End Of The Road 

Revelation 20:12
“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”

Have you ever heard someone say, “All roads lead to God”?  While it is not true, according to Jesus Himself, that all roads lead to heaven, it is true, all roads lead to God. Whatever road you choose to travel in this life, it ultimately ends at the throne of God. John explains that he saw every person who had ever lived, the good, the bad, and the ugly, all standing before the throne of God and awaiting judgment for sin. There is no road you can travel that will not ultimately lead to the throne of God. Even those who stubbornly resist the Spirit of God and refuse to accept Him, will stand before this throne, along with those who refuse to believe He even exists. There is no way of escaping the throne, but there is a way of avoiding judgment.

John records that a book was opened which contained a list of all the sins that each person had ever committed. One sin is enough to condemn, and every sin is recorded. However, there is a second book; the Book of Life, which contains the names of all who have received Christ and His forgiveness of sin. Those whose names are in the Book of Life have had all the charges against them erased. Paul put it like this,

Colossians 2:14 “. . . having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

The most important decision you will ever make is the one regarding Jesus. If you choose to accept Him as Savior and Lord, your sins will be forgiven and you will be excluded from judgment. If you choose to reject Him, for whatever reason, you are left in your sin. One day you will stand before the throne of God and the book of deeds will be opened, read, and you will be sentenced. It seems like a pretty straightforward decision. Joshua put it like this;

Joshua 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Pastor Jim

He Reigns 

Daniel 4:32
“…until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”

This lesson is so important that it is set in an unforgettable backdrop. God allowed the most powerful ruler in the world to lose his mind, and behave like a wild beast, for a period of seven seasons, that he might learn that it is God who rules the affairs of men. While very few will go through Nebuchadnezzar’s experience, all of us need to come to the realization that the Most High rules the kingdom of men.

Scripture goes into great detail to teach this lesson to us. We read of Joseph, who was sold into slavery and cast into prison. What looked like a tragic end, was really the route God took to exalt him to a position where he was used to save Israel. We read of Caesar, the most powerful man in the world, who desired to increase revenue by requiring a census for taxation. He made all inhabitants of his empire return to the city of their birth to be registered. We find the real reason was so a pregnant Israeli woman would make her way to Bethlehem to give birth to the Messiah, in fulfillment of Scripture. Paul capsulized this truth in one of the most memorable promises when he said, “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes” (Romans 828). All of this is only true because “the Most High rules the kingdom of men.”

For Nebuchadnezzar this lesson was learned the hard way. His refusal to humble himself before God and His word, made for a very difficult and humiliating season of life. It did not have to be that way for him, and it does not have to be that way for us. We can choose, today, to humble ourselves under the hand of God. Then watch as He reveals, His is the hand  that guides and governs the affairs of our lives.

Pastor Jim

What Would You Do? 

Daniel 3:5
“At the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up”

Every believer faces the temptation to conform to the ways of the world. Sometimes these temptations are a force so strong it seems impossible to resist. Often, these temptations are magnified by the sheer fact that so many are caught up in them, and the Christian feels isolated when he chooses to stand firm in the Lord and resist. Perhaps no other story in the Bible illustrates this point more clearly than the temptation faced by Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.

In order to ensure all would accept the new worship practices of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar pulled out all the stops. He built a massive golden structure that would glisten in the bright desert sun. He invited the most influential people in the empire, and used music to win over the hearts of the people. All this was an attempt to draw them into idolatry, and for almost everyone in the empire, Nebuchadnezzar’s efforts worked. They were caught up in the moment and without hesitation bowed before the golden statue.

As the story unfolds, we find three men who were unwilling to be swayed by the crowds. Three men who stood tall, when all others bowed before the image. Their decision was very costly. It cost them the embarrassment of standing alone, it cost them a trip to see the king, and it ultimately cost them being thrown into the burning fiery furnace.

In their case, what was costly, also yielded high returns. Their willingness to stand for the Lord against temptation, resulted in seeing Jesus, experiencing supernatural deliverance, having an impact upon their generation; leaving an example for us to follow today.

We will all face temptations at varying levels. Sometimes they will seem so strong it will take all we have to cling to the ways of God and resist them. It would do us well to keep the example of these three young men fresh in our minds to encourage us to stand strong.

Pastor Jim

Wedding Day 

Revelation 19:1
“After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Alleluia!’”

Revelation 19:3
“Again they said, ‘Alleluia!’”

Revelation 19:4
“And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, ‘Amen! Alleluia!’”

Revelation 19:5
“Then a voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Praise our God,’

Revelation 19:6
“Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”

Revelation 19:7
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come,. . .”

In Revelation 19, the scene in heaven is one of exuberant praise. We read of a great multitude joining in worship, and giving glory to the Lord. While there are many reasons to worship God, their praise stems from the fact that the marriage supper of the Lamb has come. To help us understand the relationship we have with God, the Bible uses a number of illustrations. We are referred to as the ‘children of God’, the ‘body of Christ’, the ‘church’, or ‘assembly of those who have been called out of the world’. Perhaps the most intimate of all is when the Bible refers to the Christian as “the bride of Christ.” Paul wrote to the Corinthians,

“For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2

In ancient Jewish culture, the greatest of all celebrations was the wedding feast. The same is often true today. Being a pastor, I have an interesting perspective at weddings. As the congregation turns to watch the bride enter the room, I usually turn and look at the face of the groom. It is amazing to see his face the moment he sees her, and watch him fill with joy. There are times when the joy becomes so great, tears fill his eyes. In those times, I cannot help but think of the joy in the face of Jesus, when He is finally reunited with His bride; and we will forever be with the Lord.

