Invest In Your Future 

Proverbs 13:7
“There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing;
And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.”

Solomon is suggesting it is possible to have earthly possessions and yet to possess nothing of true value. At the same time, it is possible to have next to nothing, and have great wealth. He is not saying wealth is evil and poverty is good, but that within God’s economy, some things are of much greater value than others. The Bible teaches us there are three things that are eternal, and investments made in these areas will give a person lasting riches.

First off, God Himself is eternal. Before the universe existed, there was God. He is the un-caused cause that brought all other things into being. He is the source of all life, and the one who holds all things together. He is the one to whom we will give an account when our lives run their course. While it is not wrong to make capital investments and to store up for your family’s future, we must not do it at the expense of investing in a relationship with God. The most important investment we make is a decision to follow Jesus Christ.

Second, the Word of God is eternal. The writer of Hebrews explained that one day the heavens above us and the earth we stand upon, will be folded like a garment and replaced, but the Word of God will last forever (Hebrews 1:11-12). Every promise of God is eternal, and every investment of the Word of God in our lives, will bring eternal benefits. Often, the thing that keeps us from investing time in the Word, is the fact that we do not think it makes a difference. The reality is, when time has run its course, and the things of this life are a distant memory, we will still be reaping the benefits of our investments in the Word of God.

Finally, the Bible teaches us that the souls of men and women are eternal. God has done everything possible for each and every person to spend eternity with Him. He sent His Son to die for us, His Spirit to draw us, and His church to be an influence to win us. When we realize how much others matter to God, and we seek to influence them for eternity, we are making investments that will outlast time. The most important place where these investments are made is within the home.

There is nothing wrong with making earthly investments. There is nothing inherently wrong with riches, or with enjoying much of the pleasures that come with wealth. However, there are things of much greater value than stocks portfolios, profit margins and real estate holdings. The things that matter most, are the things that last forever. Don’t neglect to store up riches where they really matter.

Pastor Jim

 

War And Peace 

Isaiah 26:3-4
“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.”

I recently watched an episode of a “Reality Show” where two individuals were in search of gold. They invested all they had, left their families, traveled to a foreign land, all in search of gold and in hopes of getting rich. Over the centuries, gold has been a highly sought after commodity. For many years, it was the standard by which a nation’s wealth was determined. Gold is not the only commodity man seeks after. Many have spent their lives in pursuit of resources that will make them rich, successful, powerful or at least happy. Perhaps the most sought after of all, is the pursuit of peace. In fact, it seems many would give up all else, in order to gain peace. In one of the most precious of all promises, Isaiah declares where peace can be found.

Isaiah 26:3-4
“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.”

Two things are important to note. First of all, this promise was directed to those who had trusted in the Lord for salvation The peace he referred to is for the child of God alone. We cannot expect to benefit from the promises of God, if we are not willing to walk in the ways of God. The first step to having turmoil removed, is to begin a relationship with God through Christ.

Ephesians 2:14
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation”

Second, notice the peace is described as being perfect, and distributed to those whose minds are fixed upon the Lord. When I was a child, I would often play the “what if” game. We would imagine what it would be like if circumstances suddenly changed. I have found many adults, even believers, still play that childish game. Instead of focusing upon the Lord and His promises, they are determined to think about how bad things are, and assure themselves, things will continue to get worse. It is a good idea to stop worrying about the future and fix your mind on the promises of God in the present.

If you are facing circumstances that are filling you with fear or anxiety, giving you sleepless nights and fret-filled days, then it is time for you to open your Bible, find promises that fit your circumstances, and begin to put your trust in the Lord.

Pastor Jim

You Can’t Take It With You

Ecclesiastes 5:15
“As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor Which he may carry away in his hand.”

