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Forgiveness …… March 10, 2019

     Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 ESV

     The Bible provides us instructions for living, for all areas of our lives. One such instruction is the need to forgive when wronged or hurt by someone. Not forgiving can be compared to having a cancer in the soul that causes much pain and destroys any hope for the joy and happiness one should be experiencing in life. When a person is unforgiving, it multiplies the hurt experienced. It can also be compared to a wound that is uncared for and becomes infected. It intensifies and prolongs the pain. In short, no good thing can come from being unforgiving. The best way to start the process of forgiveness is to follow the example set by Jesus.

BE KIND:
    Every action in life creates a reaction. The action of kindness can defuse a situation before it escalates into the action of destruction. Kindness is not weakness; in fact, it is quite the opposite, because it takes more strength to be kind when kindness is not deserved. Kindness is showing love toward a person even when that person may not deserve it. Remember how God loved us?
     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 – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his GRACE IN KINDNESS toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV
     Be kind to others by remembering the great kindness God has shown you…… even when it wasn’t deserved. God’s action created reaction in every person that has ever experienced His grace.

TENDERHEARTED:
     God wants to protect us by instructing us to have tender hearts. Tender hearts are teachable, but hard hearts bring destruction into a person’s life.
     Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, BUT WHOEVER HARDENS HIS HEART WILL FALL INTO CALAMITY. Proverbs 28:14 ESV
     Hearts are hardened when a person continues to do and go their own way with no regard to how God has called them to live. God has called us and instructed us to forgive others when they have wronged us.

FORGIVING:
     Have you ever heard the question, “How can I ever forgive them for what they have done to me?” Remember, forgiveness is setting yourself free from the pain and bitterness that will consume you if you don’t. Does a person who has hurt or sinned against you deserve forgiveness?…. probably not, but then neither did we, concerning our sin. (Romans 5:8) To forgive a person who has wronged you is to show outwardly what Christ has done for you inwardly. It is giving evidence of Jesus in your life and hopefully causing that person to see their need for salvation.
     Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21 ESV
     Some might see this verse as a way to get even through kindness, but I do not believe that to be the intention of this passage. Rather, the “burning coals on his head” is God’s conviction of sin that will never rest until either destruction or repentance occurs. The hope of our actions is that we can overcome evil with good by seeing repentance and the salvation of God experienced in that person’s life.

APPLICATION:
     How can a person ever live with a forgiving mindset? By dressing the mind with God’s wardrobe.
     Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, FORGIVING EACH OTHER; AS THE LORD HAS FORGIVEN YOU, SO YOU ALSO MUST FORGIVE. Colossians 3:12-13 ESV

     This might seem extremely difficult, but remember… I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 ESV

Live strong in the Lord by living His word on purpose in your life!!

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Contentment …… March 3, 2019

     Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Philippians 4:11 ESV

     Contentment is a rarity in our society of want and perception of need. It can drive people to an early grave whose life goal seems to be obtaining more and more of the things which are really not important. Do not misunderstand, we are tremendously blessed, and I believe all the material blessings that we have, came from God.  But we also must remember as Christians …… God owns it all. When we hold tightly that which God has given to us, those thing tend to own us. When holding things tightly, your happiness will begin to depend upon those things. In reality you are in the prison of greed and status pride. Godly contentment is enjoying all that God has given you with thanksgiving, but knowing that your happiness is not tied to those things. It is also being thankful when you have not been blessed with things and being thankful when you are in want or need. Contentment is loving God and using things, not loving things and using God. When God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is the focus of your life, as the old hymn says, “The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
    We must remember our position as Christians in Christ and not let the logic of our day rule or control our minds. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. BUT IF WE HAVE FOOD AND CLOTHING, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 ESV  This is not the normal mindset of a person – to only think about food and clothing; if not careful, the eyes will feed the greed in the heart. Greed believes you need and deserve more than you have already been blessed with. So what is the answer to “how much is enough”? According to scripture, if we have food and clothing we have enough. Let this cause you to look at everything else you have and realize you have been materially blessed beyond measure. But don’t let your happiness or contentment depend upon these material blessings. These words are easy to write or speak, but remember this mindset is one that is learned; it does not come naturally to the flesh. Paul made this evident in the verse above when he wrote, “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

