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GOD’S LOVE .… DECEMBER 1, 2019

     In this is love, not that we have loved God but that HE LOVED US AND SENT HIS SON to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10 ESV

       How can we explain God’s love?  I have often heard the statement, “If God is so loving, why does he allow so much evil, suffering, and pain to happen?”  This question is asked many times because one may be trying to comprehend, or to make sense of God’s love from a human perspective.  Another reason is that one may have experienced so much pain in life that, in short … they just don’t believe in a God who allowed it to be so for them. 

As a Christian much might not make sense even to me, but this one thing I know; God’s love is unexplainable.  When we try to make sense of God’s love, are we really attempting to tell God how he should perform or behave in life situations?  How do we respond when someone has done us wrong?  Be honest!!!    Most of the time, in our flesh, we do not wish them well.  In fact, a vindictive spirit may swell up inside us as well as our anger increase when thinking of that person. 

God was wronged because he made and gave everything good to Adam and Eve, and they chose sin against Him over obedience to Him.  Their sin has been passed on to each one of us, and we, too, sin and suffer the consequence of their decision by the inherited nature of sin.  It is spiritual genetics so to speak.  When going to a doctor for an examination, I am asked questions concerning my father, mother, and others in my family tree concerning their health.  Why? Because we tend to inherit health genes from our family.  When they find out the genes of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc is in your family history, they advise you how you might change that family history by taking certain precautions.  Like it or not we have inherited the sin gene too, and it is terminal. 

The question returns: how could a God of love allow this, and why doesn’t he do something?  Answer… he did,  He loved us and sent his Son.  When a person has wronged us many times,  in our limited power we remove that person from our life.  As far as we are concern they may cease to even exist in our world.  God does not have limited power, and if he operated in that logic, he could have made us disappear, and we would not be here to ask the question why.  The question why is an important question, but it needs to be why would God love us instead of erasing us?   The answer is just that…. LOVE.  Not a love that we can even begin to understand, but it is love nevertheless. 

If the Devil can continue to whisper in your ear the questioning of God’s love in life circumstances,  he will successfully do in your life what he did in Adam and Eve’s.  He will cause you to doubt God and follow his instruction of deception and not reveal the ultimate consequence for that decision.   Has it ever occurred to you to blame the Devil for all the evil in the world instead of God and become angry with  the Devil for evil, pain, and suffering? 

God sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins, making right everything the Devil has destroyed, so in reality God has done something.  He, in love, died for our sins in his Son Jesus.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV   As Christians, we are on a journey to the inheritance of eternal life made possible by God through Jesus.   So how should we live as we make this journey as a Child of God?

LOVE ONE ANOTHER:

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  1 John 4:11 ESV 

    When the question arises, “Why isn’t God doing something?”,  let us as Christians be the answer to that question by loving one another so much that they see God / Jesus.  The best exclamation of God’s love many times is the life lived purposely loving each other in all situations.  This gives evidence to the reality of God in your life.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12 ESV  In short, as the old hymn goes …While passing thro’  this world of sin, and others your life shall view.  Be clean and sure without, within; let others see Jesus in you. (Song by Tony Weeks)  When they see Jesus in us , they will see love.    

ABIDE / LIVE IN LOVE:

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4: 15-16 ESV

     777 Love Avenue should be the address of the Christian.  It is the place we live, not a place we visit.  Jesus came and lived in the flesh among us, and every where he went he showed the love of his Father…. God.  Believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit which is the third person of the God head living in you as a Christian.  We should never quench the Spirit of love by living contrary to the example set for us by Jesus.  We are to be servants and our motivation should be to live in love.  The love that abides in us should be a love that the world may not understand, but does want.  When love is perfected in our lives, it will accomplish more for God than anything else we could do, for it is a reflection of who God is and his very nature of love.   

ALWAYS REMEMBER…. HE LOVED US AND SENT HIS SON:

     This season is a time of remembering the Birth of Jesus and the reason he came – to save sinners by being the perfect lamb of God.  Jesus, who was God in the flesh, lived 30 years and then began a 3 year ministry showing the love of his Father.  At the end of His third year of ministry he hung upon a cross for my sin and yours knowing he was doing something about all the questions concerning why. 

Know this. Jesus is the answer even if you might not even know how to ask the question.   While He was on the cross they insulted him, spit on him, taunted him, and the list goes on and on.  His reply to those who looked on…. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 ESV  Jesus never asked why when going to the cross, for  he knew why and was obedient even when it caused him to suffer and die.  Why? It was for the love that God had for us.  A love that  would rather suffer and die than erase us from the world. 

