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God, I Don’t Understand …. September 15, 2019

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways. This is the LORD’s declaration. For as heaven is higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

So many times I don’t understand the workings of god. But in reality, am I supposed too? It is called faith- Faith to believe and trust that God will do all that he has promised. Sometimes I think we might be guilty of saying or thinking, “God, if you would like my opinion….” The problem is, however, I fear our opinion is not an opinion at all. Rather it is how we expect God to take care of an opportunity that has brilliantly disguised itself as a problem or challenge in life. It is during these times that faith can grow when trusting God’s promises as his child…..even if we don’t understand the why’s of the life situations.

Over the years, I have heard many statements such as, “I don’t understand why this is happening to me. I’ve been good and served God.” …. “I don’t understand. Why would God __________ (fill in the blank); they were/are such a good person.” “Why does God let all the bad things we see happening in the world, happen?” There will always be questions, but GOD IS ALWAYS in control. Again…..even though we might not understand the situations in life, we can trust God.
We will have faith in someone, be it self, Satan, or God. Hopefully your faith is in God, for he presently is, and will be, at the end of all things as we know it, in control. He is on his throne and is King of kings and Lord of lords. All things will be accomplished according to his will and in his timing, without exception.

To help us understand this truth, the Bible records events that show how God was in control of situations that happened in people’s lives….including his own. Here are a couple of examples.

Job Didn’t Understand:

Job was an extremely wealthy man, having 11,000 plus animals. He and his wife had a wonderful family of seven sons and three daughters. the Bible teaches that God described Job like this: “there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil. Job 1:8 & 2:3 ESV Think about that!! God described Job as the only one on the earth that lived with such a testimony. Who did he describe Job’s character to? Satan.

Satan, being a destroyer of all that God made good, told God the only reason Job served Him was because He had protected and blessed him, and Job would curse Him to His face if He hadn’t blessed him so. (Job 1:9-12) God allowed Satan to touch all that Job had, but he could not touch Job. (Job1:12) Believing he would curse God, Satan was more than happy to take everything (literally) from Job in one day- except his wife.

However, Job did not do so, but instead said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Job 1:21-22 ESV Now you can understand why God said of Job that there was “none like him on the earth.” Job 2:9-10 ESV

Satan again made a challenge to God concerning Job which involved his health. God allowed Satan to touch his health but not take his life. (Job 2:4-8) Job’s wife even came to him and said, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job DID NOT sin with his lips. Job 2:9-10 ESV I do not believe Job had any idea of the conversation between God and Satan… but in faith he still followed God, even without understanding why all this was happening to him.

Satan wars against all that God has made good and is more than happy to destroy you, as he tried to do with Job. There are many questions that can arise concerning the story of Job’s life, but there is one thing you can know… God was in control. God told Satan what he could and could not do. Note in Job 1:7 & 2:2 ESV … It says, “Satan answered the Lord.” And the truth is, Satan will always answer to God. God, who is on his throne, is and always will be King of kings and Lord of lords.

The Disciples Didn’t Understand:

Reflect back to the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus had finished praying, and they came to arrest him. Peter attempted to protect Him at one point, and all the disciple ended up running in fear. Then all the disciples left him and fled. Matthew 26:56b ESV The One they thought was going to be an earthly king was now headed to a cross, and they feared perhaps that they would be next.

Jesus would be king, but not in this world as they had hoped and presumed. At this point in time Jesus was the Lamb of God to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. Nothing that happened to Jesus was unforeseen by God. His arrest, his trial, and his crucifixion happened not by chance but just as it was foretold in prophecy in order that the scripture would be fulfilled. Even though the disciples did not understand, God was in control, and his plan of redemption was right on schedule as he planned.

Wouldn’t you and I perhaps have given God our opinion that he could implement a plan for the forgiveness of sin in a little less painful way than crucifixion? God wants us to see the cost and price of sin, and to see the cross and the suffering that Jesus endured so as to give us a clear picture of that cost.

I Don’t Understand:

I have received God’s redemption for me by his death, burial, and resurrection from the dead. In faith I confessed my sin before him and received the precious gift of forgiveness and eternal life given to me by God. But why would God, who can do anything that he pleases, choose to die in my place and provide redemption for me? I know the answer is love, and this is the correct answer. But again … why? He could have simply erased man from the easel of creation and started over. Isn’t that what we would have done, and have done, so to speak, to those who have done us wrong? If we could have given God our opinion, we might have said to erase them and start over.

But his thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours. His way is the way of mercy, grace, forgiveness, long-suffering/patience, and so much more than could ever be written, describing the awesomeness of God. There is so much I still don’t understand in my limited understanding of all that is. But this I believe: God is in control, and I am so thankful for his way of thinking and doing things, for it is much higher than mine. For me to think any differently would be to say I am my own God. I know the pat answers as to why, but I am still amazed and in awe of God, who is so much more than I could ever comprehend or explain in this life. So in faith, even in the struggles of life and my limited understanding, I will follow him.