DON’T JUDGE OTHERS:
     It is dangerous to look at the blessings of others and judge them for how they are managing the blessings of God in their life. This is not your place or responsibility, for it is God who will judge. When judging, you become outward/worldly focused, and it can cause a jealous spirit. You will compare the blessing of your life with what you perceive to be the blessings of another, and jealousy will begin to take root. Jealousy and contentment go together like water and oil…. they simply don’t. Paul, in the passage above, was speaking as to how he lived in all circumstances; may we learn from this and become light in the world by how we live. Let us look inward, learning how to live godly, that we might shine outwardly, bringing God glory. (Matthew 5:16)

APPLICATION:
     If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on the things that are on the earth. Colossians 3:1-2 ESV  This verse would be a good verse to focus upon this week while reflecting upon Philippians 4:11.  When thinking about Jesus, remember that when he walked upon the earth, he did not have earthly riches, but came to do the will of His Father. Christians are followers of Christ, and we must remember as servants that we are not greater than our master. (John 13:16 … 15:20) Let us not lose focus, no matter what our circumstances – be it blessed with plenty, or in need. Learn to be content by focusing on what is important …. our walk and relationship with God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

True Wisdom …… February 24, 2019

     The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10 ESV

     The Bible teaches in multiple places that we are not to fear, yet in Proverbs 9 it teaches us that fear is the beginning of wisdom. The fear as taught in Proverbs 9 is not the type of fear that is crippling, but a fear that is related to reverence or respect. For example, fearing a police officer would be wise if you consider breaking the law. He or she has the authority to give a ticket or arrest you. This is not a fear that makes you afraid of the officer, but a fear out of respect for the authority and the law that the officer represents. Jesus teaches in Luke who we are not to fear and who we should fear. I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I warn you whom to fear: fear him who after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Luke 12:405 ESV   There is only one person who has this authority, and that is God the Father who sits upon the throne of heaven. This authority was taught by Jesus concerning the final judgement. Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 24:41 (ESV)

FEAR OF THE LORD:
     And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered MY SERVANT Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who FEARS GOD AND TURNS AWAY FROM EVIL. Job 1:8 ESV   Two important facts to glean from this verse are: Job was a servant, and, in fearing God he turned away from evil. I am concerned that in our culture, few people have ah healthy fear of God. Note, I said “healthy” because a healthy fear is fueled by belief in the truth of what God is – a God of His word. God will NOT reward evil and judgement WILL come because of evil. (Galatians 6:7-8)  Grace is a sweet gift of God and covers a multitude of evil. But grace should NEVER be used as a ticket to sin. (Romans 6:1 & 6:15)  Biblical fear of the Lord is a healthy fear.

BEGINNING OF WISDOM:
     We all need a starting point in everything we do. I dare say most people want to consider themselves to have grown or be growing in wisdom. Recognizing God as the Bible teaches – as HOLY – should remind us that we too are to be holy. It is our calling as Christians… 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. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-14 ESV  Wisdom is knowing the authority of God and the authority that He has over your life and then living accordingly. It is “TURNING AWAY FROM EVIL”, not embracing or making excuses for sin. It is, as stated last Sunday, “Living on purpose for God.”

KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY ONE IS INSIGHT:
     The more you know about God and the righteous requirement of the law, the more you will see your need for Jesus. What we could never do in fulfilling all the requirements of God’s law, Jesus did on the cross. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things the of flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Sprit. Romans 8:3-5 ESV  The more you know about God, the more you will realize all that he has done for you, and if you have any wisdom you will love hime more every day. (Luke 7:47)

It is almost a continuing circle…. you fear the Lord….. causing you to gain wisdom…. then you gain knowledge and insight, which causes you…… to fear the Lord……. gaining more wisdom…. …… gaining more knowledge and insight….. on and on this could go. We are not redeemed by works, but our works are the proof of our redemption that happened because of Jesus. So let me encourage you to develop a healthy fear of God, and as a result……. live on purpose the life you have been given by the Holy God we serve.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Persevering, By Living Well…… February 17, 2019

