Self-Promotion 

Jeremiah 45:4-5
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up… And do you seek great things for yourself?'”

As the nation teeters on the brink of collapse, Jeremiah is given a prophetic message for one man, Baruch. Baruch was an assistant to Jeremiah. One of his main roles was that of a scribe. He was responsible for writing down Jeremiah’s messages in book form and delivering them to the kings. We have every reason to believe that Baruch served Jeremiah, and the Lord, faithfully. But even faithful men are in need of correction from time to time.

Often Christian service goes unnoticed, especially when we are in a support role in ministry. We might labor intensely to help accomplish a goal and someone else receives all the accolades. I think pastors’ wives are particularly susceptible to this. They are at the side of their husbands serving, supporting, encouraging, and no doubt feeding, but it is the pastor who gets all the attention come Sunday’s service.

Baruch seemed to grow weary in his support role, and as time moved on, wanted to make a name for himself in ministry. Perhaps since he was a writer, he was toying with the idea of having a Bible book with his name on it. Whatever the case, the message he heard was clear.

“Now is not the time to seek great things for yourself”

The nation needed men and women who would seek to promote the Lord. Yet, Baruch was seeking to promote only himself. While there is nothing wrong with working for a nicer car, bigger house, or better retirement, we need to keep in mind that the current condition of things, calls us to focus on the service of the Lord. We should seek to be doing our part in the furtherance of His kingdom, rather than seeking only the things that are best for ourself.

Time is short, life will soon pass, only what is done for Christ will last.

Pastor Jim

 

Self-Willed 

Jeremiah 43:4
“So Johanan the son of Kareah, all the captains of the forces, and all the people would not obey the voice of the Lord, to remain in the land of Judah.”

After the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar’s forces, the inhabitants of Judah began to look to Egypt as a place of refuge. Jeremiah warned them that fleeing to Pharaoh would result in further death and destruction. The same people who refused to listen when the prophet told them to willingly go to Babylon, are the people who are now fleeing to Egypt. On the one hand, the Word of God told them to go, on the other, it told them to stay. In both cases they chose to disobey. It is not the commands of God that are the problem, but the will of men. Disobedience is always driven by self-will.

Scripture is filled with examples of people choosing to place their will above the will of God. We find Jacob wanting his brothers things, so he lies, cheats, swindles and steals to get it. We read of the multitude of Israel erecting false gods, looking for a leader who will lead them back to Israel, and refusing to enter the promised land. We recall men like Samson who continued to pursue the lust of his flesh to his own demise, or Saul who initially refused to accept the position of king and later refused to let it go. The details may vary, but the one constant in every case of disobedience is placing self-will above the will of God. We often do this because we are driven by fear, misunderstanding, or a lack of trust.

The inhabitants of Judah could not process how staying in Jerusalem and submitting themselves under Babylonian rule could ever be a good idea. They had seen Nebuchadnezzar’s forces come multiple times over a period of 15 years, taking waves of people as prisoners of war. What they failed to realize was the cause of the fall in the first place; their unwillingness to submit to the authority of God and His word. They were developing a pattern of living however they wanted, then blaming God for the outcome. As time unfolds, the command of God will make perfect sense. It would not be long before Pharaoh and his forces were defeated and those who allied themselves with Egypt became the enemies of Babylon.

Don’t allow your inability to understand the ways of God limit you from being willing to do what His word says.

Pastor Jim

 

Introspective 

2 Kings 9:6
“Then he arose and went into the house. And he poured the oil on his head, and said to him, Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I have anointed you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel.'”

Many men have been called and anointed by God for service. Unfortunately, too many follow the example of Jehu. He spent the beginning of his calling ridding Israel of those who had turned the nation against the Lord. One by one, his sword was a vehicle of judgment against the wicked leaders who went before him. Joram the king of Israel, Jezebel the queen mother, and Ahaziah king of Judah, were all slain for their wickedness, and crimes against the nation. After showing great zeal for righteousness in others, Jehu failed to show the same zeal for his own commitment to the Lord. After successfully using the sword against others, he allowed sin to run rampant in his own life. We read of him,

2 Kings 10:29 “However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan.”

One of the great dangers of Christian ministry is to become tolerant of your own sin, while focusing on helping to remove the sins of others. The devil is good at what he does, and what he does is deceive. He will spend great energies to get us to take the spotlight off ourselves, and only use it on others. The value of being in the Word of God daily, is that God will use it to probe into our lives and keep us on track.

Be careful to let God remove planks from your life, as He equips you to remove splinters from others (Matthew 7:3-4).

Pastor Jim

 

Good Or Bad

1 Samuel 15:9

“But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.”

In many ways, the Old Testament serves as a picture book to illustrate New Testament principles. That is not to say  the events recorded are not factual, but that they were designed to bring out Biblical principles in living color. The story of Saul and his battle to defeat the Amalekites unfolds like a motion picture, illustrating the battle we face with our own flesh. It does not take long for every Christian to realize, we struggle to resist some of the things that God has forbidden. Overcoming the ungodly desires within us is the daily struggle of the believer, and the story before us helps to unveil one of the secrets to success.


Saul was instructed to destroy all that was plundered when the armies defeated Amalek. Instead, we read that Saul kept “the best” and “that which was good”, even though God had rejected all of it. Saul is doing what we often do, he is using his own standard of good and bad, rather than allowing the word of God to set the standard for him. When we begin to redefine sin, it will not be long before we are making compromises and justifying our ungodly behavior. The secret to success in the struggle with the flesh is to recognize what God forbids, and to stay away from it. 


Sadly, the end of Saul’s story is a tragic one. His compromises will ultimately lead to his death and that of his son Jonathan. In the end, it will be an Amalekite who will take Saul’s life. What he refused to remove ultimately cost him greatly. 


Take a quick inventory and see if there is anything in your life that needs to be removed. If so, don’t wait another day, lay it before the Lord and ask for His power to help you never pick it up again. 


Pastor Jim 

The Whole World

Acts 22:22
“They listened to him until this word.”

After his arrest, Paul shared Christ with the mob that tried to kill him. They listened intently to him because his message was fascinating and relevant. It seemed they had a true interest, and even an openness to the Gospel. But that all changed once Paul mentioned the Gentiles. That single word caused the hearers to close their ears, harden their hearts, and reject the message of Christ.

Paul was not the only one to experience people coming close to responding to Christ, only to hear something they did not like and to shut down. We read in John 6, Jesus had developed a very large following until He spoke about His suffering and death. When they heard that, we are told they responded,

“This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”  John 6:60

To which John commented,

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”

On another occasion, a man approached Jesus with a question about how to receive eternal life. Jesus spoke with him about morality then told him to forsake his old life and come follow after Jesus. He seemed to enjoy a discussion about morality, but when it came to transformed living we are told,

“But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”  Mark 10:22

What about you? Is there anything keeping you from committing all to Christ?  Perhaps the requirement of repentance or the need for total surrender? Maybe it is simpler than that; perhaps there is one area in your life that you have been unwilling to give to the Lord. That one area is keeping you from following wholly after Jesus. Sadly, this crowd that was so close to responding to Jesus, became harder and harder.

If there is an “until” in your life, surrender now, at the feet of Jesus, and begin to experience the living water He promised would flow in the lives of those who followed Him.

Pastor Jim