Confusion

Hosea 4:6
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”

The days of Hosea were very dark; the nation had wandered from the ways of God and idolatry was as common in Israel as it was in the pagan nations that surrounded it. Just about every hilltop was the site of an altar to one false god or another, and immorality was rampant throughout the land. While many factors led to their diseased spiritual condition, Hosea addresses the primary one. He says the people were so easily led astray because of their lack of knowledge of God and His Word. This was both the fault of the individual and of the leaders.

Way back in the wilderness, God set aside the tribe of Levi to assist the priests in ministering to the people. Along with helping in the sacrifices, and other worship ordinances around the Temple, they were spread throughout the land and given the responsibility to instruct the people in the ways of God. Sadly, in many cases, those who had been commissioned to teach the people, did very little to expound upon the Scriptures and instruct the people. Though thousands of years have passed, things are not so different today. Many Christian leaders have lost sight of the importance of teaching the Word of God to the people of God. Some have left the Bible for ritual, others have turned the sanctuary into a political platform, and still others seem to think the purpose of the pulpit is to entertain the people or to stir them to a frenzy. You might not be able to control what happens in the pulpit, but you can control what pulpit you place yourself under. Be sure you are attending a church where the Word of God is being taught.

The leaders were not the only ones who had failed to teach the Word. God designed the home as the primary place where children are instructed in the ways of God. Sadly, many families gave up that responsibility expecting others to care for the spiritual needs of their kids. We do not have to be a scholar to instruct our children from the Bible. All we need to do is spend time in the Word with our children, and search the scriptures for direction when we face a situation we do not know how to handle.

Much of what is wrong in life can be resolved by simply becoming familiar with what the Bible says, and putting it into practice in our daily lives.

Pastor Jim

 

Little Sanctuary 

Ezekiel 11:16
“Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.”‘”

The children of Israel were facing the darkest time in their history. They had endured great hardships in the past when enslaved in Egypt or wandering in the wilderness, but nothing compared to the darkness of being taken captive by Babylon, and knowing the city and Temple would soon be burned to the ground. If anything ever seemed to point to the end of relationship with God, that did. I am once again amazed at the mercy and grace of God, as He promises through Ezekiel, that in their darkest hour, He will be a little sanctuary to them.

The idea of a sanctuary is not just a hiding place from trouble, but also a meeting place with God. During the wilderness journey, Moses took his tent outside the camp and turned it into a sanctuary, where all who wanted to meet with God could come. As time passed, they erected the Tabernacle that was designed as a meeting place.

Moses was told in Exodus 25:22 “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.”

God promised the Tabernacle would be a place where He would meet with them and speak to them about everything. Now as the Temple is being destroyed, God promises to still be a meeting place for His people. No matter how far you have fallen or how dark things may appear, Jesus has made it possible for you to have a hiding place where you can meet with God. It is not necessary to travel to get there. Right this moment, wherever you are, you can access the little sanctuary and encounter the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Objects Appear Larger 

Isaiah 28:13
“But the word of the Lord was to them,
‘Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.’”

I don’t know if it is “a guy thing”, but whenever my wife arrives home from grocery shopping and asks for help bringing the bags in from the car, I attempt to carry everything in at once. It may be the challenge or it may be out of laziness, but whatever motivates me, it is down right comical to see me laden down with groceries, attempting to open the front door. The fact is, there is a much better way to accomplish a big task, that is, one step at at time.

For many, the Bible seems like a massive undertaking. We look at it and have no idea where to start. Perhaps we have even attempted at times to become a student of Scripture, only to become discouraged by how little we understand. It is common to develop an attitude that we will leave the Bible for experts, then our devotional life becomes limited to reading books others have written about the Bible. Isaiah gives us a tip here on the proper approach to understwnding the Word of God.

“Line upon line, line upon line,

Here a little, there a little”

Many Christians attempt to read the Bible by randomly opening it and reading whatever text they happen to find. Can you imagine reading any other book that way? What if you read articles like that? Would you ever come to the authors intended understanding? The fact is, the best way to approach reading the Bible is to do so systematically. Since the Bible is a collection of books, the best place to start is in one of the four Gospel accounts. Read at least a chapter a day until you are finished, then select another and do the same. You will find that in no time you are beginning to learn and understand the Bible on your own.

Pastor Jim

 

Leading The Way

Isaiah 3:12
“…O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths.”

Isaiah is warning of coming judgment. The people had left the ways of God; perhaps thinking the Word of God was antiquated. Instead of being a nation that shone as a light to the world around them, Judah had become like all the other nations. Morally, spiritually and ethically, the people who were called by God to be a light, looked all too similar to the world around them. Isaiah points out one of the main contributors to their downfall,

“Those who lead you cause you to err. . .”

Those who should have been leading the people to follow the paths of God, were in fact, leading the people away from God. Jesus warned about blind leaders who led blind followers right into a ditch (Matthew 15:14). A nation is in trouble when the leaders lose sight of the proper destination. But who are these leaders? Who are the people who have the greatest influence on the next generation?

