House Of Prayer 

Isaiah 56:7
“For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Isaiah foresaw a day when people from all nations would be adopted into the family of God. He saw salvation reaching beyond the borders of Israel to the uttermost parts of the earth. Seven hundred years later Jesus entered into the temple and saw the outer courts turned into a marketplace. Instead of people being encouraged to to come to God they were being hindered. The religious leaders for the sake of financial gain and status among the people were actually keeping people from the Lord. At some point a sign was placed on the entrance of the temple warning Gentiles not to enter under the threat of death. When Jesus saw the actions of the leaders He was outraged. He began to overturn the tables and drive out those who were buying and selling. It was at that point that He quoted from this passage,

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

It is worth noting that Jesus was enraged when people stood in the way of others coming to God. We know it is the desire of God for all men everywhere to be saved. We know that a person is saved when they put trust in Christ as their savior and we know that people come to trust Christ through the witness of others. We should be seeking to live lives that properly represent Christ so that others will be drawn to Him rather than repelled from Him.

Jim

 

God Speaks

1 Chronicles 25:1
“Moreover David and the captains of the army separated for the service some of the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals…”

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Worship is an important part of the life of the believer and the health of the local church. It is a time when we are able to take our eyes off ourselves and our circumstances and put them on the Lord. It is a time when we are able to declare the truths about the character and behavior of God in a way that brings Him glory and magnifies His name. It is often in these times of worship that we are able to see our lives from the proper perspective. Instead of seeing our circumstances as hopeless and ourselves as helpless we are able to see the God who can part seas, provide water in the desert or counsel the confused Christian. Worship is certainly a very important exercise for every follower of Christ.

That being said we find yet another value of worship tucked away in the narrative of the Chronicles. We are told that worship leaders were trained and appointed so they could prophecy with stringed instruments and percussions. Prophecy is when God speaks to His people and worship is one of the key mediums that God chooses to use to speak to us. Often when a believer will fix his attention upon the Lord and begin to pour out praise he will find that God speaks to him in an unexpected way.

There have been numerous times in my life, when in the midst of worship I, have sensed the voice of God speaking to my heart and directing my life. On one such occasion I was considering returning for a second trip to west Africa. My children were very young and the church was quite small and needed my attention, so I was struggling with the decision to go. As I sat in worship I recall singing a song about the faithfulness of God. I was almost overcome with the sense that God was calling me back to Africa. My fears, worries and concerns were somewhat alleviated when I realized that God was giving me the green light to go. As the years have passed and we have seen God accomplish so many wonderful things through the ministry in west Africa I am so thankful for that time of worship when God spoke prophetic word.

Jim

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Works Of God 

Psalms 66:5
“Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.”

Where we can go to see God work?

We could start by attending a church where people are serving the Lord. We can watch God work in the lives of others. We can observe His transforming work as people respond to the Gospel, or His equipping work as young and old, men and women, offer themselves in service of the Lord. We might see His comforting work as the broken hearted are encouraged by the Word of God, and the presence of Christ. We might see His restoring work as the prodigals return to relationship with Jesus. But there is another way to see the works of God. We can step out of our comfort zone and offer ourselves as servants. The chief reason people don’t see God work in their lives is because they are afraid to step out in faith and serve the Lord. If we continue to use the excuse that we can’t, we will never find the power and enabling of God to assist us beyond our abilities. On one occasion the disciples found they could not accomplish the ministry they were faced with, when they asked Jesus why He responded,

Matthew 17:20
“Why could we not cast it out?
‘So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.'”

Jesus promised if they trusted Him, they would see God accomplish tasks they knew to be impossible. Our problem is we do not want to be in impossible situations. We like to have control of our life and the events surrounding us. It is when we will step out in faith, trusting in the provision of God, and enlisting ourselves in His service, that we will see the works of God.

Perhaps God has been stirring your heart to serve. Maybe you have been thinking about volunteering to teach children or to join a mission team or to open your house for a home fellowship, but you have resisted because you feel inadequate. Allow me to encourage you,  God always calls the inadequate. His methods are to choose the weak and foolish things of the world so He is always glorified through whatever is accomplished.

“Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.”

Pastor Jim

 

Shepherd’s Heart

Psalms 20:1-4
“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble;
May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;
May He send you help from the sanctuary,
And strengthen you out of Zion;
May He remember all your offerings,
And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah
May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose.”

