Countdown 

Isaiah 16:14
“But now the Lord has spoken, saying, ‘Within three years, as the years of a hired man, the glory of Moab will be despised with all that great multitude, and the remnant will be very small and feeble.’”

The Moabites were not only Israel’s neighbors, they were also relatives. The Moabites were descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Their relationship should have created an alliance between the nations. Instead, their history was one of constant conflict. One of the most costly attacks during the wilderness years was masterminded by Balak, King of Moab. It was this constant conflict, against the people of God, which led Moab to the brink of destruction. Isaiah predicted, in three short years, Moab would be defeated and the inhabitants would be fleeing for refuge.

Since Isaiah did not date this prediction, we cannot know exactly when it was given. However, we do know, during the time of Isaiah’s ministry, the Assyrians were mounting attacks against the entire region. It was only a matter of time before Syria, Israel and Moab, fell to Assyrian forces. Hearing the warning from Isaiah, and looking around at the signs of the times, Moab should have concluded their time was short. They should seek to prepare for the unavoidable reality of coming face to face with God.

Isaiah presents an interesting scenario; he puts a shelf life on the Moabites, in order to help them prepare for eternity. It is as though they went to the doctor and heard compelling evidence that they would only live for three more years. I wonder, if the countdown officially started for me, and I knew I only had a few short years left, would I live differently? Perhaps it would do us good to examine our lives within the following categories, to determine if changes need to be made.

First, our spiritual life. God created us with a need to worship and a desire for Him. As a result, people must worship something; everyone, in one way or another, is religious. The issue is not whether or not you worship, but who you worship. Jesus explained that He came to this planet to enable us to prepare for eternity by getting right with God. This happens when we trust Christ as our Savior, and follow Him as Lord.

Second, our private life. We learn, at a very young age, to hide our wrong-doings so others cannot see them. It is important to remember, we cannot hide our sin from God, and our private life is a representation of our walk with God. Instead of hiding secret sins, we should be confessing them. Instead of spending our private time doing what we shouldn’t, we should spend that time with the Lord, in His Word and prayer.

Third, our family life. Perhaps the most important place for us to live out our Christianity is in the home. Our spouse and children learn far more from us than they ever will in a Sunday school classroom or a Bible study. Our Christian life should show itself in the home and in the way we treat our loved ones.

Finally, our community life. Jesus called people publicly, and sent them out into the world to make a difference. It is important for us to realize, we can make a difference when we live committed to the Lord. Our community life includes how we live at work, in recreation, and at our local church.

Life is short, let’s live for eternity.

Pastor Jim

 

You Can’t Take It With You

Ecclesiastes 5:15
“As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor Which he may carry away in his hand.”

Back in the eighties, it was common to see bumper stickers on expensive cars that read, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” The sentiment was simple, life is about acquiring more, and happiness is found in the abundance of wealth. That might be a catchy saying, but the reality is, the only thing we win by accumulating more, is more. The Bible declares, there is much more to

life than the things we acquire. Solomon declared,

As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return”

Years ago, a nearby museum was displaying the remains of King Tut. People everywhere, traveled to see the great wealth buried with this dead ruler. He was buried along with much wealth in order that he would have plenty when he stepped from time into eternity. The folly of such thinking should have been settled forever by the fact that his tomb was still filled with all that loot. The simple fact is, no matter how much wealth we attain in this life, we cannot take it with us. It would be utter folly to see a hearse pulling a trailer full of goods. While we cannot take earthly riches with us, we certainly can send spiritual treasures on ahead. Jesus encourages us to “store up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20).

Instead of living only to provide for needs while on earth, we should be living to prepare for our time in eternity. First step, receive Christ as Savior. Next step, seek to live for the things that matter most to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

What’s In It For Me? 

Job 21:15
“Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?”

images.pngJob raises an interesting question, worthy of our time and attention. If he asked it today, his question might be posed like this, “Why should a person be willing to trust in, follow after, and serve Christ? What are the benefits?” I know many people who have decided to devote their lives to Christ. I have friends and acquaintances who have moved to foreign countries, giving up their personal comforts, in order to serve the Lord. Are they wasting their lives by living for eternal things or are there benefits to following Jesus? Allow me to share a personal experience.

