Mighty Things 

Jeremiah 33:3
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

Each stage of life takes us down a road we have never traveled before. When I was first married, I had never been a husband and Kristie had never been a wife, when our son was born we had never been parents, and with each additional child, we had never met them before their birth. As they grew, we had to grow alongside them, facing each stage of their life for the first time. One of the great truths that guided us along this journey is recorded in this verse by Jeremiah. God makes a simple promise, that if we take it  to heart, and apply it  to life, we will begin to realize the sweet intimacy He desires to have with us.

Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

The first thing I notice is the promise is conditional. That means the promise will not be granted, unless a basic condition is met. The condition is quite simple, we must call upon the Lord. Years later, and in very different circumstances, James recorded a similar promise when he wrote, “you have not because you ask not” (James 4:2). In both cases, we find the solution is hidden with God and is accessed through simple prayer. God desires to intervene in our lives and provide what is lacking. The problem is, we often neglect to ask God, or we become impatient and expect His answer in our timing.

The second thing I notice is, the promise is in two parts. God not only promises to answer, He also promises to show us certain things. He calls the things He wants to show us ‘great and mighty things which you do not know.’ The idea is, God not only wants to answer the questions life throws at us, but He wants to do it in a way that teaches us things about Himself. As we go through life, we try to avoid any circumstances that would make us dependent upon God. We are careful to maintain our health, store up adequate savings for emergencies, and plan for retirement. When something interrupts our plans, it often sends us spinning out of control. We wonder where God is or how He could love us and allow such a thing. What we are often forgetting is that God wants to teach us eternal things, He will sometimes interrupt our comforts, in order to teach us great and mighty things about Himself. I have often wondered, if we were to ask Daniel about the worse day of His life, if he would tell us about the day he was arrested and thrown to the lions. That certainly sounds like a bad day. I wonder if we asked about His best day, if he would tell us about the time God sent His angels and protected him from the lions. Without that trial, Daniel would never have learned of the great and mighty things of the Lord.

Whatever you are facing today, look up, and call out to God for help and instruction.

Pastor Jim

 

The Better Way

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

If you read your Bible regularly, you have come to realize, God thinks differently than we do, on just about every subject. The values God esteems are different than the values of the world we live in. Jesus spoke of life being found in meekness, righteousness, purity, and suffering for doing what is right in the sight of God. Jesus explained the governing principle of life should be love for God, reflected in love for one another. The world around us might attest to these truths as being important, however, when we watch what is promoted on the TV screen, we find an entirely different set of values. Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways are not only different than ours, but they are better.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways”

Scientists tell us the moon is 238,900 miles from the earth, the sun is 92,960,000 miles away, and the next closest star, Alpha Centauri B, is 4.24 light years away. A light year is measured by the distance light can travel in one year. Light travels at 670,616,629 MPH. That means light will travel 5,878,000,000,000 miles in one year; it would take over four years at that speed to reach Alpha Centauri B.

God is not saying His ways are a little better than ours, but that they are infinitely better. When God’s Word teaches something different than what we think, it is not as though we are facing two equally valuable opinions. His ways are better than ours on every subject. True life will be found when we are willing to accept that His ways are better than ours, and we begin to follow, rather than rebel.

Pastor Jim

 

He Is A Big God 

Job 41:1 “Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook, Or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?

Job 40:15 “Look now at the behemoth, which I made along with you; He eats grass like an ox.”

Job 40:9 “Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His?”

There is an interesting story in the life of Elijah where he fled in fear from a wicked queen who vowed to take his life. His fleeing led him deep into the desert, where he hid in a cave. There in hiding, he heard the sound of a mighty wind, an earthquake, and a fire, but he heard the voice of God only in a whisper. Job is having the exact opposite experience. He is hearing from God and His voice is like a whirlwind thundering in his ears. The truths being revealed are so profound they shouted loudly to Job. Those truths proclaim that God is unlike Job and Job is unlike God.

To make this point, God reminds Job, there are creatures in the animal kingdom that are beyond man’s ability to tame. He describes two creatures, one a land animal and the other a sea creature, that are so strong that a man with all his abilities would be incapable of containing. The purpose is to teach us,  since we cannot understand the ways of nature, how can we expect to fully understand the ways of the one who brought nature into being.

When Job finally grasps the fact that God is beyond his understanding, he is freed from the accusations he had brought against Him. As long as Job had a small view of God, he grew resentful of his circumstances. I think it is time for us to allow the Scriptures to expand our view of God. We need to see that there is an enormous, even eternal gap, between God and His creation. It is not that we cannot know Him, but that we need to know Him as God, and walk with Him accordingly.

Instead of shrinking God into a little image you can understand, allow the Bible to reveal the vastness of who He is, and shine into your life and circumstances.

Pastor Jim

 

God Is Great

Job 36:26
“Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered.”

