God Is Just

Numbers 31:1-2
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.’”

Webster defines vengeance as, “the act of doing something to hurt someone because that person did something that hurt you or someone else.” Some synonymous would include payback, reprisal or even revenge. We seem to be fascinated with the concept of vengeance. It is the premise behind famous works of literature like; The Iliad, Hamlet and The Count of Monty Christo. It seems that the idea of paying back those who have wronged us resonates within the heart of man. This is probably due to the fact that all of us have felt wronged one time or another and wished that we were able to do something to get back at the ones who hurt us. There seems to be an innate cry in the heart of all men for what we perceive as justice. We have all heard children complain that things are not fair, and we see adults, young and old, rallying behind politicians who have stirred in them the desire to get what is theirs.

When it comes to the concept of divine vengeance it is vital to realize some very important distinctions between the judgment of God and the judgment of men. First off, the very definition is different. Instead of being a form of payback for being hurt, divine vengeance would better be seen as, “punishment inflicted in retaliation for an offense.” God does not lash out in a fit of rage, nor does He seek to get back at those who have hurt Him. Instead, God metes out perfect justice upon those who have violated His laws. Throughout Scripture we find that the vengeance of God does not come without warning and long periods of forbearance  with the rebellious ways of mankind. The Canaanites were given over four hundreds years before judgment came, Egypt received numerous plagues before the angel of death arrived, the judgments recorded in the book of Revelation are distributed in waves.  God gives every individual numerous opportunities to turn to Him before ever pouring out His wrath.

While judgement is not our favorite subject to meditate upon, it is important for us to realize there is a time coming for every individual, and for the world as a whole, when we will give an account to God for the life we lived, and the decision we made regarding His Son. There is no way to avoid that day, but there is a way to avoid the judgment. The Bible teaches that, apart from Christ, we are all under the wrath of God, but when we receive Christ, wrath is replaced with mercy. Instead of facing judgment, we can receive the free gift of eternal life. One thing we can count on is that God will be fair. If we want to avoid punishment and receive reward, we must allow Christ to take the judgment we deserve.

Pastor  Jim

 

A Healthy Home 

Proverbs 4:3-4
“When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me: ‘Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live.’”

Solomon is giving us a brief glimpse into his home life. In these verses we learn he was raised in an environment of love. He proudly refers to himself as his father’s son and the only one in the sight of his mother. Whatever cultural experiences he might have had being the son of a king, his parent’s love for him was clearly evident. We also see, Solomon was raised on the Word of God. Although David carried the responsibility of caring for the entire nation, he did not neglect the responsibility of caring for his own son. He took the time to instruct Solomon in the ways of wisdom and the Word of God.

These are two key ingredients that must be found in every Christian home. Children need parents that love them, and express that love in such a way, they believe they matter more than anything else to their parents. Certainly, there were times when the responsibilities of the Kingdom took David away from the home, requiring his undivided attention. He seemed to have made a point not to let his children think the Kingdom mattered more to him than they did.

King David had the resources of the kingdom at his disposal. He would be able to provide the best tutors for his children, and send them to the best schools. While it is necessary to have help, we must realize, as parents, we are the primary players in the spiritual development of our children. Sunday school teachers and youth pastors are a huge blessing, and can have a tremendous influence on our children, for the Lord. However, we, as parents, need to make the primary investments of the things of God, into the lives of our kids.

I think the reason it is somewhat difficult to do this, is because of the fact, we cannot give what we do not have. I am incapable of helping my son with his calculus homework, because I do not understand the subject. Some parents are the same way with the Bible. If you do not spend time reading the Bible, you will not have anything to share with your children or others.

The key to investing the things of the Lord in the lives of your children, is taking time to, first, make those investments in your own life.

