Flee To The Mountain

Psalms 11:1
“How can you say to my soul,’Flee as a bird to your mountain’”?

Life hurls a vast array of difficulties at the child of God. We are struck with the common problems of every man, as well as those that are peculiar to attempting to follow Jesus, in the midst of ever increasing ungodliness. The question we are faced with is, where will we flee for safety, guidance and solace when struck by the trials of life? David thought it utterly preposterous to think of fleeing to the mountains for aid. To him, it was the Lord, and the Lord alone, who would be his defense.

There is something in the nature of all men that causes us to look to others when things get tough. When finances are short, we begin to think of who might be willing and able to assist us, and when illness strikes we seek out the best physician. While it is certainly not wrong to seek the aid of others, and we have scriptural basis for medicines and financial aid, it still remains critical that we learn to look first to the Lord for help. I wonder, how many amazing or even miraculous stories are never written because when times get tough we flee to the mountains?

Next time things are difficult financially, relationally or personally, run first to the Lord before seeking others. See what great ways God may want to minister to you, in the midst of the darkness engulfing you.

Pastor Jim

 

A Good Defense 

Nahum 2:1
He who scatters has come up before your face. Man the fort! Watch the road! Strengthen your flanks! Fortify your power mightily.”

Nahum wrote to warn Assyria of the destruction that was coming upon them, because of their violent and immoral rebellion against God, His word, and His ways. He foretold of a time when the ancient city of Nineveh would be razed to the ground. Like Jonah before him, his message reveals the mercy of God, as the people are warned in advance and told how to be prepared. They are told to man the fort, watch the road and fortify the city. This is good advice no matter what enemy we are facing. In ancient times, cities were defended by being surrounded by high walls. The less defensive the terrain, the higher the walls had to be. If a city sat on a hilltop surrounded by steep cliffs, it’s walls did not have to be nearly as high as a city situated in the plains.

In many ways, the believer is like an ancient city. The more we become like Christ, the higher a target we become to the enemy of our souls, and the more likely we are to be under his attack. Every Christian who has stepped into ministry has experienced this. If you sign up for a mission trip, join the prayer team, or become a children’s ministry volunteer, you know this will come with increased opposition, temptation and difficulty. The key is not to retreat from service, but to build better defenses. We need to know what our weaknesses are if we are going to successfully prepare for an attack, and we need to have a defense system set in place. Often, this is done by making it more and more difficult to sin. For example, if you struggle with worry, then it is a good idea to build a defense system that makes worrying more difficult. This can be done by focusing less on the things that cause concern and spending time meditating in the promises of God. If I were prescribing medication to the worrier, it would be to take a healthy does of the promises of Jesus.

Whatever your greatest area of spiritual weakness might be, the solution is to build a good defense system against it.

Pastor Jim

 

Self-Inflicted 

Jeremiah 44:7
“Now therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel:‘Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves…”

God warned the people not to flee to Egypt for help. He knew the Babylonians would soon defeat Egypt and any who were In allegiance with her. Despite these warnings, many of the people chose to depart from Jerusalem and Judah, making their way to Egypt. When questioned by Jeremiah as to why they chose to disobey the clear commands of God, they responded that life was easier when they worshipped the “queen of heaven.” The real reason they fled the commands of the Lord was they wanted to worship other things.

Often, an unbeliever or backslidden Christian will bring accusations against God and His Word. They will claim the Bible is difficult to understand or that there are many interpretations. While there are some Biblical texts that require careful study in order to rightly understand, most texts are plain, clear and simple. The real reason for abandoning them is not because we are not sure what they say, but because of what they clearly say.

God’s word is abundantly clear; worshipping other things is forbidden. His word is also clear that the lifestyles connected with these pagan worship practices are sinful and not pleasing to The Lord. The people did not worship false gods because they thought they were more believable than God, but because these false systems allowed them to behave in ways God had forbidden.

