It’s Time 

1 Kings 15:12-13
“And he banished the perverted persons from the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. Also he removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah. And Asa cut down her obscene image and burned it by the Brook Kidron.”

We recently had a friend visiting who we had not seen in a number of years. One of his first comments was how much our children had grown. When he last saw them, they were pre-teens, now they are young men. He was shocked at how they had changed, in what seemed to be such a brief period of time. For us, the changes do not seem quite as drastic, because we are watching what happens from day to day. It is only when we bring up a photo or video that we see how much things have really changed.

This same thing was true of the moral condition of Israel and Judah. Gradually, over the reigns of Solomon and Rehoboam, the nation drifted from the precepts of God’s Word, and became more and more like the surrounding nations. Morality slipped, and what was once considered obscene, was now commonplace. While these changes may have come gradually, they needed to be addressed quickly and decisively. As Asa came to the throne, he began to immediately address the sins of the nation. We read that idolatry, perversion and obscenity were removed from the landscape of the nation.

It is high time that we, the church of Jesus Christ, pray fervently that those who rise to power would have the courage to stand against the rising tide of immorality. We are living in the times that Isaiah described, where people are calling evil good and good evil. We need to see God raise up men and women who will stand for what is holy, godly and right. That being said, I suggest, of equal and perhaps even greater importance, is that each of us would take the Word of God seriously in our personal lives. Instead of always looking outward at what is wrong with the world today, we would take a look inward, and allow the Word of God to operate on our personal lives.

A move of God, that stirs revival, is always the greatest deterrent to the flood of immorality that spreads across a nation. Revivals have always begun when individuals are moved by the Spirit and the Word of God, to commit themselves completely to Christ. The question that remains is, “Will you be an Asa. Will you be willing to commit yourself and your home to live devoted to Christ?” It is high time we remove the perversion and obscenity from our own lives.

Pastor Jim

 

A Line In The Sand

2 Samuel 8:2

“Then he defeated Moab. Forcing them down to the ground, he measured them off with a line. With two lines he measured off those to be put to death, and with one full line those to be kept alive. So the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought tribute.”


During the reign of Saul, Israel faced constant attack from within and without. From within, they faced uprisings from the Philistines; while beyond their borders, they were threatened by Moab, Ammon, and Syria. Saul’s foreign policy was to react to attacks as they came; once an enemy showed signs of attacking the armies of Israel, they would respond. David had a different approach. He decided to go on the offensive and remove the threats once and for all, even drawing a line in the sand to make his stance very clear. 


David’s model serves as a good example for how the Christian should approach sin. Instead of allowing compromise to exist, and only dealing with personal sin when it begins to overtake us, we should take an offensive approach, seeking to remove all areas of compromise from our lives. Taking inventory of our private life and our homes is a great way to get this started. If you have allowed things in your life that may lead to sin, then it is time for a good old fashion spring cleaning. Maybe it is time to go through the fridge, CD collection, and computer, and toss some things out. 


In this case, the best defense is a good offense. 


Pastor Jim 



Easy As 1,2,3

2 Samuel 5:7
“Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).”

After taking the throne and ruling over all of Israel, David focused his attention on three crucial areas that would help to guarantee a long and successful reign.

First, he established Jerusalem as the capital of the nation. Jerusalem was centrally located and easily defendable. Although Shiloh housed the Tabernacle, Israel had lacked a central political capital. Choosing Jerusalem as the capital made a statement of a new beginning for the nation. They would not be continuing on as they had been for so many years, but would be starting fresh. This is one of the greatest benefits of becoming a child of God. Paul wrote, “. . .behold, all things become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We do not have to carry around the baggage of the past when we come to Christ. We can lay it at His feet and have a fresh start at life.

Second, David addressed the Philistine problem. Saul’s approach seemed to be to respond whenever the Philistines attacked. David chose to address them head on. After carefully seeking the Lord, he began a campaign to rid Israel of the Philistines, once and for all. Often, we deal with sin only when it becomes a problem, instead of planning ahead to ensure we have built up safeguards that will make it difficult to stumble. We all have “easily besetting sins” we must guard ourselves against if we are not going to be defeated by them. Perhaps it is time to drive some things out of your life, before you find yourself defeated by them once again.

Finally, David chose to bring the Ark to the center of the nation. Later we will read of his desire to build a Temple, to both house the Ark, and provide a place of worship for the people. Although David will struggle with the “how to” and move the Ark in an inappropriate way, he is showing his desire for God to have center stage in his life, and in the nation. Too often, we give God the back seat, or perhaps even “shotgun,” when we should be giving Him the driver’s seat. The rightful place for Jesus in your life, is sitting on the throne as Lord. Instead of letting Him be a part of your life, you should let Him be Lord of your life. If you make a mistake like David did, look into the Word and see how He wants you to live and “Just do it!”

