Showing posts from July 16, 2017

Feet in a Snare

“My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.”Psalm 25:15 NIV
How many exhausting years must we spend trying to free ourselves before acknowledging our helplessness? The good news is that while we are incapable of freeing ourselves, we are capable of getting to know the one who can. Even with our feet bound we can engage in a conversation. Yes Jesus enters our muck and is always within reach, his pursuit of us is more durable than we realize. He is eager to engage us in the kind of dialogue which builds trust. As he earns our trust and wins our heart he is also delivering us from the sins which do so easily beset us.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate how Jesus delivers us from sin is to inject some creative license into the passage above. The snare we are caught in has us more than simply immobilized. Sin distorts our perspective much like a helpless victim hanging upside down over a precipice. 
This fallen world is a treacherous place and countless sou…

Come As You Are

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.”Proverbs 16:20 NIV
          Our entertainment choices matter. Advertisers spend millions of dollars developing 30 second commercials which they know are capable of influencing our spending habits. If a 30 second spot can influence our actions it is naive to think that hours and hours of programming do not impact us.
          It is one thing to acknowledge the importance of carefully selecting the things we allow to influence us, it is another to actually do it. Most dismiss the potential their entertainment choices have to shape their values. Some cannot ignore the relationship between what we behold and what we become, but they still find themselves powerless to break free from degrading media. 
          Often the church has relied on guilt and shame to try and curb behavior, but this approach never works. Guilt and shame only further establish destructive behavior by driving it underground. 

Do We Want Him?

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”James 4:3 NKJV
           God does not keep a naughty and nice list like Santa, he only keeps a list of those who want him and those who don't. A desire to know, trust, and love God is a supernatural gift. It is a gift that our Heavenly Father is seeking to plant in each of our hearts. We sadly often reject this Internal transformation and instead approach God for help with the uncomfortable consequences of living selfish lives. 
          There is only one question we need to know the answer to, do we want Jesus, or do we only want the benefits associated with him? Ask Jesus to do more than fix your problems this morning, invite him to deepen your desire to have a relationship with him.
Still Seeking His Face,Pastor Andrew

Restoration of Relationship is Everything

“In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.” Psalm 25:1 NIV
          At its most basic level Christianity is the restoration of relationship between men and women and their creator. There is only one path to healing and it is through the mending of relationship. 
We don’t have appetite, greed, or pride problems, we only have a trust problem. Sin is misplaced trust. This is why time spent getting to know God and discovering how trustworthy he is can alone transform us.
This is why we seek His Face,
Pastor Andrew

Reserving Air Time for Jesus

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”I Corinthians 2:2 NKJV
          When our eyes are on Jesus everything else falls into place. When he is our primary focus we will live in a place of humble trust and unspeakable joy. Salvation and victory is entirely a matter of where we fix our gaze.
          The enemy of our soul does not care what we focus upon as long as it is not Christ. Within the context of Christianity there are various distractions which while appearing beneficial only rob us of fixing our thoughts and affections upon our Savior. An area which has often detrimentally distracted us has been an unwarranted focus upon the schemes of the enemy. With the best of intentions, some study the darkness with the intent to unmask it. Regardless of intentions, however, granting the enemy air time is never wise. 
          When we focus on the goodness of God we develop a natural and genuine aversion to evil. Discovering the schemes of t…

The Heart of Sin

“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” Hebrews 12:1,2

          The use of fear to motivate action makes for a shallow foundation. When highlighting the dangers of music, movies, or video games great interest is often awakened. Many individuals are inspired to immediately purge their homes. Unfortunately dying to self is not as simple as breaking a cd or torching a video game console. 
         As Christians we must challenge the root of sin and reveal in our experience and teaching how much better Jesus is than the best this world has to offer. The truth is we have the potential of doing more harm than good when we unmask the enemy without revealing the Savior. If we fail to address the lies that drive us to sin and the truth that Jesus is enough then we are setting people up for disaster. Conscience is liable to be further silenced…

