Overflowing Life 

Proverbs 9:11
“For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.”

Jesus promised, those who believe in Him would be the recipients of eternal life. He also promised we would have abundant life while we live.

John wrote in 1 John 1:5:12, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 

We will never experience the abundant life God intends for us until we first receive Christ and begin to walk with Him. Scripture promises the love of God will flood our hearts, the peace of God will guard our minds, and the life of God will well up within us like a fountain, flowing out upon others around us. Once we receive Christ, we begin to experience the abundant grace of God flowing into our lives. Paul knew this kind of life, and it enabled him to celebrate the Lord, even in the most difficult situations.

There are, however, many Christians who are failing to experience abundant life. They seem to be constantly downtrodden and defeated. In some cases, it may be a result of failing to choose the path of wisdom. Solomon explains that true wisdom has, as its goal, a desire to live pleasing to the Lord. When we walk that road (when all decisions are filtered through a desire to do what is right in the eyes of God), we will find “our days are multiplied and years of life are added.” Things are simply better when we follow the Lord and do it His way. So often, our will fights against the will of God. When we resist Him, we fail to see that His desires are best for us. The height of life is always reached when we surrender all to Christ, and live in obedience to His Word.

Let’s commit together to begin each day by offering ourselves to the Lord, and looking at our circumstances in the light of Scripture. Begin each day this week by dedicating yourself to Him, praying for the things you are facing, and reading His Word. End each day by examining your actions in light of the Lord and His Word. Let’s see how far He can take us down the road of abundant life.

Pastor Jim

 

Don’t Beleive That

Jeremiah 5:25
“Your iniquities have turned these things away,
And your sins have withheld good from you.”

The Bible portrays the devil as a dragon who seeks to defeat the work of God by destroying the followers of God. This fiery beast has opposed the followers of God since the beginning of time. While he is crafty and sly, he seems to revert back to the same old lie whenever he attempts to deceive us. In the garden, he convinced Eve that departing from the ways of God would make life better. She soon discoveredt that true life is not found in freeing ourselves from God, but in walking within the confines of His Word.

People in Jeremiah’s day were buying into this same old lie. In pursuit of life, they were leaving the commands of God and following their own desires. Tragically, they found sin cannot fulfill its promises. The lifestyles they hoped would give them pleasure, only filled them with pain, and led them away from the Lord who made them, and desired to save them. To make matters worse, their sins were ripping them off from life in God, and hardening their hearts against Him.

Thousands of years have passed since Jeremiah’s day, yet this lie is still the number one tactic in the devils playbook. So many refuse to come to Christ, thinking that to do so means to miss out on life. Others, drift from Christ in search of the pleasure sin promises, but can never deliver. It would do us good to remember, freedom is not found in removing all restraints, but in living according to the proper restraints. Just as our bodies cannot survive without air, water and food, so we cannot experience true life apart from Christ, and the boundaries determined by His word.

Pastor Jim

 

Throne Of Grace 

Isaiah 30:19
“He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you”.

At the time of Isaiah’s prophecy, Israel was resisting the Lord. They decided following God restricted them from really moving forward, so they began a quest pursuing the gods of other nations. Sadly, their pursuit not only left them empty, but at odds with God. Part of the Prophet’s ministry was to remind the people of the blessings that would become theirs once they returned to the Lord. One of the greatest of these benefits was experiencing grace.

It seems the focal point of heaven is a throne. Whenever we are given a glimpse into eternity, we see God, His throne and the multitudes engaged in worship. While the cry of the angels is “Holy, holy, holy is The Lord.” The throne itself is called “the throne of Grace.” Heaven wants us to know that grace begins the moment we cry out to God.

Grace might best be defined as the giving nature of God. His grace drives Him to give only that which is best for us. James wrote,

James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Instead of thinking that following God will restrict life, we must realize God has a ‘best’ for our lives, and that best is found when we choose to follow Him. It must sadden the heart of God when we constantly rebel against His word, do things our own way, and endure unnecessary pain and suffering in our lives.

Whatever challenges you might be facing, whether they are self-inflicted or not, turn to the One who sits on a throne of grace. Cry out for Him to do a great and marvelous work in your life

Pastor Jim

 

Emotions 

Psalms 4:4 
“Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”

As A child, I spent a lot of time on the ocean. My dad loved sailing and we would spend time every summer living on the boat. I can remember times when the seas were so rough that we had to put anything breakable on the floor of the cabin, so it would not be knocked down and broken. In seas like that, it became very difficult to walk. I can remember grabbing hold of anything solid to keep me from falling overboard. When we reached the shore, even the solid ground seemed to move under my feet. Emotions are like that. They often seem like a turbulent sea; when we let them control us, we find that life is a pretty unstable place.

