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Believing in the Resurrection …… April 21, 2019

He is not here, but has risen. Luke 24:6 ESV

When Jesus resurrected from the dead no one was anticipating him to do so. In fact, some, when going to the tomb after the Sabbath, were doing so to finish the burial process and discussed among themselves who would roll the stone out of the way. (Mark 16;1-3) Having seen the stone rolled away and been told by an angel that He had risen, they ran back to a place where the others were hiding in fear, to tell them that He had risen. Had those in hiding believed in the resurrection they would have been at the tomb waiting… not hiding. Even after being told by those who had seen Jesus, Thomas said, “Unless I see in His hands the marks of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” John 20:23 ESV Truth is, according to Mark 16:14, the elven didn’t believe at first that He had risen and Jesus rebuked them for their hardness of heart and unbelief. Unbelief is so dangerous, for it is the very means by which Satan will take many captive, to the peril of their life/soul. It is imperative to believe concerning the resurrection, for it is what the Christian’s entire life is based upon. Without the resurrection it would have been proven that Jesus was simply a man and not the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 As I teach and am convinced: “What you believe will determine how you live.”

Those who had followed Jesus in life were overwhelmed in the reality of his death and did not understand that he had risen. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and another desciple whom Jesus loved and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” John 20:1 ESV I do not believe any of us today, if living in that moment, would have understood that Jesus had resurrected from the dead. If we had seen him beaten, crucified, and die, our thoughts, as theirs, would have been, “He is gone”. We, as they, would have believed the only explanation was — someone stole his body. But this confusion only lasted for a while, for Jesus would not have us……

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, WHY DO YOU SEEK THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD? Luke 4-5 ESV If you believe you can look in a graveyard for answers you are looking in the wrong place. This is why we should not look in our own hearts for answers, but in the One who can make the dead heart alive with understanding. While there was confusion at first, the understanding of the resurrection changed everything. They ceased to hide and began to thrive in proclaiming the gospel of the good news….. JESUS IS ALIVE!!!!!! They didn’t preach it in the graveyard but in the world. They did so because they believed not only what they had heard but what they had seen. We today have not seen Jesus in the flesh as he once walked, so where does that place us in this gospel?

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” John 20:29 ESV Christians, by faith, believe the Bible is true, and that it is … His-story and the future all in one book. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 ESV Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He lived a sinless life, making him the perfect lamb of God to be sacrificed for the punishment of our sins. He died, was buried, and rose again on the third day, conquering sin, death, and the grave. He returned to his Father and is coming again, breaking open the grave of every believer and catching up those who remain in the air to live with him forever. We will one day join with the angels to praise and worship him forever in our eternal home that he promises to prepare for us. GLORY!!!!

Live on purpose for God and give evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in your life/heart. 1 John 2:1-6

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

JUSTIFIED…… April 14, 2019

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are JUSTIFIED by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Romans 3:23-25 ESV

Justified… just-as-if-I’d….. never sinned. I learned that little breakdown of the word ‘justified’ from a teacher years ago, and it gives a clear understanding of the meaning of the word. This is not implying that we do not or have not sinned. It simply means this is how God views us when we, in faith, believe in the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ and receive the gift of grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9) No one will be justified before God based upon their works. However, our works will give evidence of the fact that we have been redeemed from sin and are justified. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand, THAT WE SHOULD WALK IN THEM. Ephesians 2:10 ESV God redeemed us from our sins on purpose and wants us to work/walk for him on purpose in the works he has prepared for us.

Most people remember the words of Jesus to the men who had brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to him for judgement. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7 ESV Many people look at Christianity as a religion of judgement upon others, but for authentic Christianity this is not true. Jesus said, “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” John 12:47 ESV The Christian work of today is to present the gospel – good news – to the world, which is exactly what Jesus was doing. He went on to say, “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge.” John 12:48 ESV … God. This doesn’t in any way suggest that sinning was acceptable to Jesus, for it was and is not. When the men had dropped the stones and walked away, Jesus said to the woman, “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 Jesus was telling her to change and not continue in a sinful lifestyle. Every person in this world is a sinner and needs Jesus as savior – for all have sinned. When sharing the gospel to the world, it is not to bring judgement upon anyone but to offer a new life in Christ.

I have heard it said concerning a person who has died, “That was a good person and they are in a better place.” That is a true statement only if they have received the gift of grace from God for salvation. To imply a person went to heaven based upon their own goodness is to say that they lived as perfectly as Jesus in this life. This would also imply that Jesus wasn’t necessary and the gospel….good news of salvation in Christ alone…would not be true. This would no longer be a gift, for that person would be receiving the reward of heaven based upon their works. Let me give some verses to make this point. Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:16 ESV …. As it is written: None is righteous, no, not one. Romans 3:10 eSV …. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 ESV … Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 ESV

We are justified only because we have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb. John the Baptist described Jesus as follows, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 ESV…. Every person must accept the truth that ….. 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 The only work that needs to be done by a person is this… Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God? Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:28-29 ESV Jesus said to him, “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV From Genesis to Revelation this is the message of the gospel…. salvation is in Christ alone.