And let us not grow wary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 ESV

     The two verses right before verse nine read as follows….. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Vs. 8-9 ESV) Every life is a garden, and we are given seeds of choice to plant in this garden. A question needing to be answered is: what are you planting in your life garden? Seeds of ….. faith or unbelief …… love or hate …… hope or despair? The list of comparisons could become long, but I hope you understand my analogy. Another way to look at this is: every choice has a consequence, be it good or bad. What choices are you making that will affect your behavior, desires, and overall direction in life? Most importantly, how will those choices affect your eternity? The best seeds or choices are not always the easiest to grow, and many times it takes much more work. It would be easier to let the weeds of sin grow and make choices that gratify the flesh, but as Christians we have been called by the grace of God to a higher calling. So live on purpose for God, and remember…………

LET US NOT GROW WEARY OF DOING GOOD.
     In order to not GROW weary in doing good, you must prepare the garden of your heart with faith, hope, and love. (1 Corinthians 13)  When you cultivate the soil of the heart with faith, enrich it with hope and water it with love; then the fruits of the Spirit will grow. You must also keep your life in full view of the Son. On a package of seeds you are instructed how far apart and deep to plant the seeds and how much water and direct sunlight is needed for them to grow properly. In the Bible we are instructed how to live and grow healthy in order to not grow weary in life. One other important ingredient in order to not grow weary is to remember to infuse plenty of grace into the soil of our heart. You will grow works that can be bitter due to the absence of grace.

IN DUE SEASON WE WILL REAP.
     When planting a garden you water it, keep weeds pulled out, and enjoy watching the growth of your labors. The ultimate rewards of planting are reaping and enjoying the fruits of those labors. While working, preparing, and planting, one must always remember that it is God who provided everything for us and causes the growth. The real work, honestly, is accomplished by God. We simply reap the benefits of His mercy and grace. When I was a small child my parents planted a large garden, and they would let me come alongside them with a small garden hoe. I would attempt to do what they did, but obviously I was small and could not begin to accomplish all that was needed. If that garden depended upon me and my efforts, it would not have been much of a garden at all. However, I enjoyed the harvest, and they made me feel a part of what they accomplished.

DON’T GIVE UP:
     Pulling weeds from the garden can be frustrating because it seems no sooner have you finished than they have grown back. This is especially true when you get busy and haven’t evaluated the garden daily. I have heard some people say concerning a garden that is overtaken by weeds, “I quit”. Sadly, this is not only true involving an earthly garden but also a spiritual garden. You will give your time to what you deem to be important; if you truly believe it to be important, then don’t quit. If your life depends upon what you reap to survive, would you have enough harvest to sustain you or would you give up? Never give up on living well. We reap what we sow; and if you sow of the flesh, you will reap the results of the flesh; but if you sow of the Spirit, you will reap the results of the Spirit. While we are saved by grace, we work to keep the weeds of sin out of our life garden. When driving or walking by a person’s garden that is well kept, one might say, “What a beautiful garden”. This garden didn’t happen by accident. It took a lot of work. May those who look at our life as a Christian say, “What a beautiful life”. They may not see all the work that it takes to present yourself as a life lived well, but they will see the results of the grace that God has provided in your life. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 ESV  Growing a healthy life garden does not happen by accident. It happens by a person who doesn’t give up!

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Working Diligently…… February 10, 2019

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23 ESV

I once had a plaque that had this little phase, “My Work Is Part Of My Worship.” Have you ever thought of your work in this way? As a Christian I believe it is important to look at your work in this fashion, and in general how you live your whole life. It is a testimony of your faith when you do what you do for God- on purpose. Understand, when we do it for the Lord, then it is part of our worship.

WHATEVER YOU DO:
     As Christians we need to be a testimony to the world by how we live everyday. So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD. 1 Corinthians 10:31  I once heard the statement , “Go and witness for the Lord and if necessary use words.” This statement sounds good and holds truth, though I still believe it is necessary to use words to tell / proclaim the gospel. But it is important for your actions to match your words.

