Glamping 

Exodus 25:2
“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”

A few years ago I heard a word I had never heard before, or ever dreamed could be real. That word was “glamping.” “Glamping,” according to the urban dictionary, is “a form of glamorous camping done by urban types.” Those who “glamp” turn tents into elaborate structures with all the comforts of home. Once inside the tent, you are sure to forget you are in the wild. Of all the glamorous tents ever constructed by these wanna be campers, none could compare in beauty or cost to the Tabernacle Israel built in the wilderness. At the current value of an ounce of gold, the Tabernacle would have cost more than $50 million just in materials. The question is, where did all that money come from?

“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”

Moses laid out the building plans for the Tabernacle, then instructed the people to go home and consider what part they would play in the construction of the Tabernacle. Each family was to prayerfully consider their financial condition, in light of the work that God wanted to do. In the end, the people were to give willingly to the work.

I am sure many factors were considered as families got together to examine their finances. They needed to look at their net worth, what expenses they had to cover, and to keep in mind that the future was unknown, and they could not be certain what kind of provision was around the corner. I am sure, in addition to looking at their needs, they also considered some wants. If they gave to the work of the Lord, that would mean they had less to spend on pleasure, amusement or vacations. Another factor they needed to consider, was that by giving to the Lord, they were giving to something bigger than themselves; a work that would continue long after they were gone. So much of our expenses are spent on things that don’t last, giving to the Tabernacle was giving to something that would be used for the furtherance of the kingdom for years to come.

When considering your finances, and what to do with them, it is important to carefully examine what you have, but it is also important to consider what kind of lasting impact you are making for the kingdom of God. Perhaps it is time to prayerfully consider what investments you are making in the furtherance of the Gospel.

Pastor Jim

Wise Guys 

Proverbs 2:6-11
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path. When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, . . . “

Wisdom can be defined as the proper application of knowledge in any given situation, or simply knowing what to do. We have all felt, at times, that we do not know what to do. We are faced with a problem, and are crippled with indecision. It is comforting to know, God promises to give wisdom to His children. The question that remains is, how do I get my hands on the wisdom He has? There are at least three simple steps.

First, we must understand there is a difference between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of this world. Not all advice is godly, and not every direction will lead us closer to Him.

Second, we must cry out to God for His wisdom. James wrote that if we lack wisdom we must ask Him for it and He will give it to us (James 1:5). Solomon wrote that we should search for it as you would for a precious treasure (Proverbs 2:4). When we do not know what to do, we should look up to Heaven and cry out for help.

2 Chronicles 20:12 “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

Finally, wisdom is acquired by asking God, and looking into his Word. Since the wisdom of God differs from the wisdom of the world, the means by which we find it, will also differ. Heaven’s wisdom is not found on the TV screen or at the box office. It is rarely listed in the advice columns, or even in university text books. Instead, the wisdom of God is found in the pages of His Word. When Israel was about to enter the Land, God told them, if they followed His Word, the nations around them would be stunned by how brilliant they seemed. They would ask where they acquired such know-how and wisdom. Their answer is recorded for us:

Deuteronomy 4:6 “Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”

When we apply the Word of God to our lives, we will find that our own lives are better, and we become a witnessing tool to those around us. Let’s be careful to seek wisdom as a precious treasure.

Pastor Jim

 

Be Prepared 

1 Timothy 6:7
“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

Famous American inventor and statesman, Benjamin Franklin, is credited with saying, “Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” It seems we spend much of our time, effort, and energy, trying to avoid these things, rather than preparing for them. Some of us will exercise regularly, change our diet, and get regular checkups with our family doctor, in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. Others, will avoid any thought whatsoever of death or dying, and live this life as though it will last forever. Some, might have a risk-it-all attitude, where they live life on the edge, while others will attempt to amass as much stuff in this life as possible. Remember the mantra “He who dies with the most toys wins”?While I am not suggesting that eating healthy or enjoying life are bad ideas, I am saying, attempts to avoid or ignore death, are not nearly as important as attempts to prepare for it.

Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Jesus explained the folly of living for this life only. He reminds us that all we have acquired in this life, is subject to theft or decay. Not long ago, a water line under our house sprung a leak and ruined the flooring in our living room. I can remember the excitement on my wife’s face when the floor was first laid. While we knew it would not last forever, neither of us thought it would go so quickly. Life is like that, we live as though things will continue on forever, not because evidence suggests it, but because we do not want to face the reality that we are temporal beings with a shelf life. All of us must take seriously the words of the Apostle, realize the brevity of life, and prepare for eternity.

