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Showing posts from April, 2017

Faith Comes by Hearing

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Romans 10:17 NKJV

In recent months we have established that faith is a choice, an action of the will. We have also discovered that willpower alone is incapable of growing our confidence in God. Only a glimpse into the heart of God can fuel our faith. This is why faith comes by hearing the word of God. Only God’s word gives us an undefiled picture of God’s heart of infinite love.

This is why Satan has worked so hard to draw men away from studying the word. Our world is full of false pictures of God’s character. Truth be told our own minds daily wrestle with false conceptions of our heavenly father. Subjects of a fallen world and born with fallen natures we are naturally inclined to wrong ideas of God. Aiding our natural inclinations the enemy inundates us with twisted world views which paint God as harsh, irrelevant, or simply non-existent.

Regardless of what messages the enemy spins they all boil down to a few common cha…

Identity

“and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."”
Matthew 3:17 ESV

During the temptations in the wilderness Satan desperately tried to lead Christ to doubt his identity. If thou art the son of God, was the artful insinuation with which Satan introduced each temptation. Weakened by 40 days without food and apparently abandoned by all earthly and heavenly support, Satan thought Jesus' faith would fail. After all, would God allow his own son to starve to death in the wilderness?

Jesus clung to the prophecies his life had thus far fulfilled as well as the recent revelation at his baptism that He was indeed God's son. It was the spirit working through the word of God which revealed to Jesus his identity and it must be the same for us. No matter what your circumstances may look like, God declares in His Word that you are His child. The more you derive your identity and self-worth from this the less power this world and it's em…

A Hardened Heart

"... And you are clean, but not every one of you."”
John 13:10 ESV

A distinction was made between Judas and his fellow disciples at the last supper. He alone was declared to be unclean. Judas was unclean because love for Christ was not found in his heart. Jesus was never allowed to become more than a means to an end for him. In his heart of hearts Judas did not embrace Christ's invitation to fellowship and friendship.

Through their time with Jesus, the eleven had been deeply touched and humbled by their master's love. The same tenderness which bound the hearts of the 11 to Jesus eventually hardened the betrayer. Judas despised his master's humility and apparent inaction.

Inflated by pride and hardened to the possible implications of his actions Judas took it upon himself to force Christ's hand. He concluded that if Jesus would not take the throne and promote his disciples to positions of greatness, then Judas would bring the crisis to a head.

It was Judas' de…

Jesus Believes Too

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:1-3 ESV


Jesus exercised faith. We sometimes forget this. No place in scripture demonstrates this more clearly than the last supper. Jesus understood the nature of his life work. He understood the difficulty of overcoming spiritual blindness. Yet as any other son of Adam, Jesus cherished the desire for fellowship and understanding. He did not expect the multitudes to discern his mission, but he greatly desired to be understood by his inner circle. At times we find evidence that Jesus marveled at how slow they were to comprehend his true character and mission. On the very last night he would spend with them on earth before his death, he was still denied the privilege of the…

He can declare you clean

“Jesus said to him, "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”
John 13:10 ESV

What does it mean to be clean? How could Jesus declare that 11 of the twelve were "clean" when just a few moments before they were bickering over who was the greatest. How could Jesus declare those men clean who were about to desert him? How was Peter, who in a few short hours would emphatically deny his Lord, clean?

None of the disciples understood Christ's mission, but a genuine faith bound 11 of the 12 to Him. They had grown to love their master, they believed in him enough to remain with him even amid great confusion and peril. No where else had they encountered the love and wisdom which emanated from Jesus. They were clean because to the best of their ability, they believed in him and where following him.

As that final meal revealed, all 12 of the disciples harbored desires for personal greatn…

Fishing by Faith

“And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets."” Luke 5:4-5 ESV

After a night of fruitless toil on the lake Peter was exhausted and discouraged. His beloved teacher's popularity was quickly fading and weighing heaviest on his heart was Jesus recent rejection by Israel's religious leadership.

Jesus read the discouraged hearts of his disciples that morning by the sea, by asking Peter to cast out his net one more time Jesus was challenging him not to lose faith. Believing in Jesus as the Messiah that morning felt as futile as fishing in broad daylight. In spite of his discouragement Peter chose to obey his master's command.

Find out how the story ends in Luke chapter 5 and discover the sure results of trusting and obeying regardless of what one's circumstance may look like.

Still S…

Prayer

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Psalms 91:1 KJV

        What if there was a place where you were always wanted. Where you could find a listening ear and a compassionate heart? A place where it was safe to be honest. A place where all of life's cares, burdens, and anxieties could be set aside. A place guaranteed to strengthen your courage and deepen your joy every time you visited it.

