Beautiful Feet 

Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

It seems as though people have always had “bucket lists.” In ancient times a man put together a list of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was like a travel guide for the wealthy, of things needed to be seen before they died. Things have not changed much. People still have their wish lists of the sites they hope to see before they are too old to enjoy them. Of all the beautiful things we could see I don’t imagine anything more amazing than seeing a person who has come to our rescue. Imagine being abandoned on a remote island and seeing a Helicopter, or being held captive by an assailant and seeing the prison doors burst open and police have come or being under siege by an enemy and the cavalry has appeared. Of all the beautiful sites their are to see none can compare to seeing the one who has come to set us free.

Isaiah speaks of the beauty of one who will go forth with the message of hope for a lost world. The person who will risk their own comfort in order to bring the message of salvation to others. Think back to the one who shared Christ with you. How thankful are you that they were willing to risk relationship to bring you the message of Christ. Paul spoke of being in debt to the whole world because of what Christ had done for him. He felt the only way to pay the debt was to tell everyone he could about the salvation that was found in Jesus.

I think it is time we saw ourselves as those who have been given the key to rescue men and women from captivity. We need to be willing to take risks and bring the message of Christ to others. Once a person receives Christ they will see the beauty in the message we declare.

Jim

 

Under Attack

Psalms 129:1
“Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth,”

Difficultly is part of the journey for the people of God. Israel as a nation has been under constant scrutiny and attack since its inception and at the same it is true of the child of God. The moment you publicly proclaim the name of Jesus you will become the object of the world’s attack. Most of the positive things that are done in the name of Christ are overlooked, ignored or forgotten while anything and everything the church or the individual Christian does wrong is paraded as a proof that Christians are no different from the world.

After a recent attack at a gay night club by a person with radical Islamic roots the attention soon turned to the church as though this was somehow caused by the Bible’s position that homosexuality is a sin. Soon the news channels began to report on a church in California where the pastor declared that the victims of the attack deserved what happened because of their lifestyle. I was shocked not only to hear that a person would say such a foolish thing but that the media was able to ignore what was being said and done in thousands of churches across the nation and find one church that held this opinion and make it the news. What about the millions of Bible believing followers of Christ who gathered with their congregations to weep for the victims and pray for their families. What about those who made their way to Orlando to pass out food and water as a way to say they were sorry for the tragedy and to condemn the actions of a violent and godless man? The reality is the world has always opposed the followers of God and put them under scrutiny and attack. Jesus put it this way,

John 15:18-25 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

As believers we should do all we can to change the world’s perspective of Christ and the church. When a person attacks Christianity they should have to second guess themselves because of your actions. They should find themselves making generalities about Christians while having to rethink those statements because of your life, love and faithfulness to the word of God. We cannot ever compromise the message of the cross but we should be willing to lay our lives down for others to hear it, see it and know it.

Jim

 

Salvation Among The Nations

Psalms 67:2
“That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.”

Psalm 67 was written by an unknown author. We cannot know for sure who wrote it or what circumstances influenced its content. The one thing we know for sure is that it was penned by a person with a desire for others to come to the Lord. He pleads with God for mercy in his own life, in order that the world around him may come to a saving knowledge of God. The Psalmist is not alone in this. Paul declared

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).

As a result of this desire, Paul risked his life to bring the gospel message to his countrymen. At the conclusion of his third missionary journey, Paul made his way to Jerusalem with one goal in mind, he wanted to tell others about Christ. He received continual warnings regarding the danger he would face and the beating and imprisonment that lay ahead. Regardless of these threats, Paul pressed forward because his desire was for others to come to Christ.

The pattern of Paul has been followed by saints down through the centuries. Men, like Saint Patrick, who in the 6th century brought the gospel to the unreached pagans of Scotland and his contemporary, Saint Augustine, who brought the gospel to England. Saint Boniface, who in the 8th century brought the gospel to Germany,  Hudson Taylor, whose efforts brought the Gospel deep into China, in the 19th century. CT Studd gave up a life of wealth and comfort to bring the Gospel into Africa. Or the countless unnamed Methodist circuit preachers who took the Gospel to the settlers in the United States.

What the world needs today are men and women with a desire to see others come to Christ, regardless the personal cost.

Psalms 67:2 “That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.”

Pastor Jim

 

Speak Up

Psalms 64:2-3
“Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, who sharpen their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows—bitter words”

David found himself on the receiving end of a barrage of carefully planned attacks. Like an army of well-trained soldiers who had rejected God, they came against the righteous. Their weapon of choice was not the sword, spear, bow or staff, but the tongue. Things have not changed much. The most effective weapon against the righteous today is the tongue. If a person takes a stand against the unrighteous trends that are being heralded as freedoms in our world today, they will receive an onslaught of verbal attacks. Should you decide to boldly declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ, calling sinners to turn to God, you will need to be ready to hide beneath the shelter of the Almighty, because attacks will come. This is not a new phenomenon, the early church experienced the same things. As they declared the message of Christ, those with the loudest voice sought to silence their message.