There is so much that is beyond my /our comprehension and God’s love is one of them.  I may not be able to totally grasp his love, but I am thankful for it, and want to live in it….. with all my limitations, may I do so, that the world might get a glimpse of God’s love.   Let me encourage all Christians in the faith to do the same.

APPLICATION:

      We should be doing this all year long, but over the next few days  let me challenge you to do something on purpose in love for someone.  Do it with the purpose of showing God’s love for that person by action, by giving, or by any other way that will affect that person.  Please don’t make it generic, but  make it personal to the person / persons you are wanting to show God’s love to.  By generic I mean don’t just drop a dollar or two toward a charity… even as important as this may be as well.  Again make it intentional and personal.  Perhaps that person may even ask, “why,” and you will have the answer… to show God’s love, which hopefully will give you the opportunity to share the whole gospel of God’s love.  

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Living Thankful .… November 17, 2019

     Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another is all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with THANKFULNESS in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving THANKS to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3: 16-17 ESV

     Christians should lead and be true examples of what it means to be thankful.  I dare say there is nothing more confusing to the world than for one who claims to know and have Jesus in their life and then communicate ingratitude.  Ingratitude projects frustration and bitterness which will give a very poor understanding to the world of who and how we should be in Christ.  Is there ever a time in the Christian’s life that projecting unthankfulness is acceptable?  Not according to scripture…. give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 ESV  The only way the Christian will be able to live in perpetual thankfulness is to, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” Colossians 3:1a ESV 

It is much easier to give thanks when things are going well, but when things are difficult it can be more challenging.  The key to staying thankful is staying focused… Set your minds on things that are above, not things that are on earth.  Colossians 3:2 ESV In other words, don’t focus as much on a particular situation, but rather focus upon who you know God to be…. even when things might not make sense.  He is sovereign over all things and nothing escapes his eyes…. nothing.  To live thankful is to live believing,  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13: 8 ESV  When a person attempts to make God make sense in their mind, it is to attempt to put God in a box of their understanding….. which is an impossible task.   God states this concerning Himself… For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth,  so are my way higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV     

TEACHING THANKFULNESS :

      For a person to be thankful to God, they first need to understand who God is and all that he has done.  This foundational teaching of God begins in Genesis and goes throughout the entire Bible.  In Genesis we understand that God made everything that was made and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:10, 1:12, 1:18, 1:21, 1:25….  In fact,God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good.  Genesis 1:31 ESV  Everything that God made was good and perfect until sin was introduced to Eve by the serpent.  God, in his mercy, put together a redemptive plan to make possible forgiveness and restoration of all that sin destroyed.  That is mainly the relationship that he had with Adam and Eve before they sinned. 

It is amazing how God can take nothing and make it something.  Every person that has believed and accepted the redeeming grace of God is made new in Christ Jesus. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  ALL THIS IS FROM GOD, who through CHRIST reconciled us to himself.  2 Corinthians 5: 17-18a ESV 

The first and most important fact for which the Christian should be thankful is God redeeming them from their sin.  The moment sin entered into the world God knew he would send his son to die for our sins.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV   Focus upon this fact as a Christian, and you will live thankful and proclaim to others in thankfulness this truth in your life.     

SING WITH THANKFULNESS:

      Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly……………… singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with THANKFULNESS in your hearts to God.  Colossians 3: 16-17 ESV

      I will give to the Lord thanks due to his righteousness, and I will SING praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High. Psalms 7:17 ESV

     SING praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and thanks to his Holy Name. Psalms 30:4 ESV

    It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to SING praises to your name, O Most High  Psalms 92:1 ESV

   SING to the LORD with thanksgiving; Psalms147:7a ESV

      If you are a Christian, singing should grow sweeter for you, as it is a way to give and express thankfulness to God.  Understand this is a song of worship from the heart for God and His enjoyment.  He hears the song of the heart which makes it beautiful to him even if all others credit you as not a singer.  Perhaps this would even fall under the category of making a joyful noise in some cases.  Never the less, God enjoys the songs of praise for him, from his children.      

