Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A life verse for Calvary Chapel Churches

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! Zechariah 4:6-7 


When the nation of Israel came back from captivity they set to the task of rebuilding the temple. They realized that the worship of the one true God must be central to their existence. However as they began to build they became discouraged. They had successfully laid the foundation, but due to persecution and difficulty they quit and went back to building their own houses leaving the temple incomplete. The Lord then raised up His prophets Haggai and Zechariah to come along side of the people. Through their ministry the work of the temple resumed and was eventually completed. 
One of the encouraging words in the midst of the work was found here in Zechariah 4. It appears that Zerubbabel thought that the task before him had to be completed through his might, and power. It seemed as though a mountain stood before him that couldn't be removed. The Lord then told His servant that the work would be done through the Spirit. 

In many ways this verse has been a hallmark of the Calvary Chapel movement and its churches. Pastor Chuck always pointed us to the fact that the ministries we were involved with were in great need of the power of the Holy Spirit. You can have power, human ingenuity, even talented people,  but those things could never accomplish what the Spirit of God can accomplish. For many of us we set out to plant and pastor churches with this promise in mind. We were aware of our own inadequacy. We knew that apart from the Lord we could do nothing. A trust in God and His Word were the tools to build the church. The foundation was Jesus, and we just went for it. We came to find out that this promise is true. The Spirit of God can level the mountains that we could never move. The Lord can make a way in a community, or even another country. He isn't limited by anything. 

Yet as I reflect a little more on this passage of scripture I begin to think of the future of the Calvary Chapel churches. I believe we need a fresh reminder and discovery of this promise. I consider the many mountains that seem to surround us at the present time. I realize that they are too great for us to remove, but they are not too great for the LORD to remove. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  I believe we must continue to stick to what we know. That we continue to faithfully teach the Word of God, chapter by chapter verse by verse declaring the whole council of God. That we remain dependent upon the power of the Spirit, and that our prayers are directed toward that end. Lord pour out Your Spirit in these last days. Bring people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Give us boldness to continue to proclaim the truth without compromise. 
I also feel that it is imperative that we don't look around at the way others are building, and how they are building in making comparisons. In each individual church we have enough to be held accountable for. Let's simply do our job to the best of our ability and let other people do theirs. God uses different churches to minister to different people. The gifts and the callings that He distributes are not the same for everyone. I want to use the talents I have been entrusted with in order to be a faithful steward before my master returns. Stay focused, be faithful, do your best, and leave the outcome to the Lord. 

I realize in my own life and ministry after 20 years of pastoral ministry I am still completely powerless and ineffective without Jesus. I know that apart from my savior and His Spirit I can do nothing. Like so many of my brothers across this world there is a desire to see a greater work of Gods Spirit. Let's not let up, let's not shrink back, let's press on, push forward, continue to advance in the Spiritual battle. And may the Lord grant us a greater measure of the outpouring of His Spirit in our churches in the coming year. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Watch, Wait, and See

LOOK among the nations and WATCH, be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you, Habakkuk 1:5
I will stand my WATCH and set myself on a rampart and WATCH to SEE what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected. Habakkuk 2:1

The prophet Habakkuk was informed that a work of God was about to begin. Yet the work that was to be done, Habakkuk wouldn't believe it even if he was informed in advance. Sometimes we think we have the Lord figured out. We imagine in our minds the way He will provide, or the doors He will open. We develop a predisposition as to how the will of God will unfold in our lives. But so often things don't go the way we planned. It is in those moments that we come to realize the Lord is much better at writing our story than we are. The Lord told Habakkuk to do three things, LOOK, WATCH and BE ASTOUNDED.  Habakkuk wasn't the one who would be doing the work, God was. The Lord was the one who would do the work that was going to amaze the prophet. The plan unfolding would surpass his ability to understand. At that moment Habakkuk made a decision, he would put himself in a place to wait,watch, and see what the Lord would do. He was going to have to live by faith and trust God. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

