Mind Of The Lord

Leviticus 24:12
“Then they put him in custody, that the mind of the Lord might be shown to them.”

This chapter contains one of only two narrative passages in the book of Leviticus and tells the story of two men who were fighting. One man, the son of Shelomith allowed his anger to lead to sin and he blasphemed the name of the Lord. Under the old covenant this was a crime punishable by death. Because of the seriousness of his actions, he was placed in custody while the leaders took the necessary time to seek the mind of the Lord. Two important principles stand out to me.

First, before making a big decision, Moses and his leadership team took the necessary time to seek the Lord. They realized that God was interested in their lives and had a plan for their current situation. Years later Paul wrote that God has for-ordained good works for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). That means that He has a wonderful plan for our lives and if we seek Him, He will provide direction that will allow us to make good decisions and remain upon the narrow path that leads to abundant life.

Second, it is important to notice where they went to hear from the Lord. They did not look to past experience, or to the culture around them. They did not gather the people together for a popular vote or allow their emotions to guide them by “following their heart.” Instead they got alone with the Lord and looked into His written word. Their situation was a difficult one and the answer they received from the Word was hard, but they followed it nonetheless.

When we are seeking to make decisions, it would be a good idea to follow the pattern set here. We need to realize that God has a plan for us, but we also need to realize the details for that plan are found in Scripture. The life guided by the light of the Word of God is the life which will be led into the way everlasting.

Psalms 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Pastor Jim

 

Seek Counsel 

Jeremiah 40:16
“But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, ‘You shall not do this thing, for you speak falsely concerning Ishmael.'”

After taking Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah as governor of the province of Judah. No longer living in a free state, the people would now be subject to Babylon. In order to make things as safe and comfortable as possible, Gedaliah exhorted the people to put their weapons away and serve the king of Babylon. As things began to settle, many who had fled for safety to the countryside returned to Jerusalem. Among them was a man named Ishmael, who had been a captain of the Judean forces. He was a man who publicly showed submission to Gedaliah, but privately was planning to overthrow the governor and mount a rebellion against Babylon. Some of the other leaders began to suspect Ishmael of treason and reported it to Gedaliah, who dismissed the report as false. Sadly, as the story unfolds, Ishmael will kill Gedaliah and turn the Babylonian forces, once again, on Jerusalem.

Nothing in the text gives us any real clear insight into the spiritual condition of Gedaliah. He may not have been a believer at all, or may have been a believer who simply failed to take the warning he received to the Lord. Whatever the case, his story reminds me of the failure to take things to the Lord. Had the governor taken this warning seriously, gotten alone with God or sought counsel from the prophet, he may very well have avoided death and secured the safety of his people.

As a follower of Christ, we have been given the privilege of access to God. Jesus is our heavenly counselor who seeks to guide us, as we navigate our way through life. When we face obstacles, difficulty or indecision, we don’t have to lean upon our own understanding, but can seek counsel from God. Whatever you are facing, don’t go it alone. Take some time today to seek guidance from the Lord. Who knows what pitfalls a little time of prayer may help you avoid.

Pastor Jim

 

Mother Load

Job 28:12
“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”

Job is considered to be the oldest book in the Bible. It may have been written as many as four thousand years ago. Job declares, during his day, men were involved in mining the earth in search of precious stones. He refers to successful expeditions in search of silver, gold, copper, iron and sapphire. No doubt, great wealth and power came as a result of their findings. Yet, with all of man’s endeavors, Job declares they had failed to find the source of true wisdom. It cannot be located in the depths of the earth, or be purchased for the price of gold.

Job 28:14-15 “The deep says, ‘It is not in me’; and the sea says, ‘It is not with me. ’ It cannot be purchased for gold, nor can silver be weighed for its price.”

The problem is not a lack of worldly wisdom, but that the world lacks true wisdom. Even the greatest fool thinks he has life figured out, and will happily pour forth his advice or counsel; sometimes, even if we have not requested it. We cannot turn on the TV or radio without someone declaring their wisdom, and exhorting us to live a certain way. The problem is, the wisdom of the world is like fools gold. It shines, sparkles and has the appearance of something valuable, but lacks any real purchasing power. Imagine what it would be like for a miner who struck a vein, only to find out later, what he found was of no value. In a world searching aimlessly for wisdom, and seemingly willing to listen to all kinds of folly, Job uncovers the secret chamber in which true wisdom will be found.

Job 28:28 “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding. ’”

When we decide to live for Christ, and according to the principles of His Word, we are on the road to finding wisdom. To fear God is to seek wisdom; to do what is pleasing to Him. This will always lead us to walk away from sinful behaviors, and to make choices to do things His way. Any advice that puts us at odds with the Word of God, is not true wisdom.

A person who will surrender to the Lord and live in obedience to His word, is like a miner who hits the mother lode. The wisdom of God will bring unimaginable riches to the child of God.

Pastor Jim

 

Hide And Seek 

1 Corinthians 2:9
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

The things God has planned for each of us are better than anything we could ever imagine. Rather than leaving us to our imagination, Paul declares these things are revealed to us by the Spirit of God. It is the desire of God that we know Him, and we understand the things He has planned for each of us.

When my oldest son was a toddler, I introduced him to one of my favorite childhood games, hide and seek. While he loved to play, he did not quite grasp the concept. I would hide in an obvious spot, where he could easily find me. When he did, I would act surprised, then he would turn excitedly and say, “I am going to hide under my bed and you try to find me.” For him the exciting thing about the game was not hiding, but rather being found. The same is true of God, He wants us to know who He is, and to understand the things He has planned for our lives. Paul declares that the hidden mysteries of God are revealed to us by the Spirit. In other words, we can know God because the Spirit of God makes Him known. “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:11

At times we hide things from others, not because we do not want them to know, but because we do not know how to express them. This is especially true in relationships. Experts say, one of the most common factors that lead to marriage problems is failed communication. Thankfully, God is not limited in His ability to communicate to us. Paul explains that the Spirit reveals God through both the person of Christ, and His written Word.