WORK HEARTILY:
     As I stated above, “My work is part of my worship” illuminates your work as a Christian, as being a witness to others. In reality as a Christian, everything about you should change to focus upon the Lord. Paul said it like this to the men of Athens, “In him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28 ESV  God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit should become the focus of who you are as a Christian. Let me encourage you not to think just physical work, but also working with the mind. Remember a few Sundays ago when I said, “Everything begins in the mind.” I believe that every good or evil thought and intention originates consciously or unconsciously in the mind. This is why Romans 12:2 addresses this issue, Do not be conformed to this world,  but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)  This may be the most challenging work you do….. changing how you think. If we work with the goal of changing ourselves into the image of Christ, we will be more effective in influencing others to look to him.

AS FOR THE LORD AND NOT FOR MEN:
     Don’t evaluate your work or actions in the work place or world by comparing yourself to others but by performing for God, which makes your life have a higher calling. Isn’t that what this verse actually teaches us by saying…for the Lord and not for men? In the context of this verse Paul is actually addressing slaves when working for their master. Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Colossians 3:22 CSB  Paul is not promoting human slavery, but he is encouraging kingdom purpose living in whatever situation you are in. In reality, everyone is a slave, either to sin or to righteousness. (Romans 6:15-23) Living as a slave to sin has a much grimmer outcome than that as a slave of righteousness. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 ESV

     In no way is this teaching that you are made right with God through works. It is teaching how to live once you have been made right with God. The work of being in a right relationship with God was done on the cross by His only Son Jesus. Remember…..For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV  James addressed this when people were bragging about works for salvation. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  Perhaps another way to look at this is, “I would hate to think I would work less under grace than under the requirements of God’s law. If you have been redeemed by the blood of the Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, then it is impossible to live as you may have once lived. Your works give evidence of His presence IN your life, not for the salvation OF your life. Again, God has already completed the work of salvation through His only Son on the cross. The question which we must answer is, “Am I going to follow Him? and if I say I follow Him, does my life give evidence of it through how I work / live?

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Being Alert …. February 3, 2019

     Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Mark 14:38 ESV  Matthew 26:42 ESV

     Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane the night He would be arrested, experiencing great agony in spirit, knowing the death he was about to experience. In fact, he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36 ESV  Jesus knew what was about to take place, but His disciples did not. In fact, they slept when Jesus’s suffering had already begun. How easy it is to relax yourself into a lull, to the point of sleep, not realizing the dangers and challenges to be faced. Everything for the disciples was good, or so they thought. They were in the presence of the Messiah; what could possibly go wrong? He had walked on water, given sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk, fed thousands with a sack lunch, calmed the storm with a simple command, and on and on the recounting of miracles could go. He had challenged the religious leaders of the day in ways no one else could have ever done and always silenced their challenges. This was God’s Son in the flesh….This was God. Yet, in His flesh he told His disciples to watch and pray. To stay alert to the unexpected attacks you will experience in this world. Watching and praying is being proactive and not reactive. Prayer is the action we take, not only when things go bad, but also before and when things become challenging in life. It is the guarding of your soul, not against what may come, but against what will come in this broken world. It is spending time preparing – before the battles, not only in the battles. Jesus spoke to His Father before the cross and on the cross… remember these words… Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34 ESV Prayer is the verbal relationship we have with God and will help us keep watch over our lives from day to day.

PRAY WITHOUT CEASING  1 Thessalonians 5:17
     This is the way our relationship with God should be. To pray without ceasing is to be in the mental presence of God throughout the day. I do not believe it means to aimlessly be murmuring repetitious prayer all day long. When there is not a specific reason for which to pray, then pray with praise and worship from the scriptures; for this will keep you alert in your daily walk. For example, “Lord I am thankful that I can do all things because you strengthen me.” (Philippians 4:13) Lord, Help me be a doer of your word and not a hearer only. (James 1:22) I encourage you to find a scripture and use it in a prayer throughout the day; this will not only help you memorize that scripture but also make you more aware of His daily presence in
your life.