He has shown you

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Your God. Micah 6:8

When we go to the Word of God we do so with an expectation, or at least we should. We should desire and anticipate the Lord speaking to us. He speaks through His Word. Now I wish that I could say every morning was some amazing revelation and insight that I had never seen before, but that is not always the case. Sometimes I read and I know what the context is, I know what the background is, but I am struggling to find application for my life. Yet that doesn't mean the Lord isn't speaking. God's Word does not return void. Then there are times where we say, "Lord please show me something..." and the response is right here in Micah, "He has shown you..". The Lord has shown you, and now your either going to need to take a step of faith, or your gonna have to wait on Him to bring it to pass. In the mean time continue to do justly, love mercy, and especially walk in humility before God. As we do He will continue to unfold His plans and purpose for us. We have no idea whats around the corner, but we know the Lord has already gone before us. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Star Of Bethlehem

When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Matthew 2:10

This is the time of year when everyone is preparing for Christmas. Lights go up on the house, trees are decorated, and oh yes, Christmas cookies are made. You know, the sugar cookies decorated like snow men, trees, and candy canes? The ones with the sprinkles and frosting?  You get the idea. Christmas carols are sung, gifts are purchased and wrapped.  Yet its easy to loose the real meaning in all the activity isn't it?

In Luke chapter 2 we read of the arrival of the KING of KINGS and the LORD of LORDS, as Jesus was born in a stable. The Son of God became a man, so that we could one day become Sons of God. Angels sang His praises, shepherds came and worshipped Him. Yet Matthew is the only one who records what took place after the birth of Jesus. There was a group of wise men that were searching for the King who would be the Savior of the World. The Lord gave them a supernatural sign in creation of a star. That star led them right to Jesus. The Bible says that when they saw the star they rejoiced. Why? Because they were getting closer to Jesus. The closer they got the greater their joy became. Until when they finally saw Jesus they fell down and worshipped Him and presented their gifts to Him. 

Folks today there is no star pointing people to the Savior. We are now the ones who are to shine in the darkness of this world, directing people to Jesus. Jesus said we are the light of the world. We are like a city that is set upon a hill that cannot be hidden.We aren't to hide our light but to let it shine. Daniel put it this way, "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever." Daniel 12:3 

May the Lord help us this Christmas season to shine brightly in the midst of the darkness. 

Link to the JOY OF CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: The Search is Over: Matthew 2

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Shortcuts

For you have need of endurance so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. Hebrews 10:36

Shortcut: an accelerated way of doing or achieving something.
Driving  down the street this morning I noticed a group of people riding bicycles. They weren't riding Huffy Beach cruisers like I used to have, no they were riding road bikes. They wore bike shorts and bike shirts and had aerodynamic bike helmets. As I sat at the stoplight I watched the bikers approach a steep hill, and as they pedalled forward, no one was getting off their bikes. None of them were going to stop, they were going to the top. Then all of the sudden, out of nowhere, I saw a lady on a motorized bicycle pass them all, quickly going up the hill. It made me laugh as I heard one of the bikers say out loud, "No Fair!" The motorized bicyclist found a shortcut. 
Its seems that we are always looking for shortcuts in life. Cliff-notes instead of the whole book, diet pills instead of exercise. We want instant gratification, instead of patient persistence. Although there are times when a shortcut might be okay, there are somethings in life that you have to simply press through. In those seasons we might look at someone else who isn't struggling and think, "it isn't fair." We may face the temptation to quit and give up all together. There are many examples in the scriptures of people who took, what appeared the be the easier route, but it ended up being more difficult down the road.  Its in traversing the hills of life, that character is being developed. Its in the challenges and struggles of life that we grow deeper and become stronger in the Lord. This Christian life is a journey with many peaks and valleys. It's filled with joys and sorrows, and endurance is needed. But at the end of the road there is Jesus and Glory and Heaven and Eternity!!!! It will all be worth it when our race is over. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Near...Far...