APPLICATION:

Believe. In faith, believe all that you can understand, and when life does throw the unexpected that you don’t understand…. Believe and know God is in control despite the “whatever” in life. This is easier to write or say than do. This is why you look at the teaching of Job, the disciples, and a host of other accounts in the Bible concerning undisclosed outcomes for those who experienced them at the time.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 ESV …. He is the first and the last and the beginning and end of all things. (Revelation 22:13) HE IS GOD AND HE IS IN CONTROL, no matter what lie Satan will try to convince you is true. When struggling in the battles of unbelief, pray ….Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. Mark 9:24 God, who created us, knows we are frail and are dust. But God, whose thoughts and ways are unfathomable, died for this clump of dust and gave it life.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Fear …. September 8, 2019

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 ESV

The Bible teaches us to fear the Lord, and that is wise to do, (Psalms 111:10, Proverbs 1:7 & 9:10 ) but I thought we were told that fear is not of God. So why is there so much instruction concerning fearing God? For example in the Psalms we are taught over 60 times to fear God and in Proverbs more than 15 times. This is just two of the many books teaching the fear of the Lord. You might suggest this is just an Old Testament teaching, but it is not so. (Matthew10:28, Luke 1:50, Romans 3:18, 1 Peter 2:17) We can try to make it something else concerning the teaching of fear, but I believe if it was meant for something else, the word fear would not have been used. This sounds so contrary to how we are taught concerning God toward us. We hear that God is a loving God who would not send anyone to hell. As unpopular as this may be to say, God does exactly what he said he would do from the beginning…. punish sin. This is exactly what He did with his own Son on the cross at Calvary. His Son knew no sin and was the perfect lamb of God who took the punishment and wrath we deserved for our sins. This should help us understand the seriousness with which God looks at sin and, yes, should cause us to evaluate sin differently. When we sin, we are acting in total disobedience to God and ultimately wronging him by the choice to sin. David said to God concerning his sin, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgement.” Psalms 51:4 ESV. In a very general statement I believe this is part of the reason we see so little regard for the things of God in our day. There is no fear of the judgement of God for unforgiven sin. When God’s ways have become a way but not the way, and Satan has convinced many, just as he did Adam and Eve…. God really doesn’t mean what he says, then you have ceased to have a healthy fear of God. But the serpent said to the woman: “YOU WILL NOT SURELY DIE.” Genesis 1:4 ESV God said they would die and when they ate the fruit they experienced spiritual and ultimately physical death. God did not mince his words then and he doesn’t do so today.

I DON’T LIKE FEAR:
Fear is a most uncomfortable feeling, and I understand the reason why many may look at this message with much criticism. The fear I am teaching is not a negative fear but a healthy fear. It is an understanding that God is who He is and will do what He says, concerning sin. The lack of fear is to believe there is no consequence for our actions….. surly you will not die. Example: I don’t refrain from speeding just because there is a law that tells me how fast I can safely travel on a certain stretch of highway; I don’t because I understand there is a consequence if I do. If I do speed and a policeman pulls me over and tickets me, he rightly does so because I broke the law. When we honor the law, we do so for the fear of the consequence of breaking that law, and the one who has the authority to implement the consequence of breaking the law. It is not a fear that causes me to hide every time I see a policeman, for that is an unhealthy fear, but one the causes me to do what is right.

GETTING RID OF FEAR:
Wait, I thought you said we are suppose to fear? Don’t mistake worldly fear for Godly fear. The fact that God, knowing we are law breakers who, in truth, have not the ability to keep the law perfectly in love and mercy, paid our fine. God has no pleasure in judging the sinner according to their poor choices and inabilities. Thus He has provided a way for the consequence of sin to be paid. As sinners we come to God standing before him like in court and say, “I’m guilty as charged concerning the breaking of the law, but please have mercy upon me.” God, being just yet full of love and grace, provided a way to punish the sin but still have mercy on the guilty. God has provided the payment before you have ever come before him for judgement. For the sake of simplicity let me give you this example… Jesus has the payment for your fine of breaking the law and comes to give it to you. He tells you that God, the judge, will judge you guilty but wants to show mercy, “so He has told me to pay your fine before you ever arrive at your court date.” Your reply, “What a kind and merciful judge”, and you tell of his grace and mercy with much thanksgiving to all who will listen. Or, you will say, “No, I have kept every other law better than most and I’m not being that bad of a person; I can handle this on my own.”…… Tell that to the policeman who is writing you a ticket for speeding. That is why it is call the Gospel…. Good News!!! When we come before God, we will do so before his throne. He is King of Kings, and there will be no place in which to appeal. God, being just, will pronounce judgment. How He judges a person will depend upon what they believe. The person who says, I don’t need God, in essence has become their own god and will be judged accordingly. Remember, if Satan was and is no match for God, as powerful as He is…. you absolutely will be no match. You need an advocate who will intercede on your account. That advocate is Jesus, who will speak on your behalf and say, Father, this is one who received the payment you provided for their offense. Satan as prosecutor will cry guilty, and God will say the consequence for the offense is paid in full. It is called perfect love… God’s perfect love…. There is no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:17-18 ESV If God’s love is not in you by the Holy Spirit, the consequence of sin has not been paid in your life. To rid yourself of ungodly fear, you accept and believe in the love of God and in His Son, Jesus.