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

While it is true we can take nothing with us, we certainly can send things on ahead. Jesus maitained, we can store up treasures in heaven. We are all taking a trip one day into the unknown, to a destination where we have never traveled. While we cannot know everything we will face when we arrive, we can prepare in advance for our destination. Step one is to receive Christ; He alone is the way into heaven. Step two, get to know His Word, and live for the things that will outlast this life. The Bible teaches us there are only three things which are eternal: God, His Word, and the souls of men. If we want to live for that which will outlast this life, we must put Jesus first, get to know Him through the pages of our Bible, and seek to impact as many as possible for the kingdom of heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Search And Read

Isaiah 34:16
“Search from the book of the Lord, and read: Not one of these shall fail…”

This verse contains an exhortation followed by a promise. The exhortation is to search the book of the Lord. Webster defines search this way, “to look into or over carefully or thoroughly, in an effort to find or discover something” My wife and I look at some things quite differently. When an item is misplaced I become frustrated, thinking that if it is not where it belongs, there remains an unlimited number places to look. She on the other hand begins to search. I think she sometimes enjoys the challenge. Inevitably, in a matter of minutes, she has located that which is lost. We should approach the Word of God the way an explorer or a excavator approaches life. We must understand, there are precious treasures tucked away in the Bible, and if we are diligent, we will find the ones that are designed for our present condition. I once heard of a man in search of gold. He spent years working his claim only to come up empty. Finally, in a moment of discouragement he sold the rights to his land and moved on. The new owner, within a few days, struck it rich. The first man had given up only inches away from the mother lode.

This exhortation is a motivation with a promise; “not one of these shall fail.” This promise is like a warrantee or a guarantee. Unlike the warrantee we write, this is not followed with pages of clauses or conditions. The fact is, when God makes a promise His promise is sure. Paul wrote, all the promises of God are yes and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20). Jesus declared that even after heaven and earth pass away the Word of God will still remain (Matthew 24:35). He explained that His word was so sure that building our lives upon it is like building a house upon the bedrock (Luke 6:48). Whatever you may be facing, take the time to search within the pages of the Bible. You will find, there truly is a promise designed as a countermeasure for what you are experiencing.

Pastor Jim

 

Treasure 

Colossians 2:3
“. . . in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Knowledge is a word which speaks of information. We increase in our knowledge of God as we read the Word of God and walk with Him daily. However, wisdom is another thing all together. We might define it as “the proper application of knowledge,” or more simply as, “knowing what to do.” How many times have you faced decisions in life where you were not sure what to do, because you have not been that way before? Wisdom is acquired by experience, by careful observation of the experience of others, or by receiving it from heaven.

Notice, Paul writes “All wisdom is hidden in Christ.” We can find great comfort in knowing, while we might not know what we are doing, Christ has been that way before and can provide direction through the fog of life. Notice also, Paul says this wisdom is hidden in Christ. It is not something hidden from us, so we cannot have it, but something hidden so we will seek after it. The primary purpose of salvation is to know God, and wisdom is hidden in Him so we will seek Christ more. The question is, how do we access the wisdom that is hidden in Christ?

James 1:5
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

The first step is to pray. We are exhorted to understand, that through prayer, we can cast all burdens at the feet of Jesus. Sometimes, the greatest burden can be facing situations for which we have no answers. Parenting can certainly be like that. As the children grow, we are constantly walking down roads we have never traveled before. We want desperately to make decisions that will positively impact our children for the kingdom of heaven, and ensure they have a bright and successful future. The problem is, we often do not have a clue as to what we are doing. It is encouraging to know, “in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom”. The secret to receiving His wisdom through prayer, is to be willing to do things His way. Sometimes, we do not seek the mind of God, because we have already determined we do not want to do what He says.

Deuteronomy 4:6
“Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”

Prayer is where we ask questions, and the Word of God is where we find answers. Sometimes, we will pray for things, then spend our time thinking up a solution, without considering what God has written to us in His Word. Israel was told, if they followed the teaching of the Word of God, it would lead to wisdom, and the people around them would be shocked at how smart they were. You see, doing what God says, even when it might not make sense, will always lead to the wisest roads. Other people, when the fruit of those decisions come to light, will be shocked at how smart you seem, all because you chose to do things God’s way.

If you are in need of wisdom because you are on a road you have never traveled before, or perhaps you went the wrong way in the past, the key is to lay your life out before the Lord in prayer. Then sit before His Word, and allow Him to write your road map for you. Using a concordance can be helpful to look up the subjects you are facing, and is a great way to learn to think and act Biblically.

