Let’s Battle 

1 Chronicles 20:1
“It happened in the spring of the year, at the time kings go out to battle… But David stayed at Jerusalem…”

Although the writer of Chronicles does not include it here, this is the time when David compromised, broke his own standards, violated the ways of God and sinned with Bathsheba. This is the lowest point in the life of the sweet psalmist of Israel. While there are many factors that led to his failure the text makes it clear that one of the contributing factors was being idle when he should have been busy in the battle.

The word idle simply means not to be working, busy or active. There are times in life when being idle is the exact thing we need; it was God who established the sabbath for Israel and desired them to take times of rest. Taking a break from activity to rest the body, wait on the Lord or simply enjoy the blessings of following Christ is an important part of life and our walk with the Lord. That being said, we must also realize that there are times when being idle can be dangerous. David’s problem was not that he was resting, but that he was resting when he should have been battling. He was in a season in life when the situation called for clinging to the Lord and stepping out in service, instead he chose to stay home, let his guard down and compromise his standards.

The seasons of life often determine our focus for us. If bombs are falling on the city it is not time for a family picnic. If you are in the midst of difficulty at home or work, or if you are struggling with something in your private and personal life it is not the time to sit back, but to clothe yourself in the armor of God and to battle the fiery darts of the wicked one that so often evidence themselves in thoughts that oppose the word of God.

Jim

 

Testophobia 

Deuteronomy 8:2
“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

Like most of us, much of my childhood was spent in school, and one of the worst words for any student to hear is “test.” For some of us, this word  still conjures up feelings of fear, defeat and humiliation. As a student, I was never quite sure why we had to take so many tests. Years later, and much to my own surprise, I actually became a teacher and had a totally different view of the purpose of all those tests. They were not to make the children suffer as much as they were to show, student and teacher alike, what they already knew and what we needed to work on. The tests God put Israel through had a similar purpose. He allowed them to walk through some difficulties to show them what was in them and what work He still needed to do.

Trials are designed to show us how much or how little we have grown in Christ. When we face a difficulty and we are filled with fear, we know that we need to get to know the faithfulness of God better and learn to trust Him. When the trial reveals our impatience, we understand it is time to begin to trust in the purposes, will, and timing of God. It is not as though trials make us afraid, impatient, angry or anxious, as much as they reveal that those things are still within us. When trials expose the weaknesses of our humanity, it is time for us to cling to Christ and allow Him to mature us.

The next time you fail a test, instead of getting discouraged, realize that God has just revealed to you the thing He wants to work on. Take time to carefully seek Him in His word, to help you mature through your difficulties.

Pastor Jim

 

Victory

Numbers 24:17
“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult.”

Unknown-1.jpegThe final prophecy from Balaam, regarding Israel, declares God will defeat all their enemies. The nations that surrounded Israel, as well as those who lived within its borders, would be brought under the mighty hand of the Lord.

As believers we should take great comfort in this. We all face constant attacks from without and within. Not only do we struggle through the difficulties of life, but we are also faced with inward temptation and trial. It is good to know that the enemy will be defeated. As we continue to walk with Christ, we will find that He carries us through the trials of life, and gives us victory over the struggles of our flesh. Even if you are struggling to keep your head above water, you can look back at the faithfulness of God and rejoice in the things from which He has already delivered you. This should give you a deeper desire to allow Him to set you free from whatever struggle you might currently be enduring.

God is faithful and will always be victorious. Pauls declare we are more than conquerors because of the work of Christ (Romans 8:37).

Pastor Jim

 

Peace

Isaiah 60:18
“Violence shall no longer be heard in your land,
Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders;
But you shall call your walls Salvation,
And your gates Praise.”

Isaiah promises a time when violence and destruction will be replaced with salvation and praise. Clearly, we have not yet entered that time. Violence is one of the major themes of our day. While this is true everywhere, it is especially true in the Middle East. It seems as though, not a day goes by where we are not faced with reports of violence, war, and terrorism.
Isaiah promises a day when this violence will be a thing of the past; a time when the Messiah will come to reign and rule, and peace will govern the earth. While we await that day, we must remember, it is possible to have the peace of Christ reign over us even in these dark days.
I recently met a man who had been a terrorist. His view of non-Muslim people was they were infidels and he would be rewarded by Allah for killing them. One day, this angry man, filled with hatred, was invited to church by a young woman. He accepted her offer, if for no other reason than to further persecute Christians. What he did not know is, he was about to encounter the true and living God, and have his life forever changed. Through a series of events, over a number of weeks, this man fell to his knees, invited Christ into his life, and found that the anger which governed his life, was immediately replaced with peace, joy, and love.
No matter who you are or what you are facing, Jesus wants you to drink from the waters of salvation, and experience His perfect peace.