Back in the eighties, it was common to see bumper stickers on expensive cars that read, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” The sentiment was simple, life is about acquiring more, and happiness is found in the abundance of wealth. That might be a catchy saying, but the reality is, the only thing we win by accumulating more, is more. The Bible declares, there is much more to

life than the things we acquire. Solomon declared,

As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return”

Years ago, a nearby museum was displaying the remains of King Tut. People everywhere, traveled to see the great wealth buried with this dead ruler. He was buried along with much wealth in order that he would have plenty when he stepped from time into eternity. The folly of such thinking should have been settled forever by the fact that his tomb was still filled with all that loot. The simple fact is, no matter how much wealth we attain in this life, we cannot take it with us. It would be utter folly to see a hearse pulling a trailer full of goods. While we cannot take earthly riches with us, we certainly can send spiritual treasures on ahead. Jesus encourages us to “store up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20).

Instead of living only to provide for needs while on earth, we should be living to prepare for our time in eternity. First step, receive Christ as Savior. Next step, seek to live for the things that matter most to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Small Things 

1 Chronicles 26:13
“And they cast lots for each gate, the small as well as the great, according to their father’s house.”

As David recounts those who would serve in the various capacities within the house of the Lord, he reminds us that all service, small or great, is determined by the Lord. Those who would attend to the gates of the city were chosen by lot. A person given charge over a lesser gate, needed to serve with the same faithfulness as one who served at a larger gate. This is a key principle in ministry. Jesus put it like this,

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” Luke 16:10-12

The principle is simple. If we are faithful in little, we will be given more, if we are unfaithful with little, we will not be entrusted with more. It is interesting how we often want to do great things for God, yet we are not involved in doing little things for the Lord. It is also interesting what Jesus considers to be the “little things.”

He says we must first be faithful with money before we will be trusted with true riches. One of the key ways to prepare for Christian service is to be faithful with your giving. Paul wrote, each man should give as he purposes in his own heart (2Corinthians 9:7). Each of us bears the responsibility of sitting before the Lord, determining what portion of our income we will give back to Him. That money should then be given weekly at your local church. As we prove responsible with finance we will be entrusted with greater riches.

He also says we must be faithful with what belongs to another. The picture here is that of placing ourselves under another in service. Before we will be trusted with a ministry of our own, we must faithfully serve alongside others, learning how to be under authority. One of the most important character traits of an elder is that he not be self-willed. We learn how to set our will aside when we serve under others.

In what capacity are you currently serving the Lord? Are you being faithful with the opportunities that are in front of you, or are you waiting for your big break to come? Let’s follow the example of those who served alongside David; be faithful in the little things.

Pastor Jim

 

Power

Psalms 62:11
“God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.”

A number of years ago, I came home from a long day of work, at the end of an even longer week. I was worn out and hungry. Since I was the only one home at the time, I was facing a battle within. My stomach insisted on being fed, but the rest of me demanded rest. Too broke to order out, and too tired to fix a meal, I laid down on the couch and began flipping the channels. I stopped on a show called, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” This a series that displayed the possessions of extremely wealthy individuals. If memory serves me, this was the only time I had ever seen the show. The episode followed the life of a the king of a small Middle Eastern country, whose name I have forgotten. While his subjects lived in poverty, he was one of the wealthiest men alive. They showed his palace, which was the size of a small college campus. What really got my attention, however, was when he traveled to the U.S. He wanted to stay in a particular room in a hotel in Beverly Hills, but the room was booked. Instead of finding another room, or another hotel, he bought the hotel, remodeled it to his liking, and stayed in the room of his choice. Lying there on the couch, I was struck by two contrary things. The first was this man’s great wealth, the second was how it had no effect on me whatsoever. I was still too broke to go out and too tired to cook.

The Psalmist speaks of the wealth of God’s power. He declares, “power belongs to God.” His power is infinite. There is nothing too hard for God. It required no more effort from Him to create the world, than it did for him to heal Peter’s mother-in-law from fever. He spoke the world into existence, and holds it together by the Word of His power. When the time has come, He will fold this one up, and speak a new heaven and earth into being. However, unlike the wealthy prince, God’s power does have direct effect upon my life.

