Until The Whole World Hears

Psalms 2:8
“Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.

As we reach the end of ourselves and cry out in desperation to God, prayer is the place where we express our greatest desires. We have found ourselves on our knees pleading with God for direction, the healing of a loved one, or to fix a mess we have created through our own foolishness. I wonder though, when is the last time we pleaded with God for those who don’t yet know Him.

The great promise of the Gospel is that it knows no borders. Every man, woman and child can have their sins forgiven, and enter into a personal relationship with God, through Christ. We can participate in that through the ministry of prayer.

Take a moment to make a list of a few people that don’t yet know the Lord and begin to pray for them daily. Add to that list an area in the world where your church is involved in ministry, and pray for the furtherance of the Gospel there. Perhaps the Lord may even send you, some day, to assist in the work.

Pastor Jim

 

He Made A Way

1 Timothy 2:3-4
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”

Shakespeare’s character, Juliet, is famous for her statement, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” To her, a name meant nothing and love meant everything. Biblically speaking, there is much to a name. Throughout the Bible, God is called by a variety of names, each of which details certain aspects of His character. Here, Paul describes Him as, “God our Savior” and explains His deepest desire; “who desires all men to be saved.” The word desire means to take delight in, to love, and to determine to resolve. Paul is declaring that the determined purpose of God is for every person to be saved. He loves you, your family members, your neighbors, acquaintances and those who you have never met or been concerned. God’s desire is unlike our desire in that it does not stop with a wish or an ambition, but is worked out in action. It is because of the desire of God for all men to be saved that Paul goes on to say,

1 Timothy 2:5-6 “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”

In other words, when there was no way, God made a way. The Father sent His Son to bridge the gap between sinful men and a holy God. In order to build that bridge, Jesus gave His life as a ransom. The penalty of sin was paid and a way was made for us to come to God. Most of us are familiar with Job. His trials are infamous and his faithfulness serves as an inspiring example to us in the midst of difficulty. In the crux of his trial, as he is being confronted by his friends, Job expressed man’s greatest problem. He said,

Job 9:32-33 “For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both.”

In Job’s day, there was no one who stood between man and God to make a way for us to be saved. To resolve that dilemma, God sent His Son to the cross, where He laid down His life for your sin and mine. All this was done that the desire of God might be fulfilled, and we might be given the free gift of eternal life. Paul goes on to say,

1 Timothy 2:7 “. . . for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

God’s desire led Him to send His Son to the cross, and His servants into the world. Paul lived his life with the determined purpose of bringing the good news of salvation to all people. Writing to the Roman church, he said he considered himself to be in debt to all men and that this debt was paid through declaring the Gospel message. Paul faced hardship, want, persecution, danger, and imprisonment, all because the desire of God is for all men to be saved. Think about how amazing the love of God is. He allowed His only Begotten Son to be ransomed, and He allows His precious children to be mistreated, all so you and I might hear the message of the cross and be saved. As you sit back in a comfortable seat at church, hearing the Word of God proclaimed, don’t forget that the simple message of salvation came at the highest price. While salvation is free for the taking to any who believe, it was certainly not cheap to attain. The desire is met because the price was paid.

Pastor Jim

 

Search And Read

Isaiah 34:16
“Search from the book of the Lord, and read: Not one of these shall fail…”

This verse contains an exhortation followed by a promise. The exhortation is to search the book of the Lord. Webster defines search this way, “to look into or over carefully or thoroughly, in an effort to find or discover something” My wife and I look at some things quite differently. When an item is misplaced I become frustrated, thinking that if it is not where it belongs, there remains an unlimited number places to look. She on the other hand begins to search. I think she sometimes enjoys the challenge. Inevitably, in a matter of minutes, she has located that which is lost. We should approach the Word of God the way an explorer or a excavator approaches life. We must understand, there are precious treasures tucked away in the Bible, and if we are diligent, we will find the ones that are designed for our present condition. I once heard of a man in search of gold. He spent years working his claim only to come up empty. Finally, in a moment of discouragement he sold the rights to his land and moved on. The new owner, within a few days, struck it rich. The first man had given up only inches away from the mother lode.

