Prayer Of The Broken

Psalms 102:17
“He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer.”

Sometimes the Psalms come with titles that give insight into the situation that stirred the author to write. In his case, we are not given the details of his life circumstances, but are told of the purpose behind this song. He writes,

“A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord.”

Affliction is designed by God to drive us to Him, that we might receive His mercy and find the necessary comfort. Sadly, that is not always the way we react to difficulties. I recently attended an event where a group of people gathered in response to a tragedy that affected all of them. While I understand that difficulty often causes our emotions to speak for us, I was stunned by much of what I heard. Instead of realizing our mutual weakness and need for the mercy of God, I heard person after person speak of how they would not allow this tragedy to break them or to change them. It is as though, the hardship they faced gave them greater resolve and increased resistance against the Lord.

I do not think this was an isolated incident. In fact, in the final years of Judah, the people expressed this same stubborn rebellion against God. While the Babylonians conquered their land and began taking the children into captivity, we read of the leaders continuing with their wicked lifestyles. Instead of allowing the common tragedy to break them, they determined to stand strong in their opposition to God. It is as if they were saying, “You can’t break us and we will never bend.”

Perhaps you are facing a difficult season. Please keep in mind, that part of the reason for this hardship is to bring you to your knees, where you would allow the affliction you are facing, cause you to cry out to the Lord for His mercy.

Pastor Jim

 

Shards Of Clay 

Jeremiah 19:1
​”Thus says the Lord: ‘Go and get a potter’s earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests.'”

Jeremiah 19:10-11  “Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts:’ “Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet till there is no place to bury.””

Sometimes Jeremiah not only taught the Word, but he also illustrated it quite graphically. On this occasion, he was to take a flask in his hands as he spoke to the people. They would see themselves as the earthen vessel that had been created by the potter. At some point in his message, he cast the flask on he ground and the people watched as it shattered into pieces. These shards of pottery now spoke of the broken lives of those who continued to resist the Lord, and stubbornly followed the dictates of their own hearts. It does not take a genius to realize, it would be better to have a life like a beautiful piece of pottery, than a broken shard of clay.

Instead of resisting the Lord and fighting against His word, we should submit to His ways, no matter how counterintuitive they may seem. When we do, we are allowing ourselves to sit on the potter’s wheel and be shaped into His image. There is nothing greater than to be transformed into a vessel that is useful to the Potter.

2 Timothy 2:21 “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”

Pastor Jim

 

Backsliding 

Jeremiah 3:22
“Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backsliding.”

Paul warned against having an attitude toward grace that encourages sin. Some were suggesting, since God is gracious, it is okay to sin, knowing we will receive forgiveness. He put it this way,

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Romans 6:1

This attitude not only cheapens the grace of God, but also leaves a door open for sin to damage our lives. I think we often forget that sin is not bad because God forbids it, but that God forbids it because it is bad.

Jeremiah alludes to the dangers of sin when he declares, if we return to the Lord, He will “heal our backsliding.” Jeremiah understood that backsliding has grave consequences and will do us much harm. Some of the most common scars on the backslidden Christian include, shame, defeat, a shattered witness, broken families, lost years and even addictions. If we think we can toy around with sinful behavior without any consequence, then we are failing to understand the danger of sin, or the purpose of Grace.

Judah failed to heed the warnings of the prophets. They thought they could continue down a road of compromise without any lasting impact. It was not long after Jeremiah uttered these words that the nation collapsed. It would do us good to examine our lives and see if we are allowing compromise to keep us from complete commitment to Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

It’s Not Broken 

Isaiah 42:3
“A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.”

The Bible teaches that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Our bodies, designed by God, are amazing machines. One of the more important functions of the body is the Central Nervous System. This elaborate system is responsible for communication between the brain and the members of the body. Information is passed to the brain through ventricles and the spinal cord. Although we may not understand the intricacies, we have all experienced the process. If I twist my ankle and the ligaments stretched beyond capacity, the injury is reported to the brain. The brain responds by telling the nearby muscles to be on high alert and treat the injured member with care. Simply put, God designed the human body to take care of the weak and injured members by treating them gently, and seeking to restore them to proper health. Isaiah reminds us that God feels the same way about the struggling believer.

“A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench…”

When we stumble, struggle, or even fall, the heart of God is not to remove us from the body, but to restore us to proper health. I am glad for the comparisons between myself and a bruised reed. I recently began walking down a particular beach path surrounded by high grass and reeds. One of the reeds grew into the pathway and was constantly in my way. Finally, after days of running into it, I bent it down in the middle. I noticed, although it was not dead, it never recovered from the injury. What Isaiah is promising is a miracle. God looks at the wounded Christian, even those who seem to have fatal wounds, and promises restoration. It would do us good, as the church of Christ, to treat the wounded the same way Jesus does, with gentleness; seeking to restore, rather than remove. Keep in mind, even church discipline has at its core the purpose of restoration.

Pastor Jim

 

Dark Days 

Nehemiah 1:4
“So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”

Nehemiah received word concerning conditions in Jerusalem. No doubt, he hoped to hear the work of God was being accomplished, and the people were living righteous and holy lives. Instead, he heard of how the people had let the sin of discouragement keep them from serving the Lord, and the city walls remained a pile of rubble.

The news Nehemiah received is all too common. The conditions of the world and the church are often much less than we hope. Believers commonly allow things to hinder them from serving Christ, and the world is constantly being devastated by the effects of rebellion against a holy and loving God. The uncommon element to this story is not the condition of things, as much as it is the response of the man. Instead of allowing these things to discourage him, Nehemiah determined to make a difference. His reaction to the news is one that is not only telling of his character, but should stir each of us to emulate his actions, and make a difference in our world.

We read, Nehemiah sought the Lord. As the story unfolds, we find Nehemiah’s efforts to seek God include, confession for personal sin, prayer that God would accomplish His work, and diligent, targeted ministry to see the kingdom of God furthered on earth.

There is no doubt, we are living in dark days. Man’s moral compass has been compromised. It seems almost every sinful action is being espoused as a right and a freedom. Anyone who would even suggest certain behaviors are sinful, is immediately tagged as being intolerant, judgmental, and a threat to the common good. How is the Christian to respond to this? I believe it is time to take a page from Nehemiah’s book. I think we need to seek the face of God. We should confess any personal sin and get rid of it, while at the same time, praying on behalf of those who are caught up in immoral living. We should also seek every way possible to bring the light of the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a confused a dying world.

Will you pray today that God would give us an open door to take the truth to the world like never before?

Pastor Jim