Be Prepared 

1 Timothy 6:7
“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

Famous American inventor and statesman, Benjamin Franklin, is credited with saying, “Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” It seems we spend much of our time, effort, and energy, trying to avoid these things, rather than preparing for them. Some of us will exercise regularly, change our diet, and get regular checkups with our family doctor, in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. Others, will avoid any thought whatsoever of death or dying, and live this life as though it will last forever. Some, might have a risk-it-all attitude, where they live life on the edge, while others will attempt to amass as much stuff in this life as possible. Remember the mantra “He who dies with the most toys wins”?While I am not suggesting that eating healthy or enjoying life are bad ideas, I am saying, attempts to avoid or ignore death, are not nearly as important as attempts to prepare for it.

Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Jesus explained the folly of living for this life only. He reminds us that all we have acquired in this life, is subject to theft or decay. Not long ago, a water line under our house sprung a leak and ruined the flooring in our living room. I can remember the excitement on my wife’s face when the floor was first laid. While we knew it would not last forever, neither of us thought it would go so quickly. Life is like that, we live as though things will continue on forever, not because evidence suggests it, but because we do not want to face the reality that we are temporal beings with a shelf life. All of us must take seriously the words of the Apostle, realize the brevity of life, and prepare for eternity.

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

While it is true we can take nothing with us, we certainly can send things on ahead. Jesus maitained, we can store up treasures in heaven. We are all taking a trip one day into the unknown, to a destination where we have never traveled. While we cannot know everything we will face when we arrive, we can prepare in advance for our destination. Step one is to receive Christ; He alone is the way into heaven. Step two, get to know His Word, and live for the things that will outlast this life. The Bible teaches us there are only three things which are eternal: God, His Word, and the souls of men. If we want to live for that which will outlast this life, we must put Jesus first, get to know Him through the pages of our Bible, and seek to impact as many as possible for the kingdom of heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Be Prepared 

Nehemiah 2:8
“…And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.”

The walls around the city of Jerusalem lay in rubble, and the people who returned to rebuild the Temple had become discouraged by the enormous task, and the constant attack of their enemies.

If we were writing this story, I wonder who we would choose to be the hero? I wonder where we would look to find a man or woman who could lead a discouraged group of frightened people to complete a job. A job that would have both immediate, and long lasting impact for the kingdom of heaven. Since God wrote the story, we can be sure the solution will be found in what, at first glance, may seem like the most unlikely of places, but in the end will reveal His incredible wisdom and forethought. God’s solution to this problem was Nehemiah, a man who served as the cupbearer to the king.

Being the cupbearer might not have afforded Nehemiah the skills needed for construction, or the ability to ward off the constant threat of hostile neighbors, but it would give him access to the king, that many others could never achieved. This daily access to the throne room would one day pay off when the king surprised him with a personal question regarding his emotional condition. This was the open door Nehemiah had been waiting for, and he poured forth his three fold request before the throne. He asked to be sent to Jerusalem, that the king would send letters to protect his travels, and that the king pay the enormous expense of his travel and the building project.

It was not just his position that prepared him for his future ministry, but it was what he did with that position. Nehemiah knew what to ask the king because he had spent months in continual prayer for Jerusalem and its inhabitants. It was the prayer life of Nehemiah that prepared him for the call of God.

You may have a sense that God wants to use you, but you are currently in a role that seems so far removed from the work of God. Instead of feeling frustrated, take this time to be seeking the Lord for what He wants to do in and through you. As time goes on, you will find that He not only calls you to His perfect service, but uses whatever station you are in right now as part of the process.

Since God loves and wants to reach the whole world, it is necessary that His saints be stationed everywhere.

Pastor Jim

 

Dress For Success

Exodus 39:1
“Of the blue, purple, and scarlet thread they made garments of ministry, for ministering in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron, as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

IMG_1472In order for the Old Testament priest to serve the Lord, he must be clothed in the proper attire. Moses referred to his clothing as the garments of ministry. These garments included an ephod, breastplate, robe, tunic and a turban. It was clear that those who were to do the work of the Lord, must be clothed in the garments of the Lord. Things have not changed. Just as the Old Testament priest must be clothed in the garments of ministry, so the New Testament saint must don the proper attire if he/she is going to serve Christ. Our garments include at least four things.

Matthew 22:12-13
“‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”

First, we must be robed in the righteousness of Christ. Jesus told a story of people who were invited to a great feast. Each guest was given a new garment upon arrival. Later the master of the feast noticed a man who was not dressed in these new garments, and because he was improperly clothed, he was removed from the feast. All who come to Christ have their sins forgiven, and are robed in His righteousness. Any who attempt to come to God another way, will find that they lack the righteousness required for access to heaven.

Ephesians 4:22-24
“. . . that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

Second, Paul explained that like a worn out garment, we should take off the conduct we practiced before coming to Christ. Like the grave clothes Lazarus wore, these behaviors are no longer fitting now that we have been born anew in Christ.

Luke 24:49
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

Third, after the Resurrection, the disciples were commissioned to take the Gospel message to every person throughout the entire world. Before they left they must, however, be endued or clothed with the power of God. This happens when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. Both John the Baptist and Jesus referred to this as being baptized with the Holy Spirit, and in the book of Acts we read of the disciples continually being filled with the Spirit. If we are going to be properly clothed for the service of the Lord we need a daily outpouring of the Spirit of God on our lives. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is given to all who ask.

Ephesians 6:11
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

And finally, the armor of God refers to a number of essentials that each and every believer must be clothed in to withstand the spiritual attack of the enemy. These garments include righteousness, Gospel preaching, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer. A properly clothed Christian is one who makes these things a part of his daily life.

Pastor Jim

 

When Lions Attack

Amos 5:18
“Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness, and not light.”

In recent years, people have become fascinated with end-of-the-world scenarios. We have been inundated with movies about environmental crises, alien invasions, and zombie apocalypses, that have brought an end to the human race. Mixed in with these, have been best selling novels about the Book of Revelation. Believers and unbelievers alike, have read cover-to-cover, as the prophecies of the Bible are painted in real life scenarios. With all of that, we have seen little change in the course of the world we live it. It is as if people are excited about the possibility of the return of Christ, but not quite committed enough to allow it to change the way they think or live.

Things were the same in Amos’ day. Many people, who were living ungodly lives, were hoping for the Messiah to come and fix everything. Amos explained to the one who is not committed to the Lord, the day of the Lord will not be what they are hoping for. He went on to illustrate it this way,

Amos 5:19
“It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him!”

Just as the armies came and took Israel captive, so the day of Christ’s return will one day come. The message of Scripture is a call to prepare in advance. The first step is to trust Christ for salvation, the next is to surrender all to him. The question to ask is, “What silly things are you holding on to that you would find embarrassing if Christ were to come today?”  Whatever those are, it is time to set them aside and “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

Pastor Jim

IMG_1196.JPG