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Becoming A Disciple of Jesus .… November 3, 2019

     People do not generally wake up one day and say, “I am going to be a follower of Jesus Christ.”  However, in the course of that day, they cross paths with someone, or they experience something that introduces them to Jesus in a way they have never heard, seen, nor understood before.  Many know about God but never really knew him, while others knew nothing of him, yet in both situations they came to know him as the Lord, Savior, Redeemer, Master and King of their life.   What made the difference?  The drawing and insight that comes only by the Holy Spirit.

The drawing is something that really cannot be described, but it happens from deep within.  It is more than a feeling, and yet it is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.  It can take place in the mind, gut, heart, or however else you would try to describe the experience, but it is unique to the individual person.  I have heard many testimonies over the years, and one thing I have come to understand is that it seems to be expressed in people’s lives differently, yet it is just as real in each individual person.  One person will say, “I really didn’t feel anything. It was something I just knew that happened to me.”  Another person might not be able to stop shouting, or weep uncontrollably.   I’ve even seen some laugh with uncontrollable joy.  It’s the same Jesus that they all experienced and followed that day, but just as our personalities are different, so can our experience of becoming a disciple / follower of Jesus Christ be different.  The reason is that the Holy Spirit works in everyone’s life individually.  That is why we call it many times a personal relationship with Jesus. 

So I come to the point I would like to ask today, “Do you know him as a follower, which is personal, or do you just have a knowledge of him?”  If you just have knowledge of him, I want to introduce you to a path you can follow to become….. a disciple /follower of Jesus.  You may ask, “How would I know if the Holy Spirit is speaking to me and drawing me to be a follower?”  Answer…. if you are interested in what I have just written perhaps you might need to stop at this point and just pray this simple prayer,  “Holy Spirit, help me, show me,  and reveal to me how to become a follower of Jesus.”  So let us begin the walk down the path.

BELIEVE:

     If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and BELIEVE in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one BELIEVES and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  Romans 10:9-10 ESV

    The thief  on the cross did not say any fancy words. He simple said, “Jesus , remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Luke 23:42 ESV   Jesus replied to him, “Truly , I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  Luke 23:43 ESV  Where is the believing in this statement?   It is in the heart, which represents life.  I believe the heart is used to describe spiritual birth because we understand from a physical sense that without a heart,  you cannot live.  Always remember that how a person lives gives living proof of what’s in the heart.  When you believe, you will live differently because the Holy Spirit will take up residence in your heart.   (1 Corinthians  6:19 ) 

The confession of the mouth is simply what you believe, that has changed in your heart and is evident by the way you live.  You believe Jesus is Lord not just over the world but over you and that God raised him from the dead.  Without a death there would be no resurrection, and without resurrection there would be no life.  Death is for the punishment and penalty of our sin, and resurrection is for the ultimate victory that conquers  the power and effect of sin.  

CONFESSION: 

     If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  1 John 1:9-10 ESV 

     When we believe that Jesus, God’s only Son,  came into the world to die for our sins,  we should be grieved,  yet many are not.  In fact today some might not understand they are sinning for they do not understand sin by definition as explained in the Bible.  Then there are others who know but simple don’t care . You must ask, “Why did Jesus die?”  Answer: as the result of the sin of disobedience in the garden by Adam and Eve.  Every person after Adam and Eve has been conceived in sin except Jesus, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  If you believe that Jesus died in your place for your sins, then you should confess your sins in repentance to God.  Tell God you are sorry that your sin cost Him so much and ask for His forgiveness.   Without exception we have all  sinned.  To say any different would be, as the verse states above,  calling God  a liar.  When we all stand / kneel before him, that would not be what you would want your legacy from your short journey on earth to reflect.  

BE BAPTIZED:   

     And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:39 ESV

     This would be my plea to everyone who has not yet become a follower of Jesus.   Baptism will not save you, but it gives testimony of the death of the old man within you and resurrection of the new man within you.  Baptism is one of the outward confessions of obedience towards God.  Jesus showed us how important it was to do by being baptized  himself.  After He was baptized, the next three years before his crucifixion was a public ministry where he lived.  When you say,  “I will follow him,” let it  be from where he started… being baptized.  