This place exists, it's called prayer. Prayer is not a duty. Prayer is not an obligation. Prayer is the opportunity for friendship with our Creator. When we stop asking for stuff, even good stuff, and simply begin sharing our hearts, we discover this place.

Here is a useful clue as to whether or not we are really praying. If we are not talking to God about the things which interest us, we probably aren't really talking to God. Muscle cars or Pinterest may seem strange topics to engage God upon, but if that is where a real conv…

How We Grow

“And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
Luke 22:15 ESV

          God lives in the reality of a universe injured by sin. Jesus was born into a broken world, in a smelly stable. He spent his first night on earth in a feeding trough for animals. Surrounded by the degenerate nature of sin on all sides, Jesus experienced humanity at its weakest.

          We inherit overly romanticized pictures of what Christ's life and ministry were like. Jesus was well acquainted with disappointment. Many long nights Jesus spent in prayer stretching his faith to grasp the hope that He would indeed accomplish man's salvation.

          More often than not appearances offered our Lord little hope. It was not part of Christ's plan that his closest friends would deny and abandon him on the brink of his greatest personal trial. Many times Jesus had attempted to communicate to his friends the fate which awaited him, but to no avail.

     …

Cultivating the Heart

“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”
Luke 8: 15

Do you ever struggle with feelings of hopelessness? If broken promises and failed commitments have tempted you to give up, don't lose heart!

         In Luke chapter 8, Jesus teaches us that our heart, like soil, must be cultivated in order to be transformed by the word of life. He promises that if we will let him, he will replace our hearts of stone with a heart like His. Jesus can break up the hard soil of our hearts. This happens when we acknowledge our need and place our faith in Jesus ability to help and heal.

         Successful cultivation happens when we focus on God's abilities as a master gardener. Focusing on the poor condition of the soil in our hearts only guarantees our inability to change. No matter how desperate the shape of our heart is, our God is more than up to the challenge of transforming it.

Still Seekin…

Brokenness

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9 ESV

          What do we do when the truth hurts? Like Jesus countrymen who tried to throw him off a cliff, most of us don't enjoy having our honest condition revealed. When we discover the truth about what happens when we acknowledge our brokenness we have no reason to hide from the light.

          When conviction comes knocking surrendering to it will not end in pain or shame, but rather in peace and hope. Nothing is more liberating than acknowledging our brokenness before the one who understands and does not condemn. Confession of sin is both acknowledging one's need of a savior, and expressing faith in God's acceptance and forgiveness.

             The initial pain associated with surrendering to conviction grows from an ignorance of God's heart. Many do not understand that confession includes faith in God's acceptance and forgiveness…

Waiting on God

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;”
Psalms 130:5 ESV

          In a world where everything is only a click away, impatience is becoming an epidemic. Emails, texts, and social media seem to demand a near immediate response from us and we expect the same from others. How can we recapture the art of waiting upon the Lord?

          When tempted to turn stones into bread Jesus was being tempted to move ahead of God. Jesus recognized the spirit's guidance in his wilderness trial and would not deliver himself from the place providence had seen fit to lead him.

          Jesus was determined to wait upon his Father to Sustain him physically and spiritually. He revealed this when he declared that man does not live by bread alone.

          Will you trust God to meet your needs in his ways and in his timing? It is tempting to run ahead of God to satisfy our perceived necessities or to deliver ourselves from difficulty. When we choose to wait on God we are demonstr…

Keep Looking

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV

          Remember the 3-D visual illusions which became so popular in the 90s, Those repeating patterns which when focused upon would yield a clear three dimensional image? People would huddle around pictures trying to see what was so interesting and then one after another would cry out, "I see it, I see it." This is much like the Christian experience. Because spiritual things are spiritually discerned it isn't until one begins surrendering their life to Jesus that they begin seeing through spiritual eyes.

          If you feel you are still staring blankly wondering what it is that others are so excited about, don't stop looking. Ask God to reveal himself to you, if you wait in faith, your will spiritual eyes will be opened.

Still Seeking His Face,
Pastor Andrew

Blind Spots

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalms 139:23-24 ESV

It is easy to get sucked into the "Plank in Eye" syndrome. This is the name Jesus gave to anyone focusing on the faults of others as an escape from addressing their own problems. Thankfully there is a cure for this dreadful condition, honesty with God. King David demonstrated this when he cried out for God to search him, know him, and see if there was any wicked way in him that he might be led in the way everlasting.

