Footstool

Psalms 110:1
The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”

This psalm is one of the most detailed prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament. It goes into great detail to speak of the person and the work of the Messiah. In it we find reference to the deity of Christ when we read, “The Lord said unto my Lord.” This is nothing short of the Father referring to the Son as Yahweh. We also find reference to the Sufferings of Christ, in that he was consecrated a priest after the order of Melchizedek who would offer himself in our place in order to make a way for man to have access to God. We also see the resurrection and Ascension when we read, “Sit thou on my right hand.” And finally we see reference to the final Judgment, when all Christ’s enemies will be put under his feet.

Most of this Psalm has already been fulfilled. Christ, the Son of God came to as man and offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sin. After His crucifixion He conquered death, rose from the grave and ascended to the right hand of the Father where He intercedes on behalf of the believer and awaits the Father’s timing to return to earth as judge and King. The fulfillment of the bulk of these promises should stir us up as we await the time when Christ will come and reign. The way to be ready for that day is to accept His work on the cross in your place and follow Him completely.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 110

  1. Verse 1 is quoted five times in the New Testament (Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42-43, Acts 2:34-35, and Hebrews 1:13), all telling us that this psalm is referring to Jesus.  Look those verses up and read the context.
  2. Look at verse 3.  From what motivation should God’s people serve Him?  Read 2 Corinthians 9:7 and 1 Peter 5:2.
  3. Jesus is described in verse 4 as a priest after the order of Melchizedek.  Read about him in Genesis 14.  Also read Hebrews 7.

The Altar

Exodus 27:2
“You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze.”

One of the key furnishings of the Tabernacle was the Altar. It was a large wooden structure overlaid with bronze. It was located within the gate of the courtyard, and outside the entrance of the Tabernacle, itself. It was on the Altar, where all of Israel’s sacrifices were offered. After the construction of the Tabernacle was completed, the nation gathered around and dedicated it to the Lord; concentrating on the Altar, with its sin offerings. This dedication included placing blood on the four horns of the Altar. These horns were more than decorative attachments to the Altar, the Psalmist wrote, “God is the Lord, and He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar” (Psalm 118:27). This Psalm is Messianic, meaning it looks forward to the Christ, and His death upon the cross. In a figurative sense, Jesus was bound with chords to the Altar when He was bound with nails to the cross. These horns were on the four corners of the Altar, pointing outward in the four directions of the compass. Again, in a figurative sense, the Altar alluded to the fact that salvation was available to all men through the shed blood of the innocent. After rising from the dead, Jesus sent His disciples out to the uttermost parts of the earth with the simple message of salvation, available to all who would put their trust in Christ.

Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, . . .” The word translated “nations,” is the Greek word “ethnos,” from which the word ethnicity is derived. Jesus is declaring that salvation is the same for all people, everywhere. No matter who we are, if we want eternal life, all we need do is come to the cross and receive Christ.

Pastor Jim

A Shepherd’s Heart 

Ezekiel 34:7
“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord”

This chapter contains some of the most valuable and important instruction for anyone seeking to be involved in Christian ministry. In it, Ezekiel explains the role of the servant of God, by using the imagery of a shepherd. As a shepherd must care for the sheep of his pasture, so a person seeking to serve Christ must care for the people of God. Ezekiel explains how to go about doing this by contrasting the leaders of his day with the ministry of the coming Messiah. A careful look through this chapter will reveal many of the roles and responsibilities of anyone who wants to serve Christ.

First off, it is worth noting, the leaders were failing because they were feeding themselves instead of feeding the sheep. A person who looks at the people of God for what they can do for him and his ministry goals, instead of for what he can do for them and their growth in Christ, is behaving more like a butcher than a shepherd. It is the primary role of the shepherd to ensure that the sheep are well fed. Scant, weak, and frail sheep are evidence that the shepherd has failed to do his job, more than it is an indictment on the sheep themselves. If you want to be an effective minister, you need to get to know the word of God, and share it faithfully with others. Paul did this by declaring the whole counsel of God, and not picking and choosing select subjects that he enjoyed teaching.

