Justice For All

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Num 31:1-2] 1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel…

The doctrine of “just-war” has been the subject of many theological discussions. It is sometimes hard for us to reconcile these historical sections of the Bible that don’t align with our modern views. We must be careful when we read the Bible through our 2019 lenses. Though it is easy for our senses to be offended when thinking of modern stories of atrocities and genocides, there are three points that can help us see the importance of passages like this.

Number 1: God takes sin seriously and so should we. The Bible says the devil is like a roaring lion looking to whom he will devour. Sin will destroy your life, your family, your marriage. It must be dealt with like cancer. If you don’t take it seriously, it will kill you.

Number 2: This is a reminder that God will bring justice on a rebellious and prideful world. When God says, vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord (Deut 32 & Rom 12) it is a sobering reminder that He is a righteous Judge, not us.

Number 3: God poured out this judgment on Jesus so that we could be delivered from His wrath. There is no cheap grace, it cost God everything. We are grateful that although sin still must be dealt with, it is through the sword of the Spirit, and not man, that now conquers kingdoms and idols. Jesus, and not us, became like the “Midianites.” He endured the vengeance of God, so we could be free. This is the tool that He has given to us to advance His Kingdom. Let us be diligent and grateful to unleash the power of the Gospel this week!

“Forward”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

Then they told him and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. (Numbers 13:27)

I am not a fan of change.  I like to get up at the same time every day.  I like to follow the same morning routine.  I have my five favorite restaurants and at each restaurant I have my favorite thing I order.  But then again, I am getting quite old.  New stuff makes me uncomfortable.

The Israelites were in the process of one of the greatest changes in history.  Four hundred years of slavery were being exchanged for a new land and new freedom.  Yes, there was a promise of milk and honey, but there were also giants in that new land.  Rather than trusting God to take them into that new land and face their challenges, the Israelites chose forty years of grumbling and reminiscing about those good ol’ days in Egypt. So, which is it beloved?  Forward or backward?  Going backward may seem comfortable, like a well-worn slipper.  Everything is familiar as we dwell on our yesterdays. Going forward requires us to trust the One who is trying to lead us.  Forward is where the unseen promises are.  The future is coming beloved.  Will you face it moving forward, or get caught up as you drift backward?

“When a little means A LOT!!”

This week’s Pastor to Person is Pastor Daniel Grant.

Luke 16:10 “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”

God is interested in the little things. He is interested in how we handle, manage, and deal with small matters. How do we deal with things belonging to others? Are we faithful in the little things? If God finds us faithful in the little things, then he will trust us with the BIG stuff, the really important stuff! Luke 16:11 “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

Your finances and your heart are intimately connected. Where is your heart today? Luke 16:14“Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided [sneered at] Him.” God cares deeply for you and for people. Money is a tool that can be used for extraordinary good or evil! Set your sights on something MUCH higher than monetary gain, set your eyes on Jesus, and learn to be a giver like Jesus was, not a sneerer like the Pharisees!!

“Unclean”

This Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

“When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean”. (Leviticus 15:2)

The concept of being “unclean” is pretty vague in the Scriptures. There are quite a few things that can make a person “unclean” (bodily discharges, foods, dead things). Uncleanness was a little like sin, but it wasn’t exactly sin.  I think one of the worst aspects of being “unclean” was the separation it incurred.  You were supposed to stay away from others lest they touch you and “catch” your uncleanness.

Now some of you might be thinking that the concept of being “unclean” sounds a little too superstitious for us modern enlightened people, yet to be honest we struggle with this concept all the time.

It might come as a result of some sin we’ve committed.  It might come because we’ve been hanging around people who are “unclean”. It might come because we feel like we don’t belong. 

Here’s the beauty of Jesus my friends.  He came to take away our “uncleanness”.  One day a man with leprosy (uber-unclean) came to Jesus and asked if Jesus was willing to make him “clean”.  Jesus reached out and did the unthinkable.  He touched the man, and the man was instantly cleansed (Luke 5:12-13).

When Jesus touches us, we become part of His family.  No longer outcasts, we now belong to the fellowship of the cleansed.

“Family Business”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)

Every parent knows the instant panic that sets in the moment you think your child is missing. I remember a moment where one of my children had wondered away for just a few seconds; your heart races, panic and adrenaline pulse. Mary and Joseph had gone a full day’s journey without realizing their son was not with them. Not finding him they anxiously returned to Jerusalem.

Mary exclaimed, 48 “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, your father and I have sought You anxiously.” You can sense the combination of relief and frustration. Jesus’ response, “I must be about My Father’s business,” must have encouraged his parents.

Letting go of my kids will probably be the hardest thing I do as a parent. I have to remember they are not really mine, they are His. My greatest job and joy as a parent are to connect them to their heavenly Father. This is both a humbling privilege and encouraging promise. The apostle John said (3 Jn 1:4) “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” All of us have a heavenly Father who loves us with an everlasting love. God loves our kids even more than we do! Mary and Joseph serve as a great example of parents who loved their son enough to teach him about His heavenly Father. As parents we will give an account for what we do with these treasures.  May all of us be about our Father’s business!