God has gone to great lengths to ensure He is knowable by man. He gave us His written Word, took on the form of human flesh, and shines as a light through the lives of His followers. He has revealed Himself to be a loving Father, who is accessible through Christ, and who comes to the aid of His children. Sometimes, because of the intimacy of our relationship with God, we can lose sight of what some have referred to as, “the other worldliness of God.” While it is important to get to know Him through the pages of His Word, it is also important to realize, there are facets of His character that cannot be known.

Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”

One of the most valuable aspects of our walk with the Lord, is when we come to the realization, there are things about God beyond our discovery. This should not make us careless expositors, or lazy worshippers. It should instead, put a deep desire in us to worship the One who is past finding out.

Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Too often we reduce God to something we can understand. The result, we are confused and frightened in our times of trial. We wonder at a love which allows us to go through such difficulty; because we do not realize His love is other worldly. There is simply nothing like it on the earthly plane. We question His mercy, grace, and kindness; all because we think we would not behave that way if we were God. It is important to keep in mind, there are characteristics about God beyond our understanding. This is in no way a cop-out, or an attempt to gloss over the difficult questions of life. It is a simple reality, and when properly grasped, will bring us to the place of being able to worship and witness in our times of trial and tragedy.

Let’s be sure to be the kind of worshippers who will adore the Lord for what we understand, and even what we don’t.

Pastor Jim

 

Great Is The Lord 

Psalm 147:5
“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.”

Bible writers use a variety of adjectives to help us better understand God. The Psalmist chooses the word great. Great is a word with vast meaning. It can indicate size; one dictionary defines it as “very large and imposing.” It can also mean important, distinguished, superior and preeminent. It is clear, the Psalmist is declaring God is above all His creation. One way he chooses to express the greatness of God, is to refer to His infinite understanding. There is nothing God does not know. The Psalmist declares,

“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.” Psalm 147:4

Scientists have been fascinated with the heavens for as long as man has been on the Earth. In the third century B.C., Aristarchus accurately measured the distance of the moon from the Earth by looking at the shadow of the Earth on the moon, during a lunar eclipse. Technological advances have enabled scientists to look with greater detail into the vastness of the universe. The closest star to planet Earth is the sun, which sits 93 million miles away. The sun is just one star in a city of stars we call the Milky Way Galaxy. Our galaxy is so big, even at the speed of light, it would take 100,000 years to transverse. Beyond our own galaxy lies a vast expanse of galaxies. Astronomers estimate there are actually billions of galaxies, each one containing billions of stars. If we multiply the number of galaxies by the number of stars, we get over 10 sextillion stars in the universe; a number too large to fathom. Let’s take a number we are more familiar with, one billion. Counting non-stop, at one number a second, it would take almost 32 years to count to 1 billion. That does not even cover the stars of one galaxy. If we were to raise the number to one trillion (which is a thousand billion), counting at the same rate, it would take approximately 32,000 years. That is a lot of stars, and yet does not scratch the surface of the number of stars in the universe. The Psalmist tells us, God has not only numbered them, but He knows them by name.

It seems, naming stars would be a job big enough to occupy anyone for all of time, yet the Psalmist declares, in the midst of counting the stars our great God also,

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

How amazing is our God? He is so great He can span the universe, yet so loving He knows the things that break our hearts, and is ready to come to the aid of His saints who cry out to Him. The One who counts the stars, is the one who gazes upon you.

“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.”

Pastor Jim

 

Too Small

1 Kings 8:27
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”

Seven years, hundreds of thousands of man hours, and countless wealth, was invested in the building of the Temple. When it was completed, it was one of the most glorious buildings of the ancient world. The best architects, builders, artists, and specialist had been commissioned to accomplish a feat that still boggles the minds of historians today. One can only imagine what it must have been like to stand on the Temple mount, looking up at this glorious building, and looking down upon the city of David. Yet, with all it’s splendor, Solomon is struck with the realization, it is simply way too small.

Unlike the church, the Temple was not designed to house people. A few men took turns entering the first court of the Temple to trim the lamps and change  the show bread; and one man, once a year, entered the second court. The purpose of the Temple was to provide a place for God to meet with man, and Solomon realized the building was way too small.

I think one of the biggest problems we face is that our God is too small. In order to wrap our minds around God, we are constantly trying to reduce Him to something we can understand. With each attempt, He gets smaller and smaller, until our problems become no match for Him. Instead of trusting in a holy, all powerful Creator, who holds the world together with His Word, we have created a God who is more like a best friend, who we call on when we need someone to listen to our complaints.

It is time to stop fashioning God into something He is not, but to look into the pages of His Word to discover who He really is, and what He requires of us. Remember the second commandment is not to have any graven images. God refuses to be shaped into something He is not.

Pastor Jim

Glory Of Creation

Psalms 8:1
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!”

Webster defines glory as “Great beauty and splendor, even magnificence.” David is declaring things about the magnificence of God. It seems this Psalm was penned as a result of looking at the beauty of creation, in light of the Creator. He realizes that as glorious as creation is, it pales by comparison to the Creator.