APPLICATION:
There is no secret formula for becoming a Christian, but the person who wants to rid themselves of their guilty status before God must first admit their guilt. The thief on the cross did this when he said, “Do you not FEAR God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for WE ARE RECEIVING THE DUE REWARD OF OUR DEEDS BUT THIS MAN HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” Luke 23: 40-43 ESV You admit and acknowledge your guilt and the perfect sacrifice, (Jesus), calling upon him for salvation. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 ESV If you are a Christian, tell the good news that you have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God, and though guilty, you have been pardoned. When you have been forgiven much, the natural reaction should be to love much, for you have been freed from the fear of death and the consequence of sin… Therefore go and sin no more, and share the gospel/good news that this is available for all who will call upon the name of Jesus.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Is This Even Possible …. September 1, 2019

Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on SIN NO MORE” John 8:11 ESV

The focus of thought is this…. is it possible to arrive at a point where we sin no more? The short answer is no. So why did Jesus tell the woman to sin no more? This is my understanding of Jesus’s teaching. Knowing we’ll never be sinless this side of heaven, Jesus instructs us to change the choices of life from which he has rescued us. The woman was caught in the act of adultery and, according to the law of Moses, should’ve been stoned. When her accusers left her, Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, ‘“No one Lord.” And Jesus said, “ Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8: 10-11 ESV Remember Jesus’s words concerning his purpose for coming into the world? For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17 ESV If we’re able to get to the point at which we never sin, we would reach perfection and there would be no need for a Savior, thus nullifying the meaning and purpose of the gospel. WE ALL NEED THE SAVIOR… JESUS!!!! May I share concerning two types of people and their attitude toward sin? These two types are just my thoughts. You may have other categories, but I wish to reflect upon these two in reference to today’s topic.

Those who do sin and simply do not care:
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity. Psalm 53:1 ESV
The person who does not believe in God will live by his or her own standards of right or wrong. Because God, in their thinking, does not exist, the issue of right or wrong as set forth by God also does not exist. There is no absolute truth (God) within this thinking, so moral and ethical decisions are based only upon what this person believes to be true. The definition of sin, as described in the Bible, is of little concern to this person, for their values are based upon their definition of right and wrong. The gospel of Jesus coming to die for our sin is a fairy tale, at best, to this persons.

Those who sin but want to sin no more:
No one who ABIDES IN HIM keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 1 John 3:6 ESV

No one born of God MAKES A PRACTICES OF SINNING, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:9 ESV

As a Christin you are saved by grace and not works of your own righteousness. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Jesus paid the debt for our sin upon the cross and set us free from the condemning power of sin. Satan accuses us before God because of sin and God’s reply is, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 ESV As Christians we understand the great price that was paid for our sin, and our desire should be to……SIN NO MORE. God never rescues a person from sin so they can continue to WILLFULLY live in sin. Because of the sin nature of a person, sin can and will continue to be a battle, but it should no longer define that person. The presence of the Holy Spirit in a
person’s life will never let that person sin successfully again. The Spirit will convict the true Christian of sin, and God will discipline those who sin and are His. (Hebrews 12: 3-7) The reason we should desire to sin no more is simple…. LOVE. If you love me, you will keep my commandments John 14:15 ESV … there was a Pharisee that ask Jesus this question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment.” Matthew 22:36-37 ESV Why would a person love God so intensely?….. Because they realize that they have been forgiven much. (Luke 7: 36-50)

Application:
How do we battle sin in our lives? First we acknowledge the fact that as a Christian you are the bride of Christ and to sin would be akin to having an affair. I know this sounds rather harsh, but unless you treat your sin harshly, you are in danger of embracing it. To battle sin you must know that you cannot do so on your own, for you are no match for the sin nature, so you use the word of God. I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 ESV Build up an arsenal of scripture in your heart/mind to use when the pressures of sin attacks. Also, stay alert….. Be sober minded ; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 ESV Finally, be dressed in God’s armor designed for spiritual warfare. ( Ephesians 6: 10-18) Live victorious in the strength and power of his might (Philippians 4:13) You may take some hits and arrows along the way, but praise be to God! you are more than conquerers in Christ Jesus.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