One of the terms used in Scripture for Jesus is, “The Word”. This term is used because Jesus is the perfect expression of God. If we want to know what God is like, and what He desires from us, we must look carefully at Christ. Every encounter He had with others reveals something about the way God feels about us, and the things He desires out of us. The more familiar we become with Jesus, the better we will understand who God is, and what He desires from us. In addition to the person of Christ, God has also given us His written Word. Page, after page, reveals the unknowable. The hidden things of God are made known in His Word. Had God left creation alone to reveal His nature, we would have a skewed and limited understanding of Him. We would understand His power, but be very limited in knowing about His love. Since it is the desire of God for us to know Him, He reveals Himself in the Word. It is as if God said, “I am going to hide in My Word and you try to find me.”

Will you take Him up on the challenge? Or will the mysteries of God remain a hidden enigma to you, as you wander about, attempting to discover God with imagination and personal experience.

Pastor Jim

 

It’s That Simple 

2 Chronicles 15:2
“And he went out to meet Asa, and said to him: ‘Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.’”

Sometimes we come across passages of Scripture that are difficult to interpret. The imagery is something we do not quite understand, or we feel as though not enough information is given to really explain what the text means. THIS IS NOT one of those times. This passage could not be more clear. There is no doubt left in the mind of the reader as to what we are being told. Two contrasting truths are presented.

First, if you seek God you will find Him. When my children were little we would often play hide and seek. For them, the pleasure of the game was not in hiding, but in being found. On one occasion, my son declared, “Dad I am going to hide under my bed, you try to find me.” When I think of that, I think of the Lord. He is hidden in the open. When we will take the time to look into His Word, we will find Him to be there, and He will reveal Himself to us.

Second, if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. If you choose to turn away from God and pursue your own desires, He will let you. Just as the father did not arrest and imprison the prodigal, but allowed him to wander, so too, will God let you go, if you choose to walk away. But remember, if you walk away from Him, when you turn for His aid, He may not be there. At one point in Israel’s history, after turning from God and worshipping idols, they cried out to God. His response was for them to cry out to their idols. It is not as though God is saying He will not forgive the penitent heart, but we may very well have to suffer the consequences of wandering from the Lord.

Let’s be sure to respond appropriately to the Word today. Take some time right now to seek the Lord while He may be found, and call upon Him while He is near.

Pastor Jim

 

By The Word

1 Samuel 3:21
“Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.”

Long before Jerusalem was established as the capital of Israel, Shiloh was the ancient location of the Tabernacle. It was at Shiloh, where the High Priest would meet with the LORD on the Day of Atonement. It was there, where the glory of the LORD would fill the Holiest place like a cloud.

Samuel was a prophet, not a priest. He served at the Tabernacle, but never entered the Holy place. It was not for Him to pass through the veil and meet with the LORD. Yet, we read, the LORD appeared to Samuel in Shiloh, “by the Word of the Lord.” Samuel could meet daily with the Lord. Whatever circumstance he might be facing, he could have an encounter with God and receive direction for life. He could hear God speak to his private life, family life, and ministry. Imagine young Samuel sitting down with scroll in hand and receiving direction from the LORD.

The same can be true of you and me. If we will, daily, take time to look into our Bibles, we will find that God speaks to our lives. This happens in a number of ways. First,as you commit to reading through portions of the Word, you will find God knew in advance what you were going to face, and speaks specifically to your circumstances. Second, there are times when we need to investigate specifically what the Bible has to say about certain subjects. You might be facing a problem with someone who has hurt your feelings and you are not sure how to react. In those times, we need to look through the Word to see what God says about forgiveness, and how to treat those who wrong us. Finally, this happens when the Word of God is being taught. The Bible is like a Sword in the hands of the Holy Spirit, who will strike our hearts with what we most need to hear. Coming into Bible study with an expectation to hear from God and obey, is the best way to ensure that God speaks to you.

Samuel had learned early in life,  when God spoke he was to respond, “Here I am LORD.” Let’s be sure we are responsive to the Word of the LORD by committing ourselves to obeying Him.

Pastor Jim

 

This Is Wisdom

Deuteronomy 4:6
“Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”

Life is a lot like a journey on a road we have never traveled before. We often face forks in the road without clear signage, and are left to do our best to make a good decision. If there is one thing we need in life, it is wisdom. Webster’s dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern” and “good sense.” We might best understand it as, “knowing what to do.” In life, we often face challenges we do not have answers for, and we need wisdom.

Naturally speaking, wisdom comes from personal experience or the experience of others. If I touch a hot stove and burn my finger, I learn not to touch hot stoves. Or, if I listen to the advice of someone who has burned his finger, I can avoid the same fate. The Bible declares that wisdom also comes from the Word and the Spirit.

Paul declared, all wisdom and knowledge is hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:3). James went on to add, if we lack wisdom we can ask God and He will provide it generously (James 1:5). It is Moses who declares how it is provided. Referring to the Word of God, Moses declared “this is your wisdom.” He added, when we put into practice the teaching of the Word, the unbelieving world will be astonished by our great wisdom. This might not happen over night, but as you daily walk with the Lord, putting His Word into practice in your life, you will develop a life that is honoring to God, abundant for you, and works as a light drawing others to Christ.

The key to wisdom is walking in the Word. Whatever you are facing, look into the Word for answers. As you apply the teaching of Scripture to your marriage, family, occupation, finances, free time, attitude, etc., you will find you are filled with the wisdom of God.

Pastor Jim