Pastor Jim

 

Good Or Bad

1 Samuel 15:9

“But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.”

In many ways, the Old Testament serves as a picture book to illustrate New Testament principles. That is not to say  the events recorded are not factual, but that they were designed to bring out Biblical principles in living color. The story of Saul and his battle to defeat the Amalekites unfolds like a motion picture, illustrating the battle we face with our own flesh. It does not take long for every Christian to realize, we struggle to resist some of the things that God has forbidden. Overcoming the ungodly desires within us is the daily struggle of the believer, and the story before us helps to unveil one of the secrets to success.


Saul was instructed to destroy all that was plundered when the armies defeated Amalek. Instead, we read that Saul kept “the best” and “that which was good”, even though God had rejected all of it. Saul is doing what we often do, he is using his own standard of good and bad, rather than allowing the word of God to set the standard for him. When we begin to redefine sin, it will not be long before we are making compromises and justifying our ungodly behavior. The secret to success in the struggle with the flesh is to recognize what God forbids, and to stay away from it. 


Sadly, the end of Saul’s story is a tragic one. His compromises will ultimately lead to his death and that of his son Jonathan. In the end, it will be an Amalekite who will take Saul’s life. What he refused to remove ultimately cost him greatly. 


Take a quick inventory and see if there is anything in your life that needs to be removed. If so, don’t wait another day, lay it before the Lord and ask for His power to help you never pick it up again. 


Pastor Jim 

Will This Ever Work

1 Samuel 7:13
“So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel…”

Israel faced a constant threat from the Philistines. They had come into the territory promised to Israel, taken land, and threatened the people. Earlier in 1 Samuel, the nation mustered all its strength to drive the Philistines out of their territories, only to suffer a devastating loss. In that earlier battle, the people gathered around a religious artifact, went forth in all the strength they had, and were defeated. Now, some years later, we find them once again facing the same threat. This time, however, their efforts resulted in a great victory. What was the difference? How were they able to defeat an enemy which had plagued them for so many years?

1 Samuel 7:3
“Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, ‘If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.’”

Notice the steps that led to their success. First, they were to return to the LORD and put away foreign gods. The order here is of the utmost importance. Too often, we think we must make great changes in our lives, in order to come to the LORD. We think all that is wrong with us, must be cleaned up and fixed, before we can take the steps forward and receive forgiveness for sin. This may be the ultimate in putting the cart before the horse. We don’t clean up our act and come to Christ. We come to Christ and allow Him to clean us up. The first step is to come, and let Him transform our lives.

Step two in their return, was committing themselves to the things that mattered to the LORD. We read that they “Served Him only…” One of the main reasons people fall away from the LORD is they never really committed themselves to Him. There was the initial realization of the need of forgiveness, but never the commitment of their lives to Christ. If we want to ensure victory, there must be a commitment to serve. Ask yourself “In what way do I serve Jesus at my church?” If you have no answer for that question, then figure out how you can get involved. Help in a Sunday School class, hospitality, greeting, parking lot ministry, or join a Home Fellowship. The possibilities are endless and the impact in your personal walk will be tremendous.

Pastor Jim

 

The Blame Game 

Judges 10:14
“Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.”

It is common for people to show no interest in God until calamities arises. As long as life is going their way, they are not concerned with God, but as soon as things get difficult, suddenly, they cry to God for help. Those who have shown no interest in the ways of God, suddenly blame God for the calamity they are facing, and cry out to Him to fix everything.

Many in Israel found themselves facing the threat of death. They had left the Word of God and were living life their own way. This “free living” led them once again into hardship, and they cried out to God for deliverance. Time and time again, they cried out for help, and God provided deliverance, but this time was different. This time God responded,

“Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.”

If you are living life by your own standards, ignoring the Word and ways of God, you cannot expect God to bail you out when things go wrong. He may respond by telling you to ask your own self-will, or the gods of possessions, or pleasures for help. Fortunately, for Israel and for us, this is not the end of the story. We read,

Judges 10:15-16
“And the children of Israel said to the Lord, ‘We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray.’ So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.”

Instead of treating God like their cosmic servant, they realized they had been living wrong. They took inventory of their lives, removed all the things that were forbidden by God, and made strides to get their lives to line up with His Word. We read, as God observed their repentance, He could no longer resist His own desire to come to their aid.

Today would be a good day to take inventory of your life. Are you living according to your own standards and asking God to bless your ways? Or have you surrendered to Him and His Word? Let’s put away anything that is foreign to Him, that we might experience the blessed life He promises to those who follow Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Roller Coaster 

Judges 2:16
“Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them..

