Wisdom

Proverbs 1:7
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

We often find ourselves in the middle of situations where we do not know what to do. Arriving at a fork in the road, without road signs, we feel lost and confused. Often, the most difficult concern is the fear of making a bad decision. The Bible promises, in those times, the believer can call out to God, who will give us a liberal serving of wisdom. No matter what you are facing, the Bible will direct you to a good and godly decision. The purpose of the book of Proverbs, is to provide heavenly wisdom for earthly living. Solomon begins this long journey, consisting of hundreds of nuggets of godly advice, with the secret to obtaining wisdom. He tells us, all wisdom and knowledge must begin with a healthy fear of the Lord.

The fear of the Lord might be best defined as simply desiring to be pleasing to the Lord. The first step to problem solving is to ask ourselves, “What is most pleasing to the Lord?” If you are facing a problem in your personal life for which you need heavenly direction, the first step is to ask what God wants you to do. It is vital to remember, the answer to that question will be found in the pages of your Bible.

One of the most important of all the proverbs Solomon penned, is a word of warning found in Chapter 14.

Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Instead of trying to figure things out on your own, or doing only what you think is best, take the time to look into the pages of God’s Word and do what He says.

Pastor Jim

 

Sky Writing

Daniel 5:27
“You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting”

Have you ever wished God would write a message specifically for you? Perhaps hoping His finger would suddenly appear writing upon the clouds. Belshazzar had that experience. On the night before his death, the silence of heaven was broken when a warning was written on the walls of his palace. Sadly, Belshazzar ignored the warnings, did nothing in response to the message, and died that night not prepared to face eternity.

While I do not expect God will write upon the walls of my home, I have found heaven is not as silent as we think. The Bible is filled with page after page of messages for mankind. Like Belshazzar, the question is not whether heaven speaks, but whether we are willing to listen.

If you want to measure up when weighed in eternity’s balance, then you must look into the Word of God and live accordingly. The first step is to have our sins forgiven. This happens when we receive Christ and the pardon He offers through the cross. Second, we must decide to follow Him by looking into the Bible and doing what it says.  Similarly, when a road map says turn and we turn, so when Scripture says change we change.

Let’s not find ourselves in Belshazzar’s shoes, face to face with eternity and unprepared to go.

Pastor Jim

 

Not Listening 

Jeremiah 18:18
“Then they said, ‘Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.’”

The citizens of Judah no longer looked to the Word of God for direction in life. They had forsaken the Lord and His ways, seeking to become like the nations they were supposed to evangelize. Jeremiah arose to call the people back to the Lord. Over and over again, he reminded them of the folly of leaving the Lord, and the danger of sin. He compared life apart from the Lord to a shrub in the desert, while following the Lord was like being a lush and fruitful tree. He warned of the coming destruction on the nation. He promised that God, as the master potter, could take the broken pieces of the nation, redeem them, and make them beautiful once again. Instead of heeding the message, examining their lives, and turning back to the Lord, most of the people became enraged at Jeremiah and sought to have him silenced. Soon he was arrested for speaking the truth of God. Perhaps the charges against Jeremiah were that of inciting hatred or being intolerant.

Jeremiah’s experiences are all too common. They have been repeated time and time again throughout history. Even now, we see them unfolding before our very eyes. Instead of allowing the Word of God to correct the way we live, we are finding that those who speak the truth are being accused of wrongdoing, themselves. My prayer is that we will see revival happen once again in our nation. However, I believe we must brace ourselves for a frontal attack upon Christianity and the Word of God. We must be prepared to be looked down upon, for the truths we live and preach.

Times will continue to alter and adapt. Cultural mores will change like fashions, but the Word of God will remain an unchangeable bedrock, upon which life can always be built, guided and judged. Let’s be faithful to look to the Word, as we seek to navigate our way through life.

Pastor Jim

 

Is That Possible? 

Ezra 1:3
“Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem.”

