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Christian Liberty/Freedom…Galatians 5:13 ESV
For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 ESV
     I once heard someone say, “Freedom is not freedom to do what you want but the freedom to do what is right.”  Of course the next question becomes who determines what is right?  As christians we believe this question and standard is answered by the Bible.  Please understand that the freedom I am speaking of here is not the freedom that we adhere to as a nation but freedom in Christ.  Individuals may have what they call freedom in this world but be in bondage to sin and death.  All freedom is authored by God both physical and spiritual.  But in reality there is no physical freedom without spiritual freedom.  Sin will always places people in bondage and take away freedom …. spiritual and physical.
      Paul says in Galatians, For you were called to freedom.  But  who is doing the calling…answer Jesus.  Come unto to me, all who labor and are heaven laden, and I will give your rest. Matthew 11: 28 ESV  You see there is a standard by which God will judge the world and that standard is his law.  But because of sin, it is impossible to keep this law; and  ultimately, we are all sentenced to punishment.  In fact, we could and would absolutely wear ourselves out trying to keep this law.  Christ did for us what the law could not accomplish in our lives…. make us free from the law of sin and death.   There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  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 8:1-4 ESV  
      
     A person might reason if the requirements of the law are fulfilled in Christ, then I am free to do whatever I want.  I personally believe that the person who is genuinely freed from the consequence of their sin and love God, will not want to live in this reasoning.   Paul addresses this logic by saying, Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.   In Romans 6:1 he says, What shall we say then?  “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!   
      
       Paul tells us  we should live….as servants.  But through love serve one another.   What is the purpose of this service?  Paul say in 1 Corinthians 9:19 “I have made myself a servant  to all, that I might win more of them.”  Paul is referring to the gospel of Jesus which is the good news to anyone who will hear it.  We are to live this way in order to bring glory to God.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace; whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength God supplies-in order that  in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV
        May we live in the freedom in which we have been called, never just for ourselves but with a servant’s heart, to bring much glory to God!
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David
Faithful to Pray and Worship…Daniel 6:10 ESV
 

     When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem.  He got down on his knees three times  a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Daniel 6:10 ESV
     Daniel was a man that honored God and pleased God with faithful dedication to love and serve him.   Daniel lived in a very difficult time as Babylon had sieged Jerusalem and took him captive.  He was chosen to serve in the palace of a king that did not honor God.   Men from the palace were assigned to train and teach  Daniel the literature and language of the Chaldeans to prepare him for this service.  This education was to take three years.  During this period daily food that the king would eat would be provided for Daniel but, Daniel did not want to defile himself with the kings food.  But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank.  There fore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. Daniel 1:8 ESV   I make this point to give you a glimpse of Daniel and his relationship with God desiring not to dishonor God even in the food that he ate.  Even in a very difficult time, Daniel honored God.   Now let’s fast forward to another king .… The king was Darius.  Darius was impressed with Daniel and was going to set him over the whole kingdom.  Others were not so excited about this and made it a point to find something in which they could accuse Daniel.  When they could not find anything, they decided to convince the king to make a law that said you had to worship him and no other gods for thirty days.  They did this because they knew that Daniel was faithful to pray to God daily.   After years of being in captivity and in the courts of those who did not honor God, Daniel had remained faithful to God.  The men that approached the king with the idea of worshipping him for thirty days and no other god, convinced him it was a good idea.  The consequence for worshipping any other god….death in a den of lions.   But this didn’t deter Daniel for When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem.  He got down on his knees three times  a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Daniel 6:10 ESV     Even with consequence of death Daniel worshipped and prayed to God for God was who he lived for.  What can we learn from Daniel?
        The decision of the land does not affect our prayer and worship of God. “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had a windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem,”  Daniel lived in plain sight for God as he did everyday before this document was signed.  He did not go into hiding or close his windows but left them open.  He did this not to bring attention to himself but to continue to honor God.
        He bowed down to God and not man, “He got down on his knees three times  a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God,”   God is God and he alone is worthy of our prayers and worship and deserves no less even in difficult times.
        He did not change his daily practice of prayer,  “He got down on his knees three times  a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God,”   as he had done previously.   Nothing had changed for Daniel, He continued in his daily practice just as before.  The laws of man did not regulate his lifestyle or belief in God.  If anything did change I believe it would have been the intensiveness of his prayers.
The concluding point ….press on remain, faithful, and know God has not moved…He is still on His throne.
Because of His Grace~ Pastor David
Come! Worship! Bow Down!…Psalm 95:6
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!  Psalms 95:6 ESV
  