It is important that we do not follow the pattern set by those of Judah. These men and women chose to walk outside the parameters of Scripture, only to find they were sinning against their own souls. It would not be long before they found their sin had cost them their freedom, their lives, and their families.

Pastor Jim

 

When Righteousness Dies

Isaiah 57:1
“The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart…”

Isaiah watched as righteousness ceased in the land. Those who lived their lives according to the standards of the Bible were looked down upon and even persecuted. Rightoeusness was seen as a plague, and the righteous were treated with contempt.

In many ways, we are facing the same attitude today. Unrighteous behaviors are being passed off as lifestyle choices. Anyone who dares to speak out against sin is called intolerant, while those who turn a blind eye to sin, or worse yet, applaud the choices of wickedness, are seen as openminded, loving, and progressive. We are failing to see that God has given man a standard to live by, and there are consequences for violating His ways.

One of Isaiah’s primary messages was unrighteousness weakens the nation. It mattered little to the prophet, the size of Israel’s military, or their economic condition. To him, the greatest danger was turning from the Word of God. We are constantly being reminded of the economic, social, and international troubles our nation has. At the moment, we are facing threat of war, threat of disease, and a continual economic crisis. The fact is, our nation is more than broke, we are in debt so deep it may be impossible to ever get out of it.

Instead of waiting for Washington, it is time for the individual Christian to take steps away from sin and toward the Lord. When we, as believers, choose to set aside sin, pride, prejudice or compromise, that action has a dramatic effect on those around us. Perhaps it is time to examine yourself and see if there are things that need to be set aside in your life. We may never know the impact a decision to stop smoking, drinking, or compromising will have on those around us.

Pastor Jim

 

Leaven 

1 Corinthians 5:1
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!”

God designed sexual intimacy as part of the marriage relationship. It is the most intimate of all acts and plays an important role in the love relationship between man and wife. In the book of Hebrews we are told, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled.” (Hebrews 13:4)

However, like so much of what God designed, men have distorted sex into sin. Today, a person that waits until marriage to be sexually active is ridiculed, women are treated as something to be conquered, and men revel in their vast number of sexual partners. Pornography is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and with the advances in technology, is available at the touch of a button.

While we should expect the world to distort the ways of God, Paul is shocked to hear that the same sexual sins are happening within the church. We find the same problem today, the sexual misconduct that is rampant in the world is also running rampant within the church. Dating couples are involved sexually, married men are developing relationships with other women, rather than investing in their wives, a high percentage of people registered in singles dating sites are actually married, and pornographic sites are one of the most common searches on smart phones and other hand-held devices. Again, we should expect this behavior out of those who don’t know Christ, but tragically, it is almost as common among professing Christians as it is among the unbeliever. What has happened to us? Paul explains, a little leaven has leavened the whole lump.

Leaven is a form of yeast used to cause bread to rise. A small piece of old dough was set aside and used on the next loaf, this rotting dough, when mixed with the new, would corrupt the whole lump causing it to rise. Sin is like that. When we let a little into our lives, it will not remain dormant, it will grow, until it affects every area of our lives. While this is true of all sin, it is particularly true of sexual sin. Once the line is crossed, sin seems to almost have a power of its own, which drives us. If you have started investing in a relationship with someone who is not your spouse, or begun looking at things that you shouldn’t, or become physical with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or fiancé; it is time to STOP! Paul gave a radical remedy to the sin problem that the Corinthians were having, he told them to remove this man from fellowship until he repents. Radical sin must lead to radical repentance. It is time to confess what you are doing, both to God, and to someone who will hold you accountable. It is also time to put walls around your life, making it difficult to fail. Your life, marriage, and Christian witness are at stake.

One of the most encouraging things to me is that Paul writes again to the Corinthians regarding this man, who was involved in such grievous sin. After confronting him and removing him from the fellowship, he realized the folly of his ways and turned his life back to the Lord. No matter how strong a grip sin may have on your life, if you will confess, and take steps towards repentance, God will give you victory. Don’t run this race alone, and don’t wait another minute to alter the path that has led you to failure.

