Pastor Keith’s Blog

Failing To Get To The Top

If we set our hearts on getting to the top but instead find ourselves on the bottom rung of the ladder it will usually lead to great cynicism and bitterness. We will desperately look around for people to blame for our failures, we might even indulge in fantasies of revenge.

The servant girl in 2 kings 5 was on the bottom of the economic status.  As an Israeli girl under her Syrian captor she could have blamed Naaman for her present conditions, i.e. captivity.  Inwardly she could have gloated over the fact that he was a leper, perhaps even feeling that “it served him right for taking me captive.”  But instead she was willing to bless and do good to the one who was her enemy (vs 3).  She was willing to help provide a cure for her captor.

In a strange twist of circumstances Naaman was in the hands of this servant girl.  With her knowing a means for his healing, she could literally save his life or enable him to suffer and die through an ugly disease.  The servant on the bottom was more powerful than the master on the top.  This un-named servant girl chose to provide help to the one that was ruling over her, one who had often raided her own villages and homes of her country.  The result of her showing compassion and helping one who did not deserve it was that Naaman ended up acknowledging that there was “no God in all the earth, except in Israel” (vs 15).

Take a moment to think about those around you whom you may think do not deserve to be shown kindness or to be given help.  Ask God for wisdom so that you may bless and honor them, as this unnamed servant girl honoured her master.

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God you Are So Weak And Small !!!

When I was young, I thought that God was large, bigger than the universe.  That He was strong, omnipotent, that He could do anything He wanted.  That He is all knowing, omniscient, and that He was everywhere, omnipresent, there was nowhere where He couldn’t go.  On top of these power attributes there were attributes of being holy, merciful and just, and being the very definition of love.

However as I look at many Christians around me I see that my understanding of God must be wrong.  I see people frustrated because they feel that God’s purposes for their lives have been thwarted.  Something, or someone, or some circumstance has gotten in the way of them obtaining that which God had promised them.   Whether it was the financial pressure, bad weather, the natural or spiritual enemy, sickness or some other situation, these events had proven to be more powerful than God.  These difficulties and trials were able to block the strength and wisdom of the great God who I once thought was so mighty.  In reality it seems like these events, circumstances and situations were the true gods as they had the capacity to stop and foil the purposes and plans of the almighty God whom I had loved and cherished and admired when I was younger.

Yet, when I read the closing song/phrase that Jude declares in Jude 1:25 I read about Jesus, “God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.”  This is a similar theme that is shared by the 24 elders in heaven when they state that the Lord “is worthy, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”(Rev. 4:11).  This thought of the great power of God is even included in the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples where He said we are to pray “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matt 6:13)

It is true that my title and opening paragraph were a little tongue in in cheek.  Yet many look at their situations without realizing that because God is all powerful and all knowing nothing can keep us from the purposes and plans that God has for us.  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.  There is no outside force that is great enough to thwart the will of God, except for ourselves.  We can choose to harden our heart, to walk selfishly and to reject what God would want for us.  That is the free will which He has given to each of us.

Take a moment to ponder what things, people or situations you believe are in the way of God’s plans for your life.  Have you made these bigger than God, or in your mind are you limiting the power of the true God of the universe?

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The First Step in the Apostolic Calling

Many years ago I was enthralled with the teaching of a pastor from the West coast area.  I would read his books, listen to his teachings and go to conferences where he would be ministering.  After several months of devouring every word and expression that this godly man spoke, I started to notice that I would say the same phrases and use the same mannerisms of this pastor.  I had studied his material and been around his teachings so much that I was becoming a replica or disciple of him.  Looking back at what had happened during that period of my life, I can’t help but think of how we are influenced by those that we associate closely with.

In Mark chapter 3 we have Jesus calling his twelve disciples.  “He (Jesus) went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons” (vs. 13-15).  Notice that before these twelve apostles were to go and preach, to have the power to heal or to cast out demons, the scriptures says that they were appointed “that they might be with Him.”  This was the first step towards their apostolic calling.

Note that the scripture does not say that they were to follow Jesus, which many people from the crowds did.  Nor does it say that they were just to embrace His teachings as being true – which these apostles obviously did.  These apostles were to actually spend close interactive time with Jesus, which they did for three and a half years.  In fact, they had spent so much time with Jesus, that even though they were uneducated and untrained men, others marvelled because of their boldness and the way in which they spoke and they quickly perceived that these men acted the way in which they did, because they had been with Jesus, (‭‭Acts‬ ‭4:13).

As with the apostles, the strength and effectiveness of our lives will be determined, not just by whether we follow Jesus or accept Him as our Lord and Saviour, but by the amount of time and the quality of time in which we are with Jesus.  Just as this was the first step for the calling of the apostles, so it is to be our first step also.  Lord Jesus, help us to take the time to actually be nearer to you.

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I Hate Pain – But Maybe Pain Is Good For Me

Just after Christmas, for the second time in four days I had been waiting in an emergency room with pain from what they say are kidney stones.  They say that kidney stone pain is comparable or even worse then the pain of giving birth to a child.  I wouldn’t know about the child birth side of things but definitely know about the pain of kidney stones.  At one point the pain had me on my knees on the floor.  At other times I am vomiting, I’m not certain how that would have helped pass kidney stones, but that is what my body wanted to do. Any pressure on the side of my back from lying or sitting would increase the pain.

In the midst of this, I prayed in English, prayed in tongues, called out to God for healing and His grace in the midst of this situation.  Of course the question comes, “God, why is this happening?”  The obvious answer was “because your body has a kidney stone and it is reacting to that unwanted object in your body”.   But perhaps pain is a good thing, if I had not experienced pain then I would have no knowledge that something was not correct.  The pains that we experience in life can sometimes warn us of danger and help teach us how to better live our lives.

If we never felt pain we would not remove our hand from a hot stove, we would not take care of a cut finger, we would not change or monitor our actions that caused pain to ourself or others, nor would we realize the brevity of our life.  Pain can help us realize that this life is not the most important thing that we should focus upon, but rather that eternity in heaven, where there is no pain of suffering, is the ultimate goal and resting place for the believer in Jesus Christ.  Of course the unbeliever is guaranteed anything but a painless eternity.

So perhaps pain helps us to evaluate what is happening in our immediate situation, but perhaps it also helps us to evaluate our future goals and aspirations.  As I am living through this pain and as my body is reacting to this pain in ways that I don’t want it to,  I am comforted by an awareness that God knows what I am going through, and at this very moment He has love and care for me.

No matter what we are going through now, we can draw encouragement, comfort and hope from the scripture that says, “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Rev. 21:3,4

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