Teddy Bear 

Isaiah 46:6-7
“They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver on the scales; They hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god; They prostrate themselves, yes, they worship. They bear it on the shoulder, they carry it and  set it in its place, and it stands; From its place it shall not move. Though one cries out to it, yet it cannot answer Nor save him out of his trouble.”

In Isaiah’s time, it was a common practice, among the people, to fashion gods out of metal, wood, or clay. These little idols formed by their hands, were a reflection, not of the God of Scripture, but rather of the imaginations of men. Their idols were designed to bring them comfort in times of trouble. When things became difficult, they might hold their idol close like a small child with a stuffed doll. The problem, of course, was the comfort these idols brought was merely psychological. These graven images could not heal a sickness, provide during times of need, deliver from oppression, or give eternal life.

Today, it is just as common for people to create gods who will give them comfort and ease their anxieties. The problem is, these manmade gods really provide nothing more than the comfort a child derives from a favorite blanket or a teddy bear.

Instead of fashioning a god to satisfy our emotions, wouldn’t it be better to get to know the God who created the heavens and the earth? He alone is the One who has what is necessary for us to make our way through life and into eternity,

Isaiah 45:22.
“Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”

Pastor Jim

 

Sweet And Sour 

Revelation 10:10
“Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter.”

The Bible is the most popular book of all time. It has been translated into almost three thousand languages, and has been distributed on every continent. In America, almost every household contains a Bible, and in many cases, they own more than one. Some Christians seem to be collectors of Bibles. Their bookshelves contain multiple translations of the Bible, and with the advent of smart devices, we can have a cornucopia of translations at our fingertips. All that being said, there seems to be a common problem around the world; people do not read the Bible. John’s encounter with this angelic being gives some beautiful insights into what we should do with our Bibles, and what our Bibles will do to us.

The angel gives John the book and instructs him to eat it. This serves as an illustration of the need for us to consume the Word of God. The message contained in Scripture has the power to produce faith that leads to salvation, to comfort us in difficultly, to direct us during times of confusion, to empower us for service, to convict us when we are going astray, to give insight into the ways of God, to challenge us to higher living, and to equip us to assist others who are hurting. However, this book, with all of its benefits, will have no effect on your life if it sits on the bookshelf. To benefit from the Bible, we must consume it. Taking time each day to read your Bible, memorize its promises, and put into practice it’s commands, will transform your life.

Notice also, John’s reaction to consuming the Word; it was sweet in his mouth like honey. Because the Word of God is living, it is timely; you will find His promises show up at all the right times. A sense of peace, comfort, and inner strengthening, comes with each promise. How blessedly sweet are the promises of God to the mouth of the child of God.

However, notice there is a deeper impact upon John than just a sweet taste. The Word becomes bitter in his stomach. When we have eaten something that has given us a bitter stomach, the body reacts by needing to “get it out.” The Word of God is like that. We read it and are deeply impacted by it. As its truths touch us, we become compelled to share them with others. It is difficult to read a promise, know a loved one who is struggling, and not want to pass it on. When we read of the promises of heaven for those who trust Christ, and the sorrows awaiting those who reject them, we cannot help but share the promises of eternal life.

Today, right now, read the Word. Let it minister it’s sweetness to you, but don’t stop there, let it become bitter in your belly, and share its promises with others.

Pastor Jim

 

Teddy Bear 

Isaiah 46:6-7

“They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver on the scales;
They hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god;
They prostrate themselves, yes, they worship.
They bear it on the shoulder, they carry it
And set it in its place, and it stands;
From its place it shall not move.
Though one cries out to it, yet it cannot answer
Nor save him out of his trouble.”

In Isaiah’s time, it was a common practice, among the people, to fashion gods out of metal, wood, or clay. These little idols formed by their hands, were a reflection, not of the God of Scripture, but rather of the imaginations of men. Their idols were designed to bring them comfort in times of trouble. When things became difficult, they might hold their idol close like a small child with a stuffed doll. The problem, of course, was the comfort these idols brought was merely psychological. These graven images could not heal a sickness, provide during times of need, deliver from oppression, or give eternal life.

Today, it is just as common for people to create gods who will give them comfort and ease their anxieties. The problem is, these manmade gods really provide nothing more than the comfort a child derives from a favorite blanket or a teddy bear.

Instead of fashioning a god to satisfy our emotions, wouldn’t it be better to get to know the God who created the heavens and the earth? He alone is the One who has what is necessary for us to make our way through life and into eternity,

Isaiah 45:22

“Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.”

Pastor Jim

Pain And Gain 

Ecclesiastes 7:14
“In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other…”

Adversity is part of life, and for the believer, it is something that should be embraced. It is not that we desire to suffer, but that we realize, God will use the difficulties we face to develop the character of Christ within us, and to shine the light of the gospel from us. As we work our way through the pages of the Scripture, we find the Bible heroes were forged through suffering.

Abraham became the father of faith, when he embraced his calling and left his home and family, for a land where he would forever live as a stranger. Moses embraced the suffering that came with choosing to identify with the people of God, rather than the palace of Egypt. David embraced the hardship of being the forgotten son, who was ridiculed by his brothers. Rather than weeping, whining, and expressing how unfair life is, he turned his eyes upward and wrote beautiful praise choruses that still comfort the hurting heart.

