Salvation Among The Nations

Psalms 67:2
“That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.”

Psalm 67 was written by an unknown author. We cannot know for sure who wrote it or what circumstances influenced its content. The one thing we know for sure is that it was penned by a person with a desire for others to come to the Lord. He pleads with God for mercy in his own life, in order that the world around him may come to a saving knowledge of God. The Psalmist is not alone in this. Paul declared

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).

As a result of this desire, Paul risked his life to bring the gospel message to his countrymen. At the conclusion of his third missionary journey, Paul made his way to Jerusalem with one goal in mind, he wanted to tell others about Christ. He received continual warnings regarding the danger he would face and the beating and imprisonment that lay ahead. Regardless of these threats, Paul pressed forward because his desire was for others to come to Christ.

The pattern of Paul has been followed by saints down through the centuries. Men, like Saint Patrick, who in the 6th century brought the gospel to the unreached pagans of Scotland and his contemporary, Saint Augustine, who brought the gospel to England. Saint Boniface, who in the 8th century brought the gospel to Germany,  Hudson Taylor, whose efforts brought the Gospel deep into China, in the 19th century. CT Studd gave up a life of wealth and comfort to bring the Gospel into Africa. Or the countless unnamed Methodist circuit preachers who took the Gospel to the settlers in the United States.

What the world needs today are men and women with a desire to see others come to Christ, regardless the personal cost.

Psalms 67:2 “That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.”

Pastor Jim

 

Speak Up

Psalms 64:2-3
“Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, who sharpen their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows—bitter words”

David found himself on the receiving end of a barrage of carefully planned attacks. Like an army of well-trained soldiers who had rejected God, they came against the righteous. Their weapon of choice was not the sword, spear, bow or staff, but the tongue. Things have not changed much. The most effective weapon against the righteous today is the tongue. If a person takes a stand against the unrighteous trends that are being heralded as freedoms in our world today, they will receive an onslaught of verbal attacks. Should you decide to boldly declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ, calling sinners to turn to God, you will need to be ready to hide beneath the shelter of the Almighty, because attacks will come. This is not a new phenomenon, the early church experienced the same things. As they declared the message of Christ, those with the loudest voice sought to silence their message.

Acts 4:17 “But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

Instead of cowering under the threats, the church gathered together and sought the Lord to embolden them to share Christ, regardless of the consequences.

Acts 4:29 “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word.”

The times we are living in are not times to be silent. The world is in a downward spiral because the devil wants to destroy the lives of all men. People are being led into destructive lifestyles that will have life long consequences, and we need to boldly declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it alone has the power to save.

Perhaps more than ever, we need to remember the words of Jesus,

Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Pastor Jim

Fallen In 

Psalms 7:15
“He made a pit and dug it out, 
And has fallen into the ditch which he made.”

If we were writing a comedic screenplay, we might want to include a character who designs an elaborate trap, only to unwittingly catch himself. While it might be quite humorous on the big screen, it is tragic in the real world. The psalmist reminds us,  one of the consequences of wicked living is, in the long run, we are actually setting a trap for ourselves. The day is coming when the cage will swing shut, and we will find ourselves enslaved by the very thing we were toying with. This happened to Samson who fooled around with Delilah, telling her to braid his hair or tie him up with new ropes. As time went on, he found himself enslaved to the Philistines. It happened to David, who fooled around with Bathsheba, first watching her bath then flirting with her. He soon found himself enslaved by his lust and caught in an ungodly relationship that had devastating effects upon his family. And it will happen to us, if we toy around with sin. Each time we dabble in unrighteous behavior, it is like putting the shovel in the ground. Day after day, the hole gets bigger until one day we find ourselves caught in a trap we dug for ourselves.

Fortunately, this does not have to be our end. If we have not yet been enslaved, there is still time to turn from our sin, and allow the Lord to restore us to Himself. While it may have taken a long time to drift from the Lord, we can be restored in a moment of time. We simply need to confess our sin, turn from it, and to Him. When we do, He will begin to fill the hole so we don’t become ensnared in it. But what if you are in the trap? Understand, there is still hope for you. No matter how far you have fallen, the arms of God are long enough to reach you. Cry out to Him to forgiveness and to deliverance . David wrote about how God brought him out of a pit, set his feet upon a rock, and even put a new song of praise in his mouth.
Pastor Jim

 

Until The Whole World Hears

Psalms 2:8
“Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.

As we reach the end of ourselves and cry out in desperation to God, prayer is the place where we express our greatest desires. We have found ourselves on our knees pleading with God for direction, the healing of a loved one, or to fix a mess we have created through our own foolishness. I wonder though, when is the last time we pleaded with God for those who don’t yet know Him.