Did you ever watch Sesame Street as a kid? Don't be ashamed, it had a catchy opening theme song, do you remember it? "Sunny day, chasing the clouds away....etc I know you know the rest.. Anyways.. on that show children were taught the difference between Near and Far. I learned a lot, seriously....
In the book of Ecclesiastes King Solomon gave an exhortation to his readers when he said, "draw near to hear." Ecc.5:1 It is one thing to draw near to the Lord, but it is important to come with an attentive heart to listen to He wants to say. Jesus said concerning the Pharisees, "These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor with me their lips, but their heart is far from me." Matt.15:8 The pharisees had the appearance of drawing near, but they were not listening, and therefore they were actually farther away than they seemed.  
When it comes to hearing from the Lord, there are certain things that will hinder your signal. Distance from Jesus creates difficulty to hear. Sin is always a hindrance. Communication with the Creator is unclear in dark and sinful places. The Prince of the Power of the Air (a.k.a Satan) runs interference to the spiritual frequencies of faith. "Today if you will hear His voice do not harden your hearts." Heb.4:7 
The Bible encourages us to "draw near (not with a hardened heart but instead) with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." Heb.10:22 We are exhorted to "draw near unto God and He will draw near unto us. James 4:8. When you draw near, do so with the intent of listening to what the Lord might want to say to you. Be open as He speaks to you through His Word, by His Holy Spirit. Come with an expectant heart. 

Qu: Are you  "NEEAAARRRR to Jesus or are you FAAAARRR from Jesus today?"
If you don't know the difference please watch the clip below this will help you I promise. 


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Harvest Crusade 2015

Someone sent us this picture.
Worshiping in the stadium felt like a taste of heaven. 
Every year Southern California waits with anticipation for what I believe is one of the most affective  and powerful evangelistic events anywhere, the Harvest Crusade.  At our church every year we host a Harvest Start Rally to encourage believers to pray for their non believing friends and to bring them to the crusade. We challenge our congregation to serve at the crusade in any area the Lord places on their heart. 
Saturday Night Response to the Invitation. 
One of the most amazing things about the crusade is the consistency in the clear un-compromised message of the Gospel given by Pastor Greg Laurie. Although Greg has been blessed with a great sense of humor that is relatable to the masses, he doesn't hold back talking about Heaven and Hell and the need for repentance. Years ago Pastor Greg preached every Monday night at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. My wife and I served as counselors for those who came forward. I can tell you the message hasn't changed. In fact I think it has become even more powerful as there is now an even greater sense of urgency because time is short. 
In our prayer meetings leading up to the crusade, and during the crusade itself, the thing that kept coming to my mind was, "Lord exceed our expectations. Do above and beyond what we could imagine." I believe the Lord answered the prayers of His church as over 10k people made professions of faith in Christ. Hallelujah!!!! 
We are now in prayer for the upcoming Harvest America taking place on March 6th 2016, at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas Texas. Our church is planning on sending a team to serve at the event. Once again we will be praying that God will exceed our expectations.  May the Lord continue to bless the work of the Harvest Crusades in days to come. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Despised and Rejected

The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. John 7:7 

At church we are currently studying through the gospel of John and there are certain passages that stop you in your tracks. 
I don't believe that any person desires to be hated, but rather to be loved. A Christian who is filled with the Spirit, desires to walk in the fruit of the Spirit, which is love. When walking in the love of God, we never want to set out to intentionally offend people with the message of the gospel. When sharing the gospel we are to do so with compassion, love, and grace.  However the truth of the gospel does offend people.
When we declare that we are all sinners, destined for hell and judgement, and that the only way to Salvation is through faith in the finished work of  Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection, that can be offensive. It can incite rejection, hatred, and even violence. 
Nevertheless Jesus told us that these things would take place. There was no one more compassionate than Jesus, but the world despised Him. There was no one more gracious than Jesus, and yet the world rejected Him. There was no one as loving as Jesus, and yet the world crucified Him. 
There is a danger in the church today that we must be mindful of. The danger of watering down what the Bible says in order to make it more palatable lest we find ourselves being hated. The danger of compromising what the Bible says concerning how we are to live in this world, in an effort to show the world "LOVE." According to the scriptures, the Love of Jesus can be demonstrated in many different ways. 
The world demands tolerance, according to how they define it, and if the Christian "lovingly disagrees" or chooses not to attend, they maybe on the receiving end of more and more hatred. Certainly our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted for their faith know this by experience.

