Isaiah 49:16
“See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”

Back in the stone ages, when I was in middle school, it was common for the guys who “liked” a girl to write her name on their notebook or on the side of their shoe. I remember liking a girl named Carol, but being afraid to really admit it, so I wrote her name on the soul of my shoe. It didn’t take long before her name wore off (and the relationship didn’t last much longer than that). I am so glad when I read that God has inscribed our names upon the palm of His hand. What a beautiful description this is of the love He has for us. The word “inscribed” in its noun form means lawgiver. It speaks of the one who inscribed His word on tablets of stone. His love for us is as unchanging as His word.

Jesus declared that though heaven and earth will pass away, His word will never fail. There is no force in heaven or on earth that is powerful enough to break the promises of God, and the same is true of His love for us. Our names are permanently inscribed in the palm of His hand where He can see them and show them off to others.

Take comfort this morning in immeasurable love of God.



In His Sanctuary 

Psalms 150:1
“Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!”

IMG_8583The church serves many purposes, not the least of which is as a place for the people of God to gather together and worship. When we meet with the congregation, turn our attention upward and begin to worship, something takes place in time and eternity. We are given a whole new perspective on life. Instead of being consumed with our troubles we are able to see them in light of the mighty God who loves us and works all things for His purposes and our good. When this happens our discouragement and fears are often replaced with a new found faith and hope. A broken marriage, a trouble child or disastrous financial situation is now seen as an opportunity for God to show His never ending mercy and divine power. We see our lives like a Red Sea, a Jericho wall or the enclosed tomb of Lazarus. Each of which is an opportunity for God to do the miraculous.

If you are downcast,broken hearted or facing what seems to be a hopeless situation remember that worship was created by God as a means for you to connect with Him and see life in light of who He is. Don’t let discouragement keep you from gathering with the people of God in worship. Perhaps more than anything else you need a new perspective on life. One that is seen through the filter of faith.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 150

  1. This is the culmination of all the Psalms. In a word how should we respond to all God has done?
  2. Take some time for worship. Meditate on your life and all that God has done for you. Take some time to rededicate yourself to Him.


Unite My Heart

Psalms 86:11
“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”

Uncertainty makes life difficult. There are times in each of our lives when we have been crippled by indecision. We struggled so long to make a decision, that the decision was ultimately made for us. In those times, we might say our problem was double-mindedness. We could not make a decision because we either wanted to go both directions or neither direction. James referred to that as being a double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). The Psalmist refers to a problem even deeper than being double minded, he refers to the person whose heart is split between opposing desires.

Anyone who has walked with Christ for any length of time knows to what the Psalmist is referring. There are times when our desire to please God is overshadowed by a desire for something we know is wrong, or perhaps just a desire for comfort, ease or complacency. If we are going to move  into deeper intimacy with Jesus, and more effective service for His kingdom, we must have our hearts united with a single desire to do that which pleases Christ. The Psalmist links learning the ways of God with having a singleness of heart. The implication is that through regular intake of God’s word, we will develop a desire to live for the things that please God.

Will you join me in praying for a heart united with a desire to fear the Lord and do what is pleasing in His eyes?

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 86

  1. Verses 1-2, David recognizes and acknowledges who he is and cries to the Lord for mercy. Sometimes we tend to candy coat our situations and not be truthful with ourselves or with God. Take time to really evaluate your situation and who you are. God wants to do wonderful things in your life. Verse 5 is a wonderful promise. Be honest before the Lord and allow Him to change you.
  2. Verse 8 David claims that “Among the gods, there is none like You, O Lord.” What gods have you given priority to in your life? How can you replace those gods with the true God? Believe verse 10.
  3. To be put in a place of a student requires humility, which some of us have a difficult time with. How can you apply verse 11? Take time now to write down, not only changes you need to make, but things you need to do to replace the changes.
  4. A constant theme through the Psalms….verse 12. Stop now and praise Him with all of your heart!
  5. What is your perception of God? Someone with a bat ready to smack you down if you cannot follow the rules? MEMORIZE verse 15
    1. Compassion
    2. Gracious
    3. Longsuffering
    4. Abundant in mercy and truth

Take time today to make these characteristics alive in you!


Revive Me

Psalms 80:18
“…Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.”

The Psalmists describes Israel as a vine that was taken from Egypt and planted in a garden by the Lord. Unfortunately, the walls that protected it had deteriorated and the wild beasts began to devour the vine. This psalm is a prayer for God to restore Israel to its former glory. To do so, Asaph pleads with the Lord to revive the nation. The word revive means to be made alive, and to have that life sustained. It is illustrated over and over again in Scripture when the dead are raised, the sick healed, or the demoniacs delivered. It is applied here to the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel. We need the same work to take place in the church today. We need God to pour His Spirit out once again upon His people, that we might have a greater desire for God and be empowered to share the Gospel with a needy world.