If I Were God …. August 25, 2019

What would you do if, for just one day, you could be God? Would you heal all the sickness in the world? Eradicate all pain, suffering, and evil from the face of the earth? Fix every situation that seems to not make sense as viewed through your eyes? Remove all prejudice, hate, and bullying? Make every day perfect …not too hot….not too cold? Death, oh yes… there would be absolutely no more death. You would make it so the lion and the lamb could happily rest side by side with no worries. In short, you would simply make everything perfect as you perceive perfection to be. Everything would be free under your direction as god…. as long as….. no one had a choice, for to give anyone a choice would mess it all up. Therefore everyone would be robotic in doing exactly as you determined by coming and going as you decreed. No, no , no, you’d say, everyone would be able to move freely in choice and enjoy life just as long as they don’t do anything to mess it up. So, in order to prove that they have freedom to make choices, I will show them a tree with fruit and tell them not to eat from it. I will tell them that if they eat from it, all that I made perfect will be lost. NOW you can’t say they are robots, for they have a choice.
Sooooooo, I ask, “What would you do if someone did eat from that tree?” Your response …. “I’d just erase them and start over in order to keep the world perfect.”
Now we know why we aren’t God. People can supposedly tell God everything he should be doing, and in doing so are basically telling him they could do a better job. If someone has a difficult time with believing God could exist with all the evil they see in the world, then they are focusing on the outward condition of things and not their inward self. God did make everything perfect, but the personal responsibility of the choice not to obey God is why things are as they are….. then and now. Every person must take responsibility for their actions and choices in life. You might say, “I didn’t choose a certain situation in my life.” To which I will respond, “But you can choose how you will deal with that situation.” Always remember we are created in the image of God, not created to be a god. He created us on purpose and for a purpose…. his purpose. God gave us a mind with which to reason and think …. thus we are not robots.
This is what I have observed over the years. Some people try to understand God by their own reasoning and make him fit in a box of their understanding. Then there are those who seek him as one would seek treasure, knowing his ways are unexplainable. These seekers know there is no box of reason that could contain him. In faith, treasure seekers understand God is the creator of all things, and while they have reason …. reason is not their God.
Unfortunately not much has changed since the garden…. people still listen to the temptation of Satan hiss…. “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 ESV The attempt to be God will only bring death and defeat just as it did in the garden. This world will never change until it understands that God’s thoughts and ways are always higher than ours.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55: 8-9 ESV

GOD’S THOUGHTS:
Have you ever made the statement, “What were they thinking?” Adam and Eve sinned in the garden and God sent them out of the garden knowing full well everything that would happen in the future. In today’s way of thinking this would be call a birth defect and the advice would be…. abort and try again. God, the creator of all life, does not think this way. Life is valuable to him and rather than abort life, he chose to be sacrificial by giving his own life through his son Jesus. God was wronged by our choosing to sin, yet he did not destroy the life he created. Adam and Eve were not robots then and neither are we today. God made it possible for us to be redeemed by restoring us to a right relationship with him. There are basically two choices. You can blame God for the world’s condition or accept responsibility for it and repent. Your choice, either way, will effect yourself and those around you. We might not understand what God was thinking when he chose to redeem rather than start over, but let me make a suggestion… he was thinking about you. (John 3:16)

GOD’S WAYS:
Two ways of life present themselves to us every day: God’s way and Satan’s way. God’s way is life and Satan’s way is death. God, from the beginning, created life and Satan introduced us to death. God’s way is higher than death, for he conquered death through his resurrection from the grave. He has made life possible for everyone that calls upon his name. He will give them the gift of eternal life through Jesus by forgiving their sins. For everyone that calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13 ESV

APPLICATION:
God’s ways and thoughts are beyond our comprehension, but not beyond our reach….Not beyond our reach for he reached out to us, becoming flesh and living among us. History is rich concerning his coming and there is only one thing for us to do: Believe! Search for God as one searches for treasure and when, in searching, you come to a place where you might not understand his way or thought….. keep searching in faith. Satan will try to convince you through lies and deception to live contrary to the teachings of God. Don’t let the reasoning of this world’s logic become more important than your reason for God. Live thankful!!!! Even though it didn’t make sense for God to send his Son to die in our place rather than start over… He still did it. That alone is reason enough to live for him.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

But God …. August 18, 2019

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 ESV
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV

Think about this for a moment…. GOD became flesh and died …. then rose from the dead, conquering death. Why? Answer…. Love. Couldn’t God have just as easily snuffed out Adam and Eve and started over? People ask me all the time, “if God is so good why doesn’t he do something about the world’s condition?” and I think ……. He did…. BUT GOD shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 ESV The question becomes, “why do we expect things to be different or better in this world if we don’t follow his teachings and commandments?” We can look at others all day and question the reasons they are doing this and that, but we cannot control them, nor should we want to…. we can only control our own choices. When I think about what would have happened to me if God had not intervened in my life, it causes me to love him more. What would have happened, You asked? I would have died unforgiven of my sin. BUT GOD did not let that happen because of his mercy, love, and grace.