Pastor Jim

 

Memory Lane 

2 Samuel 15:14
“So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, ‘Arise, and let us flee, or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword.’”

Perhaps you have heard someone speak of having their whole life pass before their eyes. In a moment’s time, while facing imminent danger, all they had done, whether good or bad, seems to flash into their mind. David is having a similar experience. His son Absalom has stolen the hearts of the people, mounted a large army to overthrow the king, and steal the kingdom. Instead of remaining in Jerusalem and turning the holy city into a battle ground, David chooses to flee to the wilderness and trust his life and future into the hands of God. As he departs, we are introduced to people from his past. It is like a journey through the memory of David, as he encounters those who stand with him or come against him. Let’s take a brief look at just a few of these encounters.

2 Samuel 15:18
“Then all his servants passed before him; and all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had followed him from Gath, passed before the king.”

David had spent many years as a fugitive fleeing from King Saul. During that time, he met a number of disgruntled men who were also living as fugitives. These men joined forces with David and over time became his “mighty men.” They were with him while he fled Saul in the wilderness, and remained faithful to him when the kingdom began to split. These were the men in whom David had invested his life, and they, in turn, were loyal to him to the end. We are exhorted to invest our lives in others, helping them to walk with, and grow in, Christ. Jesus called this disciple-making (Matthew 28:19). We should be able to look back on our lives and see that we have invested in the lives of others, helping them to grow in Christ.

2 Samuel 15:21
“But Ittai answered the king and said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in whatever place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be.’”

Second, we come to Ittai the Gittite. We know very little of this man except he only recently joined ranks with David. He reminds us, making disciples was not just something of David’s past, but was part of his present as well. Some can look back and be reminded of great accomplishments for the Kingdom, but when we look at the present, we see very little we are doing for the Lord. It is sad and dangerous if our personal testimony is filled with only distant memories. We should be making current investments in the Kingdom of God.

2 Samuel 15:27
“The king also said to Zadok the priest, ‘Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.’”

Finally, Zadok the prophet and priest passes before him. David encourages him to go back to Jerusalem because of his role as a “seer” or prophet. David surrounded himself with those who would speak the Word of God to him. We all have people that we allow to speak into our lives. They are the people we go to for advice, or we seek to model ourselves after. David reminds us to be sure we have those who will speak the Word of God into our lives. How important it is to allow God’s Word to direct us, and to surround ourselves with people who will speak His truth to us.
Look at your life. Are you currently involved in serving the Lord by investing in the lives of others? Are you surrounding yourself with people who will use the counsel of God to direct your life? If not, make the necessary changes today.

Pastor Jim

 

Not Strong Enough

Joshua 16:10

“And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers.”

 

Both Joshua and the early chapters of Judges, tell the story of Israel’s occupation of the land of Canaan. After the initial strikes led by Joshua, the land was divided into twelve lots.  Each tribe was given the responsibility of possessing their territory. While we read of some great victories that illustrate dynamic faith, we also read a reoccurring theme where the tribes either did not, or could not, drive out one people group or another. Sometimes it was a failure on the part of the people to trust God and step out in faith, other times it was due to convenience. In the case of Benjamin, they allowed the enemy to remain within their borders because they believed they would personally benefit from keeping them around. 

   

Benjamin was not alone in this. Later, we will read of king Saul, who, instead of dealing with the Amalekites, chose to keep what he believed to be personally profitable. This did not end well for Saul, for in the end, he was killed by the sword of an Amalekite. 

 

The best approach to dealing with sin and temptation is to remove it as far from ourself as possible. As long as we think we are strong enough to keep it in check, we run the risk of falling back into that sin in a time of spiritual weakness. It would be like building high walls around an ancient city and leaving the gate wide open. History bears record of great cities falling for no other reason than failing to lock the gates, or close off an opening. Paul gave us his approach to dealing with temptation when he wrote,

 

Romans 13:14

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

 

Pastor Jim