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Showing posts from April 1, 2017

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…

A Better Way

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:9 ESV

In this journey of trusting God more, sin, as we typically define it, is not the most difficult thing to surrender. It is often more difficult to surrender control over our battle with sin. Even though, if we are honest, our efforts against sinful behavior have proven ineffective, as long as we are in charge of the struggle we maintain a degree of security.

As long as we are convinced that greater effort along the same lines we have worked for years will prove successful we will remain trapped. God has a relational solution to our sin that is foreign to us. Faith calls us to look up and behold the beauty of our creator and redeemer. We do this by daily opening our heart in conversation with him, by meditating on his promises, by wrapping our minds around a goodness beyond our wildest dreams.

We tend to be obsessed with our behavior and allow this focus …