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Showing posts from April 12, 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…