“Light Production”

This weeks Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

“And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.”(Exodus 27:20)

Israel was to be a light to the world.  This idea was symbolized in the Tabernacle through the light of the Menorah. It’s instructive to think about how this lamp was to stay perpetually lit.

It starts with the crushing of the olives.  Olive oil is found in the seed of the fruit, not the flesh. To get the oil, the entire thing had to be ground and crushed.

Next came the pressing and the straining.  The ground paste was stacked on mats and then large stones were used to squeeze the oil out of the mess.  The liquid was strained to remove the chunks and make it “pure”.

Lastly, the oil needed to be brought to the Tabernacle.  It needed to be offered to the Lord for His lamp to be lit. Continual light required participation of the whole nation, not just a few. Is any of that a picture of your life, beloved?  Are you going through a period of crushing?  Are you being hard pressed?  Is there a sifting and straining going on in your life as God is trying to remove impurities?  Take the pure oil of a refined life and offer it to the Lord.  Let Him use your life to light up the darkness around you.

“Remembrance”

“This weeks Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Daniel Grant.”

God commanded that the Israelites do something a little strange for them to remember. We tend to forget – I don’t just mean we tend to forget to do our chores, (but we do that too), I mean we often forget the great and wonderful things that God has done in our lives. Provision. Healing. Help. Hope…

Exodus 13:8-9 “And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ 9 It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt.”

God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt with a strong and mighty hand. He did this to show Israel His power, and to show the entire ancient World that there is NO other God but HIM. What are the things God has done in your life that He wants you to write down? Married couples wear rings as a remembrance, AND a testimony of the vows that they took on the day they married. What are the reminders that God wants you to have in place so that you “remember”? Recently I took the advice of a wise friend who said, “Dan, make a spiritual journal or notebook for your family so you will not forget the wonderful things God has done…” Remember the good gifts, the gracious provision, and the miracles that God has done in our midst! So, beloved, what does God want you to remember and pass down to the next generation?

Choose Forgiveness

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? (Genesis 50:19)

Joseph had a long history of trouble with his brothers.  He had been Daddy’s-little-favorite since the day he was born, and his older brothers had grown sick of the special treatment Joseph continually received. When the solution to their pest problem presented itself, Joseph ended up as a slave in Egypt.

Joseph’s first thirteen years in Egypt weren’t exactly a vacation in paradise.  He went from being a slave, to being imprisoned for something he didn’t do. Through all his suffering, there was one constant.  God was with Joseph.  Joseph had a living, breathing, connection with God.  Joseph knew God, and God knew Joseph.

As you know, Joseph’s story doesn’t end in prison.  Joseph would become exalted as Pharaoh’s right-hand man. So, what did Joseph do about that ugly past with his brothers?  Today there are many people living blessed lives that still carry the resentment of past hurts.  When Joseph had the opportunity to take revenge, he didn’t.  In their own dysfunctional way, his brothers showed that they had changed.  They even managed a twisted attempt at asking for forgiveness. It seems to me that Joseph had long left the past in God’s hands.  He chose to forgive.

Power of a Name

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

“As she breathed her last–for she was dying–she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.” (Gen 35:18)

What a gut-wrenching moment for Jacob. The love of his life dies while giving birth to their second son. Jacob had just returned to the place of God’s promise in his life. There the Lord appeared to Jacob and confirmed the blessing on his life.

As Rachel nears her last breath, she names her son Ben-Oni (son of my pain). It’s hard to fathom the mix of joy and sorrow in this crossroads of life and death. Names were a funny thing in Israel. Your name identified you and your family, but it was also a reflection of your character. Jacob knew how powerful a name could be. In verse 10 God changes his name from Jacob (heel catcher) to Israel (governed by God).

In a moment of fatherly wisdom and grace Jacob overrides the proclamation of his dying bride. We too can become defined by the worst moments in our lives. So often these things happen outside of our control, but they can define us and confine us to a perspective that we are somehow the source of everyone’s pain. His father named him Benjamin (son of my right hand). No matter what label the world or circumstances have put on you, the power of the Gospel allows us to be defined not by tragedy, but by Jesus’ triumph. The Gospel allows us to be “Benjamin” son of God’s right hand because of Jesus. Have you accepted your new name? Let His love define you and me this week.

Alien

“And Abraham lived as an alien in the land of the Philistines for many days.” (Genesis 21:34, CSB)

Alien.  A word that conjures up all sorts of images in our heads.  Perhaps little green men or a space monster. Maybe just that neighbor down the street from a foreign country.  All those pictures define a person who doesn’t belong. There are times when we too feel a little out of place.  The question is, where do you belong?

As believers, we are “sojourners and pilgrims” in this world.  We are children of light while the world around us dwells in darkness.  When you are out in the world, whether it’s at work or just going out to eat with your family, there may be times when you are definitely aware that you “don’t belong”.  But that’s okay beloved.  We are supposed to be lights in the world.  We are a chosen generation, intended by God to give those around us an idea of where the path leads to God. In the end, the Philistines went on to … disappear in the pages of history. Abraham and his descendants went on to multiply and are everywhere. Be sure you are making your attachments based on what lasts, not what passes. You may indeed feel like a stranger in this world, but you weren’t made for this world, you were made for heaven. As a citizen of heaven, you belong. You are family.