Pastor Jim

 

Shaky 

Isaiah 13:13
“Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts and in the day of His fierce anger.”

Recently, I was driving with some friends, some of whom were from California, and others from Florida. It did not take long for the subject of hurricanes to come up. As we described our experiences of boarding up windows, stocking up on supplies and even evaluating our homes, one of the Florida folks said, “but at least we know they are coming, unlike those California earthquakes.” As you can imagine the conversation then switched to what it is like to have the ground we believe to be solid, suddenly begin to roll underneath your feet. Fortunately, we reached our destination before the conversation became more grave. Suffice it to say, it is a pretty eerie feeling when, what we believe to be solid, suddenly begins to shake;  proving our foundations are not what we thought them to be.

Isaiah speaks of a day when God will shake the whole earth. Everything in which mankind falsely places trust, will be shown to be unstable. Only those who have built their lives upon the solid Rock of Christ, will be able to stand. A time is coming when everything man trusts in will prove to be shaky: politics, governments, economies, even the environment, will go through cataclysmic changes, as God pours forth His judgment on man, for rejecting His word and His way of escape. At that time, only trust in Christ will be a firm enough foundation to hold us.

Have you placed your trust in Him?

Pastor Jim

 

Chosen

Esther 2:17
“The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”

It could have been easy for a woman like Esther to feel forgotten. She had lost her parents at a young age, and was a believer living, in an area where she was surrounded by those who did not know the Lord. As the pages turn, it appears there must have been some level of persecution against the Jews, since Esther chose to hide her heritage from everyone in authority. This rising persecution will set the stage for much of what develops in her story. It seems as though, instead of allowing difficulty to tarnish her view of God, she allowed her situation to give God an opportunity to show His love in her life.

Apparently,  the removal of Vashti from her position as queen, and the king’s decision to select a new bride, must have spread through the kingdom. I can only imagine the wide gamete of emotions that must have run through young Esther when she was selected as a prospective queen and taken to the palace. As the next year unfolded, the Lord began to show His sovereignty and love, as Esther rose above the other candidates. When her turn came to present herself before he king, she was chosen above all others, as the next queen of Persia.

The remainder of this book will illustrate that when God changed her station, He did it to give her a larger platform, in order to be a part of the furtherance of the kingdom of God. This is an important principle to keep in mind. When God blesses us and raises our station in life, we need to ask Him why. Why has God blessed your resources? Is it so you can have a faster car or newer gadgets? Or is it so you can use your resources to further the kingdom. If God has increased your sphere of influence perhaps it is so you can have a larger platform to tell the world about Christ.

Esther teaches us that we are not forgotten, that God knows our current state, and that His plans for us include His desire to raise us up and use us for the furtherance of His kingdom.

Pastor Jim

Why Worry? 

Psalm 127:2
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.”

The Psalmist is describing a scenario common to all of us. There are times, when the hand life deals us is difficult to cope with; sleep is effected, and our minds are tormented. There are many terms that describe this condition, but perhaps the most common is worry. One dictionary defines worry as, “to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; to fret.” I think that is a pretty apt description of worrying; to torment yourself. When we lay in bed unable to sleep, or rise up to pace the floor, filling our minds with what-ifs and worse case scenarios, we are really tormenting ourselves. It is as if we are waterboarding ourselves, and wondering why we are suffering so greatly. The question is not whether we will face things that fill us with dread, concern and anxiety, the question is how we will react. What is the proper response for the child of God when he is faced with things bigger than himself?

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” First, notice that Solomon declares that worry is vain. The word vain means empty. In his other writings, he defined vanity as attempting to grab a handful of wind. Imagine the folly of taking a handful of cool air and placing it in your pocket for later in the day when the temperature rises. In the same way, it is foolish to worry, because it is an empty endeavor. Worry cannot produce anything positive. Jesus put it like this, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6:27) Worry will never produce growth. It will produce a deeper level of anxiety, making us irritable, incapable of performing our responsibilities, and can even produce negative physical effects, like an ulcer. Life often throws things at us that fill us with worry, yet worry has no positive value in our lives. How should we handle those times when we are filled to the top with anxiety?

Again Solomon declares, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” The wonderful truth for us to grasp, is that the Lord will give rest to His children. We experience this rest when we realize that the things we are facing, while much too big for us, are never too much for Him. Our life is like a walled city, and the Lord is our watchman. Nothing gets in that He has not allowed. He is able to use even the gravest of circumstances to produce His desired effects within the child of God.

Instead of filling your mind with the things that create anxiety, fill your minds with the promises of God, and enjoy the rest that only He provides.

Pastor Jim