Give Thanks 

Psalm 107:1
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

The evolution of love is seen in the relationship between children and parents. An infant child cannot survive on his own and is completely dependent upon the mercy, grace and love of the parents. In a proper relationship the parents give time, energy, even sleep for the benefit of the child. As the relationship develops so does the love, it is not long before the parents begin to see the return in their investment. I can remember being so excited when my children began to smile and laugh, or when they would crawl across the room only to get up on my lap and snuggle. What a joy! Just this week I received messages from each of my boys expressing Father’s Day wishes in their own humorous ways. Our relationship has become one of an exchange of love. This Psalm is an illustration of that kind of love relationship with God. The Psalmist cries out with thankful praise as a response to what God has done for them. Paul used an interesting word for thanks when writing to Timothy, he said “Thanks be to God…” and the word he used was “karis” which is the word used to speak of God’s giving nature. Because of the grace we have received from the Lord, we give grace back to Him.

The Psalmist describes here that exchange of grace and thanksgiving.

He recalls the history of God’s people and reminds them of all that God has done for them. The list includes being redeemed, provided for, delivered, protected, forgiven, and comforted in the storms of life. Sprinkled throughout the Psalm is a continued exhortation;

Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

Perhaps it would be of great value to our love relationship with the Lord if we took time to recall to mind all that God has done for us and respond in thankful praise.

Pastor Jim

Curiosity 

Exodus 16:20
“Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.”

Exodus 16:27 “Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.”

Have you ever heard the proverb, “curiosity killed the cat?” It speaks to that part of our nature that wants to look into things that we shouldn’t. Not all curiosity is bad, in fact, it can often lead to some pretty amazing opportunities. However, when our curiosity leads us to disobey the clear commands of God, that will always lead to danger.

In Exodus 16, God unveils his plan to supply Israel’s provisions while they journey through the wilderness. He explains that each morning when they arise, the ground will be filled with a bread like substance they would later call “Manna.” This pastry “was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” He explained, there was no need to save any because it would be provided every day, except the sabbath; Friday’s supply would last for two days. Incredibly, we read some of the people tried to save some, only to find it smelly and molding the next morning. Others arose early on the sabbath, only to discover there was no manna. Later, Moses commanded that a jar of manna be saved. It was to be a reminder to the people of God’s provision, and perhaps a reminder to us that we should resist the temptation to look into things that God has forbidden.

Exodus 16:32 “Then Moses said, ‘This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: “Fill an omer with it, to be kept for your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.”’ ”

I think Christians should be the most curious people in the world. We should seek to discover everything we can about God and His creation. As far as we have come, we have only scratched the surface of God’s amazing universe. But we need to avoid the temptation to look into things that have been forbidden.

Pastor Jim

Memory Lane 

2 Samuel 15:14
“So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, ‘Arise, and let us flee, or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword.’”

Perhaps you have heard someone speak of having their whole life pass before their eyes. In a moment’s time, while facing imminent danger, all they had done, whether good or bad, seems to flash into their mind. David is having a similar experience. His son Absalom has stolen the hearts of the people, mounted a large army to overthrow the king, and steal the kingdom. Instead of remaining in Jerusalem and turning the holy city into a battle ground, David chooses to flee to the wilderness and trust his life and future into the hands of God. As he departs, we are introduced to people from his past. It is like a journey through the memory of David, as he encounters those who stand with him or come against him. Let’s take a brief look at just a few of these encounters.

2 Samuel 15:18
“Then all his servants passed before him; and all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had followed him from Gath, passed before the king.”

David had spent many years as a fugitive fleeing from King Saul. During that time, he met a number of disgruntled men who were also living as fugitives. These men joined forces with David and over time became his “mighty men.” They were with him while he fled Saul in the wilderness, and remained faithful to him when the kingdom began to split. These were the men in whom David had invested his life, and they, in turn, were loyal to him to the end. We are exhorted to invest our lives in others, helping them to walk with, and grow in, Christ. Jesus called this disciple-making (Matthew 28:19). We should be able to look back on our lives and see that we have invested in the lives of others, helping them to grow in Christ.

2 Samuel 15:21
“But Ittai answered the king and said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in whatever place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be.’”

Second, we come to Ittai the Gittite. We know very little of this man except he only recently joined ranks with David. He reminds us, making disciples was not just something of David’s past, but was part of his present as well. Some can look back and be reminded of great accomplishments for the Kingdom, but when we look at the present, we see very little we are doing for the Lord. It is sad and dangerous if our personal testimony is filled with only distant memories. We should be making current investments in the Kingdom of God.

2 Samuel 15:27
“The king also said to Zadok the priest, ‘Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.’”

Finally, Zadok the prophet and priest passes before him. David encourages him to go back to Jerusalem because of his role as a “seer” or prophet. David surrounded himself with those who would speak the Word of God to him. We all have people that we allow to speak into our lives. They are the people we go to for advice, or we seek to model ourselves after. David reminds us to be sure we have those who will speak the Word of God into our lives. How important it is to allow God’s Word to direct us, and to surround ourselves with people who will speak His truth to us.
Look at your life. Are you currently involved in serving the Lord by investing in the lives of others? Are you surrounding yourself with people who will use the counsel of God to direct your life? If not, make the necessary changes today.

