Who Is Afflicted 

Job 6:14
“To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, Even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”

Life is filled with opportunities to minister to hurting people. Sometimes these hurts are caused by the unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances, other times they are self inflicted. Regardless of the cause we are all surrounded with opportunities to “strengthen the hands that hang down and the feeble knees.”

In the midst of his pain filled trial, Job gives an insight that will help each of us do a better Job “comforting the fainthearted and upholding the weak.” He pleads with his friends to show him kindness.

One of the chief character traits in the life of Jesus was his compassion. He was not quick to be judge and jury of a person’s actions but to show forth His loving kindness and care. We see this on multiple occasions. We observe Him stretching forth His hand to touch a leper, providing food for the hungry masses and extending mercy to the woman caught in adultery. It is clear that although Jesus knew their sin, He wanted to emphasize His grace.

Imagine what it must have been like for Job. He lost his family, livelihood and health. His wife who had been his companion is so overcome with grief that she begins to become filled with bitter anger. Now his friends who came to comfort him put him under the microscope and begin to examine his every action. Instead of seeking to come alongside and build him up they determine their role is to correct his actions.

While I understand there is a time for correction and even for rebuke it is also important to remember it is the task of the Holy Spirit to convict and correct and the role of the believer is to love. The more we show kindness to the hurting the greater chance they will have of being freed from the miry clay that is bogging them down.

Jim

 

Where Revival Begins

Ezra 10:7
“And they issued a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the descendants of the captivity, that they must gather at Jerusalem”

Imagine a scene where the leaders of the nation call its citizens to gather at the capital with the purpose of repenting from evil and seeking the Lord. Imagine the National mall filled, not with people outraged because they feel somehow neglected or mistreated by the government but because they have realized they are guilty before God and are there to plead with Him for forgiveness. Imagine what a powerful impact a revival of that magnitude would have upon the very fabric of society. That is exactly what happened in Ezra’s day. The people realized they had turned from God and were ready to make whatever changes necessary in their lives and families to restore right relationship with God.

What strikes me about this is how it started. We read that Ezra saw the condition of the nation, fell on his face, fasted, prayed, confessed his sin and sought the Lord to bring revival to the land. He prayed, “give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” All that followed stemmed from one man crying out to God and making the necessary changes in his own life. Before a family, nation, society or culture can experience revival it must begin in the heart of an individual. It has been said if we want to see revival we need to draw a circle on the ground, step into the circle and pray for God to revive the heart of the person within the circle. When that heart is revived and that person’s life begins to honor God we are well on our way to seeing revival break out across our land.

One man wrapped in the garments of sorrow over personal sin, crying out God for forgiveness can spark a work of God that will transform the face of a nation

Jim

 

Behind The Scenes

1 Chronicles 27:1
“And the children of Israel, according to their number, the heads of fathers’ houses, the captains of thousands and hundreds and their officers, served the king in every matter of the military divisions. These divisions came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, each division having twenty-four thousand.”

David was the greatest king Israel ever had. Under his leadership the nation reached its apex socially, economical, militarily and spiritually. Within the nation God was being highly exalted and without the enemies of Israel were subdued and peace treaties were established. Every king that would step onto Israel’s throne would be compared to David and their reign would be seen in contrast to his. I think it is important to keep in mind that while David was responsible to surrender his heart and life to the Lord he was not capable of these great victories on his own. David purposed in his heart to follow God and countless others joined him in the task. Israel’s greatness, while attributed to David was really the work of a massive host of men and women who devoted themselves to God.

The same is true today. Churches across our country are often known because of the man who stands in the pulpit and proclaims the Word. He becomes the face of what God is accomplishing in that particular area but is not doing it alone. Behind the scenes there are countless unnamed supporters who are standing with him. Many of these men and women will never become household names but the ministry could not be accomplished without them. They are the ones who hold up their pastors arms in prayer and faithfully serve beside him to assist in any way they can, to be sure the Word of God is faithfully declared in their community. They set up tables, clean up the churches, fold bulletins, teach children, attend prayer meetings, etc. Just as Israel,would not have become what it was without David’s support staff so the church cannot be what God intends without the faithfulness of those who serve alongside their pastor.

Jim

 

Is There A God In Israel? 

2 Kings 1:3
“But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?'”

Sometimes it is difficult to uncover the meaning behind a biblical text or to make proper application for our lives. Other times, there is no difficulty at all. Three times in this text we read the same phrase,


“Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?”

Ahaziah, King of Israel, had an accident and was severely injured. No doubt, after consulting the medical professionals of his day, he began to question whether or not he would recover. Since no earthly source could answer his inquiry, he sought out a prophet of Baal for guidance and advice. Heaven’s reaction to this was to question why a man of Israel would neglect to seek counsel from the God of Israel.

In all my years of following Jesus, I have never met a Christian who consulted Baal for advice or direction. However, I have met several who refuse to look to the Lord to meet their needs, and are quick to run to just about every other source. When difficulty, tragedy, or need arises, instead of increasing prayer time, fasting, or Bible reading, they start looking to others to solve the problem. With the advent of social media, this phenomenon has increases exponentially. Facebook and other mediums, seem to be filled with requests from Christians to assist them in their trying times. It is as though we have forgotten that Jesus promised if we seek Him and His righteousness, He will provide for our needs.

