RSS

Monthly Archives: July 2016

Jehovah Shalom – The LORD is Peace

If you wanted to sum up today’s world in one word, turmoil would be a good choice. Between acts of terrorism, public shootings, racial divisions, politics of antagonism, rising divorce rates, struggles with depression … turmoil captures the tension we feel.

How can we experience peace in the midst of turmoil? How can we feel calm when there is so much drama around us? In the midst of oppressing circumstances, Gideon experienced peace only found in God’s presence. He discovered that God is Jehovah Shalom—The Lord is Peace. His encounter with God reveals that A mind set on God’s presence brings life and peace, shalom.

During the period of the Judges, the prevailing philosophy was, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). As a result, Israel experienced a five-part cycle that was repeated seven times over a period of 400 years. The people practiced SIN which led to SERVITUDE when other nations came in and oppressed them. They cried out to God in SUPPLICATION. God raised up a judge who brought deliverance or SALVATION. Israel then experienced a time of SILENCE or peace. The people became comfortable and once again fell into SIN and the cycle started all over again.

The story of Gideon (Judges 6-8) starts at the beginning of another cycle.

Disobedience brings distress (6:1-10). Because of their sin, God allows Israel to be oppressed by the Midianites (1-5). At harvest time, the bullies of the neighborhood, the Midianites, swooped in and stole everyone’s lunch money. They came with their camels, livestock, and tents, and gobbled up all of the available resources (3-5). Like a plague of locusts, they stripped the land bare.

When the nation cried out for help (6), God sent a prophet who explained the reason for their troubles (7-10). Israel turned their back on God, worshipped the false gods of their generation, and disobeyed God’s instructions. Curiously, there is no evidence of repentance, only cries for mercy.

Distress leads to doubt and discouragement (6:11-21). When we first meet Gideon (11), he is living off the grid and flying under the radar. In order to get enough grain to feed his family, Gideon is trying to farm and harvest in secret. I doubt that worked very well for him.

An angel shows up unbeknownst to Gideon. The angel greets him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (12). While Gideon is not acting like a mighty warrior, it is so like God to see our potential and challenge us to live up to it.

In a rather rude welcome, Gideon throws back the greeting into the angel’s face (13). “If God is with us … and I don’t believe he is … why is life so hard? If God cares … and I doubt he does … why does he keep dumping crap on me? I’ve heard all the stories about God from my ancestors, but I don’t see him at work in my life today. If God is so great … how come we are victimized by every bully in town?”

Gideon was just like us, blaming God for his troubles. What he failed to realize was the cause—effect relationship that brought him to this point. He also missed the obvious fact that God was standing right in front of him.

In a series of three statements, God gives Gideon some significant promises. “I will send you … I will be with you … I will make you successful” (14, 16).

Gideon responds like a good resident of Missouri and says, “Prove it! Give me a sign” (17-19). While God could have chastised Gideon for his lack of faith, he graciously provides a sign as proof of his presence and plans. (20-21). Gideon reacts like we would, “OH. MY. GOD!” (22).

Gideon found peace in God’s presence (22-24). Peace or shalom, is not the absence of conflict. It is completeness, health, and welfare. To enjoy peace, we must … Recognize God is present (22) … Rely on him for peace (23-24) … and Change the focus of our mind (Romans 8:5-6).

While his circumstances did not change, Gideon’s change of mind prepared him to face the enemy. A mind set on God’s presence brings life and peace, shalom.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 31, 2016. It is part of a series on The Names of God. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Blame God for your troubles

“It’s God’s fault!” “If God really cared …” “God dumped all this #@*^#! on me and then walked away!”

Rather than being a modern complaint, this was the attitude of someone considered a hero of faith—Gideon. In the early stages of his story, Gideon was disillusioned, discouraged, and blamed God for his misfortune.

When we first meet Gideon (Judges 6:11), he is living off the grid and under the radar. His people, the nation of Israel, were oppressed by the bullies of the neighborhood, the Midianites. At harvest time, the bullies swooped in and stole everyone’s lunch money. They came with their camels, livestock, and tents, and gobbled up all of the available resources (3-5). Like a plague of locusts, they stripped the land bare.

In order to get enough grain to feed his family, Gideon is trying to farm and harvest in secret (11). I doubt that worked very well for him.

An angel shows up unbeknownst to Gideon. The angel greets him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (12). While Gideon is anything but mighty warrior, it is so like God to see our potential and challenge us to live up to it.

In a rather rude welcome, Gideon throws back the greeting into the angel’s face (13). “If God is with us … and I don’t believe he is … why is life so hard? If God cares … and I doubt he does … why does he keep dumping crap on me? I’ve heard all the stories about God from my ancestors, but I don’t see him at work in my life today. If God is so great … how come we are victimized by every bully in town?”

Gideon was just like us, blaming God for his troubles. What he failed to realize was the cause—effect relationship that brought him to this point. Chapter 6 starts with the statement,

The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years (1).