Pastor Jim

 

Seeing The Invisible 

Colossians 1:15
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

The heart of man cries out for God. From the small child, to the individual who has faced a devastating loss, or grueling pain, their hearts cry out to know God. In an attempt to answer the heart’s cry, men create God in their own image. Some have invented a vast, complicated religious system, while others have checked out. They have decided, with all the different religions, no one can know for sure. To this Paul has a simple answer,

“He is the image of the invisible God, . . .”

While we cannot see God with the natural eye, we do not have to live our lives as though He is hidden from us. In order to answer the cry of the heart, God sent His Son, so we would forever know who God is, and what He is like. There is no need to use our imaginations or experiences in an attempt to create a God who fits our liking. We just need to open the pages of the Bible and see for ourselves who God is. As we watch Jesus walk the streets of Israel, encountering people in their real life situations, we learn how God feels about us, and what He desires to do in our lives. We see Him reaching out to the hurting, with a hand of compassion, and we learn that He cares about our needs, concerns and pain. We watch as He interacts with sinners, and we find, in all our sin, He still loves us. He desires to forgive our sins and bring us to Himself. We know He spent time, daily, with those who chose to follow Him, revealing the secrets of eternity to them. We learn, as we walk with Him daily, He will speak to us. He even takes common men, whose lives would have gone unnoticed by the world, and uses them to make a mark on the world. Their service will outlast their lives, and they will store up treasures in heaven that will last forever.

Jesus is the image of the invisible God. We no longer have to guess who God is, or what He is like. We just need to know Jesus. Instead of listening to all the voices screaming out of confusion, attempting to explain a God they have never seen, let’s go to the pages of the Bible and meet Jesus face-to-face. What an amazing God we have, that He would take on the form of man to reveal Himself to us.

Why not pray right now and ask God to reveal Himself to you?

Pastor Jim

 

Others 

Philippians 2:17-18
Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.”

Prior to the death and resurrection of Christ, the prescribed manner of worship of God included an elaborate system of sacrifices. Every morning, every evening, and on prescribed dates throughout the year, animals were offered as burnt offerings to provide atonement for the sins of the people. Each of the sacrifices pointed in one way or another to Christ. As the Son of God, His death provided more than all the offerings could ever do. Peter wrote,

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, . . . ” 1 Peter 3:18

It is not difficult to see a portrait of Christ in the Passover lamb, the scapegoat, or the sin offerings, but what of this drink offering? Did you notice, Paul does not refer to Christ, but to himself as this offering? The drink offering, described in Numbers 15, was designed to accompany the various offerings. If a person brought a free will offering to the Lord, to express thanks to God for who He is, and all He has done, they were to include a jug of wine as a drink offering. This offering did not provide atonement, but accompanied the offering, making the aroma that much sweeter, as it was laid upon the altar. Paul saw his role in the life of others like that. He realized, each individual must present themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord, but he would spend his life helping to make the sacrifice of others sweeter.

As we follow his story throughout the New Testament, we see he exemplifies what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. His whole life was about living for Christ, as an example to others. He spent his time, effort, and energies ensuring the Gospel was declared, and the Christian was well equipped to live for Christ. He risked his comforts and even his life, to bring the message of salvation to those who had never heard.

How do you suppose our impact upon the world would change if we saw ourselves as a drink offering, being poured out on the sacrifice of others? What kind of influence could we have for the kingdom of God, if we looked at ourselves as being in the lives of others, to help them come to Christ, and grow in Him? Writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” 2 Corinthians 12:15

Let’s determine to live like that, impacting all around us for heaven’s sake.

Pastor Jim

 

Heritage 

1 Samuel 25:3
“… but the man was harsh and evil in his doings. He was of the house of Caleb.”

THE-BLESSING-WIDE.jpgWebster’s dictionary defines heritage as, “something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth.” While many things may be passed from one generation to the next, the most valuable commodity we can leave for the following generations, is a godly testimony. 


