Words

Ezekiel 13:2
“Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘ Hear the word of the Lord!’”

The world never has a shortage of people who claim to have the answer to spiritual questions. It seems almost everyone has an opinion regarding the purpose of life, and what awaits us after death. The same was true in Ezekiel’s day. The streets were filled with men and women who claimed to know what God wanted from the people. Ezekiel referred to these men and women as false prophets, because their message contradicted the Word of God. I find it interesting that the message Ezekiel delivered to them was simply, “hear the Word of the Lord.”

No matter how confused we might be about who God is, or how to react to the issues of life, the solution is to simply hear the Word of the Lord. Our questions regarding life and death are answered for us within the pages of the Bible. God does not want us to be like those who grope in the dark, but wants the light of His Word to guide our life and living.

Pastor Jim

 

Fire Resistant 

Jeremiah 36:27-28
“Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words which Baruch had written at the instruction of Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: ‘Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned.'”

In the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Jeremiah the prophet began to write his prophecies into a book. A year later he sent this book by the hand of his assistant, Baruch, to the house of the Lord, to read it in the hearing of the people. As the people heard the Words of the Lord, they began to be cut to the heart. Soon word came to some of the king’s counsellors, who quickly took the scroll to the palace and read it to the king. In a what sounds like a startling plot twist, the king, after hearing only a few lines of this prophecy, took a knife, cut the scroll in two, and cast it into the fire, where he and his counsellors watched it burn.

Clearly,  Jehoiakim was not interested in what God had to say and wanted everyone in the room to know it. He attempted to silence God and destroy His word. What he didn’t know was, the Word of God is unbreakable and as soon as he burned it, Jeremiah began to transcribe another copy. Twenty-six hundred years later, King Jehoiakim remains a somewhat obscure character in the chronicles of history, while the book of Jeremiah remains a part of the most published, read, and cherished book of all time.

Jehoiakim is not alone in his attempts to silence the Word of God. Down through the ages, many have attempted to keep the Bible out of the hands of people. Even today, there is great effort made to keep the Bible out of schools and other public places. It is somewhat ironic that the enemies of God seem to have a better understanding of the power of the word of God, than many believers do. They seem to realize, if we let the Bible speak to the culture, it will change the culture, so they work diligently to silence the Bible. Meanwhile, many Christians fail to see the inherent power of the Word, and as a result, they neglect it. They do not make it a part of their daily life, then wonder why they struggle to walk with Christ. Even many leaders in the church fail to see they power of the Word, and turn their pulpits into platforms for motivational speeches or political monologues. We need to realize, like Jehoiakim,  the Word of God is powerful, but unlike Jehoiakim, we need to respond in obedience to its message.

Jeremiah 23:22 “But if they had stood in My counsel, And had caused My people to hear My words, Then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.”

Pastor Jim

 

Profitability 

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Sometimes we neglect reading our Bibles because we do not see the value in it. There are times when we don’t understand what we are reading, or how it applies to the daily struggles we are facing. It is not uncommon when talking with a struggling Christian, to share a promise from the Word, only to see them stiffen up and comment on how they don’t think that will help. In this passage, Paul addresses the true value of the Word of God. He uses a word that all business men will appreciate; profitable. He is saying the Words of God are of great value for our lives and for our daily living; they provide doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction.

The word doctrine means teaching. Paul says one of the great benefits of the Word of God is that it reveals who God is, and what He is like. We live in a fallen world that has been greatly affected by sin. When we look at God through the filter of our circumstances, we develop a skewed view of what He is like. It is only through His Word that we can truly understand God, and begin to understand why we are experiencing the trials we face. The word “reproof” means to rebuke or reprimand. None of us likes to be reprimanded, but we all realize there are times when we get off track and need a little rebuke. Like road signs warning us the bridge is out, or the lane we are in is ending. The words of God will show us what we are doing wrong, in order to keep us from ruining our life, family, relationships and witness. The Bible goes a step further than reproof, and also promises to correct us. Did you ever receive a test in school that had been corrected, only to find it covered in red ink, showing you what you did wrong, but without giving any instruction on how to fix it? That is not correction. Instead of just showing us what we are doing wrong, the Bible will also reveal what things are pleasing to God, and instruct us in how to do them. Paul calls this, instruction in righteousness.

Our Christian growth and our effectiveness in ministering to others, is directly connected to the time we spend in the Word of God. A well-worn Bible is a good sign when it is accompanied with well-worn shoes from living out the teaching of the Word. Let’s commit ourselves to the daily reading of the Word, so we can become a people fit for our Master’s use.

Pastor Jim

 

Objects Appear Larger 

Isaiah 28:13
“But the word of the Lord was to them,
‘Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.’”

I don’t know if it is “a guy thing”, but whenever my wife arrives home from grocery shopping and asks for help bringing the bags in from the car, I attempt to carry everything in at once. It may be the challenge or it may be out of laziness, but whatever motivates me, it is down right comical to see me laden down with groceries, attempting to open the front door. The fact is, there is a much better way to accomplish a big task, that is, one step at at time.

For many, the Bible seems like a massive undertaking. We look at it and have no idea where to start. Perhaps we have even attempted at times to become a student of Scripture, only to become discouraged by how little we understand. It is common to develop an attitude that we will leave the Bible for experts, then our devotional life becomes limited to reading books others have written about the Bible. Isaiah gives us a tip here on the proper approach to understwnding the Word of God.