This exhortation is a motivation with a promise; “not one of these shall fail.” This promise is like a warrantee or a guarantee. Unlike the warrantee we write, this is not followed with pages of clauses or conditions. The fact is, when God makes a promise His promise is sure. Paul wrote, all the promises of God are yes and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20). Jesus declared that even after heaven and earth pass away the Word of God will still remain (Matthew 24:35). He explained that His word was so sure that building our lives upon it is like building a house upon the bedrock (Luke 6:48). Whatever you may be facing, take the time to search within the pages of the Bible. You will find, there truly is a promise designed as a countermeasure for what you are experiencing.

Pastor Jim

 

Pride Before A Fall 

Isaiah 14:13
“For you have said in your heart:
I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north; . . . ”

Here, in Isaiah, we are given the details behind Satan’s fall. Before his ruin, Scripture describes the devil as the mighty angel Lucifer, who served Jehovah loyally. Isaiah explains it was pride that turned Lucifer away from God in rebellion. This pride manifested itself in exalting his desires above the desires of God. That same sin has been stumbling the servants of God ever since.

Eve sat alone one day in the shade of the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. Her whole life had been spent enjoying the benefits of being in a relationship with the Lord. All that changed when she began to desire that which was forbidden. It was not long before that desire led her to exalt her ways above the ways of God.

David, staring out the palace window, was struck by the beauty of Bathsheba. Years of faithfully following and serving Christ, were suddenly in jeopardy, as his heart began to long for the wife of another. Once his own ways were exalted above the Word of God, it was only a matter of time before desire became action, and his life took a downward turn.

Achan is not nearly as well know as Eve or David, but his life similarly illustrates the danger of exalting our ways above the ways of God. Achan dwelt alongside Joshua as Israel entered the Promised Land. Upon entering the city of Jericho, God gave instructions concerning the spoils of war; Israel was not to loot the defeated city. Achan however, saw three items God had forbidden, and desired them for himself. Once his desire took root, it was not long before he took hold of that which was forbidden, and it cost him his life.

We could go on and on with story after story, of those who chose to exalt their own ways above the ways of God, only to find their lives were destroyed as a result. It is worth noting, Eve, David and Achan, not only brought ruin to their own lives, but also negatively impacted the lives of their loved ones. Perhaps the words of James best expresses the danger of placing our own desires above the Word of God,

James 1:14-15
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.”

Every time we sin we are exalting our way above he ways of God. It is for this reason Jesus declared that in order to follow Him, we must deny ourself. Instead of doing what seems right in your eyes, or what your emotions are driving you towards, take time to consider the ways of God and exalt His word above your ways.

Pastor Jim

 

Self Examination 

Job 15:12,13
“Why does your heart carry you away, And what do your eyes wink at, That you turn your spirit against God, And let such words go out of your mouth?”

Job has been plagued by a series of severe hardships that have caused others to believe he must be experiencing judgment from God for hidden sins. The body of the book is like a debate between Job and three men who are convinced he is hiding something. It is important to keep in mind, while their premise is wrong, much of what they say is in fact true. Here we find Eliphaz asking a very probing question that we would all benefit from taking a few minutes to consider. He asks, what it is in our hearts that is carrying us away from the Lord? Jesus asked a similar question, He inquired “what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Both of these questions reveal that it is possible to have something in our lives which keeps us from true surrender to Christ, and may even be keeping us from salvation.

Eliphaz asks a second question that gives insight into the solution to the problem. He asks, “What do your eyes wink at?” Jesus declared that if the eye is good the whole body will be full of light, but if the eye is bad the body will be full of darkness (Luke 11:34). The idea is that the eyes are like a gate that brings information into he brain, and if we can control what we look at, we can also control that to which our heart becomes attached.

Perhaps it is time to consider what place Christ really has your life. Have you given Him reign as Lord, or is there something else that is the passion of your life?