LIVE THANKFUL:

           And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving THANKS to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17 ESV

     The test to know if you are living as a Christian in everything is this…….. am I able to thank God at the end of my speech or actions for what I said or did.  As Christians we must remember we are ambassadors for Christ, and we represent Him to everyone around us by how we live. (2 Corinthians 5:20  Ephesians 6:20 ) 

You might be in a situation for which you might ask, “How can I thank God for this situation?”  We don’t thank God for the sin / action of someone that may cause you a great deal of pain, but we can thank God for the knowledge that He died even for the sin of the person doing you wrong.  We thank him for that understanding; for to have that understanding gives evidence that you know and hopefully have experienced the power of such great forgiveness yourself.  Jesus’s disciples and many other saints through the years have died martyr’s deaths for their belief in Jesus.   I have read about many of those accounts, and I was impressed that while dying, a song sprang from their lips, a prayer of forgiveness for those who where harming them, and many other actions that would be indicative of a believer / ambassador.                  

APPLICATION: 

     Evaluate everything you say or do and ask yourself, “Am I living and speaking as I should?”  I dare say that in all our lives we have room for improvement, and seeing where improvement is needed…. repent, turn around, and move in the opposite direction.   If you complain, look for a way to give thanks.  If you act / behave with a non christian action …. change.  Find a scripture that applies to your speech or action and memorize it to use in the battle to change.  Remember… GIVE THANKS in all circumstances for THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS FOR YOU. 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 ESV

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

A Disciple of Holiness .… November 10, 2019

     One definition given concerning being holy is this….  set apart for the service of God or a divine being : SACRED .(Merriam Webster)  True holiness is impossible to obtain by ourselves because of our sin nature. Yet we are called to be holy before God.  Being holy is not simply being good, for there are many people who are morally and ethically good, so that is not what makes a person holy.  The question is, “How does one become holy before God?” 

This a very important question because the Bible teaches to strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  Hebrews 12:14 ESV   The simplest explanation is this; a person becomes holy when the righteousness of God is imputed into his life by the Holy Spirit.  It is a gift from God that washes the evidences of sin from us, so that God might be recognized in us.  When we are recognized as Holy by God, it is because He does not see us, but rather he sees his holiness in the presence of the Holy Spirit within us…..  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, Whom you have from God?  You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God with your body.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV 

This is grace, mercy, kindness, love, and whole host of words describing how God willingly blessed us with the Holy Spirit.  Being the Temple of the Holy Spirit is literally having the presence of God living in you.  God is Holy; therefore, His presence has made you Holy before him.  With this gift we have been called to live, giving evidence of his presence in our lives.                    

CALLED TO BE HOLY:

     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 1:14-16 ESV… For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.  1 Thessalonians 4:7 ESV

       Our actions do not make us holy, but our actions will reflect and give evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.  Obedience to God is only possible if you become a follower / disciple of his word.  Over the years I have heard and even have said myself, “I can’t believe I use to do this or that”..…concerning a behavior, action, or thought process.  What changed?  As I studied or remembered God’s word and by the prompting of the of Holy Spirit, I became convicted.  Conviction came because the Holy Spirit does not have fellowship with sin.  For a person to walk in holiness is for a person to intentionally want to reflect Jesus in their life by following his life teachings.  That is what a disciple does… they follow, learn, and live on purpose with a desire to bring glory to God.

BE A TEMPLE / VESSEL OF HONOR:

     Therefore,  if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as HOLY, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21 ESV

     You will become a vessel of honor when you grow to love God more than you enjoy your sin.  Loving God is how we grow more into the image of Christ  and reflect his holiness.  This is not a self righteous lifestyle; rather,  it is a lifestyle of desiring and bringing glory to God by being a reflection of his grace.  It’s not bringing attention to ourselves but rather attention to God’s ability to save us from death.  

Sin is pleasurable and this is why it is so difficult to become a vessel of honor.  The war between the holy and the unholy, wages war in our lives and will do so until we die and are raised with a new body without this sin nature.  But until that time, we must remember the battle has already been won on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin.  Therefore through His grace, press on in the battle to reflect God’s holiness and remember that you  are not in the battle alone.  You can do all things through him who strengthens you.  Philippians 4:13 ESV

APPLICATION: 

       I hope I have made it clear that in and of ourselves we cannot make ourselves holy.  Only God can do that, but we can take the responsibility of living on purpose in the pursuit of holiness.  Here are some scripture to utilize in that pursuit. 

Arm yourself…..I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Psalms 119:11 ESV

 Live on purpose…..    Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as HOLY, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21 ESV

 Rest is His grace…….He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness,  but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:5-6 ESV

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

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

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