Life, What Does It Offer? 

Isaiah 48:18-19
“Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants also would have been like the sand,
And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand;
His name would not have been cut off
Nor destroyed from before Me.”


The Word of God is given to the child of God as a light to guide us through life’s darkness. Whatever we are facing, we should learn to look to the Bible for guidance. Isaiah details some of the benefits of living life like that.

First, he declares, this will lead to having peace like a river. Rivers have a constant flow that keeps the water fresh. A life lived in accordance with the teaching of Scripture, will be flowing with peace, even in the most difficult times. Jesus spoke of this peace being unlike anything the world could ever provide (John 14:27). In contrast, Isaiah writes,

Isaiah 48:22 “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”

Second, Isaiah declares, a life lived in accordance with the ways of God will experience righteousness like the waves of the sea. Waves are an interesting phenomenon, they are created by storms; the larger the storm the larger the wave. Waves also develop by traveling over great distances. Strong winds, and lots of time, are what make waves bigger and better. In the same way, God will use the difficulties of life, and the time we spend walking with Him, to produce righteousness in us. This is only true, however, when we use the time to apply the Word of God. I remember hearing, as a kid, “Practice makes perfect.” As time went on, I also learned that practicing something incorrectly only makes it more difficult to re-learn correctly, later. In our trying times, we want to look to the Lord, and do things His way.

Finally, Isaiah speaks of the impact this will have on the next generation. He speaks of our offspring and our descendants being positively impacted by Our right living. I don’t think the impact our lifestyle has on the next generation could ever be overstated. If we want to see our children and grandchildren love, honor, and follow Jesus, we must set the pattern for them.

Remember, no matter what the past looks like, it is not to late for you to commit to Christ and live for His glory.

Pastor Jim

 

Exercise

1 Timothy 4:7-8
“But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

If you are like me, you have probably seen a great number of motivational quotes posted on your Facebook wall. Things like “Pain is only weakness leaving the body” – “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – “It’s never too late to become what you might have been” – or “just do it”. While many of us might benefit from a little more exercise, ALL of us will benefit from a little more godliness. Paul is not suggesting that getting in better physical shape is a bad thing, but is contrasting it with the benefits of being in better spiritual shape. He speaks of the profitability of godliness.

Godliness is a term which means to be living in a way that is well pleasing to the Lord. The godly man is one who is not considering his personal happiness, comfort, or his own wishes, as the determining factor in his decision-making. Instead, he is making decisions based upon what God has revealed in His Word. Often, when faced with a conflict, an impasse, or a fork in the road, we are tempted to make our decisions solely based upon our own desires. That will often lead us away from what God has for us. The godly man will look into the Word to determine what God has to say on the subject and ultimately make decisions that will be well-pleasing in the Lord’s eyes. Paul speaks of the great benefits of living such a life.

First, he says godliness benefits us in this life. Many of the trials, pains, and scars we endure, are self-inflicted. They have been caused by getting off track and doing things our way, instead of God’s way. If we trace some of our difficulties back to their source, we will find they started with a decision to do what we wanted, instead of submitting to God’s Word. It is wonderful to know, God can always pick up the pieces of a broken life and do great things with it. We need only think of Legion, the naked, demon-possessed man who lived in the tombs, to see that God can always repair a shattered life that is surrendered to Him (Mark 5:2-15). However, it is also important to remember, much of the hardships of life can be avoided by surrendering all to Christ, and determining to live in line with His Word.

Second, he says godliness has great benefits in the life to come. While much of what heaven will be like is still shrouded in darkness, we do know that entrance into heaven is reserved for those who have trusted Christ for salvation. Jesus said He alone was the way and that no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). We also know, while entrance into heaven is a free gift received by faith, treasures are stored in heaven for those who live committed to Christ. Paul spoke of crowns that were awaiting the righteous. I do not pretend to know all the mysteries of heaven, but I do trust the words of Christ, who exhorted us to live this life in a way to be rewarded in the next.

