Pastor Keith’s Blog

Responding To The Challenge

Sometimes we think of Jesus as being one who was meek, kind, loving, always soft, always gentle.  These attributes of Him are correct, however He was also one who would not hesitate to speak the truth or to challenge the inconsistencies of those who thought they were above reproach.  It would have been easy for Jesus to have verbally torn apart every individual, exposed their sins and weaknesses, for we all have sins and weaknesses.    As Jesus ministered among the people, He came as one who would not break off a bruised reed nor snuff out a smoking flame.  To the wounded, struggling and sincere He brought hope acceptance and mercy.
However as Jesus was challenged by the arrogant, the self-righteous, the condemning or the judgmental nature of others, He was quick to respond, not with soft words but with the truth that exposed the inconsistency and hypocrisy of His accusers.  In Matthew 15:2 the scribes and Pharisees try to find fault with Jesus’ followers, they accusingly ask why His disciples fail to keep the traditions of the elders by not washing their hands before eating.  Jesus responds by asking an even sharper question of why they don’t keep the commandments of God because of their following of traditions.
The Pharisees made up excuses for their actions, justifying why they did not need to keep the commandments of our Lord.  God is not looking for excuses, He looks for obedience.  Ask God to show you areas in your heart where you are softly making excuses for why you don’t need to obey Him.  Then make a change and start to quickly respond in obedience to Him.
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The Prophet’s Anguish

In Lamentations chapter 3, the prophet Jeremiah anguishes over the painful challenges he and Israel are going through.  The nation has been taken captive by the Babylonians, parts of the city of Jerusalem have been burned, the temple has been destroyed, and the city walls are broken down (read Jeremiah Ch. 52).  Life has become very difficult for Jeremiah, from his perspective it seems like God has:

  • led me and made me walk in darkness and not in light (vs 2)
  • turned His hand against me time and time again throughout the day (vs 3)
  • aged my flesh and my skin, and broken my bones (vs 4)
  • surrounded me with bitterness and woe (vs 5)
  • set me in dark places like the dead of long ago (vs 6)
  • hedged me in so that I cannot get out (vs 7)
  • appeared to ignore me so that when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer (vs 8)
  • blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked (vs 9)
  • torn me in pieces; He has made me desolate (vs 10)
  • bent His bow And set me up as a target for the arrow (vs 12)
  • Allowed me to become the ridicule of all my people — their taunting song all the day (vs 14)
  • He has filled me with bitterness (vs 15)

A more careful reading of Lamentations chapter 3 would reveal more descriptives depicting the feelings of anguish that Jeremiah is sensing.
Yet in the midst of this pain and struggle that he and others are experiencing, Jeremiah has hope (vs 20,21) as he calls to remembrance:

  • God’s mercies keep us from being consumed (vs 22).
  • God’s compassion does not fail, it is freshly poured out every day (vs 22,23).
  • God’s great faithfulness (vs 23).
  • That God is the portion that fulfills his soul and brings hope (vs 24).

You may be feeling that your life is falling apart and that there is little hope, your circumstances may be overwhelming you.  In the midst of your situations, if the prophet Jeremiah were to seek you out, find you, and talk directly to you he would say, “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD; let us lift our hearts and hands To God in heaven. (vs 40,41)”  Don’t wallow in the pain and frustrations of your life, turn back to the Lord, who brings hope in all situations.

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Let Your Peace Come

We live in a world of turmoil, there are conflicts and stressful situations all around us. We are constantly seeking for peace that will endure.  We are hoping that God or others will bring peace.  It is one thing to pray for peace in situations and it is another thing to act in such a way as to bring peace into the situation.  In the light of this, Jesus speaks to His disciples and tells them that they are to be issuers of peace.   Matthew 10:13 “If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.”
Here Jesus is not saying that we should be calling out for His peace.  Instead He says that we are to be the issuers of peace, that there is something about our peace that we can release into situations.  As believers we have choices, we can try to get peace from the situations around us, or we can realize that because of our position and relationship with Jesus we have His peace upon us (John 16:33; 14:27).  As Christians, we should be moving into situations and areas of conflict, knowing that we have something to provide, being confident that the Prince of Peace will work through us.  To have the calmness necessary for this, our lives must be based upon the certainty that God is working in and through us.  Then our peace can be extended to the places of struggle.
In your life, do you see yourself striving to get peace, or are you confident that God will bring peace, His peace through you?

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All My Springs

Our North American lifestyle can be very busy, we cram our lives filled with activities, work, and pleasure.  We try to squeeze much into the moments we have.  Perhaps this hectic busyness is an attempt to obtain something.  Whether we are trying to obtain possessions, money, status, friendships, approval, emotional or physical rewards – we press into more activity, so that we can obtain more.
In Ps 87:7 the Psalmist says that “All my springs are in you.”  Springs of water were important geographical features in the arid countryside of Palestine.  Pools of water could provide needed supplies for bathing, cooking or even consumption, but there was always the concern that the water might become stagnant or contaminated from misuse or from nearby cattle.  But springs of water provided a constant fresh source of clean usable drinking water.
In the context of Psalm 87, the psalmist is declaring the virtues of Zion, the City of God.  In a symbolical and literal way, the concept of the City of God refers to the Church, the gathering together of God’s people.  Through this psalm the Psalmist declares that life and joy can be experienced by properly relating to the Lord God and His people.
Can you declare that you receive life from being with God’s people?  We are created by God to be people in relationship.  In the context of healthy spiritual relationships we can experience that which will satisfy us, just as springs of water satisfy those in arid regions.
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