Choose Life

Deuteronomy 30:19
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live”

As Moses’ final hour quickly approaches, he pleads with the people to turn to the Lord. He has personally experienced the suffering that comes with rebellion against God. Forty years in Horeb, and forty years in the wilderness wanderings, have forever etched in his mind, the importance of trusting in, and following after, the Lord.

The same offer is set before each of us today. We have the choice to receive Christ and follow after Him into life, blessing, and peace. Or, we can choose to reject his offer, and continue to live apart from Him. We are not, however, free to claim the benefits of choosing Christ, then continue to live apart from Him, or after the dictates of our own heart. Earlier Moses declared,

“. . . and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, “I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’—as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.” Deuteronomy 29:19

The decision we make regarding Christ is one that will effect our present circumstances, our eternal state, and those who we love the most. Moses stated that a decision to follow the Lord would mean both they, and their descendants, would live. As you make a stand to live committed to Christ, you will find that others stand with you.

Choose life today!

Pastor Jim

 

Hidden Things 

Deuteronomy 29:29

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

 

Recently, I arrived at the church, only to discover that since I drove a different vehicle than usual, I did not have my key. First, I was frustrated at myself, then I looked for someone else to blame, and finally, called one of the other pastors to come open the office for me. When I got in, settled down, and began to unpack my bag, I discovered the key was in my bag all along. I had simply failed to take the time to look for it. Had I dug through the bag, I could have saved myself a lot of wasted time, energy and frustration. 

 

Moses explains that the secret things of God have been revealed to His children and as a result they belong to us. These secrets include His guidance, His provision, and even His power. As a child of God, we can access God and receive from Him, even when we are facing the darkest moments in life. Like the key tucked away in the bottom of my bag, the promises of God are hidden in the pages of His word. Sometimes, they are hidden right on the surface, and all that is required is to open your Bible and begin to read. I wonder how often you have walked into church and felt as though the songs or the message was written just for you? That same experience will be found daily, if you will take the time to traverse the pages of your Bible. The secret things of God belong to you, take the time to get to know them. 

 

Pastor Jim 

  

Head Or Tail

Deuteronomy 28:13
“And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.”

This verse makes me think of a high school performance where two students are selected to play the horse. One lucky young man get to be the head, while the other is stuck behind him as the tail.

Moses used this visual to remind Israel of the importance of obedience to the Word of God. He explained that if the people chose to live in or accordance with the teachings of Scripture, they would find that their life would be richly blessed. At the same time, if they chose to ignore the Word, and do life their own way, they would miss out on that blessing, and face difficulties God never intended for them to endure.

Every day we face challenges that force us to either look to Scripture for direction or choose to do what we think is right. When we apply the principles of the Word of God, they will always bring about blessing, even if it seems impossible. Jesus told an interesting parable regarding the value and power of the Word of God. He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how” (Mark 4:26-27). In other words, the Word of God will always do what it is designed to do, even if we don’t understand how. When a marriage is failing and a couple begins to look to Scripture and apply its truths to heir relationship, God will do the miraculous. When an individual is struggling to walk with the Lord and begins to invest the Word into his daily life, God will do a miracle. We do not need to understand how the Word works, we just need to be faithful to do it; and we will find ourselves being the head, instead of the tail.

Pastor Jim


Choose

Deuteronomy 27:8
“And you shall write very plainly all the words of this law.”

On the verge of entering the Land of Promise, Moses reminds the people they have a choice to make. Upon entering the land, they were to gather the entire nation in the valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerazim. On one mount, half of Israel‘s leaders were to read the blessings that would befall a people who obeyed the Word of God. The remainder of Israel’s leaders stood on the other mount to declare the curses that would befall them if they ignored, or rebelled against the Word. In addition to the spoken Word, they were to write the Word on large, whitewashed stones that were easy for all to read. Beyond question, the key to Israel’s success and happiness was their obedience to the Word.

The same is true for us today. God has gone to great effort to provide us with His Word. He has preserved it down through the ages. It remains our responsibility to get to know it, and to obey it. Our success and happiness depend upon our obedience to the Word.

Deuteronomy 27:9-10
“. . . This day you have become the people of the Lord your God. Therefore you shall obey the voice of the Lord your God, and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.”

For each of us who has decided to follow Christ, the next step of the journey involves getting to know the Word of God, and living in obedience to it. The closer we adhere to the principles found in His Word, the more blessed our life will become.

What choice will you make? Will you decide to live life your own way and miss out on the blessed life? Or will you submit yourself to the Word and ways of God, and watch as He provides you with the living water He promises to all those who believe

Pastor Jim

 

A Great Nation

Deuteronomy 26:5
“And you shall answer and say before the Lord your God: “My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.’