Remember honesty is not self-condemnation. If Satan can't get us to ignore our sin by judging others He tries to immobilize us with shame. This is why we are reminded that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

When we accept by faith that we are not despised of God but rather cherished and valued, we begin to see others in this same light. ''Plank-in-Eye" syndr…

Plank-in-eye Syndrome

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalms 139:23-24 ESV

It is easy to get sucked into the "Plank in Eye" syndrome. This is the name Jesus gave to anyone focusing on the faults of others as an escape from addressing their own problems. Thankfully there is a cure for this dreadful condition, honesty with God. King David demonstrated this when he cried out for God to search him, know him, and see if there was any wicked way in him that he might be led in the way everlasting.

Remember honesty is not self-condemnation. If Satan can't get us to ignore our sin by judging others He tries to immobilize us with shame. This is why we are reminded that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

When we accept by faith that we are not despised of God but rather cherished and valued, we begin to see others in this same light. ''Plank-in-Eye" syndr…

Investing

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13 ESV

Stock brokers invest according to the returns they expect to receive. Promising investments are heavily financed. Investors also hedge their bets by investing in numerous areas in smaller amounts. Not placing all of one's eggs in the same basket may be wise when approaching the stock market, but this wisdom does not translate into our relationship with God.

Giving God our leftovers or hedging our bets by dividing our investments only guarantees spiritual failure. Many conclude living for God is not worth it because they have never given God the opportunity to prove himself. Only when we step out in faith is God given access to pour his goodness into our lives.

The promise of finding God comes with only one condition, but it is conditional. The condition is that we step out in faith with our time and money. Faith by its very nature is believing that God is our most worthy investment. When we inves…

Trusting God With Our Happiness

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Malachi 3:10 ESV

Do we trust God with our happiness? That is what we are doing when we trust God with our money. Financial resources represent opportunity. It takes faith to believe that giving away money will ultimately benefit us more than if we kept it all to ourselves. Many are so financially entangled that it takes faith to believe they can even afford to give at all. God's promise remains, test me by giving a "full tithe and contributions," and see if I do not pour out a blessing until there is no need.

A desire for wealth as a path to happiness is doomed to fail. When we are wise stewards and honor God with our finances, God blesses us because he knows our heart is not set upon our money but upon him. Some give money to the…

Brave Parents

“"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction."”
Malachi 4:5-6

Brave parenting is the key to multi-generational revival. Brave parents break generational curses and open a healthier future to their children. Parents of all ages have the power to pave the way for Christ's return. Through a decided pursuit of God and an honest acknowledgement of personal faults, parents can reshape their children's future.

The story of God's chosen people is a powerful commentary upon the desperate need for Godly parents. A personal connection to God does not automatically translate into effective parenting. Men like Jacob, Samuel, and David were powerful spiritual leaders in their time yet they failed to lead their own children. As a result, everything gained by a si…

Created For Fellowship

“Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."”
Genesis 2:18 ESV

God never intended us to live outside the protective atmosphere of relationship. It was not good for Adam to be alone because the very intent of his creation was fellowship. Humanity has become far removed from the richest experience it is capable of appreciating. Satisfaction and fulfillment in this life are directly proportional to the quality of our relationships.

Redemption at its most basic level is a restoration of relationship. Through his death Jesus opened the door for us to be reconciled to God and to each other. The renewing of our mind which Paul speaks of is also a renewing of our priorities. As we grow in Christ, our time becomes more invested in people.

Society compels us to produce, excel, and accomplish. God calls us to relationship. The 21st century's norm of overworked parents and entertainment immersed children has gutted many h…

Beholding God

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.”
Psalms 19:1-2 KJV


Our time on this earth is so brief. We only have a few precious moments to fix our gaze on our redeemer and be transformed into his image. The all important question becomes how do we fix our gaze upon him? How do we look and live? It is not natural for humanity which is so inwardly focused to behold Him. Thankfully he has given us a multitude of wonderful ways to turn our attention heavenward.

Something as simple as taking a walk, watching a sunset, or taking in the blue sky and billowy clouds can draw the heart out after God. Nature testifies to the greatness of our savior who spoke all things into existence. Flowers speak of God's love for beauty but also his desire to surround us with tokens of his affection. The starry hosts of the night sky are intended to fill us with wonder at the greatness of our God.

Wheneve…

Inluences

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
Romans 13:14 ESV

If we are serious about walking with God by faith, we must address the influences we are allowing to feed our thought life.