Let’s be sure to commit ourselves to a daily exercise program that includes reading the Word, doing what it says, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and looking for ways to serve the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Under Attack

Psalms 129:1
“Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth,”

Difficultly is part of the journey for the people of God. Israel as a nation has been under constant scrutiny and attack since its inception and at the same it is true of the child of God. The moment you publicly proclaim the name of Jesus you will become the object of the world’s attack. Most of the positive things that are done in the name of Christ are overlooked, ignored or forgotten while anything and everything the church or the individual Christian does wrong is paraded as a proof that Christians are no different from the world.

After a recent attack at a gay night club by a person with radical Islamic roots the attention soon turned to the church as though this was somehow caused by the Bible’s position that homosexuality is a sin. Soon the news channels began to report on a church in California where the pastor declared that the victims of the attack deserved what happened because of their lifestyle. I was shocked not only to hear that a person would say such a foolish thing but that the media was able to ignore what was being said and done in thousands of churches across the nation and find one church that held this opinion and make it the news. What about the millions of Bible believing followers of Christ who gathered with their congregations to weep for the victims and pray for their families. What about those who made their way to Orlando to pass out food and water as a way to say they were sorry for the tragedy and to condemn the actions of a violent and godless man? The reality is the world has always opposed the followers of God and put them under scrutiny and attack. Jesus put it this way,

John 15:18-25 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

As believers we should do all we can to change the world’s perspective of Christ and the church. When a person attacks Christianity they should have to second guess themselves because of your actions. They should find themselves making generalities about Christians while having to rethink those statements because of your life, love and faithfulness to the word of God. We cannot ever compromise the message of the cross but we should be willing to lay our lives down for others to hear it, see it and know it.

Jim

 

Who’s The Real Enemy? 

Psalms 83:1
“Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God!”

Prayer takes on many different forms. Sometimes it is appropriate to offer praise for the many blessings we receive from God, other times it is important to intercede for the needs of others; and we must never forget to take time to petition God for the issues that affect our personal lives. Here in Psalm 83, we find another essential element of an effective prayer life, as the Psalmist pleads with God to deal with those who have gathered themselves against God. He describes those who have consulted together with the goal of removing the influence of God and His people. In response, he pleads with God to intercede by defeating these enemies. It seems that his prayers are motivated by a desire to free the people of God from oppression, as well as a desire to see the enemies of God saved. He declares;

Psalms 83:16 “Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord.”

Psalms 83:18 “That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.

It seems we are in an age where the enemies of God are at an all time high. We are surrounded by those who want to silence the Gospel, or at least rewrite it. If we publicly declare the message of Christ, we may receive an onslaught of ridicule, or be marked as  bigots, and accused of inciting hate. Now is the time for believers to increase the kind of prayer recorded in the 83rd Psalm. It is important to keep in mind, the real enemy of the Christian is not the outspoken atheist or the unrepentant coworker. Our real enemy is the devil, who seeks to hold men and women captive in their sin. We are not praying for God to destroy those who oppose Him, but to reveal Himself to them for their own sake.

Pastor Jim

 

Why Have You Cast Us Off? 

Psalm 74:1
“O God, why have You cast us off forever? Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?”

Asaph describes Jerusalem being ransacked by Israel’s enemies. The sanctuary is being defiled and the city is destroyed. While this is happening, Asaph remembers the ancient victories wrought by God. He speaks of how God has;

 

Divided the seas

Broken heads of Leviathan in pieces.

Broke open the fountain and the flood.

You dried up mighty rivers.

Prepared the light and the sun.

Made summer and winter.

This causes him to ask why God had cast off His people. The answer is,  God cast them off because they had turned from Him to serve other gods, and pursue their own ways. For years Israel ignored the warnings of the Word and the prophets, in order to continue in lifestyles that were abhorrent to God, and destructive to themselves. After years and years of extending His mercy, the time came when God allowed the enemies to defeat His people, as a form of judgment for their sins.

