Author: Jesse Pirkle

Can You Trust God’s Ultimate Plan?

At Southern Hills, we are making our way through the first six chapters of Daniel. So far, we have been taught about God’s sovereignty, King Nebuchadnezzar’s (“King Neb” as I will call him) pride and anger, Daniel’s faithfulness to God, and more. It is interesting to note at the end of chapter two King Neb is praising the LORD, God of Israel. Then, Daniel 3 begins with King Neb fashioning an idol made of gold. And this idol is huge! Once the idol is finished, King Neb demands everyone bow down and worship it. Whoever refuses will meet death by fire. As you can imagine, people worshiped the idol—just as the King had commanded. Everyone except for 3 men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. As you may know, these men refused to bow down to King Neb’s idol and were thrown into the furnace. But they lived! Let’s consider the conversation place between King Neb and the three Hebrews. King Neb said: “But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery …

God is a Good Promise Keeper

The prophet of Isaiah wrote: Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!” – Isaiah 40:3-5 John the Baptist would be the one to come and prepare the way for Jesus. Let’s look at two ways the birth of John the Baptist as recorded in Luke 1 was miraculous. First, Luke tells us in verse 7 Elizabeth, who would be John’s mother, was both barren and advanced in years. She could not conceive a child. Second, Zechariah, who would be John the Baptist’s father, was chosen by lot to enter the temple and burn incense. It is there Zechariah had an angel appear to him with the message that he and Elizabeth would have a son. Was this chance? …

Jesus Will Return. Will You be Saying, “Hosanna?”

Have you ever wondered why Christians celebrate Palm Sunday? Here is the scene: In Matthew 21, we read about Jesus making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He comes in riding on a donkey, as prophesied by Zechariah. He is greeted by  crowds celebrating Him. Some of the people put their cloaks in the street and others put out palm branches—both were signs of welcoming the humble King. The crowd is shouting, “Hosanna in the highest!” (Hosanna means “Save, we pray.”) Less than a week later, the crowds chose to release the prisoner Barabbas and demanded Jesus be crucified (Matthew 27:15-23). For a number of reasons (ultimately, God’s own purpose), Jesus was not living up to Israel’s expectations. Not only was He not appearing to be a strong military leader, He was even making claims to be God. “Blasphemy!” they cried—and killed Him. They wanted a King to deliver them from Gentile rule—the same way King David had defeated the Philistines. Sadly, many people seem to think the same way today: “If God won’t give me …

God’s Judgement is Coming. God’s Grace is Here.

Micah was written to bring God’s lawsuit against His people. He begins by telling his readers, “Attention! Let all the people of the world listen! The Sovereign Lord is making accusations against you; the Lord speaks from his holy Temple” (Micah 1:1). When Micah tells his readers the Lord is coming he says, “The mountains melt beneath his feet and flow into the valleys like wax in a fire, like water pouring down a hill” (Micah 1:4). Pay attention. When the Lord comes in judgement, even the mountains melt! No one and no thing can stand. Speaking of Samaria’s idols, we see “all her carved images will be smashed. All her sacred treasures will be burned. These things were bought with the money earned by her prostitution, and they will now be carried away to pay prostitutes elsewhere.” (Micah 1:7). I feel the need to back up one step and address a question. Does God come into the presence of idols? If you are a Christian, I want to say directly to you- YES! God …

Can You Change Your Focus When Facing Fear?

Let’s look a little more closely at the differences between David, the Israelites, and Goliath. As we read the story in 1 Samuel 17, two truths stand out right away: 1) Goliath is huge, 2) the Israelites, including King Saul, are terrified. Goliath was almost ten feet tall and he had the best armor the Philistines could attain: a large standing shield, a coat of mail weighing about 125 pounds, and a spear with a head made from iron weighing about 15 pounds. Not only is this guy huge, his armor and weaponry are some of the best. No one in Israel’s mighty army dared to walk up to this giant—despite his taunts. And what of Goliath’s taunts? He said things like, “Am I a dog that you come at me with a stick?” He also curses David by his gods, “I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” King Saul and the army of Israel feared death at the hand of this Philistine. What of the shepherd boy? Although we read David …

Who is This King Called Jesus?

