Coming Messiah 

Psalms 24:9-10
“Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.”

It seems the Psalmist is exhorting the inhabitants of Jerusalem to open wide the gates for the coming Messiah. They should be living with an expectation of His coming. This expectation was based upon the promises of Scripture. The prophets foretold of a specific date in which the Messiah would enter the city riding upon a donkey, and be received with worship by the people. As the narrative of scripture continues to unfold, we find that the Messiah came as predicted, but very few of the people were ready for Him. Some were so deeply set in their ways, that when He arrived, they dismissed Him completely.

The Bible speaks of another coming of the Messiah. Jesus said He stands a the door of the heart of each and every man. To those who will open their hearts, He will enter their lives, forgive their sins, and begin to transform them from the inside out. It is by opening your heart to Christ that you become prepared for the day when He will come again.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 24

  1. How is God described in verse 1?
  2. What character traits are encouraged in verses 3-4?
  3. Consider the description of God in verses 8-10. How does that minister to you today?

Priority Seating

Isaiah 24:2
“And it shall be:
As with the people, so with the priest;
As with the servant, so with his master;
As with the maid, so with her mistress;
As with the buyer, so with the seller;
As with the lender, so with the borrower;
As with the creditor, so with the debtor.”

Life is filled with distinctions. Gender, age, experience, education, skill level, and heritage are just a few things that set us apart from one another. Recently while traveling, it came time to board the plane, and distinctions were made. First class boarded first, followed by business class and priority seating. Finally, when sufficient time was given for these others to settle, a call was made for the rest of us. We have become used to a culture where distinction is made. However, when it comes to the kingdom of God there is perfect equality. No one man is more qualified for eternity than another. This equality shows itself both in the need for salvation, as well as the means of it.

When writing to the church in Rome, Paul gave them what has become the treatise for salvation. He spent the first three chapters developing the premise that all have sinned and fallen short of the standard for entrance into eternal life. Priest, prince, or pauper, have all sinned and cannot earn, or purchase, their way into heaven.

Once this premise was set, Paul went on to declare, that while salvation cannot be earned, it can be received. He declared the gift of eternal life is through Jesus Christ. Whatever distinctions earth may set upon us, heaven sees us as one class: sinners in need of a Savior. Wonderfully, heaven also has provided the Savior. Whoever will trust in Christ for salvation will have their sins forgiven and become a child of God, with full access to the throne of grace.

Peter was relaxing on the balcony of a friend’s house, enjoying the warm sunshine, when he was interrupted with a message from heaven. He saw a sheet, perhaps like a picnic blanket, filled with all kinds of animals. Some of these animals had been forbidden from his diet under the law, however, he was instructed by God to no longer make a distinction, but to eat them all. Peter realized something much bigger than his diet was being addressed. He would soon meet a band of men who would lead him to the house of a gentile, where he would share the gospel. Peter needed to learn that heaven makes no distinctions, all who come to God through faith in Christ, will be saved.

What about you? Have you trusted Christ as Savior or are you still confident in works, heritage, or your own morality. None of those will be sufficient on the day we face God.

Pastor Jim

 

Whatever You Want

Ecclesiastes 11:9
“…Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.”

It is not uncommon for a person to go from church to church, and pastor to pastor, until they receive the counsel they want to hear; instead of the counsel they need to hear. I have known people to leave the church they have been attending simply because they received advice or admonishment they did not like. It is in those times, Solomon’s words seem to be most fitting. He declares, we are free to do whatever our heart desires, but we must understand, a day is coming when we will give account for those decisions, and the actions that followed.

A married couple, who has failed to apply the Biblical principles to their marriage, may grow farther and farther apart, until they choose to end their marriage. They may even use phrases like, “we fell out of love” or “it is better for the children, for us to part than to fight” or “we never really loved each other anyway.” The end result is, they are choosing to do what they want, regardless of what God says. It is important to realize, a day is coming when we will answer for the life we lived. Difficulties are not reasons to end a marriage, but to work on the marriage.

A dating couple may feel the pressure to become sexually active. They may begin to justify their actions because they are in love. They too have a choice, either to obey God or follow their heart. It is important to keep in mind, we will stand before God for our decisions.

Whatever scenario we can imagine, we find ourselves face to face with the decision to either obey the Word of God, or to follow the desires of our own hearts. I recall sitting with an individual who began to tell me all the reasons for the decision he was making. He told me of the difficulties he was facing and his desire to be happy. After listening to him for quite some time, I replied, “Where is God in the equation?” His answer stunned me, he declared he did not care, he just wanted to be happy.

Whatever you are facing, remember, we will one day stand face to face with Christ. It is His desire to richly reward us with eternal life and treasures in heaven. Whatever momentary happiness we think we will derive from disobedience, will soon be forgotten in the light of eternity’s rewards.

