This week’s Pastor to Person was written by David Cathers:
The hearing of the word of the LORD was rare in those days. The priesthood was corrupt. Full of greed and lust, they kept the best of the sacrifices for themselves and committed adultery in the house of the LORD. Even Eli the high priest, dulled to the voice of the LORD, looked the other way while his sons sinned. The LORD would condemn their blasphemies.
But God spoke to Samuel, and Samuel listened. “And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD.” (1 Samuel 3:18-19) His calling was established not by his violent outrage over the injustices the priests had committed, nor by subverting the leadership in a coup, but by hearing and by obedience to the word of the LORD. It was the LORD that brought justice.
There is power in the word of the Lord. He speaks and it surely comes to pass. It is like a sharp sword in battle. It cuts and it brings life. When it goes out, it does not return empty-handed. Jesus told us that, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
I fear we are again in a time where the hearing of the word of the LORD is rare. There is much greed and corruption in leadership, and public outrage and violence in response. Rather than answering evil for evil, we ought to seek God’s word and obey. May we be like Samuel and learn to listen to the LORD, and answer His voice with, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.”
This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Dan Looney:
The word “Shepherd” can be defined as “a person, who herds, tends and guards sheep” or “a person who protects, guides, or watches over a person or group of people.”
Psalm 23 is a scripture most of us are familiar with, and it seems the older I get the more familiar it gets. Recently, I attended a memorial service for an old friend. During his service, they read Psalm 23, and I think I heard it in a different way this time. I, along with many Christians, struggle with why my prayers are not answered with the results I am looking for. What does this mean? For me it means that I don’t necessarily know what is best for me. It takes little hindsight to see that this is true.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures”, but do I rest? “He leads me beside the still waters”, but do I drink? “I will fear no evil; For You are with me”, yet I fear. “He leads me in the paths of righteousness”, and we still wander off into the woods from time to time.
As Christians we are not just sheep, we are also shepherds. We are sheep to our Lord Jesus, and we are shepherds to others that are searching for Him. Are we leading others into rough terrain and turbulent waters with our actions or attitudes? We all need to answer this question. My friend, Carl, who just went home to Jesus, was a shepherd to me and didn’t even know it. Without a word, I knew Carl was a Christian. His mannerisms and work ethic were a witness that Jesus was his Lord. Who is watching you?
We are beggars, showing other beggars where to find bread.
This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Drew Morehouse:
“I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant. Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:13-14 NKJV)
When it came time for Joshua to die, he prophesied to the children of Israel and reminded them that the Lord had fulfilled all of His promises. A land flowing with milk and honey had been provided and not one word of God had failed. The Lord showed Himself faithful, and because of this, Joshua encouraged them to trust in Him and to serve Him.
We, too, have received promises from the Lord. A city not made with hands and an everlasting kingdom. These things are yet in our future, but some things have already come to pass. We being branches of a wild olive tree, have been grafted in amongst the natural ones. We are now sustained by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We should also serve the Lord and put away the gods that we served before we came to know Him. We can be confident that just as the Lord fulfilled His promises to Israel, He will fulfill them to us because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
This week’s Pastor to Person is written by Dave Dunagan:
The world we live in is a busy place, filled with many distractions. It’s easy for our lives to get filled up with so much “stuff” we barely have time to breathe. Some have to get up at the crack of dawn just to make it in to work on time, only to return home late in the evening tired and worn out. Others spend most of the day shuttling the kids all over town, from school, to the library, to soccer practice, and then back home. By the time the day is over, we are too tired for much of anything. All we want to do is to zone out for the remainder of the evening before we have to start the cycle all over again in the morning.
Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God”. Beloved, sometimes we need to slow down, be still, and listen for the voice of the Lord.
When the Lord spoke to Philip in Acts 8:26 saying, “Arise and go”, Philip was listening. The Lord used Philip in a mighty way to share the good news of Jesus Christ to the Ethiopian Eunuch.
Beloved, if we don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to hear God and a chance to serve Him, we need to be listening for His voice. May the Lord help us all to slow down from our hectic schedules and spend just a few precious minutes with Him. 1 Samuel 3:9…”Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, and will say, ‘Destroy!’” (Deuteronomy 33:27 NKJV)
Christ is risen! Death is defeated! Our Lord Jesus Christ has thrust out the enemy and destroyed the works of the devil! Today as we celebrate His resurrection, rejoice! His resurrection can be our resurrection. We who were once bound by the power of death (Heb. 2:15) can find refuge in the everlasting arms of God. We who were once separated from God by our sin can now be united with Him for all eternity. The Door has been opened. If we enter by Him we will be saved. (John 10:9) What an awesome reality.