The story of Abraham is the story of God, that has been rewritten in the lives of countless thousands over the years. Abraham was an unknown shepherd living in ancient Babylon when he heard the call of God. He was to separate from the world he lived in, and commit himself to following the Lord. As he, daily, walked by faith, and took simple steps of obedience to God, his life, and our world, were forever changed. Fast forward to the time of Moses, and this simple shepherd has become the Father of many nations. Fast forward to the time of Joshua, and his people have been given a land flowing with milk and honey. Fast forward, once again, to the time of Christ, and he has become a blessing to the entire world, because the promised  Messiah has come. 

As you live in the obscurity of what your life might be, wondering how God could ever use you to accomplish anything for the Kingdom of Heaven, keep in mind, that the pattern of God is always the same. Whether it is Gideon, threshing wheat, David tending sheep, Peter, James and John, mending nets or you, going about the activities of your daily life, God will always use the simple obedience of men and women of obscurity to transform the world. No one would have ever heard of any of the heroes of Scripture had they not responded in faith and obedience, and done the tasks that were set before them.

Whatever God is calling you to do, no matter how insignificant it may seem, do it! Time alone will tell how greatly the world will be impacted.

Pastor Jim


  

Forty Lashes 

Deuteronomy 25:3
“Forty blows he may give him and no more, lest he should exceed this and beat him with many blows above these, and your brother be humiliated in your sight.”

A man, condemned of certain crimes, was to be beaten as a form of punishment and humiliation. The beating was reserved for the wicked, while the righteous were exonerated. Years later, a “Kangaroo Court” met in Israel, gathered false witnesses, and condemned the Son of God to death, for the high crime of blaspheme. He was taken to the Roman authorities, where He was again tried, convicted and condemned. Part of the sentence meted out to Him was the Roman scourging. Unlike the Jewish law that carried with it a level of mercy, the Roman scourge was designed, not only to punish, but to kill.

After withstanding the agony of the garden, the hostility of the Jewish leaders, a sleepless night, and the mistreatment by the Roman guards, Jesus was bound and beaten. The beating was carried out by a Roman soldier, who used a leather whip with many “tails.” Woven into the leather were sharp, hard objects, like broken glass or metal. The whip would tighten the skin, while the glass would tear through it. Since the beating was only a step in the crucifixion process, no mercy was shown. Jesus would have been beaten to the very brink of death. We know what He endured was so great He was unable to carry the cross (Mark 15:21), and collapsed under its weight. Isaiah, with prophetic commentary, wrote, “His visage was marred more than any man.” In other words, He was beaten beyond recognition.

As painful, difficult, humiliating, and cruel as these beatings were, they were not without purpose. We are told it is through the sufferings of Christ, we are able to recognize, in our own difficulties, we have a God who can sympathize with us. You have not endured pain so great that He cannot understand it, or feel compassion for you. Also, we know, it is by His stripes that healing is made available to the child of God. Finally, it is the suffering of the cross which reveals the depths of His love. As we reflect upon what He endured to save us, our hearts should be stirred to a greater personal commitment to His service.

Pastor Jim

 

Happy Marriage 

Deuteronomy 24:5
“When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.”

Moses is reminding the people of the laws of God. These were the standards which would govern individuals and the nation. If they followed His precepts, they would be blessed by God, and would be attractive to the world around them. Like a light in the darkness, Israel would draw men to the Lord. Tucked away in this list of regulations is a principle, that if heeded, will lead to a blessed and happy marriage. Certainly, a happy and healthy family life will serve as a strong witness in a world. A world where so many marriages are falling apart, and children are the victims of a fallen and sin-filled world.

The principle here is very simple. For the first year of marriage, nothing was to matter more to the man than making his wife happy. Business trips, and even the protection of the nation against invasion, was to take a back seat to the happiness of his wife. God is not suggesting the husband have a calendar, marking off each day, as if it was a prison sentence to be completed. Instead, the early years of the relationship is where the foundation is laid. If a man can convince his wife that nothing matters more to him than she, he will be well on his way to having a happy, married life. Paul put it like this,

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, . . .” Ephesians 5:25

Psychologists tell us, the greatest need a woman has is to know that she is loved. A wife who knows the love of her husband can handle just about anything.

Whether you are a husband or a wife, perhaps it is time to make an effort to invest in the happiness of your spouse. Instead of thinking of all the ways you’ve been  disappointed,  why not spend time thinking of ways to pour love into your spouse, and see if the God who parts the seas, is able to put life into your relationship. Remember, there is more at stake than your personal happiness, the whole world is watching.

Pastor Jim