BUT GOD’S MERCY
Rich in mercy- that describes one of God’s many attributes. His mercy covered all the consequences of my sins and for that I am grateful. I will not blame him for the failures in my life nor in the lives of others. He, in mercy, did not give me what I truly deserved, but instead he gave me life. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! ACCORDING TO HIS GREAT MERCY, he has cause us to be born again to a living hope through resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3 ESV Oh Lord, that more people could see their need for the gospel… the good news of the mercy of God.

BUT GOD’S LOVE
God has shown his love for us by doing something for the world far greater than many may ever see or understand. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV ….. For one would scarcely die for a righteous person— though perhaps for a good person one would dare even die—BUT GOD showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 ESV…… Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 ESV This last Bible verse reminds me of a verse of a precious hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bare, and what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.” (Joseph M Scriven)

BUT GOD’S GRACE
Grace, just as we sing in the song, is truly amazing. It was grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. It is by grace that we are able to see our sin and then understand that sin caused death; and without God’s forgiveness, we will be judged for/in our sins. (This is what we are ‘taught to fear’). When we look at the righteous requirements of the law in order to be justified before God, many words come to mind…. overwhelming, impossible, no hope, doomed, frustrated, and on this list of words could go. To be justified by the law would mean a person would have to keep the law perfectly, not breaking even one of the laws of God. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. James 2: 10 ESV
BUT GOD, by grace, made it possible for us to be forgiven of all sin and live justified before him. ( just- as- if-I’d- never- sinned)… (And grace my fears relieved.) This is NOT cheap grace, for it is grace made possible by the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22b ESV (Hymn)…. Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow. ( Elvina M. Hall 1865)

APPLICATION:
As a Christian, reflect this week upon the fact that if it were not for the …BUT GOD… experiences in your life, you would be without hope. You would have no testimony of the mercy, love, and grace of God in your life. Enjoy this time of reflection with such precious songs as ….Amazing Grace…. What A Friend We Have In Jesus….. and…. Jesus Paid It All. Give him the worship he is more than due….. To God Be The Glory ….. another great hymn you can sing.
If you are not a Christian, seek Him in the mist of whatever storm or life experiences that are happening in your life. He may not calm the storm, but He will go through it with you. Please understand that unless there is a BUT GOD moment in your life, all the above will be a moot point when you stand before him one day. The gospel is the good news that Jesus came and did all the above for you so that YOU can experience BUT GOD.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Blessed Life …… Jeremiah 17:7 …. August 11, 2019

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD. Jeremiah 17:7 ESV

In a world so infiltrated with the curse of sin, it is hard at times to see the many blessings with which God has blessed us. Satan’s desire is to destroy the joy that comes from these blessings, and in doing so, he destroys the strength that joy brings to the Christian. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b ESV It is spiritual warfare, and the battle ground is the mind which Satan desires to control. Make no mistake, spiritual warfare is real and at times can be overwhelming, but we have promises as Christians on which to stand…… He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4b ESV……. In the world you will have tribulations. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33b ESV….. for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13: 5b ESV There are many more promises / blessings on which to stand, but the question is this: Are you going to believe the lies of Satan or the truth and reality of God’s blessings? Believing and knowing does not always mean you will feel warm fuzzies inside, but believing produces a confidence and peace that only comes from believing. Let us look at past blessings, present blessing, and future blessings that only God has, does, and will provide for us.

PAST BLESSINGS:
We should never make the mistake of living in past blessings, but we also should not forget them. Remembering is important, but it is not a place for you to dwell. The reason it is important to remember past blessings is to praise God for the great things he has done. The people of Israel were delivered from Egypt by the hand of God, and God told them to move to the land in which he had promised them. The blessing of freedom they experienced was accomplished by the working of God, yet God did not free them to stay where they were. Had they not been obedient and left the land, I believe they would have ended up back in slavery. Remembering past blessings should increase the confidence we have in God to move forward in our walk and not to set up camp. Living in the past will make you a slave to the past.

PRESENT BLESSINGS:
God’s salvation by which we are saved / redeemed is a blessing, for we know that we have been redeemed by God though His Son Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3 ESV. (Read verses 4-14 to understand the full impact of this blessing) This blessing and all its benefits are not based upon any present circumstance you may find yourself in but rather upon the word of God. The world interprets blessings as a life with good health, being prosperous, and with few problems. I would agree these things are blessings, but they are only temporal blessings, whereas the salvation we have in Christ is eternal. When you focus on the temporal blessings, you will never totally grasp the blessings you have in Christ as a Christian.

FUTURE BLESSINGS:
No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV Only the Spirit of God could give insight to what is coming. For the Christian it is not humanly understood. I have often heard the statement concerning someone who has passed away, “They are in a better place,” and this is true if they knew Jesus as their Savior. However, in a better place is not what I think the future blessing to be. I believe the future blessing will be to look upon the face of God the Father and bow down to worship the one who saved me from my sins. When my faith has been made sight, and to live in the presence of my God, Creator, Redeemer, and Friend, is the true blessing of the future.

