Hide And Seek 

1 Corinthians 2:9
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

The things God has planned for each of us are better than anything we could ever imagine. Rather than leaving us to our imagination, Paul declares these things are revealed to us by the Spirit of God. It is the desire of God that we know Him, and we understand the things He has planned for each of us.

When my oldest son was a toddler, I introduced him to one of my favorite childhood games, hide and seek. While he loved to play, he did not quite grasp the concept. I would hide in an obvious spot, where he could easily find me. When he did, I would act surprised, then he would turn excitedly and say, “I am going to hide under my bed and you try to find me.” For him the exciting thing about the game was not hiding, but rather being found. The same is true of God, He wants us to know who He is, and to understand the things He has planned for our lives. Paul declares that the hidden mysteries of God are revealed to us by the Spirit. In other words, we can know God because the Spirit of God makes Him known. “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:11

At times we hide things from others, not because we do not want them to know, but because we do not know how to express them. This is especially true in relationships. Experts say, one of the most common factors that lead to marriage problems is failed communication. Thankfully, God is not limited in His ability to communicate to us. Paul explains that the Spirit reveals God through both the person of Christ, and His written Word.

One of the terms used in Scripture for Jesus is, “The Word”. This term is used because Jesus is the perfect expression of God. If we want to know what God is like, and what He desires from us, we must look carefully at Christ. Every encounter He had with others reveals something about the way God feels about us, and the things He desires out of us. The more familiar we become with Jesus, the better we will understand who God is, and what He desires from us. In addition to the person of Christ, God has also given us His written Word. Page, after page, reveals the unknowable. The hidden things of God are made known in His Word. Had God left creation alone to reveal His nature, we would have a skewed and limited understanding of Him. We would understand His power, but be very limited in knowing about His love. Since it is the desire of God for us to know Him, He reveals Himself in the Word. It is as if God said, “I am going to hide in My Word and you try to find me.”

Will you take Him up on the challenge? Or will the mysteries of God remain a hidden enigma to you, as you wander about, attempting to discover God with imagination and personal experience.

Pastor Jim

 

It’s A Secret 

2 Kings 17:9
“Also the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city.”

Webster’s dictionary defines secret as, “kept from view or hidden.”mIt goes on to speak of something as “being covert or stealth,” implying that great pains are taken to avoid detection.

During the time that led to the fall of Israel, the people were involved in secret sins. They knew the things they were doing were wrong, hence they were hidden, but they continued in them none the less. Sadly, the more they practiced these sins, the harder their hearts became, until they eventually built places of worship, and brought their secret transgressions into public view. Soon, what had once been recognized as sinful behavior, and practiced only in secret, was now being done for all to see. The countryside was littered with high places, boasting of the sinful practices of the people.

As the story unfolds, we find the nation of Israel will soon fall. Weakened within by unwavering immorality, the nation could not survive the rising threat of Assyria. We are reminded of the words of Solomon, who wrote,

Proverbs 14:34
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

We should all be deeply concerned by the once secret sins that are now practiced openly and publicly, all around us. Things that were once done in the dark, and recognized by all as immoral and sinful, are now heralded as normal, acceptable, and even “Christian.” Our deep concern should lead us to combat these evils, but we must remember, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God (2 Corinthians 10:4). The best way to combat the rising tide of wickedness is to examine our own hearts, and see if we are allowing any secret sins to remain in our lives. When we will do business with the Lord, and allow Him to transform us, we will become that light in the world that draws others out of darkness and into Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

City Of Refuge

Joshua 20:5
“Then if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unintentionally, but did not hate him beforehand.”

Many of the cities throughout Israel were designated as “Cities of Refuge.” This meant, if a person accidentally caused the death of another, he could flee to one of these cites for protection from the revenge of the victim’s devastated family. The rules governing these cities were simple. If death was caused accidentally, the guilty could flee to the city, and remain safe within its borders, until the death of the reigning High Priest. After his death, the crime was completely forgiven and the individual was free to return to his normal life. This law was designed to curb vengeance, but also serves as a picture for us of the work of Christ.

The Bible declares, there is a haven where the guilty sinner can run, in order to hide from the vengeance of God. That place is in Christ. We are told, all our sins are covered by His blood, and because of the cross, we will not face the judgment of God. Just like the Cities of Refuge, the death of Christ, our High Priest, provides complete atonement for sin. Unlike the Cities of Refuge, we can hide in Christ for accidental, as well as deliberate sins.

No matter what we have done wrong, we can flee to Christ and be forgiven. As we hide in Him, the wrath of God is appeased, and we are given a brand new start.

Come to Christ today. Ask Him to forgive you of your sin, and to transform your life. There is life found in Jesus you will never find anywhere else.

