Needs Met

Nehemiah 9:20
“You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst.”

Nehemiah is reflecting back upon how God faithfully met the needs of His people as they struggled through their wilderness journey. He speaks regarding the Spirit, the manna and the miraculous supply of water. If it were not for the provision of God there is no way Israel could have been sustained.

Their journey in the wilderness is both a real life historical incident as well as an illustration of the Christian life. The struggles they faced with difficulty, opposition, fear and periods of wanting faith are not unfamiliar to everyone who attempts to walk with Christ. It is important to know that the same God who provided for them will provide for us today.

When Israel was in want the Lord always had a remedy. At times water was supplied from very unlikely places, but there was always enough. A desert is incapable of supplying food for the masses so God sent bread from heaven. When Israel faced an enemy who threatened their safety it was the Spirit of God that enabled them to have victory.

The same will be true for us today. There are times in life where we face situations that seem to have no remedy. We may be facing financial problems, relational issues or just the daily struggles that come with life in a fallen world. Remember the same God that supplied for Israel will supply for you.

Jim

 

It Takes All Kinds

1 Chronicles 9:3
“Now in Jerusalem the children of Judah dwelt, and some of the children of Benjamin, and of the children of Ephraim and Manasseh”

1Chronicles 9 is a record of those who lived and served in the city of Jerusalem. Because the Temple resided in this city, it became the religious capital of the nation, and the place where much of the service of God took place. Here, we read about a vast array of people with diverse gifts and callings coming together to accomplish the work of God. Among those listed are leaders, priests, Levites, gatekeepers and singers. Each person had a different calling which required unique skills and gifts. It was when each one served faithfully within his own calling, that the ministry was accomplished in a way that glorified God.

This passage is an apt picture of how the church works today. We see in Scripture, and will find in our local churches, that if each person faithfully follows the Lord, and serves within the capacity they have been called to, the church will become a vibrant witness to the world around them. Every church needs godly leaders who will first listen to Jesus, then set a pattern for the people. Every church needs people who understand they are priests, both in the congregation and in the home. We need to understand we are called to spend time with Jesus, and bring our needs, and the needs of others, before the throne of grace. Every church needs Levites, who will do behind the scenes ministry that receives little attention or accolades. The New Testament uses the word “Deacon” for those who work hard, so the word can be preached, and the people can encounter God. Every church needs gatekeepers, who will open the way for others to get to he Lord. Jesus said we have been given the keys to the kingdom, and we can open the way for people to come to Christ. This is done in a variety of ways. We need to establish friendships with those within our circle of life who don’t know Christ. Keep in mind, you are the Christian someone’s family member is praying their unsaved loved one will encounter. We need to keep our eyes open for divine opportunities, when we bump into a stranger at the market, beach, or perhaps on a plane. These encounters provide opportunity to share Christ, or even to invite someone to church. Every church needs worshippers. Not everyone will stand on the stage to play an instrument, or use their vocal gifts, but a church that is filled with people who have come for the purpose of worshipping the High King of Heaven, is a church that will grow to have a tremendous impact upon their community for the kingdom above.

It truly takes all kinds for the church to become the city set on a hill that Jesus designed it to be. I wonder what would happen in the church you attend, if more people stopped complaining about what the church wasn’t, and to stepped into God calling. Don’t wait for someone else to serve the Lord for you, it is time to step out of our comfort zone and make investments in the kingdom of God. Time is short and the whole world needs Jesus.

Pastor Jim

 

Empty Jars 

2 Kings 4:6
“Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not another vessel.’ So the oil ceased.”

Living conditions in Israel had become very difficult; the nation was constantly at war with its enemies, years of drought had created wide spread famine, and morality was in decline. These things affected the living condition of everyone, regardless of their social status. In the story before us, we are introduced to a poor widow who is facing starvation. Without giving details, we learn that her husband, a godly man, had died and she and her sons were on their last leg. All her resources were gone and the creditors were at the door. In her distress, she sought counsel from Elisha who asked a simple question, “what do you have?” To which she replied, the only thing left in the house was a jar of oil. Elisha went on to instruct her to borrow vessels from her neighbors and fill them with oil from the jar. When she did, they found that the oil poured as long as their was an empty vessel to put it in. I think there are at least two valuable applications from this passage.

The first is obvious. This is a story which illustrates how God provides for His people. Long before this, Abraham referred to God as YHWH-Jirah, the Lord our Provider. This unnamed woman found God to be the one who could meet her needs when all seemed lost. We can take comfort in knowing, no matter what our need, we have a God who cares for us and has the resources to provide. I am always blessed when I hear of a child of God who chooses to trust in the promises of God, for they are the ones who see the miraculous hand of God providing for them.

The second may not seem as obvious, but is equally as striking. We read the oil flowed as long as an empty vessel was provided. Oil is often used symbolically in Scripture to represent the work of the Spirit. In the Old Testament, it was oil that was used to anoint prophets, priest, and kings, and in the New Testament oil is used to anoint the sick. In this story, what was required to have the oil flow was an empty vessel. It did not matter what the vessel had previously been used for, it did not matter what size, shape, or color the vessel was, the only thing that mattered was that it was empty and available. When it comes to Christian service, we are all dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit. Nothing in the kingdom of God can be accomplished in the energies of the flesh. That being said, if we want to be used by God, we need to be empty and available. Some of the things we must be empty of are private sins, pride, excuses, prejudice, and unwillingness to do the lowest of tasks.

This woman and her sons saw a remarkable work of God, and when it came to an end, I suggest that their only regret was that they did not gather more jars.

Pastor Jim

 

Impossible

Genesis 18:14
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

2015/01/img_1308.jpgThis question was not asked on a theology exam, but in a real life situation. A one hundred year old man, and a ninety year old barren woman, were promised a child from whom a great nation would be established. The promises of God were met head on by the circumstances of life, making them seem so far-fetched, both Abraham and Sarah laughed. It was not improbable for a 90 year old woman to have a child, it was impossible. Not only was she passed the age of child bearing, but she had been infertile her whole life. What did not happen in her youth, could not happen in her old age. Yet in these circumstances, God made a promise. When the promise was doubted, God asked them a question, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Life is filled with the improbable, and the impossible. We face things that are too difficult for us to handle on a regular basis. It is vital we come to understand, that while things may be beyond our strength, nothing is too hard for God. It was not difficult for him to miraculously provide a child to an elderly couple, nor will it be difficult for him to part a sea, provide water from a rock, knock down city walls, or topple a giant. Whatever we are facing, no matter how difficult it may seem, no matter what shadow it may cast over the promises of God, we can be sure there is nothing to hard for God.

Pastor Jim