Jesus promised, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

The power of God is available to the child of God. A power that will enable us to successfully walk with, please, and serve, the Lord. This power is received by simply asking and obeying. If you feel too weary to overcome the trials or temptations you are facing, the solution is to look up, and ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon you. The God to whom this power belongs, promises to empower us through His Spirit.

Pastor Jim

 

Kindness

2 Samuel 9:8

“Then he bowed himself, and said,’What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I.”

The-Kindness-of-God.jpg

Years ago I heard the phrase, “There are three of you: the you you think you are, the you others think you are, and the you God knows you are.” I think this is fitting as it relates to Mephibosheth. He was a young man who had a difficult life that caused him to devalue himself greatly.

Mephibosheth was the son of Prince Jonathan, and had Saul’s dynasty continued, he would have been in line to be king.   Sadly, because of his grandfather’s disobedience, and the rebellion of his uncle, Ishbosheth, Mephibosheth became a fugitive. He was a child when Ishbosheth took the throne, and was forced to flee in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, under the cloak of darkness, he fell and injured himself. From that point on, he was crippled in his feet. Living as the handicapped grandson of a fallen king, caused Mephibosheth to put a pretty low price tag on his life. By his own admission, he considered himself to be like a “dead dog.” David had another view of Mephibosheth. David looked at him, not as a cripple, but as the son of Johnathan, and treated him as the prince he believed him to be. Mephibosheth was adopted into King David’s family, ate at the king’s table, and was given the wealth and property that once belonged to Saul.

Often, we look at ourselves through the lens of weakness or personal failure. We consider ourselves to be of little worth because of our bad decisions, or the way others have treated us. It is important that our value system be based, not upon accomplishment or the expression of others, but that we see ourselves as God does. To Him, we are of infinite value. He bought us with the blood of His only Son, adopted us into His family, and has given us the riches of Christ.

The kindness of David would forever change the way Mephibosheth viewed himself. The kindness of God should cause us to no longer sell ourselves cheaply. We matter to God and we should seek to live like it.

Pastor Jim

Fly Away

Proverbs 23:4-5 “Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”

IMG_1246.JPGRiches are not evil in themselves. The Bible does not teach that money is the root of all evil, but that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1Timothy 6:10). Throughout Proverbs, Solomon listed instructions that will increase our chances of being successful. He speaks of honesty, integrity, and diligence, while warning against folly, laziness and getting involved with the wrong people.

That being said, Solomon also warns against thinking that money will solve all of our problems. He writes poetically of the inability of riches to really meet our deepest needs. He states that riches make wings and fly away. Have you ever watched a young child attempting to catch a butterfly? With each step the child takes toward the winged creature, it simply flies off to the next bush. Step after step, she thinks she almost has it, but again and again it simply flies away. Riches are like that. In one sense, they are aloof, but we think with just a little more work we will finally catch them. If memory serves me, it was Rockefeller who, when asked how much money was enough, responded, “just a little more than you have.”

There is another sense in which riches have wings. Not only are they difficult to catch, but riches will never provide what they promise. Often, we think that the solution to our problem is cash. If we had a few more dollars we could get out of debt, take that vacation we always wanted, replace the hunk-of-junk car we drive, or a host of other things. While I would agree that having is more fun, than not having, we all must realize riches have wings and cannot satisfy the real issues of life. The headlines remind us of that. We often read of wealthy actors, entertainers, athletes or business men, who have marital or substance abuse problems, are on anti-depressants or even take their lives. The reason is, riches have wings. They are unable to meet the deepest needs in the heart of man. In contrast to this Solomon writes,

Proverbs 23:18 “For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.”

The real solution to the issues of life, is a spiritual one. We need to realize, we will only be satisfied when we are in a right relationship with God. Jesus promised, all who received Him would have torrents of living water rushing through their lives (John 7:38), providing peace, joy, and love for God and others. We need to be sure, while we are in pursuit of “getting ahead,” we do not neglect to make investments in our relationship with the Lord.

As the new year approaches, resolve to accept Christ as your Savior and Lord, make daily investments in your walk with Him by reading the Word, and commit to regular attendance at a good Bible teaching church.

Pastor Jim