Walking Together 

Amos 3:3
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

If you and I were to go on a walk, we would not have to agree about everything, but we would have to agree about where we were going. Once we disagreed about direction, we could no longer walk together. Amos is suggesting that Israel failed to walk with God because they were not in agreement with the direction God was taking them. This passage is written long after God had walked Israel through the wilderness and into the promised land, but I am reminded of what God told the people during their wilderness journey.

Exodus 19:4 “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.”

God made it clear, the destination which He was leading Israel, was not the land of Israel, but was to relationship with God. We are all on that same journey. Once we have received Christ, we begin a process called sanctification, where we are becoming like Christ. Every trial and blessing becomes a tool in God’s hand to accomplish this work in our lives. He wants to cut away the things that are ungodly from our lives and replace them with things that bring Him glory. However, the only way we will be successful is if we agree with God that we want to become like Him. Once that happens, we will allow Him to remove unnecessary things.

Are you willing? Have you sat before the Lord and truly asked Him to do whatever it takes to make you the person He wants you to be? If not, do that now. Take some time to confess what you are doing wrong and ask God to help you do what is right.

Pastor Jim

 

I’m A Little Lost 

James 1:5
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Wisdom might best be defined as “knowing what to do.” In life, we are constantly faced with circumstances in which we have no experience. We are left wondering what in the world we should do. When James writes, “If any man lacks wisdom…” he is not suggesting that only some of us are in circumstances for which we do not have solutions, but that ALL of us are in constant need of wisdom. The word “if” could also be translated as “since.” The question is not really if we need wisdom, but rather how do we get it?

Wisdom is received in at least 4 ways. First, wisdom comes from experience. If we touch the hot stove, we have learned not to touch it again. Second, wisdom can be received by listening to those who have gone before us. My children learned not to touch the hot stove, not by burning their fingers, but by heeding the warnings of mom and dad. Third, wisdom can be given supernaturally. One of the gifts of the Spirit, given to the child of God, is the “Word of Wisdom.” We saw it in action in the book of Acts when the church was facing an unfamiliar and perplexing dilemma. The solution is given to James that satisfied all involved and provided a solution to the problem (Acts 6:1-7). Finally, wisdom is also received through prayer. That is the subject of James’ exhortation.

Colossians 2:3 “. . . in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Paul reminded the Colossians that all wisdom is hidden in Christ. There is no circumstance which we face that He does not know the best course of action. This wisdom, he says, is hidden in Christ, which requires that we seek Him in order to receive it. We seek that wisdom by taking our situation before the Lord in prayer. “Lord, I am facing this decision and I really do not know what to do. I pray you would show me the right way to navigate through this.” Once we have taken our request to the Lord, we must wait for an answer. This is often where the Christian sways. We forget, while prayer is the way we take our needs to the Lord, His Word is the way He communicates with us. If you want to hear from the Lord, you must crack open the pages of your Bible and read. In addition to daily reading through the Bible, it is a good idea to look up verses that directly target the circumstances you are in and put their teaching into practice in your life. It is through His Word that God will give wisdom to His children.

Pastor Jim

 

Improved 

Isaiah 10:20-21
“And it shall come to pass in that day, That the remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, will never again depend on him who defeated them, but will depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God.”

Israel was facing the threat of annihilation. Years of wandering from the Word and ways of God had led them to the brink of destruction, as Assyria mounted their troops in preparation for an all out attack upon them. As bleak as things appeared, God gave a wonderful promise regarding how this judgment would impact the people. Those who walked through this discipline would one day return, having learned to no longer depend upon men, but upon the Lord.

The discipline of God is never without purpose. He does not chasten us with outbursts of wrath but with a calculated approach designed to win us back to Himself. Twice we read of the purpose of His chastening:

Proverbs 3:12
“For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”

Hebrews 12:6
“For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”

When we wander from the Lord and begin to travel down a path that will lead to our own destruction, the love of God will force His hand to reach out and draw us back. Sometimes, this hand has to come in the form of discipline. Sometimes, this hand delivers the consequences of our actions, but always, this hand is designed to win us back to God, while removing the things that once led us away.

If you are in the midst of difficulties caused by turning from His way, and living according to your own way, perhaps it is time to change direction. The first step is to stop. Stop walking down a path that God cannot bless and will bring His correction. The second step is to turn. Turn around and begin to take strides toward what you know to be pleasing to Him.

Do not despise the chastening of the Lord, it is an expression of His love. He is jealous for you, always desiring what is best for you, both for now and for eternity.

Pastor Jim

 

One Size Fits All

Psalm 124:8
“Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”

I have always been somewhat puzzled by the marketing slogan “one size fits all.” It seems that really means it might fit, but it won’t fit well. It is much like the all-in-one tools that don’t seem to do any jobs quite right.

Life is like that, the circumstances we face often determine our greatest need. If we are lost, we need a map. If we are locked out, we need a key. If we are hungry, we need a meal. It seems counterintuitive that one answer could solve every problem. Yet, that is exactly what the Psalmist is suggesting.

“Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”

No matter what struggle I might be facing, the Lord not only has a solution, but He is the solution.

If I am weary, He will be my strength.

If I am confused, He will be my wisdom.

If I am sorrowful, He will be my joy.

If I am lonely, He will be present.

If I am guilty, He will be my pardon.

If I am lost, He will be my guide.

No matter what our need is, the answer will always be found in the Lord. It would greatly benefit you to take time today to bring your needs to the Lord, and watch how faithful He will be to meet you right where you are.

Pastor Jim

 

 

Treasure 

Psalm 19:10 
“More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

We have all had the silly daydream of winning the lottery, finding a stash of money in a secret compartment in the attic, inheriting millions from an unknown uncle,  or inventing the next great product everyone wants to own. Why? I think the answer is simply that we would all love to have an unlimited supply of cash; not for it’s intrinsic value, but because of what we can obtain with it, and for the security that it brings. Imagine never having to worry about the bills again.

Here the Psalmist declares there is something he desires, perhaps even daydreams about, more than riches. His desire was for the Word of God. Using such sweet poetry, he declares that God’s Words are of more value to him than gold, and sweeter to his ears than honey is to his lips. Why? Why did the Psalmist put such a high price tag upon his Bible? I think the answer is found when we consider what we gain from the Words of God.

David is delighting in the purchasing power of the Words of God. Each and every one of the precious promises found in the pages of your Bible has power to transform your life, and your living. He declares four things about God’s Word that makes it more precious than any treasure on earth. First, it is able to convert the soul. No amount of money can prepare a man for eternity, but one truth from the Word of God can convict a person of their sin, and lead to the cross; where they can be forgiven and redeemed. Second, the Word will make wise the simple. We are daily faced with difficult decisions, but the Bible is filled with daily direction. Third, it rejoices the heart. In the times of deep despair, when the sorrows of death encompass us, a single verse has the power to bring joy to the heart, setting us free from despair. And finally, it enlightens the eyes. There are so many roads in life, so many dangerous pitfalls to avoid. We can sometimes be overwhelmed with the decisions we are forced to make. Yet, the Word of God promises to illuminate our paths. Later in the Psalms, we will read that His Word is like a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). No need to wander aimlessly through the darkness of life, when the Bible turns the lights on.

Instead of daydreaming about a bigger house, a newer car, a grand vacation, or pot of gold, let’s meditate upon the great and precious promises of God.

Pastor Jim

 

A Little Help

Joshua 8:1

“Now the Lord said to Joshua: ‘Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.'”

 

Israel’s failure at Ai was due to the sin of both Achan and Joshua. Achan’s sin was following his desires, and taking into his life that which God had forbidden. Joshua’s sin, while equally as destructive, is somewhat more subtle. Joshua failed by moving forward without consulting the Lord. He chose to look at his circumstances and his resources, and do what seemed logical at the moment. The result: he sent a battalion of men into a battle they were certain to lose. 

 

Joshua’s failure is recorded for us because it is common to all of us. We are constantly faced with decisions requiring direction from God, and we all know times in our lives where we have attempted to move ahead without His counsel. Joshua’s story was written for our example, so we would learn the value of looking to the Lord when making life decisions. 

 

Seeking direction from God is not always as mystic as it sounds. Sometimes, it is as simple as taking the situation I am facing and looking through the Bible to find stories where others faced similar circumstances, and learning from their example. If you are not sure where to find the verses in the Bible that speak to your struggle, take the time to consult with godly friends who can point you to specific passages, where you will find clear direction. Keep in mind, when facing decisions, it is not the opinion of other believers you are looking for, but their help in directing you to the counsel of the Word. 

 

Pastor Jim 

  

When All Else Fails

Genesis 25:21-22
“Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If all is well, why am I like this?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord.”

2015/01/img_1325.jpgHave you ever heard the phrase, “When all else fails”? This seems to be the approach of many, as it relates to prayer. We often try everything at our disposal, before we ever come to the place where we truly plead with the Lord. It is almost as if life were a game show. We lean on our own strength, or use one of our life lines to ask the audience, or phone a friend, instead of taking advantage of the greatest resource available to every child of God – prayer.

Jesus made many promises that would be utterly preposterous if He were not Divine. One of those is when He declared;

John 14:14
“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

The context in which Jesus made this statement makes it very clear, He is not suggesting He is a heavenly Genie who will succumb to our every whim. He is making an amazing promise, which is all too often disregarded by His followers. Jesus is promising that whatever we might be facing in life, we can cry out to Him and He will have a solution.

Here, in Genesis 25, Isaac and Rebekah were facing difficulty; she was barren. When she finally conceived, she knew there was something wrong with the pregnancy. Marital and family matters were solved for them by seeking the Lord.

Whatever you are facing, it is time to follow the example set by this ancient couple, and cry out to God for assistance, direction, intervention, guidance or strength.

Pastor Jim