Life is filled with difficulty, adversity, trial, and hardship. As a follower of Christ it is important, that instead of wallowing in the mire of the unfair, we embrace the hardship, and allow the Lord to draw us near to Himself, and produce what is lacking in our faith.

If you are struggling through a painful experience, take the time to consider what God wants to accomplish in your life, and how the light of the Gospel of Christ can shine forth in your pain.

Pastor Jim

 

Loss

2 Samuel 12:22-23

“And he said, ‘While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, “Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?” But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.'”


David and Bathsheba found themselves face to face with a parent’s worse nightmare. Their child was diagnosed with a terminal illness for which modern medicine had no answer. Like any of us, David was devastated, he would not eat or sleep, and those closest to him began to worry about what he might do to himself. When the sickness reached the end, and the child passed, David’s behaviors changed dramatically; he showered, ate, and worshipped. When questioned about the sudden change, he declared, 


“While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”


David explained that comfort came in knowing his child was with the Lord, and he would one day be reunited with him. This truth would not take away the pain or sorrow, but would ease it by providing hope. Those who have lost a child know that you don’t “get over it,” but you can receive strength and comfort from the Lord to carry on. Part of the comfort comes from the truth of knowing we will be reunited in eternity. I heard a man who lost his daughter explain, he wanted to live for eternity because he already had so much invested there. 


If you are dealing with the pain of loss, be comforted in knowing God understands your sorrow and there is a day coming when every tear will be wiped away. 


Pastor Jim 

  

Such Comfort

Genesis 37:35
“And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, ‘For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.’  Thus his father wept for him.”

2015/01/img_1348.jpgDealing with the death of a loved one is perhaps the most difficult part of life. Since God created us for life, and it was sin that brought death into the world, we were never really designed to handle death. No matter what, death seems to be unexpected, and the emotions that arise within us are more than we can bear. I recently heard Greg Laurie say, death is often more difficult for the believer because we love at a deeper level. The extreme grief associated with death is made evident in the reaction of Jacob, upon hearing of the death of his son, Joseph. He is so utterly devastated by the news, he refuses to be comforted. While death is difficult, the sorrow it brings is deep, and a season of mourning is expected, but there is something unnatural about Jacob refusing comfort. He should have been comforted by at least three truths.

First, Paul declared that we, the believers, do not sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Jacob should have been comforted in knowing that while life on earth ended too soon for his son, Joseph, eternity awaited him. David, in a similar situation, received comfort knowing, while on earth he would not see his son again, they would be reunited in eternity (2Samuel 12:23).

Second, while the sorrow of death is great, God himself promises to be our comforter. Paul spoke of the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our tribulations (2 Corinthians 1:3-40). He speaks of a comfort that is so great it is able to not only to strengthen us, but give us what we need to aid others who are facing similar difficulties. Jesus added, the role of the Holy Spirit would be to comfort the believer (John 14:26), even calling Him “The Comforter.” When Paul said we do not sorrow as those who have no hope, it is partly due to the fact that we have the hope of being comforted by God. In our deepest pain, we can cling to His great love.

Finally, it was wrong for Jacob to refuse comfort, because he could not see the overall plan of God. His case is unique in that his son was not actually dead. However, it serves to illustrate the truth that God is the author of a much bigger plan than we can see or comprehend. While Jacob wept over the loss of his son, God was raising Joseph to a place of prominence within Egypt, in order to save a nation. What seemed to be a loss for Jacob, would prove to be the way of salvation for his family.

At the end of the story we read, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20).

It has been my experience that death within a family will often lead others into a relationship with Christ. While that does not completely remove the sorrow of loss, it does help us to see the overall plan of God. His great desire is for all men everywhere to be saved. If you are struggling to grasp the comfort available to you because of the loss of someone you love, allow me to encourage you to get alone, call out to God, and let the consolation of Christ, and the comfort of His love surround and strengthen you.

Pastor Jim

 

Dark Times

Genesis 8:1
“Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2015/01/img_1293.jpgThe last time Noah heard the voice of God he was instructed to enter the ark and shut the doors. Since that time, forty-seven days have passed. These were days of difficulty, unrest, fear and anxiety, as Noah and his family stepped out into the unknown. In a time when Noah needed the voice of God more than ever, it seemed that heaven had gone silent. What a blessing it is to read “God remembered Noah…”

Perhaps it would be of value to consider what it means that “God remembered Noah.” First, it does not mean God had forgotten him. Often, in the midst of our darkest trials, we get the feeling God has forgotten us. We have ventured out in faith only to look around, and it seems, He has left us all alone. We must keep in mind, God had His eyes upon Noah every moment. The Psalmist wrote,

Psalms 121:4
“Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”

And Jesus declared,

Luke 12:7
“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

As we read Noah’s story, it is also quite clear, that while God seemed to go silent, He remained in complete control of the circumstances. It was God who caused the rain, stopped the rain, and caused the waters to reside.

In the midst of our darkest days, we are no more alone than Noah was. God is carefully watching our every step, as well as controlling the circumstances around us. In those times of darkness, it is critical, that like Noah, we keep clinging to the promises of God as we await His deliverance.

Pastor Jim