LIVING ON PURPOSE IN BLESSINGS:
As a Christian we know what we have been saved from, how we are to live, and where we are going…. past…present…future. To live in biblical blessings, one needs to read God’s promises /blessings from the Bible. Make it a goal this week to take your Bible and find as many promises and blessings as you can that we have as followers of God. Perhaps you might even want to make your theme song for this week, “CountYour Blessings”

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Learning to Pray …… August 4, 2019

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name.” Luke 11: 1-2 ESV

Have you ever wondered what words Jesus spoke when praying to His Father? His prayers obviously were purposeful and powerful, as his disciples asked him to teach them to pray. They understood there was something that happened in prayer that influenced a person’s life in relationship to God. Think of all the miracles Jesus has done…. He walked on water, gave sight to the blind, made it possible for the crippled to walk, gave a deaf person the ability to hear, and even told a dead man to wake up. Yet there is no request for teaching them how to do miracles, but how to pray. Jesus would often go to a secluded place and spend time in prayer with his Father. Prayer is relational and built on love for the Father. When Jesus honored the request of His disciples, he said, “When you pray say: “Father, hallowed be your name.” Luke 11:2 ESV Father is the key word here. To call and recognize God as Father is not just a title but it signifies that you know him on a much different level. Also it is important to remember that His name is Holy.

FATHER:
Prayer is understandably a communication to and from God. But to pray to God as Father is to know him personally as your God. It is not simply knowing about him…. it is knowing Him! How have we come to know God as Father? It is through Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV….. Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. John 14:9b ESV We can understand who God is and the character of God through His Son Jesus, but to know Him as our Father is only because we have believed in His Son Jesus and the salvation that we have in Him alone. We know him as Father not because we were conceived by the the Holy Spirit like Jesus was, but rather we have been born again by the Spirit of God with a spiritual adoption, being sealed by the blood of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead. So when we pray to him as Father, he hears us differently than he hears the world, and general prayers people pray. As an earthly father, I hear the words differently from my own children than I hear from other children. Obviously it is because they are my children; and therefore, we have a special relationship which is only present between me and my child.

JESUS’S PRAYERS:
Remember the question above, “Have you ever wondered what words Jesus spoke when praying to his Father?” One thing I believe for sure, because of scripture, is this- His words are not empty or
meaningless for the sake of anyone who might be listening. (Matthew 6:5-7) Listed below are prayers, places, and the way he prayed.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35 ESV

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. Matthew 14:23 ESV

After healing the leper, large crowds came…. But he would withdraw to a desolate place and pray. Luke 5:16 ESV

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. Luke 6:12 ESV

Now about eight days after these saying he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. Luke 9:28-29 ESV

Jesus prayed to His Father just before he was to start down the path of events leading to his crucifixion. This prayer was for his followers and all who would believe in Him…. All of John Chapter 17

Jesus, being in agony, prayed in the garden asking his Father if it could be possible for this cup (referring to the coming crucifixion) to pass from him. In fact he asked his father three times. (Matthew 26 39-44) Knowing his Father’s will, he said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Mark 22:42 ESV

HOLY IS YOUR NAME:
The third of the ten commandments states, You shall not take the name of the Lord in Vain. Exodus 20:7 ESV God’s name is precious and the very speaking of his name for the Christian should hold a place of honor, reverence, and praise. Many songs have been written that give honor and praise to his name, but in no place should His name be more revered than the heart of the Believer. Worship, praise, and honor should only begin to describe how we view God’s Holy name. David writes in Psalm 8:1 ESV, O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! There are many other Psalms which makes reference to praising the name of the Lord, ( Psalms 7:17… 18:49 … 30:4 … 66:2 … 66:4 … 69:30 … 92:1 … 99:3 …113:1 … 135:3 … 148:5 &13 … 149:3) just to reference a few. May just the whisper of
His name cause a spirit of worship to spring forth in the heart of every Christian.

APPLICATION:
When seeking to spend time alone in prayer with God, may it always begin with the acknowledgment of your relationship with Him and His precious name. When you pray, use one of the Psalms written by
David to begin your prayer time with God. Find a special place where you can spend time with God.
Jesus often retreated to the mountains to be alone….. Find your mountain place and visit it often in prayer with God.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT …… EPHESIANS 6: 18 ….. JULY 21, 2019

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplications. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplications for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 ESV

To pray in the Spirit, one must be a Christian. This is not implying that a person who is not a Christian is not able to pray, for that would not be true. God hears the the prayers of all who pray; but to pray in the spirit, you must have the Spirit of Christ in your heart. (Read Romans 8:1-11 concerning life in the Spirit.) The purpose of praying in the Spirit is to pray in harmony to the will of God. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 26-28 ESV