APPLICATION:      

     What I have written above only scratches the surface of what it means to follow Jesus, but it is the place to start.  Make it public concerning your decision to follow Christ and then follow him in baptism.  If you don’t understand how to make it public, speak with me,  and I will help you, for it is not difficult.  Hopefully as a Christian / Follower of Christ you will do your best to utilize the teaching from above to lead others in the way of Christ.  This is not a formula, as there are many other scriptures which can be used to help someone find the way of salvation and to become a follower of Jesus.  Let me encourage you to be burdened for someone the way Jesus was burdened for you.  He saved your life and made you to be a spokesperson to those that he still wants to save. 

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Follow As Disciples .… October 27, 2019

And He said to him, “FOLLOW ME.” Matthew 9:9  Mark 2:14   Luke 5: 27

        Before people were called Christians, they were referred to as disciples. To be a disciple was to be recognized as one who followed Jesus; one who was a student of his teachings.  It is important to be identified as a follower of Christ and his ways, not just bear the title …. Christian.   Many times when we refer to someone being a Christian, we identify that with a time when they walked an aisle in a church or had some other type experience.  While this should  be a testimony of when you began the journey of following Jesus, make sure it is not your identity of being Christian.  For your identity as a Christian should be based upon the evidence of Christ in your life.  Evidence that is based upon the way you live and on following the teachings of Jesus.  Here are some thoughts we might reflect upon to evaluate how closely we are following.

Does My Life Give Evidence?

       By this we may know that we are in him;  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way he walked. 1 John 2: 5b-6 ESV ( read vs 1-5a for full context of this verse)  

    To walk in the same way would be to follow. Walking is an action of moving forward and you will move forward in the ways of Christ only if you are following him.  This following requires surrendering ourselves to God.  Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Matthew 16:24 ESV. These words of Jesus were also recorded in Mark 8:34  and Luke 9:23 but in Luke’s account  a word was added“take up his cross DAILY and follow me.”   The only way you will take up a cross is by keeping your eyes on Jesus and not your flesh.  For the ways of the flesh is what we are crucifying on the cross ….. the way of sin.  If you follow Jesus, it will be more evident every day, for you are becoming more like Christ by crucifying the ways of the flesh NOT embracing it.

How Do I Love Others?

     A new commandment I give to you,  that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that your are may disciples,  if you have love for one another.  John 13:34-35 ESV

     Do you want others to know Jesus?  Then show his love by how you love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.  In many cases the only way the world will come to know Jesus is by how we display his love for one another.  The love Jesus had for his disciples was evident as you can see when studying the  scripture, yet they made many mistakes during the time they followed him.  We don’t love people because they are perfect;  we love people because we chose to do so…. Just the way Jesus loves us.     

Am I Making Disciples?

     Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father  and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold I am with you always to the end of the age.  Matthew 28:19-20 ESV

     Take notice … Jesus didn’t say, “Go make Christians”  He said, “Make disciples”.  I understand the identity we place upon calling those in Christ, Christians; but in reality, Christians are disciples told to make more disciples who don’t simple identify themselves by a title but by a lifestyle—  A lifestyle of walking/following one who commands us to live in a way that will cause others to want follow in the ways of his teaching.   If disciples are not made for Christ,  then know full well that the Devil will have people making disciples for him and his ways.  

Application:

      First and most important, make sure you are a Christian/ Disciple, for you cannot teach what you have not received / believed.  Also, make sure you understand this isn’t about teaching others to just be good. It is compelling them to repent of sin and become a follower of Jesus.  With the two afore mentioned points,  live well by studying the Bible and teaching what has been revealed to you by the Holy Spirit.   Identify any area of your life where you are not being a good teacher by example and take steps to change.  We follow Jesus who lived the perfect life and was sinless, thus showing us how to live.  While we can be forgiven of sin, may we live a life that shows we love God much because he taught us how to love.  