“Line upon line, line upon line,

Here a little, there a little”

Many Christians attempt to read the Bible by randomly opening it and reading whatever text they happen to find. Can you imagine reading any other book that way? What if you read articles like that? Would you ever come to the authors intended understanding? The fact is, the best way to approach reading the Bible is to do so systematically. Since the Bible is a collection of books, the best place to start is in one of the four Gospel accounts. Read at least a chapter a day until you are finished, then select another and do the same. You will find that in no time you are beginning to learn and understand the Bible on your own.

Pastor Jim

 

Adjectives

Ezra 7:11
“Ezra the priest, the scribe, expert in the words of the commandments of the Lord...”

Webster’s dictionary defines an adjective as, “a modifier of a noun to denote the quality of the thing named… or to specify a thing as distinct from something else.” I wonder what adjectives would be used in a biography of my life. Would I be described as tall or short, grumpy or friendly, rich or poor? It fascinates me that when Ezra’s life was all summed up, he was described as a priest, a scribe, and an expert in the Word of the Lord.

A priest was more than his vocation, it described him as a man who spent time in the presence of God. As a scribe, he was one who transcribed the Scriptures (Tradition holds that Ezra was involved in developing the Old Testament canon). Being an expert in the Word, was the result of spending day after day getting in the Word of God.

When all is said and done, these are the adjectives we should seek to have describe our lives. Take time today to get in the Word and spend time with Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

Armed And Dangerous 

2 Kings 11:12
“And he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony; they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, ‘Long live the king'”

There are times in life when we are required to do things that seem almost impossible. The odds are stacked against us and it looks as though we will never be able to do what is required. That is certainly the case when Joash was crowned as king of Judah. His grandmother killed all other heirs to the throne, and his life was spared only because a priest hid him away in the temple for six years. Now, at the ripe old age of seven, the crown was placed on his head and his reign began. The nation of Judah was in complete disarray: the throne had been stolen by an evil woman who surrounded herself with ungodly men, the people were given over to the worship of Baal, the enemies of Judah were threatening to attack, and the Temple was in need of repair. How in the world could a seven year old king and a handful of priests make a difference with so much stacked against them?

“And he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony…”

On the day of his coronation, Joash was not armed with sword, spear or javelin, but with the testimonies of God. Long before this, Moses had written that the kings of Israel were to be given a copy of the Word of God, and read it every day. A grasp on the Scriptures is more valuable to a leader than natural resources or highly trained armed forces. The Word of God was designed to give guidance to rulers, so they can effectively lead the nation in righteousness. Solomon wrote,

Proverbs 14:34
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Joash’s success as a leader did not result from his own wisdom, strength, or ingenuity. He did not succeed because he had brilliant plans to bring about change in the nation. Joash was a good leader because he looked to the Word of God for guidance. His successes came from his obedience to God, and his failures were directly related to the times when he ignored the Scriptures.

We are living in challenging times in our nation. Isaiah’s statement that people would call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20)  is an apt description of our world today. It seems as though our moral compass is broken and people are going insane. We are in need of leaders armed with the Scriptures, and willing to stand for what is right in the eyes of God. While we should be praying for those in authority over us, we also want to keep in mind that God might want to use someone who has not yet come on the scene. Time will only tell how the Lord might use us if we give ourselves totally to Him, and devote ourselves to His Word.

Pastor Jim

 

What Does That Mean? 

1 Kings 10:14
“The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty- six talents of gold, . . .”

Webster’s dictionary defines numerology as “the secret meaning of numbers.” Clearly, as we read through the Bible, we find specific numbers used to emphasize certain truths. The number seven seems to speak of a complete cycle, and is used to illustrate perfection. In the book of Revelation, we read of the “Seven Spirits of God”, which does not mean there are seven Holy Spirits, but refers to the perfect work of the Spirit. The number forty seems to speak of judgment. The children of Israel spent forty years in the wilderness because of their sin, and Paul was beaten by the Jews “forty times minus one.” One was subtracted to show mercy, thus thirty-nine became a number for mercy. In the book of Revelation, we are told that six is the number of man, and the number of the “beast” is 666.

Revelation 13:18  “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man:His number is 666.”

We cannot help but notice the amount of gold delivered to Solomon every year, is the same in number as that of the beast of Revelation. The question we have to ask ourselves is, “What does that mean?” Is there any significance to the use of the number here? I think the answer is, “I don’t know.” While every reader familiar with Revelation would certainly pause and notice the similarity, no further information is given. None of the New Testament writers remark on Solomon’s gold, as it relates to the number 666. I think we must simply conclude that the intent of the Spirit was to draw our attention to the fact that Solomon’s sin, of trying to find life in possessions, was fueled by the work of the devil.

I think this brings up a very important point, as it relates to Bible study. We want to be very careful, as students, to examine our Bible, and let it speak for itself. We will run into danger when we project meaning into verses that were not meant by the original authors. Instead of always trying to find a hidden meaning in the Scriptures, we should be looking for the obvious meaning and spend our energies putting that into practice.

Pastor Jim