Pastor Jim

 

Request

Esther 5:2-3
“So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. And the king said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!”

Esther was given access to the king. She was allowed to make a single request that seemed to be limitless. With all the wealth of the Persian kingdom at her disposal, her request was for the salvation of her people. Imagine if you had access to a wealthy and powerful king, who allowed you to ask for anything up to half of all he possessed. What would your request be? Now stop imagining. If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, the Bible promises you have access to the King of Kings. You can make constant requests before God. You have continual access to God and are exhorted to come regularly to His throne.

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Whatever our needs are, we are invited to come to the throne of grace and receive. The Apostle James declared, one reason we find ourselves in want, is because we simply fail to come to the throne and ask. Jesus explained, we should ask consistently and persistently, until our requests are answered. If your need is physical, spiritual, emotional, if it has to do with provision, strength, guidance, comfort or anything else, the answer will be found at the Throne of Grace.

When Esther approached the throne, her request was for something bigger than any personal problem she was facing. Her request was for the salvation of her people. While it is necessary to spend time at the Throne of Grace praying for our personal needs, it is also important that we spend time praying on behalf of those who have not yet received Christ. Make a list of people that you know personally; people from your family, work, neighborhood, and places of recreation. Pray daily for their salvation. Pray for their hearts to soften to Christ, and pray for opportunities to share Christ with them, and invite them to church.

Pastor Jim

 

Puffed Up 

1 Corinthians 4:6-7
“. . . that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

Paul warns of the danger of pride. He refers to it as being puffed up; a term that has withstood the test of time, and is still used today. When we see someone who is filled with pride, we might say they are filled with self, puffed up, or even that they have a big head. Paul reminds us of the folly of elevating ourselves above one another, by exhorting us that what we have, we received from the Lord.

This passage reminds me of the story of Absalom, the son of King David, whose life was marked with pride and whose death was fitting. We are told, in the heat of battle, while fleeing from Joab, he rode under a low hanging tree branch and his head was stuck. Moments later, Joab arrived and slew Absalom. He literally died because his head was too big. Absalom was a man born into privilege. He was the son of the king, raised in the palace, given the best education and upbringing available at the time. His palace life would afford him connections with the most prominent people of the day, and provide him with a life of influence. In addition, the Bible describes him as an extremely good-looking man. He was praised throughout the nation for his looks. No doubt women were wooed by him, and men envious of him. But rather than looking at these as gifts from the Lord, and opportunities to be useful for the kingdom of heaven, Absalom was filled with pride. We are told, he was so in love with himself, that at the end of every year he would get a haircut, weigh his hair and publish the results. Of all the things we take pride in, that has to be one of the most ridiculous.

What have you done to determine the amount of hair that you have? The answer is nothing, it is hereditary. If you are bald or if you have a flowing mane, it is not because of something you accomplished, it is like being proud that you are tall. Paul reminds us, “what do you have that you did not receive? Now, if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” Everything we have is an evidence of the grace of God. Rather than thinking of ourselves as better than another, we should use the gifts, privileges and opportunities we have been given, to serve one another, and to further the kingdom of heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Convenient Time 

Acts 24:25 
“Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”

Time is an interesting thing. We are always spending it and it cannot be saved. Failing to do something today, does not guarantee we will have the time for it tomorrow. Felix’s encounter with the Gospel message teaches us something important about how we use this moment for eternal things.

Paul had been promised, early on in his walk with the Lord, that he would have opportunity to share Christ with kings, or political rulers. Due to circumstances beyond his control, he finds himself standing before the Roman Ruler of Judea, with an open door to share Christ. In true Pauline fashion, he “swings for the fences”, and declares how Christ was risen from the dead and offers eternal life. He warns of the coming resurrection; that all men will one day stand before God to give account for this life. Those who have received Christ will enter into eternity, and those who have rejected Him, will face eternal judgment.

After hearing the truth of Christ so clearly explained, Felix’s response is striking. He sends Paul away, anticipating that in his future he will have “a convenient time” to decide for Christ. Sadly, as the story unfolds, Felix never finds that time. He is given many more opportunities to receive Christ, only to find further reasons to put it off.

Tragically, Felix is not alone in this. Many, upon hearing the Gospel, recognize it to be true; the Spirit of God is speaking to them, and stirring within them to respond. Yet, like Felix, they put it off. Perhaps they too, think tomorrow will be a more favorable day. Those who put off Christ, do so for many reasons. Some are concerned how their response to Christ will impact them socially. They are concerned about what others will think of them, how their friends will react to the news, or how their co-workers will treat them. Others are hoping for one more experience with sin. Perhaps another night of partying, or a final chance of sleeping with their girlfriend; only to find that they are never able to satisfy the craving for one more.

The truth is, there will NEVER be a more convenient time to get things right with the Lord than this moment. If need be, take time to surrender all to Jesus, and begin a fresh new walk with Him

Pastor Jim

 

Pharaoh’s Failure

Exodus 5:2
“And Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.’”

