Strong Love 

Song of Songs 8:7
“Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.”

There are a host of strong motivators that drive a person to action. Fear of what may come will often lead a person to behave in an unhealthy manner; lying, hate, and worry are often a byproduct of fear. Money can be a strong motivator. People will work themselves to the bone, and even sacrifice their families, to get a little more, because of the false security a savings account brings. Of all the motivating factors in life, none can compare to what will be done for love.

It was love that motivated God to send  His son into the world. It was love that drove Jesus to the cross, knowing the suffering He would endure. It was love that compelled Paul to endure whatever it took, to take the Gospel to the farthest parts of the planet. It is love that causes a young man to risk it all, propose to a young lady, and begin a life together.

Clearly, love is the greatest driving force in the universe. If we want to keep our relationships healthy and strong, we must be careful to feed that love. Jude wrote of our need to, “keep ourselves in the love of God.” This is done by, daily, investing time in the Word, prayer and obedience. Song of Solomon spends eight chapters illustrating the need to invest in our marriage relationship, to keep love strong. The love we invest now will be the driving force that keeps our marriage healthy, in the days and years to come.

Pastor Jim

 

It’s Not About The Money 

2 Chronicles 25:9
“Then Amaziah said to the man of God, ‘But what shall we do about the hundred talents which I have given to the troops of Israel?’ And the man of God answered, ‘The Lord is able to give you much more than this.’”

Amaziah was king of Judah during very tumultuous times. The surrounding nations were a continuous threat, war was a way of life, and the people lived with the constant fear of being attacked. In order to help guard against the enemies, Amaziah hired a group of mercenaries from Israel. Although it was a great expense for the nation, it brought them comfort knowing they had a vast army reserved to assist in the event of battle. At this point in the story, we are introduced to an unnamed man of God who came to the king and warned him not to trust in the mercenaries, but to pay them, and send them back to Israel. He wanted the king to learn two important lessons.

First, he needed to know, no matter what the setting, we must learn to put our confidence in the Lord, and not in man. It is natural for us to want something tangible to trust in; even if it is not worthy of our trust. Like a child holding a blanket or a teddy bear, we can derive comfort from things that really lack the ability to actually help us. Israel’s strength was never their vast army or their military strategies. Their strength was always the power of the Lord. No matter what you are facing, you can trust the promises of God, knowing He will never fail.

Second, he needed to know there are worse things to lose than money. Amaziah’s resistance to obeying the words of the prophet, was all about the money he had spent hiring the mercenaries. It seemed that he wanted to continue with a bad decision, simply because he had invested so much in it already. I have found, some people resist the Lord because they have lived apart from Him for so long. Admitting their need for Christ, is admitting they have been living life wrong for years. Unwilling to admit guilt, they continue apart from the Lord, just because they have always done it that way. It is crucial that we realize God is able to “give us more than this.”

Whatever you are facing, it is high time to trust the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Full Price

1 Chronicles 21:24
“Then King David said to Ornan, ‘No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.'”

When it comes to worship, we can learn much from King David. The longest book in the Bible is a book of praise songs, and David was its largest contributor. In addition to being a king and a prophet, he was also called the Sweet Psalmist of Israel. In our text, we find David bringing an offering to the Lord. Because of his position as king, Ornan offered him the field and the animals free of charge. Instead of accepting the gift, David made a statement that should become a foundational principle in our worship, “I will not offer that which cost me nothing.”

Worship is one of the highest expressions of our love for the Lord, and should be a costly exercise. We should not be giving the Lord only our excess or our leftovers. We should be offering our best, no matter what the cost. That does not mean we should go into debt to offer to the Lord, but it does mean, we should rethink our spending if we do not have enough to give to God. Worship is expressed when we deny ourself some earthly pleasure, in order to have something to offer the Lord.

David even took time to store up for future offering. In the next chapter we read,

1 Chronicles 22:14
“Indeed I have taken much trouble to prepare for the house of the Lord one hundred thousand talents of gold and one million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond measure, for it is so abundant…”

It would be worthwhile to take some time today to examine your checkbook and see what you have given to the Lord, and what has been spent on frivolous things. We live under grace and are free to enjoy the provision God has given us, but we should keep in mind, that Jesus told us to store up treasures in heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Willingness

Exodus 35:5
“Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord: gold, silver, and bronze; . . .”

IMG_1459Moses had been instructed to build the Tabernacle. It was to be an elaborate facility with a solid silver foundation, golden walls, intricately woven tapestries and highly detailed furnishing. Every detail was given to Moses, including it’s size, shape, and purpose. However, two things had been left out; materials and labor.

At one time, Moses, as a prince of Egypt, had been an extremely wealthy man with all the resources of Egypt at his disposal. For a nation that had erected structures like the pyramids, building the Tabernacle would not be beyond their means, and Moses could have underwritten the entire project.