To apply all that is written above, one must first BE RECEIVED BY FAITH. Then, as a Christian, live every day in thankfulness for the great gift of salvation that God has given you through his Son Jesus. Echo the words of David, “I will extol you, my God and King and bless your name forever and ever. EVERY DAY I WILL BLESS YOU and PRAISE YOUR NAME forever and ever. Great is the LORD and GREATLY TO BE PRAISED, and his greatness is unsearchable.” Psalm 145:1-3 ESV Being justified by God will make you see things differently, for you will be seeing things through the eyes of the Holy Spirit which lives within you. Always remember…. 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, so that being JUSTIFIED by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7 ESV Live thankful and on purpose for God.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

OBEDIENCE …… April 7, 2019

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 ESV

I have heard more than one person say, “What I do is no one else’s business.” While this sentiment contains some truth, we must remember that the repercussions of a person’s choices will affect others. We live in a world that is so interconnected, that every choice that is made affects someone in some way…. be it for good or for bad. The fact is, this has been true throughout all history. When Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit from the tree which God told them not to eat, sin was birthed into the world. This one act of disobedience has affected every generation to this present age. When Jesus, God’s only Son, was birthed into this world, His act of obedience changed the world…. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Philippians 2:8 ESV In understanding this truth and the principle of cause and effect, how should we, as Christians, live?

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16 ESV
Bob Dylon wrote a songs years ago with this lyric: “You’re gonna have to serve somebody; Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” So every person must answer the question, “Whom do you serve?” Some might say, “I don’t served the Lord OR Satan,” but in reality that is not true, for you will serve one or the other. The reason this is true is because where you will spend eternity will be based upon whom you have obeyed, and whom you chose in this life to believe.

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29 ESV
In obedience we serve God intentionally. Peter and the apostles had been imprisoned for teaching about Jesus and were told to cease such teachings. When they were found teaching after being told to stop, they were asked why they had chosen to continue to do so; the answer was simple for them: We must obey God. This reminds me of the hymn, Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

To obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22 ESV
Sacrificing your time, as we might call it, is not necessarily pleasing to God. God wants an obedient heart that is willing to listen and do his will. Outward sacrifice does not necessarily show inward obedience; however, inward obedience produces a life pleasing to God and will be evident as a living sacrifice before God. (Romans 12:1-2)

Therefore, PREPARING YOUR MINDS FOR ACTION, and being sober minded, set your hope on the garce that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As OBEDIENT children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 PETER 1:13-15 Remember, as I have taught multiple times, everything begins in the mind. It is necessary for you to prepare your mind for obedience. It must be intentional to live in obedience for God, but it is not necessarily easy. Living for God must be the desire of your heart in order to please Him, and to please Him, you must obey Him. So I challenge you as well as myself …… live on purpose in obedience to God.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

TRUST …… MARCH 31, 2019

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

Have you ever trusted someone only to be let down? A co-worker, friend, parent, spouse, or (fill in the blank). It can be one of the most devastating things that can happen to a person. Any time you have trusted someone and that trust was broken, it makes trusting again difficult. Trust is broken by unfaithfulness, broken promises, lies, and again…. (fill in the blank). I believe this could even be one of Satan’s strategies in causing people not to want to trust God. God wants to be a heavenly Father to the fatherless, but someone who has had a father that let them down, might react by saying, “I don’t need a father.” How about the teaching of a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18: 24b ESV? Have you had someone you considered a friend fail you when you needed them the most? The church is referred to as the bride of Christ, but maybe you had a spouse who wasn’t faithful and you might not be interested in anything that compares itself to a marriage. There could be many comparisons of situations that cause you to have difficulty trusting; but to never trust is to never heal, for we were made to interact in trusting relationships. This does not mean you trust everyone, but you must learn to choose wisely those in whom you put your trust. Jesus is one such person to choose, as Savior, friend, and Lord, in whom you can place unreserved trust.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart:
By faith you believe and trust Jesus, and make Him Lord of your life. The heart represents life. When you trust Him with all your heart you are in essence saying, “I’m trusting you with my life.” This trust requires you to take down the barriers of distrust and open yourself to a relationship based on unadulterated hope, faith, and love. It’s a trust believing everything that is taught by Jesus. You believe that He is the only Son of the living God which became flesh and lived with us yet without sin. You believe He came to die and as a result take away the sins of the world….. your world…. your sin. You trust him when He says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b ESV You rest when you remember His words, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and NO ONE WILL SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND.” John 10:28 ESV.

