Archive for August, 2012

Loving God?

We are seeing signs of the changing seasons. Maybe the heat of summer is subsiding. After I had this thought, I noticed the five day forecast is for temperatures in the mid-nineties, and zero chances of rain. I must have read the signs wrong. Oh well, there have been a few cooler days lately, for which we are thankful.

In my message this week, based on Matthew 22:34-40, I asked this question: What does it mean to love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind? From the very beginning of God’s relationship with His people Israel, he commanded them to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5). In the Matthew passage, Jesus calls this the “greatest commandment.”

The answer to “what does it mean to love God in this way”, has a far deeper meaning than I suspect most people realize. I found the following in Adam Clarke’s Commentary, written around 1800. I will shorten his comments due to space limitations.

“The person who loves the Lord in this way is ready to give up, do, or suffer anything in order to please and glorify Him. He is ready to give up life, endure all sorts of torments, and to be deprived of all kinds of comforts rather than dishonor God. That person exerts all the powers of his body and soul in the service of God. He sacrifices his time, his body, and uses all his possessions for the honor of God. He applies himself to only know God and His holy will–having his mind continually fixed upon God.”

As I read Adam Clarke’s comments, I realized how far I am from this kind of love for God and for the Lord Jesus. I also realized that the only way we are to attain any measure of this kind of love, is by the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us. Will we let the Spirit begin to influence us to this extent?

I wonder,
Pastor Jerry

Advertisements

Married in Heaven?

This week, I’ll share a few thoughts from my Sunday message. The text was from Matthew’s gospel, and based on Jesus’ response to a question concerning marriage in heaven. I have observed that there are many people with ideas about heaven that just are not found in the Bible. I pray this will shed light on at least one of those.

Some religious leaders, Sadducees by name, came to Jesus with a story about a woman who had been married to seven different men, all brothers. Their question was, “Who’s wife will she be at the resurrection?” These men did not believe in the resurrection, that is why they were sad, you see…

Anyway, Jesus answered them with this: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:29-30).

Marriage was ordained by God for the purpose of procreation, that is to produce children who would grow up to be godly adults. It is strictly for this life and in the earthly realm. In heaven there will be no place for man/wife relations, nor any need for any new life to be born there. There will be no exclusive relationships there. Jesus said we will be like angels. The angels do not marry.

I’m certain that we will know old friends, acquaintances, and family members, but all our focus will be on worshiping God, and the Lord Jesus Christ. That will be heaven, and that is the Truth.

In the apostle John’s vision of heaven recorded in Revelation, we read, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!'” (Revelation 19:6-7).

Sharing His Truth in love,
Pastor Jerry

Tested in the Furnace

Occasionally, I will read something that I like to pass on to you. This week, I’ll share a devotional thought from C.H.Spurgeon, a preacher from the 1800’s. He had these observations on the trials and tribulations that affect God’s people. The scripture used is the last part of Isaiah 48:10… “I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (KJV uses chosen, instead of tested).

In these days of drought and instability in the markets, with political upheaval and a general feeling that things might be out of control, I believe we need these words of encouragement. Now, the idea of God testing us in the furnace of affliction is not something we want to hear, but there are positive things that come from this.

In the Old Testament book of Daniel, we find in chapter 3, that Daniel has three friends who are thrown in a furnace for refusing to worship the pagan king. The fire does not burn the three men, and the king, Nebuchadnezzar, sees not three, but four men in the furnace.

Now to Spurgeon’s comments: “Let affliction come. God has chosen me to be in it. If it is poverty, God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness may come, but I have a healing ointment–God has chosen me.

The fourth man in the furnace is understood to be Jesus. When we are in the furnace, he is beside us. In our quiet room, He sits there beside us. In poverty, in our lonely house, with its bare walls the Lord of life and glory is there, consecrating those walls. No matter the trial, whether it be poverty, illness, loneliness, or any other “fiery furnace”, the Son of God is there with His people.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

If you are a Christian currently undergoing trials of any kind, God has promised to see you through it. If you are not a Christian, let me share a word of testimony from a person who recently placed their faith in the Lord Jesus: “I still have the same problems and pressures I had before, but the burden is lighter.”

Praise God for His presence in the lives of those who love Him!

To Him be the glory,
Pastor Jerry

Pedigrees

Since last we visited, there has been some rain. Some folks got larger amounts than others, but it is all appreciated. I’m writing this morning from Lake George. I came yesterday after the worship service at Rose. We put up a new rain gauge awhile back, and I was interested to see how much it had rained here. Big disappointment! The wind had blown it down, so no record of any rain.

I occasionally read through some of the posts on the popular Facebook “buy, sell, trade” groups. Often, I am amused by what people put on those pages. In a recent discussion over dog registration papers, someone commented, “Papers are very important, they are proof of pure blood.”
Pedigrees are important to dog people, horse breeders and cattlemen. The Jews of Jesus’ time were concerned with pedigrees, too. It was very important to them that they could prove they were descendants of Abraham. They believed this would be their ticket to heaven.

The apostle Paul at one time placed much stock in his Jewish pedigree, along with his education, and position as a dedicated follower of the Hebrew God. After his conversion on the road to Damascus, while he was seeking to imprison Christians, his views changed. These are his words from Philippians 3:4b-9.

“If anyone thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church, as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ…I consider them rubbish…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that is which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

A lot of people today are placing great stock in their “religious pedigree”, whether it is their denominational connection, family tradition, church membership, the level of their giving, or serving in the community. These are all fruitless endeavors if we are depending on them to gain favor with God.

Here is the bottom line: Our relationship with God is not based on our bloodline, it is based solely on the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for the forgiveness of our sins. Period.

What have you done with Jesus. do you claim him as your only Savior? Is your concept of salvation based on His blood or on your “bloodline”?

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry