Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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13. Promises in Times of Testing – Part 3

James 1:17-18

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

The second powerful promise is that:

  1. God promises His permanent position—God never changes. (17b)

The second part of verse 17 states, “who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” God promises His permanent position. Have you ever felt insecure? When you were little, did you ever get separated or lost from your parents? Do you remember the panic that created? We all have times in our life where we feel insecurity. Life is made up of change. Change in relationships. Change at work. Change in family. Change in friends. Change in our community. Change at church. Change in our culture. Change in our bodies. Everything around us changes that’s why we desperately need an unchanging reference point. The tests we face in this ever-changing world can cause us to come unhinged and unless we have a permanent, unchanging place to place our trust we will feel lost. This is the picture of God that James paints in this passage. James uses words of astronomy to describe the Almighty. These are words which describe the mysteries and majesty of the night sky. First, he shows God in His rightful place as the Creator who is in charge of the heavenly bodies. The One who said, “Let there be light” And spoke stars into existence. How great are God’s words, powerful enough to generate Galaxies! By calling God the Father of lights, James points out that God is even more permanent than the lights that He created. Later tonight I want to encourage you to take the time to go outside and look up into the night sky, and remind yourself that God is more permanent than all the planets you see. God was before them and He will be after them. But as mindboggling as that thought is there’s something even more amazing. Throughout all of God’s eternal existence, He has never changed. Those stars that you see have changed, some of the stars you can see light from actually no longer even exist. Stars grow, they shrink, and sometimes they even blow up, but God never changes. The original word used here is where modern scientists get the word parallax from. A parallax is the apparent displacement of an observed object due to a change in the position of the observer. Now, I know most of you slept through the part of science class where they talked about parallax, so let me try to describe it to you. Let’s say we were outside at night looking up at the stars and we saw the North Star and when we first observed it, it was right over top of a big old oak tree. But what would happened if we walked several hundred yards off to our right? Would the star still be over that same tree? No, it wouldn’t which brings us to the question, what happened, did the star move? No. Well, did the tree move? No. Who moved? We did. Here’s the point. If we had used the tree as our reference point, we would have assumed that the star had moved. And if we decided to use that tree to navigate our way through the darkness, we would have surely gotten lost. But if we used the fixed unchanging point of the North Star as our reference point, we would have seen that everything else changed with our perspective. If we took our eyes of the tree and focused on the unchanging star, we would never be lost. The tests God places in our lives can be like that tree. If we focus on the tests, the next thing you know, we can look up and it looks like God has moved. But God doesn’t move. In Him there is no parallax, no changing or shadow of turning. As James 1:17 sates: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” The North Star is unique because the axis of Earth is pointed almost directly at it. Which means that during the course of the night it does not rise or set but remains in very nearly the same spot year-round while the other stars circle around it. Polaris is like a picture of God, who is consistent, look if you’re going through a test and it looks like God has moved, He hasn’t, you have. Instead of focusing on His truth you’ve taken your focus off Him and begun to focus on the tests. You are doing what Peter did when he was walking on the water, you have taken your eyes of off Christ and put them on your circumstances. And Peter will tell you that when you lose your point of reference you are in danger of drowning. Are you letting God, or the garbage be your guide? In the midst of an ever-changing world, we need His unchanging Word. Don’t let your circumstances or current culture be your guide come back to the cross. Circumstances will make you feel like God doesn’t love you, but the cross will cut through your feelings and remind you of the cost of His love. You see my belief is not based on my feelings, my circumstances or this culture it’s based on the bible which is backed up in blood. God promises His perfect provision and His permanent position and it’s time to start focusing on truth and stop focusing on the trash. What about you are you focused on His love or on the lies.

 

 

 

 


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12. Promises in Times of Testing – Part 2

James 1:17-18

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

In the midst of the problems James reminds us in verses 17-18 to focus on the first of 3 powerful promises starting first with:

  1. The promise of God’s perfect provision—God is always giving. (17a)

Verse 17 says “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father.” God promises His perfect provision. I think most of us like to get presents, don’t we? But the problem with most presents is that they don’t last. They wear out and break, or we grow tired of them because they weren’t as much fun as we originally thought they would be. But what do the gifts that last all have in common? They all mean something. They many not mean much to anybody else, but they mean something to you. And more often than not they mean something because of who gave them to you.  Your kids can take a crayon and scribble something on a piece of scrap paper but when they give it to you, it means the world. I will never forget a gift my son gave me when he was a little boy. It was a gold wrapper folded up into a square with the words “Best Dad Ever” written on it. To you it would probably looks like trash but to me it’s a treasure. It sits on a stand on my desk as a reminder that I mean something to someone. The treasure is not because of what it is, but because of who gave it to me. That’s why we need to treasure God’s promises they are not only special because of the gift but more importantly because of the Giver. You are either going to find Joy in the promises or junk in the problems. Now we need to remember the context of this verse because if we are not careful, we will pluck it out of context and make it say something it doesn’t. This verse is in the context of the tests God gives us. James has spent the previous 15 verses talking about testing and how we are to have joy in the testing. And now he calls those tests gifts from God. The tests in your life are not mistakes, while they may surprise us, they don’t catch God off guard. God either places them in our path or He allows them to happen to you, and then He calls them a gift. God gives us the gift of trials and testing, but most of us see them as a problem not a provision. Does that mean we have to understand it all, or enjoy it all? No, we are not called to find joy in the process but in the product. Our joy is not in the junk or even the journey it’s in become more like Jesus. Tests refine us, and smooth out the rough edges. Tests are like tweezers that remove the splinters from our life. Those things that have pierced and not just gotten stuck in our soul but stunk up our soul, like a splinter that infects and puffs us up with puss. God’s provisions are perfect, He is in control. No matter what circumstance you find yourself in, if you are a Christian then they have passed through Christ’s crucified hands. Not for evil purposes, but for God’s good to accomplishment His perfect will in your life. I will never forget talking to a pastor who had been wounded by some people in His church. As a result, he found himself thinking, “fine I will just quit and they can see how much I’m needed around here, this church will fall apart without me” He was willing to sacrifice the church to satisfy his hurt. And can I remind all of God’s pastors this is a privilege not a position, God doesn’t need us He wants us. Pastors sometimes we need to be wounded by God’s people so we can see the puss in our hearts, poisonous pride that points to me instead of praise that points to the Messiah. God thank you for the gift of being hurt by those you call me to lovingly lead because it exposes the health of my heart. People sometimes pain is God’s perfect provision. Sometimes we need to be wounded to see how far of base we are from God’s Word. Look some of God’s gifts are hard and at first, they hurt, and often growing your faith doesn’t always feel good. Because God is in the business of cultivate your faith not coddle your feelings. He loves us enough to provide what we need instead of what we want in a way that only an all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful Father can. The first promise that can give us joyful hope in times of testing is that God promises us His perfect provision. What about you are you embracing the gift of God’s perfect provision even when it comes through trials and testing?