Ezekiel also explains that the shepherds failed because they neglected to seek after hurt, broken, and scattered sheep. Jesus illustrated the role of the shepherd when He said He would leave the ninety-nine healthy sheep and seek after the one that is lost (Luke 15:4-6). A true shepherd will seek to minister to the needs of the sheep. Often, a hurting Christian will speak or act out of their pain. Instead of judging them harshly for their behaviors, we should seek to minister to the cause of their actions.

There is no shortage of hurting, wandering, damaged and scattered people in every community in the world. If we will look at others through the eyes of Christ we will find that we have wide open doors for ministry.

Pastor Jim

 

 

Inscribed 

Isaiah 49:16“See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”

Back in the stone ages, when I was in middle school, it was common for the guys who “liked” a girl to write her name on their notebook or on the side of their shoe. I remember liking a girl named Carol, but being afraid to really admit it, so I wrote her name on the soul of my shoe. It didn’t take long before her name wore off (and the relationship didn’t last much longer than that). I am so glad when I read that God has inscribed our names upon the palm of His hand. What a beautiful description this is of the love He has for us. The word “inscribed” in its noun form means lawgiver. It speaks of the one who inscribed His word on tablets of stone. His love for us is as unchanging as His word. 

Jesus declared that though heaven and earth will pass away, His word will never fail. There is no force in heaven or on earth that is powerful enough to break the promises of God, and the same is true of His love for us. Our names are permanently inscribed in the palm of His hand where He can see them and show them off to others. 

Take comfort this morning in immeasurable love of God. 
Jim 

  

He Made A Way

1 Timothy 2:3-4
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”

Shakespeare’s character, Juliet, is famous for her statement, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” To her, a name meant nothing and love meant everything. Biblically speaking, there is much to a name. Throughout the Bible, God is called by a variety of names, each of which details certain aspects of His character. Here, Paul describes Him as, “God our Savior” and explains His deepest desire; “who desires all men to be saved.” The word desire means to take delight in, to love, and to determine to resolve. Paul is declaring that the determined purpose of God is for every person to be saved. He loves you, your family members, your neighbors, acquaintances and those who you have never met or been concerned. God’s desire is unlike our desire in that it does not stop with a wish or an ambition, but is worked out in action. It is because of the desire of God for all men to be saved that Paul goes on to say,

1 Timothy 2:5-6 “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”

In other words, when there was no way, God made a way. The Father sent His Son to bridge the gap between sinful men and a holy God. In order to build that bridge, Jesus gave His life as a ransom. The penalty of sin was paid and a way was made for us to come to God. Most of us are familiar with Job. His trials are infamous and his faithfulness serves as an inspiring example to us in the midst of difficulty. In the crux of his trial, as he is being confronted by his friends, Job expressed man’s greatest problem. He said,

Job 9:32-33 “For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both.”

In Job’s day, there was no one who stood between man and God to make a way for us to be saved. To resolve that dilemma, God sent His Son to the cross, where He laid down His life for your sin and mine. All this was done that the desire of God might be fulfilled, and we might be given the free gift of eternal life. Paul goes on to say,

1 Timothy 2:7 “. . . for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

God’s desire led Him to send His Son to the cross, and His servants into the world. Paul lived his life with the determined purpose of bringing the good news of salvation to all people. Writing to the Roman church, he said he considered himself to be in debt to all men and that this debt was paid through declaring the Gospel message. Paul faced hardship, want, persecution, danger, and imprisonment, all because the desire of God is for all men to be saved. Think about how amazing the love of God is. He allowed His only Begotten Son to be ransomed, and He allows His precious children to be mistreated, all so you and I might hear the message of the cross and be saved. As you sit back in a comfortable seat at church, hearing the Word of God proclaimed, don’t forget that the simple message of salvation came at the highest price. While salvation is free for the taking to any who believe, it was certainly not cheap to attain. The desire is met because the price was paid.

