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

 

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

 

Consider Your Ways 

Haggai 1:5
“Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways!'”

Seventy years after Judah was defeated and Jerusalem was burned to the ground, a remnant of Israelites, led by Zerubbabel, made their way back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. After an initial period of success, they were met by strong opposition that caused the work to cease for a period of fifteen years. During that time, the people who were once involved in the ministry, became distracted by life and the Temple remained an incomplete work. It was at this time  God raised up the prophet Haggai to exhort the people. His initial message was both simple and clear. He told them it was time for them to consider their ways. The needed to take the time to examine their lives and see if they were, in fact, living for the Lord. This is the first step in getting our spiritual life back on track.

For the remnant, it was not sin that led them away from the Lord. They do not seem to have returned to idolatry or to have forsaken the Lord. Instead, they were distracted from the things of God, by life itself. Haggai declares, they claimed not to have time to serve God, because they were busy paneling their own houses. They claimed not to have resources to give to God, because they used them on their own projects, while the Temple was being neglected. It is quite common for believers to be distracted by life. We get busy with school, job, career, relationships and children, and if we are not careful, these things can occupy all of our time, causing us to lose sight of the Lord and His call on our life.

Haggai gives us the first step in toward the resolution of the matter. He tells the people to simply “consider their ways.” They needed to examine their lives, see if they were truly serving Christ, and follow up by making the appropriate changes. This is good advice and we should take the necessary time to apply it to ourselves. Ask yourself a few simple questions.

First, am I serving the Lord? If so how? If not , why not?

Second, am I giving to the Lord? If so what? If not, why not? (Keep in mind that you can give time, talents and treasures to God.)

Third, have I allowed things into my life that disqualify me from serving God? If so what? And what am I going to do about it?

Consider your ways. Time is short, eternity is forever, and only what we do for God has any lasting value.

Pastor Jim

 

The Ant 

“Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler,
Provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” – Proverbs 6:6-8

Solomon used the natural world as a teacher of spiritual truth. Not to the extent that his understanding of God was built on what he saw in nature, but rather that nature has a way of illustrating many Biblical truths. In Proverbs, it is common to find references to the animal kingdom as a teaching method.

The ant is a means of reminding us of the need to plan ahead. To the casual observer, they seem to have no ruler, yet they all march in line to store up for the future. Solomon suggests the reason we fail to prepare for what is ahead is laziness. Twice in the passage, the man who does not plan for his future is referred to as a sluggard. Webster defines a sluggard as an habitually lazy person, or someone who is inactive.

While it seems clear, Solomon has our financial well being in mind, this truth has its fullest application in preparing for eternity. Every person, rich or poor, man or woman, free or slave, will one day breathe his last and step out of time and into eternity. Tragically, not all of us are prepared for that eventuality. Some put it off thinking they will get around to it later, only to be caught, by death, unaware. Others, purposely try to avoid any thought of death or eternity by filling their minds with earthly things. Whatever the case, we must “go to the ant” and learn to prepare for our ultimate fate; being face to face with the God who made us.

The way to prepare for eternity is first to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. Accept the fact that you are a sinner and He is the Savior. Bow your head, your heart, and your life to Him and ask Him to forgive your sins. Second, we need to store up treasures in heaven by living for Him on earth. Take time to pray for others and tell them about your relationship with Christ. Look for ways to get involved in serving Him by ministering to others.

Go to the ant, Heaven is waiting.

Pastor Jim

Be Strong 

2 Timothy 2:1
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

It seems as though men have always been fascinated with strength. We have all seen images of Greek or Roman statutes, they look like they have come off the pages of a body building magazine, making us wonder if every Roman official looked like the Incredible Hulk. We have also seen images of rockets blasting off, volcanos erupting, or a nuclear explosion. The sheer force involved in these phenomena is mesmerizing. Psychologists and business gurus encourage us to recognize our strengths in order to find happiness in life or success in business. It is not difficult to find lists of character strengths by which to measure ourselves. However, it has been my observation, the things Paul tells us to be strong in are strangely absent. While it is important to be strong in things like decision-making, seeing a task through to the end, or being creative, Paul exhorts us to be strong in other areas which have far more eternal value.

2 Timothy 2:1 “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Grace can be defined as the giving nature of God. The Bible teaches us, God loves us and desires to give what is best to us. The highest expression of His grace is seen at the cross, where He gave His Son to pay for the sins of the world. It is when we recognize we are sinners, and He has provided a way of salvation, that we become partakers of His grace. Sadly, many who have trusted in the grace of God for salvation, live out their Christian life as though grace was used up on the cross. They seem to live like Jacob, who was constantly striving and manipulating to get ahead, rather than walking with, and trusting in, the Lord. One of the greatest lessons to learn in life is, once you have received Christ, you are accepted in the Beloved. You are a recipient of God’s favor, and as you walk daily with Him, you will derive the benefits of His matchless grace.

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

The phrase “be strong in” is used one other time in Paul’s writing; he refers to being strong in the Lord. One of the realities of life is there are many times when I am not strong enough. The other day I attempted to carry a piece of furniture out of the house, only to realize I would have to wait for one of my boys to get home. It was simply too heavy for me. Weakness is something we all have, and it stands in the way of us doing what God calls us to. Rather than failing to do what we have been called to because of our weakness, we must be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Whatever He calls us to, He will equip us for.

