Rock Into Water 

Psalms 114:8
“Who turned the rock into a pool of water, The flint into a fountain of waters.”

Israel was in a bad place. Conservative estimates calculate the camp of Israel to be nearly 2 million souls. They had left the comfort of the Nile river and began the arduous journey through the desert en route to the land of Promise. It did not take long before the difficulty of their journey began to take its toll physically and emotionally. The hardship of their experience coupled with the lack of basic provisions caused them to doubt the power of God to carry them safely to their destination. When their water supply ran out it is understandable that their faith was challenged and their weaknesses revealed. Their hardship would provide another opportunity for God to reveal His loving kindness. The characters in the scene include the congregation of Israel, an arid desert, a solid rock and a stick in the hand of Moses. What looked to be an impossible situation turned out to be a means for God to reveal Himself to the nation.

All of us find ourselves face to face with difficulty that is beyond our ability. We might not be in a physical desert or be in want of water but we are certainly in the midst of circumstances that are beyond our ability to handle. What a joy to know that God can use whatever means are at our disposal to provide whatever is lacking in our lives. The one who turned the rock into a pool of water is the same one who will provide for you in whatever struggle you are currently facing.

Jim

 

Miracles

Numbers 17:8
“Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.”

A miracle is defined as an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God. In other words, it is something that could not happen if God did not infuse His power into the situation. That is exactly what transpired here. To determine the validity of Aaron’s calling and ministry, God infused His power and made something that was incapable of bearing fruit, become fruitful. Aaron’s rod, which was nothing more than an old tree branch, suddenly came to life and produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.

This is not an isolated event. Throughout history God has been infusing His divine power into individuals, making them, and their ministry fruitful. He has, and continues to choose the foolish, weak, and lowly, for His divine service. He then fills them with His Spirit and uses them to accomplish what they could never have done apart from Him. Pulpits, children’s classroom, and mission fields, all around the world, are filled with tree branches that have been miraculously empowered by God, to become fruit bearing ministries. We should never think that our weakness limits God. Instead, we should trust in the fact that He is in the business of doing the impossible in and through the lives of those who are surrendered to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Has God Forgotten?

Psalm 77:7-9
Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?
Selah”

If these questions were posed to us on a theology test, we would all answer “No, no, six times no.” We know that He promises:

Hebrews 13:5 “…For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

Lamentations 3:22-23 “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning.”

 

Mark 13:31 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

Ephesians 2:7 “. . . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

His presence, mercy, promises, and grace are eternal. They will never change, wear out, or fail. No matter what our condition, as turbulent as it may seem, the promises of God are sure and steadfast. He will never change. But these questions are not posed as a quiz for the Bible student, but out of the difficulties the Psalmist is facing. We are not privy to the details that caused his condition, but by his own admission, his soul refuses comfort. It is quite common in times like that, to question the promises of God. When the tides of trial swell up against us, and we begin to go downward in sorrow, it can seem as though the promises of God have failed.

The Psalmist does more than state the problem, he also provides the solution.

Psalm 77:11 “I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.”

His trials had robbed him of sleep, but rather than letting worry consume him, he began to recall the mighty works of the Lord. He seems to have called to memory the Red Sea crossing. Thinking back to those who were boxed in, surrounded by mountains, armies, and the waters, it looked as if there was no hope. The promise of a land flowing with milk and honey seemed to be impossible, and the death of a nation imminent. That is, until the Lord showed up and meted out His promise to His people. The Psalmist was not a participant in that event, but since faith comes by hearing the Word of God, his strength was revived by calling to mind the faithfulness of God.

In your trial, don’t be consumed in mind by the storm you are facing, but rather flood your mind with stories of His faithfulness, and watch Him revive your strength as you await His deliverance.

Pastor Jim

 

Incredible

Acts 26:8
Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?”

It has been said,  if we can believe the first four words of the Bible, we should have no problem with the rest of its claims. “In the beginning God…” The Bible is filled with stories of the mighty workings of God. We read of Him speaking the worlds into existence, delivering a nation from the threat of death, parting the seas, providing food in a desert, knocking down the walls of Jericho, raising a shepherd boy to the palace, healing the sick, and delivering those who were possessed by devils. Page after page, we read of God being God and providing victory over the affairs of life. It seems that for many of us, we have no problem believing in the mighty workings of God. We trust the validity of our Bibles, we celebrate His mighty work in the life of others, and even sing together of His miraculous power. However, when it comes to our own lives, we sometimes act like Agrippa. We question the ability of God; we wonder if His power is really strong enough to help us in our time of need.

I love Paul’s question; “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?”

What is it about God that you do not understand which makes it difficult for you to believe He raises the dead? I mean, if He is, in fact, God, we should expect He would be able to do what is impossible. It would be foolish to think otherwise. The problem is, we often reduce God to someone we can understand. Since we have taken away so much of His majesty, we also doubt His ability. Sometimes, in our efforts to relate to God, we have a tendency to reduce Him to someone we can understand. We cannot fathom His holiness, so we ignore it and focus only on His love and mercy. Since we cannot understand His majesty, we limit Him to His humanity. The result is we lose sight of the power of God.

