The Coronation 

Zechariah 9:9
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.”

A few years ago, during the height of the popularity of the tv show “American Idol”, I happened to be in a hotel room in Ghana. I turned on the tv and began  flipping through the channels. Soon I found a show I did not know existed. It was called “West African Idol.” The premise was the same as the American version, but without nearly the budget. Instead of renting out the Nokia Theater, it was held in what looked like a high school auditorium. Instead of millions of dollars in LED lighting and sound equipment, it had a banner and a few spotlights. Clearly, the more prestigious the event the more glamour it gets.

Kings have had coronation ceremonies for centuries. The more powerful the king, the more fanfare associated with his crowning. Here, Zechariah foretells of the coronation of Christ. The Bible calls Him the King of kings and Lord of Lords. His reign is eternal, righteous, and all reaching. Every creature will one day bow before Him, recognizing His authority and power. Yet when the time came for Him to be crowned, He rode into the city on a donkey and was celebrated with the waving of branches and singing by the common people; no bands, no  lights, no drama.

In many ways, this event perfectly reflects the reign of the King of kings. One of His chief characteristics, and perhaps the platform of His campaign, was humility. He stepped out of glory and into humanity by taking on the form of a man, and coming in the humblest of means. At Christmas we are reminded that Christ was born in a stable, laid in a manger, and greeted by shepherds. His ministry was marked with humility. He is constantly seen taking the lowest place and serving others. We find him washing feet, reaching out to the sick, noticing the neglected and caring for all. His death was the ultimate expression of humility, as the One who created the trees, hung upon a cross made from its wood. Willingly, and without resistance, He allowed men to beat Him, drive nails through His hands and feet, and hoist Him upon the cross. When taunted to prove His power and come down from the cross, He humbly remained, where He could finish the work of providing atonement for the sins of mankind.

Although Jesus is the greatest ruler who will ever reign, He aptly presented Himself with meekness and humility. The next time we see Him, things will be much different. The bible declares that the One who came like a lowly lamb will return like a wild lion. He will one day burst through the clouds with sound of a trumpet, and the the hosts of heaven at His side. At this time, He will set up His kingdom and righteousness will reign from sea to sea.

Pastor Jim

 

The Exception 

Nahum 3:8
Are you better than No Amon that was situated by the River, that had the waters around her, whose rampart was the sea, whose wall was the sea?”

It is remarkable how we all think we are the exception to the rule. We believe wrong should be made right, injustice should be corrected, and sin should be punished, but we also believe that our wrongs are not that bad and should be overlooked. This is not a modern problem this is a human problem. Almost three thousand years ago, the inhabitants of Nineveh thought they could go on behaving however they wanted and would not face the judgment of God. They believed, others deserved it, but they themselves, were not as bad as their neighbors.

I few years ago, a man came into the church office bearing the marks of the abuse of alcohol and other substances. He was upset at how others were mistreating him. He went on a tirade against our town, at how unfair others were, and demanded that we give him some money. Without any regard for his own wrongs, he was quick to bring charges against us. When I began to address the issues in his life, he stormed out of the office, freely sharing how he now felt about me.

While this is perhaps an extreme example, it reminds us how easy it is to focus on the faults of others, while neglecting what is wrong with us. This is the type of behavior that keeps us from becoming the people God desires us to be, and destroys relationships. Jesus told us, that instead of focusing on the wrong in others, we should take the plank out of our own eye (Matthew 7:1-5). In other words, we need to deal with what is wrong with us first and foremost. It is right to be upset by the immorality that is rampantly displayed on TV and the big screen, but we cannot do so while neglecting to address the issues in our own lives.

Pastor Jim

 

He Reigns 

Daniel 4:32
“…until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”

This lesson is so important that it is set in an unforgettable backdrop. God allowed the most powerful ruler in the world to lose his mind, and behave like a wild beast, for a period of seven seasons, that he might learn that it is God who rules the affairs of men. While very few will go through Nebuchadnezzar’s experience, all of us need to come to the realization that the Most High rules the kingdom of men.

Scripture goes into great detail to teach this lesson to us. We read of Joseph, who was sold into slavery and cast into prison. What looked like a tragic end, was really the route God took to exalt him to a position where he was used to save Israel. We read of Caesar, the most powerful man in the world, who desired to increase revenue by requiring a census for taxation. He made all inhabitants of his empire return to the city of their birth to be registered. We find the real reason was so a pregnant Israeli woman would make her way to Bethlehem to give birth to the Messiah, in fulfillment of Scripture. Paul capsulized this truth in one of the most memorable promises when he said, “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes” (Romans 828). All of this is only true because “the Most High rules the kingdom of men.”

For Nebuchadnezzar this lesson was learned the hard way. His refusal to humble himself before God and His word, made for a very difficult and humiliating season of life. It did not have to be that way for him, and it does not have to be that way for us. We can choose, today, to humble ourselves under the hand of God. Then watch as He reveals, His is the hand  that guides and governs the affairs of our lives.

Pastor Jim

 

Kingdoms Rise And Fall

Daniel 2:31-35
“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome.
This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”

King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream serves as a timeline of world kingdoms, from the time of Daniel until the return of Christ. The image refers to six kingdoms, five that are temporary, and one that will last forever. Four of the six have already come and gone, while the final two are still in our future. The fulfillment of the first four gives us assurance of the fulfillment of the final two.

The first kingdom, represented by the gold head, was Babylon. It was a splendid kingdom with great power that seemed unconquerable, until a coalition of the Medes and Persians combined and defeated them. This second kingdom, represented by the chest of silver, spread to become the largest empire the world had ever seen, and ruled the Middle East for over two hundred years. Their expansion took them as far west as Greece. It was their attack upon Greece which led to their downfall. It was  a young king from northern Greece who gathered the fractured city states, and overthrew Persia. Greece, the bronze belly, ruled the world until the rise of the Roman Empire, represented by the legs of iron.

The final two kingdoms are yet to come upon the world stage. Daniel uses the imagery of ten toes to describe a ten nation empire, somehow connected with Rome. This empire will rule until the time when the Kingdom of Christ is set up in the world. Jesus, seen as a large stone, will defeat world empires and set up His kingdom, which will be ruled with righteousness and governed with peace.

Today we live somewhere between two kingdoms. The world stage is becoming more and more global in its focus, and will soon begin to specifically fulfill the predictions of Daniel. The way to prepare for what is coming, is to become a citizen of the kingdom of God. John wrote,

John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name”

Are you ready for the reign of Christ? Have you received Him, had your sins washed away and turned from your old life? Are you living for the Kingdom which is still to come?

Pastor Jim

 

 

Peace 

Isaiah 11:6-7
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”

In beautiful, poetic fashion, Isaiah describes the conditions of the world after Christ returns to set up His kingdom. His purpose is to make all things right by establishing a rule of righteousness and peace. One thing is clear, in thousands of years of human governments, man has never been able to rule in righteousness or peace. Even today, with all of our advances, war continues to stain the face of the earth.

While the Bible clearly promises the return, and righteous rule of Christ, it also promises righteousness and peace can rule in the life of all who will receive Christ as Lord and Savior. The Bible refers to Jesus as the Prince of Peace and life. When we allow Him to rule in us, and we live in accordance with His Word, we will find that even in the midst of turmoil, we can have joy and peace.

My prayer is that you will let Christ be king in your life, and live to follow Him.

Pastor Jim