Years ago my wife and I began praying about leaving the comforts of our life in Southern California and heading out on our own venture of faith. We were informed about a group of Christians in Vero Beach, Florida, who were looking for a pastor. We began to pray, and soon after booked a flight to check it out. After a few months of praying, we determined to move our family across the country in order to serve the Lord. Almost immediately, after making the decision, we were plagued with self doubt. Is this the right decision? What will happen to our four children growing up in an unfamiliar place, without the support of family and friends. While we struggled through these and many other questions, I was reminded of a promise Jesus gave His disciples,

Mark 10:29-30 “So Jesus answered and said, ‘ Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.'”

Essentially, Jesus was reminding us there are benefits to serving Him. These benefits fall into two categories. The first would be eternal reward. Elsewhere, Jesus instructed the disciples to store up treasures in heaven that cannot be lost or destroyed (Matthew 6:19-21). In God’s economy, nothing we do for eternity will be forgotten. There is a day coming, for every child of God, when we will be lavishly rewarded for a life lived for the kingdom. There is another category of benefits, those we do not have to wait until eternity to receive. Jesus spoke of receiving reward in this life. He promises blessing will flow from obedience.

As I look back over the years, I am amazed how God has blessed us for our willingness to follow Him. It has not always been the easiest journey. We have had our share of painful experiences and times where our faith has been greatly stretched. But I can attest, the benefits of following Christ far outweigh the difficulties we have had to endure.

Pastor Jim

 

Hope 

Job 19:25-26
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God”

Sometimes, the only comfort for the difficulties we face, is knowing where we are ultimately going. The sorrow Job faced could not be eased by the joys of this life. His only hope was to look beyond the boundaries of the temporal, into the glories of the eternal. Whatever we are facing today, if we have received Christ, we can be sure there is a day coming when we shall see God. Then, all the pains of this life will be consumed with the glories of eternity. Job reminds us of a few important truths that should keep us going during our darkest hours.

First, Job declares, our Redeemer lives. The grand message of Scripture is, Christ died for the ungodly. While we were yet sinners, the Son of God laid His life down for us. His death was substitutionary, meaning He died in our place. It was there, on the cross, where Jesus bore the penalty for sin so we might be forgiven. We know death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him. On the third day, He rose from the dead, conquering sin, death and hell. He ultimately ascended to the right hand of God the Father, where He lives to intercede for us and await our arrival.

Second, Job declares we will one day see God. So much of the difficulty we face, comes about because sin has marred our ability to see God. Everything we know about Him is found in the pages of His Word. However, we struggle to believe much of Old Testament, because we look at Him through the lens of personal experience, pain and loss. We wonder how a God of love could allow us to go through so much suffering. Isn’t it wonderful to know, a day is coming when the veil will be removed, and we will see Him face to face. All the questions which plague us will be answered, and we will know, as we are known.

Whatever you are facing, understand it will one day run its course, and we will stand together before the throne of Grace. On that day, rewards will be given revealing how we trusted Him through the times of trial. Until that day, we should seek to get to know Christ and share Him with others.

Pastor Jim

 

Honor

Romans 16:3b
“. . . my fellow workers in Christ Jesus

Years ago, I received a letter; I had been selected to be awarded for my accomplishments as a teacher. Upon reading the first paragraph, I was honored and somewhat humbled. My ego was stroked, as I was being told of the great responsibility I was fulfilling by teaching others. However, as I continued to read, I discovered any teacher who was willing to purchase the hundred-dollar, leather-bound book, would have their name listed in it. Even though I knew it was a scam, I was still slightly tempted to have my name in a book honoring me for my accomplishments.

We all love to be honored. We love when our accomplishments are recognized and applauded. We will even sit back and watch as others are honored for their acheivements. It is interesting to me, the things for which men are honored. When a person writes or sings a song… Honor. When a person entertains us with their acting, directing or producing skills… Honor. When a person accomplishes extraordinary feats with a ball… believe it or not, Honor. Like the trophies they receive, that honor will fade away and soon be forgotten. What of our accomplishments for the kingdom of God? Jesus told us they are stored away in heaven, where they will never decay.

