The Brokenhearted

Luke 4:18
“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, . . .”

IMG_1483Since man’s greatest problem is sin, man’s greatest need is for a savior. We don’t have to look too far to see that we are a fallen race. War, prejudice, and crime are all around us. Even within our own homes we have anger, lust, fear and unforgiveness. We are a people desperately in need of God. The great news of the Bible is that God came to save. The Bible speaks of the all-sufficient work of Christ upon the cross. So effective was His sacrifice, that any and all who believe on Him will be saved from the penalty of sin. That my friends is the good news of the Gospel.

But the good news does not stop there. When Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth, He declared to His friends, neighbor, and relative that He had come not only to save us from our sins, but also to repair the damage sin had done to us.

“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, . . .”

Living in this fallen world, none of us are immune to heartbreak. We have experienced the pain of loss, departure and even abandonment. For some, the pain has been with you for years; you wake up with it. For others, it is seasonal. We function normally until something in our lives stirs up the feelings again and we are transported back in time to the moment of our pain. These times can be difficult, even crippling. Isn’t it encouraging to know that Jesus came to heal your broken heart? Sometimes, the best way to experience His comfort is to lay your burden down at His feet, and pick up His promises. We must make a conscious decision to leave the memories behind and to walk out the door with His promises.

Today, instead of focusing on the cause of your broken heart, focus upon the heart-healer, the one who can restore to you the joy of salvation.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Leviticus 6- Always Burning
Leviticus 7- Giving Your Best

In Need

Luke 3:8
“We have Abraham as our father.’”

IMG_1480John the Baptist had a thriving ministry. We read that multitudes, or large gatherings of people, came out to hear him preach. We read that this crowd was made up of a cross section of society. There were religious people, tax collectors, and soldiers, as well as what we might call the everyday man; all of whom had come out to hear John speak.

Crowds formed the same way then as they do today. One man tells another, who tells another, and pretty soon a multitude forms. We are not told who the first people were to hear John speak, but we can imagine the message they declared to their friends, “You gotta come hear this guy speak. I listened to him, was baptized and my life has was changed.” One after another, they gathered to hear John. His message was very simple; Jesus is coming and we need to be ready. To get ready required a public declaration that they were sinners in need of a savior. Many responded by walking into the water with John to be baptized.

Not everyone who heard was jumping at the chance to respond. Some said, “I have Abraham as my father.” This essentially meant that they thought they did not need a savior. The same is true today. When a person truly meets the Lord he has a message that he cannot contain. He finds himself telling everyone he knows and inviting them to come hear the message for themselves. The problem is, although we are all equally in need of a savior, some attempt to satisfy that need with religion.

They might say “I don’t need Christ because I…”

* go to church

* was born in America

* was baptized as a baby

* am a good person

* give to charity

The list goes on and on; to which John says, ” do not even begin to say…” Those things will not save you from the righteous judgment of God. Ask yourself, do you trust in Christ for salvation? Have you made a public decision for Christ, declaring your need for Him? Or are you trusting in something else that is keeping you from full surrender to Christ?

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Leviticus 4- Oops
Leviticus 5- Restitution

New Opportunities

Luke 2:37
“This woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”

IMG_1477-1Sometimes, we wonder if our lives could ever really make a difference. We see others who are being used by God, and we think, “of course God uses them, they are so…” But when it comes to us, we think, “God can’t use me because…”

I think Anna is a great example, as well as a source of encouragement. We all know, as we age, the body breaks down. We are not able to do some of the things we did when we were younger. That is true of us and it was true of Anna. I love, that instead of regretting what she could not do, Anna found a way to effectively serve the Lord. She fasted, prayed and hung out around the temple. What a source of encouragement it would be for those coming to the temple, to always see this woman. She was a landmark. Just being there would afford her great opportunities to serve the Lord, and be a blessing to others. We read,

“She spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption. . .” Luke 2:38

I think of Jesus’ words to the church of Philadelphia,

“See I have set before you an open door, . . .” Revelation 3:8

I believe that is true for each of us. What door is open right in front of you? Instead of looking at all the ways we cannot serve the Lord, let’s determine we will look for the ways we can serve. Let’s keep our eyes open for any door that cracks open, and push through it to speak of Him to those who are searching for redemption.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Leviticus 1-Sweet Aroma
Leviticus 2- Leaven
Leviticus 3- Confession

Raising Godly Children

Luke 1:80
“So the child grew and became strong in spirit, . . .”