When Israel walked away from God, God allowed them to reap the natural consequences of their choices.

When the nation cried out for help (6), God sent a prophet who explained the reason for their troubles (7-10). Israel turned their back on God, worshipped the false gods of their generation, and disobeyed God’s instructions. Curiously, there is no evidence of repentance, only cries for mercy. Like Gideon, they blamed God for not being fair (13).

We are more like Gideon than we care to admit. We claim to be god-fearing followers of Jesus. But we act independently, make up our own rules, serve ourselves and our own desires, ignore what we know God says, and then wonder why life is so hard. We fail to see God is in our presence (21-22) and at work all around us.

It is only when we humble ourselves and begin to worship (24) that we can finally discover the peace that has eluded us.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 29, 2016 in Personal growth, Scripture

 

We are never beyond the reach of grace

Challies_July%2024-30-03

We can never be spiritual enough to erase our need for God nor sinful enough to erase his love for us.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 27, 2016 in Quotes, Theology, Tim Challies

 

Rainbows

We had a full rainbow to the east of us this evening.

DSC_0003 DSC_0005DSC_0004

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 25, 2016 in Chicopee, Photos

 

Jehovah Sabaoth

“Houston, we have a problem,” were the words uttered by Astronaut Jim Lovell 56 hours into the mission of Apollo 13 in April, 1970. An oxygen tank aboard the spacecraft exploded putting the lives of the crew in danger. NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz had to devise a strategy to get the crew safely back to earth. Encouraging his team, Kranz repeated over and over again, “Failure is not an option.”

The story of Apollo 13 is one of the hallmarks of American ingenuity and courage under pressure. We believe that we can conquer any problem if we put our minds to it. It illustrates our independent and self-sufficient spirit. At an early age, we learn the motto, “I’d rather do it myself!” As a result of this mindset, we miss out on a very meaningful name of God, Jehovah Sabaoth.

Jehovah Sabaoth—“The Lord of Hosts”—appears most often in the context of failure and powerlessness. It appears 281 times in the Old Testament, 207 of which are spoken by the prophets. The name appears for the first time in the book of 1 Samuel.

The term, “hosts,” refers to an army, whether human or angelic in nature. As the Lord of Hosts, God leads the army of heaven. As the Lord of Hosts, God fights on behalf of his people.

Hannah, David, and Isaiah present three examples of people who called on the name of the Lord of Hosts during a time of crisis.

Hannah

David Isaiah
1 Samuel 1 1 Samuel 17

Book of Isaiah

Personal crisis

National crisis Spiritual crisis
Hannah struggles with infertility (3-7) David faces an intimidating enemy (4-11)

Isaiah lives among disobedient people (1:2-3)

Hannah pours out her heart and asks God for help (11)

David boldly declares his confidence that God will help him (42-47)

Isaiah has a vision of God’s holiness (6:1-6)

God will punish the wicked (9:13, 19)

God will protect his people (31:4-5)

Hannah is granted a child—Samuel (17)

David gains victory over Goliath (48‑51)

Israel turns a deaf ear to Isaiah’s preaching (6:8-10)

When all else fails …

When our resources run dry, we can run to the Lord of Hosts. He can and will fulfill his plan and purpose.

When we are outnumbered and outgunned, we can call on the name of the Lord of Hosts. He will fight our battles for us.

When are in trouble … when we have no power to help ourselves … when we reach the end of our rope … we can rest assured that the Lord of Hosts can and will work on our behalf.

When all else fails … remember that the Lord of Hosts fights on behalf of his people. Run to him for help and rely on his strength.

This is a synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 24, 2016. It is part of series on The Names of God. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Camp KidConnect 2016 videos

At the conclusion of each day of FCBC‘s Camp KidConnect, we had a Spotlight Slideshow. The kids were the stars and helped retell the Bible lesson of the morning. On the last day, the preschoolers were the stars. I took all the photos from the week and narrowed them down to the best of the best for the final slideshow. We will show it tomorrow morning during our worship services. Click on the links to watch the respective videos. Enjoy the fun!

Day One – Jesus’ Light Gives Us Hope

Day Two – Jesus Walks On Water

Day Three – Jesus Sheds Light on How to Live

Day Four – Jesus Shows Us Love

Day Five – Jesus Gives Us His Power (preschoolers)

Camp KidConnect 2016 Slideshow

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 23, 2016 in First Central Bible Church, VBS, Videos

 

Camp KidConnect 2016 – Day Five–Dunk Tank Edition

To close out the week of Camp KidConnect, we brought in a dunk tank so the kids could dunk their leaders. 🙂 I was dunked twice, I think by the same person.  It was a great way to celebrate the end of a wonderful week as well as reward the kids for the large offering they gave. We also had a few carnival type games as well as hot dogs and chips for lunch.