Pastor Jim

 

Mother Load

Job 28:12
“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”

Job is considered to be the oldest book in the Bible. It may have been written as many as four thousand years ago. Job declares, during his day, men were involved in mining the earth in search of precious stones. He refers to successful expeditions in search of silver, gold, copper, iron and sapphire. No doubt, great wealth and power came as a result of their findings. Yet, with all of man’s endeavors, Job declares they had failed to find the source of true wisdom. It cannot be located in the depths of the earth, or be purchased for the price of gold.

Job 28:14-15 “The deep says, ‘It is not in me’; and the sea says, ‘It is not with me. ’ It cannot be purchased for gold, nor can silver be weighed for its price.”

The problem is not a lack of worldly wisdom, but that the world lacks true wisdom. Even the greatest fool thinks he has life figured out, and will happily pour forth his advice or counsel; sometimes, even if we have not requested it. We cannot turn on the TV or radio without someone declaring their wisdom, and exhorting us to live a certain way. The problem is, the wisdom of the world is like fools gold. It shines, sparkles and has the appearance of something valuable, but lacks any real purchasing power. Imagine what it would be like for a miner who struck a vein, only to find out later, what he found was of no value. In a world searching aimlessly for wisdom, and seemingly willing to listen to all kinds of folly, Job uncovers the secret chamber in which true wisdom will be found.

Job 28:28 “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding. ’”

When we decide to live for Christ, and according to the principles of His Word, we are on the road to finding wisdom. To fear God is to seek wisdom; to do what is pleasing to Him. This will always lead us to walk away from sinful behaviors, and to make choices to do things His way. Any advice that puts us at odds with the Word of God, is not true wisdom.

A person who will surrender to the Lord and live in obedience to His word, is like a miner who hits the mother lode. The wisdom of God will bring unimaginable riches to the child of God.

Pastor Jim

 

Honor

Romans 16:3b
“. . . my fellow workers in Christ Jesus

Years ago, I received a letter; I had been selected to be awarded for my accomplishments as a teacher. Upon reading the first paragraph, I was honored and somewhat humbled. My ego was stroked, as I was being told of the great responsibility I was fulfilling by teaching others. However, as I continued to read, I discovered any teacher who was willing to purchase the hundred-dollar, leather-bound book, would have their name listed in it. Even though I knew it was a scam, I was still slightly tempted to have my name in a book honoring me for my accomplishments.

We all love to be honored. We love when our accomplishments are recognized and applauded. We will even sit back and watch as others are honored for their acheivements. It is interesting to me, the things for which men are honored. When a person writes or sings a song… Honor. When a person entertains us with their acting, directing or producing skills… Honor. When a person accomplishes extraordinary feats with a ball… believe it or not, Honor. Like the trophies they receive, that honor will fade away and soon be forgotten. What of our accomplishments for the kingdom of God? Jesus told us they are stored away in heaven, where they will never decay.

Here in Romans 16, we are reminded of what is honored in Heaven’s Kingdom. We read of men and woman who we will never find in a list of who’s who among men. If you Google “Famous People”, their names will never show up, nor will their accomplishments be regarded as great. Yet, their names are listed in the eternal Word of God, and their accomplishments remind us of how we can store up treasures that will last into eternity. Some of the things listed include: serving within the church, opening our houses up for a home fellowship, working alongside those who are preaching the Gospel, or teaching the Word, treating our place of business as a means to effect other for the Kingdom of God, sharing Christ, and passing the test that trials place upon us. As I read this list of men and women, I am encouraged by how important the “little” things are to God, and to the Apostle. What joy must have filled Paul’s heart, knowing the church in Rome was filled with people who were dedicating their time and energies to further the Kingdom. The work of ministry was not left to a few, but was supported by the faithful labor of many.

Rather than spending our time trying to gain the fleeting honor of men, let’s determine to live for an honor that will never fade away. Malachi writes of a book in heaven that includes the accomplishments of the saints. (Malachi 3:16) Allow me two final points of application.

First, I believe we would be amiss in our reading of the chapter, if we did not take a moment to give honor where honor is due.The following is a list of people who you will meet in heaven, who are recorded here for their impact upon the world. Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, the household of Aristobulus, Herodion, the household of Narcissus, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, and his mother, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.

Second, Paul ends this section by saying, “Greet one another.” It is not just those, who in times past, faithfully served Jesus who deserve honor, but those who are currently involved in impacting the world for Jesus. We should be looking for ways to serve the Lord today, as well as giving the proper place of honor to that service. Rather than looking at serving the Lord as a chore, we should look at it with the honor the Word of God places upon it. What will you do for Heaven’s Kingdom today?

Pastor Jim