However, those days were passed. Moses had forsaken all the riches of Egypt. In a word, Moses was broke. Where would the resources come from to build? The answer is found in two words that are repeated over and over in Exodus 35: stirred and willing. After explaining to the people the vision he had received from God regarding the building, he instructed them to go back to their tents. It was there, as families gathered together, that their hearts were stirred by the Lord. They determined to offer the Lord a portion of what had been given to them. We read, those with a willing heart brought a free will offering to the Lord. For some it was golden earrings, for others necklaces, rings or other jewelry. Some brought precious stones, while others brought their abilities as an offering; making themselves available to be part of the construction team. In each case, we read they brought willingly of what the Lord had given them, and that all the labor was directed and empowered by the Spirit of the Lord. As the project gets underway, the leaders find they are facing an interesting problem. They examined the plans and realized the people had given too much. Moses has to instruct the people to stop giving to the Lord. They had more than enough supplied to accomplish the task.

We learn some very important lessons about giving and receiving from this text. First, note that Moses was only interested in building what he had received directly from the Lord. He did not take on a additional projects that were more than the Lord wanted. He sought the Lord and built what the Lord desired. Second, Moses did not attempt to coerce the people. He allowed each man to go home to his family and determine what they would willingly give to the Lord. In the church today, too much pressure is being placed upon God’s people to give. We need to encourage people to seek the Lord, and give willingly. Finally, people gave a variety of things. Those who had wealth, gave gold and other precious things, those who had skills, gave their abilities, but all who gave were richly blessed as the Tabernacle was completed, and served as a place for people to meet with God.

Pastor Jim

 

Turntables

Mark 11:17
“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’ But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.”

IMG_1449-0Journeying through the gospels, we have many glimpses into the emotions of Christ. We see His compassion upon the multitudes and the sick, His love toward the rich young ruler, His sadness at the death of Lazarus, His tenderness toward the children, and so much more. As we encounter Him at the Temple, it is His anger that becomes evident to us. We read of Him turning tables over and driving people out of the Temple. Whatever we do not understand about this event, it is clear to all that Jesus is very upset with what is going on in the Temple courts. The key to unlocking the meaning of this event is in the words of Jesus Himself. He said,

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’ But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.”

The Temple and it’s ministries, we’re designed by God with the purpose of bringing sinful men into fellowship with God. A person would bring an offering to the priest, the offering was sacrificed, and sin covered. The Temple should have been a place where people loved and longed to go. When Jesus arrived, things had changed. The courts had turned into a market place and worship became a way of making a buck. The money changers charged a high rate to convert the Roman coinage, used on the streets, into the Temple coins, used for offerings. The priests required the people to purchase sheep from them for sacrifice. All this was turning people away from fellowship with God, and restricting worship.

Today the church ought to be a place where sinners are drawn to Jesus, and people are able to fellowship with Christ. Just like priests, we can become guilty of doing things that hinder others from coming to Christ. Perhaps an attitude toward a neighbor or co-workers is keeping them from Christ. Perhaps a prejudice toward a certain group of people is hindering you from inviting them to church. We should seek to do our best to be sign posts that point people to Jesus, rather than road blocks that keep them away.

Is there anyone  to whom you may have been a stumbling block? Anyone who, because of your behaviors, may have reason not to come to church? Take a few minutes to pray for them, that God would make you a positive influence upon them.

Pastor Jim

 

Fly Away

Proverbs 23:4-5 “Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”

IMG_1246.JPGRiches are not evil in themselves. The Bible does not teach that money is the root of all evil, but that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1Timothy 6:10). Throughout Proverbs, Solomon listed instructions that will increase our chances of being successful. He speaks of honesty, integrity, and diligence, while warning against folly, laziness and getting involved with the wrong people.

That being said, Solomon also warns against thinking that money will solve all of our problems. He writes poetically of the inability of riches to really meet our deepest needs. He states that riches make wings and fly away. Have you ever watched a young child attempting to catch a butterfly? With each step the child takes toward the winged creature, it simply flies off to the next bush. Step after step, she thinks she almost has it, but again and again it simply flies away. Riches are like that. In one sense, they are aloof, but we think with just a little more work we will finally catch them. If memory serves me, it was Rockefeller who, when asked how much money was enough, responded, “just a little more than you have.”

There is another sense in which riches have wings. Not only are they difficult to catch, but riches will never provide what they promise. Often, we think that the solution to our problem is cash. If we had a few more dollars we could get out of debt, take that vacation we always wanted, replace the hunk-of-junk car we drive, or a host of other things. While I would agree that having is more fun, than not having, we all must realize riches have wings and cannot satisfy the real issues of life. The headlines remind us of that. We often read of wealthy actors, entertainers, athletes or business men, who have marital or substance abuse problems, are on anti-depressants or even take their lives. The reason is, riches have wings. They are unable to meet the deepest needs in the heart of man. In contrast to this Solomon writes,

Proverbs 23:18 “For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.”

The real solution to the issues of life, is a spiritual one. We need to realize, we will only be satisfied when we are in a right relationship with God. Jesus promised, all who received Him would have torrents of living water rushing through their lives (John 7:38), providing peace, joy, and love for God and others. We need to be sure, while we are in pursuit of “getting ahead,” we do not neglect to make investments in our relationship with the Lord.

As the new year approaches, resolve to accept Christ as your Savior and Lord, make daily investments in your walk with Him by reading the Word, and commit to regular attendance at a good Bible teaching church.

Pastor Jim