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days. – Micah 5:2 The long awaited ruler from Bethlehem mentioned in Micah is Jesus of Nazareth. He was born in Bethlehem and the angel testified, “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33). As you know, this Jesus was a different kind of King. But still, how could the angel say Jesus’ kingdom would never end, when we know Jesus died? If you go to Israel today, you won’t see Jesus sitting on any throne. If we look at the Gospel of John, John does not include an account of the birth of Jesus. However, we see John the Baptist give a stunning proclamation when he sees Jesus: Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! – John …

Is Church More Than Entertainment for You?

Football games, movies, game nights, conferences, concerts, and other events tend to bring us together. We really like to sit back and watch, and it seems like whatever problems plagued us before take a back seat to the entertainment. Sometimes we allow the church to become this. We get up on Sunday mornings, come to a building, and watch “church” happen. We can watch the sermon like we watch Netflix. We review the service on a scale of our own personal preference. But when it’s over, our problems come flooding back and we are rarely changed. If your team wins or loses the big game, you will remember it for a few weeks. If you really enjoy a show on Netflix, you might binge-watch it, cry a few times, and even remember a few quotes—but next month you will have moved on to something else. Likewise, if you watch the church instead of being the church, don’t expect anything to change in your life. If you have been united to Christ through faith, God has …

The Gospel has the Power to Drive Out Shame

Sin is ugly. Rarely does sin have only one consequence. More often, sin has a web of consequences. In John 4, we can see a few of those consequences playing out in the life of the Samaritan woman. First, the Samaritan woman came to draw water at the sixth hour, that is, about noon (v6-7). Why would anyone come to draw water at noon? The context seems to point to the fact that no one else was there during that time, except for Jesus. It’s speculated that the Samaritan woman came to the well at this time intentionally. She wasn’t coming to the well because she knew Jesus would be there, but likely to avoid shame she would feel in the presence of other people. There’s one consequence of sin—shame. Perhaps the shame she already feels is what led her to the well—all alone—at this hour. Sin also tends to separate us from other people. Whether we withdraw from community, or the community withdraws from us, sin can be found at the heart of this division. …

You Can Have Unshakable Confidence in Christ

Have you ever heard of Saint Augustine? Before his conversion to Christ, Augustine was known for his sexual appetite. He often indulged his flesh, as all unbelievers do in some form. While traveling, Augustine heard the gospel and responded in faith and repentance. Upon returning home, it is said that his former lover called out to him “Augustine, Augustine, it is I!” Augustine turned to her and said, “Yes, but it is not I.” Something changed in Augustine. His salvation not only altered what he believed in his mind, but also his desires and his will. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Paul writes, “For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if one died for all, then all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised” (CSB, emphasis mine). I wish I could draw out every single treasure in these two verses. I’m often overwhelmed by this passage of Scripture as …

Giving Grace To The Undeserving Spouse

He did it again. His wife is growing bitter as empty promises fill the room for the third time. “I won’t mess up again.” “I’ll do better.” “I’ll get help.” All words she’s heard before. Broken. Alone. Betrayed. Devastated. She begins to contemplate divorce. Reverse the roles and you end up with the same disappointment, the same hurt. I don’t think any other person has the power to hurt us the way our spouse can. As much potential as our spouse has to hurt us, it is also true that no other person on the planet can love us the way our spouse can. This has certainly been true for myself and my wife, Kyndel. We have both caused each other immense pain. However, the mountain tops are higher than any I’ve ever experienced. Matt Chandler, a pastor in Dallas, Texas, has said, “Love says: ‘I’ve seen the ugly parts of you, and I’m staying.’” What a powerful way to live out the gospel! Shannon hit the nail on the head on Sunday when he …