The Earth’s Language 

Psalms 148:1-4
“Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you stars of light!
Praise Him, you heavens of heavens,
And you waters above the heavens!”

As a child I was fascinated with the television show “The Twilight Zone.” While there were many episodes that thrilled me, there is one in particular that stood out above the rest. The scene began with a man stepping into a flying saucer as a passenger traveling to a far away planet after aliens had visited earth and convinced mankind that they were there to help. He was part of the committee assigned to translate their language, the man had discovered the basic framework of the alien language and translated the title of a book that had been given to them. The book was called, “To Serve Man.” Unfortunately they discovered too late that it was a cookbook and he was actually being invited to dinner not as a guest but as the main course.

The psalmist declares that if we were able to discover a way to translate the sounds of nature we would find that all creation is joined together in a beautiful chorus of praise. The trees filled with birds, the rocks and all that hide within them for protection are accompanied by the sea and its inhabitants as they burst forth in celebration of the God who brought them forth by the word of His power. Paul explained to the Roman church that part of their praise is a cry for Christ to return and make all things right again.

It is interesting that creation seems to be ever mindful of God and quick to respond to His commands. When Moses’ staff touched the waters of the Red Sea there was no argument, the sea simply parted. When Jesus spoke to the wind and waves they did not complain or give excuses they only obeyed. While all creation is subject to the fall it seems that the only part of creation that resists the plan of God is man. It is time to stop fighting against God and instead submit ourselves and our living over to Him.

Jim

 

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

 

Cry Out

Psalms 61:1-2
“Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You. When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I .”

We cannot be certain of the occasion that stirred David to write this psalm. It may have been a time of great difficulty, opposition or trial. He may have been facing severe attacks from Saul, the Philistines or one of the neighboring kingdoms. It is also possible the struggles he faced were not external. It may have been that David was engaged in that great inner struggle between his desire to do what is right in the eyes of God, and his own human weaknesses. Whatever caused the dilemma, he concluded that the only solution was to cry out to the Lord. Crying out to God should include at least three things.

First, we cry out for deliverance from whatever it is that is attacking us. We need to realize,  no matter what the cause, Jesus is the solution. If you are being plagued by consequences to your own actions, cry out to God. If you are being unfairly attacked because you have chosen to live for Christ, cry out to God. If you are under the stress of inward turmoil or temptation, cry out to God. He alone has the strength to deliver us from all things.

Second, cry out to God for forgiveness. Often the hardships we face are allowed by God to expose things that are amiss within us. We learn to justify sinful behavior or cover it up, as if we could hide it from the Lord. During times of great opposition, our own sinfulness is often exposed. Those things are brought to the surface so we can cry out to God for forgiveness. Sometimes, this can be done privately by dropping to your knees and confessing your sin to our Heavenly Father, who delights to forgive us. Other times, there is value in making your way forward at church and treating the stage as an altar, where you can cry out to God and confess your sin and recommit your life to Him.

Finally, we should cry out to God for more of Him. Difficulty reveals weakness and weakness should reveal our need for God. Our needs can be met when He pours His Spirit out upon us. Individually and corporately, the greatest need the Christian has is for a fresh and deeper work of the Spirit. Looking at the current condition of the world, as well as most Christians individually, I would say we are in need of revival. We need God to pour out, from heaven, a larger measure of His Spirit upon His church. Join with me as we cry out to God to be filled again with Holy Spirit.

Pastor Jim

 

Mercy

Psalms 31:9
“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; My eye wastes away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body!”

We cannot be certain of the situation that caused this psalm, but it is very clear the Psalmist was going through an extremely difficult season in life. He describes himself as being under severe attack and needing the Lord to be his fortress. He speaks of his troubles and his adversities, and his eyes wasting away in grief, as he cries before the Lord. He also goes into great length to speak of his emotional condition during this time. He describes himself as, “wasting away with grief, in both his soul and body” and being “like a broken vessel.” 

Without knowing the exact situation that caused his condition, we can still relate to what David was going through. All of us have known times in life of severe attack, grief and pain. The encouraging thing is, that no matter what David faced, he knew that the mercy of God was large enough, not only to comfort him, but to comfort all who endure the pain and hardship of life.

Whatever you are facing, take time today to sit at the feet of Jesus and cry out to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Don’t Go Back 

Isaiah 23:17
“And it shall be, at the end of seventy years, that the Lord will deal with Tyre. She will return to her hire, and commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth.”

Tyre was an ancient coastal city situated on the Mediterranean, just north of Israel. Like all people, they were answerable to God for their actions, and would soon face the consequences of ignoring Him, and living by their own standards. Isaiah describes a time coming, when the Chaldeans, also known as Babylonians, would attack and drive them into the sea.

About one hundred years after Isaiah’s prophecy, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, led his troops against Tyre, driving the people to flee to an island just off the coast, where they rebuilt the city. Since Nebuchadnezzar did not have a navy, Tyre, though defeated, was saved. Rather than turning to God, they went right back to their own ways, which finally led to their destruction.

