Do The Wicked Prosper? 

Jeremiah 12:1-2
“​ Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper?”

Jeremiah’s question interests me because it seem to be the opposite of what God is accused of today. How many times have we heard someone ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The inference is that good, innocent even righteous people are being mistreated by a vengeful and unfair God. Jeremiah had a different perspective, he saw God as a righteous judge and realized that men were sinners. This led him to wonder why it was that wicked people were prospering. 

In any situation in life, if we are going to effectively problem solve we have to accuratly diagnose the problem. If a doctor misdiagnosis a person he will also fail to prescribe the proper treatment. If a mechanic misdiagnosis the problem with the engine he will replace the wrong part and if we continue to place blame on God for the wicked actions of men we will never really find a cure. When we backslide and get involved in things God specifically tells us to avoid we cannot then turn and ask why God has allowed this to happen to us. We must take responsibility for wandering from the Lord and into harmful things. The way of escape will be found when we turn from our wanderings and begin again to follow closely after Christ.  

Sometimes it is difficult to trust the Lord because we see others who have chosen not to follow Christ going through life without many of the difficulties we are struggling through. If you feel that way, you are not alone. The psalmist wrote that it was the carefree lifestyle of the wicked that caused him to question the value of trusting in the Lord. All that changed for him when he looked passed the immediate and considered their end. Jesus explained that there are only two roads in life. One leads to eternal life, the other to judgment. The question is not how difficult the roads might be, but where they are ultimately taking us. Instead of being discouraged by the hardships you are currently facing, look to the end of the road and the glory that awaits all who trust in Christ. 

Jim

Filters 

Isaiah 51:6
“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, And look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, The earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, And My righteousness will not be abolished.”

We use filters every day to keep things pure. A coffee filter keeps the grinds out of the cup, an air filter helps to eliminate dirt and pollens from the air and a water filter keeps harmful impurities out of our drinking water. Isaiah suggests that it is a good idea for us to have a filter for our eyes. He declares that we should look up at the heavens and down upon the earth. The purpose of his “eye filter” is to help us see the difference between the temporal and the eternal. Too often we get fixated upon things that will not last while ignoring the eternal. Jesus echoed the words of Isaiah when He said; “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will by no means pass away.” Peter wrote that the heavens will melt with a fervent heat and John spoke of a new heaven and earth replacing the one we live in.

I wonder how are decision making might change if we kept in mind that much of what we are living for will not last. So much energy is spent trying to gain things that are passing while we neglect the things that are eternal. Jesus exhorted us not to waste our lives storing up treasures on earth but to live for His kingdom and store up treasures in heaven. The Bible explains that when we use our time, talents and treasures to invest in the spreading of the gospel or assisting others in growing in Christ, we are in fact investing in the eternal.

As you go about your day look for ways to invest in the kingdom of God.

Jim

 

We Are Prepared 

1 Timothy 6:7

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

Famous American inventor and statesman, Benjamin Franklin, is credited with saying, “Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” It seems we spend much of our time, effort, and energy, trying to avoid these things, rather than preparing for them. Some of us will exercise regularly, change our diet, and get regular checkups with our family doctor, in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. Others, will avoid any thought whatsoever of death or dying, and live this life as though it will last forever. Some, might have a risk-it-all attitude, where they live life on the edge, while others will attempt to amass as much stuff in this life as possible. Remember the mantra “He who dies with the most toys wins”?While I am not suggesting that eating healthy or enjoying life are bad ideas, I am saying, attempts to avoid or ignore death, are not nearly as important as attempts to prepare for it.

Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Jesus explained the folly of living for this life only. He reminds us that all we have acquired in this life, is subject to theft or decay. Not long ago, a water line under our house sprung a leak and ruined the flooring in our living room. I can remember the excitement on my wife’s face when the floor was first laid. While we knew it would not last forever, neither of us thought it would go so quickly. Life is like that, we live as though things will continue on forever, not because evidence suggests it, but because we do not want to face the reality that we are temporal beings with a shelf life. All of us must take seriously the words of the Apostle, realize the brevity of life, and prepare for eternity.