quote: These days its not just that the line between right and wrong has been made unclear, today Christians are being asked by our culture to erase the lines and move the fences, and if that were not bad enough, we are being asked to join in the celebration cry by those who have thrown off the restraints religion had imposed upon them. It is not just that they ask we accept, but they now demand of us to celebrate it too.”  Ravi Zacharias

Now that presents us with a difficult decision. Should I compromise what the Bible says, in an effort to demonstrate what "I believe" to be LOVE?  Or do I stand and live according to what the Bible says, and potentially be HATED? We should never compromise what the Bible says regardless of the consequences. Jesus said "a mans enemies may even be those of his own household" Matt.10:36. He also said, "he who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Matt.10:37. Sometimes we have to make the difficult decision not to be involved with certain things in this world. The reason is not because we do not love those in the world, but because we love Jesus more. As a result we could be misunderstood and no longer welcome. We may be branded as unloving, judgmental, critical by both nonbelievers and believers.  Because I don't participate, it may cause some friendships to come to an end. It may close the door on a potential evangelistic opportunity. Now if that happens, I don't stop loving those people, or praying for them. I will continue to look for ways to be a light.
As believers in this world we are to demonstrate the love of Jesus, but we are also called to stand for the truth of God's Word. It is better to be rejected in this world, and accepted in the next. It is better to go outside the camp bearing the reproach of our savior, for here we have not continuing city but we seek the one to come. Heb.13:13

Sadly I have found in my own life there have been occasions when I was hesitant to share the gospel with someone because I had a greater fear of how they would look at me, then the fear of where they would spend their eternity. Surely the fear of man brings a snare. 

I ask myself, "If Jesus was despised and rejected will I be applauded and accepted? If Jesus took up His cross am I to avoid taking up mine?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Go Forward

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, WENT FORWARD. 
John 18:4

Have you ever stopped to consider what Jesus knew? He knew that in only a short amount of time that the crowds that sang His praises would demand His crucifixion. He knew that all of His disciples would leave and forsake Him. He knew that Judas would betray Him. He knew that Peter would deny Him. He knew that He would be falsely accused, spit upon, scourged, brutalized, crucified. He knew that He would be separated from His Father as He took upon Himself the sins of the world.... and for all the knowledge that He had He  still went forward.....

But let us not forget that He also knew that He would rise from the dead. He knew that the veil in the temple would be torn from top to bottom. He knew mankind would now have the opportunity to be saved from sin, from death, and from hell. He knew that many would turn to Him and be reconciled to God. He knew that you would come to believe in the gospel. He knew that although this was the most difficult thing that anyone could ever walk through, that this was part of the Fathers plan and will for His life.  Therefore although He despised the shame of the cross, the Bible says for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross. 

Oftentimes the knowledge of what lies ahead can make us stop moving forward. Sometimes knowing what we know, may tempt us to go backward instead of forward. Yet as we look at the example of Jesus we find strength and courage to take the next step. Perhaps the Lord is saying to you today... go FORWARD.

"I can go forward when I know that Jesus has gone before me." 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Finally

"Do you ever feel like this
with the promises of God?
Waiting Patiently"
Reading through the Bible once again I am right in the middle of the life of King David. What an amazing story. David was a man after God's heart and uniquely called to lead the nation. Yet from the time of his initial anointing, until the fulfillment of Gods promise, he encountered many challenges to his faith. Whether it was a giant on the battlefield, or King Saul who hunted David for years in order to thwart the plans of God, David kept on going.
 It seems from his story that there were definite seasons when he doubted Gods promises. There were times when he thought "what's the use?" Then the day finally came. A day I would imagine that David thought would never come. It was the day God's promise was fulfilled. 
After reigning in Hebron for seven years and six months all of the tribes of Israel came to David. They reminded him that he was apart of them, he was like family to them. They also recalled that in times of battle that David had been faithful to lead. David behaved wisely on every errand he was sent. He remained faithful even when others weren't watching. But the Lord was watching.  David was also reminded of the promise that God had made to him that he would "shepherd" the people. David could not bring God's plans to pass in his life and neither can we. We must trust the Lord and keep walking by faith. The Lord knows what He is doing and why He is doing it, even if we don't. Don't forget He loves you, and that like in David's life, the Lord is working all this for your good and His ultimate glory.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Compelled Youth Workers Conference