Pastor Jim

 

Curiosity

Exodus 16:20
“Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.”

Exodus 16:27
“Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.”

IMG_1416Have you ever heard the proverb, “curiosity killed the cat?” It speaks to that part of our nature that wants to look into things that we shouldn’t. Not all curiosity is bad, in fact it can often lead to some pretty amazing opportunities. However, when our curiosity leads us to disobey the clear commands of God, that will always lead to danger.

In Exodus 16, God unveils his plan to supply Israel’s provisions while they journey through the wilderness. He explains that each morning when they arise, the ground will be filled with a bread like substance they would later call “Manna.” This pastry “was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” He explained, there was no need to save any because it would be provided every day, except the sabbath; Friday’s supply would last for two days. Incredibly, we read some of the people tried to save some, only to find it smelly and molding the next morning. Others arose early on the sabbath, only to discover there was no manna. Later, Moses commanded that a jar of manna be saved. It was to be a reminder to the people of God’s provision, and perhaps a reminder to us that we should resist the temptation to look into things that God has forbidden.

Exodus 16:32
“Then Moses said, ‘This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: “Fill an omer with it, to be kept for your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.”’ ”

I think Christians should be the most curious people in the world. We should seek to discover everything we can about God and His creation. As far as we have come, we have only scratched the surface of God’s amazing universe. But we need to avoid the temptation to look into things that have been forbidden.

Pastor Jim

 

Be of Good Cheer

Matthew 9:2
Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.’”

2015/01/img_1309.jpgThis chapter introduces us to a man who is facing one of life’s greatest challenges; that of a terrible physical disorder. Being a paralytic would mean he not only missed out on much of the experiences of life that we take for granted, but also, he would be totally dependant upon others. He was not even capable of getting to this home on his own.

I find it interesting and exciting that Jesus says to this man, “Be of good cheer.” With such a difficult trial, what could he possibly have to be happy about? Maybe you feel that way. Maybe the darkness of what you are facing is stealing away your joy. What could you possibly have to be happy about?

I pray these few statements from Jesus will help to restore your faith, hope, and joy this morning.

“ Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”

Matthew 9:22 “But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, ‘ Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And the woman was made well from that hour.”

Matthew 14:27 “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘ Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’”

Mark 10:49 “So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.’”

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Take time to reflect today on Jesus the Savior, the Healer, the Protector, the Planner and the Peace Giver.

Pastor Jim

 

Treasures In Heaven

Matthew 6:21
” For Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2015/01/img_1301.jpgThe longer I live, the more I have come to realize, so much in life is passing. Things I once coveted and had to have, are bundled up and given to the Salvation Army. That “new car smell” has been replaced with “what’s that smell?” Even relationships that were once so close, have grown distant. The words of Christ shout a deafening cry,

“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.”

Matthew, Chapter 6, not only exhorts us to lay up heavenly treasures, it also sheds light on the spiritual activities that will help us do it. We are told to give, pray, fast and let go.

One of the great struggles we face is how to live for eternity, while living in time. We know, while God could cause manna to appear on our front lawn every morning, He has chosen to call us to “till the ground.” In other words, we all have to work for a living. We need the tangibles like cash, food, housing, etc. How do we balance living here with storing up treasures in heaven. I think one of the keys is found in Verse 33.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

When we decide to no longer worry, to no longer be consumed with the things of this life, and instead, put our full confidence in Jehovah, as our provider, we will be able to put Him first. When that happens, we will see  He is, in fact, able to meet our every need.

Today, whether you go to work, school, or stay at home, put Jesus in first place. Seek to please Him with every step, and watch as He uses the details of your day as opportunities to store up treasures in heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Famine In The Land

Genesis 12:10
“Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2015/01/img_1299.jpgLife is filled with ups and downs. Sometimes, it seems as if we are living under the sunshine of God’s favor, while other times, we seem to be under a dark cloud of difficulty. Abram and his family were facing a dark time. They were living as sojourners in the land of Canaan when famine struck. This was, no doubt, caused by lack of rainfall. They soon realized, their only course of action, was to head to Egypt. As they journeyed, Abram was gripped with fear. He knew the danger they were stepping into and feared for his safety. Believing that once the rulers of the land saw his wife, they would kill him, and take her. He devised a plan that would keep him safe. He would convince Sarai to claim she was his sister. It seemed as though the plan was working, until the Lord uncovered the sin of Abram.

As time went on, this would prove to be a low spot in the life of Abram, and one with some very heavy consequences. I think it would do us good to consider why this happened. What caused the father of faith, a man who left his home in obedience to the Lord, to lose faith and fail so badly? I think the answer has something to do with perspective. Instead of being led by the promises of God, Abram allowed his circumstances to guide him. It was the Lord who led Abram to Canaan, but it was circumstances that led him to Egypt. Whenever we are facing difficulties that are casting a shadow of doubt upon the promises of God, we should not flee from the promises, but cling to them more tightly. Whatever you are currently facing, no matter how difficult it may be, the solution will never be found in wandering from the Lord, but will be found in drawing nearer to Him.

Pastor Jim