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

 

You Are Not alone 

Ecclesiastes 9:2
“All things come alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; to the good, the clean, and the unclean; to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; he who takes an oath as he who fears an oath.”

Solomon spent his life as a student of human behavior. He appeared to be on a quest to find meaning and purpose to life. His observations led him to the conclusion that trials, or difficulties, are the lot of all men; both the righteous and the wicked experience times of sorrow, pain and suffering. When a tornado strikes a town, it makes no distinction between the believer or the unbeliever. Cancer strikes the godly, as well as the ungodly. Christians and non-Christians have both lost their jobs due to tough economic times. If there is no difference between the ailments that we suffer, what is the benefit of living a life committed to Christ?

First, there are great promises given to the child of God, in the midst of the difficulties he or she is enduring. We are promised the peace of God will sustain us, and the strength of God will carry us through. One of the most attractive aspects of a relationship with Christ is the peace He provides, in the midst of the storms of life. I have known believers who are facing intense trials, yet they are guarded within by the perfect peace, which flows from God.

In addition to peace, the child of God understands, there is purpose behind the suffering. Difficulties are not meaningless, but rather become tools in the hand of God to build character, to provide opportunities, and to give to others the light of the Gospel of Christ. Paul found himself in prison, where he celebrated the goodness of God, and by doing so, won others to faith in Christ. We cannot always understand why we are suffering, but we can look for ways by which God will be glorified in our trying times.

The believer also realizes trials are temporary. While they may seem to last forever, they are in fact transient and will be over soon. Some run their course in this life. We may even have a difficult time remembering some of the things we suffered a year ago. Other trials may follow us throughout the course of this life, but will not follow us into eternity. Whatever difficulties we have now, the Christian can be sure they will not plague us in eternity.

Whatever you might be facing, allow me to encourage you to trust Christ and cling to His promises. There is no reason you should have to walk this journey alone. There is a Savior who wants to comfort and strengthen you, if you will trust your life into His care.

Pastor Jim

 

You Are Not Alone

2 Corinthians 1:8
“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.”

Sometimes, it is comforting to know we are not the only ones to face difficulty. Paul was a godly man involved in the business of the Kingdom, yet he found himself face to face with trials that caused him to despair. Fortunately, Paul walked through those trials and came out the other side with insight to help each of us. He points out three things which should guide us through our difficult days.

First, he speaks of the comfort that comes from the Lord. One of my favorite titles for God is found in this chapter. He is called, “The Father of mercy and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Paul went on to describe the mercy of God, explaining it is both sufficient and abundant. He declared, no matter what we might be facing, God has comfort available for us, and this comfort is so great we will be able to pass it on to others who are in the midst of their own trying times.

Second, Paul speaks of the confidence he had in the midst of his trials. He speaks of trusting the Lord, because He is the one who raises the dead. This reminds me of Abraham who was willing to offer Isaac, because he believed God could raise the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19), No matter what we are facing, if we face it with confidence in God and His word, we are trusting the One who can do the impossible.

Third, Paul explains, he did not walk this road alone, but was accompanied by the prayers of the saints. Often, when a friend is facing difficulty, we feel like there is something we should do, but we don’t know what it is. We do not have the financial resources to fix their problems, or the strength to lift them from their despair. Instead of feeling helpless, we should come alongside them in prayer. When Paul was released from his Roman imprisonment, he attributed it to the prayers of the saints coming alongside the work of the Spirit.

Finally, Paul speaks of having conducted himself with godly sincerity. In other words, he lived righteously through his trials. Instead of using the difficulty as an opportunity to compromise his walk with God, he chose to set a standard for others to follow. Too often, we allow difficult circumstances to give us excuse to sin. We complain, backbite, murmur, wander, or even indulge in vice, thinking our hardship gives us license. Paul chose to trust in and walk with Christ through his trial, and come out the other end as a shining example.

Pastor Jim

 

Alone? 

1 Kings 19:10
So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’”

Elijah was a man devoted to God. Publicly and privately, he showed commitment and faithfulness to the Lord. His most recent experiences had led him to a face-to-face conflict with the one who most opposed the ways of God. After experiencing great personal victory, Elijah was plagued with a deep depression. He felt as though he could no longer continue serving the Lord, for the opposition was simply too great. Instead of surrounding himself with others who loved and served the Lord, Elijah isolated himself, and his depression grew deeper and darker. The farther he ran, the worse things became, until he found himself miles from home, cowering in a deserted cave, deep in the wilderness.

It was there, in his deepest darkness, that the Lord showed up. It was not a physical appearance Elijah saw, but the quiet voice of God which he heard. The Voice reminded him of a few foundational truths. First, God was not done. Just as Elijah had been used in the past, so would God continue to use him. He had work to do and that work involved raising up the leaders of tomorrow. Second, God reminded Elijah he was not alone. Although feeling isolated, and having a sense that no one understood or even cared about the things which concerned him, he was reminded there were thousands of others who also served the Lord.

Discouragement and depression are common emotions which plague those who faithfully serve the Lord. It is not unusual for those who love the Lord to be hit hard by their own personal failures or the failure of others. When those times hit, we need to avoid isolating ourselves, we need to get around the family of God, and allow the Lord to comfort and strengthen us.

If you are facing the dark side of emotions, take the time to reach out to a Christian friend for prayer, and counsel.

Pastor Jim