I am not saying believers should not help believers, or that it is wrong to ask others to pray for us. There are even cases in Scripture where men like Nehemiah ask the king for provision, to accomplish what God had called him to do. That being said, it does seem, at least in some cases, we have forgotten the message that Elijah heard, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?”

In contrast to this, I am reminded of the story of Ezra the scribe. When he left Persia for Jerusalem, he had witnessed to the king regarding the great power of the God of Israel. Later, as he ventured out on the perilous journey, he determined not to ask the king for protection. He thought doing so would embarrass him, because of all the wonderful things he had told the king about Jehovah. So, instead of seeking aid from the king, he spent his time pleading with God for protection.

Ezra 8:22-23 “For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.”

Whatever you may be currently facing, and whoever you may enlist to pray for you through the trial,don’t neglect to get alone with God, pour your difficulty out before Him and seek His help. Remember, He often allows the difficulties in order to bring us closer to Himself.
Pastor Jim

 

Ask God

Psalm 72:1
A Psalm of Solomon.
“Give the king Your judgments, O God, And Your righteousness to the king’s Son.”

When Solomon first stepped onto the throne of his father, David, he was overwhelmed by the task before him. He realized he was weak and inexperienced, and the responsibility of ruling the nation was too much for him to handle. He knew that the Lord was his only hope, and cried out to God for wisdom. This psalm is a poetic expression of an event recorded in 1Kings 3. There, we find Solomon encountering God in his dreams. Faced with the overwhelming task of leadership, God allows Solomon to request anything he wants. Solomon’s reply is essentially the same as is recorded here. He asks for wisdom to know how to lead the nation.

Few of us are kings or even politicians, but all of us have responsibilities that are too much for us to handle, and all of us face seasons in life when we do not know what to do. James explains what we should do when we face those trying times,

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Whatever you might be facing, it is comforting to know that we can seek wisdom from God and He will supply it. Solomon found that God gave him much more than he could have ever imagined. Sadly, as time went on, the king became self-reliant and drifted from the Lord, who had been so gracious to him.

Pastor Jim

Cry Out

Psalms 61:1-2
“Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You. When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I .”

We cannot be certain of the occasion that stirred David to write this psalm. It may have been a time of great difficulty, opposition or trial. He may have been facing severe attacks from Saul, the Philistines or one of the neighboring kingdoms. It is also possible the struggles he faced were not external. It may have been that David was engaged in that great inner struggle between his desire to do what is right in the eyes of God, and his own human weaknesses. Whatever caused the dilemma, he concluded that the only solution was to cry out to the Lord. Crying out to God should include at least three things.

First, we cry out for deliverance from whatever it is that is attacking us. We need to realize,  no matter what the cause, Jesus is the solution. If you are being plagued by consequences to your own actions, cry out to God. If you are being unfairly attacked because you have chosen to live for Christ, cry out to God. If you are under the stress of inward turmoil or temptation, cry out to God. He alone has the strength to deliver us from all things.

Second, cry out to God for forgiveness. Often the hardships we face are allowed by God to expose things that are amiss within us. We learn to justify sinful behavior or cover it up, as if we could hide it from the Lord. During times of great opposition, our own sinfulness is often exposed. Those things are brought to the surface so we can cry out to God for forgiveness. Sometimes, this can be done privately by dropping to your knees and confessing your sin to our Heavenly Father, who delights to forgive us. Other times, there is value in making your way forward at church and treating the stage as an altar, where you can cry out to God and confess your sin and recommit your life to Him.

Finally, we should cry out to God for more of Him. Difficulty reveals weakness and weakness should reveal our need for God. Our needs can be met when He pours His Spirit out upon us. Individually and corporately, the greatest need the Christian has is for a fresh and deeper work of the Spirit. Looking at the current condition of the world, as well as most Christians individually, I would say we are in need of revival. We need God to pour out, from heaven, a larger measure of His Spirit upon His church. Join with me as we cry out to God to be filled again with Holy Spirit.

Pastor Jim

 

Mercy

Psalms 31:9
“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; My eye wastes away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body!”

We cannot be certain of the situation that caused this psalm, but it is very clear the Psalmist was going through an extremely difficult season in life. He describes himself as being under severe attack and needing the Lord to be his fortress. He speaks of his troubles and his adversities, and his eyes wasting away in grief, as he cries before the Lord. He also goes into great length to speak of his emotional condition during this time. He describes himself as, “wasting away with grief, in both his soul and body” and being “like a broken vessel.” 

Without knowing the exact situation that caused his condition, we can still relate to what David was going through. All of us have known times in life of severe attack, grief and pain. The encouraging thing is, that no matter what David faced, he knew that the mercy of God was large enough, not only to comfort him, but to comfort all who endure the pain and hardship of life.

Whatever you are facing, take time today to sit at the feet of Jesus and cry out to Him.

Pastor Jim