Do not lean on your own understanding:
Trust at times will stretch you by making you vulnerable. If I totally have my mind wrapped around an issue or situation, I have a comfort level that is acceptable to me. However, when I hear the words “trust me”, it is because I might be viewing a situation differently than the person in whom I am choosing to place my trust. It also might be because I’ve trusted before and was hurt or let down. Trust in the Lord means you believe God when He says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth’s so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 ESV We must always remember, it was our own understanding that introduced sin into the world. If Adam and Eve had trusted God’s words they would have never eaten the fruit from the tree. And the Lord God commanded the man saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17 ESV Something might seem so good or right to us, but if God says no….. trust Him.

In all your ways acknowledge him:
God is to be, and should be, involved in every area of a Christian’s life. In him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28 ESV Trusting Him is wanting him to have that place in your life. To acknowledge Him is to make Him known by how you live and how you speak concerning Him. (Luke 12:8)

He will make straight your paths:
I like the KJV translation of this verse which says, “And he shall direct thy paths.” The point is, God leads you in the way that you should go. The fastest way to someone or to a place is a straight or direct path based on the road map given to find a person or place. The Bible can be such a road map, revealing the way to God, and given by God for us to follow. In order to find life, we must trust His words on His map to do so. We are to take up the cross and follow him… Matthew 16:24, Mark 8: 34, Luke 9:23. This is not a literal cross, but a cross which represents sacrifice of the old life for a new life in Christ. We are to do as it teaches in Romans 12:1 … to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship…. As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. 1 Peter 1: 15 ESV These two verses are just two such teachings/directions in God’s road map for our lives. Life is a pilgrimage in living every day on purpose for God.

You cannot follow someone if you are not going in the same direction. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV Jesus is the way; and if you follow Him, you must trust that he is the only way to God. He is the map / way that leads to God. Trust and believe in the words of Jesus and make His teachings the reason you do everything you do. If you have done this, then the next step is to take one step at a time and follow. People tend to look at the journey and become overwhelmed, but this is not how the Lord wants you to live. Trust Him for today and do not worry about the travels of tomorrow, for that will be another day. Today needs to be the focus in trusting Him. Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Matthew 6: 34 ESV If you have an area in which you feel you do not trust Him, then find in God’s word a promise concerning that issue, memorize it and use it to battle your lack of trust in that area. Live on purpose for God.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

HUMILITY …… MARCH 24, 2019

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3 ESV

The opposite of humility is pride, and the Bible teaches that…… Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 ESV Pride brought destruction by causing the fall of the angel now recognized as Satan, as well as all the fallen angels who are recognized as demons . It caused Adam and Eve to lose the joy and fellowship they experienced with God in the garden. In the world today pride continues to cause destruction and causes all types of pain, grief, and loss. I once heard a minister on the radio say, “Pride is the mother of all sins, for pride gives birth to every sin known to man.”
The sin of pride keeps a person from having a relationship with God by proclaiming self dependance, saying, “I don’t need God,” and being cheered on in deception by Satan. So how do you overcome the sin of pride and live in humility? Obviously, humility does not proclaim self. Could you imagine someone saying, “Look how humble I am”? Most often, humility shows itself by the life a person lives while serving others . The more surrendered your life is to God, the more you will emulate the life of Christ. So let us look at the example Jesus lived as He walked among us.

Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interest of others. Philippians 2:4 ESV
In short…. life is not about me. In a, “It is all about me” -centered world, surrender is not the normal way of thinking. Jesus came as a servant of His Father, and the Christian should desire to live the same way…..sent by our heavenly Father. The moment we have a “serve me” mentality, we stray away from the example Jesus lived out loud before us. The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve. Matthew 20:28 & Mark 10:45 ESV Jesus served His Father by living the perfect life, and ultimately cared for our interest by providing the way of escape from our sins.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:5-7 ESV
As I have taught multiple times…. everything begins in the mind, and humility is a mindset of living on purpose with the purpose God has for you. Jesus, who absolutely deserved to be worshipped, emptied himself of who is he was and became a servant. He washed feet, fed the hungry, and healed the sick. He kept his mind on the purpose for which he ultimately came… to save sinners and to provide eternal life for all who would believe.

Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8 ESV
A book title by Max Lucado says it best: “He chose the Nails.” He who could have called legions of angles, who deserved to be worshipped, who absolutely did not deserve to die, chose to do so in the most agonizing way. The ultimate picture of humility was God’s Son dying on a cross intended for us. He did not do it because we deserved it; He did it because He loved us. True humility will always be an act of love for God and others. Humility is the seed that blooms as the beautiful flower of a life that brings God much glory.

