Salvation Among The Nations

Psalms 67:2
“That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.”

Psalm 67 was written by an unknown author. We cannot know for sure who wrote it or what circumstances influenced its content. The one thing we know for sure is that it was penned by a person with a desire for others to come to the Lord. He pleads with God for mercy in his own life, in order that the world around him may come to a saving knowledge of God. The Psalmist is not alone in this. Paul declared

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

As a result of this desire, Paul risked his life to bring the gospel message to his countrymen. At the conclusion of his third missionary journey, Paul made his way to Jerusalem with one goal in mind, he wanted to tell others about Christ. He received continual warnings regarding the danger he would face and the beating and imprisonment that lay ahead. Regardless of these threats, Paul pressed forward because his desire was for others to come to Christ.

The pattern of Paul has been followed by saints down through the centuries. Men, like Saint Patrick, who in the 6th century brought the gospel to the unreached pagans of Scotland and his contemporary, Saint Augustine, who brought the gospel to England. Saint Boniface, who in the 8th century brought the gospel to Germany,  Hudson Taylor, whose efforts brought the Gospel deep into China, in the 19th century. CT Studd gave up a life of wealth and comfort to bring the Gospel into Africa. Or the countless unnamed Methodist circuit preachers who took the Gospel to the settlers in the United States.

What the world needs today are men and women with a desire to see others come to Christ, regardless the personal cost.

Psalms 67:2 “That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.”

Pastor Jim

 

Baptism

Matthew 3:15“Jesus answered and said to John, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’”

The baptism of Jesus was a critical event in His life and ministry. It becomes a great illustration for us, of Christian living and service. First off, note that Jesus was baptized to fulfill righteousness. Water baptism is a picture of a spiritual baptism, which happens the moment a person believes in Christ.

Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” 1Corinthians 12:13

While water baptism is not a requirement for salvation, it is a requirement for obedience. We are commanded, upon receiving Christ, to make it public with baptism. Jesus, to illustrate the value of this public declaration, submitted Himself to the rite of baptism. 

Second, note what happened upon His baptism; the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. This is a picture of a second baptism that the Bible speaks of; not when we are submerged in water, but in the Holy Spirit. I find it of the highest importance, that before Jesus began public ministry, He was baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised, any who asked would receive the Holy Spirit, and along with the outpouring of the Spirit, would receive power to walk with Christ. Take time right now to ask God to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and empower you to live for Christ and serve Him. 

Finally, note that Jesus heard the voice of God. One thing abundantly clear in Scripture is that God honors obedience. I believe whenever we take steps of obedience in our lives, we will hear the voice of God more clearly. Whatever He is asking of you, do it, and His voice will become louder and clearer to you.

Pastor Jim

  

Jim Gallagher

Matthew 3:15
“Jesus answered and said to John, ‘permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’”

The baptism of Jesus was a critical event in His life and ministry. It becomes a great illustration for us of Christian living and service. First off, note that Jesus was baptized to fulfill righteousness. Water baptism is a picture of a spiritual baptism that happens the moment a person believes in Christ.

Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”  1Corinthians 12:13

While water baptism is not a requirement for salvation, it is a requirement for obedience. We are commanded, upon receiving Christ, to make it public with baptism. Jesus, to illustrate the value of this public declaration, submitted Himself to the rite of baptism. Second, note what happened upon His baptism; the Holy Spirit descended upon Him…

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Meekness 

Zephaniah 2:3
Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the Lord’s anger.”

Many things that are highly esteemed in our world have little value in the kingdom of God. We put such a high price tag on appearance, when God tells us that He looks past our temporal frame and into the heart. It use to be, countries were assessed financially by the amount of gold they had in reserve, but God uses that for asphalt in the new Jerusalem. Conversely, much of what is lightly esteemed by man is of the highest value to God. Here we are told of the great emphasis He places upon meekness and humility, two character traits that are not highly valued in our world today.

Meekness is often defined today as a form of weakness. In fact, one dictionary defined it as “spineless”, while another referred to the meek as “lacking strength or courage.” Biblical meekness is not a character flaw, but a strength exemplified in the life of Christ, and developed in the believer, as a fruit of the Spirit. It is perhaps best defined as strength under control. A few years ago I heard a friend of mine illustrate meekness this way. He described a time when he was sitting on a ferry, and across from him sat a man with a Great Dane. This massive creature was sitting quietly at his masters feet, watching him eat an ice cream cone. The man offered it to the dog and its massive tongue consumed the entire thing with one lick. A few moments later a woman approached carrying a little dog in her purse. No sooner had she sat down when the dog jumped out, ran toward the larger dog, and began to yip incisively. Without a sound the Great Dane, whose head alone was larger than the other dog, leaned forward and blew in the face of the intruder, who turned, ran and hid under the safety of its owners purse. Certainly, in that case, strength was kept under control. We exercise meekness when we do not let our emotions control our lives, but keep them in check by doing the right thing.

Humility comes from a word that means low. It is choosing to take the low place by exalting others above ourselves. It is thinking of the needs of another, above our own. In our world we are told to follow our dreams and not to let anyone stand in our way. I recently saw a post that read “19 reasons to follow your dreams and ignore everyone else.” In the economy of God we are encouraged to do the exact opposite and look out for the interest of others by exalting them above ourselves. This is one of the chief traits seen in the life of Jesus. The Son of God was ever the servant of man. Whenever we see Jesus in the gospels, He is lowering Himself for the sake of others. It is not even surprising that He gets down on the ground and washes the feet of the twelve. By the time we read that story, it is almost expected.