     Christian, we have an invitation to come, worship and to bow down / kneel before the Lord.   How will you respond to this invitation?   Let us reflect upon each of the steps in this passage of scripture to help answer this question.
     First, we come into His presences, and we do so with attitude of gratitude. ( Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving. Vs 2 ESV)  As christians, is it even possibly to thank God, the Father, enough for the many blessings he has given to each one of us?  We come recognizing God’s greatness (vs 3) and acknowledge the reality that by His hands everything was created and is in His control.
       Secondly, we worship Him.  I assure you that when you come seeking the presence of the Lord in your life, you will worship Him.  Worship is something the Christian does and fueled by love for God the Father.  The depth of your love for God will be manifested in the intenseness of your worship…not just outwardly but inwardly.  Worship is manifested in many ways but true worship always begins in the heart of the person that is in awe of God.  Personally, I believe worship happens in a very personal way between the christian and God.  If the only time you ever feel you are worshiping is with other christians, you are  missing the joy of the personal and intimate relationship you are intended to have with Christ.  Worship is something we should do every day.
      Thirdly, we bow down or  kneel before Him.  The Bible teaches that we will all stand before the judgement seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord,, every Knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Romans 14: 10b-11 ESV   This I know for myself, I do not want the first time that I bow down before the Lord to be after I die.  Bowing down in your heart and physically is recognizing God as Lord and King over your life.  When the bride makes her appearance, it is tradition for all in attendance to stand in her honor as she walks down the aisle. When Christ appears, we will stand but then we will kneel…bow before Him as the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  May it be that you are kneeling before Him as your Lord and King everyday.
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David
Worship in difficult times…Job 1:20-22 ESV
  Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.  And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I 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: 20-22 ESV
 
     Have you ever had one of those days when everything seems to go wrong?   One such man  named Job did, only his bad day was a bad day on steroids. In one day he lost everything that took a lifetime to build.   7000 sheep… gone, 3000 camels…gone, 500 yoke of oxen…gone, 500 female donkeys….gone.  All his many servants except the ones delivering the message of his loss…gone. Then the blow of all blows, he was told his seven sons and three daughters died in a furious storm causing a house to caved in on them.  I don’t know if my first reaction to such a day would be to worship, but that was exactly what Job did.   These events all  happen in the first chapter of Job, and one might think;  how much worse could things get?  Then chapter two happens, Job looses his health and his wife encourages him to curse God and die. In the chapters following this Job had three friends who came out to comfort him, but after a while begin to tell him he needs to repent.  His friends logic: surly he had sinned in some way to cause all these tragities to come to him.  I have read this account of Job’s life many times over the years, and I am alway impressed with his reaction to his tragities.  He fell to the ground and worshipped.   Worship is easier when everything is going good but the times in life when things heat up many scream like a tea kettle.  How is it that Job reacted in such a manner as worship?  Many would understand if he reacted in other ways….but to worship in a time such as this, How would this even be possible?  Let’s look how Job lived before the disasters came into his life.
     First, we see that Job was blameless. There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil . Job 1:1 ESV  Jobs life was a testimony to many. The fact that he was blameless and upright is no small thing in life.  He feared God which proved he was a very wise man.   (Proverbs 1:7… 9:1015:33)  Job  would not entertain or see how close he could get to sin/evil but rather turned away.
      Second, we see Job living intentionally for God. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.  And when the days of feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offering according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.”  Thus Job did continually.  Job  1:4-5 ESV
      Thirdly,  We see God knew him as one who honored Him.  And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns from evil?” Job 1:8 ESV  
        