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Obey …… October 20, 2019

To obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22b  ESV

     This message To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice was spoken by Samuel to Saul after Saul had not  listened to God concerning how to conduct the battle with Amalek.  (1 Samuel 15: 1- 21)  Saul had listened  to the people  (vs 23-26) instead of God’s instruction, and it cost him dearly. He was rejected by God as king over Israel.  The cost of not obeying God, as a Christian, is expensive and carries a cost the Christian does not want to pay.  How can and do we obey God in our day when we don’t have a Samuel who hears directly from God and then instructs us how to proceed?  Answer….. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, and we have the Bible which is God’s word to and for us.  Let us therefore…..

Set our mind on the Spirit: 

     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   

     If you want to live to obey, then you must focus on what is important.  When the Spirit of God controls   you, you will reflect often upon God.  You will grow in your love for Him and love what God loves.  The world and the things of the world will become less important to you for they will not be the desire of your heart.  God, however will become very important to you and the desire to please him will grow stronger in your life.  This desire will not simply be an acquaintance relationship with him but a longing to know him as Lord of your life.  When this becomes your mind’s focus, the desire to obey will become a priority in your life. 

Repent and confess sin:

    For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  Psalm 51: 16-17 ESV

     A heart that is broken before God is a person / heart that acknowledges their disobedience of God.  This heart will desire to make right whatever wrong it has done in order to live obediently before God.  The word of God is clear… if we repent and confess our sin, he will forgive us our sin. (I John 1:9 & to those who do not know him Act 2:38-38) Repentance is turning  from doing what is displeasing to God, and doing on purpose what is pleasing to God. 

Note the last three words….what pleases God.  When a person tries to please God by doing what they deem to be good works (sacrifice) to appease God for their sin of disobedience ……they will fail.    The reason for God’s displeasure is that there are no works done as a sacrifice for sin that will please him…. period.  The sacrifice for all sin was completed by Jesus on the cross, and to try to offer any other type of sacrifice is to attempt to bargain with God.  If you sin with no remorse, you are not close to God nor do you love God with a love that pleases him. 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 and will be in you. John 14:15-17 ESV

Walk in the Spirit:

          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.  Romans 8: 3- 4 ESV

     As stated above, the Bible is God’s word to us today and we know what we know because of his word the Bible….. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and  intentions of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12 ESV ………. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him the love of God is perfected.  By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2: 4-6 ESV  ……

One way to walkin the Spirit is to learn and know the word of God and live it on purpose.   Jesus  showed us how to walk in the Spirit, and we should walk as he walked for he walked with the focus of doing this Fathers will.  And being in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on the cross. Philippians 2:8 ESV

Application:

     Make sure you are in Christ and by this I mean… know you are a Christian.   Not in name only, but know you have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  Do not mistake doing works with being redeemed.  The first and most important step in obeying is to believe.  The greatest work you will ever do will be to believe. (John 6:29) Followed by the confessing of your sins, and then as a disciple of Jesus, follow him.  Your belief will cause you to obey, and this will please God; for you will have received the Holy Spirit and will be walking in the Spirit. 

As a follower of Jesus, know he walked as he would want you to live… OBEDIENT.  To follow someone means to walk where they have walked, or in the case of Jesus, walk in life as he taught us to live.  In short, as I have said many times….. LIVE ON PURPOSE FOR GOD!!  This is to obey him and desire to please him with your  whole life. 

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David      

Are You Growing Weary? …. October 13, 2019

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

Are there times you think, “What’s the point?” This thought process might happen as you grow tired of and weary in life. You try to do everything right, and yet it seems that life grows more and more difficult or the pace gets more hectic. You are tired and wish things could slow down a bit, but you don’t see any relief in sight. “Tired and weary” almost doesn’t describe the feeling of the overwhelming emotion that comes from deep within.

Yet scripture tells us, as Christians, we are not to give up. No matter how difficult your day may seem….. don’t give up. Even though it might seem easier or simpler to just stop trying, you must press on. Why? Because we have a promise from God…. you will reap in due season. We must not look back but rather keep our eye on the prize… the goal of the hight calling you have in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

Let Us Not Grow Weary of Doing Good:

Weariness comes when we attempt to function in our own strength. We operate in our own strength when we are not focusing on the Lord. This happens when our task is works-based rather than grace-based. A prime example of this in scripture is the contrast of Mary and Martha.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are troubled about many things but one thing is necessary, MARY HAS CHOSEN THE GOOD PORTION, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 ESV

Simply put, when our service becomes more important than Jesus, our troubles begins. Does God want us to do good works?…. of course, but not at the cost of losing or forgetting how much we should love him. Desiring God will give you strength to do the stuff you need to do. Do not try to function in your own strength, for when you do, you will lose the joy. And when you lose joy, you lose strength.

