Departing 

Ezekiel 10:18
“Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.”

The day Solomon’s Temple was built was one of the most glorious days in the history of Israel. It marked the completion of many of the promises God had given to His people down through the centuries. From a single man with a barren wife, a mighty nation had been formed, that now occupied the land that was promised to them. Their enemies had been defeated and held at bay, the people were experiencing a prosperity they had never dreamt would be possible, and the Tabernacle that spoke of mobility, was now replaced with a glorious, permanent Temple. On the day the Temple was dedicated, something quite remarkable took place. We are told, “the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.” God’s presence was so “thick” the priests had to stop their ministry. It seems all they could do was fall down before the glory of God. Ezekiel lived about 300 years later and he too saw the Temple and the glory of God. This time, however, the glory was not filling the Temple, but rather was departing from it. He watched as the same glory that once filled the Temple, began to rise from it and slowly depart.

The sin of Israel and Judah had many devastating consequences. The nation was divided, the enemies they once conquered, began to conquer them, the witness they had in the world was lost and the people began to suffer many unnecessary consequences for sin. However,  the greatest tragedy of their sin was when the glory, that once filled the temple, was removed. This happened on a personal level with King Saul. He had once been filled with the Spirit of God, in such a powerful way, that he “became another man.” He was still Saul, but there were striking changes within him that were brought about by the work of the Spirit of God. Years later, as a result of persistent sin we read that the Spirit departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14). He lost the peace and presence of God, and when he needed it most, had lost the ability to hear the voice of God.

If you are a believer in Christ, then you have been filled with the Spirit of God. You do not need to fear that He will forsake you, but it is possible, through persistent sin and disobedience, to lose the benefits of fellowship with God. Sin can harden your heart and deafen your ears. Sin can make it seem as if God is far from you, and even make you feel forsaken. The remedy, however, is quite simple. All you need to do is confess your sin and return to following Christ. You may feel miles away from God, but in reality, you are only one confession away. If you turn to Him, He will forgive and restore, and you will begin to once again experience the sweetness of fellowship with God.

Perhaps praying something like this, “Jesus, I am sorry for my sin. I ask that You would forgive me, cleanse me and help me lay this aside and return to walking with you.”

Now that it is laid aside, don’t pick it back up. Instead, get plugged into reading the Bible and a healthy church.

Pastor Jim

 

Walking Through Waters

Isaiah 43:2
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”

Isaiah gives us two very different promises. First, he promises life will be filled with difficulty. He writes of passing through waters, facing floods, and raging fires. There are times when the road of life takes us straight into difficulty. We might be struck with disease, discomfort, heartbreak or tragedy. None of us are immune to any of these things. But Isaiah gives a second promise that is true for all who have trusted Christ. He declares that God will be with us in the midst of the darkest hours of life.

Over the years I have found myself walking through some pretty difficult, unnerving, and even fear-filled times. In some cases, it seemed as though I might not make it through the difficulty. Yet, I have also found that in every case, God has been faithful to His promises. I have not only experienced the trial come to an end, but have experienced the presence of God in the midst of it. Whether I was facing something head on or dealing with the burden of someone I loved struggling to keep their head above water, I have always found the presence of God within His promises.

No matter what you might face today, remember He is walking it with you. Part of the purpose behind the hardship, is to learn to fellowship with Christ in your struggles.

Pastor Jim

 

I Am With You

Isaiah 41:10
“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”

Life is filled with reasons to fear. We fear the unknown and the known, we fear change, and often fear that things will never change, we fear for ourselves, our families, and especially for our children. It would not take any of us very long to be crippled with fear, if we chose to dwell too long on any of those things. Isaiah is reminded, in the midst of frightening times, there are some pretty valid reasons not to fear. The first of the list is God’s promise to be with the believer.

“I am with you…”

This phrase is often repeated within Scripture, as it serves to comfort and encouragement those facing difficult and overwhelming circumstances. It was first promised to Isaac when the neighboring people were attempting to drive him out of Canaan. Later, when Jacob was fleeing for his life from Esau, he heard the same promise. Without family, friends, finances, or any idea of what the future holds, Jacob was promised the presence of the Lord. When young Jeremiah was commissioned as a prophet to the nations, God promised to be with him. Jesus made the same promise to us, as He sent us into the world with the message of the Gospel.

Whatever you may be facing, whatever fear, anxiety, worry, or fret may be welling up within you, remember that if you have trusted Christ, He promises to be with you, and  to never leave you or forsake you. Is there any challenge that is too big for you and God to handle?

Pastor Jim

Has God Forgotten?

Psalm 77:7-9
Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?
Selah”

If these questions were posed to us on a theology test, we would all answer “No, no, six times no.” We know that He promises:

Hebrews 13:5 “…For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

Lamentations 3:22-23 “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning.”

 

Mark 13:31 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

Ephesians 2:7 “. . . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

His presence, mercy, promises, and grace are eternal. They will never change, wear out, or fail. No matter what our condition, as turbulent as it may seem, the promises of God are sure and steadfast. He will never change. But these questions are not posed as a quiz for the Bible student, but out of the difficulties the Psalmist is facing. We are not privy to the details that caused his condition, but by his own admission, his soul refuses comfort. It is quite common in times like that, to question the promises of God. When the tides of trial swell up against us, and we begin to go downward in sorrow, it can seem as though the promises of God have failed.

The Psalmist does more than state the problem, he also provides the solution.

Psalm 77:11 “I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.”

His trials had robbed him of sleep, but rather than letting worry consume him, he began to recall the mighty works of the Lord. He seems to have called to memory the Red Sea crossing. Thinking back to those who were boxed in, surrounded by mountains, armies, and the waters, it looked as if there was no hope. The promise of a land flowing with milk and honey seemed to be impossible, and the death of a nation imminent. That is, until the Lord showed up and meted out His promise to His people. The Psalmist was not a participant in that event, but since faith comes by hearing the Word of God, his strength was revived by calling to mind the faithfulness of God.

In your trial, don’t be consumed in mind by the storm you are facing, but rather flood your mind with stories of His faithfulness, and watch Him revive your strength as you await His deliverance.

Pastor Jim