Here in Romans 16, we are reminded of what is honored in Heaven’s Kingdom. We read of men and woman who we will never find in a list of who’s who among men. If you Google “Famous People”, their names will never show up, nor will their accomplishments be regarded as great. Yet, their names are listed in the eternal Word of God, and their accomplishments remind us of how we can store up treasures that will last into eternity. Some of the things listed include: serving within the church, opening our houses up for a home fellowship, working alongside those who are preaching the Gospel, or teaching the Word, treating our place of business as a means to effect other for the Kingdom of God, sharing Christ, and passing the test that trials place upon us. As I read this list of men and women, I am encouraged by how important the “little” things are to God, and to the Apostle. What joy must have filled Paul’s heart, knowing the church in Rome was filled with people who were dedicating their time and energies to further the Kingdom. The work of ministry was not left to a few, but was supported by the faithful labor of many.

Rather than spending our time trying to gain the fleeting honor of men, let’s determine to live for an honor that will never fade away. Malachi writes of a book in heaven that includes the accomplishments of the saints. (Malachi 3:16) Allow me two final points of application.

First, I believe we would be amiss in our reading of the chapter, if we did not take a moment to give honor where honor is due.The following is a list of people who you will meet in heaven, who are recorded here for their impact upon the world. Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, the household of Aristobulus, Herodion, the household of Narcissus, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, and his mother, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.

Second, Paul ends this section by saying, “Greet one another.” It is not just those, who in times past, faithfully served Jesus who deserve honor, but those who are currently involved in impacting the world for Jesus. We should be looking for ways to serve the Lord today, as well as giving the proper place of honor to that service. Rather than looking at serving the Lord as a chore, we should look at it with the honor the Word of God places upon it. What will you do for Heaven’s Kingdom today?

Pastor Jim

 

Epitaphs

1 Chronicles 10:13
“So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance.”

I can remember as a child, standing in line to enter Disney’s Haunted Mansion. While I have forgotten most of the details about this particular attraction, the epitaphs on the gravestones left an indelible mark on my memory. One read, “Here lies good old Fred, a great big rock fell on his head.” Another read, “Dear departed brother Dave, he chased a bear into a cave.” I wonder what will be said of me when my time reaches it’s end.

For each of us, there will come a day when this life has reached its end. The way in which we die is not nearly as relevant as the way in which we live. For Saul, he died in unfaithfulness to the Lord because he refused to follow the Word of God. In a moment of clarity some time before his death, Saul declared he had lived a fool’s life. How sad, to come to the end of our days and have nothing to show for it, except that we have done whatever we wanted, or at least whatever we could get away with.

Instead of following the pattern of so many who live for the moment and seek to gratify themselves, let’s determine we will live for eternity and seek to please the Lord. The testimony we leave behind will be one that the next generations can look to as an example and a pattern.

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last. 
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, 
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”

C.T Studd

Pastor Jim

 

Cornerstone

Zechariah 10:4
“From him comes the cornerstone,
From him the tent peg,
From him the battle bow,
From him every ruler together”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1261.jpgZechariah referred to the coming Messiah as the cornerstone. A cornerstone is the stone which forms the base of a building. It supports the weight of the adjoining walls and is the set stone necessary to plum the rest of the building. If that stone is unstable, or too weak to support the weight of the structure, the building itself will collapse. If that stone is out of square, the entire building will be crooked. Every builder understood the importance of the cornerstone. Zechariah was not the only writer to refer to the Messiah as the cornerstone. Isaiah put it this way,

Isaiah 28:16
“Therefore thus says the Lord God:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
Whoever believes will not act hastily.”

The prophets are declaring Christ is the foundation stone we must build our lives upon. Other foundations are faulty and are not  able to support our lives.

Years ago, we conducted an outreach in a Boys and Girls Club in England. After the event ended, I, and a handful of others, were discussing the gospel with some of the teenagers. I made the comment to a couple of young men, that they needed to receive Christ and He needed to be the foundation upon which they built their lives. Suddenly, our conversation was interrupted by an older man who declared he did not need Christ, he had recently undergone triple by-pass surgery, and his own strength and the support of his family was enough. He declared, his experience proved Christ was unnecessary for life.

Many build their lives on foundations other than Christ, and some even find these foundations are enough to support them through much of the difficulties of life. The question each one must face is, what about death? Your foundation may stand the test of time, but only Christ, as our chief cornerstone, will stand the test of eternity.

Friends, money, good health, and morality, may prove to be valid foundations for much of life, but they will not be enough come eternity. Christ alone is the cornerstone upon which eternal life is built. Have you trusted in yourself, your accomplishments, your morality, or have you trusted Christ as Savior, and given yourself over to Him as Lord?

Pastor Jim