God only calls us to let go of things that are hurting us. We never lose anything when we allow God to help us guard the avenues of our soul. We simply exchange counterfeits for the real deal. Much of what grips us in worldly entertainment is not evil, yet it is tainted. God desires to satisfy us with that which is pure, lovely, noble and untainted.

We were created to desire justice and while popular movies play upon this, they rarely grant us an accurate picture of it. We are rightfully drawn in by a love story, but this world's version of love sets us up for perpetual disappointment. Gaming plays upon our sense of adventure and wets our appetite for mastery and problem solving, yet after consuming hours of our most precious resource it gives us not…

How do we see God?

“"Be still, and know that I am God..."” Psalms 46:10 ESV

          Everyone struggles with seeing God for who he really is. The amount of faith we have in God is directly proportional to the picture we have of him. The difficulty lies in truly knowing how it is we actually view God. What we might write in an essay about him is likely only a reflection of what we know Christians are suppose to believe.

          Many Christians are upon more dangerous ground than the average atheist. To be operating unknowingly on a false picture of God is more damaging than to openly reject God based on limited information.

          How we live our lives is the most accurate indicator of what our internal concept of God is. If we are impatient, easily irritated, and hot tempered, what does that reveal about our concept of God? Joyful loving Christians are the only ones who have really discovered what He is like.

          We cannot afford to assume that just because we have been baptized an…

Learning to Drink Living Water

“Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith Jehovah: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.”
Jeremiah 42:11 ASV

More harm than good is accomplished when we unmask the enemy without revealing the Savior. If we acknowledge our sin and stop short of discovering how Jesus is able to fill our emptiness, we are setting ourselves up for disaster. Conscience will simply be further silenced when sooner or later broken cisterns are hewn out all over again. Rather than attempting to effect change through a fearful focus on our great sinfulness, we must choose to dwell upon Jesus as our completely sufficient savior.

The use of fear to motivate change makes for a shallow foundation. When highlighting the danger of worldly music, movies, or video games, great interest is often awakened. Many individuals immediately purge their homes expecting their victory complete. Unfortunately dying to self is not as simple as breaking a cd or…

Breaking The Sin Cycle

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Philippians 4:8 ESV

As we approach the new year, we can all think of things we aught to leave behind us. One worthy resolution would be to guard more closely the avenues of our soul, namely what we watch, read, and listen to. We are ultimately a product of the influences we surround ourselves with. Why then is it so difficult to cut out influences we know are not pure, kind, and true?

For those who know better, feelings of shame and condemnation attend poor media choices. The ability to be honest regarding whether or not something is genuinely a positive influence is important, but it is only the first step towards freedom. Once our conscience is awakened to our need for change the enemy changes his tactics. When we will no longer excuse poor media choice…

Gifts on Christmas

"...when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."
Matthew 2:11

Merry Christmas! Today many gifts will be exchanged, some with delightful expectation and others with dry obligation. We typically learn what not to do when studying Israel's history, but there were some tremendous bright spots in their experience. One of them was when they gave abundantly and joyfully of their possessions to aid the creation of the tabernacle. Their generosity was so great that Moses actually told them to stop because their gifts exceeded the need.

The investment of the wise men was an eternal investment and it still impacts the world today. May we invest our gifts this season in what counts, this is how we engage in the great exchange. The exchange of our earthly resources for heavenly treasure.

Like the Magi we too can bring gifts to our savior. The only difference is that instead of providing for his first advent our gifts will help …

Coming King

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy."
Matthew 2:10 KJV

There are people all over the earth looking for hope. People longing for something more in life, a better way. The Magi from the East were noble-hearted men, men who understood the world's need of a redeemer. Through their diligent search the Holy Spirit had revealed to them that the deliverer had arrived. Faithful to the light they were given they followed a star they believed to be moved by a Divine hand.

By this angelic star, God led the wise men to Jerusalem, the center of life for his chosen people. These sheep from another fold were astonished at the indifference they encountered from the religious leadership in Jerusalem. The very people from whom the world's redeemer had come were unaware and uninterested. The Wise men feared their brightest hopes and dreams were to be disappointed. But God never disappoints us when we search diligently for him.

Their great disappointment was over…

Time With God

“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.”
John 1:35-39 NIV

The time we spend with God is what effects change in our hearts. We can not seek the Lord day after day and remain the same. Not every devotion may feel like a breakthrough, but that is how relationships work, slow and steady. The time we invest in those we love deepens our love for them, it is how we are wired. This is why spending time with the Lord is an absolute necessity if we want to love him.

