Who Are You Wearing? 

Psalm 65:6

“Who established the mountains by His strength, being clothed with power; . . .”

Have you ever noticed when movie stars are walking the red carpet, for one of their many awards presentations, they are not asked what they are wearing, but who they are wearing? One of the marks of success is getting a particular designer to make you a one-of-a-kind outfit.

Here the Psalmist declares to us what God is wearing. He is “clothed with power.” I picture God getting ready for the day and choosing to put power on as His garment. His power is infinite. No power on earth or in heaven can be compared to it. The power of the storm, the devil, sickness, and death, were all overthrown by the word of His mouth. Without sweating, straining, grunting, or pulling a muscle, Jesus spoke and conquered the greatest powers on earth. The people were fascinated by His great power; the whole nation was in awe of the One to whom even the demons were subject.

Between the resurrection and ascension of Christ, forty days transpired. During those forty days, Luke tells us Jesus was doing two things. First, He was appearing, to prove beyond a shadow of doubt, that He had in fact risen; conquering sin, death and hell.

Second, He was giving commands to His followers. These commands fit into two categories: go and wait. He was sending them out into the world with the message of eternal life. They were to start at home, then travel the globe, sharing with everyone the glorious message of salvation through faith in Christ. Before they went, they were commanded to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus instructed them that when the Spirit came upon them, they would be clothed with power from on high. Just like the Twelve, we have been commissioned to live a holy life in an ungodly world; to declare the hope of salvation with our family, friends and community.

Just like the Twelve, we have been promised power from on high to accomplish this. As you prepare to face your day, with the unknown temptations and opportunities that await, who are you wearing? Are you walking out the door clothed with all the strength that you can muster? Or have you taken time to sit at the feet of Jesus and be filled afresh with the Spirit of holiness? Let’s clothe ourselves with the power of the Spirit.

Pastor Jim

New, But Not Improved 

1 Kings 12:8

“But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.”

A youth pastor I once knew had a plaque posted on his wall that read, “Hire a teenager while they still know everything.” Every parent and high school teacher can attest to the fact that young people are often stubborn and insist they know better than the generations that have gone before them. I think part of this is God given and healthy. I think there is great value, especially to the church, in allowing a fresh set of eyes to give us a different perspective on how to best approach ministry. That being said, I also believe this can be unhealthy, and even destructive, when it is not curbed and directed by the wisdom of those who have walked before us.

After the death of Solomon, a new king took the throne. With his ascension, the population had great expectations of things getting better. The building campaigns led by Solomon had resulted in high taxation that was crippling the economy. The people pleaded with King Rehoboam to lighten the burden. He took counsel from the elder statesmen of Israel and from his peers. Sadly, he rejected the wisdom of those whose lives bore the marks of wisdom, and chose to listen to his friends. This proved very costly, and resulted in a civil divide that would forever weaken the nation of Israel.

There is a lot we should learn from Reheboam, not the least of which is, the value of taking heed to the wisdom of those who have walked before us. One definition of crazy is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. If the generation before us learned the value of certain life principles, we would do well to listen to their counsel, as we seek to forge a new path for the kingdom of Heaven. Obviously, the applications of this truth are very broad, however, I think this is an especially valuable concept for those who are seeking to serve the Lord. It is quite easy to look at churches run by grey or balding men and think they are old fashioned and need an upgrade. It may be true that the music style and the design of the stage could use some improvement, but it is also true that the principles of ministry that are tried and true must never change. Remember,  the church was designed and built by Jesus, the principles are not ours, but His.

Pastor Jim

Misguided Affections 

1 Kings 11:40

“Solomon therefore sought to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam arose and fled to Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.”

It is almost eerie to compare the similarities between Solomon and Saul, and Jeroboam and David. As a result of personal sin, Solomon, like Saul, had the kingdom taken from him. While Jeroboam, like David, was chosen by God, to rise to the challenge, and lead a new nation. Sadly, both men failed miserably. The root cause of Solomon’s sin is explained earlier.