It is not difficult to see the influence entertainers have upon a culture. Whether it is a sports hero, musician, or actor, they have a powerful platform, and a strong voice. Both, companies and causes, understand the way to increase their influence is to get a famous person behind their product. That being said, the most influential leader with the loudest voice to the next generation, is the voice that happens within the home. Parents continue to have the most powerful effect in the lives of their children.

If we want to see the next generation walking with the Lord and seeking to honor Him, we cannot leave that kind of leadership to others. Christian parents cannot expect the church to be the primary tutor of their children’s spiritual development. That is the role of the parent. Every mom and dad who wants to see their kids walk with the Lord, should determine to walk with Him themselves. If you want your children to read their Bible, start reading yours. If you want your kids to make good choices, exemplify that in your life. If you want your kids to think living for Christ means we follow a higher standard than the world around us, then be sure you are living by that standard yourself.

In our nation, we have developed a dangerous trend. Parents have bought into the lie that children are resilient and can withstand divorce. Time and time again, I hear people say, they split up for the sake of the kids. “All we ever did was fight and that was not a healthy environment for raising children, so we decided to split up.” If you have decided to divorce your spouse, you are not doing it for the children. If the children were your concern, you would do whatever it takes to work through the problems in your marriage, and create an environment where the love and grace of God are being seen daily.

Instead of blaming the world around us for all the problems, it is high time the people of God stood up and began to lead.

Pastor Jim

 

Daily News

2 Chronicles 31:3
“The king also appointed a portion of his possessions for the burnt offerings: for the morning and evening burnt offerings, the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and the New Moons and the set feasts, as it is written in the Law of the Lord.”

God established a worship schedule for Israel that included annual feasts, weekly Sabbaths, and daily sacrifices. It was important for the people to gather on Passover to celebrate, but it was not enough. It was necessary to meet on the Sabbath, but it was not enough. For them to carry on a healthy relationship with God, they needed to start the morning with offering and end the day with sacrifice.

I recently heard a man declare he did not need to go to church because it wasn’t Christmas. I think most Christians would agree, going to church once a year is not enough to carry on a healthy walk with God. Unfortunately, many of the same Christians treat their relationship with God as though it were a weekly exercise. The only time their Bibles are opened is at church on Sunday morning. Just as Israel needed daily attention to their relationship with God, we need to give daily attention to ours.

I have found the most helpful habit to develop is to have morning devotions. I purposefully rise early, grab a cup of tea and sit down with my Bible. Taking a few minutes to read through the Word and think upon the things that I have read, helps to give me clear direction on how to honor the Lord with my life. This time also provides strength for what the Bible calls “the inner man.” The more time we take to feed on the Word, the more strength we will have to face the opposition of the day, and to impact others for the Kingdom of God.

Take time this morning to offer the sacrifice of time and spend it in the Word of God.

Pastor Jim

 

The Mornings 

Psalms 5:3 
“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up.”

On a regular basis, how would you describe your mornings? Do you wake up grumpy, dreading another day? Or late, rushing to get your responsibilities done? Or perhaps you arise and rush to get the morning paper, check the news, or peruse Facebook, or the web.

David declares that his mornings began with the Lord. Even in the midst of difficult and trying times, he would start his day off enjoying fellowship with God. David determined that before he spent time walking about in this life, he would first spend time with the Lord. There is something special about beginning our days with the Lord. Like the early morning offerings sacrificed at the Temple, we should bring our lives before God as a morning offering. When we give the Lord first place in our day, we will find that He prepares us for what is ahead.

There have been so many days where I have had encounters with others, and realized, what I read in my morning devotions, proved to be the very counsel they needed. I have found that during morning prayer, the Lord will impress upon my heart someone who needs prayer; and later find that they were going through something difficult. I was able to participate in their victory by simply praying for them. Most of all, I have observed, when I start my day with the Lord, I avoid many of the pitfalls that I trip over on the days that I neglect to give Him first place.

Begin today making a commitment to start your day with the Lord. If you are not reading through your Bible regularly, go to http://www.ccvb.net and follow along with us, in the Through The Bible Reading.

When you give the Lord first place, you will find your life being transformed by Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Daily Walk 

Joshua 15:1
“So this was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families.”

After Joshua led the armies of Israel in victory against the Canaanite kings, he distributed the land to each of the tribes. The lands were determined by lot and the size of each tribe. The lot was like a divinely inspired roll of the dice. They may have prayed, rolled the dice, and trusted the Lord for the outcome. Once the lands were distributed, each tribe was responsible to occupy their portion. In order to occupy the land, they had to settle into what they had previously conquered, then daily, deal with those inhabitants who stubbornly remained.

The same is true of the child of God today. Jesus, on the cross, conquered our enemies; the devil was defeated, and sins forgiven. It remains our responsibility to live our lives set apart from our past sins, and daily deal with those things that may lead us away from the Lord. Sadly for Israel, they neglected much of the daily responsibility. As time went on, those who they should have driven out, became their biggest challenges.

We cannot treat our relationship with the Lord as an annual or even weekly thing. If we want to live the lives God intended for us, we must walk with Him daily. It was God’s intent that Israel offer morning and evening sacrifices. The day began and ended with the Lord. We should follow that same practice, and invest daily in our walk with God.

Pastor Jim