf. The best thing for those who are living in rebellion against God is to taste a little of His severity, if it will bring them to a place of repentance that they might avoid eternal judgment.

As you seek to understand this Psalm, take a few moments to pray for your loved ones who are still living apart from Christ. Pray that they would surrender all without having to go through any more of the severity of God.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
1 Chronicles 14- Lesson Learned
1 Chronicles 15- The Proper Order
Psalm 110- Footstool

Give Thanks

Psalm 107:1
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

The evolution of love is seen in the relationship between children and parents. An infant child cannot survive on his own and is completely dependent upon the mercy, grace and love of the parents. In a proper relationship the parents give time, energy, even sleep for the benefit of the child. As the relationship develops so does the love, it is not long before the parents begin to see the return in their investment. I can remember being so excited when my children began to smile and laugh, or when they would crawl across the room only to get up on my lap and snuggle. What a joy! Just this week I received messages from each of my boys expressing Father’s Day wishes in their own humorous ways. Our relationship has become one of an exchange of love. This Psalm is an illustration of that kind of love relationship with God. The Psalmist cries out with thankful praise as a response to what God has done for them. Paul used an interesting word for thanks when writing to Timothy, he said “Thanks be to God…” and the word he used was “karis” which is the word used to speak of God’s giving nature. Because of the grace we have received from the Lord, we give grace back to Him.

The Psalmist describes here that exchange of grace and thanksgiving.

He recalls the history of God’s people and reminds them of all that God has done for them. The list includes being redeemed, provided for, delivered, protected, forgiven, and comforted in the storms of life. Sprinkled throughout the Psalm is a continued exhortation;

Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

Perhaps it would be of great value to our love relationship with the Lord if we took time to recall to mind all that God has done for us and respond in thankful praise.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
1 Chronicles 12- Heroes In Training
1 Chronicles 13God’s Way
Psalm 108- Count On The Promises Of God