The book of Judges records a reoccurring cycle in the life of the young Israeli nation. Over and over, as the story unfolds, we will read of sin, suffering, supplications and salvation. The people will disobey the Lord, becoming involved in sinful and worldly practices. These practices will lead to suffering, and their suffering will cause them to cry out to God for help. Again and again, the mercy of God is revealed as God raises up judges or deliverers to rescue the people from the bondage their sin has caused.

This pattern is one which has sadly been repeated many times over in the life of believers down through the ages. We, like Israel, make compromises with sins that should be removed from our lives forever. As time goes on, we find these compromises have led us into practices we are ashamed of, and have a difficult time overcoming. Praise God, His mercy is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), and we can once again cry out for His forgiveness and strength.

If you are riding the roller coaster of compromise, it is time to learn the lesson of Judges. Remove forever those things that lead you away from the Lord. Victory ultimately came to Israel when David took the throne and made the Lord the center of national life. Put God first! Give Him your early morning, and the end of your day. Keep Him at the forefront of your thoughts, as you walk through life. Consider His ways when you are facing dilemmas or decisions.

Pastor Jim

 

Not Strong Enough

Joshua 16:10

“And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers.”

 

Both Joshua and the early chapters of Judges, tell the story of Israel’s occupation of the land of Canaan. After the initial strikes led by Joshua, the land was divided into twelve lots.  Each tribe was given the responsibility of possessing their territory. While we read of some great victories that illustrate dynamic faith, we also read a reoccurring theme where the tribes either did not, or could not, drive out one people group or another. Sometimes it was a failure on the part of the people to trust God and step out in faith, other times it was due to convenience. In the case of Benjamin, they allowed the enemy to remain within their borders because they believed they would personally benefit from keeping them around. 

   

Benjamin was not alone in this. Later, we will read of king Saul, who, instead of dealing with the Amalekites, chose to keep what he believed to be personally profitable. This did not end well for Saul, for in the end, he was killed by the sword of an Amalekite. 

 

The best approach to dealing with sin and temptation is to remove it as far from ourself as possible. As long as we think we are strong enough to keep it in check, we run the risk of falling back into that sin in a time of spiritual weakness. It would be like building high walls around an ancient city and leaving the gate wide open. History bears record of great cities falling for no other reason than failing to lock the gates, or close off an opening. Paul gave us his approach to dealing with temptation when he wrote,

 

Romans 13:14

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

 

Pastor Jim

 

Daily Walk 

Joshua 15:1
“So this was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families.”

After Joshua led the armies of Israel in victory against the Canaanite kings, he distributed the land to each of the tribes. The lands were determined by lot and the size of each tribe. The lot was like a divinely inspired roll of the dice. They may have prayed, rolled the dice, and trusted the Lord for the outcome. Once the lands were distributed, each tribe was responsible to occupy their portion. In order to occupy the land, they had to settle into what they had previously conquered, then daily, deal with those inhabitants who stubbornly remained.

The same is true of the child of God today. Jesus, on the cross, conquered our enemies; the devil was defeated, and sins forgiven. It remains our responsibility to live our lives set apart from our past sins, and daily deal with those things that may lead us away from the Lord. Sadly for Israel, they neglected much of the daily responsibility. As time went on, those who they should have driven out, became their biggest challenges.

We cannot treat our relationship with the Lord as an annual or even weekly thing. If we want to live the lives God intended for us, we must walk with Him daily. It was God’s intent that Israel offer morning and evening sacrifices. The day began and ended with the Lord. We should follow that same practice, and invest daily in our walk with God.

Pastor Jim

 

Treaty

Joshua 9:14
“Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord.”

The men of Gibeon pulled off quite a scam. They went to great lengths to look like something they were not, in order to fool Israel into making a treaty with them. Old clothes, worn out shoes, moldy bread, all made it appear they had traveled a great distance. In reality, they lived within the borders of Israel’s land. Joshua and the other leaders of the nation were duped by the Gideonite’s ruse because when faced with this dilemma, they used their senses, rather than the Word of God. Had they taken the time to pray, God would have revealed to them the true nature of the Gibeonites. His Word already spoke regarding the inhabitants of the Land; Israel was to drive them out.

The reason for removing the inhabitants was quite simple. God knew the weakness of His people; they were easily influenced by the lifestyles of the people around them. He knew it would not be long before Israel was tempted to take on the sinful practices of the nations around them. To protect His people, He removed the temptation.

Sin, like the Gibeonites, is quite deceptive. It looks appealing, and even promises to bring gain to our lives. In reality, sin is always destructive. Too often, we make covenants of compromise, rather than driving things out of our lives. Sometimes, we leave things at arms distance, only to find that, in a moment of weakness, we fall into it again.

Paul reminds us of what to do with sin and the old life.

Galatians 2:20
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Pastor Jim