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

 

Judge Of The Earth

Psalm 94:1-3
“O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs— O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!
Rise up, O Judge of the earth;render punishment to the proud.
Lord, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph?”

There are certain Biblical topics that we love to avoid. While it is wonderful to share about the love, mercy and grace of God, we are a bit more reluctant to speak regarding His holiness or the reality of divine judgment. The Bible, however, has much to say regarding God’s view of sin, and the fact that the day is coming when He will exact vengeance on those who live in rebellion against Him.

It is not as though there are two irreconcilable sides of God’s personality. His mercy and His vengeance both stem from His great love. His love for all humanity, and desire for the salvation of every man woman and child in the world, causes Him to endure the mocking jeers of the rebel, as well as allowing His children to suffer the weight of an increasingly ungodly world. When your heart breaks over the condition of the world, think about how God is holding back His judgment so sinners have time to hear and respond to the message of the Gospel. Nevertheless, the day is coming when God will exact His vengeance on this fallen and rebellious planet. The cries of His people for justice are stored up in the throne room of heaven and will one day be poured out on the earth. The workers of iniquity will be punished for their rebellion against God and their mistreatment of His children.

No man has to face the judgment of God. We can all avoid it by trusting in the work of Christ on the cross. If we choose to reject Christ then we are choosing to face the vengeance of God, without the covering of Christ. Imagine standing alone and unguarded in the face of a violent storm, with nothing to provide you with covering or protection.

Pastor Jim

New And Improved 

Revelation 21:1
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.”

Revelation 21 begins the final section of the book. Pastor, preacher, theologian, and early radio pioneer Donald Barnhouse put it like this, “In this chapter we see that the history of time is finished; the history of eternity is about to begin.” Just as Jesus promised, the heavens and earth have passed away, and in its place a new heaven and earth have been created. The word ‘new’ carries the idea of what we might call “new and improved.” Just as our heavenly bodies will be superior to our earthly ones, so will the new heaven and earth be far beyond anything we ever experienced here. John goes on to describe just a little of what we have to look forward to.

Heaven is a place where we will experience fellowship with God. No more will we look at God through the stained glass of human experience. Today our understanding of who God is, and how He feels about us, is often confused by the difficulties we face. Some, because of difficulties in their past, have a hard time relating to God as father. Others, because of pain, struggle to understand His love. The day is coming, when we will dwell with Him and see Him as He really is. This is the essence of God’s desire and man’s purpose. God desires to live in close fellowship with man, and man’s purpose is to be the people of God.

Heaven is a perfect community. All sin, and everything that defiles, is removed from heaven, and we will live in perfect harmony with one another. The idea of heaven being a lonely, isolated, and boring place, where we go through eternity as ghoulish figures without purpose, is totally foreign to the Bible. Heaven will be a place of community. We will sit together with the heroes of old, our saved friends, and our loved ones, and forever be in the presence of the Lord. Heaven will include feasting and celebrating, with those from every nation, tribe and tongue, as we experience glories that this life could never reveal.

John is reminded that entrance to heaven is solely for those whose names are in the Book of Life. The only way to ensure that your name is there, is by placing your trust in Christ for salvation. If you have never done so, pray right now, “Jesus I ask you to come into my life and forgive me of my sin. I want you to be my Savior and Lord.”

If you have prayed this prayer contact us at ccvb.net

Pastor Jim

 

He Reigns 

Daniel 4:32
“…until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”

This lesson is so important that it is set in an unforgettable backdrop. God allowed the most powerful ruler in the world to lose his mind, and behave like a wild beast, for a period of seven seasons, that he might learn that it is God who rules the affairs of men. While very few will go through Nebuchadnezzar’s experience, all of us need to come to the realization that the Most High rules the kingdom of men.

Scripture goes into great detail to teach this lesson to us. We read of Joseph, who was sold into slavery and cast into prison. What looked like a tragic end, was really the route God took to exalt him to a position where he was used to save Israel. We read of Caesar, the most powerful man in the world, who desired to increase revenue by requiring a census for taxation. He made all inhabitants of his empire return to the city of their birth to be registered. We find the real reason was so a pregnant Israeli woman would make her way to Bethlehem to give birth to the Messiah, in fulfillment of Scripture. Paul capsulized this truth in one of the most memorable promises when he said, “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes” (Romans 828). All of this is only true because “the Most High rules the kingdom of men.”

For Nebuchadnezzar this lesson was learned the hard way. His refusal to humble himself before God and His word, made for a very difficult and humiliating season of life. It did not have to be that way for him, and it does not have to be that way for us. We can choose, today, to humble ourselves under the hand of God. Then watch as He reveals, His is the hand  that guides and governs the affairs of our lives.

