Inquire Of God

1 Kings 22:7-8
“And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?’So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.’ And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Let not the king say such things!’”

Syrian forces occupied land that belonged to Israel and Ahab was determined to get it back. When Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, arrived for a visit, Ahab seized the opportunity to enlist Judah as an ally in his campaign against Syria. Not wanting to bring his people into an unnecessary war, Jehoshaphat wanted to take a moment to hear from the Lord, so he asked to hear from a prophet. Ahab paraded a host of prophets before the king who all declared victory in battle. The problem was, they were not prophets of God, but were a variety of fetish priests who worshiped idols. Jehoshaphat objected to their counsel and sought to hear the Word of God. It is here where the true heart of Ahab is revealed. He declares,

“There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.”

The king of Israel had no interest in hearing the truth. In fact, as the story unfolds, we find that Micaiah will be thrown in prison for speaking the word of God. Ahab’s desire was to silence anyone who did not declare the truth as he saw it.

What a sad parallel to much of what we see happening in our world today. We have accepted a worldview where tolerance is the highest form of morality. We are required to accept the choices people make as though every choice was equal, and those who would dare speak out against certain behaviors as immoral, are immediately silenced. The approach of silencing the word of God was not good for Ahab and Israel, and it will not turn out positively for us either.

Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Pastor Jim

 

Times Like These 

Daniel 11:32
“Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”

Daniel describes a very difficult time in Israel. Constant battles between the Seleucid and Ptolemian empires have wreaked havoc on the people of God. They have been an occupied territory for several years, and now face the threat of annihilation, as the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, has set his attention on destroying Israel. He outlawed the Jewish religion, ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. In 168 B.C., his soldiers descended upon Jerusalem, massacred thousands of people, burned the Holy Scriptures, and desecrated the Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus, and sacrificing pigs on the altar. It is with this dark, and seemingly hopeless, backdrop that Daniel declares, “the people who know their God will be strong and carry out great exploits.” In other words, the darker the backdrop, the greater opportunity for the child of God to shine.

History records, during this time, a priest by the name of Mattathias, and his five sons, mounted a rebellion against Antiochus and his forces. They soon began to succeed in one battle after another, until they had taken back the city of Jerusalem, and restored worship within the Temple. It was at this time, the events that led to the celebration of Hanukkah took place. The story is told, when the temple was rededicated, they had only enough oil to light the lamp stand for one day, and it would take several days to prepare more oil. They lit the lamp and began preparing more oil. Eight days later, the oil was completed, and the lamp was miraculously still burning. Hanukkah, in many ways, is the celebration of the people of God doing great exploits.

We live in dark days, that seem to be getting darker. Personal freedoms are being lost in the name of tolerance, the rising threat of terrorism impacts almost every aspect of life, and immorality is on the rise, in what seems to be unprecedented levels. This is not the time for the child of God to cower in fear or lean on the arm of the flesh. These are times for “the people who know their God [to be] strong, and carry out great exploits.” These are times for us to live more committed to Christ, and to declare with an ever increasing boldness, the simple message of the Gospel. Times like these are the birthplace of heroes.

Pastor Jim

 

No Excuses 

Romans 2:1
“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

excuses.pngBeginning with the eighteenth verse of chapter one, Paul is developing his case against humanity. He states, because of the inner witness of the conscience, and the outer witness of creation, men have no excuse for atheism, agnosticism, or idolatry. He makes it clear, unbelief is primarily driven, not by lack of evidence of the divine, but out of a desire to practice things God forbids. He speaks of those who reject the truth in order to practice unrighteousness.

After giving a long list of sinful activities, Paul declares, it is not only the one involved in such sins, but also the one who looks on with approval, who is guilty before God. One of the fascinating issues of today, is the widespread idea that tolerance means we must accept behaviors and lifestyles that are lived in open defiance to the teaching of the Word of God. Many, practicing these behaviors, even go so far as to say that God is TOLERANT of their behaviors, even though His Word clearly condemns such actions. We live in a time where people are afraid to stand up and call sin what it is, and as a result, we find ourselves approving lifestyles that God condemns. As the second chapter of Romans unfolds, Paul’s attention switches from those who assume any and all behaviors are acceptable to God, to those who think they will be accepted for the things they don’t do.

I am reminded of a story Jesus told of a Pharisee who stood before God, attempting to justify himself. He prayed, “God I thank you that I am not like other men, I am not an extortioner, I am not unjust and I am not a tax collector…” (Luke 18:10-14) This man considered himself to be acceptable to God for the things He did not do. What we ‘don’t do’ is not what makes us right with God; because what we ‘don’t do’ in action, we often do in thought. Jesus explained that adultery, theft, and murder were issues of the heart, as much as they are actions of the body. When I look at a woman with lust, I am guilty of the same sin as the man who is cheating on his wife, or having sexual relations before marriage. Paul put it like this, “And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” Romans 2:3

If you assume God will look past your sins because they are not as bad as the sins of others, you have misunderstood the righteousness of God. The list of things we have not done does not justify us before God. Instead ,we are justified when we realize our need for a savior, and put our trust in Christ. This long treatise that Paul develops is to remove all excuses, and bring each of us to a place of accepting Christ; having our sins removed, and receiving eternal life. I realize some of us feel stuck in our sins. We have been practicing them for so long they have become a part of us. Will you allow me to encourage you? When you come to Christ, He will wash your sins from you, as far as the East is from the West. He wants to give you a brand new start in life, by making you a new creation in Christ. Rather than excusing our sins, let’s confess them, and allow Him to transform us into the persons He designed us to be.

Pastor Jim

 

A Snare To Us

Exodus 10:7
“Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, ‘How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?’”

IMG_1399Pharaoh thought the problem with his nation was the believers, and as a result, he attempted to suppress or destroy them at all costs. What he failed to see was, it was his attack upon God, His word, and His people, that actually destroyed his nation. What was once a powerful empire, and the delight of the nations, was being weakened by rebellion against the ways of God. Egypt is not an anomaly. The same is true of any nation that seeks to remove the influence of God.

Proverbs 14:34
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

I cannot help but see the parallels in the modern world. Almost every day we see immorality heralded as a form of free expression, or even as a civil right, while at the same time, righteousness is looked upon almost as if it were a disease. Those who suggest that certain behaviors or lifestyles are sinful, are considered to be intolerant, and looked upon almost as a virus that must be destroyed. It is not that the world does not like religion, but like Pharaoh who suggested they worship without any personal cost, the world calls out for moderation. If you are willing to be a Christian without letting it affect your behavior, your family, or your political and social viewpoints, then by all means, be a Christian. But those who dare to trust in, stand upon, and live by the Word of God, will not be tolerated and must be stopped.

How sad that the very thing Pharaoh thought would save his nation, is the very thing that destroyed it.

Pastor Jim