Giving Up To Gain

Mark 8:35
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

A paradox is a statement that seems contradictory or opposed to common sense, but is true. The statement Jesus reveals is one of life’s greatest paradoxes. Man was created to know God. Jesus said that He came to “give us life and that more abundantly” (John 10:10). When our lives are lived in complete obedience to the Lord, we experience the height of living. When we hold back, unwilling to give ourselves, our time, or some sinful activity, we think we are gaining, we think we are better off. However, that very thing we are holding onto, is the very thing keeping us from the abundant life Jesus created for us.

Knowing this, Jesus asks two questions; first, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

If true life is found in surrender to Christ, then what would be the benefit of holding onto all the world offers? Imagine if your phone was to ring this morning, and on the other end of the call were all the world leaders. They had decided the best thing for mankind was to make you king of the world. You get the title, the robe, the crown, the chair, and all the world’s goods are now yours. You possess all the wealth and all the power of the whole world. There is nothing you cannot have. The catch… you must deny Jesus. You can have this life but not eternal life. That my friends is a losing proposition. The right response is to hang up the phone.

Knowing that will not happen; knowing that no man has ever gained the whole world, Jesus asks a second question,

“What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

You cannot have everything, so is there anything you are holding onto that is robbing you from the life Jesus has for you?Perhaps a relationship you thought would satisfy you, so you began to compromise your walk with the Lord; only to find that it is robbing you of the life found in Christ. Whatever it may be, anything you are holding onto, lay it all down and follow Christ.

Pastor Jim

Pray For Our Leaders 

Exodus 22:28
“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”

The purpose of Israel’s time at Mount Sinai was to develop as a nation upon the foundation stone of the Word of God. Moses went up the mountain alone, and came down the mountain with clear and detailed instructions from heaven regarding how the people should live. These instructions are referred to simply as “the Law” and can be divided into three groups. The Moral Law is a list of unchanging standards God set upon mankind. The Religious Law was designed to instruct the people regarding relationship with God.  The Civil Law was created to keep order. Since God was forming this traveling band into a nation, it would be necessary to also establish leadership, and because of the nature of men, it would not be long before the people would begin to complain about those who are in charge. Knowing this was coming, God declares,

Exodus 22:28 “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”

Simply put, God made it illegal for the people to curse their rulers. This is not because the rulers would always prove to be faultless, nor did it mean they were above the law, or their actions could not be questioned. In fact, God always puts a higher standard on rulers, than he does on the rest of the people. What this law was designed to do was point out the folly of sitting around complaining about those who are in charge.

Instead of grousing about our leaders, the laws, or the direction the nation is heading, the Bible gives us a far more productive way to handle poor leadership, and a declining culture. God instructs us to pray for our leadership, and to infiltrate culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I wonder what would happen, if we took half the time we spent complaining about the condition of our nation, and invested that time in prayer and seeking effective ways to bring the Gospel message to others.

Pastor Jim

Free To Serve

Exodus 21:5-6
“But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.”

Paul often referred himself as a servant, or a slave. The word he used was “dulous”, which means bond-slave, or a person who was bound to another. It is not difficult to find examples in history of people who have been enslaved. Some are slaves because they were conquered in battle, others for religious or ethnic persecution, and still others because of debt or a criminal offense. It is quite difficult, however, to find examples of people who chose slavery as a way of life. I suppose no ambitious students ever pursued slavery as a career path, seeking a university that offers a good slave training program. Yet, Paul refers to himself as a bond slave of Christ. Exodus 21 gives a vivid picture of why Paul would choose to be a slave.

Under the Mosaic Law a person would serve as a slave for a period of six years. Slavery was a form of payment for past debts, and after six years, the debt was cancelled. However, a provision was granted for a person who did not want to be set free. They could choose to have their ear pierced, as a sign that they belonged to their master, and commit to a life of servitude. The reason behind their decision was love.

“I love my master… I will not go free.”

It was the goodness of the master that caused the individual to choose slavery over freedom. Someone, whose master treated him well, might choose to be bound forever, rather than be set free. Perhaps a man, prior to his servitude, had lived in poverty and suffering, but had a master that treated him like a son and gave him all he needed; that man might choose to be bound forever. Paul saw himself as that man. He looked at his life apart from Christ and realized, being under the authority of Christ, gave him greater freedom, than being bound to sin. He realized, the privileges of abiding in Christ, were better than life apart from Him. In a figurative sense, Paul drove an awl through his own ear, and committed himself to a life of following Christ.

Have you chosen to be bound to Christ forever? There is no higher place in life than serving Christ.

Pastor Jim

Far Hearts

Jim Gallagher

Mark 7:3
“For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders.”

Man was created with a need to know God. In fact, we only experience the fullness of life when we are in right relationship with God. Man, apart from God, is like an expensive luxury car, purchased only to sit in the driveway under a cover. That is not what it was designed to do. Nor were we designed to live apart from God. That is why there is a longing in our hearts to know God. This longing shows itself in worship; every man worships something. God’s answer to this was to send His Son, so we could know Him. Man’s answer is to become incurably religious. Like an old miner who hits a vein of fool’s gold; so many have satisfied their…

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No Idols

Jim Gallagher

Exodus 20:4
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;”

On the top of a mountain covered in smoke, Moses met with God, and heard the standard upon which relationship with God would be established. The Lord gives a list of ten commands that reveal His holiness, and our need for sacrifice. The first four commands reveal things about the nature of God. We learn, along with being jealous, just, merciful, faithful and holy, He is also the only true God and must not be reduced to an image or an idol.

Icons or religious artifacts are a part of every religious system. People cling to manmade objects thinking they are closer to God if they kiss an image, wear a necklace, or carry a…

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Where Are You Going?

Jim Gallagher

Exodus 19:4
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.”

I imagine if any of the people in this massive caravan were asked where they were headed, they all would have given the same answer, “We are going to the Promised Land.” They had grown up with stories of a land flowing with milk and honey; had been dreaming of this day for generations. Their goal was to reach a land where they were free from the tyranny of Egypt. At the same time, if we were able to look up and ask the Lord where this multitude of people was headed, His answer would not be the same. To Him the destination was somewhere entirely different. God said “I am bringing them to myself.”

That is always the desire of God. Whatever situation you are…

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Limited Work

Jim Gallagher

Mark 6:5

Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.”

The phrase “He could do no mighty work there…” has always fascinated me. Think about it. The one who healed the sick, calmed the seas, rebuked the demons, raised the dead, created all things, and by the word of His power, holds all things together, could do no mighty work there. Why? What is it that kept the mighty God from accomplishing His mighty works.

“He marveled because of their unbelief.” Mark 6:6

Mark tells us unbelief limited the work of God in the lives of the people of Nazareth. They did not believe Jesus could do for them what they heard He had done for others. Since faith is the currency in the kingdom of God, without it we cannot expect God to…

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