What’s Your Story

Psalms 78:1-2
“Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old”

Asaph, Israel’s chief musician during the reign of David, took it upon himself to write a song depicting the history of the nation. His tale is one that magnifies the mercy of God, while revealing the continual unfaithfulness of Israel. Time, and time again, the people turned from the Lord out of fear or desire for things that He had forbidden. He spoke of their experiences in Egypt, when they feared the king more than the Lord, and of their time in the wilderness, when the trials they faced caused them to doubt the provision of God. He told of their time in the Promised Land, when comfort and ease drove them to complacency toward God, and into idolatry. Imagine how the first readers of this psalm might want to go back and make changes to their history, or at least make changes to their personal lives.

Asaph referred to his message as a parable. The idea, of course, is that the psalm has a meaning that sits underneath the surface. Instead of just being a message indicting Israel for their sin, it also serves as an illustration of the life of many believers. We, like Israel, have been redeemed from bondage into a relationship with God. In this relationship, we find ourselves in times of trial or battle, and in times of ease and comfort. If we read the psalm carefully, we can see ourselves in the story, as well as learn from Israel’s mistakes.

What would a psalm read like that told your story? What amazing ways would the mercy of God be reveled as your conversion was told? How would His faithfulness be seen in your daily walk? What changes would you want to make in how you walk with Him, in whatever time you may have left?

Take a few minutes to contemplate your testimony. Perhaps even write it out. Then consider what you will do to ensure that the remaining chapters of your story give glory to God.

Pastor Jim

 

Magnify 

Psalm 70:4
“Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified!’”

We can never be sure what the day in front of us holds. We can each testify of times in life, where our days were suddenly interrupted with something good or something bad. A phone call, text, email, or visit to the doctor, can suddenly change the course of our day and even our lives. David exhorts us that regardless of what life throws our way, we should always respond by magnifying the Lord.

The word magnify has two related, yet almost opposite, meanings. In certain cases, it can mean to take something that is too small to see and enlarge it. Scientists use highly advanced microscopes to look at things hidden from the naked eye. However, the word magnify can also mean to take things that are too far away to see and bring them closer. Years ago, my wife and I were walking around an outdoor mall in Southern California where a large telescope had been set up in the courtyard. For a few dollars, we were able to use it to look at the moons of Jupiter. What was impossible to see, suddenly came to light. Magnifying God is like using a highly sophisticated telescope to bring the person and work of God into view in our daily circumstances.

It is quite common for us to question God when our life is interrupted with unsettling circumstances. It is during those times that it is all the more important to fix our eyes upon the Lord, and begin to magnify Him. As we look heavenward with hearts of worship, we will be reminded of His mercy, grace, power, love and presence. If you are in the midst of a particularly trying time, perhaps it would do you good to take your eyes of the circumstances, and begin to magnify the Lord.

Pastor Jim

His Habitat

Psalms 26:8
“Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells.”

Life is filled with important things and with essential things. Often, what is important will overshadow what is essential. David was an important man with many responsibilities; he was a husband, father, musician, soldier and a king. Each role he played added new responsibilities and threatened his time with God. To guard against this, David learned to fall in love with the house of the Lord, because there he could experience the glory of God.
To be fair, we must recognize that the glory of God can be revealed anywhere. In a previous psalm, David explained that the heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows forth His handiwork (Psalm 19). We recognize it is possible to experience God anywhere and at any time. That being said, we must also recognize that there are places where we have a much higher likelihood of experiencing the presence, touch, voice and glory of God.

God loves to reveal Himself to the contrite and humble, so if we come seeking to receive from Him, we are likely to experience His presence. Israel was instructed to offer morning and evening sacrifices, so if we begin our day reading the Bible and praying about the things we read, we are likely to experience His glory. God set up the church as the gathering place for the saints, and promised to be in our midst when we meet. So when we gather to worship and learn with God’s people, we are likely to experience His glory.

Perhaps one of the most practical ways to grow in Christ and to ensure that we remain walking with Him, is to learn to love the places where God’s glory dwells.

Pastor Jim

 

Walls 

Joshua 6:3
“You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days.”

As Joshua stood overlooking Jericho, wondering how to defeat such a mighty foe, I am sure none of his plans included marching his soldiers around the walls while playing music and eventually shouting at the top of their lungs. I imagine he used his extensive battle experience to carefully discern the weaknesses in Jericho’s wall, while studying the lay out of the land to see where the high points were, or how they might build a siege mound against the city. The pragmatic mind of a seasoned soldier would have a lot to say about how to conquer a well-defended city, but in this case, God had an entirely different approach in mind. If victory was to come, Joshua and all Israel, for that matter, had to understand that the ways of God are different than the ways of man.

Have you realized that? Have you come to grips with the reality that God often does things in surprisingly different ways than we do? The reasons for this are manifold, but include the fact that God always does things in a way that He receives the Glory, and we learn that He is trustworthy.