The character referred to in this passage is Nabal, a man who descended from one of the giants of Scripture. He came from the family line of Caleb, whose life was summed up in the phrase that “He wholly followed the Lord” (Joshua 14:14).  This statement was made about him because he daily walked with God and was willing to venture into service for the kingdom of God, regardless of the cost or obstacles. We know Caleb to be a man who was filled with the Spirit, who walked in accordance with the Word, and believed in the promises of God. Sadly, the example set by Caleb had little affect on the way Nabal lived. He was harsh, evil and foolish. 


There is no shortage of good and Godly examples surrounding the Christian today. All around us we see others who model prayer, bible reading, service, selflessness, kindness, mission work, and a host of other vital acts of the Christian life. We need to guard ourselves against the danger of ignoring our heritage and living like foolish Nabal. 


The-Choice-Is-Yours_Theme_Pastor-Steve-McCartt-Family-Worship-Center-Florence_Web-930x523.jpgIf it were not for the revealing nature of the word of God, we might have missed the real folly of this man. On the outside, he may have seemed quite wise; he was married to a beautiful woman and he had a successful and thriving business. However, his wealth and the honor that came with it, were a mere cover up of his actual folly. We read that he ignored the warnings, and perhaps even died unprepared to face eternity. Jesus spoke of a rich fool who had achieved much in this life, but was ill prepared for that which follows (Luke 12:16-20). 


Don’t be like Nabal, who trusted in his earthly accomplishments while ignoring eternity, for that is the ultimate folly. 


Pastor Jim 


God In My Pocket

Genesis 31:34
“Now Rachel had taken the household idols, put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. And Laban searched all about the tent but did not find them.”

2015/01/img_1336.jpgLater in Israel’s history, the Law of God will be imparted, and idolatry will be forbidden. One of the main reasons is,  a manmade icon cannot adequately represent an infinite God. No matter how skilled the worker, or how beautiful the image, it will be a poor representation of God. The actions of Rachel reflect that idea, as she sits on her gods to hide them from her father. Any God small enough to fit in your pocket, is certainly too small to aid in time of need.

While it may not be common in our culture to fashion stone or metallic icons and call them god, it is very common for us to lose sight of the wonder of God, and reduce Him to something we can figure out. Paul spent three chapters of the book of Romans discussing the sovereignty of God. His conclusion was simply,

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33

When we are face to face with things about God we do not understand, we cannot dismiss them because of our lack of knowledge. Nor should we accuse God of wrong doing because we cannot see the whole picture. Instead, we should humbly sit before Him, and adore a God who is way too vast to fit in our hip pocket.

Pastor Jim

 

True Beauty

Proverbs 31:1
“The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him . . .”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1277.pngProverbs 31 is a section of Scripture most often taught at women’s conferences or retreats, because it goes to great length describing a virtuous woman. A more careful look will reveal this passage was actually instructions to the King, by his mother. It was her attempt to teach him how to find a godly wife. We find not only the characteristics that a virtuous woman ought to pursue, but also the traits a godly man should be looking for in a wife.

Each year a variety of media outlets declare their list of most attractive woman on the planet. In each case, it is the physical characteristics that are focused upon, without mention of true character. The king’s mother reminds him of the need to look beyond the surface, at true beauty.

Proverbs 31:30
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

I have always been struck by the fact that, in her 70′s, Sarah was still considered beautiful by the king of Egypt. Thinking she was the sister of Abraham, he pursued a relationship with her. Years later, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter declares Sarah’s true beauty. He describes her as being chaste, gentle and one who feared the Lord (1Peter 3:1-6). While physical beauty is the first thing we notice in another, character and godliness are the traits that will last.

Men need to be careful not to be drawn to a women’s passing beauty, while ignoring true godliness. Women need to be careful not to rate their beauty above things that really matter in the kingdom of God. All the lighting, camera angles, and airbrushing cannot replace godliness or true virtue. Let’s not look at the latest fashion magazine as a mirror, but to the Word of God, so we become people who fear the Lord.

Pastor Jim