House Of Prayer 

Isaiah 56:7
“For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Isaiah foresaw a day when people from all nations would be adopted into the family of God. He saw salvation reaching beyond the borders of Israel to the uttermost parts of the earth. Seven hundred years later Jesus entered into the temple and saw the outer courts turned into a marketplace. Instead of people being encouraged to to come to God they were being hindered. The religious leaders for the sake of financial gain and status among the people were actually keeping people from the Lord. At some point a sign was placed on the entrance of the temple warning Gentiles not to enter under the threat of death. When Jesus saw the actions of the leaders He was outraged. He began to overturn the tables and drive out those who were buying and selling. It was at that point that He quoted from this passage,

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

It is worth noting that Jesus was enraged when people stood in the way of others coming to God. We know it is the desire of God for all men everywhere to be saved. We know that a person is saved when they put trust in Christ as their savior and we know that people come to trust Christ through the witness of others. We should be seeking to live lives that properly represent Christ so that others will be drawn to Him rather than repelled from Him.

Jim

 

Guilt Free

Psalm 38:4
“For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.”

In this Psalm, we find David enduring the consequences of sin. Like all of us, he was drawn into something forbidden and chose to trespass, because sin always makes promises it cannot keep. He was, no doubt, hoping to find some level of pleasure by disobeying the law of God. Whatever enjoyment he derived from his sin, was soon eclipsed by the pain and sorrow sin always brings. Here we find David in travail of soul and under severe attack from his enemies. He describes himself as being pierced by arrows of conviction, being under the heavy weight of guilt, and even undergoing attack from others who think that he deserves the sufferings he is facing.

Sadly, David is not alone. This is a common experience for the child of God. We see something forbidden and desire it anyway, soon we find ourselves neck deep in sin and under its heavy hand. The pleasures of sin are quickly replaced with conviction and guilt, and those who we know best, may even keep their distance not knowing how to react toward us.

In those times, we must learn that there is only one place to turn. If we look inward or outward we will be defeated, but if we look upward, we will find that Christ has provided pardon, and we can be forgiven. The Lord will forgive our sins when we confess them, and as time goes on, will even remove the heavy hand of guilt that rests upon us. So often, we become paralyzed when we realize how badly we have messed things up through our failure, instead of allowing the cleansing work of Christ to wash us, and to begin the process of restoring all that we have destroyed.

If you are burdened by sin, be sure to take it to the Lord, who alone can remove its heavy weight and restore what has been lost.

Pastor Jim

 

Sacrifice 

Numbers 19:2
“This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord has commanded, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come.'”

A heifer is a cow. One that is entirely red in color would be extremely rare, and as a result quite valuable. As part of Israel’s purification process they were to take a red heifer and offer it outside the city. Once it’s blood was symbolically sprinkled on behalf of the people, the priests were to wash with water and stay away from things that would defile them, making them unfit for service. Anyone who became defiled would need to go through a purification process that required both cleansing and a period of time. It is not difficult to see the symbolism here, or to relate this to the work of Christ and the walk of the believer.

Jesus is the represented by the red heifer, sacrificed outside the city. His blood was shed as a means of providing cleansing for sin. Once we receive Christ, we need a regular washing with water, which comes through the daily reading of God’s Word. If we desire to remain pure and useful for ministry, we need to avoid things that will make us unclean. If we happen to stumble into an area of sin, the solution is to go back to the cross where we confess our guilt, and get into the Word where we are strengthened to overcome sin. Take whatever time is necessary to be restored that we might once again become effective in ministering to others.

Pastor Jim

 

Cleansing 

Numbers 8:6
“Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them ceremonially.”

There are times in life when there is nothing so refreshing as a shower. Standing under the flow seems to refresh and invigorate, and at times, helps me even to forget whatever things are pressing in upon me. Sometimes the only reason I step away is the hot water has run cold. As refreshing as that might be, it cannot compare to how refreshing it is to stand under the flow where our sins are being cleansed. David wrote about how blessed the man is whose transgressions are forgiven and whose sin has been covered (Psalm 32:1).

When we go to the cross and allow the cleansing blood of Jesus to wash over us, we will find that the weight of sin and the plague of guilt are washed from us and we are made clean. What an amazing time it must have been for the priest to stand before the people and be cleansed of all that made them unworthy to stand before the Lord. Instead of carrying the weight of sin and guilt, why not go through the cross to the throne of grace and allow the mercy of God to give you pardon and refresh your soul.