Last weekend we were in Florida serving at a Youth Workers Conference held at Calvary Chapel Vero Beach. The theme of the conference was "Compelled" taken from 2 Corinthians 5:14 "For the love of Christ compels us.." Pastor Jim Gallagher and the ministry team did an amazing job putting on the conference. It was such a blessing to gather with people who are faithfully serving the young people within their churches. They have such a heart for the next generation and are doing all they can to reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
Someone said that "the church is only one generation away from extinction." It's always been on our hearts to invest in the next generation of leaders. We want to be able to impart the things that we have learned, and seek to be an encouragement to them in their calling. The conference was very simple. We had worship, prayer, teaching from the Word, and fellowship. Yet although it was simple, it was very fruitful. If you would like to see any of the conference it is now available on our church app. 

My wife and I also had the privilege of returning to our first church plant in Brandon Florida. Words cannot describe how blessed we were to see that the work continues to go on. To be able to revisit the the work of God  did in our lives during those ten years was a real boost to our faith. We got to see so many people who are like family to us. I was reminiscing to myself and thinking, "what if we never had moved to Florida?" We would have missed out on all that the LORD did and continues to do. I am so grateful to my Savior for giving us the grace to serve Him.  It was a wonderful time of ministry, but it is also great to be back home. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Calvary Fitness Initiative

Much of the work of the pastor involves reading, studying, sitting, counseling, teaching. Without a game plan, its easy to get physically lethargic. Recently at work, the guys on staff started what we call the Calvary Fitness Initiative. I know, it sounds official right? Its not that big of a deal. The guys on our staff decided it was time to loose a few pounds and start eating healthy. We didn't necessarily need to become Gluten-FREE but Glutton-FREE. 
The guys all weighed in on the scale and set their goal for the next five weeks. We also downloaded the MyFitness Pal app. that logs in what we eat, and when we exercise.  Its been great to be able to hold one another accountable.  A few of the guys are really charging. We are all trying to eat better and exercise so that we can be the best for the Lord we can be. Keep us in prayer. And if you feel led, join the initiative. Bodily exercise profits a little, godliness is profitable for all things. 


Friday, February 20, 2015

Back Under One Roof in SJC

I wanted to take a moment and give an update on Calvary Chapel in San Juan Capistrano. Some of you may know that close to 6 months ago we were faced with some challenges that required quick and decisive decisions. First of all our church doesn't own its own parking lot... its crazy... We use the school parking, city parking ,and we also lease a parking lot. However back in the summer we were told that our leased parking lot was going to be taken and construction was going to begin. In addition to loosing our lots, the south band offramp to our church was completely shut down. We decided to pursue our options. The Lord was so faithful to open up the door for us to meet at ShoreCliffs Middle school in San Clemente. With a large population of our church traveling from San Clemente it made it convenient for them. All the other services were held in San Juan. We basically extended our staff and volunteers and spread out four weekend services into six, in order to meet the needs we had. 
The team of people that set up weekly and served faithfully were amazing. The main service at ShoreCliffs was well attended and done extremely well. It reminded me of starting all over again.  
Nevertheless overtime, I found it to be difficult to minister in the way I am used to. If you don't know much about me, I am a pastor that enjoys being with the sheep. I watched my pastor every week walk the aisle after each service and be available for the people.. that was my model and thats how I have ministered for 20 years. I like to be where the people are. But during this season when second service ended I would get in my car and drive 7 miles down the road. It was the hardest thing for me to do. I understood it was for a season and that it was necessary for the time being, and it was a blessing, but I was excited to get back to being under one roof. 
Also we came to find out that our folks like the live service over the video feed service. I personally feel the same way. As we came up to the five month mark our parking in SJC was extended, and the offramp, although still congested, had opened up. So we decided it was time to bring it back under one roof again. I can honestly say it has been an amazing blessing. The people that had never served before who were serving at San Clemente had been trained to serve in San Juan. Those who hadn't led before and were given opportunity to lead in SC, were now leading in SJC. We grew spiritually as a fellowship and even numerically by the grace of God. But more than anything I learned what it is to step out when God says step out and that He uses our steps of faith for His purposes. Also I am so grateful for a fellowship that is willing to trust God and step into the Jordan when called upon to do so. 