PRAYING AT ALL TIMES:
Praying at all times does not mean to be only hidden away in a closet somewhere on our knees, but also a lifestyle, communicating to God our love for Him. To have a conversation with another person, one needs to be in their presence or have the means by which to communicate. The Spirit is the means which enables us to experience the presence of God and communicate with Him in accordance with His will.
I DO believe that a closet time in which we verbalize our prayers and listen is important, but we also need to communicate our love for God with our lives. Praying / saying the words, “God, we glorify your name,” is important, but living on purpose as a Christian will cause our life to match our words. The old saying, “ Action speaks louder than words,” applies well here. Jesus said it this way to the Pharisees, “This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Matthew 15:8 ESV Living on purpose is not keeping a list of rules in order to show we are Christians; it is loving God the way Jesus taught. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12: 30 ESV ….. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells WITH YOU and WILL BE IN YOU. John 14: 15-17 ESV To think a person needs to keep a set of rules to be loved by God is wrong theology. God already loves us more than we can imagine. We keep his commandments to show how much we love Him. We live in a state of prayer in all we say and in the way we walk / live for Him.

KEEPING ALERT WITH PERSEVERANCE:
ALERT: the state of being watchful for possible danger.
PERSEVERANCE: steadfastness in doing something, despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
Over the last few weeks we have studied each piece of the spiritual armor that we are to put on and why….
That you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11
We are to ….. give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:27 ESV
We are to watch for danger….. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 ESV
Jesus gave us the greatest example of perseverance when he said upon the cross… “It is finished.” John 19:30 ESV… and calling out with a loud voice said, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit! Luke 23:46 ESV Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 ESV Life can, at times, seem like a race in which we can grow so weary, but we must, as Paul, persevere to the end. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 ESV

MAKING SUPPLICATIONS FOR ALL THE SAINTS:
SUPPLICATION…. the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly. In our verbal prayers to the Lord, we need to be making requests and interceding for fellow believers by asking for God’s blessings in their life. This is one of the ways we can fulfill the will of God, by caring for and loving each other enough to pray for one another. We as Christians are all dressing in the same spiritual armor for the same reason… to stand. There is power in prayer, and we should never neglect to build each other up in this power from God to overcome sin. In this way we can defend each other in our battle against all the devil will bring against us. Paul, in his writings, asked many times that fellow believers would pray for him. (Colossians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, Hebrews 13:18,) Paul also reminded many of those to whom he was writing that he was praying for them. (Colossians 1:3, Colossians 1:9, 2 Thessalonians 1:11, Philemon 1:4 ) May we never forget to pray for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

APPLICATION:
Love God on purpose with your actions and thoughts by following Christ’s example. Be imitators of God, as beloved children, And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1 ESV To do this effectively, you must study and learn as much as you can about the love of God. Love is a choice, and you need to know how to choose wisely. Secondly, commit to pray for fellow believes this week. You may want to take 5 or maybe 10 fellow believers a day and pray for them. Start with the ones you know best and pray for the specific needs in their lives and then pray for those who you may not know so well asking for blessings and strength in their lives. In doing so you are learning the love of God for others and you will personally experience a blessing in your walk with God.
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT …… EPHESIANS 6:17 ….. JULY 14, 2019

Take the helmet of salvation, and THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17 ESV

A sword can be used for defenses and to attack, but as Christians we use the sword to stand. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to STAND against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11 ESV The helmet as the word of God is for protection, and the sword as the word of God is to enable us to stand. Stand firmly in the truth of God’s word, and the fact that the battle has already been won. Satan is no match for the Sword of the Spirit. Obviously, this is not a physical sword we carry in our hand, but a sword we carry in our mind/heart. This sword of the Spirit is the word of God!

S-WORD OF TRUTH
In today’s world I’ve heard it said, “There is no absolute truth.” Fact is, however, that… Jesus is absolute truth … for those who believe and are Christians. Jesus said, I am the way, and THE TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 ESV As Christians we stand in this truth, for it was spoken and taught clearly to us by Jesus.

S-WORD OF POWER
For the WORD of the cross is folly to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the POWER of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV This is the s-word you use to stand against the devil when he whispers to you that God could never have saved you from your sins. The Devil will place doubts in your mind, attempting to cause you to question the salvation you have in Christ. However, when you know you have been redeemed by His blood that was shed for you upon the cross of Calvary, you can sing, “There is power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the lamb”. – (Lyrics – Lewis E. Jones.) The WORD / TRUTH OF THE CROSS, is the power of God to save. Against this, Satan has no weapon, so all he can do is attack you where you stand, but he is defeated. So stand strong in the word/truth of the cross.

