Insomnia 

Esther 6:1
“That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.”

We don’t always get to see what God is doing on the other side of our trials. This is one of those rare cases and should provide us with a great deal of comfort. Esther had been encouraged by her uncle to use her position as Queen to make a request on behalf of the Jewish people who were being targeted for extermination. She knew this was a dangerous move since it would require her accessing the king without permission as well as exposing that she too was Jewish. None the less she boldly requested the king and Haman to attend a banquet where she would expose Haman as a fiend and plead for the salvation of her people. What Esther did not know is that God was working behind the scenes in an extraordinary way.

That night the king was unable to sleep and decided to review the official book of records. It seems that even then the cure for insomnia was a good old fashion history text book. While examining these records he came across a section that described a murderous plot against the king that had been thwarted by a Jewish man named Mordecai, yet there was no record of him being rewarded for his service. The very man who wanted to destroy the Jews found himself having to honor one of the Jews.

When Esther arrives at the banquet to make request on behalf of her people the Lord has already prepared the heart of the king. The same thing is true in our lives. The Lord is faithfully working behind the scenes to prepare the way for what He has called us to accomplish.

Jim

 

Old Faithful 

Titus 3:8

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

Sometimes, when we want to emphasize the importance of something, we might add a phrase like “to tell you the truth” or “honestly speaking” or “without a doubt” or “without question.” It was common for Jesus to use the term “verily, verily” or “truly, truly”, when driving home a particular truth. For Paul, the favorite lead-in was “this is a faithful saying.” He used it five times in his writings, and each time emphasized a different truth.

1 Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

Beyond any doubt, the reason for Jesus coming into the world was to save sinners. He did this by willingly laying down His life on the cross. The Jesus who called the dead back to life, walked upon the water, and commanded the demons to depart, is the same Jesus who allowed Himself to be tortured and crucified; all this to save sinners. For us to benefit from His work on the cross, we must, like Paul, realize we are the sinner He died for, and receive the pardon He provides.

1 Timothy 3:1 “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.”

Something happens when we begin to grow in our relationship with Jesus. Within us, a desire grows to serve Him. People, who prior to coming to Christ, may have been extremely selfish, now find themselves wanting to help others, or serve in the local church. Paul explains, wanting to serve the Lord is a good thing, and wanting to serve in the capacity of a pastor is a call of God. If you are being called, answer.

1 Timothy 4:9 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.”

Before making this statement, Paul had declared, “godliness is profitable for all things in this life and the one to come.” Whenever making an investment, we want to know the profitability of it. Will I get back what I am putting in? Paul explains that with godliness you will get a return far greater than the investment you make. Godliness will affect every part of this life, and will leave a storehouse of treasures awaiting you in the next.

2 Timothy 2:11 “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.”

This is the first line of a chorus sung by the early churches. It declares, without question, there is life after this life. For those who trust Christ, we will live with Him for all eternity. Heaven is filled with glory, but the heaven of heavens, is the presence of Jesus. To be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord.

Titus 3:8 “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

This is the final use of the phrase in Paul’s writings. Here, he is emphasizing the fact that all who trust in Christ for salvation should be filled with good works. Doing good things will not save you. However, if you are saved, you will long to do good works. You will desire to show your trust in Christ by living a brand new life. These good works should show themselves in your home, neighborhood, place of business, school, hobbies and circle of influence. How do you think your world would be affected, if today, you walked out the door seeking opportunities to do good works unto others, as a way to reveal Christ to them?

Let’s be sure to maintain good works, after all, the salvation of our loved ones may depend on it.

Pastor Jim

 

Book Of Tears 

Psalm 56:8
You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?”

David refers to God’s book. This is not a reference to the Word of God; for he tells us that the content of this book is David’s tears. He is not the only writer to refer to a book that God possesses. The Apostle John wrote,

“But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Revelation 21:27

The Old Testament prophet Malachi also refers to this book,

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.” Malachi 3:16

These writers are speaking of a book whose author is God, and the subject is the saints. It is a book that contains the names of all who have trusted in Christ for salvation. As a result, they have become citizens of heaven, and children of God. It is of the utmost importance that your name be found on this scroll.