In Due Season We Will Reap:

Reaping is a result of sowing; and what we reap, will be what we have sown. Note Galatians 6:8, For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. It is important to understand that if weariness comes because a person has not sown of the Spirit, then it is time to replant. Plow up all that is not important in your life and plant God’s peace in your heart. Always remember, that which is not of God will wear you down when you continue to plant bad seeds and reap that harvest. Have you planted a time of just being still in your life? If you haven’t, you will miss the fact that He is God, and this is one truth you do not want to miss. The harvest which comes from sowing stillness/time with God, will be renewed strength. (Isaiah 40:29-31)

Do Not Give Up:

You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. (Philippians 4:13) You will need to rest due to your limitation but…… don’t give up. When you put your hand to the plow, don’t look back. Look straight ahead and move forward Cultivate in your heart good works for the glory of God. Not just works for the sake of doing works, but do what you do to and for His glory. When doing works for His glory, the task will take on a different motivation. This motivation will help to keep your focus on what is important……. Jesus. Self-focus will cause you to become discouraged and weary, but when Jesus becomes your reason, life will have purpose in all you do.

Application:

Focus on the person of Jesus Christ as the motivation for all that you do. That “doing” will often be siting at the feet of Jesus listening to His teachings … just as Mary did. If you are growing weary, then it is time to rest at His feet so that you won’t give up. Do this and you will reap a harvest of ……. peace, love strength, joy, mercy, grace faith and ______________ (fill in what is needed in your life.) The seeds we need to plant in our life are memorized scripture. What takes root in our life is what we plant in the soil of our hearts. If you sow to the flesh, you will reap the results of what you have planted. If you sow of the Spirit, the results will be amazing, for you will be growing in Christ.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Feeling Vs. Knowing .… October 6, 2019

There is a way that SEEMS RIGHT to a man, but the end is the way of death.  Proverbs 14:12 ESV

     When doing  a word search in the Bible of the word feel, you will find verses referring to how a person feels when describing a particular situation.  This teaching is not to debunk the fact that feelings are an important part of who we are as people.   Are there times, however, when we should not trust our feelings concerning matters or situations in our lives? 

The short answer is….yes.  Feelings are the way we describe emotional times such as happiness, sadness,  excitement, concern, confidence, love, hate,  etc.  We must be careful to make sure our emotions / feelings aline with biblical truth.  For a feeling to be a healthy feeling, it will and must aline with biblical truth.  Biblical truth will keep you in check by not letting you live your life just by your emotions / feelings.  Again, feelings are important, but be careful because there is such a thing as unhealthy feelings disguised as good.  What makes them unhealthy?  Let me use a scripture that will answer that: There is a way that SEEMS RIGHT to a man, but the end is the way of death.  Proverbs 14:12 ESV.  So how do we live life having feelings, yet know that we are living in the truth of God’s way?

STUDY, STUDY,  STUDY:

     Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needed not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

          Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

     If a person really wants to be accomplished in something, they will study that subject.  If a person wants to build something, they will study the plans or blueprints for that project.  I have observed many people who are accomplished in their work and enjoy doing what they do.  In fact some of those people are enthusiastic about what they do to the point that they are willing to tell you everything they can about what it is they do.  The reason they are able to do so is because they have given their life to that occupation or task, and they love what they do. 

As Christians we are challenged to study God’s word to be able to relay truth to the world.  To study the Bible is to grow in your knowledge of God.   To grow in the knowledge of God, as a Christian, is to love him more.  It is the blueprint for life in how to build your life for kingdom purpose…. His purpose.  You will dedicate yourself to what or who you love.  