How sad, that we often neglect to consider the creation’s glory. We seem to be surrounded by the works of men. We live in a manmade house, drive a manmade car, on manmade streets, to a manmade office, eating manmade food, from manmade packages; and wonder why we have lost sight of God. What if we took time to consider the works of God’s hands? We are, after all, surrounded by it. It was designed to reveal His glory.

When was the last time you went outside, looked up at the vastness of the heavens, and considered the power of God? That can be a very humbling experience. A few years ago, I walked across the tarmac in Accra, Ghana, to board an A380 Airbus; the world’s largest commercial aircraft. It was an amazing sight. With each step toward the airplane, I felt smaller and smaller. I was dwarfed by this massive machine. It amazed me that something so large would ever be able to get off the ground. Soon the engines fired up and we began to race down the runway. Moments later, we were in the air. I looked out the window and watched as the city of Accra seemed to get smaller and smaller. My attention was soon taken to the vastness of space. This giant airplane, that only moments before, had seemed so great, was now just a tiny dot in the air. I pondered the vastness of space. There I was, a speck of dust, traveling on a speck of dust, in the limitless heavens. Rather than feeling insignificant or unimportant, I began to think of David’s words recorded here. “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?”

Although creation is great and glorious, God’s glory outshines it all. Perhaps the most glorious thing about Him, is that He loves us, and wants to meet with us. Rather than feeling insignificant, the greatness of God’s glory should fill us with wonder that He loves each of us so deeply. Take some time, not only to consider the glory of creation, but to consider the glory of God.

Pastor Jim

Psalm 8

  1. The heavens are glorious, what sits even higher in glory than that?
  2. David seems to be sitting outside at night contemplating creation when he pens this psalm. Sadly evolutionary theory has caused many to look at nature wrongly. We should look at the vast beauty and detail of nature and be filled with greater praise for our Creator. Take some time to go outside and look at the world your heavenly Father created for you. Praise Him!
  3. David writes that although man is lower than the angels in glory and strength. The Lord has visited us. That visitation includes the work of Christ upon the cross. Have you received Christ as your Lord and Savior? Ask Him into your life right now and watch the amazing work He does in you.

 

 

Greatness

Joshua 17:14

“Then the children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, ‘Why have you given us only one lot and one share to inherit, since we are a great people, inasmuch as the Lord has blessed us until now?’”

 

The tribe of Manasseh felt as though they had been ripped off when the land was distributed. They looked at their inheritance with disdain because it seemed small, and they considered themselves a great people worthy of so much more. Joshua explained to them that the land was theirs for the taking and their greatness would be proven as they overcame the obstacles that stood before them. It seems pretty clear, Joshua and Manasseh had very different views as to what greatness really meant. 

 

A few years ago, I was speaking to a group of Christian leaders in West Africa. During a break-time, a young man approached me, declaring he had received a promise from God that he would become a great man of God and be used mightily for the kingdom. I immediately sensed, while this promise may have been from the Lord, he was very confused regarding what it meant to be great in the eyes of God. We began to walk through the Scriptures together and see how Jesus defined greatness. 

 

Mark 10:43-45

“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

 

In the eyes of Jesus there is nothing greater than patterning our lives after His. When we will take the low place, and seek to exalt others and their needs above our own, we have begun to walk the path of greatness. It is those who humbly walk with Christ, not seeking their own glory, but His, who will accomplish great and eternal things. Perhaps the biggest deterrent to true greatness is self. Self-will, self-protection, self-ambition or plain old fashion selfishness, will always stand in the way of serving Christ and others. 

 

Joshua went on the explain to Manasseh that greatness was theirs for the taking.  All they had to do was trust God and walk in the inheritance placed before them. I wonder what “great things” God might have for us, if we will set our own ambitions and fears aside, and simply walk as Jesus walked. 

 

Pastor Jim 

 

What Did You See?

Deuteronomy 11:7
“. . . but your eyes have seen every great act of the Lord which He did.”

There is no question, the children of Israel made mistakes. Their years in the wilderness were marked by complaining, doubt, fear and outright disobedience. Yet, things could have been worse. They could have remained in Egypt, never experiencing any of the great acts of the Lord. Moses reminds the people of what they saw because they were willing to follow the Lord. He recalls the parting of the Red Sea, their provision in the wilderness, and the judgment of those who rebelled.

I wonder, what does your list include? When you look back over your Christian experience, where has your willingness to follow the Lord led you? Can you remember times when you stepped out in faith to serve or follow the Lord, and found that He was faithful to His promises? Can you think of a time, when your heart was beating through your chest, you were being prompted by the Lord to share the Gospel with someone, and when you did, they received Christ. Can you remember setting aside your vacation time to go on a mission trip, and bring Christ to those in another land? What does your past say about your experience of Christ?

Whatever your past might say, it is important we do not live in the past. The great works God did in the wilderness were not the end of His works. In Israel’s future, was the parting of the Jordan, the walls of Jericho, defeating giants, and becoming a great and mighty nation. Whatever your past might say, your future remains filled with opportunity to serve and follow Christ. Be sure, today, to walk in the ways of God.

Pastor Jim