Pastor Jim

 

Stain Removal

Zechariah 13:1
“In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”

It seems like salespeople will make the most preposterous claims, just to make a sale. We hear of miracle products that have the ability to get stains out of anything. The problem is, when we use the product, it rarely meets their claims or our expectations. No matter how hard we work, the kool-aid stain remains imbedded in the carpet, and the grease is still on the collar of your favorite shirt.
While a lot of different things will leave a mark, there is nothing that stains as deeply as sin. It mars our conscious, our inter-personal relationships, our families, our witness, and even our ability to hear from the Lord. Isaiah wrote, it is not that God’s arms are too short to reach, but that our sins have separated us from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2). We learn from the account of Adam and Eve, one sin is so powerful it can forever alter our lives and our destinies. For the stain of sin to be removed we need a cleansing agent that is more powerful than sin itself. Zechariah promises, there is a fountain where all sin can be cleansed and man can be restored to fellowship with God.

Zechariah 13:1
“In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”

It seems that after Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom, a fountain will be erected in Jerusalem, symbolizing the cleansing work of Christ. While we have to wait until then to see the fountain, there is no need to wait to have our sins washed away. Jesus, Himself, through His death, provided a fountain that flows continuously; always providing cleansing for even the most heinous of sins. It is at this fountain that the thief, the murderer, the cheat, the deceiver, the liar, the home wrecker, and everyone else can come, be washed, forgiven, and restored into relationship with God. Hymn writer William Cowper wrote,

“There is a fountain filled with blood 
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; 
And sinners plunged beneath that flood 
Lose all their guilty stains.”

Will you plunge into the fountain of forgiveness that is provided for us at the cross? Will you allow all your stains to be removed, in the precious atoning blood of Christ? Forgiveness is ours for the asking.

1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Pastor Jim

 

Salvation 

Jonah 3:9
“Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?”

God has chosen to reveal the plan of salvation through the foolishness of preaching. Nowhere, is that better illustrated than in the story of Jonah. This reluctant preacher delivered a message that turned a nation toward the Lord. As the king heard this message, his heart was stirred to turn from his wicked ways and begin to follow Jehovah. In his desperation, he asked a deeply profound question. Is it possible to know for sure that our sins have been forgiven and we have been set free from the judgment of God?

Years ago, I was at a home fellowship where we were enjoying a time of worship. As it came to an end, the leader instructed us to take a few minutes to pray for one another. When I, and another young man, began to pray, I sensed the need to pray that he would know for sure he had been forgiven of his sin and, in fact, belonged to God. As we finished praying and I looked up, I could see he was overcome with emotion. He began to explain that he had been struggling with the idea of being truly forgiven. He kept reminding himself of all the ways he had failed, and questioned whether he was really a believer. Like the king of Assyria, he was hoping to be set free from judgment, but was not certain he had met the requirements.

The message of Scripture says we can indeed be forgiven of sin and we have an assurance of our salvation. Both Scripture and experience testify to the heart of the child of God, that we belong to God. Jesus declared from the cross, the work of salvation is finished. All that is required for us to be forgiven and set free from divine judgment, is to simply accept the gift. When we choose to believe upon Christ, our sins are removed and we become a child of God. To affirm the reality of this, God begins to change our life, replacing old desires and behaviors with new ones that testify to our hearts, we belong to Him.

If you want to be forgiven of sin, just ask; salvation is free to all who choose to receive the gift.

Pastor Jim

 

Get Out 

Revelation 18:4
“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.'”

As John begins to describe the fall of Babylon the Great, he hears a cry from heaven calling the people of God to come out, and no longer share in its sins. Babylon here is referring to more than a city in modern Iraq, it refers to the world system that is opposed to the ways of God. The call then is for the people of God to leave the ways of the world, to live in step with the ways of God. This is not a one time call, but is repeated time and again within the pages of your Bible. We were saved, not to continue in a destructive lifestyle, practicing the things that Jesus died to free us from, but to live a new life on a higher plain, where we seek in every area of life to bring pleasure to God.

Galatians 1:3-4 “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,  . . .”

Christ died, not only to forgive sin, but to provide deliverance for all who come to Him. When we put faith in Christ, the chains that once bound us to a life of sin have been broken. We no longer have to be like shrub in the desert, barely surviving in life, but we can be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, bearing fruit in its season.

Have you come to Christ? Have you asked Him to wash you of your sin and give you new life? That is the first step; the second is to come out of the world and stop partaking in practices that do not please Him. Don’t wait another moment,

“Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”

Pastor Jim