Behind The Scenes

1 Chronicles 27:1
“And the children of Israel, according to their number, the heads of fathers’ houses, the captains of thousands and hundreds and their officers, served the king in every matter of the military divisions. These divisions came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, each division having twenty-four thousand.”

David was the greatest king Israel ever had. Under his leadership the nation reached its apex socially, economical, militarily and spiritually. Within the nation God was being highly exalted and without the enemies of Israel were subdued and peace treaties were established. Every king that would step onto Israel’s throne would be compared to David and their reign would be seen in contrast to his. I think it is important to keep in mind that while David was responsible to surrender his heart and life to the Lord he was not capable of these great victories on his own. David purposed in his heart to follow God and countless others joined him in the task. Israel’s greatness, while attributed to David was really the work of a massive host of men and women who devoted themselves to God.

The same is true today. Churches across our country are often known because of the man who stands in the pulpit and proclaims the Word. He becomes the face of what God is accomplishing in that particular area but is not doing it alone. Behind the scenes there are countless unnamed supporters who are standing with him. Many of these men and women will never become household names but the ministry could not be accomplished without them. They are the ones who hold up their pastors arms in prayer and faithfully serve beside him to assist in any way they can, to be sure the Word of God is faithfully declared in their community. They set up tables, clean up the churches, fold bulletins, teach children, attend prayer meetings, etc. Just as Israel,would not have become what it was without David’s support staff so the church cannot be what God intends without the faithfulness of those who serve alongside their pastor.

Jim

 

Let’s Battle 

1 Chronicles 20:1
“It happened in the spring of the year, at the time kings go out to battle… But David stayed at Jerusalem…”

Although the writer of Chronicles does not include it here, this is the time when David compromised, broke his own standards, violated the ways of God and sinned with Bathsheba. This is the lowest point in the life of the sweet psalmist of Israel. While there are many factors that led to his failure the text makes it clear that one of the contributing factors was being idle when he should have been busy in the battle.

The word idle simply means not to be working, busy or active. There are times in life when being idle is the exact thing we need; it was God who established the sabbath for Israel and desired them to take times of rest. Taking a break from activity to rest the body, wait on the Lord or simply enjoy the blessings of following Christ is an important part of life and our walk with the Lord. That being said, we must also realize that there are times when being idle can be dangerous. David’s problem was not that he was resting, but that he was resting when he should have been battling. He was in a season in life when the situation called for clinging to the Lord and stepping out in service, instead he chose to stay home, let his guard down and compromise his standards.

The seasons of life often determine our focus for us. If bombs are falling on the city it is not time for a family picnic. If you are in the midst of difficulty at home or work, or if you are struggling with something in your private and personal life it is not the time to sit back, but to clothe yourself in the armor of God and to battle the fiery darts of the wicked one that so often evidence themselves in thoughts that oppose the word of God.

Jim

 

Planted In The House

Psalms 92:13
“Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.”

It seems the devil and the Lord both understand the importance of the church. The Lord exhorts us regarding the need to be in fellowship, and the devil uses a wide array of tactics to keep us away. We have all heard phrases like,

“I am too busy.”

“No one was nice to me there.”

“The church is filled with hypocrites.”

I even heard the story of a man, who said, “As long as Mr. So and so is still alive I will never step foot in that place.”

It seems that we are the only ones who fail to recognize how important church attendance is. The Psalmist declares why we should be willing to endure sick children, music that might not be our first choice, crowded parking lots, awkward seasons of not knowing people very well, and even sermons that may on occasion be a bit too long. He declares, it is the one who plants himself in the house of God who will find himself flourishing in his relationship with the Lord.

The church was designed by God and purchased with the blood of His Son. He created it to be the place where His people would gather for fellowship, corporate worship and the study of His word. The reality is that all the difficulties we endure to remain a fixed part of the local church, are part of the sanctification process where God uses the circumstances of life to conform us into the image of Jesus.

Come and be planted in the house of the Lord!

Pastor Jim

 

Works Of God 

Psalms 66:5
“Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.”

Where we can go to see God work?

We could start by attending a church where people are serving the Lord. We can watch God work in the lives of others. We can observe His transforming work as people respond to the Gospel, or His equipping work as young and old, men and women, offer themselves in service of the Lord. We might see His comforting work as the broken hearted are encouraged by the Word of God, and the presence of Christ. We might see His restoring work as the prodigals return to relationship with Jesus. But there is another way to see the works of God. We can step out of our comfort zone and offer ourselves as servants. The chief reason people don’t see God work in their lives is because they are afraid to step out in faith and serve the Lord. If we continue to use the excuse that we can’t, we will never find the power and enabling of God to assist us beyond our abilities. On one occasion the disciples found they could not accomplish the ministry they were faced with, when they asked Jesus why He responded,

Matthew 17:20
“Why could we not cast it out?
‘So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.'”