1 Kings 11:1-2. “But King Solomon loved many foreign women… from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love.”

Solomon was responsible for introducing idolatry into the nation. He built temples, shrines,  and high places for Ashtoreth, Milcom, Chemosh and Molech. These were the gods of the nations surrounding Israel. Along with the worship of these gods, came all kinds of lewd and licentious behaviors. The seeds dividing the nation were planted by Solomon, and quickly picked up by the people of Israel. In one generation, the once powerful nation of Israel, would be devastated by civil war that would lead to invasion, and ultimately collapse.

We read, although Solomon knew his behavior was unbiblical, he “clung to these women in love.” Love has been used throughout history to justify the sinful behaviors of men. A Christian will disobey the will of God, begin to date an unbeliever, and justify it as love. An unmarried couple will cross the line physically, move in together, using their love for one another as an excuse. A married man will leave his family because he is “in love” with his secretary, or a high school sweetheart.

Love is an important part of life, but misguided love will lead us away from the Lord, and into a world of hurt. The same God who instructed us that love is the chief grace, also warned us not to love the world, nor the things that are in the world. It is crucial that we examine our lives and be sure we are not using love as an excuse to sin.

Pastor Jim

Hungry? 

Psalm 63:1-2

“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.”

Have you ever had one of those times when you are craving something, but you are not sure what it is? When that happens to me I tend to keep trying things, in an attempt to satisfy a craving that I cannot define. What is true with physical hunger, is also true in the spiritual realm. God created us with a need for Him. This need evidences itself with a desire to find meaning in life, answers to what lies beyond this life, and a craving to worship.

Man is incurably religious due to his built-in hunger to know God. This hunger to know God is sometimes clouded by the sinful world in which we live, and by personal experiences. Many, knowing an emptiness within, fail to recognize that it is a spiritual craving to know God. They attempt to satisfy it with relationships, substances, or experiences. Often, these very attempts to satisfy the cravings within, become addictions or leave us scarred. Instead of satisfying our need for God, they fill the spiritual hole within us with junk, which may take a lifetime to get out.

After meeting God, David went on to declare that his soul was satisfied. Meeting God does that. Once you have come to God through Christ, you know longer need to hunt around for spiritual satisfaction, you are satisfied. However, if you have truly met Him, you develop a new hunger. This is a hunger that keeps you coming to Him for more.

David did not write this Psalm as an unbeliever who just met the Lord, but as a godly man desiring to know God better. David gives insight to properly fulfilling our built-in hunger for God. He says, “So I have looked for You in the sanctuary.” While it is true that God is everywhere, and we cannot hide from Him, it is also true, there are places where we will have a greater chance of meeting with Him, and hearing from Him. It is much easier to hear, when we gather with the people of God in corporate worship. David, knowing his hunger was for God, made his way to the sanctuary, where he was sure to meet with God.

Pastor Jim

What Does That Mean? 

1 Kings 10:14

“The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty- six talents of gold, . . .”

Webster’s dictionary defines numerology as “the secret meaning of numbers.” Clearly, as we read through the Bible, we find specific numbers used to emphasize certain truths. The number seven seems to speak of a complete cycle, and is used to illustrate perfection. In the book of Revelation, we read of the “Seven Spirits of God”, which does not mean there are seven Holy Spirits, but refers to the perfect work of the Spirit. The number forty seems to speak of judgment. The children of Israel spent forty years in the wilderness because of their sin, and Paul was beaten by the Jews “forty times minus one.” One was subtracted to show mercy, thus thirty-nine became a number for mercy. In the book of Revelation, we are told that six is the number of man, and the number of the “beast” is 666.

Revelation 13:18  “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man:His number is 666.”