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

While it is true we can take nothing with us, we certainly can send things on ahead. Jesus maitained, we can store up treasures in heaven. We are all taking a trip one day into the unknown, to a destination where we have never traveled. While we cannot know everything we will face when we arrive, we can prepare in advance for our destination. Step one is to receive Christ; He alone is the way into heaven. Step two, get to know His Word, and live for the things that will outlast this life. The Bible teaches us there are only three things which are eternal: God, His Word, and the souls of men. If we want to live for that which will outlast this life, we must put Jesus first, get to know Him through the pages of our Bible, and seek to impact as many as possible for the kingdom of heaven.

Pastor Jim

It’s All Mine 

Obadiah 1:17
“But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.”

When Abraham was first called by God, he was given great and precious promises. He was told he would become a great nation, possess a great land, and provide a blessing for all nations. While these promises were fulfilled to a limited degree, Israel never experienced their fullness. We might say, they failed to ever really possess their possessions. When Joshua led the people into the land to take occupancy, he heard the Lord say,

“Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the LORD said to him: “You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed.” Joshua 13:1

After years of living in the Promised Land, Israel had yet to experience all God had for them.

Many Christians do the same thing. While we might experience conversion, we neglect to move very far beyond that and find we haven’t really experienced the fulness of our salvation. We, like Israel, fail to possess our possessions; but what are these possessions?

First, we possess the forgiveness of sin. Without coming to Christ for forgiveness, we are not a Christian. However, the moment we will lay down our pride and confess our sins and need for Christ to save us, we are washed in the blood of the lamb and become a child of God. That being said, it is important to realize there is much more to the Christian life than forgiveness. We are also promised victory over sin. In other words, we do not have to live constantly falling back into the same sins over and over again. Paul wrote,

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

And

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” Romans 6:12

Beyond that, the Bible also promises the believer will be given power to effectively serve the King of Kings. The Bible is filled with examples of men and women who were equipped by God to impact the world for the kingdom of heaven. Each of these individuals did so because they were willing to move on from forgiveness to service. I think a valid question to ask yourself is, “What have I done for the Kingdom of God?” If you have no answer or the answer causes you to look back in time, then you are failing to possess your possessions. It is high time we start investing in the Kingdom, after all, we will be spending eternity there.

Pastor Jim

 

Invest In Your Future 

Proverbs 13:7
“There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing;
And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.”

Solomon is suggesting it is possible to have earthly possessions and yet to possess nothing of true value. At the same time, it is possible to have next to nothing, and have great wealth. He is not saying wealth is evil and poverty is good, but that within God’s economy, some things are of much greater value than others. The Bible teaches us there are three things that are eternal, and investments made in these areas will give a person lasting riches.

First off, God Himself is eternal. Before the universe existed, there was God. He is the un-caused cause that brought all other things into being. He is the source of all life, and the one who holds all things together. He is the one to whom we will give an account when our lives run their course. While it is not wrong to make capital investments and to store up for your family’s future, we must not do it at the expense of investing in a relationship with God. The most important investment we make is a decision to follow Jesus Christ.

Second, the Word of God is eternal. The writer of Hebrews explained that one day the heavens above us and the earth we stand upon, will be folded like a garment and replaced, but the Word of God will last forever (Hebrews 1:11-12). Every promise of God is eternal, and every investment of the Word of God in our lives, will bring eternal benefits. Often, the thing that keeps us from investing time in the Word, is the fact that we do not think it makes a difference. The reality is, when time has run its course, and the things of this life are a distant memory, we will still be reaping the benefits of our investments in the Word of God.

Finally, the Bible teaches us that the souls of men and women are eternal. God has done everything possible for each and every person to spend eternity with Him. He sent His Son to die for us, His Spirit to draw us, and His church to be an influence to win us. When we realize how much others matter to God, and we seek to influence them for eternity, we are making investments that will outlast time. The most important place where these investments are made is within the home.

There is nothing wrong with making earthly investments. There is nothing inherently wrong with riches, or with enjoying much of the pleasures that come with wealth. However, there are things of much greater value than stocks portfolios, profit margins and real estate holdings. The things that matter most, are the things that last forever. Don’t neglect to store up riches where they really matter.

