Archive | January 2014

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on James 1:9-11

Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.                 NKJV

This passage is about our eternal perspective! What we tend to pursue, in our desires in life, is meaningless against the backdrop of seeking faith and the call that Christ gives us. How do we keep on His track? Perspective! Perspective is the mental view or outlook of what we see in our world, our circumstances, our situation, and our Lord. The reality and outcome of our viewpoints influences our beliefs that in turn influence our attitude which affects our actions. This is also called “worldview.” It is a position which will dramatically and dogmatically affects our outcome in trials and in life. How do you look at the world? Is it for what you can get out of it and what is in it for me, or is it for what you can learn and grow? The answer will determine your character, maturity, spiritual growth, how you deal with problems, and how you can make your situation positive and meaningful! Without proper perspective, we will be torn apart by our desires and the world’s influence, while our faith and God’s precepts are being ignored.

Perspective is also the hope we are to have because of the reality of Christ’s redemption. Our hope is anchored because He paid our debt. Because of this, we will realize that He is more than able to carry us through whatever happens to us. We will be able to see beyond the appearance of our circumstances and into the depths of our significance in Christ.  Material possessions are of no eternal use unless they are tools for God’s glory. Our material possessions will burn and be of no value some day; only what we have used for the furtherance of God’s kingdom by ministering to others will lasting spiritual and eternal value.

The “lowly” in verse 9 refers to the poor and oppressed.  Such people were common in James” day and had little opportunity to get out of their situation, as they were oppressed by wealthy landowners and a culture that said, “You deserve it.”  We can apply this situation to any of the trials that we may go through today and we can go through trials whether we are rich or poor.

As Christians, we ought never to glory in ourselves, but in what God has done for us.  God, in His grace, has chosen the foolish, the weak, and those of lowly birth for His kingdom (I Cor. 1:26-28).  All that we are in Christ and all the blessing we have in life are solely by the grace (undeserved favor) of God (Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 3:24, Tit. 3:5, II Tim. 1:9, Rom. 12:3).  None of us will be able to stand before the throne of God and take one iota’s credit for our salvation or our station in life (I Cor. 1:29).  All we will be able to do is lift up our voices in gratitude and thank God for His grace toward us (I Cor. 1:31).

The word “exaltation” in verse 9 speaks of our position in Christ.  As Christians, we may be poor and lowly in the eyes of this world, but we are rich in Christ.  We are the children heirs of God Himself and heirs together with Jesus (Rom. 8:16-17) and God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3).

In verses 10-11, James is referring to where our trust and hope is place.  Is our security in wealth or in Christ?  Those who are wealthy should be humbled by the temporal nature of the their material possessions for three reasons.  First, all of our material possessions belong to the Lord (Psa. 24:1).  They are only temporarily on loan to us as His stewards (Mat. 25:14) and are to be used for His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom (Luke 16:11, I Pet. 4:10).  Second, no matter how prosperous we are, we are only here in this life for a brief period of time (Psa. 90:10, 144:4; Jas. 4:14).  Third, when we die, we cannot take our material possessions with us (Prov. 23:5, Luke 12:20).  As Jesus warns us in 16:26, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul.”  This is why He exhorts us to “lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matt. 6:20)

Understanding that all our material possessions belong to the Lord, that our days on earth are numbered, and that we cannot take any of our material possessions with us when we die, what should our perspective on life be?  Solomon asked the very same question in the book of Ecclesiastes and what was the answer?  “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.”  (Eccl. 12:13)  Or as Jesus said in Matt. 6:23, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

When we realize who we are in Christ, all of our problems and opportunities come into perspective (1 Pet. 1:6-7). . . . Put yourself in Jesus’ hands, and then your heart will be on Him and not on what you desire. You will then be the person of faith and integrity who is surrendered and poured out to Christ and will be used, powerfully, in the lives of others.            Richard J. Krejcir    

 

 

 

 

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From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on James 1:2-3

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.            NKJV

Three key words in our text are the words “count,” “testing,” and “patience.”  The Greek word translated “count” literally means “to consider or evaluate.”  It requires a conscious effort on our part.  We do not naturally rejoice in the midst of trials.  The Greek word translated “testing” come from a root which means “to prove.”  The Greek word translated “patience” comes from two roots whose meaning is “to bear up under” and literally refers to “endurance or perseverance.”  God brings trials into our lives to prove our faith and produce endurance or perseverance.  These trials increase the strength of our faith and demonstrate its validity.  Through testing, we as Christians, learn to withstand tenaciously the pressure of a trial until God removes it at His appointed time and we will even cherish the benefit of having gone through that trial.

God hedges and preserves us through these trials, but often we only see the wrong side of the hedge, and so misunderstand His dealings. It was so with Job (Job 3:23). Ah, but Satan knew the value of that hedge! (Job 1:10)

Through the leaves of every trial there are fragments of light which shine through. Thorns do not prick you unless you lean against them, and not one touches us without our Lord’s knowledge. The words that hurt us, the letter which gives us pain, the cruel wound of our dearest friend, the illness or injury that causes us agony, the weight of financial pressures—are all known to Him, who sympathizes with us as no one else can and watches to see, if, through all, we will dare to trust Him completely.

The hawthorn hedge that keeps us from intruding,
Looks very fierce and bare
When stripped by winter, every branch protruding
Its thorns that would wound and tear.
But spring-time comes; and like the rod that budded,
Each twig breaks out in green;
And cushions soft of tender leaves are studded,
Where spines alone were seen,
The sorrows, that to us seem so perplexing,
Are mercies kindly sent
To guard our wayward souls from sadder vexing,
And greater ills prevent.
To save us from the pit, no screen of roses
Would serve for our defense,
The hindrance that completely interposes
Stings back like thorny fence.
At first when smarting from the shock, complaining
Of wounds that freely bleed,
God’s hedges of severity us paining,
May seem severe indeed.
But afterwards, God’s blessed spring-time cometh,
And bitter murmurs cease;
The sharp severity that pierced us bloometh,
And yields the fruits of peace.
Then let us sing, our guarded way thus wending
Life’s hidden snares among,
Of mercy and of judgment sweetly blending;
Earth’s sad, but lovely song.               
L. B. Cowman

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Mark 16:19-20

So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.              NKJV

Mark’s gospel closes with the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ into heaven.  In our text, we see three important aspects of the Lord’s ascension into heaven.

                                                                                                                                                                       First, Jesus gave His disciples some final words of assurance and comfort.  The gospel of Matthew gives us some details that are lacking in Mark’s account.  Before He gave His disciples the great commission and ascended into heaven, He first reminded them of His authority (Matt. 28:20).  As God in human flesh, there are no limits to His authority.  He created and sustains all things (Jn. 1:3, Col. 1:16-17).  He commands both heavenly angels and fallen angels (demons).  He controls the weather (on several occasions He calmed storms).  He healed the sick, cleansed lepers, and occasionally raised the dead.  This great truth coupled with Jesus with Jesus promise of His continual presence with them (Matt. 28:20) is truly a source of great encouragement, and this promise applies to all of us as Christians (Heb. 13:5-6).

                                                                                                                                                                       Second, the Lord’s ascension into heaven was a key event in human history.  His ascension was a visible foreshadowing of His promised return (Acts 1:9-11), the crowning coronation of His authority as sovereign King (Eph. 1:19-22, Phil. 2:6-11), and the seat of His intercessory work as mediator on behalf of His people (Heb. 7:25).

                                                                                                                                                                       Third, Jesus’ ascension provided for the arrival of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:16).  It was necessary for Jesus to ascend so that the Holy Spirit would come (Jn. 14:25-26).  As long as Jesus remained on earth in the restrictions of a human body, He would only be able to minister locally to those believers who were in His immediate physical presence (Jn. 20:17), but with the coming of the Holy Spirit He could minister to all believers wherever they were on planet Earth (Acts 1:8, Mat. 28:20).  As New Testament Christians, we have a tremendous advantage that Old Testament believers did not have—the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Although the Holy Spirit would occasionally come upon Old Testament believers for limited periods of time to empower them for a specific task, He did not permanently indwell them as He does all New Testament Christians (Jn. 14:17, Rom. 8:9). 

                                                                                                                                                                       Do you have the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit?  Have you repented of your sins and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ, who has risen, ascended, and been exalted as the majestic King of Kings as your personal Savior?   

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.                      NKJV

Why didn’t God help me sooner?”  This is a question that I have been occasionally asked, and my response is to reply, “It is not God’s will to act according to your schedule.  The Lord desires to change you and cause you to learn a lesson from it.”  God has promised to be with us in trouble, to deliver us and honor us as His people (Psa. 91:15).  If you are a true believer, a child of God, He will be with you in whatever time and place you are in trouble.  Afterward He will remove you from it, but not until you have stopped being restless and worried over it and have become calm and quiet.  Then He will say, “It is enough.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   God uses trouble to teach His children precious lessons.  Difficulties are intended to educate us, and when their good work is done, a glorious reward will become ours through them.  There is a sweet joy and a real value in difficulties, for the Lord regards them not as difficulties but as opportunities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When God tests you, it is a good time to test Him by putting His promises to the test and then claiming from Him exactly what your trials have made necessary.                      L. B. Cowman

                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are two ways of getting out of a trial.  One is simply to try and get rid of the trial, and then to be thankful when it is over.  The other is to recognize the trial as a challenge from God to claim a larger blessing than we have ever before experienced, and to accept it with delight as an opportunity of receiving a greater measure of God’s divine grace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        In trials, even the Adversary becomes a help to us, and all the things that seem to be against us turn out to assist us along our way.  Surely this is what is meant by the words “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).                     A. B. Simpson