Needs Met

Nehemiah 9:20
“You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst.”

Nehemiah is reflecting back upon how God faithfully met the needs of His people as they struggled through their wilderness journey. He speaks regarding the Spirit, the manna and the miraculous supply of water. If it were not for the provision of God there is no way Israel could have been sustained.

Their journey in the wilderness is both a real life historical incident as well as an illustration of the Christian life. The struggles they faced with difficulty, opposition, fear and periods of wanting faith are not unfamiliar to everyone who attempts to walk with Christ. It is important to know that the same God who provided for them will provide for us today.

When Israel was in want the Lord always had a remedy. At times water was supplied from very unlikely places, but there was always enough. A desert is incapable of supplying food for the masses so God sent bread from heaven. When Israel faced an enemy who threatened their safety it was the Spirit of God that enabled them to have victory.

The same will be true for us today. There are times in life where we face situations that seem to have no remedy. We may be facing financial problems, relational issues or just the daily struggles that come with life in a fallen world. Remember the same God that supplied for Israel will supply for you.

Jim

 

Revive Me

Psalms 80:18
“…Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.”

The Psalmists describes Israel as a vine that was taken from Egypt and planted in a garden by the Lord. Unfortunately, the walls that protected it had deteriorated and the wild beasts began to devour the vine. This psalm is a prayer for God to restore Israel to its former glory. To do so, Asaph pleads with the Lord to revive the nation. The word revive means to be made alive, and to have that life sustained. It is illustrated over and over again in Scripture when the dead are raised, the sick healed, or the demoniacs delivered. It is applied here to the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel. We need the same work to take place in the church today. We need God to pour His Spirit out once again upon His people, that we might have a greater desire for God and be empowered to share the Gospel with a needy world.

Years ago I read a statement by Leonard Ravenhill. He wrote, “If you want revival, draw a circle on the ground, get in the circle and pray for revival to come to everyone in the circle.” The basic idea is,  for the church to be revived we must allow God to revive our hearts. I don’t know about you, but I certainly need God to light a new fire within me. I need to have the joy of my salvation restored, and I need a fresh and continual outpouring of His Spirit in my life. I want to see God work in my family, church, and community, so I need Him to work in my life.

Will you join me in praying for God to revive the man in the circle?

Pastor Jim

 

Source Of Strength 

Zechariah 4:6
“So he answered and said to me: ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” Says the Lord of hosts.'”

Zerubbabel, the governor of Judea, was responsible for a task far too great for himself. He had led a small group of untrained refugees from Persia back to Jerusalem. There, in the midst of continual opposition, and with limited resources, they began the project of restoring the Temple of God. It did not take long for the people to become discouraged and the work to cease. It was then, that a message came to Zechariah from the Lord. The message was in the form of a vision, and showed the Temple menorah connected to an olive tree by seven golden pipes. These pipes provided oil to the lamp, without the need of human intervention. Puzzled by the meaning of the vision, Zechariah was told this was a message for the governor. Just as the lamp would be fueled supernaturally, so would Zerubbabel be strengthen by the hand of God. He was told that it was ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.

This is one of the simplest yet most profound truths for anyone engaged in ministry. When we step out to serve, we want to offer our absolute best to God, and we often wear the weight of the ministry on our shoulders. We become discouraged and even overwhelmed when we do not see things being accomplished at a rate we are happy with, or when they do not meet our standard. We can even begin to think the growth of the church depends on our achievements. It is during those times it is particularly important for us to remember that, “it is not by might, nor by power but by the Spirit of God” that ministry is accomplished. Instead of racking our brains for better methods or more talented people, we should be seeking God for a fresh filling of His Spirit, so we can venture forth and accomplish the work of God.

How encouraging this message must have been for Zerubbabel. Not only was the weight of ministry taken off his shoulders, but he was given the promise that the God who started the work, would finish it. In a matter of months, this promise was fulfilled as the Temple was erected and the worship services reinstated.

Pastor Jim

 

Fully Charged 

Micah 3:8
“But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, aneed of justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”

Two things caused Micah to stand out from the false prophets who filled the pulpits of ancient Israel. First, he had received a message from God and second he was energized by the Spirit of God. These are as necessary today as they have ever been. If we want to effectively serve the Lord, we need a message from God and the power to deliver it. The question to ask is, where will I find these things?

Micah’s message came from two places. First, it was found in the pages of God’s Word. He could scan the scrolls and see what was being proclaimed in the pulpits and practiced by the people, were a violation to God’s written Word. Second, his message came by direct revelation, requiring him to learn to hear the voice of God. We will not hear new messages from God, but we do need to learn to sit quietly and hear Him apply His Word to our lives and circumstances. Jesus said His sheep will hear His voice (John 10:27).

Under the old covenant, God was very selective as to who received the power of the Spirit. Certain individuals, for limited times, were filled with the Spirit. We know both Samson and Saul had the Spirit for a while, and then it was taken from them. In contrast, Joel promised, under the new covenant, the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh without distinction (Joel 2:28). The Spirit is received when you trust Christ for Salvation, but there remains a need for the continual filling with the Spirit of God. Jesus explained that we would receive the Spirit when we ask with persistence.

It is important that we see the need to be used by God to deliver His message to the world. Paul declared that people cannot hear without a preacher (Romans 10:14). Its also critical that we take the time to ask God to give us a message, an opportunity, and the gifting of the Spirit to share Christ with others.

Pastor Jim

 

Turn To Me

Joel 2:12-13
“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.”

Sadly, the people of God had once again wandered from their God. The allure of idolatry, with its lack of morality, had seduced the people. They were now distant from God and beginning to suffer the consequences of a life lived apart from Him. Once again, the mercy of God is revealed as Joel encourages the people to turn back to YHWH and be restored. He explains the way back and the results.

The way back to a right relationship with God involves a 180 degree turn. They were involved in a lifestyle that was unacceptable to God, and it was necessary for them to leave that behind, if they were ever going to experience restoration and true spiritual blessing. Joel makes it clear that there must be both inward and outward change. They were to weep over sin and set up a fast, to show they were truly interested in getting their lives right with God; but these external changes were not enough. They must also rend their hearts. True repentance is more than cleaning up the exterior of our lives. If we want to be right with God, we need a heart change, and that is something He alone can do. We turn from sin and to God, and He will begin to transform us from the inside out.

Joel goes on to give two amazing promises to the people who will make the “U-Turn” and get their lives right with God.

Joel 2:25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.”

The land of Israel had suffered greatly from a locust invasion. Crops had been destroyed and the economy shattered. Instead of chalking this up to nature or high carbon emissions, Joel realized the natural phenomenon was a consequence of sin, and could only be remedied by the people turning back to their God. Individually, we will find the same thing to be true today. Our lives are marred by our rebellion against God. We have left a trail of consequences behind us that can only be remedied by turning back to Christ and following Him. The great promise is,  He can and will restore shattered relationships and broken lives. Even those who have lived a lifetime apart from God, can be useful for the kingdom in their latter years.

Joel 2:28 “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh…

The greatest promise in the prophecies of Joel is regarding the Holy Spirit. Joel foretold of a time when the Spirit of God would be poured out on all flesh, and those who received the Spirit would be given spiritual gifts for the furtherance of the kingdom of God. This promise was fulfilled, initially, in Acts 2 when the church was born, but continues to be fulfilled each time a believer turns to the Lord and asks to be filled with the Spirit. When we turn from the things that are not pleasing to God, we are restored to right relationship with Him and given the Spirit of God, in order to serve. A life surrendered to Christ, is a life empowered by the Spirit.

Turn toward the Lord and see all that He will do in you and through you.

Pastor Jim

 

It’s A Promise 

Ezekiel 39:29
“And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says the Lord God.”

This is one of the greatest and most anticipated prophecies in all Scripture. Going back to the time of Moses, Joshua heard a report that two men had the Spirit fall upon them and they began to prophecy, although they had not come to the Tabernacle to do so. In concern for the people, Joshua exhorted Moses to forbid them. Moses responded,

Numbers 11:29 “Then Moses said to him, ‘Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!’”

By the time of Ezekiel, Israel had been anticipating the promise of the Holy Spirit for a thousand years. Now the prayer of Moses is turned into the promise of God. He declares a time is coming when the Spirit will be poured out on them. This is not the only promise regarding the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. About a hundred years before Ezekiel, the prophet Joel made an even more amazing promise. He declared the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all flesh, making no distinction between man or woman, young or old, or slave and free. This is the promise that Peter quoted to explain the events that transpired at Pentecost and are recorded in Acts, Chapter 2. One hundred and twenty believers were huddled in a room in Jerusalem,when suddenly this promise was fulfilled. These men, who lived in fear of the world around them, were suddenly transformed, emboldened and empowered with the ability to declare the Gospel in a way that led to thousands coming to faith in Christ.

What we need, and by we, I mean each of us as individual believers in Christ, as well as our local congregations, is to be filled with the Spirit of God and allow Him to transform, equip, and emboldened us to share Christ with a needy world.

Pastor Jim

 

Super Strong

Isaiah 37:3
“Thus says Hezekiah: ‘This day is a day of trouble and rebuke and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth.'”

As this chapter opens, Judah is a on the brink of destruction. The Assyrian army, who had conquered all of Judah’s enemies, was encamped against the city of Jerusalem. The small army of Judah was no match for the Assyrian forces. It looked as though the nation would fall and the people would become prisoners of war. In the midst of this, Hezekiah saw what seems to be a universal struggle. The people who had made an initial decision to follow the Lord seemed to lack the power to walk it out. They had experienced the power of conversion, but were now facing obstacles bigger than their faith. Hezekiah poetically declares,

“The children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth.”

I think many of us feel the same way. We know Jesus, we love Jesus, we want to please Jesus, but we lack the strength to overcome the things in our life that we know are not pleasing to Jesus. The question is, what can we do about it? Are we left to forever struggle and fail with the weaknesses of the human flesh?

After Hezekiah states the problem, Isaiah declares the solution;

Isaiah 37:7 “Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.”

According to Isaiah, the solution to the problem the people were facing was a work of the Spirit of the Lord. This work would be supernatural in nature and would help the people overcome the obstacle they were facing. As the chapter unfolds, we find the Assyrians are defeated by a work of God. As much as this work was supernatural in nature, there was also a human element. Isaiah put it this way,

Isaiah 37:21 “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘BECAUSE you have prayed to Me…”

In other words, the way in which the Spirit of God was unleashed to aid struggling Judah, was through the practice of prayer. When we are facing difficulties we do not seem to be able to overcome, we can be comforted to know that the Spirit of God is strong enough to overcome anything. If we will be persistent in prayer, we will find the strength to overcome.

Let’s take some time right now to pray for God’s help against the obstacles we are facing in our walk with Christ. No matter how big it may seem, or how many times we have been tripped up, the Lord is able to provide the strength to bring His children forth to maturity.

Pastor Jim