Unite My Heart

Psalms 86:11
“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”

Uncertainty makes life difficult. There are times in each of our lives when we have been crippled by indecision. We struggled so long to make a decision, that the decision was ultimately made for us. In those times, we might say our problem was double-mindedness. We could not make a decision because we either wanted to go both directions or neither direction. James referred to that as being a double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). The Psalmist refers to a problem even deeper than being double minded, he refers to the person whose heart is split between opposing desires.

Anyone who has walked with Christ for any length of time knows to what the Psalmist is referring. There are times when our desire to please God is overshadowed by a desire for something we know is wrong, or perhaps just a desire for comfort, ease or complacency. If we are going to move  into deeper intimacy with Jesus, and more effective service for His kingdom, we must have our hearts united with a single desire to do that which pleases Christ. The Psalmist links learning the ways of God with having a singleness of heart. The implication is that through regular intake of God’s word, we will develop a desire to live for the things that please God.

Will you join me in praying for a heart united with a desire to fear the Lord and do what is pleasing in His eyes?

Pastor Jim

 

Free To Serve

Exodus 21:5-6
“But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.”

Paul often referred himself as a servant, or a slave. The word he used was “dulous”, which means bond-slave, or a person who was bound to another. It is not difficult to find examples in history of people who have been enslaved. Some are slaves because they were conquered in battle, others for religious or ethnic persecution, and still others because of debt or a criminal offense. It is quite difficult, however, to find examples of people who chose slavery as a way of life. I suppose no ambitious students ever pursued slavery as a career path, seeking a university that offers a good slave training program. Yet, Paul refers to himself as a bond slave of Christ. Exodus 21 gives a vivid picture of why Paul would choose to be a slave.

Under the Mosaic Law a person would serve as a slave for a period of six years. Slavery was a form of payment for past debts, and after six years, the debt was cancelled. However, a provision was granted for a person who did not want to be set free. They could choose to have their ear pierced, as a sign that they belonged to their master, and commit to a life of servitude. The reason behind their decision was love.

“I love my master… I will not go free.”

It was the goodness of the master that caused the individual to choose slavery over freedom. Someone, whose master treated him well, might choose to be bound forever, rather than be set free. Perhaps a man, prior to his servitude, had lived in poverty and suffering, but had a master that treated him like a son and gave him all he needed; that man might choose to be bound forever. Paul saw himself as that man. He looked at his life apart from Christ and realized, being under the authority of Christ, gave him greater freedom, than being bound to sin. He realized, the privileges of abiding in Christ, were better than life apart from Him. In a figurative sense, Paul drove an awl through his own ear, and committed himself to a life of following Christ.

Have you chosen to be bound to Christ forever? There is no higher place in life than serving Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

For Or Against 

Ezekiel 21:3
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I am against you, and I will draw My sword out of its sheath and cut off both righteous and wicked from you.'” 

Paul penned some of the most encouraging words ever written when he wrote,

Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

The illustration is quite powerful. If God were standing on your side, clad in armor and with sword drawn, it would not matter what enemy was standing against you. Clearly, no force in heaven above or earth beneath is any match for the mighty power of the living God. Ezekiel, on the other hand, paints a picture that is disturbing to say the least. He describes the Lord, with sword in hand, not standing on our side, but standing against us. The message is equally as clear. Ezekiel is declaring that if God is against us, we have no hope of standing.

Perhaps the most important question to ask is whether God is for you or if He is against you. The answer is determined by the lifestyle you are choosing to live. If you have received Christ, are allowing he Word of God to light the path of your life, and live accordingly, then you can say with confidence that God is for you. All His resources are at your disposal to help you live a life pleasing to Him. You will find His peace in the storm, his strength in your weakness, and  that He can turn tragedy into times of personal growth and sanctification. If however, you have not received Christ, or as a believer, you are choosing to ignore the clear teaching of Scripture and follow your on rules, you will find that God is against you. He will not bless a life of sin and rebellion. You may live for quite some time without reaping the consequences of your sin, but the day will come when things will begin to unwind before your very eyes. Life does not have to be that way. Whatever you are doing in violation to the Word of God can be set aside, forgiven, and sweet fellowship with God can and will be restored.