In this Psalm, David is facing things that would certainly impact his emotions. While he does not divulge a lot of detail, we know that his life was constantly being threatened. There were people who wanted to kill him, keep him from the throne, or take the throne from him. In the midst of that kind of conflict, David takes a moment to exhort us regarding emotions.

“Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”

David states we can be angry and not sin. That means at least two things. One, there is an anger that is righteous. There are certain things that, if we are a child of God, must anger us. If we look at the rise of ungodliness around us, and are not effected emotionally, we need to check our spiritual pulse and be sure we truly are born again. But there is a second, more practical truth here. Anger is not sin; anger is an emotion. Like all emotions, when they rise up within us, we have a choice to make. Do we allow our emotions, or a force greater than our emotions, to control us?

In Galatians 5, Paul contrasts living in the Spirit with living after the flesh.

“Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.”

Walking in the Spirit means we are allowing ourselves to be influenced by the Word of God, rather than by our emotions. The Holy Spirit wields the Word of God like a sword, revealing how God would have us react. At that moment, we are left with a choice, will we give in to our emotions and react in a sinful manner, or will we succumb to the work of the Spirit, and react in a godly way? David goes on to give us his secret on how not to give in to the flesh, he says, “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.” In other words, when our emotions begin to rage, whether anger, fear, jealousy, anxiety or any other wave of emotion, we must place our attention upon the Lord. We must seek Him for the strength to behave in a way that is pleasing to Him, and ultimately beneficial to the circumstances. Don’t live after the flesh. Don’t let your emotions be the driving force in your life. Allow the Spirit of God to use the Word of God to direct you, even when your emotions are like a turbulent sea.

Pastor Jim

Psalm 4

  1. What does David declare that the sons of man are in love with?
  2. Anger can be a terrible thing. Because of it we often find ourselves doing or saying things we wish we hadn’t and even hurting the people that we love the most. What does David tell us to do when we are angry?
  3. This psalm is a song, it was written not just to be read but sung at the top of our lungs as an expression of praise. According to verse 7 what is the mood of this song?
  4. The Lord alone can turn troubled times and an angry person into a celebrating saint. Take your trials to Him today

The Blessed Life

Psalm 1:1
Blessed is the man…”

When establishing the government of the United States, the founding fathers saw that man was created with certain inalienable rights. They believed it is the right of every person to be able to pursue personal happiness. They were not alone in this thinking. Many philosophers spoke of happiness as the chief goal of life.

It has been my experience that pursuing personal happiness is one of the key influences in the decision-making process of most people. While it is evident, at least to me, that the world is filled with people in pursuit of happiness; it is also clear that not many are actually finding it. Most roads that promise happiness, don’t actually get us there.

Many marriages began in hopes of becoming happy. The relationship wasn’t all that great, but the couple believed marriage would fix the problem and make them happy. For others, it has been a new job, boat, car, hobby, or even a new spouse and family. All these pursuits, though seemingly promise a better, happier life, only prove that they cannot deliver.

In this first Psalm, David sings of a road that when taken will lead, not only to happiness, but beyond that to the blessed life. This blessed life is what Jesus referred to when He said He came to give us life more abundantly (John 10:10). If we want that kind of living, David shows us what road to take. This road begins with choosing to reject the world’s counsel and accept the Lord’s. We hear the world’s counsel almost every time we turn on the TV, radio or computer. We are being told that life is found in possessions, or relationships, or activities. No regard is given to what is right in the eyes of God.

The counsel of God is found written in the pages of His Word, and we will find it when we daily delve into the Scriptures. David exhorts us to meditate upon the Word day and night. Meditation is not a process where we empty our brain of all thought, but instead, we fill our minds with what we know is well-pleasing to God. David goes on to illustrate this blessed life by comparing us to a tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth fruit (Psalm 1:3). What a beautiful illustration. Your life, when lived God’s way, will become like a fruitful tree. Imagine your life being filled with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, self-control. Imagine a life that others would look at and desire to have as their own. It does not matter what roads you have taken, it does not matter how much life has beat you down over the years, if you choose today to surrender to, and walk in the ways of God, you will find that Jesus leads you to a fruit-filled life.