Paul put it this way,

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”  1 Corinthians 1:27-29

When the walls of Jericho lay flattened and the enemies of Israel defeated, the people would be forced to look up to God and celebrate His faithfulness, rather than to boast in their own strength or ingenuity. God desires to do the same thing in our lives. He wants to accomplish His will His way, so that when it is accomplished, He is glorified and we are able to trust Him for whatever obstacles are ahead.

God will not always do things the way we think He should, but He will always be faithful, and if we walk in obedience we will always find the victory He intends for us.

Pastor Jim

 

Cleft Of The Rock

Exodus 34:5
“Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.”

Something happened in Moses that made him desire to know God better. Faced with the opportunity to ask anything from the Lord his sole desire was to see the glory of God. In response to this, God had a plan. Moses would get away from the people, hide in the cleft of a rock, and listen as God passed by declaring His true character. This event serves as a pattern for how every believer can discover the glory of a God.

Moses rose early and found a secluded place where he could hear the word of God. If we will follow that pattern, we too, will have glorious encounters with the Lord. It is in the secret place where we learn to abide in Christ and discover the hidden truths of His Word.

It is true that God can speak to us anywhere. Many of us have testimonies of times when our world was interrupted by the unexpected voice of God. We may have heard His voice in the middle of a crowded room, hiking a hill or even when we were stuck in traffic. While it is true that we may unexpectedly hear from God anywhere, it is also true that we can expect to hear from Him if we will rise early, get in a secluded place and open the pages of His Word.

Every morning there is a cleft of a rock waiting for the child of God to hide away in and hear the voice of God. Take the time to discover it for yourself.

Pastor Jim

 

In The Beginning

Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The first verse of the Bible introduces us to its main character; God. This verse is not a philosophical statement but an axiom upon which all other statements will be based. As we venture through the Bible together we will read of the great exploits of God. We will hear of Him speaking to men, parting sees, knocking down walls, vanquishing enemies, stopping time, raising the dead and providing salvation for mankind. If this first statement is true, if God spoke and the worlds were formed, then we should have no problem believing that there is nothing that He cannot do. If we accept this first sentence of Scripture we will have no problem accepting all the miracles that follow. We will have no problem accepting that there is nothing too hard for God and we will live with an expectation of Him accomplishing great things in the life of all who live surrendered to Him. 

J.S. Baxter in his commentary on Genesis points out that this one statement is also a basal pronouncement that undoes all false religious philosophies.

“In the beginning God…” – denies atheism with its doctrine of NO god

“In the beginning God…” – denies polytheism with its doctrine of MANY gods

“In the beginning God created…” – denies fatalism with its doctrine of CHANCE

“In the beginning God created heaven and earth…” – denies pantheism with its doctrine of making earth god

“In the beginning God created heaven and earth…” – denies materialism which asserts the eternity of matter

This first testimony of Scripture is not only a declaration of divine truth but is also a repudiation of human error. As we read though the Bible together we will will be further introduced to the God of creation. We will see that He is also the God of salvation who desires an intimate and personal relationship with all of us. It is my prayer that you will take Him up on His offer of eternal life and walk closely with Him today. 

Pastor Jim 

  

Jim Gallagher

Genesis 1:1
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The first verse of the Bible introduces us to its main character: God. This verse is not a philosophical statement, but an axiom upon which all other statements will be based. As we venture through the Bible together, we will read of the great exploits of God. We will hear of Him speaking to men, parting seas, knocking down walls, vanquishing enemies, stopping time, raising the dead, and providing salvation for mankind. If this first statement is true, if God spoke, and the worlds were formed, then we should have no problem believing there is nothing He cannot do. If we accept this first sentence of Scripture, we will have no problem accepting all the miracles that follow. We will have no problem accepting that there is nothing too hard for God, and we will live with an…

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Greater Glory 

Haggai 2:9
“‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

The sermons from Haggai and Zechariah stirred the people to return to the work of rebuilding the Temple. Because of their dedication, it did not take long before walls were erected and priestly ministry restored. The completed Temple had a dual affect upon the people. Some celebrated, while others wept. Those who wept did so because they remembered how glorious Solomon’s Temple had been, then they looked at the rudimentary structure they had built to replace it. Haggai’s message was directed to them. He declared,  this new Temple was actually more glorious than the one it replaced. It’s glory was not in the expense required to build it, or in its intrinsic value, but in what would take place within it.

Five hundred years after Zerubbabel completed the Temple, Jesus was born. It was this refurbished Temple upon whose steps Jesus taught. It was from here, he declared that anyone who comes to Him will have living water flow out of them,  like a spring of everlasting life. It was just outside this Temple where he would be arrested, beaten and crucified. And it was the veil of this Temple that was torn, giving us access to God when we receive Christ.

As glorious as the first Temple may have been, the glory of the second outshines it in every way. What a joy to know that we no longer need a building in order to access God. It is through the work of Christ, that we can have an intimate relationship with God.

Pastor Jim