Pastor Jim

 

You’re Doing It Wrong

1 Thessalonians 2:13
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

A few days ago I was working at my computer using a program that had been updated with new features. While I had used the program before, these new features added elements with which I was unfamiliar. I was having trouble with what should have been a pretty simple task. Each time I tried to make it do what I wanted, the program would override my action, doing something else to the document. In frustration, I called out for help from one of the other pastors, who is quite computer savvy. When he came to my aid I said, “This stupid thing is not working.” To which he replied. “That’s because you are doing it wrong.” After a moment of being offended, I realized he was right and I humbled myself allowing him to show me the correct way to work the program. I was delighted to find it was not the program that was being stupid, and the upgrades were actually quite helpful. But what does that have to do with our text?

“The word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

I have heard people say something to the effect of, “I tried reading the Bible, but it did not work for me.” Others, might even goes so far as to say, “I tried Jesus, it did not work.” To which I think the proper response would be, “you are doing it wrong.” Notice that Paul speaks of the effectiveness of the Word of God to work in the life of the believer. He actually lists three necessities if we want the Word of God to work effectively in us.

You received the word of God which you heard from us”

First, they took the time to hear the Word of God. We read in Romans that “faith comes by hearing the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The first step to being transformed by God’s Word is to receive the Word. We must put ourselves in a place where we are ingesting the Word of God on a regular basis. This includes the need for daily Bible reading, as well as church attendance, where we are being taught through the Word of God. Sadly, not all churches teach the Word. Find one that emphasizes the Bible and teaches through it.

“. . .you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, . . .”

Second, as they read through the Word, or heard Paul teach, they recognized these were not the opinions of man to be argued with, updated or discarded. Instead, they realized the Bible is in fact, the Word of God given to man. Writing to Timothy, Paul declared the Word of God is inspired and profitable. We all like that word profit, it means we gain from it. When we understand the Bible is of great value, take the time to listen to it, not to argue with God, or try to conform its teaching to fit our lifestyles, we will find that it effectively works in us.

“. . . the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

Finally, Paul declares when they heard the Word, it was coupled with faith. They believed God wanted to do exactly what He said and they expected to see those things worked out in their lives. I recently read a tweet that said, “If you are not praying for a miracle you probably won’t get one.” The same idea is true when reading the Word. If you do not believe what God is saying, you are not going to be willing to put it into practice, and you will find yourselves accusing the Word of God of being impotent, instead of effectual.

Allow me to encourage you to approach your Bible as the Word of God, receiving it daily, trusting in its warnings and promises, so you, like the Thessalonians, may find that it has effectively worked in you.

Pastor Jim

 

Get To Work 

Colossians 4:17
“And say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.'”

Paul closes out his letter to the Colossians by referring to the ministries of a number of believers. Luke, Mark and Barnabas are very well-known, while others, like Tychicus and Epaphras, are a little less familiar to some of us. In each case, Paul is referring to them in a positive light, and speaking of the effectiveness of their ministries. Tychicus was the faithful traveler who delivered this letter, and others, to its recipients. Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus are mentioned as fellow prisoners and fellow workers for the Kingdom, while Epaphras is called a bondservant, and described as one who labors fervently for the salvation of others. Tucked away in this list of giants, men who had a significant impact upon this world for God’s Kingdom, is reference to a man named Archipuss. While we know very little about him, (he is mentioned only here and in Philemon), we do find him the subject of an important exhortation.

“And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

While we are not given great detail, we can surmise from what Paul writes, that Archippus had been called and equipped by God for a certain ministry and he was neglecting to fulfill it. It may have been during a Bible study, that Archippus was first stirred with the sense that God might want to use him. He may have contacted the leadership of his church and received prayer and instruction on the matter. However he received the call of God, it is quite apparent he was not doing that which God had called him. Paul’s exhortation might be paraphrased as “Archippus, get busy.”

I think his story is an all too common one. I believe, many of us have sensed the call of God on our lives as it relates to serving the Lord in our homes, churches and community, only to be discouraged by our own weaknesses or by the greatness of the task. Some have taken the initial steps to fulfill the call of God, only to be disheartened, and find themselves on the sidelines, watching. Paul’s exhortation to us is “take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” Get busy and get to work! While there may be a long list of excuses justifying why we are not currently serving the Lord, these are all trumped by the fact that God has called you, and He will always equip those whom He calls. If you do not sense that you are equipped, it may be because you are not doing what He asks. There was no reason for Peter to be buoyant until his feet touched the water. (Matthew 14:25-30)

It is encouraging to note, there is one further reference to Archippus in Scripture. He is mentioned in Paul’s letter to Philemon, where he is called a fellow soldier. It seems he took the exhortation seriously. He got busy doing what God had called him to do, the kingdom was furthered, and he was honored. If you are not sure what God has called you to do, simply sit before Him and make yourself available. Jesus said we should pray for more laborers for the harvest is awaiting.

Pastor Jim