Pastor Jim

 

Deep Desire 

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

We use the word heart to refer to the seat of our deepest desires. It is not uncommon to hear someone say, “I love you with all my heart.” The same was true in Paul’s day. He declares, with this expression, one of the things that kept him going in the face of difficulty, opposition, and persecution, was his desire to see his friends come to Christ.

As the chapter continues, he speaks of two actions born out of this desire. First, Paul informs us, his desire led him to pray. Prayer is the greatest weapon in the arsenal of the Christian. With it, we are able to pull down the strongholds that Satan has in a person’s life. In this case, Paul explained, the Jews were held captive by thinking they were righteous enough because of their actions. They thought keeping the Sabbath, observing the feasts, and eating Kosher, were enough to grant them access to heaven. Paul’s response was to explain they completely misunderstood how righteous God actually is. Sin and holiness are contrary terms. Holiness speaks of purity, while sin refers to uncleanness. Since God is perfectly holy, no sin can withstand His presence. Those who think God will ignore their sin because of their good deeds, misunderstand the holiness of God, and are in for a rude awakening when they stand before Him. Paul knew arguing was not the secret to rescuing His friends from this deceit. So he resorted to a much stronger force. He prayed for their salvation. Prayer will soften the heart of the hearer and provide an open door to share the Gospel. Having said that, prayer is not the only weapon in our battle to rescue our friends into eternal life. Paul went on to say,

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15

For a person to have their sins forgiven and be made right with God, they must believe they are a sinner, and Christ died to remove their sin. This is not intuitive knowledge, nor is it something revealed in nature. A person can look up at the stars, around at the environment, or down into the seas, and realize there is a God. However, in order to know the Son of God became man, died on the cross, rose again, and that belief in Him results in eternal life, the Gospel must be preached. Paul’s deep desire drove him to bring the Gospel to his friends, even if it meant opposition from the very ones he was seeking to save.

What is your hearts desire? To answer that simply, look at your actions. What do you pray for? What do you spend your time, talents and treasures upon? What do you risk your life for? Perhaps it is time that we develop a greater love for God, expressed in a greater desire to see others come to Christ.

What will you do for the kingdom today?

Pastor Jim

 

Facing Giants 

2 Chronicles 14:11
“And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, ‘ Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!’”


King Asa, and the nation of Judah, were facing an obstacle much too great for them to overcome. An army from North Africa numbering over a million soldiers, had gathered to fight against them. Knowing their own resources were inadequate for the challenge, Asa cried out to the Lord for assistance. From his prayer we learn four important principles.

First, when facing challenges, the right thing to do is to go to the Lord. Instead of thinking we can handle it on our own or blaming God for the difficulty, we should cry out to God for help. He is, after all, a present help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Second, God is not limited by our limitations. It is no more work for God to aid Asa’s small army, than it would be to aid a massive army. The limits of man do not limit God. He is only limited when we do not trust Him and fail to cry out for His help.

Third, in the midst of their trial Asa declared they would rest in the Lord. Instead of allowing the uncertainty of circumstances to fill us with anxiety, fret, and fear, we should turn to the the Rock, and trust in His provision and care. No matter how turbulent the waters may get, we can always rest in the Lord.

Finally, they went forward declaring “. . .in Your name we GO. . .” They knew they had been called to move forward, rather than turn back. The book of Hebrews declares that we are not those who turn back. No matter what challenges you might be facing, the answer is found in moving forward with the Lord, rather than turning back.

Pastor Jim

 

Trust

Psalms 9:10
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

A few years back I was teaching in a Bible school in Ghana on the subject of trust. I invited one of the students to come forward and asked him to put his arms at his side, close his eyes, and face the class. He had no difficulty doing what I asked until I added, “now remain stiff as a board and fall backwards.” He immediately opened his eyes, turned around, and looked at me as if to say, “No way!” I assured him that I would catch him, and asked him to face the class again. I counted to three and told him to fall back. To his credit, he tried, but once he began to lean, he stepped back to catch himself. The remaining students erupted in laughter as their friend was afraid to fall back.