At the present time we are still actively looking for another location.. please pray for us...also we are still doing a weekly outreach in San Clemente at a Methodist church on Thursday nights. Myself and Raul Ries teach a small Bible study which has been  huge blessing.  A special thanks to those of you who supported us through this season of transition giving us the benefit of the doubt,  and prayed for us... from our church body, volunteers, and staff thank YOU....!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An Encouraging Exhortation for Pastors from Pastor Chuck

Having been a pastor now for 20 years I know what it is to question myself at times, as to whether or not I am doing everything I should be doing. Am I doing enough?  Or to ask myself, am I doing it right? Its always a blessing to have a reminder that reaffirms your calling and your job description. Recently I have been teaching through the book of Acts in our fellowship,  and I listened to one of Pastor Chucks sermons on Acts 20 and I found it to be a tremendous blessing. I was reminded what my role is in the body of Christ and what I am to be doing within that role.  Below is an excerpt from his message. I hope your encouraged.~PJ

Now take heed therefore unto yourselves, and unto the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, that you feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood (Act 20:28).
And this is the charge and the responsibility that God has placed upon the ministers: to feed the flock of God. But it is so difficult to find pastors today who will really feed the flock of God. We get letters by the hundreds. People are hungry to be fed the Word of God. And so Paul said to these overseers of the church of Ephesus, "Feed the flock of God." Peter in writing his epistle said, "Feed the flock of God which is among you." Jesus said to Peter, "Feed My sheep." I don't know why pastors don't realize that this is the most important function of a pastor is to feed the flock of God. We have those who are seeking to entertain the flock of God. And then God help us, unfortunately we have those who are seeking to fleece the flock of God. But how few are really feeding the flock of God.The reason why you feed them is in that they might become strong. Because wolves are going to come in. Paul shared his concerns, "after I depart grievous wolves are going to enter in among you, not sparing the flock (Act 20:29)."
Men who would try to draw groups after themselves. There's always that. God establishes a work, and then there are always those who try and come in. Even out of your own midst, there will come those who will try to break off a group, to bring them as after themselves. Sad and tragic. Paul when he was writing to the Ephesians said that God has placed in the church, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers, for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry. That's what we're here for. That you might be fed the Word of God, that you might be perfected for the work of the ministry. The building up of the body of Christ. Until we all come into the unity of the faith of the knowledge of the Son of God. Into that complete person. Unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the image of Christ. That you be no more as babes who are tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine and slight cunning of men who lie in wait to deceive. ~ Pastor Chuck on Acts 20:28

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rejecting Good Advice

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 and stood before him.