Begin your journey today! Surrender all to Christ. Leave nothing in your life that is not pleasing to Him, and watch as He transforms you.

Pastor Jim

 

Happy Marriage 

Deuteronomy 24:5
“When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.”

Moses is reminding the people of the laws of God. These were the standards which would govern individuals and the nation. If they followed His precepts, they would be blessed by God, and would be attractive to the world around them. Like a light in the darkness, Israel would draw men to the Lord. Tucked away in this list of regulations is a principle, that if heeded, will lead to a blessed and happy marriage. Certainly, a happy and healthy family life will serve as a strong witness in a world. A world where so many marriages are falling apart, and children are the victims of a fallen and sin-filled world.

The principle here is very simple. For the first year of marriage, nothing was to matter more to the man than making his wife happy. Business trips, and even the protection of the nation against invasion, was to take a back seat to the happiness of his wife. God is not suggesting the husband have a calendar, marking off each day, as if it was a prison sentence to be completed. Instead, the early years of the relationship is where the foundation is laid. If a man can convince his wife that nothing matters more to him than she, he will be well on his way to having a happy, married life. Paul put it like this,

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, . . .” Ephesians 5:25

Psychologists tell us, the greatest need a woman has is to know that she is loved. A wife who knows the love of her husband can handle just about anything.

Whether you are a husband or a wife, perhaps it is time to make an effort to invest in the happiness of your spouse. Instead of thinking of all the ways you’ve been  disappointed,  why not spend time thinking of ways to pour love into your spouse, and see if the God who parts the seas, is able to put life into your relationship. Remember, there is more at stake than your personal happiness, the whole world is watching.

Pastor Jim

 

Giving Up To Gain

Mark 8:35
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

IMG_1430A paradox is a statement that seems contradictory or opposed to common sense, but is true. The statement Jesus reveals is one of life’s greatest paradoxes. Man was created to know God. Jesus said that He came to “give us life and that more abundantly.” When our lives are lived in complete obedience to the Lord, we experience the height of living. When we hold back, unwilling to give ourselves, our time, or some sinful activity; we think we are gaining, we think we are better off. That very thing we are holding onto, is the very thing keeping us from the abundant life Jesus created for us.

Knowing this, Jesus asks two questions. First, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

If true life is found in surrender to Christ, then what would be the benefit of holding onto all the world offers? Imagine if your phone were to ring this morning, and on the other end of the call were all the world leaders. They had decided that the best thing for mankind was to make you king of the world. You get the title, the robe, the crown, the chair and all the world’s goods are now yours. You possess all the wealth and all the power of the whole world. There is nothing you cannot have. The catch… you must deny Jesus. You can have this life but not eternal life. That my friends is a losing proposition. The right response is to hang up the phone.

Knowing that will not happen; knowing that no man has ever gained the whole world, Jesus asks a second question,

“What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

You cannot have everything, so is there anything you are holding onto that is robbing you from the life Jesus has for you?Perhaps a relationship you thought would satisfy you, so you began to compromise your walk with the Lord; only to find that it is robbing you of the life found in Christ. Whatever it may be, anything you are holding onto, lay it all down and follow Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

Thoughts On Marriage

Matthew 19:4-6
“He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?” So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’”

2015/01/img_1349.jpgWe understand that marriage was designed by God. He created man and woman, and designed marriage as the most intimate of all relationships. But why? What is the purpose of marriage? If we were to walk the streets and interview people, asking them, “Why did you get married?”, I think the most common reply would be, “I got married to be happy.” I don’t think every married couple is happy, but I think that it is the motivation behind most marriages. We think being with that person will make us happy. But I want you to notice what we read regarding God’s design in marriage: “It is not good for man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18). It was not for man’s happiness alone that God designed marriage, but instead, for his good.

Let me remind you of another very familiar verse:

Romans 8:28
“And we know that all things work together for good for to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Paul is reminding us that God uses everything in our lives for good. But what is the good? Does he mean everything in our life is designed to make us happy, or healthy, or wealthy? If we look at verse 29, Paul continues:

Romans 8:29
“For whom he foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…”

What is the good that everything is working toward? What is the good that marriage was designed to provide? It is the good of being made more like Jesus. Everything in our lives is like a tool in the hand of God, which He uses in order to make us more like Jesus. The difficult boss, the rain on your wedding day, receiving the promotion, finding money you did not know you had, are all tools God uses to make us comparable to Jesus. What is the tool that He uses the most? Once you get married, I think that tool will be your spouse. In fact, the marriage relationship is the closest thing the unbeliever will see of a relationship with the Lord. The husband’s love is compared to Christ’s love for us, and the wife’s obedience is compared to the obedience the believer is to show to Christ.