Unfortunately, this is a very common story. I often meet people going through great difficulty, who begin to cry out to God. They realize they have been living wrong, make some immediate changes, and plead for God’s assistance. Sadly, when things settle down, they go right back to their former conduct. It is only a matter of time before things begin to unravel again.

It is important to remember that tragedy will not change your life. Losing your job, wife, or family, may grab your attention and turn your eyes upward, but your life will only change when you surrender to Christ, and begin to make daily decisions to live pleasing to Him. If you have wandered from God. and are facing hardship as a result, use that as a driving force to get your eyes back on Jesus. Start making decisions to grow in Christ. The first step is to surrender all, the next steps involve getting into a healthy church and establishing daily time with Christ in His word.

Pastor Jim

 

Recipe For Success 

Psalm 141:1 “Lord, I cry out to You; make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.”

Psalm 141:2 “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

Psalm 141:8 “But my eyes are upon You, O God the Lord; in You I take refuge; do not leave my soul destitute.”

Without giving the details of the particular trial he is facing, David writes a recipe for success when overcome with opposition. The recipe includes three key ingredients.

First, he speaks of crying out to the Lord. Obviously, David is referring to prayer, but by using the term ‘cry’, he is drawing a picture of those times when we are driven to intense prayer. It is the cry of desperation, birthed from a realization that our hope rests in God alone.

Second, he reminds us of the way God feels about prayer. To Him it is like sweet incense filling the heavenlies. God delights in the prayers of His people, because of the benefits prayer brings to the crying heart. James reminds us that we often lack, only because we have not asked (James 4:2 b). Jesus told us that we should ask with persistence. Adding, asking diligently, seeking and knocking until the Lord provides the remedy (Luke 11:8).

Finally, the third ingredient in his recipe for success, is having our eyes looking upward to the Lord. Since the eyes are the primary way information gets into our minds, where we look will have a heavy impact upon what we pursue. When our eyes are fixed upon the Lord, we will find that our thoughts follow. Soon the fear, anxiety and hopelessness, is replaced with a confident assurance that God is on His throne, and will run to the aid of His children. Hebrews 12:2 advises us to be, “. . . looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, . . . .”

The recipe David wrote is one that has been used by God’s people down through the ages. Countless men and women have faced difficulties that could have been their end, only to find, after seeking the Lord, they were delivered.

2 Chronicles 20 tells the story of one such occasion. The people of God were under attack from the combined forces of Syria, Ammon, and other unnamed enemies. They were greatly outnumbered, and defeat was certain; until King Jehoshaphat resorted to David’s recipe for success. Instead of gathering the generals in the board room to discuss strategy, he called the people together to seek the Lord. As a nation, they began to fast, pray, and call upon the Lord. People congregated from all over the nation to seek God. We read that Jehoshaphat cried out to the Lord, “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12) What a statement and what a statesman! Rather than standing before the people, pretending his party had developed a remedy for the national crisis, he confidently pronounced, that while he was without a solution, they would fix their eyes upon the Lord; knowing that He alone could deliver them. God responds to his cry with one of the sweetest promises found in Scripture, 2 Chronicles 20:17, “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”

Once the people turned their eyes to the Lord and began to cry out to Him, their victory was certain. It was only a matter of time; the enemies turned on one another, and Judah was saved. What battle are you facing today? The secret of your success will be found when you remember the great value of prayer. Fix your gaze upon Jesus, and cry out to Him. You may not know what else to do, but keep your eyes upon the Lord, for He will deliver you.

Pastor Jim

 

The Cross 

2 Chronicles 6:29-30
“Whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways…”

Once the Temple was erected and the altar and priesthood put in place, Solomon explained the purpose of the Temple. It was designed as a means for sinful men to have relationship with a holy God. As Solomon prayed, he revealed the great benefits of the Temple. We might say, 2Chronicles 6 gives us the doctrine of the Temple. It became clear, no matter what the cause, turning to the Lord was the cure. If the people were suffering loss, pain, sorrow, sickness, or defeat, they could turn toward the Temple, pray, and find restoration with the Lord. Since the Temple provided access to God, it was the means to receiving mercy from the Lord.

The Temple no longer exists, but the mercies of God are still accessible to sinful men. Instead of looking to a building where sacrifice is offered, we now look toward the cross. It was at the cross two thousand years ago, God expressed His mercy, love and grace by sending His Son as a sacrifice for sin. The cross is now the way to access the mercy of God. Whatever suffering sin has caused in your life, the cross can cure. No matter how often or how far you have fallen, when you look to the cross and confess your sin, you will find His mercy in the form of pardon and restoration.

Whatever you are facing today, the cure is at the cross. Take time this morning to sit at the foot of the cross and call upon the mercy of God.

Pastor Jim