Complaint Department 

Psalms 142:2
“I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble.”

Complaining is often the result of looking at the one thing that is going wrong instead of the many things that are going well. We might have a day off work, be gathering with our family at a park or at the beach, and instead of enjoying the day we begin to complain that it is too windy, too hot or there are too many others who chose to spend the day at the same location. Instead of looking at all that is right we becoming fixated with what we perceive to be wrong. Another common problem associated with complaining is that we often bring our complaints to the wrong place. When we are upset about our job we complain to our spouse, when we have a problem associated with the kids school or their sports team we complain to our friends. Instead of bringing our complaint to the source who can resolve it, we simply like to complain.

Here David teaches us something important about complaining. If we have a problem we should take it to the Lord. Often it is in the presence of the Lord that we will see our difficulty in light of the work He desires to accomplish in us and we will discover that the very thing we were so upset about was actually a tool He was using to make us more like Christ.

Instead of bringing a barrage of complaints against your spouse as soon as they walk in the door, how about taking your issues to the Lord and allowing Him to work in your life. After all He promised that all things work together for the good of conforming us into the image of Jesus.

Jim

 

Prayer Of The Broken

Psalms 102:17
“He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer.”

Sometimes the Psalms come with titles that give insight into the situation that stirred the author to write. In his case, we are not given the details of his life circumstances, but are told of the purpose behind this song. He writes,

“A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord.”

Affliction is designed by God to drive us to Him, that we might receive His mercy and find the necessary comfort. Sadly, that is not always the way we react to difficulties. I recently attended an event where a group of people gathered in response to a tragedy that affected all of them. While I understand that difficulty often causes our emotions to speak for us, I was stunned by much of what I heard. Instead of realizing our mutual weakness and need for the mercy of God, I heard person after person speak of how they would not allow this tragedy to break them or to change them. It is as though, the hardship they faced gave them greater resolve and increased resistance against the Lord.

I do not think this was an isolated incident. In fact, in the final years of Judah, the people expressed this same stubborn rebellion against God. While the Babylonians conquered their land and began taking the children into captivity, we read of the leaders continuing with their wicked lifestyles. Instead of allowing the common tragedy to break them, they determined to stand strong in their opposition to God. It is as if they were saying, “You can’t break us and we will never bend.”

Perhaps you are facing a difficult season. Please keep in mind, that part of the reason for this hardship is to bring you to your knees, where you would allow the affliction you are facing, cause you to cry out to the Lord for His mercy.

Pastor Jim

 

Who’s The Real Enemy? 

Psalms 83:1
“Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God!”

Prayer takes on many different forms. Sometimes it is appropriate to offer praise for the many blessings we receive from God, other times it is important to intercede for the needs of others; and we must never forget to take time to petition God for the issues that affect our personal lives. Here in Psalm 83, we find another essential element of an effective prayer life, as the Psalmist pleads with God to deal with those who have gathered themselves against God. He describes those who have consulted together with the goal of removing the influence of God and His people. In response, he pleads with God to intercede by defeating these enemies. It seems that his prayers are motivated by a desire to free the people of God from oppression, as well as a desire to see the enemies of God saved. He declares;

Psalms 83:16 “Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord.”

Psalms 83:18 “That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.

It seems we are in an age where the enemies of God are at an all time high. We are surrounded by those who want to silence the Gospel, or at least rewrite it. If we publicly declare the message of Christ, we may receive an onslaught of ridicule, or be marked as  bigots, and accused of inciting hate. Now is the time for believers to increase the kind of prayer recorded in the 83rd Psalm. It is important to keep in mind, the real enemy of the Christian is not the outspoken atheist or the unrepentant coworker. Our real enemy is the devil, who seeks to hold men and women captive in their sin. We are not praying for God to destroy those who oppose Him, but to reveal Himself to them for their own sake.

Pastor Jim

 

Is There A God In Israel? 

2 Kings 1:3
“But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?'”

Sometimes it is difficult to uncover the meaning behind a biblical text or to make proper application for our lives. Other times, there is no difficulty at all. Three times in this text we read the same phrase,


“Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?”

Ahaziah, King of Israel, had an accident and was severely injured. No doubt, after consulting the medical professionals of his day, he began to question whether or not he would recover. Since no earthly source could answer his inquiry, he sought out a prophet of Baal for guidance and advice. Heaven’s reaction to this was to question why a man of Israel would neglect to seek counsel from the God of Israel.

In all my years of following Jesus, I have never met a Christian who consulted Baal for advice or direction. However, I have met several who refuse to look to the Lord to meet their needs, and are quick to run to just about every other source. When difficulty, tragedy, or need arises, instead of increasing prayer time, fasting, or Bible reading, they start looking to others to solve the problem. With the advent of social media, this phenomenon has increases exponentially. Facebook and other mediums, seem to be filled with requests from Christians to assist them in their trying times. It is as though we have forgotten that Jesus promised if we seek Him and His righteousness, He will provide for our needs.

