Friday, October 21, 2016

A Letter From Jesus

 Imagine you walk in to the church service early one Sunday morning -- a church service in the city
of Ephesus around the year 95 AD. Men are praying; Psalms and hymns sung by the faithful. The pastor stands up and looks excited, but also a little troubled. Looking out at the assembly, he says "We received a letter. From the Apostle John." You sit up in your seat, excited to know what John has to say as the pastor continues, "It is a prophetic letter; a word from the Lord, who has a message for us." You can hardly contain yourself. A God inspired letter from John, the Word of God has come and you are about to hear from Jesus. The Lord Jesus has spoken and John has written the Words of God down and sent them to this church! Now, your heart skips a beat because you must know what the Lord had to tell you.
Still Life With A Bible. Vincent van Gogh

The pastor, with letter in hand, says "This morning, I want to go to the middle of this letter and look at second half of this sentence as my jumping off point. I speak to you on the subject of "why a Christian cannot support Domitian, Emperor of Rome." You look around and no one seems to object and the letter goes unread, unexplained, and used for a motto, rather than understanding what it was that was written.

Does this seem a little off? I imagine when the church of Ephesus first received the book of Revelation that the Pastor read the letter so they all could hear the whole message from Jesus. When they got to the part written just for them (chapter 2 in our Bible) and relevant to their situation, I'm sure they read it again and again. No doubt the pastor expounded all the different aspects of what the Lord said. Maybe he focused on the part about leaving their first love for a while, perhaps weeks. That is a reasonable expectation. You get a message from Jesus, you want to know what He said to you and be able to understand His message, as He related it to you.

A Christian's desire should be to hear from the Lord, and the Lord has spoken to us in His Word. When you randomly open the Bible and just read a verse and take it out of context, you are doing what our imaginary pastor did in our story. In reading, in study, and preaching, God's people should hunger for what God has said and to know the true meaning of that passage. Preachers teach and promote false doctrines because they take verses out of context. The Bible is not merely a book of mottos, but God speaking to you. You must be diligent to hear the message, by understanding the meaning of the text. When a preacher opens the book and gives you the meaning of the passage, you are hearing a message from Jesus.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall and Faithfulness

It's starting to cool down and feel more like fall. The leaves are starting to change colors and the days are getting shorter. Apples are being harvested and the grass has about called it quits for the year. This is a favorite time of year for a lot of people and we look forward to the vibrant colors and the cool nights. Toward the end of summer, when we get tired of the hot, humid oppression of the midday sun, we welcome and anticipate the annual cool down. You can do this because of God's faithfulness. Genesis 8:22 "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." After the worldwide flood, God promised that as long as there is an earth, there will be seasons. Because God is faithful, there will be cold winters and hot summers. God is faithful, so you'll hear the birds chirping while you plant your garden in the spring and see the leaves change colors when they days get shorter. Because God is faithful, kids will be looking any chance to go swimming in the summer and throw snowballs in the winter. The fact that you expect this to happen is a reliance on God's faithfulness. God has promised, and He always does it. He is so faithful, that we grumble about the weather if there is a slight variation to the norm.
Golden Autumn. Isaac Levitan.

Every year, you count on God's faithfulness when you anticipate the coming seasons and perhaps, never gave it a second thought. As you read this, you are sitting on a rock that is roughly 7,926 mile  in diameter, from space looks like a perfect circle. Up in the sky there is a sun (also looking like a perfect circle) that's close enough to keep us warm and give us light, but not too far away that we would freeze. Right now, we are being held to the rock by just the right amount of gravity that keeps us from floating up in the air. Did you go to sleep last night wondering if gravity would work when you woke up? I doubt it, because God is faithful.  It's a good thing too, because we are moving along at around 65,000 mph, give or take, and we don't even notice it. This rotating rock floats along with a moon (another perfect circle) orbiting this star, hovering about in the vastness of space, does so with such regularity, that we calculate the days and years by it.  I was recently given a calendar for 2017-18 and it tells me that January 1, 2018, there will be a full moon. I can know this because God is faithful. People often ask for a sign to prove the faithfulness of Christ Jesus. How far has this earth traveled since you started reading? How many times has your heart beat since the first paragraph? God shows his goodness and faithfulness all day long.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Bible is the Word of God by Lewis Kiger

I wonder how many of you have ever heard of the Jefferson Bible? It is also known as: “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” It was a version of the Bible made by Thomas Jefferson after he left office. Later in life, the retired president took a razor and glue and cut out the parts of the New Testament that he liked and pasted them onto the blank pages of a book, thereby creating his own bible. The Scriptures he believed were authentic and reliable, were compiled and the rest were left out of his version altogether. Some of the more notable absences from his compilation were the miracles of Jesus, the Resurrection, and any text that referred to the deity of Jesus.   