WATCH FOR THE LIONS:
     Be sober minded; BE WATCHFUL. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 ESV
     The first assumption I will make here is that you recognize Satan as your adversary. If he is not your adversary, then you are not where you need to be. It means you are running with him and not from from him, and at some point you will be his lunch. We need to learn how to flee from him and run to God. (1 Corinthians 6:18 & 10:14 ….. 1 Timothy 6:11 … 2 Timothy 2:221) Fleeing from Satan is not showing weakness, it is running toward your source of strength. Sin doesn’t just happen. There is normally a set of circumstances that presents itself over time, and then the fall. Picture a lion sneaking upon its prey slowly, then pouncing with an all out attack. The lion takes many slow steps before pouncing… be watchful, for his method has not changed from the time of Adam and Eve in the garden.

KNOW YOU ARE WEAK: Romans 8: 3-11
     We could never accomplish in the flesh what Jesus accomplished upon the cross; why would we ever think we are strong? To realize your weakness is the first step in being strong in the Lord. It is knowing when to run. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore my beloved, FLEE. 1 Corinthians 10: 12-14 ESV

The words of Jesus to the disciples in the garden that night are just as applicable to us today. I am afraid that many today have fallen asleep, unaware of the storms that are coming. Yes, God is in control. Yes, everything is happening as foretold, and God is all-knowing of past, present, and future. Remember, however; that all that happened in the garden was not a surprise to God, but the disciples were still told to watch and pray. So let us receive the same message as followers of Christ today. Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:38 ESV Matthew 26:42 ESV

AS CHRISTIANS WE NEED TO STAY ALERT !!!!!!!!

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

STRENGTH JANUARY 27, 2019

     And you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your STRENGTH. Mark 12:30 ESV

     To have strength in the Lord you must acknowledge that He is your strength. He is your strength when He is your focus. However, when sin becomes the focus, you lose sight of God. Sin begins to weaken you by placing burdens upon you that you were never intended or able to bear. It is His abiding presence that we should pursue in order to exercise this strength. Seek the Lord and his strength; see his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV  Remember, exercising the mind in the things of the Lord to gain spiritual strength is just as important as exercising the body for physical strength. I have heard many use the verse Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me, when attempting to accomplish a difficult physical task. In context however, this is referring to the challenges that we faced in our minds. Circumstances of life that weigh on the mind can bring us down both mentally and physically. When overwhelmed mentally, we can lose joy. And when we lose joy, we lose strength. It is important to remember…. the joy of the Lord IS your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b ESV  So, knowing strength comes from him, how do we grow in this strength, to love him more every day?

LIVE:
In him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28a ESV
 Our lives should define who we are in Christ by how we live every day.  When Mary and I got married, we ceased to live at separate locations. We ceased to be two separate people, in spirit. We became as one flesh abiding together and growing to love each other more every day. So it is as the bride of Christ. We are joined together in relationship with God through Christ, and we are defined by this relationship. God is not just someone to visit on Sunday. He is the address of our soul. The more I grow my relationship with God, the more I grow to love him. The more I understand the sacrifice He made for me, the more precious He becomes to me. This is never more real in my life than when I live, move, and have my being in Him. His strength of love for me becomes my strength to love Him back. This strength doesn’t come from knowing about Him, but knowing Him as Savior, Redeemer, and Friend.

WORSHIP
     When I think of worship, I think of joy. I have never encountered anyone worshipping God without experiencing the joy that comes from knowing Him. The Joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b ESV  This is not saying you have strength only when everything is going great in your life; rather it is strength from the joy of knowing God’s abiding presence in your life, in every circumstance of life. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV  This is why Peter and the apostles were able to rejoice in suffering (Acts 5:41)  Worship, as love, is a choice the Christian should always make. In life as a Christian you will show strength in loving God by worshipping Him always…. NO MATTER WHAT!