Acts 4:17 “But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

Instead of cowering under the threats, the church gathered together and sought the Lord to embolden them to share Christ, regardless of the consequences.

Acts 4:29 “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word.”

The times we are living in are not times to be silent. The world is in a downward spiral because the devil wants to destroy the lives of all men. People are being led into destructive lifestyles that will have life long consequences, and we need to boldly declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it alone has the power to save.

Perhaps more than ever, we need to remember the words of Jesus,

Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Pastor Jim

Until The Whole World Hears

Psalms 2:8
“Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.

As we reach the end of ourselves and cry out in desperation to God, prayer is the place where we express our greatest desires. We have found ourselves on our knees pleading with God for direction, the healing of a loved one, or to fix a mess we have created through our own foolishness. I wonder though, when is the last time we pleaded with God for those who don’t yet know Him.

The great promise of the Gospel is that it knows no borders. Every man, woman and child can have their sins forgiven, and enter into a personal relationship with God, through Christ. We can participate in that through the ministry of prayer.

Take a moment to make a list of a few people that don’t yet know the Lord and begin to pray for them daily. Add to that list an area in the world where your church is involved in ministry, and pray for the furtherance of the Gospel there. Perhaps the Lord may even send you, some day, to assist in the work.

Pastor Jim

 

Unnecessary Suffering 

Jonah 1:3
“But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”

The story of Jonah has two main themes. The first is to reveal the heart of God for the lost. However, before this can be fully developed we are introduced to the second theme, the disobedience of Jonah. Three of the four chapters teach us of the sin and suffering of a wayward prophet. His is the story of a man who experiences unnecessary suffering that could have been avoided through simple obedience.

The stage is set when Jonah is commissioned by the Lord to take the Gospel to Nineveh. In one of the most shocking turns we will ever witness we read, “But Jonah…” Without explaining the reasons behind his unwillingness, the story takes us immediately to the consequences of his disobedience.

First, we read he began to run from the Lord. This running took him to places he would have never otherwise have gone. The Hebrew people were not known as maritime travelers, yet Jonah paid the fair and got aboard the ship. His journey would prove to be much more costly than the ticket price. Soon he found himself going down into the lowest part of the ship, and before long to the depths of the sea, and the belly of a great fish.

One of the reasons sin is so dangerous is because of the strong grip it has on us. Jonah’s heart had been so hardened by his disobedience, it took three days in the belly of the great fish before he would cry out to God. He describes that time as one of intense suffering, fear and anguish. While the text does not tell us this, the science behind the scene suggests that the stomach acids of the fish would have bleached Jonah’s skin, forever marking his life with the scars of disobedience.

When Jonah finally cried out to the Lord, he was forgiven, rescued, restored and even used in the lives of the Ninevites, but not without having suffered in ways God never intended.

We, too, can avoid all kinds of anguish by simple obedience. The command given to Jonah may not have been easy to obey, but it was not difficult to understand. For the most part, we do not really struggle with what God wants us to do, as much as we struggle to simply do it. If you are running from the Lord it is time to stop, turn around, and obey.

Pastor Jim

 

It’s A Promise 

Ezekiel 39:29
“And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says the Lord God.”

This is one of the greatest and most anticipated prophecies in all Scripture. Going back to the time of Moses, Joshua heard a report that two men had the Spirit fall upon them and they began to prophecy, although they had not come to the Tabernacle to do so. In concern for the people, Joshua exhorted Moses to forbid them. Moses responded,

Numbers 11:29 “Then Moses said to him, ‘Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!’”

By the time of Ezekiel, Israel had been anticipating the promise of the Holy Spirit for a thousand years. Now the prayer of Moses is turned into the promise of God. He declares a time is coming when the Spirit will be poured out on them. This is not the only promise regarding the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. About a hundred years before Ezekiel, the prophet Joel made an even more amazing promise. He declared the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all flesh, making no distinction between man or woman, young or old, or slave and free. This is the promise that Peter quoted to explain the events that transpired at Pentecost and are recorded in Acts, Chapter 2. One hundred and twenty believers were huddled in a room in Jerusalem,when suddenly this promise was fulfilled. These men, who lived in fear of the world around them, were suddenly transformed, emboldened and empowered with the ability to declare the Gospel in a way that led to thousands coming to faith in Christ.

What we need, and by we, I mean each of us as individual believers in Christ, as well as our local congregations, is to be filled with the Spirit of God and allow Him to transform, equip, and emboldened us to share Christ with a needy world.

Pastor Jim