         Worship, for Job, was a practice he did everyday.   When a person is under pressure, it is said that what is really inside will manifest itself; in the case of Job, worship from his lips and in his actions.  I must be honest I am not sure how I would react to such calamity in life.  I would like to think I would respond with worship as Job did, but no one really knows until difficult times happen.   But this I do believe. If you live the Christian life casually and not intentionally, you will not be as prepared.  Job’s worship of God did not depend upon everything going good but rather in the fact that God is on his throne and still in control.
   In the world today may we live worshipping God.  May it be intentional  in good times and in the times we may wish had never came our way.
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David.
What is True worship?…John 4:23 ESV
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23 ESV
    Over the past few weeks I have surveyed several individuals with questions concerning  worship.  Questions such as: What is true worship? Can worship be taught?  Is worship something we see?  Is worship private or must it be outwardly expressed?  In speaking with different individuals I received many different answers.  Some of the answers I agreed with, some I am still processing, and others I didn’t necessarily agree to.  So over the next few weeks I will continue to ask question; and while not scientific, I will be sharing my thoughts and belief concerning worship.  When asking questions concerning worship, I am asking in reference to the God of Christianity.  Let us begin with this worship quest by looking at John 4:23.
       In John 4:23 there are three things concerning worship. The time for worship is now, we are to worship the Father in spirit and truth, and the Father is seeking people to worship Him.
     The time of worship is now!  Worship is not just a Sunday and perhaps Wednesday event when we all meet together for what we call a worship or prayer service.   True worship should happen everyday.  This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalms 118:24 ESV   Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.  Psalms  96:2 ESV  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV    
      We worship in spirit and truth.  Christians believe God became flesh through His son Jesus.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 ESV   Christians worship in the truth of this fact that Jesus has set us free from the power of sin and death and this is our testimony of worship to the world.   Christians have this testimony of worship because they have the Spirit of God living in them.   Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s  Spirit dwells in you?  Romans 3:16ESV
   The Father is seeking such people to worship Him.  When God looks into your life, what does He see?   We need to be a reflection of Christ for this is one of the greatest acts of worship to God the Father that we can do.  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 your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 ESV  
     Worshiping God can be done/accomplished in many way.   True worship will always be about making much of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the person of the Holy Spirit.  This is my prayer for everyone who is reading this-that your hearts desire will be to do just that, to worship in spirit and truth.   God deserves no less!
 Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David
God’s Will…Matthew 7:21 ESV
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord,Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in in heaven.  Matthew 7:21 ESV
       Do you find the words of Jesus somewhat frighting concerning eternity?    Jesus’ words make it clear; it’s not just what you say.  Not everyone who calls Him Lord will enter into the kingdom.  In a panic on that day people will exclaim, “Look what we did by your name……… casting out demons, preaching, and many  wonderful things.”   Then Jesus will tell them, ” I don’t even know you, leave me, you’ve not practiced  my word”. ( verses 22-23 paraphrased)  Jesus goes on to explain, ” It’s the one who does the will of the Father that will enter into the kingdom”.
    1. When we hear the words of Christ and live by them, we are doing the will of God.  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James1:22 ESV ….  If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God , the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1: 26-27   It’s not what words you use; it’s the life you live.  Living in truth is reflecting the walk we have with Christ and not just talking about it.    You  may be able to repeat what  you’ve heard, but do you live what you’ve learned?
     2. Living in God’s will is living in obedience to His word.  Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.  1 Samuel 15:22 ESV ….  I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 ESV
      3. When you live a life based on the word you will have kingdom purpose.  But he said to them,I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43 ESV …… Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 ESV   
      4. This is purpose that supersedes your own desires leading you deeper into the word building upon a solid foundation that will stand the test of time. Jesus said explained it like this.  Why do you call me’Lord,Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.  And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. Luke 6:46-48 ESV  Life that is lived in this fashion will have both kingdom purpose and eternal value.  This life will be living out the will of God.
Because of His Grace~Pastor David
The Presence of God…Psalm 51:11 ESV
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11 ESV
     Psalm 51 is the prayer of repentance David prayed after being confronted by Nathan the prophet for his sin with Bathsheba.  When reading this Psalm in its entirety you feel David’s emotion and regret because of his sin against God.  One particular plea David makes before God in this Psalm is not to remove His presence nor the Holy Spirt from him. (vs11)  David, in his life, had experienced an awesome relationship and walk with God.   In fact David was referred to as a man after His own heart. (Acts 13:22)
       The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament enabled  people to accomplish the task before them.  In the New Testament the Holy Spirit indwells the believer.  Everything that David accomplished was because God was with Him and enabled Him.  I surmise  that David remembered the sins of Saul and how God dealt  with him,  removing Saul as king. (I Samuel 15.)  David’s greatest fear wasn’t that he would be removed as king, rather that God would remove His presence from him and take His Holy Spirit from him.   David knew what it was to be enabled by God.  He had killed wild beast, stood against Goliath,  and was a mighty warrior in battle…….all because God was with him.  The fear of loosing that was overwhelming to David.   He didn’t request that God’s presence stay with him so that he might remain king.  He knew without God he was without hope and had no message.
      How might this compare with the Christian today.   What reaction should be expressed when sin becomes apparent in the Christian’s life.   Repentance should be the common reaction as David did in the Psalms 51.  Having the indwelling Spirit should bring conviction to the Christian.   When we repent, forgiveness is the reality, and we have a message of hope concerning a loving God. Then we can teach transgressors Your ways and sinners will return to You.( Psalms 51:13)   Live forgiven and on purpose for God, don’t let sin reign in your life.  Live a message of hope not defeat for Christians are more than conquers in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37)  Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4
Because ~ His Grace ~ Pastor David
Favored One…Mother… Luke 1:28 & 30-31 ESV
 And he came to her and said,”Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! (v28)  And the angle said to her, ”Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  30-31 of Luke Chapter 1 ESV 
     I have witnessed the excitement that comes with a birth announcement.  Grandmothers-to- be jump up and down making sounds that I cannot describe except to say happiness and joy is spoken in an uninterruptible language.   Grandfathers or PaPas  beam with a smile that is second to no other experience.  At least the happy announcements I have seen can be described this way.  Normally this announcement was first made to the father by his bride and only fathers who have experienced it would understand this moment.  But it was not so in the case of Mary, Jesus’s mother.  She had not come together with Joseph, so she had no idea that she had conceived. Yet she was on the receiving end of this announcement from an angle informing her that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  WOW!!!!  She, no doubt, was truly a woman of favor that God would place in her body His only Son.   Only one woman had this responsibility and privilege to be the mother of the Son of God.  She was hand picked by God for this blessing and she was a faithful mother to the point of watching Him take His last breath upon the cross.
     Today, we honor moms for the faithfulness, dedication, love and all other words that could possibly describe them.  When I read the message and words the angle spoke to Mary,”O favored one,”  I know it was because she was being told as God’s choice for the woman to bear his Son.  But today I want mothers everywhere to know that you are favored by children that appreciate you for all that you do.  It was God’s choice to use you to raise the child He has given you.  God does not make mistakes as each and every child is a precious gift from the Him.  Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalms 127:3 ESV    Mothers are continual reminders of the fact that God is the creator of life.  Genesis is clear in the creation account …… and as a woman, every time you give birth we are reminded of this fact.
     God told men,  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25 ESV   God has placed a great value upon the woman to be loved as Christ loved the church.   This value is felt by the woman when, as husbands, we show them love as God intended.   As husbands we are the example to our children of the love God intended to be displayed in every home.  Her children rise up and call her blessed: her husband also praises her. Proverbs 31:28 ESV  Children will follow the lead of the the father in honoring their mothers.   The greatest blessing you can do for your wives / mother or your children is to love them and bless them with the honor God has placed upon them as bearer of children to be raised to glorify Him.
      Children, do not let this day pass without showing honor to your mother.  One of the ten commandments makes this clear long before we had a special day called mothers day. Honor your father and your MOTHER, that your days may be long.  Exodus 20:12 ESV    We are reminded in the New Testament the importance of doing this.  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and MOTHER” ( this is the first commandment with a promise) that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.  Ephesians 6:1-3 ESV   It goes without saying we should do this everyday of the year, but I am thankful for this special day set aside to remind us in our busy schedules and lives that there is someone extra special that deserves honor for all the sacrifices she has made.
     To all the Mom’s in world, Happy Mothers Day.
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David
Lord, “Thank You For Everything”