We need to learn not to look to our spouse to make us happy. It is too great a burden for them to carry. We need to learn to look to the Lord, and allow the Lord to mold and shape us into the image of Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

Fly Away

Proverbs 23:4-5 “Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”

IMG_1246.JPGRiches are not evil in themselves. The Bible does not teach that money is the root of all evil, but that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1Timothy 6:10). Throughout Proverbs, Solomon listed instructions that will increase our chances of being successful. He speaks of honesty, integrity, and diligence, while warning against folly, laziness and getting involved with the wrong people.

That being said, Solomon also warns against thinking that money will solve all of our problems. He writes poetically of the inability of riches to really meet our deepest needs. He states that riches make wings and fly away. Have you ever watched a young child attempting to catch a butterfly? With each step the child takes toward the winged creature, it simply flies off to the next bush. Step after step, she thinks she almost has it, but again and again it simply flies away. Riches are like that. In one sense, they are aloof, but we think with just a little more work we will finally catch them. If memory serves me, it was Rockefeller who, when asked how much money was enough, responded, “just a little more than you have.”

There is another sense in which riches have wings. Not only are they difficult to catch, but riches will never provide what they promise. Often, we think that the solution to our problem is cash. If we had a few more dollars we could get out of debt, take that vacation we always wanted, replace the hunk-of-junk car we drive, or a host of other things. While I would agree that having is more fun, than not having, we all must realize riches have wings and cannot satisfy the real issues of life. The headlines remind us of that. We often read of wealthy actors, entertainers, athletes or business men, who have marital or substance abuse problems, are on anti-depressants or even take their lives. The reason is, riches have wings. They are unable to meet the deepest needs in the heart of man. In contrast to this Solomon writes,

Proverbs 23:18 “For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.”

The real solution to the issues of life, is a spiritual one. We need to realize, we will only be satisfied when we are in a right relationship with God. Jesus promised, all who received Him would have torrents of living water rushing through their lives (John 7:38), providing peace, joy, and love for God and others. We need to be sure, while we are in pursuit of “getting ahead,” we do not neglect to make investments in our relationship with the Lord.

As the new year approaches, resolve to accept Christ as your Savior and Lord, make daily investments in your walk with Him by reading the Word, and commit to regular attendance at a good Bible teaching church.

Pastor Jim

 

A Happy Heart

Proverbs 17:22
“A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones”

IMG_1226.JPGSolomon is contrasting the physical effects of joy and sorrow. He explains that joy is like a medicine to the body, actually providing a healing element, while deep sorrow can negatively effect our health. Solomon is making this observation, not as a medical professional, but from watching others, as well as from his own personal experience. He came to realize that a joyful heart is much healthier and more productive than a broken one. I think we would all agree. If we had to choose, we would rather be merry than broken. The question is, “How do we avoid a broken spirit and gain a merry heart?”

Paul declared, the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy (Galatians 5:22). A merry heart is the bi-product of a life connected to Christ. Jesus said, when we abide in Him, we would bear fruit in our lives that remains (John 15:16). If we want a heart that is filled with joy and merriment, the first step is to receive Christ, and the next is to walk step by step with Him. The more we invest in our relationship with Christ, the more this joy will fill our lives, replacing sorrow and becoming in us, a well spring of life.

In one sense a broken spirit is important, even necessary for the believer.

Psalms 34:18
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.”

Here, the broken spirit refers to one who has realized his sins, and is coming to God for pardon. That is critical. Without being broken, we can never be saved. Solomon is speaking of another kind of brokenness, though. Not the brokenness caused by realizing we have sinned, but the brokenness caused by being in sin. Sin causes sorrow because it breaks fellowship with God. Jesus said He came to give us abundant life. The devil, on the other hand, came to rob us of that life. Whenever we choose to be involved in the things the Bible forbids, we are actually robbing ourselves of joy, and taking steps toward a broken spirit and dried up bones.

The closer we walk with Jesus, the more our hearts will be filled with the healing medicine of merriment.

Pastor Jim