Pastor Jim

 

Looking Ahead 

Joel 3:1
“For behold, in those days and at that time…”

Joel leads us to the climax of this book. Chapter one spoke of a locust army attacking Israel as a form of judgment for sin, chapter two spoke of the Babylonian army and captivity of the nation. Now chapter three speaks of the ultimate judgment upon the nations who rebel against God and come against His people. All that follows, points ahead to the time when God will restore all things. Paul wrote,

Ephesians 1:10 “. . . that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”

Martin Lloyd Jones referred to this event as “God’s Ultimate Purpose”,and Paul called it “the dispensation of the fullness of the times”, while  Joel had used the term, “Day of the Lord”. This is the event that all things are headed toward. This is the end of the road of life. All things are heading toward the time when God will restore all things, and set His kingdom upon the earth.

Joel had previously predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit. After the gift of the Spirit was given at Pentecost, the early Christians correctly viewed themselves as having entered the last days. David Guzik refers to the last days this way,

“Many have the wrong idea of the “last days”, thinking only in terms of the final years or months immediately before the return of Jesus in glory to this earth, or the rapture of the Church. Scripturally, we can think of the last days as an era, one that began with the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost. Since that time, the Church has not been rushing towards a distant edge that represents the consummation of all things. Instead, at the Day of Pentecost the Church came to the edge – and has run parallel to the brink for some 2,000 years.”

That is why the NT writers lived with an expectation of Christ’s soon return.

Revelation 22:20 “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

Romans 13:11 “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

And that is why we should be living with the same expectation. Joel went on to describe the final event in these last days. A time when all nations will gather at the valley of Jehoshaphat in one final rebellion against God only to be completely destroyed. This event is commonly referred to as the battle of Armageddon. As horrible as this event is, it is not the desire of God. He describes a glorious banquet in heaven awaiting those who receive Christ. God desires all men to be saved (2Peter 3:9). In the parable of the wedding feast He sought to persuade those who refused the invitation (Matthew 22:8-9). The desire of God is for man to beat their swords into plows, not the other way around. There will be a time when it is too late to turn to God, but today is not that day. The right response to realizing what is coming, is to refuse to remain one more day counted among those who are in rebellion against God. I am reminded of the poem by James Weldon Johnson who speaks of the folly of resisting God,

“Young man, Young man, Your arm’s too short to box with God.”

There is only one way to win in a battle against the Lord, SURRENDER!

Pastor Jim

 

New And Improved 

Revelation 21:1
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.”

Revelation 21 begins the final section of the book. Pastor, preacher, theologian, and early radio pioneer Donald Barnhouse put it like this, “In this chapter we see that the history of time is finished; the history of eternity is about to begin.” Just as Jesus promised, the heavens and earth have passed away, and in its place a new heaven and earth have been created. The word ‘new’ carries the idea of what we might call “new and improved.” Just as our heavenly bodies will be superior to our earthly ones, so will the new heaven and earth be far beyond anything we ever experienced here. John goes on to describe just a little of what we have to look forward to.

Heaven is a place where we will experience fellowship with God. No more will we look at God through the stained glass of human experience. Today our understanding of who God is, and how He feels about us, is often confused by the difficulties we face. Some, because of difficulties in their past, have a hard time relating to God as father. Others, because of pain, struggle to understand His love. The day is coming, when we will dwell with Him and see Him as He really is. This is the essence of God’s desire and man’s purpose. God desires to live in close fellowship with man, and man’s purpose is to be the people of God.

Heaven is a perfect community. All sin, and everything that defiles, is removed from heaven, and we will live in perfect harmony with one another. The idea of heaven being a lonely, isolated, and boring place, where we go through eternity as ghoulish figures without purpose, is totally foreign to the Bible. Heaven will be a place of community. We will sit together with the heroes of old, our saved friends, and our loved ones, and forever be in the presence of the Lord. Heaven will include feasting and celebrating, with those from every nation, tribe and tongue, as we experience glories that this life could never reveal.

John is reminded that entrance to heaven is solely for those whose names are in the Book of Life. The only way to ensure that your name is there, is by placing your trust in Christ for salvation. If you have never done so, pray right now, “Jesus I ask you to come into my life and forgive me of my sin. I want you to be my Savior and Lord.”

If you have prayed this prayer contact us at ccvb.net

Pastor Jim