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Have you ever observed the witness / testimony of a person that is thankful in every situation of life?  This person acknowledges that God is at work conforming them into the image of Himself.  They are moldable clay in the hand of the potter to do with as he chooses.  Without a doubt the end result will bring God much glory by the beautiful work he will accomplish in that persons life.   “This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” 1 Thessalonians 5:18   How does a person become a thankful person in every situations?  Let me give some ideas that will help to  grow you into being this type of person.

First, know that all things work together for good:  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his  purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV   There will be times you may not understand why certain things are happening in your life.  But if you believe all things work together for good, you will rest in God.  You may ask when experiencing  heart ache, “Why is this happening?”  The fact is, it could be preparing you to minister to someone else who will be experiencing the same thing in the days ahead.  Another reason could be that life just happens.  Good and bad are simply part of the imperfect world we live in, and life will not always go as we hoped.  But we must look for God’s hand to guide us through every circumstance, and the best place to start is by giving thanks.

Second, be willing to acknowledge the Lord, in every step of your life.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV  The Message Bible states it this way, ”Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.”  I believe this statement to be true; “If he brought you to it, he will take you through it.”   When leading the people of Israel out of Egypt, he brought them to the shore line of the Red Sea.  When all seemed lost and the enemy was closing in, he parted the sea, and they walked through on dry ground.  It is encouraging to know that God is with you in every step of life that you make each day.  No matter what the circumstance.

Thirdly, Be content.  “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Philippians 4:11 ESV …..  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.        1 Timothy 6:8 ESV ….  Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said,”I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5ESV   Discontentment breeds unthankful hearts.  You are learning thankfulness when you don’t depend upon the the things of the world to make you happy…. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17 ESV   What is the will of God?  To, Give thanks in all circumstances. 

     So how do you live a thankful life.  Start by considering all the points above and then in your prayers thank God.  You may not understand all the whys of life, but what you do need to know is God, and trust that He is in control.  Then live out loud the thankfulness to the glory of 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 3:17 ESV  

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David  

 

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