Don’t go another minute living without God being for you.

Pastor Jim

 

Valley Of Decision 

1 Kings 18:21
“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people answered him not a word.”

For thousands of years, men have stood in the valley of decision, unwillingly to make a complete commitment to the Lord. Fear, guilt, weakness, sin, and the influence of others, hold us back from surrendering to the Lord. The words of Elijah are as needful today as ever. He calls us to carefully consider the Lord, and make a decision to commit our lives to Him.

In every age, men are persuaded to become like the culture in which they live. The moral code of culture pulls us to reject the high standard of holiness found in the pages of God’s Word, and to accept immorality as the norm. At the same time, a resounding voice cries out from heaven, calling us to commit ourselves to Christ.

Rather than waiting for others to make a decision for you through the persuasion of the culture, why not commit to Christ and become the one who influences others. As you forsake the world and commit all to Christ, you will find that your life has a great impact on others for the kingdom of Heaven.

Time is running out, and today is the day of salvation. Make the choice to follow Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

Choose

Deuteronomy 27:8
“And you shall write very plainly all the words of this law.”

On the verge of entering the Land of Promise, Moses reminds the people they have a choice to make. Upon entering the land, they were to gather the entire nation in the valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerazim. On one mount, half of Israel‘s leaders were to read the blessings that would befall a people who obeyed the Word of God. The remainder of Israel’s leaders stood on the other mount to declare the curses that would befall them if they ignored, or rebelled against the Word. In addition to the spoken Word, they were to write the Word on large, whitewashed stones that were easy for all to read. Beyond question, the key to Israel’s success and happiness was their obedience to the Word.

The same is true for us today. God has gone to great effort to provide us with His Word. He has preserved it down through the ages. It remains our responsibility to get to know it, and to obey it. Our success and happiness depend upon our obedience to the Word.

Deuteronomy 27:9-10
“. . . This day you have become the people of the Lord your God. Therefore you shall obey the voice of the Lord your God, and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.”

For each of us who has decided to follow Christ, the next step of the journey involves getting to know the Word of God, and living in obedience to it. The closer we adhere to the principles found in His Word, the more blessed our life will become.

What choice will you make? Will you decide to live life your own way and miss out on the blessed life? Or will you submit yourself to the Word and ways of God, and watch as He provides you with the living water He promises to all those who believe

Pastor Jim

 

Forgive

Luke 6:38
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

IMG_1489Giving is an important part of being a Christian. Our checkbook often reflects our heart. The things that matter most to us are the things on which we spend our hard earned money. When we are struggling about whether we can trust God with our finances, we are sometimes reminded of this verse. While it is true God is trustworthy and we will never be able to out give Him, I think we have missed a key message from this verse. Note with me the context; Jesus has been speaking of the Father’s mercy. He tells us God is kind to the unthankful and the evil, and we should be like our heavenly Father. Rather than being critical of every action, we should forgive one another.

Forgiveness is a simple concept: it means to treat someone as though they had never wronged you. In the U.S., once a person has been acquitted of a crime, they can never be charged for that crime again. It has been forgiven. In the same way, when someone wrongs us, we must forgive them; we must acquit them of all charges, and treat them as if it never happened. A common phrase today is “forgive and forget”, but the reality is, the things that are hardest to forgive, are the things we cannot forget. Forgiveness is a choice. I must determine not to let the wrongs done to me stand in the way of behaving like my Heavenly Father and being merciful and kind to the unthankful. When we choose to forgive, Jesus promises that within us we will experience an overflow.

Perhaps what you need is a release from some past hurt that is holding you back. This morning, will you choose to forgive? Then you will see Him fulfill all He has promised.

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Pastor Jim