John further explained its importance,

“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15

Whether it is the same book, or another one that David is referring to, we cannot know. In addition to our names being listed, David makes clear that our difficulties are recorded as well. He states that our tears are saved in His book. In poetic fashion, Jesus illustrated God’s love for us when He stated,

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30

There is nothing we face that God does not know about. He watches closely the affairs of our lives. He does not watch as an uninvolved observer. Instead, He allows and even uses, the struggles we face to draw us nearer to Himself, and produce His character in our lives. A good friend of mine used the term “Father-Filtered”, to describe how God allows the trials we face. In the midst of these trials, God is carefully watching; providing His sustaining grace and even writing down our sorrows. I have to believe they are recorded, as they have to do with future rewards.

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12

Malachi’s reference to this book is in the context of our communication about God with one another. He states that when the saints talk about God, heaven is listening and recording the conversation. Think about the majesty of that. When you are facing a trial and call a friend who counsels you with the Word, Heaven watches and writes it down. When you share a praise report or a verse that especially touched your heart, God Himself writes it down in a book. Perhaps, the greatest thing we can share is the simple truth of the Gospel with our family, friends and neighbors. This passage has always made me wonder how large my book is. I don’t want to get to heaven and find that mine is the size of a bulletin or Bible tract. Let’s be sure to communicate the things of God so that our book is more like a set of books or a full library.

Pastor Jim

 

That’s Not Fair

1 Samuel 30:24-25
“’…But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.’ So it was, from that day forward; he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.”

As David and his men pursued the Amalekites, some of them grew weary. It is not difficult to understand why. Not only were they pursuing at a rapid pace, but they were doing so with broken hearts. Amelek had plundered their goods and kidnapped their families. For days, these men had been grieving, many, perhaps, unable to eat, due to the deep sorrow they were feeling. As a result, two hundred men were unable to press on, and the company split into two groups. Two hundred men stayed behind, and four hundred went to battle.

After a decisive victory, David’s men returned with all their goods, their families and the spoils of wars. As the two groups came together, the men who went to battle thought they should receive a larger portion than those who stayed behind. This seems to be reasonable, after all they were the ones who risked their lives to do the work and defeat the enemy. David, however, intervened and declared that equal portions would be given to those who go to battle and to those who remain behind. Obviously, David saw things differently. All they could see was the hard work they had put in, David saw that the victory was the Lord’s.

Whenever we are involved in ministry, of any kind, we must realize we have been chosen, equipped, strengthened, and will be directed by the Lord. When the ministry has been accomplished, it is because of the work of God. We no more lead someone to Christ, than David’s men won the battle. It is the Lord who does the work, and we are involved in the process so we can grow in Christ. It is folly to exalt ourselves above another, because of the way God has chosen to use us.

Whether you are called to go to the mission field, serve in children’s ministry, lead a home fellowship, be on the prayer team, invite friends to church, or serve in any other capacity, it is critical we realize, the rewards are the same. There is no greater reward for teaching than there is for inviting. The key is, understanding we are rewarded for faithfulness.

Whatever God has called you to, do it heartily as unto the Lord. If you are struggling to determine how God wants to use you, keep a few things in mind. First, He loves souls, so invite friends to Christ, or to church where they can hear about Him. Second, He wants to make disciples, so invest in the lives of others to help them grow in Christ.

Pastor Jim


Agents Of Shield

Genesis 15:1
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’”

2015/01/img_1305.jpgAbraham had every reason to be afraid. He had just mounted a surprise attack against the forces of king Chedorlaomer and stole back all the spoils of Chedarlaomer’s victory over the king of Sodom. It seems obvious, this king would soon return with his armies and attempt to wipe out Abraham.  I love that God wastes no time in coming to Abraham with a promise to be his protection against the enemies attacks.

Abraham’s fears may have been compiled by the fact that he had just rejected all the spoils offered to him by the king of Sodom. In an act of great, perhaps even heroic, faith, Abraham resisted the temptation to take a financial gift from the king. He chose, instead, to boldly declare he would rather trust in the provision of God, than to have anyone think it was the king who  made him rich. What a blessing to hear God declare He would be Abraham’s reward.

No matter what circumstances we might be facing, we can be assured that God wants to provide protection and provision. Just as He held back the vengeful hand of Chedorlaomer, He is able to work out the troubling circumstances which seem to be drowning you. God is faithful to be our shield and our reward.

Pastor Jim