While this may come as a surprise to some of our readers, the sad truth is that there is nothing new about this at all. In fact, in Jeremiah 36:23 we read of a rotten king of Judah by the name of Jehoiakim who took exception to the inspired prophetic rebuke of Jeremiah written on a scroll … so much so that he took a pen knife and cut it up before throwing pieces of it in the fire.

Long have men and women thought they had the same right as these two. Long have the masses sought to take parts of the whole and leave the rest. Sadly, too many people treat the Word of God like a buffet line where you can take what you want and leave the rest.

However, we do not get to pick and choose what we like and what we don’t like. We were given 66 Inspired Books that have been providentially compiled and Divinely preserved that rightly represent who God is.

No one has editorial license over the Inspired page.

What the Bible has to say about certain subjects may not be popular. It may not be well-liked or considered progressive enough, but nonetheless the Bible is the Bible. Moreover, from the first verse to the last, all Scripture is “God-breathed” and is profitable for doctrine, reproof and instruction in righteousness. That applies to “all Scripture,” not just the parts you and I may like.

Should we care more about what society condones or what the Sovereign of the Universe has said? Are we guilty of making excuses for the Bible rather than just believing that an Omniscient God knows better than we? If the Bible is the Bible, should we shy away from preaching on such subjects as: hell, eternity, homosexuality, grace or repentance?

Either the Bible is God’s Word, or we have not heard our Creator speak to us.
Either Genesis 1 is true and God created all things, or else God is a liar and His Word undependable.
Either John 14:6 is correct and Jesus Christ is the Only Way to the Father, or else we have no hope for eternity.
Either the Bible is God’s Word, or there are no moral absolutes and every man may do whatever pleases him.
Either the Bible is God’s Word and we are to read, learn, study and seek to obey its teachings, or we are all free to choose for ourselves what is right.

But I believe the Bible is God’s Word. And, as such, has the Divine prerogative to tell us all how to live. The Word of God has both blessing and cursing, both holy wrath and gracious forgiveness, and each should be taught and preached with equal fervor.

None of us have the divine right to cut out parts and pieces of the Word of God. Kings do not. Presidents do not. Preacher and pastors do not. Those of us who write for this paper don’t have license to cut out or leave off parts and pieces of verses that do not align with our thoughts.

Long after the mortal flesh of King Jehoiakim has rotted away … long after Thomas Jefferson’s own version of the Bible has disintegrated into nothing but dust … the Eternal Word of the Living God will remain. The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of God abides forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

The Bible is God’s Word. It is God’s inspired, infallible and inerrant Word and it may be trusted to make us wise unto salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Pastor Lewis Kiger

Friday, October 7, 2016

Great is Thy Faithfulness

The book of Lamentations is a book of poems of sorrow and lament. Though it doesn't sound very uplifting, it is very honest and does get us looking up. It is an encouragement to all those who trust in Jesus Christ.  No matter how far we have fallen, and how bleak and dreary the situation appears to be; Great is God’s Faithfulness.
                This sad poem was written by the prophet Jeremiah, a tenderhearted but strong man of God. His ministry spanned the last 5 kings of Judah, a time where this once great nation headed downhill in a hurry. He had lived through Josiah's reformation, but now sees a nation diving head first into idolatry. Jeremiah had preached for many years against Judah's sin, but he was ignored (Jeremiah 25:3-11). This faithful prophet loved his country, but the people would not hear the warnings. After 40 years of preaching and warning, the judgment that he predicted finally came to pass and Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians. The house of the Lord was burnt, the king's house and all the homes of the great men were burned and the people were taken captive. The walls of the city were broken down, the king was abducted and had his eyes put out, eventually dying in a Babylonian prison. Forty years of warning. Forty years of weeping and frustration. Forty years of being ignored. But Jeremiah took no joy out of being right and being vindicated. 
                In this third chapter of this acrostic poem (in Hebrew, the verses start with a different letter of the alphabet) the first 20 verses are a cry of suffering. Images of great pain and mourning, a true lament of his burdened soul. But then, hope comes. Lamentations 3:21-23  "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
                Jeremiah's hope was in the Lord. First, he recalled God's Word. He began to look at the situation through the lens of God's promises. Jeremiah saw the city was destroyed and the people were captive, but realized that God had not destroyed them. The promises of the coming Messiah were still sure and true. God had mercifully spared them, even in chastisement. It was not God that was unfaithful to His Word, it was the nation that was unfaithful to God. Even in Judah's unfaithfulness, God remained faithful. The compassion of God never fails, they are new every morning. You can never exhaust God's compassion toward His people. If you are cleansed by the blood of Christ, and by faith trusting in Christ alone for salvation, every morning you will find a fresh supply of God's mercy. God is faithful in His promises and covenant. You can trust your soul in Jesus Christ, because He is forever faithful. He cannot lie and always keeps His promises. There is hope, when you look to Christ.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The God of the Overwhelmed

Psalm 61:1-8  Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 

Ivan Aivazovsky
Hurricane at the Sea (1850)
Have you ever felt like you were at the end of your rope? Have you ever found yourself in a position where you just didn't know what to do and there was so much going on in your life you felt like you were being pulled in a thousand directions? Maybe like the breaking waves of the ocean, one sorrow after the other came crashing in and you are not sure if you could take another hit.