Let’s seek to follow the pattern of Christ and have lives marked by meekness and humility. Certainly those traits will make us stand out in a culture which glorifies self above all else.

Pastor Jim

 

Unattended Children 

Joel 1:3
“Tell your children about it,
Let your children tell their children,
And their children another generation.”

The days in which Joel lived were quite difficult. Israel was experiencing economically difficult times, brought about by locust swarms that had devastated the crops. Individual families were suffering greatly, finding it difficult to make ends meet, or even provide enough food for the table. For the most part, people would associate their problems with natural occurrences; today we might blame it on mother nature. Joel, on the other hand, declared the condition of the nation was actually brought about because of the spiritual condition of the people. He declared, things would only change when repentance occurred.

While it was important to declare this message in the chambers of the king and in the public gatherings of the people, Joel had another setting in mind where the message must be clearly taught. He wrote to parents, to make sure they instructed their children to look at life through the filter of the revelation of God. Rather than seeing life through the eyes of pop culture, we must instruct our children to see the world the way God views it.

The responsibility for passing truth to the next generation is left primarily in the hands of the parents. The church, its children’s ministry or youth group, play a role, but parents bear the primary responsibility before God, of instructing their children in the ways of the Lord. The most effective way to do this is for parents to lead by example. Our kids should learn a proper world view because we have instructed them in the ways of the Lord, and set an example with our lifestyle.

Take some time today to talk with your children about the way to effectively follow Christ. If there is any area of compromise in your life, set it aside for the sake of your children.

Pastor Jim

 

Smoke 

Hosea 13:3
“Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud and like the early dew that passes away, like chaff blown off from a threshing floor and like smoke from a chimney.”

When we are young everything seems to take forever, but the older we get, the more we realize how brief life really is. It seems as though I finally get used to writing the calendar year, and suddenly it’s time to change the last a digit. There is nothing we can do to change the brevity of life, but there is much we can do to ensure that our life has a lasting impact on others.

The Bible declares the life of the wicked is like smoke from a chimney that rises and is gone. The righteous, on the other hand, leave a lasting impact on the world. We don’t have to invent the light bulb or discover a planet to leave an impact on the world. Instead, we must leave a righteous standard for others to follow.

A praying grandma, bible reading father, or faithful mom who serves alongside her children at their local church, will have a long lasting impact upon the generations to come. I cannot tell you how often I hear someone tell me their uncle, brother, grandpa or dad was a pastor, and it is usually in the context of them returning to the Lord, or desiring to serve Him more. I have a friend who spent years in the business world, only to one day decide to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pastor. He now pastors a large church where many are being impacted for the kingdom of heaven.

Let’s live like our life matters, seeking to store up treasures in heaven and leaving a pattern for others to follow.

Pastor Jim

 

A Healthy Home 

Proverbs 4:3-4
“When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me: ‘Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live.’”

Solomon is giving us a brief glimpse into his home life. In these verses we learn he was raised in an environment of love. He proudly refers to himself as his father’s son and the only one in the sight of his mother. Whatever cultural experiences he might have had being the son of a king, his parent’s love for him was clearly evident. We also see, Solomon was raised on the Word of God. Although David carried the responsibility of caring for the entire nation, he did not neglect the responsibility of caring for his own son. He took the time to instruct Solomon in the ways of wisdom and the Word of God.

These are two key ingredients that must be found in every Christian home. Children need parents that love them, and express that love in such a way, they believe they matter more than anything else to their parents. Certainly, there were times when the responsibilities of the Kingdom took David away from the home, requiring his undivided attention. He seemed to have made a point not to let his children think the Kingdom mattered more to him than they did.

King David had the resources of the kingdom at his disposal. He would be able to provide the best tutors for his children, and send them to the best schools. While it is necessary to have help, we must realize, as parents, we are the primary players in the spiritual development of our children. Sunday school teachers and youth pastors are a huge blessing, and can have a tremendous influence on our children, for the Lord. However, we, as parents, need to make the primary investments of the things of God, into the lives of our kids.

I think the reason it is somewhat difficult to do this, is because of the fact, we cannot give what we do not have. I am incapable of helping my son with his calculus homework, because I do not understand the subject. Some parents are the same way with the Bible. If you do not spend time reading the Bible, you will not have anything to share with your children or others.

The key to investing the things of the Lord in the lives of your children, is taking time to, first, make those investments in your own life.

Pastor Jim

 

The Shining 

Daniel 12:3
“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.“

As the book of Daniel comes to a close, he receives details regarding the days leading up to the return of Christ and His future reign. Knowing the time is short, he speaks of those who will turn others to the Lord. As time ticks away and the return of Christ becomes closer, it is the duty, and should be the passion, of every believer to win others to Christ.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine was praying regarding the missions work his church was contemplating. As he prayed, and looked over a map of the region of the world they were considering, he sensed the Lord was telling him to do as much as he could, as fast as he could. That message became the driving force behind multiple missions trips, out reaches, church plants and humanitarian endeavors. I think each of us would do well to apply that same principle to our Christian lives. We should seek to do as much as we can, as fast as we can. Paul put it like this,

Romans 13:11 “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

As we approach the Christmas season, we will more than likely have contact with people we do not get to encounter on a daily basis. For some that will include family members, as well as chance encounters with strangers in shopping malls and the like. Let’s pray we will be given the opportunity to invite them to church, or to be able to share with them the love of Christ.

Let’s be those who shine like the brightness of the firmament.

Pastor Jim