Pastor Jim

 

Shelter From The Storm

Deuteronomy 33:27
“The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms…”

Israel stood on the edge of the Promised Land. Soon they would cross the Jordan and face the giants. After forty years in the wilderness, their task had not become any easier. Knowing he was about to die, Moses reminded the people of their true source of strength.

The eternal God is their strength. ‘Eternal’ carries the idea of being both timeless and limitless. Before time existed, there was God. He is what the philosophers call the “uncaused cause.” It is through Him that all things were brought into being. According to Paul, it is in Him that all things are held together (Colossians 1:17). Although Moses would not be able to lead the people into the land and against their foes, the eternal God would be their refuge and strength. No matter what they faced, the eternal God would provide for their needs.

Notice, Moses reminds the nation of Israel, the eternal God is a source of refuge. A refuge is a hide out. It is a place we go in the midst of the storm, the battle, or the times of confusion. Moses promises that God is the hiding place for all who are facing the storms of life.

A few years ago, we had a large hurricane coming straight at our town. People began to “button up” their homes, to withstand the coming storm. Those with hurricane shutters installed them, while those without, began to fashion plywood, to cover their windows. It did not take long for all the available plywood to run out. I remember seeing one individual, in a panic, covering his windows with drywall. His fear created a panic which caused him to run to a refuge that would not support him in the midst of the storm.

Whatever you are facing, no matter how large or small, remember the eternal God is your refuge. He desires you would run to Him for shelter and security.

Pastor Jim

 

Refuge

Numbers 35:12
“They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment.”

God established a system in Israel which ensured the safety of a person who had accidentally caused the death of another. Instead of allowing vigilantes to run rampant, Moses was instructed to have six cities built where a person could flee, find protection, and await his day in court.

Four things stand out to me about the cities of refuge. First, we are told the cities were to be distributed throughout the land for easy access. Second, in Deuteronomy 19:3, we read that good roads were to be built and maintained, so nothing would hinder a person from reaching the city. Third, these cities were for all people, whether they were the Children of Israel, foreigners, or travelers. Fourth, the person must remain in the city until the High Priest died; then their crime was forgiven, and their guilt forever removed.

It is not difficult to see the parallels between the cities of refuge and the work of Christ. The death of Christ provides a way for all men to have their sins pardoned. No matter what our background might be, nothing hinders us from coming to Christ and being forgiven. Those who hide in Christ will never face the avenger of death. A person who fled to the city of refuge was a marked man. All others knew he was only safe because of the provision of God. If he ever left the city, he was no longer safe from the avenger. The same is true of us. Our hope is found in Christ, where we are constantly reminded to abide (John 15:4). As long as we sit under the shelter of the cross, there is no sin that can harm us. We are marked men, and the whole world should know that our hope is in Christ alone.

However, there is a contrast worth noting. The cities of refuge were only for the innocent, while the cross is designed for the guilty. There is no sin, no matter how great, or how frequent, that cannot be forgiven at the cross.

Hebrews 6:18
“… we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”

Pastor Jim

 

Lessons from Nature

Proverbs 30:24-28
“There are four things which are little on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
The ants are a people not strong,
Yet they prepare their food in the summer;
The rock badgers are a feeble folk,
Yet they make their homes in the crags;
The locusts have no king,
Yet they all advance in ranks;
The spider skillfully grasps with its hands,
And it is in kings’ palaces.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1267.jpgThis Proverb takes us to the natural world, in order to illustrate spiritual truths. The behaviors of four creatures are used to help us understand how to walk with the Lord.

The ant is an example of being prepared for the future. We are exhorted to live prepared for eternity. We do that by receiving Jesus Christ and walking daily, with Him. Jesus reminded us of the need to store up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).

The rock badger is believed to be a small animal, much like a rabbit. Having no defenses of its own, it could not fight off a predator. The wisdom of this small creature is found in the fact that it dwelt in the rocks. For a predator to attack the rock badger, it must go through the rock. The believer must learn to hide away in Christ; He is our fortress, strong tower, shield and buckler, against the enemy’s assault.

The locust was known for always moving forward. Nothing could impede the advance of a locust swarm. Paul reminds the believer of the need to forget the past and move forward with the Lord (Philippians 3:13). For many of us, our past failures are keeping us from present experiences with the Lord, and from future victories for the kingdom. It is time to act like a locust and press forward.

Finally, we have all seen a spider run up the wall and across the ceiling. Their ability to hold on is amazing. We are reminded of the need to cling to the Lord. The heroes of the Christian faith were men and women who held tightly to the promises of God. When the storms of life hit, they clung to the promises, and like an anchor, those promises held firm.

As the new year approaches, keep in mind, no obstacle is so great that God cannot give you strength to confront it. Let’s be sure, above all else, we resolve to make our hiding place in the Lord.

Pastor Jim