The Word Of God Is Greater

1 Chronicles 22:13
“Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

As the time of David’s departure drew near he took the time to commission his son to follow and serve the Lord. Solomon would be surrounded by things that would make his task easier but it would ultimately be his own responsibility to choose to live according to the precepts laid down in the word of God. Solomon had the gifts he received from God, the pattern and the resources his father had left behind and he was surrounded by the men who had assisted David in his walk with the Lord. Sadly, the one thing that was missing was a personal desire in Solomon to live a life that pleased the Lord. Instead his life was marked by constant and continual compromise.

There are many pitfalls that make it difficult to follow Christ. We are all constantly bombarded with temptations designed to lead us down roads that take us farther and farther from the paths of God. What we often forget is that we have also been given a roadmap in the scriptures that is designed to guide us through these difficult seasons. When we choose to take the counsel laid forth by David and give care to keep the statutes found in the pages of our Bibles we will find great success.

At the end of the day Solomon had no excuse for his constant compromise. For while the temptations may be great the word of God is greater.

Jim

 

God Who Forgives

Psalms 99:8
“You answered them, O Lord our God;
You were to them God-Who-Forgives,
Though You took vengeance on their deeds.”

The Psalmist writes regarding the forgiveness of God and the fact that He will mete out vengeance on certain actions. These concepts often seem contrary to one another. We associate forgiveness with the removal of any and all consequences, but God does not see it that way. Abraham was forgiven for his sin with Hagar, but Ishmael was still born. Samson was forgiven for his sin, but the pillars still fell upon him. David was forgiven of adultery, but Bathsheba’s child still died. Peter was forgiven for denying Christ, but still had to live with the image of Christ’s gaze and the memory of the rooster’s cry.

Calling upon God to forgive will remove the judicial penalty for sin; you will no longer be held accountable before God for your actions. This forgiveness will also remove any barriers that are keeping you from experiencing the presence of God, but this does not mean there will be no consequences for your actions. When a husband cheats on his wife, he can be forgiven, but the damage has been done to his family, and it may take years before his wife will ever truly trust him again. When a person steals from their place of business, they can be forgiven, but may lose their job and even face jail time. We must never think that forgiveness means there will not be consequences, for they are often the reason we should truly fear sin and what it will do to our lives.

If you are close to crossing a line, be sure to realize you cannot take it back, and may suffer the consequences of that decision for as long as you are alive.

Pastor Jim

 

Strength And Shield

Psalms 28:7
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.”

Years ago I injured my knee and required surgery. Before the operation, I was given a detailed description of the human knee. I learned how it was constructed, how it functioned and how mine was damaged. When the surgery was completed, I was even given a video of the operation. If I wanted to, I could have watched on the big screen as parts were cut away and replaced. I learned things I never really wanted to know.

David expresses praise to God for being his strength and his shield. It is important to keep in mind, the only way to know the strength of the Lord is to encounter your own weakness. It was the times when David reached the end of himself that he would come face to face with the reality of the power, strength and enabling of God. All of us want to know God’s power, but we need to realize He only gives it when we are facing things that our own strength cannot handle. Paul prayed to know the power of the resurrection. He needed that because he was constantly in situations where his own power was insufficient. Those who truly know the power of God, are those who have come to realize their own weakness.

The same concept is true regarding a shield. What sounds like beautiful poetic expression, also has a real and practical backstory. David knew God to be his shield because he faced situations in life where he was forced to hide from the attack of others. He had to duck from the spear of Saul, hide in the caves of Adullum, and even flee outside the borders of the land. It was in the times of greatest attack that David learned he could hide himself under the protective shield of His God.

Whatever you are facing, it is good to know that your strength does not have to be sufficient. You can break, and when you do, you can find the strength of the Lord to be enough. No matter what the enemy hurls at you, the shield of the Lord is a fortress that will not fail.

Pastor Jim

 

Shepherd’s Heart

Psalms 20:1-4
“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble;
May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;
May He send you help from the sanctuary,
And strengthen you out of Zion;
May He remember all your offerings,
And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah
May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose.”

The bible describes David as a man after God’s own heart. I am sure the meaning behind that statement is many faceted.  While I do not pretend to know all that it means, I am pretty certain that it has a lot to do with the fact that David, like God, had the heart of a shepherd. When he looked at the people of God, he did so with the eyes of a shepherd. His great desire was to see them flourish and grow in the Lord. There are very few texts that express that idea in a greater way than the one before us. Here we are invited into the prayer chamber of the king, as he stands before the throne of grace, on behalf of congregation of Israel. His prayer is a beautiful expression of love for others and should serve as a model for each of us to follow.

“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you”

Life is filled with difficult and challenging times. When a person loses someone they love, has a marriage collapse, is diagnosed with a serious illness, or a host of other trying experiences, it is our hope and prayer that they would find both answers and defense, from the God who loves them. Whatever trying experience you are undergoing, I hope you will find consolation in the presence of the Lord. I hope you will hear His gentle voice speaking to your heart, as you cling to Him for answers and for strength to face another day.

