Footstool

Psalms 110:1
The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”

This psalm is one of the most detailed prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament. It goes into great detail to speak of the person and the work of the Messiah. In it we find reference to the deity of Christ when we read, “The Lord said unto my Lord.” This is nothing short of the Father referring to the Son as Yahweh. We also find reference to the Sufferings of Christ, in that he was consecrated a priest after the order of Melchizedek who would offer himself in our place in order to make a way for man to have access to God. We also see the resurrection and Ascension when we read, “Sit thou on my right hand.” And finally we see reference to the final Judgment, when all Christ’s enemies will be put under his feet.

Most of this Psalm has already been fulfilled. Christ, the Son of God came to as man and offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sin. After His crucifixion He conquered death, rose from the grave and ascended to the right hand of the Father where He intercedes on behalf of the believer and awaits the Father’s timing to return to earth as judge and King. The fulfillment of the bulk of these promises should stir us up as we await the time when Christ will come and reign. The way to be ready for that day is to accept His work on the cross in your place and follow Him completely.

Jim

 

Judge Of The Earth

Psalm 94:1-3
“O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs— O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!
Rise up, O Judge of the earth;render punishment to the proud.
Lord, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph?”

There are certain Biblical topics that we love to avoid. While it is wonderful to share about the love, mercy and grace of God, we are a bit more reluctant to speak regarding His holiness or the reality of divine judgment. The Bible, however, has much to say regarding God’s view of sin, and the fact that the day is coming when He will exact vengeance on those who live in rebellion against Him.

It is not as though there are two irreconcilable sides of God’s personality. His mercy and His vengeance both stem from His great love. His love for all humanity, and desire for the salvation of every man woman and child in the world, causes Him to endure the mocking jeers of the rebel, as well as allowing His children to suffer the weight of an increasingly ungodly world. When your heart breaks over the condition of the world, think about how God is holding back His judgment so sinners have time to hear and respond to the message of the Gospel. Nevertheless, the day is coming when God will exact His vengeance on this fallen and rebellious planet. The cries of His people for justice are stored up in the throne room of heaven and will one day be poured out on the earth. The workers of iniquity will be punished for their rebellion against God and their mistreatment of His children.

No man has to face the judgment of God. We can all avoid it by trusting in the work of Christ on the cross. If we choose to reject Christ then we are choosing to face the vengeance of God, without the covering of Christ. Imagine standing alone and unguarded in the face of a violent storm, with nothing to provide you with covering or protection.

Pastor Jim

Judge And Jury 

Ezekiel 35:13
“Thus with your mouth you have boasted against Me and multiplied your words against Me; I have heard them.”

The inhabitants of Mount Sier, a nation south and east of ancient Israel, were about to face the consequences of continually rejecting the grace of God. Ezekiel points out, they would be held accountable for the words they had continually spoken against God. Perhaps the idea is that they had brought accusation after accusation against God, without ever taking the time to examine their own lives. This seems to be very common today. How often have we heard someone accuse God of wrong? Perhaps they are facing some level of personal difficulty, or maybe they are simply reacting to the evils of the world and they cry out, “How can God let this happen?” The statements may vary, but the indictment is the same. They are essentially accusing God of wrongdoing.

I find it interesting that even the least religious, and perhaps most immoral, still seem to see themselves as judge and jury when it comes to the actions of God. Without hesitation or the slightest amount of mercy, we are so quick to blame God for the evils of the world. While at the same time, we accuse Him of wrong if He dares to call any of our actions sinful or unholy.

It is important to remember that God is judge. He is the one who determines what is right or wrong, sinful or holy, good or bad. It is also important to remember, He has provided a way to forgive and cleanse all of us, through the cross of Christ. Instead of accusing God of wrong, let’s come to Him and receive the forgiveness He offers for the sins we have committed.

Pastor Jim

 

Speaking Evil

James 4:11 “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren…” 
James 4:13 “Come now, you who say…”

James seems to be particularly interested in what the Christian has to say. In the last chapter, he spent a great deal of time talking about the tongue. In this chapter, he comes back to the topic of what we are saying. He refers to at least two kinds of evil speaking. The first would be critical or judgmental speech.