“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5-6)
This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Drew Morehouse:
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’” (Deuteronomy 18:15-16 NKJV)
When the children of Israel saw the Lord descend upon the mountain, they were scared to death. There was so much light, smoke, fire and noise that they could not listen to God and told Moses to speak to them instead. Moses had this day in mind when he told them of the One who was to come. When the time came for this Prophet to appear, God answered their prayer and sent Him much more quietly, in the form of “a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12) This Prophet is the Lord Jesus Christ. He was “gentle and lowly of heart” (Matt. 11:29) so that they would not be afraid to approach Him as they once were at the foot of the mountain. He spoke to Israel the “words of eternal life.” (John 6:68), and He is still speaking them to us today. How can we hear him? It’s not that hard. He speaks through the Gospels. He speaks from the cross. He speaks through the empty tomb. We as church goers have every opportunity to hear Him. The question is are we listening? In His mercy, God has seen fit to meet with us here and now, but it will not last forever. There will come a day when He again descends in power and His appearing will be like lightning in the sky. Then the time for listening will be over. Today is the day of salvation.
The people were camped in the land of Moab, with just the River Jordan keeping them from entering into the Promised Land. Moses is getting ready to wrap up his ministry and turn things over to Joshua. God decides it’s time for a review, so Moses rehearses the last forty years of history with the people. He reminds them of the covenant they entered into with God at Mount Sinai. It’s then that Moses makes the statement, “He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.” (Deuteronomy 6:23)
The people had been slaves in Egypt for four hundred years when God sent Moses to set them free. Then they had wandered in the wilderness for the next forty years and had conquered the kingdoms of Sihon and Og. But they weren’t done. They hadn’t arrived. They hadn’t gotten to the place that God had intended. God had a Promised Land for Israel, not just deliverance from Egypt. God had a Promised Land for Israel, and not just wandering in the wilderness.
It’s a little like Easter time, where we think about how Jesus died on a cross for our sins, but that wasn’t the end of the story. Jesus didn’t stay dead, but He rose from the dead. He died to pay for our sins, but He rose to give us new life and assure us of a future in heaven.
Don’t settle for half the story friend. Yes, Jesus paid for your sins. He also has a destination for you. He has a life empowered by the resurrection. He has things for you to do. He has brought you out in order to bring you in.
Israel was getting to the end of their long journey through the wilderness. They were on the edge of entering into the Promised Land. God had Moses go up to the top of a mountain to look across the Jordan and get a glimpse of what was ahead. And then came the bad news. Moses would not be allowed to enter the land. In fact, Moses would be dying soon (he was after all 120 years old). If I were Moses, I would simply be freaked out with these two pieces of news, but Moses was thinking about something else. Moses was concerned about the future. He was concerned about who was going to replace him. When I am aware of big changes up ahead, my first thought is to panic. Pure and simple. Moses’ first response was to pray. “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.” (Numbers 27:16–17)
I don’t know if Moses was surprised at God’s answer to his prayer. Moses found out that God had already been raising up someone to replace Moses. God’s answer was right beside Moses, his servant Joshua.
I don’t know what you are facing right now beloved. I find that I go through seasons where things are just fine, and other times I have one difficult thing after another. When those questions come, I need to pray. Go to God and ask Him for direction. Ask Him what His plan is. You may not get an immediate answer like Moses did, but give God a chance to work.
This was their moment. This was their time. As the children of Israel stood on the border of their Promised Land, Moses sent twelve spies to check out the land of Canaan and come back with a full report. They were to find out what the people were like, what the cities were like, and to bring back some of the fruit of the land. For the next forty days, the spies took notes on the fortified cities. They spotted some giants living in the land. They gathered samples of grapes, pomegranates, and figs. When they finished, they reported on all they had seen. Joshua and Caleb encouraged the people to go up and conquer the land. But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:31–33). As a result of this pessimism, the people refused to enter the Promised Land, and they ended up wandering in the desert for forty more years.
It’s one thing to be honest and truthful about the difficulties ahead in life. It’s another to discourage people from taking the right steps in following the Lord. Following God isn’t always easy. Sometimes it requires courage, because we will face giants. But it is oh so worth it.
One of the leaders of the ultra-orthodox sect known as the Pharisees decided to invite Jesus to his house for dinner. I imagine it was both a friendly gesture, as well as a risky one, since Jesus could say some difficult things. Jesus didn’t seem to care that he offended people who took their religion so seriously. Perhaps Jesus was just concerned about refining those who had grown too comfortable in their religion. They thought that they had “arrived” and ought to be admired for it.
As the other invited guests began to take their places, Jesus noticed how the places of honor were the first seats to go. Jesus responded to what He saw by saying, “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:8–11)
What Jesus was teaching was more than just good wedding guest etiquette. He was teaching about life. We all long for recognition, but the best way to obtain recognition is to not seek it in the first place.