Still Seeking His Face,
Pastor Andrew

Fear

“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”
Psalms 34:11 ESV

The evolutionist argues that fear is a protective mechanism which has helped our species survive. There is a fear, however, spoken of in the Bible which leads men to do strange things, things which run against the evolutionary grain of explanation. To lay down one's life for a belief or to jump into harms way to save an enemy reveals the existence of something outside the evolutionary model.

When we discover that fellowship with our Creator is the very essence of life and that death cannot rob us of it, the only thing left to fear is bringing dishonor upon the One we have come to love more than life itself. This is the beginning of wisdom, this is the fear of the Lord.

Still Seeking His Face,
Pastor Andrew

Fish

“And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”
Luke 5:11 ESV

Do you ever feel like God is against you? When even your best efforts come to nothing and it seems as though you are supernaturally opposed? If so, you are in good company. After being brutally rejected by the people of Nazareth Peter and his fellow disciples sought to find security in that which they knew best, fishing. But no matter how hard they tried they could not bring in a single fish.

Jesus knew the pain and doubt through which His beloved disciples were passing that night. Touched by their sorrow, He waited for just the right moment to bring hope and further inspire their faith.  But before Christ stepped in to save the day He allowed his disciples to experience total failure at that which they felt most capable.

Finally, after an exhausting night on the lake Jesus opened their eyes through a miraculous catch of fish. Ironically this amazing catch inspired them to leave the fish…

Hope vs Condemnation

“And when he saw their faith, he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"”
Luke 5:20-21 ESV

Luke chapter 5 confronts us with a story contrasting the faith and tender mercy of a few friends with the unbelief and cold indifference of the pharisees. When Jesus forgave the sins of the cripple lowered from the roof into his presence, two different reactions transpired. The great joy of the cripple's friends was nearly equalled by the disgust of the pharisees.

Powerfully illustrated in this story is the fact that faith in Jesus and a merciful spirit are inseparable. Likewise a lack of faith in Jesus and an unmerciful attitude of condemnation also go hand in hand. If our attitude towards others is not characterized by mercy, we are not walking by faith.

When we rush through our days without a consciousness of God's heart toward sinner…

Faithful Friends

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.””
Luke 5:20 NIV

In Luke chapter 5 we read a touching account of a cripple brought to Jesus by his friends. Unable to find entrance into the house, they climbed up and lowered their comrade at the feet of Jesus from atop the roof. Seeing their faith, Jesus declared, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you."

What a determined faith the friends of this cripple demonstrated! They would not rest until they had brought their friend to Jesus. If only we would demonstrate the same persevering faith to bring our friends to Jesus. Like the cripple, many will not come without the encouragement and help of those who have faith in the power of God. We too can experience the joy of seeing our loved ones transformed by the grace of God no matter how desperate their current condition.

Still Seeking His Face,
Pastor Andrew

"Stuck"

“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."”
John 6:66-69 ESV


Jesus popularity plummeted when the multitudes discovered earthly riches were not to be gained through a connection with the humble Galilean. They missed who Jesus was and what it was he was capable of giving them.

It is natural to desire a white picket fence life, but God desires infinitely more for us now and in the life to come. He has come to break the power of sin and death and restore us to the communion of heaven and the likeness of God.

God's goodness can be experienced in the presence or absence of earthly treasure. As we grow in our relationship with Him at some point He outshines all of our previous pursuits. When we know him, loss…

Communicating With God is a Learned Skill

“In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.”
Psalm 25:1 NIV

There is more to trusting God than one might think. The same elements which sustain a healthy marriage are needed for us to grow closer to God. At some point insightful couples realize they don't naturally posses all the knowledge and skills a thriving marriage requires. Anyone can say "I do" but it takes a willingness to learn to make a relationship successful. It takes time to build trust and intimacy in a marriage, it takes time to build trust and experience intimacy with God. Effective communication is a learned skill with one's spouse, should we expect anything different in our walk with the Lord? Simply stated, we reap whatever we invest in our relationships.

Most Christians are familiar with the idea that getting to know God is important. The nuts and bolts of this process, however, are often not made very clear. Commonly used metaphors further muddy the waters for new believers. ''Keep your eyes on J…

We Don't Need Easy

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.””
Matthew 19:26 NIV

Faith makes things possible, not necessarily easy. Paul describes our daily transformation as a fight. This may sound intimidating, but nothing this side of heaven is a walk in the park. Sin is not the path of least resistance for long. Pain and disappointment attend all efforts at pleasing self.

The only logical choice for us is to choose the battle which guarantees us victory, now and for eternity. As we fight to constantly turn our face and trust heavenward, we are experiencing victory. The choice to trust is the victory.

