Why Judgment?

Have you heard anyone say, “I don’t read the Bible because it is filled with judgment”? Well, let’s talk about that. Yes, judgment of various types is recorded in the Bible. For example, the Book of Jeremiah is filled with warnings about coming judgment. In Jer. 18:11, we read, “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you.’” So, why would God threaten to prepare disaster? First, we must understand something about Jeremiah’s ministry. He was called as a prophet to warn God’s people, Israel, about the consequences of sin. Jeremiah preached and prophesied about 50 years, showing that God is extremely patient! Furthermore, God spoke through Jeremiah on several occasions about His willingness to turn from judgment if the people would respond with repentance. Continuing on in Jer. 18:11, we read, “So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.” Sadly, their response was, “It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; each of us will follow the stubbornness of his evil heart” (v.12). Even after God’s repeated warnings, the people continued to follow their evil inclinations. As a result, God judged Israel through Babylon. He removed His hand of blessing and protection, allowing the nation of Babylon to invade and destroy the land of Judah. The Bible reveals that God never enjoys judgment, but does allow people to experience the consequences of sin. But, you might ask, “What about us as believers in Jesus?” Yes, Jesus died on the cross and took the judgment for our sins! By trusting in Jesus, we relate to God as our Father and not as our Judge. This amazing truth should humble us and create in us a heart of worship and gratitude! However, we must never presume that Christ’s death gives us an excuse to pursue evil. To truly love Jesus means we learn to hate sin.

Pastor Mark Boucher

Your Most Overlooked Ministry

Has this happened to you? Someone says something about you that is hurtful and insulting and then adds the lame excuse, “I was only joking.” I know of a youth group which adopted the slogan “no hateful words.” Previously, the youth were cutting each other apart, trying to see who could get the loudest laugh, at the expense of the one being “stabbed.” Whether we realize it or not, our words release power to destroy or build up. The Apostle Paul spoke about the power of words by saying, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph. 4:29). Throughout my ministry, I have heard people lament, “I don’t think I have a gift or a ministry.” My answer is usually, “Begin where you are.” Ministry is not a title or the attainment of a position, but is more a consistent practice of the servant ministry of Jesus each day. How we use our mouth, for example, is a form of ministry. The responsibility of bearing good fruit in ministry begins by guarding the words which come out of your mouth. Paul’s phrase “unwholesome talk” is the word used for rotten fruit. The opposite of these rotten words are words that “benefit those who listen.” This means we minister grace (the Greek word translated “benefit” in verse 29). So, through the “ministry of our mouths” we get to become vessels of the Holy Spirit, pouring out His grace to others! The other day I was reading about Isaiah the prophet. He spoke about the ministry of his words. “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught” (Isa. 50:4). Isaiah reminds us that speaking God’s words is first preceded by listening. The principle here is this: If we are good listeners and are filled with God’s thoughts and His Word, then we will “spill over” words of life and grace. Find someone who needs an encouraging word and say something to help them. Don’t overlook the ministry of your words. You can start right now!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Keep Believing!

This past Monday evening I watched as President Trump announced his choice for the next member of the Supreme Court. After a while, I “surfed” through various news stations, watching the reactions of different commentators. Some liked the president’s choice and some vehemently disagreed. All agreed, however, on the extreme importance of this position. A Supreme Court judge serves for as long as they want and makes decisions that affects us all. I find it quite alarming when I hear people condemning the president’s choice of Brett Kavanaugh just because he believes in God and practices his faith. It’s a sad day in America when a man or woman is judged as unfit to lead simply because they profess faith in God. Imagine how the founding fathers would perceive this intolerance! It seems the biggest reason given for those rejecting Kavanaugh is that he might vote against some aspects of “women’s reproductive services” (abortion of the unborn). As a Christian, I ask you to pray for the upcoming process with the Senate. More importantly, pray for our nation. Even though our nation is deeply divided in many ways, let us be examples of loving God, commitment to His Word, and patience with those who disagree. May we, with grace and dignity, exercise our “dual citizenship” in God’s Kingdom and our country. This morning, while reading Isaiah, I discovered this Scriptural gem from God which spoke to my heart concerning America: “I will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure” (Isaiah 33:6). May we never stop honoring and fearing God, no matter what others say or do.

Pastor Mark Boucher

We Need the Father!

I remember speaking to a parent a while ago about his children. He mentioned one child who had not spoken to him in years! The father’s heart was broken and longed for closeness with his son and son’s family. As I considered this, I realized that these parents had been good parents and showed love kindness to each child. I was amazed at how this son could treat his parents with utter disrespect. Then, I thought of the Word of God. In Isaiah chapter one, God describes Himself as a parent who “brought up” the children of Israel. In spite of God’s parental love and care, His children ignored Him and did the opposite of what He asked. The Lord called them out on their behavior. “Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: ‘I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand’” (Isaiah 1:2-3). Think about our great country. Whether we acknowledge God or not, He has blessed America with abundant resources. He has protected us from foreign oppression and invasions. We are blessed with the freedom to read and proclaim the Word and are still the envy of the world.  And yet, with all these blessings from our Father, most Americans ignore God. Some even do all they can to proclaim evil as good, and push God out of school, government, and business. They don’t understand that God, as a loving parent, waits patiently for our change of heart. He wants a relationship with each person and is willing to forgive all sins and give us a clean start. As Christians, we must show our neighbors and friends how to honor and respect our heavenly Father. Even as our society continues to veer away from God, we, as believers, can receive the blessings of righteousness. These come through the sacrifice of God’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ. By our trust and faith in Jesus, God declares us righteous. And, from the fullness of His grace we receive one blessing after another (John 1:16)! In these trying times, hear God’s encouragement through Isaiah, “Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds” (Isa. 3:10).  How wonderful to love and obey our heavenly Father!

Pastor Mark Boucher