IMG_1387All of Pharaoh’s foolish decisions can be traced back to this statement. The fact is, he did not know the power of God, which caused him to view the miracles as parlor tricks, and have his magicians do the same. It was a failure to understand the provision of God. He couldn’t see how releasing his work force would ever be good for the prosperity of his nation. Most of all, it was his failure to comprehend the plans of God, which caused him to harden his heart and resist Moses. Week after week, month after month, Moses preached to Pharaoh. He explained the plans of God, and yet Pharaoh resisted. He failed to realize these oppressed slaves were part of the plan of God, to save the human race. What he saw, was an immigrant work force to further his kingdom. God saw the nation from whom the Messiah would come, and the world would be saved. Pharaoh’s hardened heart and resistance to Moses’ message did not thwart the plans of God, but it did cost Pharaoh dearly. It cost him in this life. He suffered, his family suffered, and his nation suffered, all because he refused to submit to the plans and purposes of God. What a different story we would read, had Pharaoh only accepted the Word of God.

The same remains true today. God’s purpose is still to save humanity. Week after week, month after month, His message is being declared, and many are responding by placing trust in Christ. Sadly, however, many follow the foolish example of Pharaoh. They harden their hearts and resist the Word of God. Instead of resisting God and suffering loss, both now and in eternity, will you respond to His call, and surrender to Christ? His love for you is great and His plans are perfect.

Pastor Jim

 

Ministry Principles

Matthew 15:36
“And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude.”

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It is against the law to give away what you do not own. If it does not belong to you, it is not yours to give. That is one of the most basic principles that governs when serving Jesus. If we want to help others walk with the Lord, we must first receive from the Lord. The story of the loaves and fish illustrate that principle quite well. The disciples took what they had, brought that to Jesus; He multiplied it, and they distributed it to others.

If we want to be involved in serving the Lord, it starts with taking what we have and making it available to the Lord. Perhaps the most important commodity that we possess is time. When we make time to serve the Lord, He will always give us something to pass on. Over the years, we have seen this principle in action time and time again. Someone will venture out in faith and step into an area of service, they have an overwhelming sense of being unqualified, but as they spend time seeking the Lord and moving forward, God always provides more than what they needed to serve effectively.

We cannot neglect to take what we have and give it to the Lord, nor can we neglect to spend time with Him, if we want our service to be successful.

Pastor Jim

 

Meeting Melchizedek

Genesis 14:18-20
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ And he gave him a tithe of all.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2015/01/img_1302.jpgAbram’s encounter with Melchizedek is one of the most interesting and encouraging stories in Scripture. The scene is set for their meeting in the previous chapter, where we find Lot departing from Abram, and moving to the plains outside the city of Sodom. What seemed to be a brilliant business decision, turned out to be a costly moral one, as Lot is soon caught up in the ways of Sodom. When fighting breaks out between nations, Lot finds himself taken captive as a POW, and led to Elam where he will become a slave. The news of Sodom’s defeat, and Lot’s capture, reaches the ears of Abram, who gathers his 318 servants and heads out in hot pursuit. Abram is attempting to do with 318 farmers, what five armies could not do; defeat the forces of Chedorlaomer.

Miraculously, Abram is able, not only to defeat Chederlaomer, but to drive his forces as far north as Damascus. God has accomplished the impossible through the faithful and fearless service of a few men. It is here, the story gets really interesting. Upon returning home, Abram is met by Melchizedek, the King and Priest of Salem. This man, although only appearing briefly in the narrative of Genesis, becomes a key player in the overall story of Scripture. When we come to the New Testament, we are told the ministry of Jesus was patterned after the ministry of Melchizedek. Jesus, unlike the Jewish priests, was both a king and a priest. The encounter Abram had with him, is an illustration of the encounters that we must have with Christ.

Abram’s encounter with Melchizedek happens after a battle, that would have left any army exhausted, and before facing the king of Sodom, who would offer him great riches. It is here, Abram meets with Melchizedek, who offers him bread, wine and a blessing. As Scripture continues to unfold, we will find that bread and wine play a critical role.

Life for the believer is filled with spiritual battles. We face the trials and temptations of life, coupled with the difficulties of winning others to the Lord. This can become exhausting, and leave us vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. The secret is to take a page from Abram’s book, being sure our service includes ample time with King Jesus, and our focus is on the cross. In communion, where we are told to remember Jesus, the bread reminds us of His body, broken for our sin, while the wine reminds us of the forgiveness we find in Him. It is critical, in the midst of battle, we learn to get alone with the Lord and allow Him to strengthen us.

Whatever challenges you may face today, spending time with Jesus will prepare you for it. Before you run out the door to face the next hurdle in life, be sure to take time to look into the Word, and up at the Lord.

Pastor Jim