     Do not be burdened down by weakness, but focus on the love that God has shown you in Christ Jesus. Love requires you to have strength, and some of the strongest people I know …. have love …. especially those who love God.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

The Mind January 20, 2019

     And you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all yourMIND, and with all your strength. Mark 12:30 ESV

     Everything begins in the mind, for this is where battles are won and lost in life for every individual and Christian. It is the battle ground where Satan attacks a person with lies and half truths that cause confusion, frustrations, fear, and on this list could go. When a person fights these battles in his or her own strength, the only outcome will be loss and failure. The person who thinks they are strong and can take care of themselves, underestimates the power of Satan. I once heard a story that went something like this. A person said, “There was no God” …. which is a lie Satan attempts to perpetuate in the mind of this person and anyone else who will believe such a lie. This person lived their whole life with few apparent problems; and from all outward appearances, he seemed quite happy and successful. This person appeared to move freely in and out of all the doors of life. However, where he lived was in the prison of sin which he denied could hold him or would have any consequences. The door to that prison cell of sin is open, and he seemed to move about freely, often boasting of his personal freedoms. This was true until one day the door of life closed, and in death the door to that prison of sin also closed, never to open again. No more freedoms and no more brags, for the door is locked for all eternity. This person may demand for the door to be opened, but Satan laughs and says, “I won your mind, and now I have won you.” In the cell of his sin and death he had become a trophy for Satan. This is obviously allegorical, but the real outcome at the end of life without Jesus and His Salvation is JUST AS FRIGHTENING!

The past two Sundays we have defined Christianity as loving God on purpose with our heart and soul and this Sunday I want to share how we love God with our minds.

WE GIVE NO PLACE TO THE DEVIL:
     For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5 ESV
     When I have an object of value, I put it in a safe place in order to protect it. I do not and will not place it where it might be broken or damaged. If we set our minds upon this world, we are placing it in danger, for the mind should be protected by the Spirit of God. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 ESV

WE MAKE NEW LIFE THOUGHTS:
     Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may decree what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV
     In the life of a person who has become a Christian, a process of reprogramming the mind begins. In the computer world there is a phrase- garbage in, garbage out. In other words, if you program into the computer that 2+2= 5, then when seeking the answer for this equation, the computer will always tell you 5 until you renew the answer to the correct number 4. Seeking to be right in our own way is like programming our minds with a way we deem to be true. Proverbs 16:25 gives you the result of such thinking. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

WE FOCUS UPON GOD:
     If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your MINDS on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2 ESV

     This is how we accomplish both giving no place to the devil and making new thoughts. Our focus in life must be a single focus upon God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the most important of all we do as Christians, for to focus here is to set your mind in a safe place and to learn the new way of thinking that will change how you live. It is gaining the correct answers to all the problems and challenges life has to give.

     The best way to accomplish the above three thoughts is to spend as much time as possible in the word of God. To place scripture in your mind as a Christian is like reprograming our minds to love God more. It fills our minds with truth and not the garbage of the world. This is how we can love God with all our mind.

Because of HIs Grace ~ Pastor David

HEART & SOUL JANUARY 13, 2019

     My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalm 84:2

     When God created man, He breathed into him the breath of life. (Genesis 2:7) This breath took Adam from being flesh made from dust to being a living soul. The soul is the part of life which is deep inside a person, and as long as the heart is beating the soul remains. When the breath of life leaves the body, the soul leaves the body, and life in the flesh as we know it, dies. Understand, we were created on purpose and for a purpose. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Psalm 150:6 ESV  The heart and soul are synonymous when describing life. The soul makes up the mind, will, and emotions of a person whereas the heart is what keeps the life-flowing blood moving through our body. Through out the Bible these two parts of who we are, are often used to describe life, both physical and spiritual. Last Sunday, when defining Christianity, I used a passage from Mark’s gospel as spoken by Jesus, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 ESV  Obviously this covers the whole make-up of a person when loving God, but today I want to give thought on two specific parts …..the soul and heart.

