April 16, 2020
In the Book of Joshua the Children of Israel entered the land of Canaan and began to conquer territory. My favorite chapters in the Bible are those that record the battles fought by the Israelites. The “battle section” of Joshua concludes with chapter 11 where the Children of Israel scored yet another major victory!
In spite of their successes, the Israelites began to grow lax in their efforts to conquer the land. By the time we reach Joshua 18:2 we learn that seven of the tribes had not yet possessed their inheritance. Joshua went on to ask them, “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has given you?” Sadly, the Book of Joshua closes with much of the land given as an inheritance not possessed.
Speaking of an inheritance, Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” (Ephesians 1:18). As the Lord gave the Israelites much land in Canaan, so He has given us an abundant inheritance in Christ.
But some Christians follow the example set by the Children of Israel in the Book of Joshua. They start out strong. They get saved and are hungry for the Word of God and His presence. They are hungry to grow in the things of the Lord, and for a season they take a lot of territory in Christ. They apply God’s Word to one area of life after another, and their faith grows as the Word produces spiritual fruit.
But then the passion cools and they start to lose their hunger. They begin to grow satisfied with the territory they have gained. Like Joshua prodding the Israelites to move forward and take new territory, the Holy Spirit prods such believers to move forward in Christ. He urges them to take the next piece of “land” that He has made available.
If you have ever seen the Rocky movies, then you know that in Rocky III the “Italian Stallion” as he was called enters the ring against a tough opponent. Rocky’s trainer was against the match because he knew this new opponent was hungry for the fight, but Rocky had stopped being hungry a long time ago. Consequently, he was easily beaten. In the end, however, Rocky is able to recover “the eye of the tiger” and wins the match.
As a Christian, never lose your hunger! Never settle for the level you are at in Christ. Ask yourself this question, “What is the next level in Christ the Holy Spirit is directing me to take?” Where you are today in Christ isn’t as important as where you are going to be tomorrow. Determine to stay hungry. Never stop looking ahead to the next territory to be taken in your walk with Christ. Every day sing the prayer, “Lord plant my feet on higher ground.”
Pastor Nicholas Weston
Light In The Darkness
April 8, 2020
Said the apostle, “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (1 Peter 1:19).
I love Peter’s description of God’s Word, “a light shining in a dark place.” God is light (1 John 1:5) and so is His Word. It isn’t an accident that the first recorded words of God in Scripture are these, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).
One of the characteristics of light is that it stands out in sharp contrast to darkness. A campfire burning during the day stands out a little. But a campfire burning at night is visible miles away. By the same token, one of the amazing qualities of God’s Word is that the darker the world around us becomes, the brighter His Word shines.
We see this pattern in Scripture. After Adam and Eve sinned they brought upon themselves sin’s penalty of misery and death. With the pronouncement of the curse, it seemed all hope was lost. Then into this dark moment God announced the promise of a coming Redeemer. The word spoken was “a light shining in a dark place.”
The close of the Old Testament was followed by four-hundred years of silence during which there was no, “Thus saith the Lord.” Eventually the Roman Empire rose to power and the Jews found themselves among the conquered nations. It was a very dark time. And yet into this period of darkness the Word was made flesh. Isaiah spoke of this day when he prophesied, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).
In the future, the world will be plunged into the darkest period in human history. God’s judgment will fall on an evil world. Satan will be given great authority for a season, and humanity will show their worst colors. But at the very pinnacle of this time when the powers of darkness are running rampant, an amazing event will occur. The skies will split open wide and the “The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13) will return to destroy the forces of darkness “with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
We are living through a dark period right now. The light in your life is God’s Word. It’s like the psalm writer said, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet, and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). The darkness can never overcome the light of God’s Word, but is always overcome. As a matter fact fact, the light shines brighter in the dark.
So maintain a strong grip on God’s Word. Come what may, its light will never be extinguished. God’s truth will blaze through every dark period in your life, and in the end will be what continues burning strong.
Pastor Nicholas Weston
A Fresh Perspective
April 2, 2020
In Psalm 122:1 David proclaimed his joy for the Church, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD.’” That should be the attitude of every follower of Jesus. Every Christian should possess a heart that rejoices at the prospect of joining fellow believers in “the house of the LORD” to worship, hear God’s Word, and seek His face.
Yet, how often is the opposite attitude expresed? Many Christians in America have come to view going to church as a mandatory chore, an obligatory custom, or something to check off the religious to-do list.
Sunday used to be the day that unequivocally belonged to the Lord. Since biblical times it was referred to as “the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10) in recognition of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. While every day belongs to the Lord, believers have historically set apart the first day of the week for worship and rest (Acts 20:7). While churches today meet at various times, Sunday is still considered “the Lord’s day.” A day set aside and given exclusively to God.
The problem is that “the Lord’s day” has because just another day for many. In our increasingly secular society, many discount the relevance of the church and the need for regular attendance. Statistics on declining church attendance in America provide evidence of this growing trend. However, I believe the COVID-19 pandemic is causing many to rethink that position and get a fresh perspective on the subject.
You’ve heard the saying, “You don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it.” Right now we cannot fellowship the way we normally do. With current restrictions, we cannot assemble with God’s people and enjoy the blessings that come with being together.
The positive in all this is that many Christians are gaining a new appreciation for church and corporate worship. You don’t hear much from “the done’s” right now (misguided believers who claim to be done with church), or those who love to belittle the church. I believe we have all come to a fresh realization that a privilege possibly taken for granted is of enormous value.
I remember hearing a missionary tell the story of a woman who lived in a country where churches were not permitted. This dear believer said that her greatest wish in life was that she could go to church just once before she died.
May we come to see “the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25) in God’s House as the privilege it is, rather than an inconvenience to our weekend plans. And may we gain a fresh perspective on the truth of God’s Word and say with the psalmist loud and clear, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD.’”
Pastor Nicholas Weston
March 19, 2020
“It sure looked like blood to me!”
I was seven-years-old when it happened. I was playing in the backyard of my grandparents house in Springfield, Missouri when I looked down and saw what appeared to be blood all over my foot.
Doing want any normal seven-year-old would do, I screamed and ran for the house certain that I was only moments away from meeting my Creator. Entering the kitchen through the garage, I ran to my mother and grandmother who were obviously terrified by my screams and tears.
Pointing to my foot I cried out in a panic, “I’m bleeding!” A moment of concern appeared in their eyes. The concern quickly passed and turned into howls of laughter. How could my own mother and grandmother be laughing hysterically in my moment of crisis?!
Finally, when they were able to compose themselves, my mother said, “Todd, that isn’t blood. It’s grape jelly that fell from your peanut butter and jelly sandwich and landed on your foot!”
That’s when I responded, “It sure looked like blood to me!” Crisis averted.
You’ve heard the phrase, “keep things in perspective.” That wise word of advice is usually given when we have allowed our view of a particular situation or circumstance to become skewed and entirely out of proportion. At that point we are encouraged to dial it in and keep things in perspective.
Perspective is the way you look at something. I looked at my foot and thought I was bleeding when in fact I wasn’t. It’s amazing how our eyes and minds can deceive us, and we go to worse case scenarios faster than the speed of light.
In these days of national crisis (and at all times), we need to keep things in perspective. Let’s be quick to believe the best, and slow to the believe the worst. Let’s maintain a perspective that is full of faith, not fear.
Stay positive. Remind yourself of what is going well, and don’t stop counting your blessings. Keep an eternal perspective by focusing on the bigger picture. These are days of great opportunity for us to share our faith and lead people to Jesus.
And most of all, let’s follow the counsel of the Hebrew writer and “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Pastor Todd Weston