God does not keep track of our failures. As we begin to understand his love for us, we stop keeping track as well. In victory, and in defeat, we are his because in both, we turn to him. Battles won bind us to him in gratitude. Battles lost remind us of our great need and his great mercy. Each time we turn to him we become more deeply convinced that …

His Rest

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28-29 ESV

               Resting in God frees us from attempting the impossible. At the core of our emptiness is a gnawing realization that we are selfish and unworthy. We can't change this and the more we try the more hopeless we become. But Jesus has the power to give us rest from this terrible burden. He carries what is too heavy for us to bear. He takes our shame upon himself and declares us clean. Then he gives us his yoke, and contrary to popular belief it isn't burdensome. When we share God's burdens he does the heavy lifting.

God's business is the uplifting of humanity. When we engage our energy with him in this, our soul finds perfect rest even when our arms are exhausted. If our souls are tired it is because we are attempting to lift a burden we were never mean…

Rest

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,”
Hebrews 4:9 ESV

Would you describe your life as restful? What is God offering us when he promises to give us rest? Our fast paced world does not value rest. Pleasure seeking, success, and influence are praised, but who was ever recognized for resting well? As God estimates things, rest is a most prized experience. It is something only he can bestow.

Hebrews tells us that we enter God's rest through faith. When we trust God to take care of us, we are at rest. Rebellion was spread among the angels through the idea that true satisfaction requires self-preservation. Satan argued that everyone must look out for their own best interests because God is only looking out for his. It was this lie that robbed a multitude of heavenly beings of an experience of perfect rest and peace.

Haven't we tested this theory long enough? Isn't it time that we enter God's rest. Is the Almighty not capable of meeting our needs and carr…

New Name

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.'”
Revelation 2:17 ESV


It is impossible to discover God and not also discover oneself. The one who formed us in our mother's womb knows us completely. Someday all who love God will receive a new name written upon a white stone which will help us understand how God sees us and who he created us to become all along.

We represent more to God then the gifts we can offer him. We are His children and we bear his image before the universe in a completely unique way. No two people are alike and each of us has the capacity to reflect a different aspect of God's character. When two people connect deeply with one another they both encounter a more vibrant picture of God. Seeing God through the lens of our unique personality, passion, an…

Breaking Media Addiction

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

          Character does not develop in a vacuum. The influences we subject ourselves to shape us. The things we watch and listen to impact our values. God understands that we need breaks from the daily grind. He placed within us the desire for recreation, rest, and rejuvenation. Our wise father also knows that this world's idea of entertainment does none of the above. Popular media has the capacity to take our minds off of life's demands, yet it does nothing to draw us to the source of life. Few would argue with the idea that today's popular entertainment choices do not uplift or edify. Why then do many spend precious free time subjected to media which only degrades? Yes, we have become desensitized, but it's more than that. We are addicted.

So...what do …

Stop

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
Revelation 3:20 ESV

There are so many demands upon our attention. Ironically the one most worthy of our attention never demands it. The demands upon us will never stop, yet we can stop. Many of life's anxieties are driven by the lie that happiness comes from staying a step ahead of one's to-do-list. Many people die just one accomplishment short of "success."

Heaven defines success by the quality of our relationships. God believes we are worth stopping for. As we seek him we become convinced that God is worth stopping for. Our children, spouses, and parents need to know they are worth stopping for and there is only one way to effectively communicate this.

Jesus refused to allow the enormous demands upon him to rob him of opportunities to stop and recognize someone's value. Sometimes he had to look up in a sycamore tree or benea…

We Fight By Faith

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.””
John 8:32 NIV

Sin and deception are inseparable. Lucifer's choice to believe a lie did not precede the first sin, it was the first sin. Selfish choices are the fruit of sin, but the heart of sin is choosing to believe the great lie that God is not good. Each day our most significant decision is what we are going to believe about our Father in Heaven. Gratefulness is the attitude of faith and entitlement the attitude of unbelief. If we choose to believe that God is worthy of our praise and that we can trust ourselves to his tender care we will engage our day with hope and thankfulness. If we choose to believe God is being negligent toward us then we will feel entitled to meet our own needs and satisfy our own desires at the expense of others.

Our fight is a fight of faith, a fight to believe what God says regardless of circumstance or feeling. When temptation to indulge sin tries to sweep us off our feet remember that …

A Word Fitly Spoken

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
Proverbs 25:11 KJV


Words are powerful things. Every communication that precedes out of our mouths is a reflection of what we are choosing to believe at the moment we speak. We can't directly control our feelings but we can control what thoughts we choose to verbalize. Feelings and thoughts of self-pity are unable to gain the upper hand if we refuse to give them a voice.