Years ago I read a statement by Leonard Ravenhill. He wrote, “If you want revival, draw a circle on the ground, get in the circle and pray for revival to come to everyone in the circle.” The basic idea is,  for the church to be revived we must allow God to revive our hearts. I don’t know about you, but I certainly need God to light a new fire within me. I need to have the joy of my salvation restored, and I need a fresh and continual outpouring of His Spirit in my life. I want to see God work in my family, church, and community, so I need Him to work in my life.

Will you join me in praying for God to revive the man in the circle?

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 80

  1. “Restore us” is repeated in this psalm. What does restoration mean to you?
  2. “Cause Your face to shine upon us.” God’s face is shining on you, are you acknowledging it? How would your life be different if every moment, every word spoken, every though you have went through the filter of God’s face shining on you?
  3. “And we shall be saved.” Do you understand being saved by the Almighty God? If you do not, ask Jesus to live in your heart. Let God be the Lord of your life. Confess your sins and ask the Holy Spirit to rule and reign in your life. God draws all of us to Him, when we get close to Him, we must change to stay in His presence.


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

Psalm 2

  1. According to verses 1-2, what is the “Vain thing” that the nations of the earth are attempting to do?
  2. How does God react to those who are attempting to live apart from His authority?
  3. What has the Father given to His Son?
  4. Knowing the great majesty and authority of God what should our response be to Him? Look carefully at verse 11-12.
  5. According to verse 12, what kind of life will those who trust the Lord have? Does that describe your life? Are you trusting in the Lord? True trust shows itself in obedience to His Word.


A Shepherd’s Heart 

Ezekiel 34:7
“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord”

This chapter contains some of the most valuable and important instruction for anyone seeking to be involved in Christian ministry. In it, Ezekiel explains the role of the servant of God, by using the imagery of a shepherd. As a shepherd must care for the sheep of his pasture, so a person seeking to serve Christ must care for the people of God. Ezekiel explains how to go about doing this by contrasting the leaders of his day with the ministry of the coming Messiah. A careful look through this chapter will reveal many of the roles and responsibilities of anyone who wants to serve Christ.

First off, it is worth noting, the leaders were failing because they were feeding themselves instead of feeding the sheep. A person who looks at the people of God for what they can do for him and his ministry goals, instead of for what he can do for them and their growth in Christ, is behaving more like a butcher than a shepherd. It is the primary role of the shepherd to ensure that the sheep are well fed. Scant, weak, and frail sheep are evidence that the shepherd has failed to do his job, more than it is an indictment on the sheep themselves. If you want to be an effective minister, you need to get to know the word of God, and share it faithfully with others. Paul did this by declaring the whole counsel of God, and not picking and choosing select subjects that he enjoyed teaching.

Ezekiel also explains that the shepherds failed because they neglected to seek after hurt, broken, and scattered sheep. Jesus illustrated the role of the shepherd when He said He would leave the ninety-nine healthy sheep and seek after the one that is lost (Luke 15:4-6). A true shepherd will seek to minister to the needs of the sheep. Often, a hurting Christian will speak or act out of their pain. Instead of judging them harshly for their behaviors, we should seek to minister to the cause of their actions.

There is no shortage of hurting, wandering, damaged and scattered people in every community in the world. If we will look at others through the eyes of Christ we will find that we have wide open doors for ministry.

Pastor Jim



He Wants Your Heart

Ezekiel 14:5
“. . . that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.” 

The people in Ezekiel’s day were facing the same struggles we face today, they were failing to look into the Word of God.  As a result, they were easily swayed into believing they could live however they wanted. This lifestyle soon caught up with them and the nation was beginning to collapse. What had once been a thriving city, and the envy of the nations, was now about to collapse in total ruin. In this condition, God reveals his ultimate desire for the people. He says “I will seize the house of Israel by their hearts.”

It seems God had their lips, for there was no shortage of people running around claiming to have a word from the Lord. He had their hands, for people were sacrificing on every high hill throughout the land. He had their feet, for they were running around trying to do whatever the false prophets told them would please God. But what was missing, was their hearts. They had never really surrendered themselves to the Lord, and as a result were not really in a relationship with Him. They spoke as though they knew the Lord, but their hearts were really far from Him.

What God really wants from you is your heart. He wants you to simply bow your knee and submit your ways to Him. He does not want your money, your singing, or your sacrifice, until He has your heart. Have you given yourself to Christ and are you living to please Him? If not, why not? Don’t take another step forward, until you have surrendered yourself and your ways to Jesus.