IMG_1473Every parent has the same goal. We desire the best for our children. We want to see them achieve more than we have. We want them to make it through childhood not having been distracted or derailed by vices, but to be prepared to live godly lives and make good life choices. What a blessing for Zacharias and Elizabeth to read that their son, “grew and became strong in spirit”.

This statement reveals the grace of God, but it is also the byproduct of the way they lived their lives. We read in Scripture, and see in life, there are godly children produced in ungodly homes, however it is much more common for godliness in parents to be transferred to their kids. Notice for a moment the way Zach and Liz lived, we read,

“They were both righteous. . .”

Zach chose a godly wife, she a godly husband.
Zach served the Lord.
Together they were committed to the Word of God.
Even before John was born, they were praying for him.
They were real people with real struggles. Not having children and being older, caused Zach to question the promises of God; yet they continued to faithfully follow and serve the Lord.
They stood up to the culture – because Zach was mute, Liz named their son John. The people opposed her, yet she stood on the Word of God.
They worshipped the Lord. The moment his tongue was loosed, instead of blaming God for the difficulties of the last 9 months, Zach worshipped God.
They were filled with the Holy Spirit. Parenting is perhaps life’s greatest challenge, we cannot face it alone, we need a daily outpouring of the Spirit to succeed.

Perhaps the key to it all, they parented with a purpose. In Verse 76, we read they taught John the Word and ways of God. They taught Him God had a plan for his life, and taught him to live up to that plan.
We all want to see our kids and grandkids walking with the Lord. While we trust them to the grace of God, we also must set an example of walking with the Lord. Let’s commit today to put the things of the Lord first in our lives

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Exodus 39- Dress For Success
Exodus 40- Glory Of The Lord

Preach The Gospel

Mark 16:15
“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel . . .”

imagePaul explained to the Corinthian church the simplicity of the Gospel message. He stated that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day; all according to the Scriptures. That was the message the first believers declared to their world. They went into their homes, streets, marketplaces, schools and places of business, declaring the Son of God died for our sins and rose from the dead.

Mary carries the honor of being the first to declare this wonderful news. Upon arriving at the empty tomb she was told,

“You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. HE IS RISEN!”

She responded by running to tell the other disciples. Since Jesus had declared He would rise again, it seems they would hear this wonderful news and rejoice together. Jesus is alive! Instead, we read, they did not believe her. What would cause these men to doubt the Word of God, and the testimony of Mary? I think perhaps, it was the difficulty of their circumstances. They were allowing their difficulty to cloud their view of God, instead of allowing the Word of God to shed light on their situation. This is a common occurrence. We have all been guilty of the same struggle. We look to our hardship, and it casts a shadow of doubt upon the promises of God.

Later that night, the church gathered together. There has been, and always will be, comfort in meeting together with friends in times of hardship. It is worth noting what happens when Jesus shows up. He does two remarkable things. First, He rebukes them for their unbelief. While He is our compassionate High Priest who understands our weakness, He also expects us to lay hold of the promises of God, and live by them. Second, He commands them to go tell the world. I am convinced there is a connection here. When we let our circumstances cloud the promises of God, we fail to share those promises. Also, when we share those promises, it shows we truly believe.

These guys heard from Mary that Jesus was alive. They found this to be true, as they went out into the world and declared the Gospel. When filled with fear, they stood before a crowd and shared Christ, He showed up and people were saved. When they met the needy, the blind, lame, and sick, they prayed for them; He showed up, and they were healed. Often we question whether Jesus really is alive from the dead. I think we will find our answer as we go into the entire world and preach the gospel.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Exodus 37- Utensils
Exodus 38- Got Talent

Response Required

Mark 15:20
“And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.”