There are times when the promises of God seem unlikely, and other times when they seem impossible. The scene in which Ezra is set is one of those, “it looks impossible”, kind of times. Judah had been defeated, the city of Jerusalem destroyed, and the people scattered throughout Babylonia. To complicate matters, the Babylonians were defeated by the combined forces of the Medes and Persians, led by King Cyrus. Set against these conditions, was a remote and seemingly impossible promise. Years earlier, Jeremiah the prophet, predicted a king named Cyrus would rise to power, and give a decree, allowing the Jews to return to their land and rebuild their city. I am sure, for the average Jew this promise seemed remote at best. I love that we read “in the first year of Cyrus.” God wasted no time in bringing His promise to fruition.

I wonder what you are facing. Perhaps it is something that causes you to question everything you think you know about God. Allow me to encourage you to look into the Word at His great and precious promises. I think you will discover truths that will stand up against whatever you are facing. Those truths will give you comfort, strength and hope, as you come to discover that no matter what the obstacle, the Word of God cannot fail.

Writing to the Romans Paul “. . .  let God be true and every man a liar. . .”  (Romans 3:4). Paul had learned that no matter what, God always keeps His promises.

Pastor Jim

 

Truth & Lies 

Romans 3:4
“Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.”

A few years ago, I was returning home from one of my many visits to West Africa. Since it was a day flight, most of the passengers were wide awake, doing anything they could to pass the time. After a while, I struck up a conversation with the young lady sitting beside me. After covering the pleasantries: where we were from, our families, what had brought us over seas, I noticed an open door to engage her in the things of the Lord. After sharing the Gospel message, and even giving a few examples of lives that had been drastically changed by responding in faith to Christ, she grew disinterested. Realizing, that to push too hard would only turn her off to Christians, I concluded our conversation by asking her if she would do me a favor. I requested she simply read the Gospel of John, and pray if God was real, He would show Himself real to her. I was surprised when she responded, “I do not have time for that. I live in the real world.” I realized that her statement revealed a struggle we all face, between what seems to be “real” and the promises found in the Word of God. It is as though a battle is raging between the promise of God, and what we “know” to be true.

How often we doubt the Word of God over the claims of our circumstances, emotions, or the experience of others. Perhaps the biggest arena where the Word of God is brought to question, is in the realm of science. To some, it seems we have a choice of either being a critical thinker, or believing the claims of the Bible. To that Paul would say, “let God be true but every man a liar.”

History is filled with examples of Biblical promises that seemed unbelievable, only later to be worked out with precise detail. The Bible promised a Messiah that would be born of a virgin, have a ministry of the miraculous, be rejected by men, suffer and die by crucifixion, and rise from the dead. After four hundred years of silence, the promised Messiah appeared fulfilling the promises of God. The same Messiah promised the gigantic stones of the Temple would be knocked down, and the city of Jerusalem conquered. It seemed ridiculous to his disciples. How could such a massive building be leveled. Yet within a few decades, the Romans attacked, and the promises were fulfilled. In more recent times, we have seen the fulfillment of a promise so outlandish that even pastors and Bible scholars did not believe it. The Bible promised that the nation of Israel, that ceased to exist in 70AD, would be revived.

Now, Israel is a nation, and has celebrated its 67th anniversary. “. . . let God be true but every man a liar.” We have grown to question the authority of the Bible, while believing in the inerrancy of emotion, experience and science. It is as though we question every claim of the Bible, and believe without hesitation the claims of science. It might help to keep in mind, not everything that was once heralded as scientific fact still holds true today.