Pastor Jim


Bedrock To Build On 

Jeremiah 17:9
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”

There are certain bedrock principles within the Bible, upon which we can build our lives. One of those is recorded here. Jeremiah explains, the heart is deceitful and as a result cannot be trusted. Like today, many ancient cultures referred to the innermost being of a man as the heart. They were not referring to the organ that pumps blood through the body, but of the central place of emotions, affection and the will. It is common today to be encouraged to follow our hearts. If we are in a relationship and don’t know if we should move forward, we are told to “follow our heart.” The same is true of almost every decision in life. If we can learn the principle that Jeremiah is seeking to teach us, we will not only avoid being deceived by our hearts, but we will also seek to find a compass outside of ourselves, that will help to guide us through the challenges of life.

In the verses leading up to this principle, Jeremiah contrasts the folly of trusting in ourselves with the benefits of trusting in the Lord. He compares those who learn to trust God to a fruit-filled tree planted by the waters of life. Trusting in the Lord is activated when we decide to let the Word of God be our guide through life. If you will honestly evaluate your life in light of the Word of God, you will no longer be deceived about how to live. Instead you will find yourself beginning to bear the kind of fruit God has always intended to come from your life and ministry.

Pastor Jim


Should I Follow My Heart? 

Jeremiah 11:8
“Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart…”

It is very common today to hear phrases like, “follow your heart.” This seems to be the most common counsel given as it relates to decision making today. When someone is trying to determine if a relationship is good or not, or whether they should take a job, or change careers, the most common advice seems to be, “follow your heart.” It’s as if the most trustworthy guide for human behavior and decision making is an inner compass called the heart. There are some significant problems with that advice.

First off, when we refer to the heart in this context, we are not speaking of an actual organ or even mechanism, instead we are making reference to what philosophers define as the seat of emotion. Some cultures refer to the bowels, kidneys or stomach to speak of the same thing. What a person is actually saying when they advise you to follow you heart, is to follow your emotions. The question we must ask is, “Are the emotions a trustworthy guide for living?” Have your emotions ever confused you or led you astray? Have you found that your emotions change drastically from day to day or even moment to moment? I think we all would concede that emotions are a poor compass to guide us through life.

Second, the Bible warns us that the heart is wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). That means our heart or emotions will not always guide us toward what is best. There are times when we knowingly do things that are harmful to ourselves, the people we love, and our relationship with the Lord. To allow our heart to be our guide is like using a broken compass or a faulty map. Years ago my wife and a group of ladies from the church traveled to Washington DC. Having downloaded a map offline, they proceeded to drive through the city. They found a large public building had been built where a road was supposed to be. Following the heart is like following a faulty map, you will not get where you desire to go.

Instead of letting emotions be our guide, Jeremiah exhorts us to use the Word of God as the principle force to direct us through the journey of life. Decision making should lead us to the Word, where we will find the things that matter to God. The Word of God will help us determine the best course of action, given the circumstances we are facing.

Let’s allow the Word “to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths.” (Psalm 119:105)

Pastor Jim


The War Is Over 

Isaiah 2:4
He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

Tragically, God is blamed for many of the atrocities committed by man. I say tragically, not because God cannot or will not defend Himself, but because as long as we blame God for what men do, we will fail to find a real solution to the problem. The chief wrong in this world is the heart of man. We see this demonstrated daily in the horrific actions reported on our TV screens. We hear of power hungry people oppressing others, in pursuit of their own ambitions. This happens everywhere on the globe. Sometimes, it is in a far away land where a political vacuum has allowed for the strongest force to take over, other times it happens locally where a person uses the tragedy in someone’s life for their own personal gain. Wherever and whenever it happens, it screams to us that the chief problem in our world is the heart of man.

God has a solution to this problem. That solution is the reign of Christ, and it takes place in two ways. First, when a person accepts Christ and surrenders to Him, his first step is self denial. We lay our sinful ways and selfish ambitions down at the cross, and in their place we pick up the Word and ways of God. In Isaiah’s time, the people were being chided for failing to treat one another the way God had called them to. He wanted Israel to be a beacon of light to the world, and much of that light had to do with the care they were to give to each other. Once they forsook the Lord, ‘self’ began to drive the nation, just as it drove the nation’s around them. Christ solves the self-problem when we are willing to lay ourselves down. This will transform our homes, our relationships, our churches, and ultimately our communities.

The second way this problem will be solved, is when Christ comes to set up His kingdom. Isaiah tells us, at that time, war will be a hazy memory of the past. All the money spent on research and expansion of defense will be reallocated to other things. The world will experience the only era of peace it has ever known. Not a peace held together by the threat of retaliation, but a peace that stems from the Prince of Peace reigning and ruling in righteousness.

We should long for, and live for, the One who will one day come and make all things right.

Pastor Jim