In ancient times, when a man and woman committed to marry one another, they would be betrothed. Betrothal, unlike engagement, involved being legal bound. It was not something that was cast aside on a whim, but would require a legal document in order to bring it to an end. When you received Christ, you were betrothed to Him. While the wedding day and it’s celebration remain in our future, we are bound to Him by love. He is in heaven, anticipating the day when we will be united with Him. We should live on earth with that same anticipation.

Pastor Jim

Kingdoms Rise And Fall

Daniel 2:31-35
“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome.
This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”

King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream serves as a timeline of world kingdoms, from the time of Daniel until the return of Christ. The image refers to six kingdoms, five that are temporary, and one that will last forever. Four of the six have already come and gone, while the final two are still in our future. The fulfillment of the first four gives us assurance of the fulfillment of the final two.

The first kingdom, represented by the gold head, was Babylon. It was a splendid kingdom with great power that seemed unconquerable, until a coalition of the Medes and Persians combined and defeated them. This second kingdom, represented by the chest of silver, spread to become the largest empire the world had ever seen, and ruled the Middle East for over two hundred years. Their expansion took them as far west as Greece. It was their attack upon Greece which led to their downfall. It was  a young king from northern Greece who gathered the fractured city states, and overthrew Persia. Greece, the bronze belly, ruled the world until the rise of the Roman Empire, represented by the legs of iron.

The final two kingdoms are yet to come upon the world stage. Daniel uses the imagery of ten toes to describe a ten nation empire, somehow connected with Rome. This empire will rule until the time when the Kingdom of Christ is set up in the world. Jesus, seen as a large stone, will defeat world empires and set up His kingdom, which will be ruled with righteousness and governed with peace.

Today we live somewhere between two kingdoms. The world stage is becoming more and more global in its focus, and will soon begin to specifically fulfill the predictions of Daniel. The way to prepare for what is coming, is to become a citizen of the kingdom of God. John wrote,

John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name”

Are you ready for the reign of Christ? Have you received Him, had your sins washed away and turned from your old life? Are you living for the Kingdom which is still to come?

Pastor Jim

From Start To Finish

Daniel 1:21
“Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.”

I remember the first time I heard someone teaching the parable of the ‘Sower and the Soils.’They referred to the person represented by the shallow ground as a “Firecracker Christian.” That is, someone who starts out with a bang, but burns out before too long. Sadly, the landscape is filled with believers just like that. It is refreshing to read that Daniel continued in his commitment to the Lord. His life becomes a good example of how to persevere in our walk with the Lord. There are a number of key components necessary for any who desires to remain committed until the end.

First, we read of Daniel purposing in his heart, or committing himself and his ways to the Lord. This decision came about by looking at life through the filter of the Word of God. His environment presented him with a lifestyle forbidden by the Bible, and Daniel chose to follow the Word of God, instead of the ways of the world. I think we all understand that resolve alone is not enough to ensure success in our walk with Christ, however, without resolve we will never get started. The first step is to commit yourself and your ways completely to the Lord.

Second, we read Daniel did not try to make it on his own. Many from Jerusalem were taken captive to Babylon, yet, Daniel surrounded himself with like-minded men. His three closest friends were men who also wanted to be committed to  God. As we choose friends, we need to look for those whose lives will encourage us to press on with the Lord.

Third, we find Daniel was a man of the Word. He knew the proper response to temptation because he was familiar with the Scriptures. While the dietary restrictions of the Old Covenant do not apply to the Christian today, the principle of looking into the Word of God to discover how to live never changes. The Bible will not only instruct us, but has a way of feeding us spiritually, so we become strong enough to obey God when tempted. Nothing is more helpful than a healthy diet of Scripture.

Finally, Daniel was a man of faith. When challenged, he suggested a test. He would obey the Word of God and allow his boss to determine if following the Lord proved to be a better way of life than disobedience. After  a short time, it was evident to all, that doing things God’s way was better. In Christian circles, we talk a lot about faith. Daniel illustrates one of the key aspects of biblical faith, that is, we are to look into God’s word and do what it says, trusting God for the outcome.

Seventy years after chapter one begins, Daniel is still walking strong with the Lord. Kings and kingdoms had come and gone, yet Daniel remained faithful to God. His is the example I want to follow. I hope you will join in as well.

Pastor Jim

Get Out 

Revelation 18:4
“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.'”

As John begins to describe the fall of Babylon the Great, he hears a cry from heaven calling the people of God to come out, and no longer share in its sins. Babylon here is referring to more than a city in modern Iraq, it refers to the world system that is opposed to the ways of God. The call then is for the people of God to leave the ways of the world, to live in step with the ways of God. This is not a one time call, but is repeated time and again within the pages of your Bible. We were saved, not to continue in a destructive lifestyle, practicing the things that Jesus died to free us from, but to live a new life on a higher plain, where we seek in every area of life to bring pleasure to God.

Galatians 1:3-4 “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,  . . .”

Christ died, not only to forgive sin, but to provide deliverance for all who come to Him. When we put faith in Christ, the chains that once bound us to a life of sin have been broken. We no longer have to be like shrub in the desert, barely surviving in life, but we can be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, bearing fruit in its season.

Have you come to Christ? Have you asked Him to wash you of your sin and give you new life? That is the first step; the second is to come out of the world and stop partaking in practices that do not please Him. Don’t wait another moment,

“Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”

Pastor Jim