“May He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion”

The sanctuary was not a fortress or a military compound. It was a place to meet with God, offer prayer, and hear from Him. David knows that in the tragedies of life, our help and strength will come from the presence of the Lord. Friends are a blessing, family is a great source of comfort, but true, lasting, even abiding strength, will be found as we frequent the sanctuary and enjoy sweet communion with Christ.

“May He remember all your offerings, and accept your burnt sacrifice.”

Sacrifices were accepted on their merit, not on the merit of the person making the offering. He or she was there, not because they were perfect, not because they had unwavering faith, or a stainless record, they were their because of sin, and the sacrifice was accepted on their behalf. Trials, which often express weakness and sin, are not designed to keep us from the Lord, but to bring the offering of confession, perhaps mingled with brokenness, and offer ourselves once again as a living sacrifice. We are accepted not because we have not sinned, but because of the spotless Lamb who was offered for us.

Perhaps there is no better way to sign off than to simply quote the final request from the king;

“May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.”

Pastor Jim

 

Lift Up My Eyes

Psalms 121:1-2
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.”

Life is filled with trying experiences. We are often faced with difficulties we would not wish on our enemies, or with circumstances we would love to change. These experiences can shake us at the core of who we are and cause us to look outside of ourselves for assistance. We can learn a vital lesson from the Psalmist, who, in the midst of his difficulty, chose not to look out to his friends, or back to his old ways, or around at what others might be doing, but instead, he chose to look up to the only One who could truly assist him in his time of need.

When life throws things at us that we cannot handle, we need to remember the One who created the heavens and the earth has the strength, resources and care, to provide what is lacking. I think it is also important to remember, God is not simply a supply line or distribution center for our earthly wants and needs. He allows us to face hardship so we will be drawn to Him. The goal is not the help He provides, but the work He accomplishes in us,  as we learn to trust Him along the way.

God promises to meet our needs, as we look to Him, trust Him, and seek Him. He will not only provide, but will make us more like Christ through the process.

Looking to the hills
Pastor Jim

 

Full Price

1 Chronicles 21:24
“Then King David said to Ornan, ‘No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.'”

When it comes to worship, we can learn much from King David. The longest book in the Bible is a book of praise songs, and David was its largest contributor. In addition to being a king and a prophet, he was also called the Sweet Psalmist of Israel. In our text, we find David bringing an offering to the Lord. Because of his position as king, Ornan offered him the field and the animals free of charge. Instead of accepting the gift, David made a statement that should become a foundational principle in our worship, “I will not offer that which cost me nothing.”

Worship is one of the highest expressions of our love for the Lord, and should be a costly exercise. We should not be giving the Lord only our excess or our leftovers. We should be offering our best, no matter what the cost. That does not mean we should go into debt to offer to the Lord, but it does mean, we should rethink our spending if we do not have enough to give to God. Worship is expressed when we deny ourself some earthly pleasure, in order to have something to offer the Lord.

David even took time to store up for future offering. In the next chapter we read,

1 Chronicles 22:14
“Indeed I have taken much trouble to prepare for the house of the Lord one hundred thousand talents of gold and one million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond measure, for it is so abundant…”

It would be worthwhile to take some time today to examine your checkbook and see what you have given to the Lord, and what has been spent on frivolous things. We live under grace and are free to enjoy the provision God has given us, but we should keep in mind, that Jesus told us to store up treasures in heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Team Work

1 Chronicles 18:1
“After this it came to pass that David attacked the Philistines, subdued them, and took Gath and its towns from the hand of the Philistines.”

This chapter records the successful military endeavors of King David. We read of his defeating, or subduing, at least eight separate kingdoms, as he established Israel among the strongest of the nations. His military exploits resulted in peace and prosperity for Israel, and the entire region. However, I think it is worth noting that while we read, “David attacked, David defeated or David subdued”, scripture makes it clear, he did none of these things on his own. His exploits were accompanied by both the presence of the Lord and a host of faithful men. As the chapter concludes, we read of Joab, Jehoshaphat, Zadok, Abimelech, Shavsha, Benaiah and David’s sons, all of whom served alongside the king, making this success possible. David started out as a Lone Ranger, stepping into the valley of Elah when no one else would, but as time went on, a host of others teamed with him to accomplish the work of God.

This is a vivid picture of how the church works today. When ministry takes place, it usually begins in the heart of one man or woman. As he or she seeks the Lord, the calling becomes clear and they step out in faith to see what God may accomplish. As time goes on, the Lord will raise up others around him or her to assist in the work, because the work of God requires a host of different giftings and abilities. The leader must learn to give ministry away to those who choose to serve if the work is going to grow and the purposes of God completed.

Not all of us are called to be David and venture into uncharted territory, some are called to be a Joab or a Zadok, who comes alongside to assist in the work of God. The key lesson is, whatever God has called us to, we want to go after with all our heart, soul, mind and strength

Pastor Jim