Through the gift of faith God has empowered us to verbalize the truth any time, anywhere, and any place. Verbalizing truth paves the way for our thoughts and feelings to follow. Some would experience a total transformation if they made a decided effort to guard their words more carefully.

Words not only powerfully impact the one who speaks them but also those who hear what is spoken. Your spouse and children are either strengthened or weakened by what they hear coming out of your mouth. A few cheerful words spoken at home or at work can make our prese…

Where to Focus the Mind

“And he said, "Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, 'Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 ESV

There are too many gloomy Christians. Sometimes we unintentionally give Satan more air time than God by constantly speaking of our many woes and difficulties. Focusing upon the power of evil and dwelling upon our anxieties leaves us discouraged and vulnerable to the enemies attack, yet choosing to think on God's goodness and what we have to be thankful for frees us from the tempter's power.

While the battle does not belong to us, we are very much a part of the fight. But in this fight we are never called to dwell on the enemy or his schemes. Our battle is over where we choose to let our thoughts rest. If we are constantly thinking and talking of the enemy's power we will have little strength to fight, but if we keep our mind turne…

First Dreams First

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4 NIV

Not all of our hopes and dreams can become reality. Not every hope and dream we have should become reality. There is only one hope and dream that must become reality. You can survive not hitting every professional goal you set, you may even survive not hitting every fitness goal you set, but you can't survive failing to love well.

Life demands prioritization. Even as we grow up we sometimes still cling to dreams that, while possible, aren't responsible. The desire to succeed and excel is important, but it is essential our definition of success aligns with God's definition. The only way to learn to love well is to discover how well we are loved. We don't seek God first so that we can achieve success, seeking God first is success. This side of heaven there may be some dreams we need to lay aside not because they are bad but because they limit our ability to invest in our ultimate dre…

Stuff

“Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?””
Matthew 19:27 NIV

What a tender knowing look Jesus must have given Peter when he asked what they would get in return for giving up everything to follow him. Jesus wasn't offended that in their question they looked right past the very salvation of their souls sitting in their midst. Jesus didn't even rebuke them but rather responded in language they could understand.

Knowing they would not truly understand his words for some time, he stated that anyone who would sacrifice for him would receive a hundred-fold return on their investment. Of course Jesus also knew that as they discovered who He truly was and what it was he had come to do they would give no thought for possessions or in the end even their lives. But Jesus promise remains true. Eternity and the new earth are indeed more than a hundred-fold return on any sacrifice we can make in this life, yet the mansions of heaven were not …

Emotions

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Psalm 42:5 NIV

We are so indoctrinated to follow our hearts that if something doesn't feel right we assume it must not be. Truth be told, emotions are "dumb" things, they are only as accurate as the information they are being fed. Without a doubt contrary feelings are the primary obstacle to overcome in our relationship with God. This being said, feelings are also an invaluable indicator of what we most naturally believe about him.

Redemption requires a fundamental shift in the way we view God and ourselves. This shift is initially challenged by feelings because they are typically still operating on outdated intelligence. The beautiful thing is that when feelings do begin aligning themselves with the truth we have chosen to believe, they prove a tremendous blessing.

Typically humans are nearly exclusively driven by feelings. In fact most peopl…

No Shame

“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
Genesis 2:25 NIV


We have all had the terrifying dream of appearing in public less than fully clothed. It is humiliating to have our imperfections exposed. In their perfection, the emotion of shame was completely foreign to Adam and Eve. By the time Jesus came to earth, shame and condemnation utterly dominated the landscape.

Christ accomplished something many fail to appreciate when he conquered sin. Jesus made available to us the same righteousness Adam and Eve appreciated before they fell into sin. Some assume that Adam and Eve were perfect of their own accord before the fall and they only required Christ's righteousness after they lost their own. But scripture teaches that there is only one who is righteous. It is trust in God's perfect love which binds all intelligent beings to God's righteousness.

When Adam and Eve chose the other tree instead of the tree of life, they broke with their dependence on God and in s…

God With Us

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) Matthew 1:23

God chose to be born into our world because sin exiled us from his. Jesus demolished the barrier which sin had erected. The design from the very beginning was for God to be with us. Nothing illustrates this more beautifully than the Sabbath. When we choose to set aside everything to be with God, heaven and earth meet.