I am not saying believers should not help believers, or that it is wrong to ask others to pray for us. There are even cases in Scripture where men like Nehemiah ask the king for provision, to accomplish what God had called him to do. That being said, it does seem, at least in some cases, we have forgotten the message that Elijah heard, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?”

In contrast to this, I am reminded of the story of Ezra the scribe. When he left Persia for Jerusalem, he had witnessed to the king regarding the great power of the God of Israel. Later, as he ventured out on the perilous journey, he determined not to ask the king for protection. He thought doing so would embarrass him, because of all the wonderful things he had told the king about Jehovah. So, instead of seeking aid from the king, he spent his time pleading with God for protection.

Ezra 8:22-23 “For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.”

Whatever you may be currently facing, and whoever you may enlist to pray for you through the trial,don’t neglect to get alone with God, pour your difficulty out before Him and seek His help. Remember, He often allows the difficulties in order to bring us closer to Himself.
Pastor Jim

 

Inquire Of God

1 Kings 22:7-8
“And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?’So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.’ And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Let not the king say such things!’”

Syrian forces occupied land that belonged to Israel and Ahab was determined to get it back. When Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, arrived for a visit, Ahab seized the opportunity to enlist Judah as an ally in his campaign against Syria. Not wanting to bring his people into an unnecessary war, Jehoshaphat wanted to take a moment to hear from the Lord, so he asked to hear from a prophet. Ahab paraded a host of prophets before the king who all declared victory in battle. The problem was, they were not prophets of God, but were a variety of fetish priests who worshiped idols. Jehoshaphat objected to their counsel and sought to hear the Word of God. It is here where the true heart of Ahab is revealed. He declares,

“There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.”

The king of Israel had no interest in hearing the truth. In fact, as the story unfolds, we find that Micaiah will be thrown in prison for speaking the word of God. Ahab’s desire was to silence anyone who did not declare the truth as he saw it.

What a sad parallel to much of what we see happening in our world today. We have accepted a worldview where tolerance is the highest form of morality. We are required to accept the choices people make as though every choice was equal, and those who would dare speak out against certain behaviors as immoral, are immediately silenced. The approach of silencing the word of God was not good for Ahab and Israel, and it will not turn out positively for us either.

Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Pastor Jim

 

Ask God

Psalm 72:1
A Psalm of Solomon.
“Give the king Your judgments, O God, And Your righteousness to the king’s Son.”

When Solomon first stepped onto the throne of his father, David, he was overwhelmed by the task before him. He realized he was weak and inexperienced, and the responsibility of ruling the nation was too much for him to handle. He knew that the Lord was his only hope, and cried out to God for wisdom. This psalm is a poetic expression of an event recorded in 1Kings 3. There, we find Solomon encountering God in his dreams. Faced with the overwhelming task of leadership, God allows Solomon to request anything he wants. Solomon’s reply is essentially the same as is recorded here. He asks for wisdom to know how to lead the nation.

Few of us are kings or even politicians, but all of us have responsibilities that are too much for us to handle, and all of us face seasons in life when we do not know what to do. James explains what we should do when we face those trying times,

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Whatever you might be facing, it is comforting to know that we can seek wisdom from God and He will supply it. Solomon found that God gave him much more than he could have ever imagined. Sadly, as time went on, the king became self-reliant and drifted from the Lord, who had been so gracious to him.

Pastor Jim

Flee To The Mountain

Psalms 11:1
“How can you say to my soul,’Flee as a bird to your mountain’”?

Life hurls a vast array of difficulties at the child of God. We are struck with the common problems of every man, as well as those that are peculiar to attempting to follow Jesus, in the midst of ever increasing ungodliness. The question we are faced with is, where will we flee for safety, guidance and solace when struck by the trials of life? David thought it utterly preposterous to think of fleeing to the mountains for aid. To him, it was the Lord, and the Lord alone, who would be his defense.

There is something in the nature of all men that causes us to look to others when things get tough. When finances are short, we begin to think of who might be willing and able to assist us, and when illness strikes we seek out the best physician. While it is certainly not wrong to seek the aid of others, and we have scriptural basis for medicines and financial aid, it still remains critical that we learn to look first to the Lord for help. I wonder, how many amazing or even miraculous stories are never written because when times get tough we flee to the mountains?

Next time things are difficult financially, relationally or personally, run first to the Lord before seeking others. See what great ways God may want to minister to you, in the midst of the darkness engulfing you.

Pastor Jim