The great promise of the Gospel is that it knows no borders. Every man, woman and child can have their sins forgiven, and enter into a personal relationship with God, through Christ. We can participate in that through the ministry of prayer.

Take a moment to make a list of a few people that don’t yet know the Lord and begin to pray for them daily. Add to that list an area in the world where your church is involved in ministry, and pray for the furtherance of the Gospel there. Perhaps the Lord may even send you, some day, to assist in the work.

Pastor Jim

 

Prepare For The Future

Genesis 41:28
“This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do.”

On a night that probably started out like every other night, Pharaoh’s life was suddenly interrupted by the Divine. While sleeping, he had a dream, so vivid, he realized it must be a message from God. After unsuccessfully searching for the meaning, he was introduced to Joseph, who, under the influence of the Spirit of God, was able to explain the meaning of his dream. Without going into the details, we find that God revealed the future to Pharaoh. He was told what was coming and given the opportunity to prepare in advance.

Pharaoh is not he only one whose life was interrupted by the Lord. Years later, the king of Babylon saw the finger of God write a message on the palace wall. He was being warned of what was coming that he might prepare in advance. Instead of responding to the message, the king ignored the warning and lived as though it was never given.

What would you do? How would you react if God suddenly interrupted what you were doing and told you what was coming? Would you act like Pharaoh and change your living in preparation for the future, or would you act like Belshazzar and ignore the warnings of God?

The reality is, God has gone to great lengths to reveal what is coming. He tells us, this life is temporary, and designed to prepare us for the life that is eternal. He explains that if we trust in Christ for salvation, our sins are forgiven, and we are thus prepared to face death. He goes on to explain, we can daily live for Christ and the things that matter to Him, and by doing so, we can store up treasures we will enjoy for all eternity.

Let’s take a page from Pharaoh’s book and prepare for what is coming, by living for Jesus today.

Pastor Jim

 

Filthy Garments

Zechariah 3:4
“Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’”

We cannot be certain of the attire of the King of Israel or that of a common housewife, but we do have a detailed description of the clothing worn by the high priest. Scripture goes into great lengths to describe the artistically woven garments he would wear whenever serving around the Temple. It must have been quite a shock to Zechariah when he saw a vision of Joshua the high priest clothed in filthy garments. I am sure the words of the prophet Isaiah came to mind,

Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…”

The dirty clothes on Joshua were a picture of his sin. They revealed that even his best attempts at righteousness fell short of the perfection, required to access the presence of God. It was at this moment that Zechariah witnessed one of the most glorious events in all of Scripture. First, Jesus silenced the accusing tongue of Satan, then He replaced Joshua’s filthy garments with robes of righteousness, and finally He declared that this was done as a sign.

All of us have fallen short of the standard required to enter heaven, or to have fellowship with God. One sin was enough to remove Adam and Eve from the garden, and we are guilty of too many to count. The glorious truth of the cross is that we can have our sins replaced with His righteousness, and be clothed with garments that give us access to the throne room of heaven.

No matter how big, small, or often, we have sinned, the only solution for having it removed is Christ. He alone can replace our filthy garments with His robes of righteousness.

Pastor Jim

 

Who Cares

Jonah 4:10-11
But the Lord said, ‘You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?'”

Over the past year we have seen summits on global warming, protests against the cruelty to animals, and the unjust treatment of certain groups of individuals. It is clear that people feel justified in demanding the ethical treatment of the planet and its inhabitants. While it is clear that we bear a responsibility before God for the way we treat what He has given us to care for, it is also true, we can become consumed with other things and forget that the most valuable, and often most neglected resource in the world, is the human soul. Jonah wept over the mistreatment of a plant and cared little for the eternal souls of the inhabitants of Nineveh.

We, like Jonah, have been commissioned by God to declare a message of salvation to the world. This message is so powerful it carries the ability to save a person from eternal destruction, while at the same time, transforming their lives. Jonah watched it happen to hundreds of thousands of people in Nineveh. When he shared the gospel, the king, his colleagues, and the inhabitants of the city turned from their evil ways and began to worship YHWH. The Gospel we have been commissioned to share is no less powerful. Paul said it alone has the power to bring salvation and Peter called it the words of eternal life. Along with this powerful message, we have also been given the supply of the Spirit of Christ. When the gospel is declared, the Spirit of God convicts the heart of the hearer of their need for God.

I wonder if we, like Jonah, have become distracted by caring for lesser things, while neglecting the most important thing? Perhaps it is time we spent a little more time caring about the souls of our neighbors, co-workers, and friends than we do about whether TiVo recorded our favorite show or who is the quarterback for our favorite sports team. Jonah’s failure was caring about the wrong things, while neglecting the most important thing.

Pastor Jim