The same is true today. When we continually cast off the word of God to live however we want, we will find ourselves living in defeat rather than victory. We will one day look up and wonder how such a mighty God could allow such hardship in our lives. In some cases, the answer is that we have brought this upon ourselves, by ignoring God and His ways. It is always shocking to hear someone, who gives little regard to the ways of God, suddenly blame God or become angry with Him, when their life is suddenly met with upheaval. It may be that the difficulties you are facing are the consequences of ignoring God and are designed to awaken you so you will return to Him. It was after his world collapsed, that the prodigal son ran home to his father.

While God cast off Israel, He did not do so forever. Paul wrote,

Romans 11:1 “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.”

God has a future plan for Israel and He has one for you. No matter what your past has been, or how difficult your present might be, God has a plan for your future. It is possible for you to turn your life over to Him, be forgiven, and allow Him to redeem your life and use you for His glory.

Pastor Jim

 

Limitless

1 Kings 7:13-14
“Now King Solomon sent and brought Huram from Tyre. He was the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a bronze worker; he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill in working with all kinds of bronze work. So he came to King Solomon and did all his work.”

Solomon’s reign was the golden age for Israel. David’s exploits had created peace, which allowed for the economy to flourish and the nation to go through a building boom. Across the landscape, Israel was building lavish structures for the king and his kingdom. When it came time for the plans to be enacted and the work to begin, Solomon brought in a skilled builder from Tyre named Huram. The text gives us three interesting details regarding this man. First He was filled with wisdom, second he was skillful, and third he was the son of a Jewish woman and a man from Tyre. Tyre was a Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast north of Israel. This meant it is likely that Huram was the son of a believing mother and unbelieving father. Like Timothy, he would have grown up in a mixed home. This often creates confusion in children, but in this case, he grew to be mightily used by God for  the kingdom, by using his talents for the Lord.

Many of us are faced with less than ideal situations in which to follow Christ. For some, their spouse is not following Christ, or they have a prodigal child. For others, they seem to be the lone believer at work, and others live in an area without a strong bible teaching church, to help them walk out their faith. This passages provides great encouragement; knowing it is possible to accomplish great things for the kingdom, even when we are faced with troubling and trying experiences.

Let’s take a page from Huram’s book and not let our difficulties limit our commitment to Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

What Would You Do? 

Daniel 3:5
“At the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up”

Every believer faces the temptation to conform to the ways of the world. Sometimes these temptations are a force so strong it seems impossible to resist. Often, these temptations are magnified by the sheer fact that so many are caught up in them, and the Christian feels isolated when he chooses to stand firm in the Lord and resist. Perhaps no other story in the Bible illustrates this point more clearly than the temptation faced by Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.

In order to ensure all would accept the new worship practices of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar pulled out all the stops. He built a massive golden structure that would glisten in the bright desert sun. He invited the most influential people in the empire, and used music to win over the hearts of the people. All this was an attempt to draw them into idolatry, and for almost everyone in the empire, Nebuchadnezzar’s efforts worked. They were caught up in the moment and without hesitation bowed before the golden statue.

As the story unfolds, we find three men who were unwilling to be swayed by the crowds. Three men who stood tall, when all others bowed before the image. Their decision was very costly. It cost them the embarrassment of standing alone, it cost them a trip to see the king, and it ultimately cost them being thrown into the burning fiery furnace.

In their case, what was costly, also yielded high returns. Their willingness to stand for the Lord against temptation, resulted in seeing Jesus, experiencing supernatural deliverance, having an impact upon their generation; leaving an example for us to follow today.

We will all face temptations at varying levels. Sometimes they will seem so strong it will take all we have to cling to the ways of God and resist them. It would do us well to keep the example of these three young men fresh in our minds to encourage us to stand strong.

Pastor Jim