FOLLOW  JESUS:

     Jesus experienced emotions just as we do today.  He cried concerning Lazarus’s death.  (John 11:35)  He wept over Jerusalem. (Luke 19:41) He experience agony. (Luke 22:44)  I believe he laughed with children and rejoiced with others, and of course we know he felt and feels love for us.  He was totally God and totally man, thus he experienced all we experience yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) 

My point in all I just wrote is to show that Jesus has strong emotional feelings, yet feelings did not take him to the cross.  Obedience to His Father’s will did.  Note, when praying in the garden the night  before his crucifixion, He said,  “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done. Luke 22:42 ESV  If he acted upon what he was feeling…. agony… he would not have followed his father’s will. 

The point is this. What we feel does not need to govern our life when it is not in line with God’s will.   Jesus said this, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 ESV  What are we denying ?  -Ourselves and the mind set, “It is all about me.”   John the Baptist said it best,  “He must increase but I must decrease” John 3:30 ESV

So you ask, “How do I take up my cross and follow daily?”  Answer- I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is you spiritual worship.  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.  Romans 12: 1-2 ESV……..And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Galatians 5:24 ESV   This, with study and the desire to live in obedience, is how we live by truth and not feelings. 

It does not mean the transformation will be painless, for we can be self-centered by nature.  If Jesus had been self- centered, he would have had the disciples wash his feet instead of washing theirs.  With this example, let  us remember Jesus’s teaching.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, John 13:16a ESV  Joy… happiness in the Lord … is a result of obedient living no matter the cost- no matter the feeling.  

APPLICATION:

     Don’t  just read the Bible. Memorize it. Dwell and meditate upon it.  Remember the teaching of Psalm 1: 1-3  and Psalm 119:11   Examine everything you feel as a person, that involves your life.  Is there anything that you feel that contradicts scripture?  If so, crucify that feeling on the cross of repentance.  Memorize the scripture that revealed the inconsistency of that feeling and use it to battle that feeling.  Again, let me make clear that we are people of emotion and feelings, and sometimes we have a feeling that something isn’t right but cannot put our finger on it. I believe the Holy Spirit guards our hearts and minds and when you experience this, search the scriptures and pray for wisdom. There was a reason for  Proverbs 14:12…. because we can be deceived if we don’t pay heed to it. 

Because of HIs Grace ~ Pastor David

Singing In His Presence …. September 29, 2019

Submit yourself therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:7-8 ESV

There are times in live that some people feel overwhelmed, alone, destitute, abandoned and hanging on to hope by a thread. I assure you this IS NOT how God wants a person to feel, yet I have experienced this in my life and have heard other Christians express the same experience. When I personally experience this, it is normally because I have lost focus on what is important. It is during these times that I need to … be still and know He is God. (Psalm 46:10) However, I also know there are times when Satan attacks us, seeking to rob us of joy.

I believe singing is extremely important for the Christian to do. I call singing the personal battle plan for every season in life; seasons of loneliness or abundant fellowship, loss or victory, sadness or joyfulness, and this list could go on. I believe you see my point. On multiple occasions in the Bible we are instructed to sing…. (1 Chronicles 16:8-10 & 16:23, Psalm 9:11, 30:4, 33:3, 95:1, 96:1, 98:4, 105:2)

Don’t sing just for the sake of singing, but in worship of God. This singing is to acknowledge His presence and to believe, not based on feelings, but believing His promises as truth. Promises such as: I will never leave nor forsake you. Hebrew 13:5b ESV … truths such as: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ….. No, in all these things we are MORE than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:35: 37 Let us reflect upon how this was lived out by some of the followers of Jesus in the past, and how we are instructed to live.

Paul and Silas:

Paul and Silas were doing as they were instructed, by teaching, ministering and preaching. When they encountered a woman with an evil spirit, they cast out that spirit in the name of Jesus. Was this exciting to the people? Not to those who owned this woman as a slave and made much money because of this evil spirit. Long story short, they took Paul and Silas before the authorities, and they were sentenced to a beating and placed in jail. (Acts 16:10-24)

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. Acts 16:25-26 ESV The rest of the story is that the prison guard and his whole house were saved. (Acts 16:27:34)

How We Are To Live:

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises. James 5:13 ESV Isn’t this what Paul and Silas were doing? In suffering they pray3ed, and because of their happiness in Christ, they sang. The circumstances of life should not be the barometer of our faith in God. Our faith in God should be the barometer for how we live in all circumstances. This is the testimony to the world of our faith in God. This doesn’t make us super humans; rather it is an expression of our need and dependence upon God. It is how we should live, and we should encourage fellow believers to do the same. 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

Application:

The first thoughts that come to your mind will influence how you face the season of life. Living every day with a thankful thought process in faith will set the direction for everything you experience. Scripture is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT in this growing process. No matter what difficulty or overwhelming experience you face…. there is a scripture for that. One scripture used many times in difficult situations is this…… I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 ESV When I have said or I have heard someone say, “I can’t do this, ” it is always because the focus is upon our strength and not His. I am not talking about a physical strength, but a strength that is needed where the battle is being fought ….. in the mind.

When I read historical accounts in the Old Testament about armies that went to battle, the singers and musicians were placed in front as they marched. Let me encourage you to never go into mind battles without a song in your heart. If you don’t have a song like I just described… find one. A song that means much to you in your relationship and walk with God. Be ready at a moment’s notice to pray and sing that song when Satan brings battles into your mind.

What is a scriptural principle concerning this that applies to what I just said? Submit yourself therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:7-8 ESV Submit to prayer, worship and singing, for this is not what Satan wants, nor will he participate in it. Live strong and on purpose for God…. Bring him much glory for he is worthy of glory and praise.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Don’t Put God In A Box …. September 22, 2019

I had an instructor in college that used to make the statement…. “God in a box.” He would teach that people try to place God in a nice and neat little box of their understanding. I fear that there have been times in my life, and perhaps still are, when I place God in a box of my limited understanding. What does it mean to put God in a box?

First, let me tell you that it is impossible to do. there are many ways in which we might try, but it is impossible. Impossible because no one nor anything can limit God. As I taught last Sunday concerning God’s ways and thinking… … “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 God is not limited by denominations, sinful people, rich or poor people, talented or untalented, for all is controlled by the sovereign God. Throughout the Bible, God uses all things to accomplish his purpose. There are more boxes people might attempt to place God in, but I want to discuss three.

The Box of …. God Could Never:

More than once, I have heard these statements, “God could never love me”, …. “God could never forgive me”, “God could never understand me”, and on the list goes. This little box for God is based mostly on the logic of man and not the truth of God. From a human standpoint there is nothing logical about God. Know that the thought process of, “God could never”, is because of unbelief. Unbelief will always foreshadow the “God could never” way of thinking. The fact is, God does love you; he will forgive you; and he more than understands you, for he created you. We are the reason God sent his Son. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:16&18 ESV

The Box of …. God Would Never:

There are beliefs that God would never use a sinful man, would never send a person to hell, would never allow bad things to happen to Christians, would never ______________ (fill in the blank). The “God would never” mentality is, again, based on human logic and not the words or teachings of God. Does God use sinners to accomplish his purposes? Yes. (Joshua 2:1-22 Rahab the prostitute) Would God send someone to hell? Yes. (Luke 12:5) Does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Yes. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28) God is God the Creator of all that is or ever will be. He spoke the world into existence and all that was made was done so by him. God does not need council nor direction in how he reasons or thinks. He is God, and he answered to no one, AND all will answer to Him.

The Box of …. God Should Never:

The box of “God should never” is akin to telling God what he should and should not do. We must remember God is sovereign in all his works and ways. God does not need our opinion, for God is in control of all things and in him we live, move, and have our being. Acts 17:28a ESV We are who we are not because of our wisdom and righteousness but rather because of God’s imputed wisdom and righteousness in us. God is on his throne and needs council from no one. He is to be worshipped and praised for there is none like him. God is more than just good …. He is Wonderful, Councilor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6b ESV ………….. GOD IS AWESOME!!!

APPLICATION:

So how do you apply this? Worship God. (Romans 12:1) Love and Seek God. (Proverbs 8:17) Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Desire God, and he will give himself to you. (Psalm 347:4) Meditate upon him. (Psalm 1:1-3) Whatever you do, don’t limit God in your understanding or try to contain him in some neat little box. God will pour out understanding upon you, not because I say so, but because he promised. (Jeremiah 29:13) … Matthew 7:7)

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

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

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