For instance, in the Nineteenth Century a French mathematician discovered a tiny planet between Mercury and the Sun, and named it Vulcan. His discovery became the buzz of much of the science community. Others came out with claims to have also seen the planet in its orbit. It was only after his death that his claims were proven false, and the planet Vulcan remains only the fictitious home of Mr. Spock. In more recent times, an Italian astronomer discovered a series of intricate “canals” on Mars. Many believed they were a detailed irrigation system built by Martians. Only after the development of more powerful telescopes, was it proven that no such canals existed. As recently as the 1700′s, many scientists believed life could literally spring out of nothing, when sun light struck the right environment. This theory, known as the Spontaneous Generation of Life, dates as far back as Aristotle who, seeing maggots appear in dead animal carcasses, thought that sunlight had birthed these disgusting little bugs.

Suffice it to say, science, experience, nor emotion are trustworthy foundations to build our lives upon. There is a Rock that will sustain us in the storms of life and through the test of time. That Rock is the authoritative, infallible, inerrant Word of the Living God. Read it, know it, trust it and live by it. His promises will never let you down.

Pastor Jim

 

God’s Way 

1 Chronicles 13:8
“Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets.”

Proverbs are brief popular sayings that give advice about how people should live. A very popular modern proverb states that “the ends justify the means.” In other words, how something is done is not nearly as important as getting it done. We might even say, “there is more than one way to skin a cat” (although, I personally have no desire for a skinned cat). There may be many cases where the ends justify the means, but David found, as it relates to worship and serving the Lord, the method is as important as the activity.

The nation joined with David to bring the ark to Jerusalem. They organized a worship team, put the ark on a cart, and began to worship as they made their way toward the city. Everything seemed to be going well, until the cart hit a pot hole and the ark tipped. In what seemed to be a heroic act, Uzzah reached back to keep the ark from falling, instead of being rewarded, he was killed.

This story should remind us, when we gather, it is important not only to worship and serve, but to do it Biblically. In some cases, it seems the church is trying too hard to create a moving atmosphere in worship, more than being true to the Word of God. While there may not be anything wrong with lights, images, and a bit of a hype team, we need to be careful that our goal is to honor the Lord, not just stir up the emotions of the people.

I once heard a man suggest, a secular concert was a spiritual experience, because the audience began to raise their hands in seeming worship. I would suggest that their reaction was not so much spiritual, as it was soulish or emotional. Worship is much deeper than the emotions. If all we do is attempt to stir people up, we are missing the point. Worship is designed to bring people into contact with God, and should always be done in a way that brings glory to God.

Pastor Jim

 

Heroes In Training

1 Chronicles 12:15
“These are the ones who crossed the Jordan in the first month, when it had overflowed all its banks; and they put to flight all those in the valleys, to the east and to the west.”

As I read through 1Chronicles, I am struck by the heroic actions of those who served alongside king David. His reign led Israel to the height of their success as a nation, and resulted in establishing peace with the surrounding nations. This success was not accomplished alone, but was a result of heroic men who stood tall in the midst of great difficulty and opposition. This seems to always be the case. One person put it this way, “Heroes are not born they are made”, and it is clear it is the circumstances they faced that made their actions heroic. In other words, Heroes are made when men and women stand up against insurmountable odds and risk their own lives for the sake of others.

Those who have studied heroism, have found that the people who are most likely to take heroic steps are those who have been trained in helping others. For example, a person trained in CPR is more likely to step in and help a person who’s not breathing, than someone without any training. Our training in helping others will often spur us to act, rather than run or freeze in a crisis, even if we have never faced that particular problem before. Simply put, we can train to become a hero. As I look at this text, I am particularly encouraged by the training of David’s mighty men. Since their heroic act was crossing the swelling waters of the Jordan River, we can be certain they trained by carefully studying the pages of God’s word. It was in the quiet moments alone with God,  and while sitting with others, being reminded of God’s victories in the past, that stirred faith in these men to tackle the obstacles in front of them.

In many ways, the future is uncertain; we are never sure what difficulties we may have to endure, but we can prepare for them daily, by spending time in the Scriptures. Paul reminds us that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The more we familiarize ourselves with our Bible, the more likely we are to become a person who will act in heroic selflessness when difficulties arise in our own lives, or in the lives of others.

Pastor Jim