IMG_1460We have come to the most solemn and most important of all Biblical events. The entire life and ministry of Jesus, as well as the whole of human history, has been leading up to these events. Jesus declared, no one could take His life, but that He would lay it down (John 10:18). That day has finally arrived. Without a fight, Jesus, the creator and sustainer of heaven and earth, was taken by the mob, condemned by the the courts, beaten by the soldiers, and nailed to the cross. There on a cross of wood, amidst the clamor of the mob, He would bear the penalty for the sins of all humanity. Louder than all the jeering of the mockers, the laughing of the soldiers, the accusations of the pharisees and the weeping of the disciples, rang out the cry “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?”

The answer to His question is one so great, it is beyond the human experience to understand. The Son of God, the One who always did the will of the Father and heard the Father declare, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”, now experienced the greatest horror anyone could ever experience. The penalty of sin, separation from God, was placed upon Christ. When Isaiah wrote, “surely He bore our iniquity”, he was referring to the cross. He was speaking of the weight, the guilt and the penalty of sin being placed on Christ, so we would never have to bear it ourselves. Oh, what amazing grace, that Jesus would bear my sin and yours.

It has always amazed me to observe the reaction of the people around the cross, as Jesus is being crucified. I notice the soldiers at the foot of the cross. Failing to understand the severity of the moment, or the brevity of life, they are playing games for Jesus clothes. How sad that many still treat Jesus in the same way. Instead of seeing Him as Savior, and surrendering to Him as Lord, they look to Him for what they can get out of Him. Their relationship with Jesus is reduced to simply seeing Him as the one who will give them what they want.

I notice the crowd, made up of people from all walks of life. While He is bearing their iniquity, they are asking Him to prove Himself. It is not enough that He lived a sinless life, fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, and transformed the lives of all who received Him; these men wanted further proof. Isn’t it interesting, by ignoring their request to come down from the cross, Jesus is, in fact, proving He is the Savior. What horror would await us had Jesus acquiesced to their request and come down from the cross. Instead of the penalty of sin being placed upon Him, it would still be awaiting us.

I also notice the centurion who stood by watching these events. He had a front row seat as the Son of God breathed His last. Rather than accepting the popular opinions about Jesus, he cried out,

“Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

If we will look to Him, as the centurion did, believing He is the Son of God and Savior of Humanity, then we will see Him transform our lives and find that instead of horror, heaven awaits us.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Exodus 35- Willingness
Exodus 36- Foundations Of Faith

 

Steps To A Fall

Mark 14:29
“Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.”

IMG_1457Mingled into the fabric of the betrayal, arrest, conviction and crucifixion of Christ, is the story of Peter’s denial. What happened to him? He went from confidently stating he would never deny Christ, to hiding his faith, denying his Lord, and bitterly weeping. While we never start out to fall, the path we walk will always determine our final destination. Peter’s path inevitably led to Peter’s fall. Let’s take a few minutes to notice the steps leading to his failure, that we might avoid these same pitfalls.

First, notice the pride of Peter, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” Pride will always cause us to put our guard down and open us up to failure.

Second, notice that while he should have been praying, he was sleeping. How often we neglect to make spiritual investments because other things become more pressing.

Third, we read he attempted to do spiritual battle in the arm of the flesh. Having neglected to watch and pray, Peter was left to pull out a sword for battle. How ineffective the flesh is, to battle in the realm of the Spirit.

Fourth, we read, “Peter followed Him at a distance.” Instead of realizing his failure and running to Jesus, Peter’s fear caused him to keep his distance. Satan is so good at getting us to sin, then convincing us that we are guilty and must stay in our sin, rather than running to Christ.

Fifth, notice where Peter is hanging out. Eleven friends had been following Jesus together for over 3 years, yet in a time when his faith is being tested the most, Peter is hanging out in the enemy’s camp. How different the story would have been if these eleven men had returned to the garden for prayer and fellowship.

Finally, Mark gives us an interesting insight into the story that is particularly relevant. He tells us, before the third denial, there was the sound of a rooster crowing. In the 11th hour of temptation, Jesus is still giving warning signs to keep Peter from his fall and the subsequent misery. Instead of heeding the warning, Peter continues down the road until his sin is complete.

Let’s learn a lesson from Peter’s failure and draw near to Jesus today.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Exodus 33- More
Exodus 34- Cleft Of The Rock