Jesus promised if they trusted Him, they would see God accomplish tasks they knew to be impossible. Our problem is we do not want to be in impossible situations. We like to have control of our life and the events surrounding us. It is when we will step out in faith, trusting in the provision of God, and enlisting ourselves in His service, that we will see the works of God.

Perhaps God has been stirring your heart to serve. Maybe you have been thinking about volunteering to teach children or to join a mission team or to open your house for a home fellowship, but you have resisted because you feel inadequate. Allow me to encourage you,  God always calls the inadequate. His methods are to choose the weak and foolish things of the world so He is always glorified through whatever is accomplished.

“Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.”

Pastor Jim

 

Miracles

Numbers 17:8
“Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.”

A miracle is defined as an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God. In other words, it is something that could not happen if God did not infuse His power into the situation. That is exactly what transpired here. To determine the validity of Aaron’s calling and ministry, God infused His power and made something that was incapable of bearing fruit, become fruitful. Aaron’s rod, which was nothing more than an old tree branch, suddenly came to life and produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.

This is not an isolated event. Throughout history God has been infusing His divine power into individuals, making them, and their ministry fruitful. He has, and continues to choose the foolish, weak, and lowly, for His divine service. He then fills them with His Spirit and uses them to accomplish what they could never have done apart from Him. Pulpits, children’s classroom, and mission fields, all around the world, are filled with tree branches that have been miraculously empowered by God, to become fruit bearing ministries. We should never think that our weakness limits God. Instead, we should trust in the fact that He is in the business of doing the impossible in and through the lives of those who are surrendered to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Small Things

Numbers 16:9
“Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to serve them?”

Korah and his disgruntled ministry team were upset with the leadership of Moses, and discontent with the opportunities they were given to serve the Lord. They soon formed a club and brought their complaints to Moses. They were hoping he would allow them to wear the priestly garments and enter the Tabernacle. Because ministry is based upon the call of God, Moses could not grant their request, but instead pointed out the folly behind their discontentment. They were guilty of considering what they did for the Lord as a small thing; as if some areas of ministry are big and others are small and unimportant.

This is a pretty common view. Almost all of us, if pressed would say that preaching the Gospel or leading the worship is a more important role than setting up the chairs or getting the children to church on time. We think this because in man’s economy certain tasks are regarded more highly than others. If a person runs a factory, he is given greater compensation than those who work in the factory. The economy of God is different. God rewards based upon faithfulness. It is not that everyone gets the same reward, but the rewards are given based upon how faithful we are to what God has called us to. A young mother who faithfully ministers to her husband and children will receive the same reward as a person who faithfully serves on the worship team, or the pastor who faithfully studies to communicate the Word of God to the people of God. The one who has the opportunity to minister to five people will be rewarded equally with the one who ministers to five thousand. The reward system of God is based, not upon accomplishment, but faithfulness. Instead of looking at what others are called to do and becoming discontent with the opportunities God has placed in you hands, why not be as faithful as possible with what God has given you.

Pastor Jim

 

Faithful In All Things 

Exodus 24:5
“Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord.”

“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” I am quite certain most of us have heard this little slogan. The lesson in it is, there is no way to get a job done properly, unless you alone are the one to do it. I would guess each of us could supply loads of empirical data that would support such a statement. We have all given a task to another, only to find they proved less than qualified to accomplish it.

While it is necessary for a person to prove themselves faithful before they are given opportunity for ministry, it is also true, God’s method of  expanding ministry is to give it away. Moses was not a one-man-band who did not allow others opportunity to serve. Instead, he spread ministry by putting it into the hands of others.

Although the names, physical descriptions, and occupations of these men are not disclosed, we do know, they were less than qualified for the task. The one adjective used to describe them was that they were young. Young, in many cases, could be used synonymously with the word inexperienced. The basic idea is, Moses chose guys who might seem unqualified for the job, in order to raise up another generation given to the service of the Lord. Moses was not alone in this approach, Jesus and Paul were both known for giving ministry away.

I think there are two simple applications to draw from this text. First, we should seek to become a person that others would want to include in ministry. If we know those serving the Lord are always looking for faithful, although perhaps inexperienced people, we should seek to be faithful. Second, if we are involved in ministry, we cannot try to hold on to it. Instead of viewing it as “our ministry”, we should see it as “His ministry”, and be looking for others to team with, and ultimately, to pass things on to.

Pastor Jim