The simple fact was, he did not trust me. He did not believe I was able to catch him when he fell. He was not my first victim in this twisted experiment. I had done it many times before with my children. They would close their eyes and fall back without hesitation. There were even times when they stood on a table and fell back. They looked forward to the opportunity to entrust their lives into the hands of Dad. Why would my children trust me and this young man be so frightened?

I believe the simple answer is, my children know me a whole lot better than he. David is declaring that same truth here, “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You.” Trust is something that grows out of relationship. The longer you walk with God, the more you get to know Him, the more you know Him, the easier it becomes to trust Him. If you are having a difficult time trusting the Lord in your current circumstances, the key is to spend time getting to know God better.

Paul wrote. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

In other words, our faith in God will grow as a result of reading about Him. The Word of God is filled with examples of people who are facing trials much too big for them to handle; yet they find God is completely trustworthy. We read of God parting the seas, providing water from rocks, knocking down walls, defeating giants, curing diseases, and even raising the dead. God has not changed, He is still in the business of providing aid to those who trust Him. If He was able to calm the seas with a word, don’t you think He is able to deliver you from the trial you are facing? Instead of cursing or questioning God, perhaps it would be better to follow the example of David and seek Him.

“For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” After all, David knew what it was to face difficulty. We are told this Psalm was sung to the tune of “The Death of a Son.” I cannot imagine a trial greater than that, yet,even then, God proves that He will catch us when we fall.

Pastor Jim

 

The Blame Game 

Judges 10:14
“Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.”

It is common for people to show no interest in God until calamities arises. As long as life is going their way, they are not concerned with God, but as soon as things get difficult, suddenly, they cry to God for help. Those who have shown no interest in the ways of God, suddenly blame God for the calamity they are facing, and cry out to Him to fix everything.

Many in Israel found themselves facing the threat of death. They had left the Word of God and were living life their own way. This “free living” led them once again into hardship, and they cried out to God for deliverance. Time and time again, they cried out for help, and God provided deliverance, but this time was different. This time God responded,

“Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.”

If you are living life by your own standards, ignoring the Word and ways of God, you cannot expect God to bail you out when things go wrong. He may respond by telling you to ask your own self-will, or the gods of possessions, or pleasures for help. Fortunately, for Israel and for us, this is not the end of the story. We read,

Judges 10:15-16
“And the children of Israel said to the Lord, ‘We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray.’ So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.”

Instead of treating God like their cosmic servant, they realized they had been living wrong. They took inventory of their lives, removed all the things that were forbidden by God, and made strides to get their lives to line up with His Word. We read, as God observed their repentance, He could no longer resist His own desire to come to their aid.

Today would be a good day to take inventory of your life. Are you living according to your own standards and asking God to bless your ways? Or have you surrendered to Him and His Word? Let’s put away anything that is foreign to Him, that we might experience the blessed life He promises to those who follow Him.

Pastor Jim

 

What Do I Have I Give

Acts 3:6
“Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, . . .'”

Peter makes reference to a simple rule of life. We can only give away what we personally possess. By his own admission, Peter had no money to give this man. It is interesting to note that from an economic standpoint, Peter’s condition was no different than the beggar’s. In the world’s estimation, a man in his thirties who is too broke to share his change with a beggar, is of very little value. Peter would not make a who’s who list in the 1st Century. However, if we look more closely, we see that Peter possessed something far greater than riches that tarnish and fade. Peter said, 

“. . .what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
 Acts 3:6

Flat broke, jobless, and in a city that was not his home, Peter had more to offer this world than Pilate, Herod, and all the powers of Rome combined. Peter knew Jesus.

I wonder about you and me. What do we possess? If we were stopped on the street and searched, would they be able to find that Jesus resides and reigns in our heart and lives? It is when we allow Jesus to take possession of us, that we find we possess Him. It is when we allow Him to have all of our lives: our thoughts, actions, dreams, possessions, and futures, that we find, like the Psalmist of old, “Our cup runs over.”

What do you possess this morning? Is it Jesus? Could you give Him to the stranger on the street, or the person sitting near you at church, or the family member who is struggling to find meaning in life? Let’s determine together to make it our aim to know Jesus better so, through our lives, the lame may walk and the lost be found.

Pastor Jim