THE SOUL:
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord;….. Psalm 84:2a ESV
     This Psalm describes someone desiring to be in God’s presence more than anything else. It’s a life that desires with “an overwhelming want” to be where God is. This is someone who wants more than simply being acquainted with God; he wants to KNOW Him, to be with Him, to be touched by Him, to walk with Him…….. This happens from deep within the person who is seeking after the things of God. The more they taste and see that the Lord is good, the greater their appetite grows for more of Him. (Psalm 35:8) This is a person who seeks God not because He is hiding, but because He desires to experience more of his presence in his life. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 ESV  This is how you [l]ove the Lord your God with all your SOUL…. Mark 12:30a ESV

THE HEART:
My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalm 84:2
     Heart and flesh show the more visible aspects of what is in the soul. The heart here can represent both the inner life of the soul and the outer life of the flesh for it is tied to both. The inner, because it reflects the soul’s desires, and the outer, for it proclaims it with song, praising God. A person can perform/sing with an outer expression, but that might be all that it is… a performance …. but for the soul that is longing for Him, it is more than a performance. It is a burning desire for God to know you love and worship Him. I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before gods I sing your praise; Psalm 138:1 ESV  This is one who wants to bring God much glory….. I give thanks to you,O Lord my God, WITH MY WHOLE HEART, and I WILL GLORIFY YOUR NAME FOREVER. Psalm 86:12 ESV

     Love is taught the same way hate is taught…. by actions. It is important, as Christians, that we express our love for God with our speech, actions, and walk. Anyone can call themselves a Christian, sing, or talk a good talk, but to do these three with joy is to desire, long, faint for the presence of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in your life. Otherwise you are just religious, and religion without God is burdensome. Desire to live in His presence, and you will experience the Joy that will make you want to sing of your love for Him…. forever.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

DEFINING CHRISTIANITY JANUARY 6, 2019

     “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 ESV

     This past week I have asked different individuals to define what it means to be a Christian. I have read from blogs and discussion forums on different internet sites. This has proven interesting to me, with the many different views and explanations I have received. I have heard some say, “It is to be a follower of Christ”; others described a lifestyle that should be lived, and some expressed rather different definitions. This is a definition I would like for you to consider in the defining process: “living a life dedicated to finding ways to love God”. Every person who is a Christian, is so, because God has shown and has given love to us through His Son Jesus. Being a Christian isn’t just about living by certain standards of do’s and don’t’s. It’s about living a life of loving God on purpose. Think about it this way. I follow God because I love Him. I live, choosing a certain way of doing or not doing something, as an expression to God of my love for Him. In one word….LOVE…Christianity can best be defined. Love should be the address of every Christian. We should live in a subdivision called Love with street names like Faith, Hope, Joy, Praise, Kindness, Generosity, Forgiveness, and on the list of streets names could go. It is a place where Christians live, not a place they visit. The foundation for all the houses in this subdivision has been laid by and is Jesus. Jesus never gave the name “Christian” to those who followed him; this happened for the first time at Antioch. (Acts 11:26) In fact, only two other times in the bible was the name “Christian” used: Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. Jesus never said you should call yourselves Christians, but He did give us the material with which to build. This later caused others to attach the name “Christian” to the believers of Jesus.

LOVE ME:
     If you love me you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV ….. Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23 ESV  This is living on purpose and for the purpose of loving God. Psalm 119:11 ESV  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. You do not memorize and live the Word to impress people but to love God. Being a Christian isn’t about having a ticket to Heaven, but believing and accepting the good news of the gospel that Jesus has saved/rescued you from death, and you live, loving and expressing gratitude every earthly day you have left.

LOVE IS THE GREATEST:
     1 Corinthians 13 is often described as the love chapter and teaches what love is and is not. The last verse after all the teaching and description of love says this, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three: but the greatest of these is love.” verse 13 ESV  Once again I remind you, love is where we live/abide. The love for God will be what matters when you enter into your eternal home, not the stuff described by some as being a Christian. Remember the words of Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 7:21 ESV  So what is the will of the Father?  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone WHO LOOKS ON THE SON AND BELIEVES IN HIM should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:40 ESV  As I have often said, “What you believe will determine how you live.” If you believe John 3:16 and believe in Jesus as the Son of God who took away your sin, you will live loving Him on purpose.

LOVE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT:
    It was asked of Jesus what is the most important commandment, and Jesus gave this answer, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 ESV  When you are living/loving God on purpose, it will be more evident that you are a Christian by how you live than by what you say; just as the cliche says, “Actions speak louder than words.”

My challenge to you this day is to live/love as instructed by Jesus in Mark 12:30. Do this, and others will know that you are a Christian.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

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