When Solomon reigned as King over Israel the nation reached its zenith. Solomon was filled with wisdom that God gave him to lead the people. Sadly Solomon did not finish as well as he started. For all the wisdom he had received he wasn't wise enough to turn from the deadly temptations that led his heart away from God. At the death of Solomon there wasn't a question as to who would be his successor. Everyone in the Kingdom looked to Solomon's son Rehoboam to be the next king. But although Rehoboam inherited his fathers kingdom, he did not inherit his fathers wisdom. 
On the day of his coronation Rehoboam met with two different groups for council. The first group were the elders who had been with Solomon from the beginning. They had observed his strengths and weaknesses. They had taken note of what was a blessing under Solomon's reign, and also what needed to change. No doubt the council they tried to give to Rehoboam was not to lord over him, but to help him. The council they gave was that Rehoboam speak kindly to the people, be a servant to the people, care for the people. These men had insight, they had been around a lot longer than Rehoboam and they wanted to see the nation stay together. At first Rehoboam listened, and then consulted another group. The second group was some young men that had grown up with him and stood before him. A group that had been waiting alongside of Rehoboam in the wings for their opportunity. Over time, they had developed their own opinions and come to their own conclusions. They told Rehoboam to do things differently then his father. They told him to be oppressive to the people, and to place a burden on them. It's as if they were saying, "change things up, be your own man Rehoboam. What do those old timers know anyway? Those guys are withholding progress in the kingdom. You know what to do. Don't live in your fathers shadow." I imagine this was a difficult decision for Rehoboam. For in addition to the council of his young men telling him to move forward, he had the buildings Solomon had built; and the bankroll that Solomon had amassed to get things done. 
Having received council from both groups Rehoboam decided to reject the council of the elders, and went with the council of the young men. And when he stood before the people and began to put forth his vision for the nation, the people rejected it. The tribes that had been united up to this point divided. The people formerly under Solomon began to leave, and those that left took their money with them. 
As Rehoboams Kingdom continued to decline the tribe up Judah went into carnal and idolatrous practices. Also their Egyptian enemies came in and stole the treasures of the house of the Lord, and they took the gold shields that Solomon had made.  In place of the gold shields Rehoboam made bronze shields. Although they were not made of gold they would still shine, and give off the impression that everything was as stable and fortified as they had always been. Yet sadly, not everything was as it appeared to be.  
You can't help but wonder if things would have been different if Rehoboam had asked the Lord for wisdom as his father had done.
The only consolation that you can find in this sad story is in 1 Kings 12:15 "the turn of events was from the Lord, that He might fulfill His word…." In other words God was still in control, and God still had a plan. Ultimately the Lord would use this for good. 











Friday, January 9, 2015

Keep it Simple


2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 


The church in Corinth had many things going for it. In his first letter Paul mentioned that they were a knowledgable church. They had been "enriched in everything in all utterance and in all knowledge." (1 Cor.1) He also sited the fact that they were a gifted church. There did not appear to be one spiritual gift missing within the congregation. Corinth was also an expectant church, that is they were waiting for the revelation of Jesus Christ. Yet the church also had many problems that Paul addressed in his letters written to them. Among those things that deeply concerned Paul was a change of mindset concerning the simplicity that is in Christ. There were many false teachers that had gained entrance into the pulpits of Corinth preaching a completely different message and rather than stand up to it, they caved into it. This in turn affected the church body that Paul loved sincerely. 

IN THE GARDEN: Paul saw what the Corinthians were facing and likened it to what Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden. It was in Genesis 3 that the devil came in the form of a serpent and began to question and contradict the clear commands of the Word of God. Eve listened to the lies of the enemy, and the devil took advantage of her unsuspecting mind and turned her heart away from the Lord. The bible says in Genesis 3:6 "So when the woman saw that the tree was GOOD for food, that is was PLEASANT to the eyes, and DESIRABLE to make one wise, she took its fruit and ate. She also gave it to her husband with her and he ate." It is hard to imagine that something referred to as GOOD, PLEASANT, and DESIRABLE would be wrong to partake of. It would be easy to justify giving in based on that description. Nevertheless God had already said that tree was off limits. He had warned them before the encounter with the serpent that they were to stay away from it regardless of how tempting it may appear. 

SIMPLICITY: The Corinthians were listening to things that Paul feared were "corrupting their minds". The Word corrupt means to be led away from the state of knowledge and holiness in which one ought to abide. And when Paul used the word SIMPLICITY it meant: sincerity of mind toward Christ as opposed to false wisdom in matters pertaining to Christianity. 

There are many applications that one could make from this passage. When I read it recently it reminded me of how easy it is to get away from the simplicity of just knowing Jesus and loving Jesus. Also it reminded me of ministry. How we can easily begin to convolute what our calling is. Things can get quickly cluttered in a labyrinth of good, pleasant, and even desirable things that could make you wise.   But there are certain things that don't change, THE WORD OF GOD, the SPIRIT OF GOD, the LOVE OF GOD, DISCIPLESHIP, Evangelism, the Great Commission.. etc…
As I go into a New Year I don't ever want to loose that sense of simplicity that is in Christ. Knowing Him, loving Him, serving Him, growing in Him, being found in Him, and finding my treasure and hope in Him..

Keep it Simple, get back to basics..