The Book

Hebrews 10:7
“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God. ’”

Years ago I had a friend who worked in a local book store. Part of his job was to be familiar with the books so he could answer questions and make recommendations. The problem was he really did not enjoy reading. His solution was to read the book jackets which often gave a brief summary of the content of each book. While that did not make him an expert by any means, it did give him a good idea of what to expect if and when he ever ventured into reading one of the books. If the Bible contained an inspired summary of its content it would be but one word: Jesus.

John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”

While the Bible touches on, and even addresses, a wide variety of topics, it is primarily a book about salvation. The Old Testament is filled with promises of a savior coming to provide atonement for sin, and the New Testament tells the story of the Savior. The more you know the pages of your Bible, the more you will know Jesus. He is found on every page and in every story. Sometimes He is the main character of the event, other times He may rest in the shadows in the form of a type or illustration, but He is always is there. As you read the Word, be careful to observe the context so as not to make the Bible say something it does not mean, but also be careful to look for Jesus.

As you continue through Hebrews, keep in mind one of the key themes of this letter is that Jesus is better. That is why He is being contrasted with the Old Testament laws, covenant, priesthood and sacrifices. They all served the purpose of pointing to Christ, He serves the purpose of fulfilling the Law and sacrifices. As a result, we no longer live under them, but live in a relationship of grace.

Pastor Jim

 

The Better Way

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

If you read your Bible regularly, you have come to realize, God thinks differently than we do, on just about every subject. The values God esteems are different than the values of the world we live in. Jesus spoke of life being found in meekness, righteousness, purity, and suffering for doing what is right in the sight of God. Jesus explained the governing principle of life should be love for God, reflected in love for one another. The world around us might attest to these truths as being important, however, when we watch what is promoted on the TV screen, we find an entirely different set of values. Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways are not only different than ours, but they are better.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways”

Scientists tell us the moon is 238,900 miles from the earth, the sun is 92,960,000 miles away, and the next closest star, Alpha Centauri B, is 4.24 light years away. A light year is measured by the distance light can travel in one year. Light travels at 670,616,629 MPH. That means light will travel 5,878,000,000,000 miles in one year; it would take over four years at that speed to reach Alpha Centauri B.

God is not saying His ways are a little better than ours, but that they are infinitely better. When God’s Word teaches something different than what we think, it is not as though we are facing two equally valuable opinions. His ways are better than ours on every subject. True life will be found when we are willing to accept that His ways are better than ours, and we begin to follow, rather than rebel.

Pastor Jim

 

Pride

2 Samuel 18:9
“Then Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom rode on a mule. The mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth tree, and his head caught in the terebinth; so he was left hanging between heaven and earth. And the mule which was under him went on.”

2 Samuel 18:14
“Then Joab said, ‘I cannot linger with you.’ And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree.”

When I was younger, we used a wide variety of slang terms to describe a proud person. We considered them to be smug, snooty, puffed up, or stuck up. But the term that I remember most, when referring to pride, is “big headed.” We would say “that guy has such a big head.”

That is a phrase which aptly describes Absalom. He was an extremely talented and good looking son of the king. As a prince, he set his sights upon his father’s throne and strove to take it, even if by force. He used a twisted and evil form of false humility to work his way into the hearts of the people, only to use their affections to turn the kingdom against itself, for his  personal gain. After years of careful planning, Absalom finally struck. He developed a large army and marched against Israel. His evil plan soon unraveled and his forces were defeated. In a last attempt to save himself, Absalom turned and fled. It was during his retreat that he met a tragic and fitting end. A man whose life was marked by pride, failed to pay attention where he was going, and got his head stuck in a tree. Solomon, Absalom’s brother, later wrote regarding the danger of pride.

Proverbs 16:18
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The danger of pride is it causes us to become self focussed, rather than God focussed. We begin to look in, instead of up.  We look for ways to strengthen ourselves, instead of relying on the strength of God, and we exalt our own desires above the Lord’s. Had Absalom humbled himself, he would have had a glorious and effective life serving alongside his father, and later his brother Solomon. Instead, he followed his own ambition, left a wake of destruction behind him, and died a tragic death.

Pastor Jim

 

Pocket Size

Judges 18:24
“So he said, ‘You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and you have gone away. Now what more do I have? How can you say to me,’What ails you?'”

Israel had forsaken the Word of God and fallen into a place of spiritual confusion. We read of “homemade religions” with their own gods, priests and theology. As the story unfolds, we will see this spiritual confusion leads to social chaos and immorality.

In the current chapter, we find one of the many follies of creating your own god based upon your experiences and imagination. Micah paid good money to have a silver image built, and his own priest on salary. When a large group from the tribe of Dan, passed through town and saw his priest and god, they decided to confiscate them for their own use. Because they outnumbered Micah, he had no choice but to comply with their demands. As he watched them parting, he unwittingly declared the folly of false religion,

“You have taken away my gods which I made…

Any god that can fit in the saddlebag of the enemy, is not the true and living God. Jehovah God demanded no images be made of Him. The reason for this is that no likeness could do Him justice, and He is infinite. To reduce Him to a silver statue that fits in your purse, is to lose sight of His very nature. Solomon described God as the One who “. . . the heavens cannot contain. . .” (2 Chronicles 6:18).

Sometimes, we reduce God to a manageable size so we can understand Him. I think it is much better to realize there are things about the nature of God which are too big for me to get my head around, than to reduce Him to fit into my limited knowledge. After broaching the subject of the sovereignty of God, Paul dropped to his knees and declared,

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33

Pastor Jim

 

Change

Genesis 17:5
“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.”

2015/01/img_1310.jpgJuliet asked Romeo, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That question takes on a whole new meaning when seen in light of the events recorded in Genesis 17. This chapter chronicles God changing the names of Abram and Sarai, as well as providing the name of their long awaited son.

At his birth, Abram’s parents must have had great hopes and expectations for their son. His name means “exalted father.” How sad it must have been for him to go through life never having the pleasure of a child of his own. Now, at an age where having children might seem to some of us, more like a curse than a blessing, God changes His name from “exalted father,” to Abraham, “the father of many nations.” With this change came a promise that could only be fulfilled by he power of God. Sarai would also have her name changed to one that speaks of her position as the mother of nations.

I love that God sees what no one else could possibly see. If we looked at Abram, we might also want to change his name. We might call him “exalted fatherless”, or perhaps, because of the care he showered upon Lot, we might call him “exalted uncle.” It is God and God alone who could see the work He would do in this couple. It was by the miraculous work of the Spirit of God, transforming Sarai’s womb, that would make her a mother, and him the father, of nations.

While we may not have had an appearance from God requiring a legal name change, the Bible is filled with promises declaring who God desires for us to become. Some of these might seem as far-fetched as an old couple having kids. It is important to keep in mind, God not only makes the promise, but has the power to perform it. We can be greatly comforted knowing the same God who provided the impossible for Abraham, is working to transform us into the image of His Son.

Pastor Jim