James 4:11 “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judges.”

Jesus warned us not to judge one another, and James explains why; God alone is the Judge. We have been given the Word in order to obey it. It is the Word of God that must determine our behavior. The person who sets aside the Word of God, and decides for himself how he will live, is guilty of judging the law. To him James would say, “There is one Lawgiver who is able to save or destroy . . .” (James 4:12).

Christians are often accused of being judgmental, when it is really a persons own sin that judges them. Someone might be invited to church, be welcomed, be encouraged in prayer, and fed. Yet, when they leave, they claim they felt judged by Christians because they said it is wrong to party, do drugs or live in an adulterous relationship. The Christian did not judge them, the law did. The reason the law judges us, is so we might respond to Christ’s offer to forgive us. Jesus said, He did not come to condemn but to save (John 3:17). It is after the law of God convicts us, that we realize we need to be saved. Do not be a lawgiver, but a law abider, by surrendering yourself to Christ and living according to His Word.

Another type of speech that is warned against, is making life plans without seeking God. James refers to it as boasting. In this case, James is not teaching us how to speak, as much as how to live. We need to be those who seek to find the mind of God, or the will of God, for our lives. God has a plan for your life. He cares where you live, where you work, who you marry. If we will spend time with Him, He will make His will known to us. Sometimes, His will is progressive, meaning, we are not given step two until we have taken step one. It was like that for Paul. When he asked the Lord what to do, Jesus responded, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). Once God makes His will clear to us, it is sin to disobey.

His will seems to fit into two categories. We might refer to them as the general, and specific will of God. The general will of God is true for all of us, and is clearly presented in the pages of the Bible. The specific will of God refers to the plans that God has for you as an individual. Those things are only found when you spend time seeking God. It is the specific will of God which James refers to in this passage. You will not find a chapter and verse telling you who to marry. But you will find much in Scripture about the character of whom to marry. You will not find the answer to what job to take, but you will find direction on how to work. You will not find what college to go to, but you will find what are the most important matters to pursue in life, and what pitfalls to avoid.

Instead of trying to navigate through life on our own, let’s be sure we spend time seeking the Lord in His Word, in order to find His will for our lives.

Pastor Jim

 

 

That Will Fix It

Isaiah 33:22
“For the Lord is our Judge,
The Lord is our Lawgiver,
The Lord is our King;
He will save us”

Israel, in Isaiah’s day, was in dire straights. The Assyrians were on a rampage, overthrowing any nation that stood in the way of their desire for global dominance. Israel watched as their neighbors were defeated and enslaved to the most bloodthirsty nation the world had ever known. In the midst of these threatening conditions, people began to offer solutions. The most common was to make an allegiance with Egypt to withstand the Assyrian invasion. Isaiah offered an entirely different remedy. He encouraged the people to understand, it was God who could save them. But in order for this to happen, they would have to look at Him very differently than they had been doing. He used three words to describe a proper relationship with God.

First he refers to God as the Judge. This word was used in Israel for those who ruled over the people. If Israel was to be delivered, they must return to allowing God to rule over them, instead of following the dictates of their own hearts. Today, it very common for people to assume there is no absolute standard of right and wrong, and each person must do what is right in their own eyes. This is not a new concept, it was prevalent in Isaiah’s day and led to the collapse of the nation. The first step to deliverance is to allow God to be our judge.

Second, Isaiah refers to God as the Lawgiver. This word means exactly what it says. God is the one who sets the laws for mankind to follow. He has given moral laws to keep us in check and to lead us to His provision for our salvation. What we call the Ten Commandments, are a set of standards that will create a healthy living environment for mankind. However, they will also show us, we are unable to keep them on our own. There purpose is to lead us to Christ, the one who forgives all sin, and makes us right with God. Today, there are those who are passionately oppose to the law of God. They are attempting to remove His commands from schools, courthouses, and other public places, as though these laws were dangerous and destructive. Imagine for a moment what our nation would be like if we kept them. No murder, dishonesty, theft or destroying of families through sexual misconduct. I wonder why people are so opposed to the law of God?