S-WORD OF LIFE
When Jesus was teaching concerning himself being the bread of life, many questioned him and stopped following him. (John 6:22-59) So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE, and we have believed, and come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:67-69 ESV In Acts 5:19 An angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the WORDS OF THIS LIFE. As Christians, we stand with the same message, living, teaching, and preaching that Jesus is the word of life. What other message do we have? NONE! Jesus is the resurrection and the life we teach and believe, for without the resurrection we do not have a message upon which to stand. (1 Corinthians 15)

APPLICATION
As I taught last week, the helmet is for protection that God gives us accordingly and by His word. The sword is using that protection to stand against the Devil. The protection that God gives is no match for Satan…. Remember what Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they will NEVER PERISH and NO ONE WILL SNATCH THEM OF MY HAND.” John 10:28 ESV… The sword is using the word of God against the Devil by striking / blocking his blows of doubts, temptations, lies, and __________ (fill in the blank that applies to your life.) Remember in the desert when Jesus was tempted by Satan? In every temptation he used the words of God, His Father, to block / strike back concerning the temptation. (Luke 4:1-12) We have been issued the whole armor of God in order to stand, but it is of upmost importance to get spiritually dressed in it. The sword is sharpened and made effective by the word of God being implanted in your mind. What sin or temptation is strong in your life? There is a word for that…. literally!!!
Fear.. Psalm 23:4 I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Psalm 27: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
You can use these verses along with others God has given you, to strike / stand against fear. When you have an area of your life in which you are struggling, ask the Lord to give you scripture to battle / stand strong in life.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

THE HELMET OF SALVATION…… EPHESIANS 6: 17 ….. JULY 7, 2019

And take the helmet of salvation. Ephesians 6:17a ESV

The helmet of salvation for a Christian is the protection needed to be able to wear and utilize all the other pieces of armor properly. As I have said numerous times, “Every battle begins in the mind.” Protecting the mind is of upmost importance, for it is where battles are won and lost. It is extremely important to understand the salvation we have in Christ, for it is essential in protecting the mind. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 ESV ( Reading 1 Peter 1: 3-15 would be beneficial in understanding the whole context of this verse.) Years ago, when I worked for a company that introduced computers to help accomplish our daily tasks, a statement was made that I have remembered to this day: “Garbage in, garbage out.” In other words, the computer will only give out the information it has been given. How the Christian lives will be determined by how he or she believes, concerning the word of God. The beliefs and thoughts one feeds into the mind will determine what comes out. A few thoughts from scripture to remember concerning how Christians should live and believe are as follows: Be diligent to present yourself approved to… ( KJV, Study to show thyself approved unto)… God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV …. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12 &16:25….. Jesus said to him, “ I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14: 6 ESV….. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved. Acts 4: 12 CBS  When you grasp in your mind the grace by which you have experienced God’s salvation, you will live differently. (Ephesians 2:8-9) You will love God much when you realize and know that you have been forgiven much. (Luke 7: 37-50 ) Again…. what a person believes will determine how he lives.

WHAT IS THE HELMET OF SALVATION ?
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit — which is THE WORD OF GOD. Ephesians 6:17 ESV  We will study more concerning the sword next Sunday, but for now, I want us to look at the helmet along with the sword as the word of God. The word of God, as a helmet, is for protection. The word of God, as a sword, is used to fight spiritual battles. When putting on the helmet we must remember, IT IS the putting on of that which you know you already have. We aren’t saved only when we put on the helmet so to speak, for salvation is secured by the grace of God. IT IS the acknowledgement of His salvation already established in our mind / heart. IT IS the protection for our minds from the battles of doubt and insecurities thrown at us by Satan. IT IS…… THE WORD OF GOD being established in our mind, growing the hope and faith in which we stand.

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HOW DO I PUT ON THE HELMET OF SALVATION ?
As a child you were taught how to dress yourself physically. As a Christian you need to learn how to dress yourself spiritually in THE WORD OF GOD. Years ago my pastor gave me a Bible in which he wrote this quote, “Sin will keep you from this book and this book will keep you from sin.” Dressing ourselves spiritually is dressing the mind with the WORD OF GOD. His word of salvation is the helmet of protection for our minds. The less you know of his word, the more vulnerable to the attacks of Satan on your mind. As a Christian, you can never have too much of GOD’S WORD in your mind. How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your WORD. Psalm 119:9 ESV….. I have stored up your WORD in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalms 119:11 ESV….. Your WORD is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. Psalm 119:105 ESV  The spiritual battles and wars are real in life and the only protection is the HELMET OF SALVATION, WHICH IS THE…….. WORD OF GOD!

APPLICATION:
Our minds can feel like a vast battle ground in which, at times, the battles seem to become increasingly intense or never-ending. The first part of winning the battle is to remember you are protected by God’s salvation and secure in His hand. Jesus said this concerning a believer, “I give them eternal life, and they will NEVER PERISH and NO ONE WILL SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND.” John 10:28 ESV  Battles can be dark, and I want you to remember this phrase I once heard, “Never question in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.” When in the dark times you can not see clearly that God has redeemed you, do not let Satan cause doubt by whispering lies to you that you know are not true. When Satan strikes you with a blow of doubt, it might jar you, but your mind is protected by THE WORD OF GOD……… NO ONE WILL SNATCH YOU OUT OF HIS HAND…… NO ONE!!!!!  When you dress for battle, this is the helmet you put on…. GOD’S WORD.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

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