Pastor Jim

 

Deep Desire 

Romans 10:1
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”

We use the word heart to refer to the seat of our deepest desires. It is not uncommon to hear someone say, “I love you with all my heart.” The same was true in Paul’s day. He declares, with this expression, one of the things that kept him going in the face of difficulty, opposition, and persecution, was his desire to see his friends come to Christ.

As the chapter continues, he speaks of two actions born out of this desire. First, Paul informs us, his desire led him to pray. Prayer is the greatest weapon in the arsenal of the Christian. With it, we are able to pull down the strongholds that Satan has in a person’s life. In this case, Paul explained, the Jews were held captive by thinking they were righteous enough because of their actions. They thought keeping the Sabbath, observing the feasts, and eating Kosher, were enough to grant them access to heaven. Paul’s response was to explain they completely misunderstood how righteous God actually is. Sin and holiness are contrary terms. Holiness speaks of purity, while sin refers to uncleanness. Since God is perfectly holy, no sin can withstand His presence. Those who think God will ignore their sin because of their good deeds, misunderstand the holiness of God, and are in for a rude awakening when they stand before Him. Paul knew arguing was not the secret to rescuing His friends from this deceit. So he resorted to a much stronger force. He prayed for their salvation. Prayer will soften the heart of the hearer and provide an open door to share the Gospel. Having said that, prayer is not the only weapon in our battle to rescue our friends into eternal life. Paul went on to say,

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15

For a person to have their sins forgiven and be made right with God, they must believe they are a sinner, and Christ died to remove their sin. This is not intuitive knowledge, nor is it something revealed in nature. A person can look up at the stars, around at the environment, or down into the seas, and realize there is a God. However, in order to know the Son of God became man, died on the cross, rose again, and that belief in Him results in eternal life, the Gospel must be preached. Paul’s deep desire drove him to bring the Gospel to his friends, even if it meant opposition from the very ones he was seeking to save.

What is your hearts desire? To answer that simply, look at your actions. What do you pray for? What do you spend your time, talents and treasures upon? What do you risk your life for? Perhaps it is time that we develop a greater love for God, expressed in a greater desire to see others come to Christ.

What will you do for the kingdom today?

Pastor Jim

 

Not Now 

1 Chronicles 17:2
“Then Nathan said to David, ‘Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.’”

David learned it is possible to have a great desire to do something, that is not the will of God. His heart burned within him to build a more permanent structure to house the Ark, and to provide a place for sacrifice. He prayed, sought godly counsel, and went forward with his plans, only to find out later, God had other plans for his life, and for the completion of the task. There are some important lessons we can glean from this story.

Obviously, it’s possible for us to desire things that are ungodly and harmful. We have all, at one time or another, pursued something the Word of God clearly forbids.  That is not what is happening here.

Then there are times when we desire something good, for all the wrong reasons. I met a man in West Africa who told me he had a dream that God was going to make him a great man. I could see in his eyes that he had visions of grandeur. It was almost as though he could see the stadiums filled with the people he would pastor. I did not want to undermine what he thought the Lord was saying, but I did take him through the Word and explain God’s definition of greatness; the greatest in the kingdom is the servant of all (Mark 9:35). That being said, I do not think David was hindered because of pride, or a desire to promote his own name.

Finally, we can desire things which are simply not the will of God for us. David’s desire was to see the work of God furthered. He was willing to give the time, effort, and finances necessary to make it happen. The looming question is, “Why would God forbid David to accomplish such a noble task?” I think the answer is simply, God had other plans. It was the will of God to build a Temple, but it was the will of God for Solomon to complete the task. Later, the reasons would become clear as Solomon became a picture of Christ, the Prince of Peace, making a way for man to fellowship with God.

I have seen too many Christians waiting for some ministry desire in their life to be fulfilled, instead of being involved in the ministry opportunities that are right in front of their faces. It may be, God will fulfill the desire that is burning in your heart to serve Him in some elaborate way, but in the mean time, remember that God designed the church and made you a functioning member of its body. Instead of always having your eyes on the horizon, look for ways you can get on board supporting the work of God in your local church. Remember, a servant must first be tested, and he who is faithful in little will be given much (Luke 19:17).

Pastor Jim