Start right where you are. Be careful not to compare yourself to others, for comparison is one of the killers of humility. God has enabled you with gifts for the purpose of serving others. Humility grows through serving others in obedience. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:10 ESV Humility is to be God-focused, expecting nothing in return but done for the purpose of bringing Him glory. It is seeing your need for God to do a work in and through you and to complete the purpose for which you were made. Live on purpose for God in humility. Consider others, and most importantly Him, as more important than yourself.

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Kindness …… March 17, 2019

Be kind to one another…. Ephesians 4:32a ESV

My mind has been thinking about kindness all week long. I have asked myself over and over, “What does being kind to someone really look like?” Is it handing money to someone who is holding a sign? How about taking cookies to the neighbor next door, or a meal to a sick friend? What does pure, unadulterated, with-no-strings-attatched kindness look like? I suppose if I were to ask multiple people that question, I would receive multiple definitions or opinions. So how do I answer that question? According to a dictionary, the definition is: “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” As in all questions in life, we should look to Jesus for the answers, for in every way, He ultimately lived examples of kindness toward those around him. Let us take the three dictionary definitions and compare them to how Jesus lived.

FRIENDLY: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12-13 ESV Being friendly can create a good feeling, but what about being friendly to those who don’t deserve it? I see Jesus laying down His life for those who would later be His friend, before they even considered being so. In other words, being friendly could require sacrifice on our part to accomplish something greater than could ever be imagined. Jesus was criticized by those who saw Him hanging around with sinners. The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Luke 7:34 ESV Remember Jesus never sinned; He was the perfect Lamb of God, and it did not keep Him from showing kindness to those he encountered every day. Jesus displayed kindness from the cross when He spoke these words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 ESV He could have called twelve legions of angels. (Matthew 26:53) Being friendly is easy toward those who are friendly, but being so to those who are not friendly may require sacrifice on your part…. sacrificing YOUR personal rights, attitudes of the flesh, and comforts, for the purpose of the gospel. As Christians, we should set the example ….. that’s what Jesus did for us.

GENEROUS: 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. John 13:34 ESV If your acts of kindness are just for making you feel good, then it is for selfish reasons. But if it is to be obedient to God, then it doesn’t matter how it makes you feel. I want you to think of kindness in love as something that will bring much glory to God, and let that be your motivation. Jesus spoke these words, For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. John 6:38 ESV …. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. John 17:5 ESV What greater love can we give, than to show kindness? That should be evident in the life of the Christian because God has generously poured His love into our hearts. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5b ESV Being generous with kindness can feel a lot like work because kindness is not easy to show in every situation…especially to those who have not been kind to us. Remember, we are to: let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and GIVE GLORY to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 ESV

CONSIDERATE: Have you ever met someone who seems to make life all about them? And you would like to say, “It’s not about you!” In reality, we might need to say to ourselves, “It’s not about me.” Consideration is something that is taught to a person and normally doesn’t come naturally. We train children how to share and be considerate to their friends, and rightly so, for it can improve their life experience. Perhaps it is time for some retraining of ourselves to be more considerate to those who might not deserve it. Let’s look at how Jesus lived this by example…. Let each of you look not only to his own interest but also to the interest of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being in the likeness of men, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8 ESV Jesus considered us important enough to empty himself and die on a cross. Do you suppose we could empty ourselves by showing kindness and pointing people to the cross? This is not an easy work, but it is a work worth doing in a world that so badly needs to see the love that God has for them. It is in acts of undeserved kindness that Christ is revealed….. just like he has done for us.

APPLICATION: Be kind to one another. Ephesians 4:32a This next week, do something on purpose for God in an act of kindness toward someone who might not deserve it. To a person who cuts you off in traffic….smile and wave. To someone who cuts in front of you at the coffee shop…. buy them coffee and wish them a great day. To someone who is unkind to you in a store or at work…. give them a kind word or blessing. You are not responsible for their actions, but you are for yours. Be like Jesus…. even when they don’t deserve it, for this is how He has treated us…. while we were yet sinners…. He died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Forgiveness …… March 10, 2019

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

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

    Every action in life creates a reaction. The action of kindness can defuse a situation before it escalates into the action of destruction. Kindness is not weakness; in fact, it is quite the opposite, because it takes more strength to be kind when kindness is not deserved. Kindness is showing love toward a person even when that person may not deserve it. Remember how God loved us?
     God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 ESV…….. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his GRACE IN KINDNESS toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV
     Be kind to others by remembering the great kindness God has shown you…… even when it wasn’t deserved. God’s action created reaction in every person that has ever experienced His grace.

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

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

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

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

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

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Contentment …… March 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

True Wisdom …… February 24, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David

Persevering, By Living Well…… February 17, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David