In “The Chronicles of Narnia,” CS Lewis refers to Aslan stating, “He is not a tame lion.” I have always loved that reference. I think He is referring to the fact that God is bigger than we will ever be able to comprehend. We cannot reduce Him to someone who we understand, or else we have reduced Him to someone He is not.

If you are having trouble believing that God is able to work in your life, or give victory to your situation, it is time to cast off the limited God that you have created. It is time to introduce you to the God of Scripture. A God so great that the Heavens cannot contain Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Constant In Prayer 

Acts 12:5
“. . . but constant prayer was offered to God . . .”

Things looked very bleak for Peter. Persecution was on the rise throughout Israel. Many of his friends had been forced to flee to other nations for their safety and survival. James, perhaps his closest friend, had been killed by Herod, as a way to increase his political status. Now Peter found himself arrested and awaiting what was sure to be a mock trial and certain execution. He had watched this scene develop once before. We read that these events transpired during the Feast of Unleavened Bread which followed Passover. It was during this time of year Peter had watched his Savior arrested, condemned and crucified. If ever there was a desperate hour in the life of Peter, it was now. Until we read,

“. . .but constant prayer was offered to God . . .”

In the seemingly hopeless situations that life brings, prayer is the answer. The church in Jerusalem had no resources. They had no money for a high-powered attorney to represent Peter, nor did they have any sway with the authorities. Apart from God doing something, the fate of Peter was sealed. Until we read,

“ . . .but constant prayer was offered to God . . .”

No matter how hopeless our situation, there is always hope when we look heavenward. Instead of looking at the power of Rome, or the rage of the religious leaders, the church chose to look up to the Throne of Grace. Seated there, is the One who calmed the sea, healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons and saved the lost. He is also the One who gave His life on Calvary’s cross to save us. They could be absolutely certain that Jesus, not only had the power to rescue Peter, but also the desire. So they prayed and prayed and prayed, until finally, they heard a knock on the door and saw the face of Peter.

I think it is also worth noting, they did not pray alone. While God hears us when we get alone with Him,  something special happens when we call the saints and seek Him together. Jesus spoke of the added power when two or more agree together in prayer. Perhaps you are facing great difficulty. Perhaps, like Peter, you have no resources and there seems to be no way out. Don’t be discouraged. Instead, call to arms your Christian friends, and seek the Lord until you hear the knock on the door and are delivered from your prison.

Pastor Jim

 

When We Obey

Acts 5:32
“. . .the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

Jesus promised, when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, we will receive power to be witnesses for Christ. It seems to me, I am always in need of more power than I currently have. The longer I walk with the Lord, the bigger some of the battles become. I need a greater measure of His power to deny the flesh, as well as to effectively serve the Lord. I think it is a common experience for all Christians to feel powerless against the battle in front of them. That being said, there is a critical principle revealed in this verse. Peter declares that the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey.

Throughout Scripture, we find the people of God facing obstacles bigger than themselves. We read of Moses and the congregation of Israel being chased by the Egyptian army, where they are trapped by the Red Sea. We know of Joshua and the immense walls that surrounded the city of Jericho. Later, Scripture records how Gideon faced the armies of the Midianites, and David stood toe to toe with the Philistine giant. The New Testament is filled with its share of obstacles as well. We read of the man with the withered hand, blind Bartimeus, and the lame man at the Beautiful gate of the Temple. In each of these cases, God is calling people to do the impossible. In each case, they could have excused themselves because of a lack of power. I can almost hear the excuses I would have used. “Lord I can’t do that, I don’t have that kind of power, that water is too deep, the walls too high and the giant is too tall.”

The truth stated by Peter answers those objections. The Holy Spirit is given when we obey. If we are waiting for an overwhelming sense of power to build up in us before we do battle against the flesh, or go out in service of the Lord, we are going to wait forever. If we go out in obedient faith to the promises of God, we will find that the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey. All the strength you need for the battle at hand, will be given as you walk in obedient faith to the command of God. In that struggle you are facing with the flesh, trust today, that He will empower you as you choose to obey.

Pastor Jim

 

Life Lessons

Deuteronomy 31:4
“And the Lord will do to them as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites and their land, when He destroyed them.”

As the wilderness wanderings came to an end, Israel came face to face with two formidable foes. Sihon and the Amorites, and Og and the soldiers from Bashan. Both of these enemies seemed too great a force for the children of Israel, yet they found strength in the Lord and overcame these obstacles. As Moses prepares Israel to enter the Land without him, he reminds them of these victories. In fact, as a reminder of these events, Sihon is mentioned twenty-two times in the Old Testament, and Og nineteen times. God never wanted Israel to forget the victories they experienced in the early years.

I wonder what victories have you accomplished in your walk with the Lord? Are there times when you faced insurmountable odds, chose to trust in the Lord, and saw Him accomplish the impossible? We work so hard to ensure that we never get to a place where we need to trust the Lord. We want to have all the comforts and ease, and keep ourselves from any sort of difficulty that requires the miraculous. It is in the times when we face obstacles beyond ourselves, and determine to trust the Lord, that we will have victories that will bear fruit for a lifetime.

Whatever your are facing today, lean upon the Lord for your strength, peace, comfort and direction. He will not only support you in your time of need, but will bring lessons that will last a lifetime.

Pastor Jim