David felt like this when he wrote the Psalm 61. It is not the song of someone who can make it on his own. It isn't the song for someone who is too proud to admit that they need grace. It is the song of a man who is honest about the frailty of his flesh. David is drowning emotionally, and he is just able to keep his head above the water, and feels like he can't keep up much longer. His heart is about to burst with heartache and trials.

David's hope was not to look within, but to look above and to cry out for mercy. His hope was in His Saviour. Jesus is the shelter when our hearts are overwhelmed, He is the mighty Rock of refuge from the storms of life, and our only salvation. He is higher than I can climb, higher than our troubles, higher than we could ever get ourselves. Christ will lead me, when I can’t go on my own and am too distraught to find my own way. Lead me to the Rock, the steadfast refuge of my soul, that is higher, loftier, mightier than I, to the Rock that has hope and life for all who cling to Him.

He started the psalm in despair, but ends it in song. He started crying in pain, and left singing in Christ.  He started declaring vows, and left fulfilling them. No matter how dreadful our current problem may be, there is peace in Christ Jesus, if you are found hidden in Christ. You can go in your prayer closet overwhelmed and come out singing. The problem may still be there, but how sweet to cast all your care, all your anxieties, all your problems upon Him, because He cares for His own. God is not the God of the proud, or the strong, or the self-righteous. God is not the God who helps those who help themselves. God is the God who saves those who cannot save themselves. Cast away your self-sufficiency. Abandon your efforts to earn God's love. Humble yourself and turn to the only refuge of the soul and know that the blood of Jesus washes away all sin. Are you overwhelmed? Come to the God of the overwhelmed.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


I was looking for a citation for a quote I was reading about L.M. Clymer, former president of Holiday Inn, who resigned because the company decided to invest in a hotel-casino in Atlantic City. Why? For conscience sake. He believed gambling is wrong.

A man with power and influence with a Christian character who refused to make a buck through casino gambling seems quaint in America today.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Graves of Lust

Numbers 11:34 And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah because there they buried the people that lusted.

When I first started preaching, I would get to the difficult names or cities in the Old Testament, pause, then slowly  butcher the pronunciation. My Dad told me after one message that "if you can't pronounce it, at least mispronounce it with confidence". Thankfully, today I just have to type Kibrothhattaavah.

Israel was on their way from Egypt, set free from their bondage headed to the promised land of blessing, but complaining the whole way. The people murmured and God sent fire to destroy the rebels (Numbers 11:1). You would think that would be sufficient to quiet them down a little, but no. They “fell a lusting” after what they didn’t have. Numbers 11:5 "We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick." They were not satisfied with the manna God lovingly provided, but where hankering for Egyptian cuisine.

Moses was at the end of his rope and called them a bunch of nursing infants (Numbers 11:10-15) because they were always crying for him. Moses was so exasperated, he asked God just to kill him so he wouldn’t have to hear their complaining anymore and be under the burden of leading Israel.

God heard the prayer of Moses, but didn't give Moses his request (thankfully, will God say no to our foolish prayers); however God also heard the complaining of Israel and knew their lusting hearts. God said if they want meat? I’ll give them meant until it comes out of their nose! I’ll give you so much you’ll not want it any more (Numbers 11:18-20 ). Suddenly, a wind picks up and a great number of quail came flying in so close to the ground the people could just go out and catch them by the handful.

Numbers 11:32  says the people started gathering these quails all day and into the night. They had so much quail that the slowest hunter bagged between 6-8 bushels. They were in the day after Thanksgiving shopping mode, feverishly grabbing these quails as fast as they could.  Then they ate. They got what they wanted. They lusted after food and stingily got as much as they could get their greedy little hands on and feasted. But while the food was still in their mouth, God smote the people with a plague. Psalms 78: 29-30 So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire;  They were not estranged from their lust.

Kibrothhattaavah means "graves of lust". God gave them what they wanted and fulfilling their lust was their judgment. Don't bury your life, your marriage, your family, or your soul in a grave of lust. What a terrible cemetery to be buried. The wages of sin is death. We need the Bread of Life to deliver us from our Kibrothhattaavah (John 6:51).