The bible describes David as a man after God’s own heart. I am sure the meaning behind that statement is many faceted.  While I do not pretend to know all that it means, I am pretty certain that it has a lot to do with the fact that David, like God, had the heart of a shepherd. When he looked at the people of God, he did so with the eyes of a shepherd. His great desire was to see them flourish and grow in the Lord. There are very few texts that express that idea in a greater way than the one before us. Here we are invited into the prayer chamber of the king, as he stands before the throne of grace, on behalf of congregation of Israel. His prayer is a beautiful expression of love for others and should serve as a model for each of us to follow.

“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you”

Life is filled with difficult and challenging times. When a person loses someone they love, has a marriage collapse, is diagnosed with a serious illness, or a host of other trying experiences, it is our hope and prayer that they would find both answers and defense, from the God who loves them. Whatever trying experience you are undergoing, I hope you will find consolation in the presence of the Lord. I hope you will hear His gentle voice speaking to your heart, as you cling to Him for answers and for strength to face another day.

“May He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion”

The sanctuary was not a fortress or a military compound. It was a place to meet with God, offer prayer, and hear from Him. David knows that in the tragedies of life, our help and strength will come from the presence of the Lord. Friends are a blessing, family is a great source of comfort, but true, lasting, even abiding strength, will be found as we frequent the sanctuary and enjoy sweet communion with Christ.

“May He remember all your offerings, and accept your burnt sacrifice.”

Sacrifices were accepted on their merit, not on the merit of the person making the offering. He or she was there, not because they were perfect, not because they had unwavering faith, or a stainless record, they were their because of sin, and the sacrifice was accepted on their behalf. Trials, which often express weakness and sin, are not designed to keep us from the Lord, but to bring the offering of confession, perhaps mingled with brokenness, and offer ourselves once again as a living sacrifice. We are accepted not because we have not sinned, but because of the spotless Lamb who was offered for us.

Perhaps there is no better way to sign off than to simply quote the final request from the king;

“May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.”

Pastor Jim

 

Until The Whole World Hears

Psalms 2:8
“Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.

As we reach the end of ourselves and cry out in desperation to God, prayer is the place where we express our greatest desires. We have found ourselves on our knees pleading with God for direction, the healing of a loved one, or to fix a mess we have created through our own foolishness. I wonder though, when is the last time we pleaded with God for those who don’t yet know Him.

The great promise of the Gospel is that it knows no borders. Every man, woman and child can have their sins forgiven, and enter into a personal relationship with God, through Christ. We can participate in that through the ministry of prayer.

Take a moment to make a list of a few people that don’t yet know the Lord and begin to pray for them daily. Add to that list an area in the world where your church is involved in ministry, and pray for the furtherance of the Gospel there. Perhaps the Lord may even send you, some day, to assist in the work.

Pastor Jim

 

Blessing

Numbers 6:22-27
The Priestly Blessing

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, “This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you;  the Lord make His face shine upon you,  and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”””

“So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”

 

Leaven

Leviticus 2:11
“No grain offering which you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering to the Lord made by fire.”


Leaven is a substance (such as yeast) that makes dough rise and become light before it is baked. Because it is a small ingredient in the dough and has the tendency to spread through the whole lump, it is used in Scripture to illustrate sin. Sin always starts small, but never stays that way. When a person falls into a “big sin,” it is because they started out making little compromises. As a result, it was a forbidden component in the grain offered to the Lord.

The New Testament declares that because of the work of Christ, we no longer are required to bring offerings to an altar and make sacrifices to God. Instead, we are to become a living sacrifice. Our whole life is to be devoted to the Lord. We should give our private life, family life, public life and church life as a sacrifice to God, and look for ways to honor and serve Him. If this living sacrifice is to be a sweet aroma to the Lord, we need to remove the leaven. In other words, we need to deal with sin as God reveals it. The New Testaments model for dealing with sin is that God reveals it through His word, we confess it in prayer, and He empowers us by His Spirit, to have victory over it in our lives.

If you are struggling in an area of sin, it is important that you address it before it spreads and becomes so large that it begins to destroy your relationship with God and others. The way to address it is to confess it to the Lord and to a trustworthy brother or sister in Christ. James spoke of the value of confessing our sin to one another, so we can pray for one another.

Don’t let sin reign in your life. Take it to the cross and be forgiven and set free.

Pastor Jim