We cannot help but notice the amount of gold delivered to Solomon every year, is the same in number as that of the beast of Revelation. The question we have to ask ourselves is, “What does that mean?” Is there any significance to the use of the number here? I think the answer is, “I don’t know.” While every reader familiar with Revelation would certainly pause and notice the similarity, no further information is given. None of the New Testament writers remark on Solomon’s gold, as it relates to the number 666. I think we must simply conclude that the intent of the Spirit was to draw our attention to the fact that Solomon’s sin, of trying to find life in possessions, was fueled by the work of the devil.

I think this brings up a very important point, as it relates to Bible study. We want to be very careful, as students, to examine our Bible, and let it speak for itself. We will run into danger when we project meaning into verses that were not meant by the original authors. Instead of always trying to find a hidden meaning in the Scriptures, we should be looking for the obvious meaning and spend our energies putting that into practice.

Pastor Jim

Power

Psalms 62:11

“God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.”

A number of years ago, I came home from a long day of work, at the end of an even longer week. I was worn out and hungry. Since I was the only one home at the time, I was facing a battle within. My stomach insisted on being fed, but the rest of me demanded rest. Too broke to order out, and too tired to fix a meal, I laid down on the couch and began flipping the channels. I stopped on a show called, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” This a series that displayed the possessions of extremely wealthy individuals. If memory serves me, this was the only time I had ever seen the show. The episode followed the life of a the king of a small Middle Eastern country, whose name I have forgotten. While his subjects lived in poverty, he was one of the wealthiest men alive. They showed his palace, which was the size of a small college campus. But what really got my attention, was when he traveled to the US.,he wanted to stay in a particular room, in a hotel in Beverly Hills, but the room was booked. Instead of finding another room, or another hotel, he bought the hotel, remodeled it to his liking, and stayed in the room of his choice. Lying there on the couch, I was struck by two contrary things. The first was this man’s great wealth, the second was how it had no effect on me what so ever. I was still too broke to go out and too tired to cook.

The psalmist speaks of the wealth of God’s power. He declares, “power belongs to God.” His power is infinite. There is nothing too hard for God. It required no more effort from Him to create the world, than it did for him to heal Peter’s mother-in-law from fever. He spoke the world into existence, and holds it together by the Word of His power. When the time has come, He will fold this one up, and speak a new heaven and earth into being. However, unlike the wealthy prince, God’s power does have direct effect upon my life.

Jesus promised, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

The power of God is available to the child of God. A power that will enable us to successfully walk with, please, and serve, the Lord. This power is received by simply asking and obeying. If you feel too weary to overcome the trials or temptations you are facing, the solution is to look up, and ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon you. The God, to whom belongs power, promises to empower us through His Spirit.

Pastor Jim

Too Small

1 Kings 8:27

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”

Seven years, hundreds of thousands of man hours, and countless wealth, was invested in the building of the Temple. When it was completed, it was one of the most glorious buildings of the ancient world. The best architects, builders, artists, and specialist had been commissioned to accomplish a feat that still boggles the minds of historians today. One can only imagine what it must have been like to stand on the Temple mount, looking up at this glorious building, and looking down upon the city of David. Yet, with all it’s splendor, Solomon is struck with the realization, it is simply way too small.

Unlike the church, the Temple was not designed to house people. A few men took turns entering the first court of the Temple to trim the lamps and change  the show bread; and one man, once a year, entered the second court. The purpose of the Temple was to provide a place for God to meet with man, and Solomon realized the building was way too small.

I think one of the biggest problems we face is that our God is too small. In order to wrap our minds around God, we are constantly trying to reduce Him to something we can understand. With each attempt, He gets smaller and smaller, until our problems become no match for Him. Instead of trusting in a holy, all powerful Creator, who holds the world together with His Word, we have created a God who is more like a best friend, who we call on when we need someone to listen to our complaints.

It is time to stop fashioning God into something He is not, but to look into the pages of His Word to discover who He really is, and what He requires of us. Remember the second commandment is not to have any graven images. God refuses to be shaped into something He is not.

Pastor Jim