Not all prayers effect a supernatural encounter, but every prayer motivated by a desire to know God more gains a divine audience. Heaven is not defined by a location but rather by knowing God (John 17:3). As long as we perceive eternity as a privilege to be earned rather than a trusting relationship with our creator, we will fail to draw life and strength from our devotional exercises. We must come to God to know him, trust him, and make him known to others. This is why Jesus came, and it is when we approach God with this purpose that we will find hi…

Good Father vs Bad Father

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Psalms 16:11 ESV

For many, the idea of devoting time getting to know God holds little attraction. How much we enjoy or dislike spending time alone praying is worth considering because it can shed light on what we really believe about God. After all, spending time in the presence of someone who is impossible to please is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Some if they were honest could describe their experiences with personal prayer this way.

When by faith we choose to believe that our God is what He claims, a tender loving father, suddenly our experience in His presence takes on a dramatically different feel. The reason the Psalmist  could declare he found Joy in God's presence was because he knew his Heavenly Father was full of pity, compassion, and love toward him. Rather than an abusive father who kicks his children when they are down, our Heaven…

Seeking God's Face

"You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, Lord, do I seek."”
Psalms 27:8 ESV

What does it mean to seek the face of God? It is more than desiring God's blessings. Seeking God's face requires us to reach past his hand. Scripture associates God's hand with His power, but his face is something more. When God asked David to seek His Face, he was inviting David to discover who He actually is.

When will we allow God to be more to us than simply an earthly help? If we will persevere in seeking God's face we will discover a heavenly friendship that is more precious than anything we could have asked for. I challenge you to place all of your personal prayers on hold but one. Ask God to reveal himself to you as you seek His Face.

Still Seeking His Face,
Pastor Andrew

Means vs End

''But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.'' Matthew 6:33

With our natural eyesight we interpret such passages in a contractual way. We think the reason to seek God first is so that He will bless us, if we do our part He will do His. It is another way of attempting to earn God's favor. The above scripture implies nothing of the sort. Matthew 6:33 is not a formula for achieving earthly success. God is simply pledging himself to meet our needs so that we can be undivided in our pursuit of Him.

We must constantly remind ourselves that God is not a means to an end, He is the end itself. Jesus shed his blood for one purpose, to reconnect us to the source of life, joy, and peace...Himself. It seems strange and abstract at first, how could a single relationship meet all of our needs? Yet mystery of mysteries, knowing and being known by God does exactly that. If it is gratifying to be appreciated and understood by on…

Love & Warning

“And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”
Revelation 14:9-10 ESV

Love and warning, these two realities go hand in hand throughout the Bible. God has done everything possible to redeem us. God appeals to our hearts through a manifestation of his goodness and the infinite value he places upon us. But God does not stop here, he is also painfully honest regarding the price selfishness demands of those who cling to it.

The colorful imagery of Revelation is intended to create a dramatic contrast in our minds and hearts between good and evil. The coercive selfish power of the beast is contrasted with the selfless Lamb of God. The seal of God and the mark of th…

Our Only Hope

“And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.”
Revelation 15:2 ESV

What does conquering the beast look like? What will transpire in the lives of the redeemed between now and return of our Lord? What will instigate the transformation of God's children from being lukewarm to becoming white hot beacons of light? We have the promise in God's word that there will be a great multitude who overcome. We also know that Jesus has made available this experience to every child of Adam who will by faith accept it.

Revelation is a book full of hope. It documents the triumph of righteousness and the eternal demise of evil. Most importantly God promises through the pages of this book to accomplish our redemption from start to finish. Two vital conclusions must be arrived at by those who will one day stand beside the sea of glas…

Heaven is Real

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."”
Revelation 21:1-4 ESV

Heaven's peace and joy begin the moment we accept God's free gift of eternal life by faith and begin walking with our Heavenly Father. But the sweet communion now available to us is but a foretaste of what lies ahead. Meditate upon the passage above. Read it over and over until you can recall it to mind through-out the day. Use the im…

Faith & Honesty

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
1 John 1:7 ESV

          Honesty...it's what allows our Lord access to our lives to bless and heal us. Some of our blind spots are currently beyond our reach, yet others God is ready and able to remove if we will let him.

          Faith in a God of love, power, and infinite wisdom is what empowers honesty. It is safe to acknowledge our problems to such a God. Full transparency and disclosure is not always safe with humans. People will often hold our faults and weaknesses against us, but never does our Heavenly Father do this. God is already fully aware of all of our issues yet he finds us beautiful beyond compare. Without faith in God's great love, confession is impossible. When we confess our sin we are recognizing our great need and His great love.

          As I write this I'm watching my son peacefully sleeping, wrapped in…