Finally, Isaiah refers to God as King. A king sits on a throne and rules. Jesus was asked if He was a King, to which He responded, “that is the reason I came into the world” (John 18:37). Jesus did not come to be our personal advisor or friend, as much as He came to rule over us. He is a beneficent ruler, but He is a ruler none the less. The proper place for Him in our life is not as co-pilot, but as king. Deliverance will be found when we allow Him His rightful place.

I think Isaiah’s prescription for Israel is as necessary today as ever.

Pastor Jim

Compassion 

2 Chronicles 36:15
“And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place.”

Compassion is a necessary ingredient in order to bring about change. It is more than an emotion, it is a sense of pity that stirs one to action. The compassion of God flows from His love for humanity. He looks at our condition because of sin, and His heart breaks. Rather than simply feeling bad for us, His compassion stirs Him to action. In the days of Jeremiah, we read, God’s action was to send men to declare the truths of His Word.

Even the best of believers, tend to drift from the Lord. Rather than leaving us to this course, God moves to bring us back to Himself. He will no doubt use circumstances to grab our attention, but His compassion also stirs Him to send others to remind us of the ways of God. It is sad how often a person involved in prohibitive actions, will respond with an accusation of being “judged,” instead of being thankful for the compassion of God, Who loves them so much He rises early  to send a messenger.

Those in Jeremiah’s day reacted to these warning with anger, hate, and persecution. We need to be careful to react with repentance and change.

Pastor Jim

 

No Excuses 

Romans 2:1
“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

excuses.pngBeginning with the eighteenth verse of chapter one, Paul is developing his case against humanity. He states, because of the inner witness of the conscience, and the outer witness of creation, men have no excuse for atheism, agnosticism, or idolatry. He makes it clear, unbelief is primarily driven, not by lack of evidence of the divine, but out of a desire to practice things God forbids. He speaks of those who reject the truth in order to practice unrighteousness.

After giving a long list of sinful activities, Paul declares, it is not only the one involved in such sins, but also the one who looks on with approval, who is guilty before God. One of the fascinating issues of today, is the widespread idea that tolerance means we must accept behaviors and lifestyles that are lived in open defiance to the teaching of the Word of God. Many, practicing these behaviors, even go so far as to say that God is TOLERANT of their behaviors, even though His Word clearly condemns such actions. We live in a time where people are afraid to stand up and call sin what it is, and as a result, we find ourselves approving lifestyles that God condemns. As the second chapter of Romans unfolds, Paul’s attention switches from those who assume any and all behaviors are acceptable to God, to those who think they will be accepted for the things they don’t do.

I am reminded of a story Jesus told of a Pharisee who stood before God, attempting to justify himself. He prayed, “God I thank you that I am not like other men, I am not an extortioner, I am not unjust and I am not a tax collector…” (Luke 18:10-14) This man considered himself to be acceptable to God for the things He did not do. What we ‘don’t do’ is not what makes us right with God; because what we ‘don’t do’ in action, we often do in thought. Jesus explained that adultery, theft, and murder were issues of the heart, as much as they are actions of the body. When I look at a woman with lust, I am guilty of the same sin as the man who is cheating on his wife, or having sexual relations before marriage. Paul put it like this, “And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” Romans 2:3

If you assume God will look past your sins because they are not as bad as the sins of others, you have misunderstood the righteousness of God. The list of things we have not done does not justify us before God. Instead ,we are justified when we realize our need for a savior, and put our trust in Christ. This long treatise that Paul develops is to remove all excuses, and bring each of us to a place of accepting Christ; having our sins removed, and receiving eternal life. I realize some of us feel stuck in our sins. We have been practicing them for so long they have become a part of us. Will you allow me to encourage you? When you come to Christ, He will wash your sins from you, as far as the East is from the West. He wants to give you a brand new start in life, by making you a new creation in Christ. Rather than excusing our sins, let’s confess them, and allow Him to transform us into the persons He designed us to be.

Pastor Jim