Benefits 

Proverbs 3:1
“My Son, do not forget my law”

Have you ever heard someone ask, “What’s in it for me?” As if they will not consider the cost of doing something, unless they can understand the personal benefits they will derive. In light of that, notice how Solomon goes to great lengths to express the benefits of living a godly life.

 

Proverbs 3:2. “For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.”

Proverbs 3:4. “And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.”

Proverbs 3:8. “It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”

Proverbs 3:16. “Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor.”

Proverbs 3:17. “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

Proverbs 3:22-23. “So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble.”

Proverbs 3:26. :For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.”

Proverbs 3:35 “The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools.”

Long life, peace, favor, wealth, pleasantness, safety, protection and glory are just a handful of the blessings on the path of godliness. Sadly, we often step off the straight and narrow path, because we think there is something better on the other side of the fence. The only thing the narrow road is keeping you from, is that which will lead you away from the Lord, and into a life of misery. It is time to put our hands to the plow, keep our eyes on the Word, and press forward in the Lord. The end of that road is the greatest glory, and the path is filled with righteousness.

Pastor Jim

 

What’s In It For Me? 

Ezekiel 36:25-27
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

Often, when someone is attempting to convince us to do something we are not sure we want to do, a little voice softly speaks in the back of our mind asking simply, “What’s in it for me?” We want to know if we make a commitment, what we will get in return. If you are struggling to make a decision to commit to Christ, perhaps it would help if you took a few minutes to consider what you will get out of the deal. Ezekiel promises three benefits that will not be found anywhere else.

First, he promises we will be made clean. Sin is uncleanness, and when we practice it, we know we are guilty. That guilt haunts us and we exert great effort trying to remove it. Some try to convince themselves that sin is not bad, others drown themselves deeper in vices, while many use drugs, alcohol, or counseling to try to make the guilt go away. What we are forgetting when we try to remove guilt this way, is that sin carries not only an emotional guilt, but a judicial guilt as well. When we sin, we violate the law of God, which carries a penalty. It is possible to remove the feelings of guilt with these and other measures, but there is only one way to remove the judicial penalty associated with our sins, that is, through the shed blood of Christ. Ezekiel promises, converting to Christ will make us clean.

Second, we are promised a new heart. This is necessary because our hearts are sinful. It is possible to fall in love with things that will destroy us. Many have given themselves over to the longings of their heart, only to be destroyed by them. Our hearts often beat for things that are destructive. We are promised that coming to Christ will result in a new heart, which will long for those things which are pleasing to the Lord and beneficial to us.

Finally, we are promised the Spirit of God. The work of the Spirit is to enable us to live out the Christian life. Being washed deters from going back into uncleanness, a new heart makes us want to please the Lord, and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to leave sin and live for the Lord. Ezekiel states, the Spirit will cause us to walk in His statues and keep His commands. The New Testament reveals that the believer needs to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and this filling is a reoccurring act. If you have come to Christ, but you find you are constantly falling into the temptations of the flesh, it is time you make it a daily prayer to be filled with the Spirit. Take the time right now to drop to your knees and ask for a fresh work of the Spirit of God in your life.

Pastor Jim

 

Benefits 

Romans 5:1
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”

images.jpegA few years back, a good friend of mine was applying for a new job. When he returned from his interview he was very excited. Naturally, I asked him how it went. He replied, “It is such a good job! Because of the company’s connections, I will get deals on hotels, flights, cruises, and be able to travel for a fraction of normal rates.” After describing, in much greater detail, many of the peripheral benefits of his new job, I did not have the heart to ask him what he would be doing everyday; or to remind him he would only have one week of vacation to enjoy all these benefits. Sometimes, a reminder of the benefits is all we need to keep us pressing on through the difficult times.

The Roman believers, to whom Paul is writing, are facing their share of difficult times. He speaks of the tribulations they are facing. There are many words that can be used to describe difficulties, but it is hard to think of one with deeper meaning than ‘tribulations’. In order to encourage them in the struggles they are encountering, Paul reminds them of the benefits of following Christ. Allow me to draw your attention to four of them.

First, we are reminded that through faith in Christ, we have peace with God. No longer are we living as the enemies of God, warring against Him, and living opposed to His Word; now we are the friends of God. As a result, all the resources of God are available to give us victory in the battles of life. In Romans 8:31 we are told, “If God is for us who can be against us.”

Second, we have access to God. The cross is the doorway to the throne of God. His throne is described as a place of grace and mercy where, from the giving nature of God, everything the child of God needs is poured out. If we need mercy, peace, encouragement, forgiveness, comfort, healing, power, provision, or any other thing, we will find it there.

Third, we have hope in God. This hope is expressed in two ways. One, we have the hope of glory, the hope of heaven, the hope of one day standing in the presence of God; having shed these earthly tents, that are wearing down, and being dawned in glorious bodies designed for eternity. As we stand in glory, we will be face to face with Jesus. No more will we be looking at God as “through a glass dimly”, but we will see Him as He really is. Oh, for that day! When all questions are answered and all sin removed, when we stand glorified in glory! Two, this hope also has benefits today. Because of Christ, the difficulties we face are not just obstacles or struggles, they are means for God to produce His character within us. Only God can take a trial and use it positively in our lives, to make us more like Christ.

Finally, Paul declares, “much more then… we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9) The greatest of all benefits is the fact that, as a result of receiving Christ, we will not face eternal judgment, but instead, receive eternal life. Sometimes, in the midst of the struggles of life, and the temptation to turn from Christ, we need to be reminded that Christ alone can save us from the wrath of God, and the judgment we all deserve. Take some time to look at your life through the prism of the benefits of following Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

One Size Fits All

Psalm 124:8
“Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”

I have always been somewhat puzzled by the marketing slogan “one size fits all.” It seems that really means it might fit, but it won’t fit well. It is much like the all-in-one tools that don’t seem to do any jobs quite right.

Life is like that, the circumstances we face often determine our greatest need. If we are lost, we need a map. If we are locked out, we need a key. If we are hungry, we need a meal. It seems counterintuitive that one answer could solve every problem. Yet, that is exactly what the Psalmist is suggesting.

“Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”

No matter what struggle I might be facing, the Lord not only has a solution, but He is the solution.

If I am weary, He will be my strength.

If I am confused, He will be my wisdom.

If I am sorrowful, He will be my joy.

If I am lonely, He will be present.

If I am guilty, He will be my pardon.

If I am lost, He will be my guide.

No matter what our need is, the answer will always be found in the Lord. It would greatly benefit you to take time today to bring your needs to the Lord, and watch how faithful He will be to meet you right where you are.

Pastor Jim