Pastor Jim

 

River Of Life

Ezekiel 47:8,9
“When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live.”

Jerusalem sits atop the mountain range known as mount Moriah. The city is surrounded by valleys, and is supplied with water through various springs, because there are no rivers that flow through the city or surrounding hillsides. Ezekiel is seeing into the future, to the time of the millennial reign of Christ. As Jesus sits upon the throne of David to rule the nations, the topography of Jerusalem is changed. A stream flows from the temple of God into the Kidron Valley, then turning south continues past the Hinnom Valley, heading toward the Dead Sea. What Ezekiel is seeing is both literal and symbolical. His vision is a beautiful picture of God, as the Source of life for a world that thirsts for spiritual truth, including forgiveness and salvation.

One day Christ will reign over the earth, and a river will flow from the Temple, supplying abundant food and a source of healing for the nations. While we must wait for that day to ultimately come, much of what is promised is available to those who are in a relationship with Christ.

John 4:14 “. . . but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

An open invitation is given to everyone of us to come to Christ and experience true life. Jesus compared a relationship with Himself to a flowing river. Later, Jesus would explain that the source of this life is the Holy Spirit. The more of the Spirit we have the more of the life we will experience.

Take time right now to ask God to fill you to overflowing with His Spirit. As you do, be prepared to lay things aside that might be keeping you from the abundant flow of life He promises.

Pastor Jim

 

Get Rich Quick

Luke 12:13
“Then one from the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.'”

20140224-065840.jpgJesus tells the story of a rich man who believed true life was found in great possessions. He worked hard and was very successful. His success caused him to evaluate his life. His conclusion, he needed to work harder so he might acquire more, and be able to retire in comfort. He began to increase his efforts, acquire more, build larger storehouses for all his possessions. All the while, hoping for that time when he would be able to live at ease and enjoy it all. Sadly and expectedly, he died and all of his riches were of no use to him as he stepped into eternity.”

Jesus describes him as a “Fool!” because “. . . he laid up treasure for himself, but was not rich toward God.”

This story is valuable because it is so common. It seems that our culture could be described as those who are laying up treasure and yet are not rich toward God. There is a constant push all around us to get more. More wealth means more comfort, more enjoyment, even more life. Meanwhile, we neglect storing up treasures where it really matters.

How about you? Are you rich toward God? Are you making investments into eternity? We do that by using our earthly treasures to further the kingdom of God. It has been said,  we can see what matters to a person by looking at their checkbook. Some of us object and say, “But I am not rich, I don’t have any extra.” It seems to me,  the rich tend to trust in riches, the poor tend to look to others for help, the middle class tends to strive to maintain the comfort level they have achieved for themselves and their families. To all of us, Jesus says the same thing

“Life does not consist of the abundance of things we possess.”

He is a fool who “Lays up treasures for himself but is not rich toward God.”

“Don’t worry about your life… Life is more than food and the body more than clothing.”

“Your Father knows the things that you need.”

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.

“Where your treasure is your heart will be also.”

“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Let’s be those who are rich toward God

Pastor Jim

 

In The Beginning

Genesis 1:1
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

in-the-beginning-title-slide-message-series-950x712-1.jpgThe first verse of the Bible introduces us to its main character: God. This verse is not a philosophical statement, but an axiom upon which all other statements will be based. As we venture through the Bible together, we will read of the great exploits of God. We will hear of Him speaking to men, parting seas, knocking down walls, vanquishing enemies, stopping time, raising the dead, and providing salvation for mankind. If this first statement is true, if God spoke, and the worlds were formed, then we should have no problem believing there is nothing He cannot do. If we accept this first sentence of Scripture, we will have no problem accepting all the miracles that follow. We will have no problem accepting that there is nothing too hard for God, and we will live with an expectation of Him accomplishing great things in the lives of all who live surrendered to Him.

J.S. Baxter, in his commentary on Genesis, points out that this one statement is also a “basal pronouncement that undoes all false religious philosophies.”

“In the beginning God…” – denies atheism with its doctrine of NO god.

“In the beginning God…” – denies polytheism with its doctrine of MANY gods.

“In the beginning God created…” – denies fatalism with its doctrine of CHANCE.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” – denies pantheism with its doctrine of making the earth god.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” – denies materialism, which asserts the eternity of matter.

This first testimony of Scripture is not only a declaration of divine truth, but is also a repudiation of human error. As we read though the Bible together, we will be further introduced to the God of creation. We will see that He is also the God of salvation, who desires an intimate and personal relationship with all of us. It is my prayer that you will take Him up on His offer of eternal life, and walk closely with Him today.

Pastor Jim