Why We Fight

“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”     Hebrews 12:3-4 NKJV
          Some of us have a higher physical pain tolerance then others. Yet most of the pain we will face in this life goes beyond the physical. How well do we endure the pain of rejection or abuse? How do we respond to the pain of guilt or shame? What about the pain associated with temptation? How well do we navigate the discomfort of delayed gratification? There is no small amount of pain associated with denying appetite. Where does the strength come from to face pain in all its forms without caving into the pressure of lust, rage, or hopelessness?
          History reveals that rightly motivated we can be inspired to endure enormous trials without yielding the fight. Countless men and women have braved unspeakable things yet found strength to be more than conquerors throug…

Why Jesus Endured Pain

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”Isaiah 53:5 NIV
The following is a definition of mercy that sheds light upon the joy that was set before our Savior as he endured The Cross.
“Mercy is God's supply system for every need everywhere. Mercy is that kindness, compassion and tenderness, which is a passion to suffer with, or participate in, another's ills or evils in order to relieve, heal and restore. It accepts another freely and gladly AS he is and supplies the needed good of life to build up and to bring to peace and keep in peace. It is to take another into one's heart JUST AS HE IS and cherish him there. Mercy takes another's sins and evils and faults as its own, and frees the other by bearing them to God...".  ~Rex Andrews
Yes Jesus deemed us worthy of his pain, and the more we meditate on this reality the more we will count him worthy of ou…

There is no where to run from Pain

“Love suffers long…”            I Corinthians 13:4 NKJV
          Pain is a result of sin but it is not our enemy. Selfishness is our enemy. When we endure pain for love’s sake we deal a direct blow to our primary foe. Each time our carnal natures are deprived it hurts, but it works for us an eternal weight of glory. Dying to self is not always pleasant, but it's benefits far outweigh the costs, in this life and the next.
          While Jesus walked among us he was no stranger to pain yet he was full of joy. Most refuse to accept suffering, but by such a refusal they only rob themselves. Jesus modeled the path to abundant life, a path of bearing burdens for God’s glory. Pursuing personal pleasure is attended by emptiness while enduring difficulty for love’s sake is full of peace and joy. Nothing has more power to glorify God and bind us to his heart than the choice to trust Him in the midst of pain.
          There is no way to avoid pain in a fallen world, but when we choose to end…

Heaven Suffers

“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,”Revelation 12:7 NKJV
          As long as sin endures all of creation suffers. Even Heaven amidst its undefiled beauty endures the weight of sin’s degradation. Every intelligent sinless being longs to see our redemption completed. Angels in accordance with the heart of God suffer long and labor continually to encourage as many as possible to exercise a saving faith in Jesus. Heaven suffers with us not because it has to, but because it wants to. Love does not crave difficulty but it endures it gladly for others when necessary.
Still Seeking His Face,Pastor Andrew

Love Suffers Long

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;”I Corinthians 13:4 NKJV
          The path of least resistance never leads to anything worth while. Love is the purpose of life and it is worth fighting for. Successfully waging war against self requires us to endure pain. Love suffers long and when we endure pain for another’s sake we are entering into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.
          This sounds good but what does it look like in our day to day experience? Most people run from pain. It is easy to believe the lie that happiness is found only when we are free from difficulty. But Jesus for the joy that was set before him found strength to endure the cross. Happiness is found only in love and love requires us to endure pain on behalf of others. 
          When one person treats us harshly will we absorb the offense and not respond in kind? Will we strive for control so that we can avoid pain, or will we choose love’s path? Se…

Revival Always Steps Forward

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.””John 12:32 NKJV
          Revival is always a step forward never a step backward. Sometimes we are tempted to think that all we need to do is to return to the good old days and everything will be alright. But then we read about the good old days and realize that everything was NOT good.           One valuable conclusion a study of history should reveal is that we need more of Jesus. The brightest spots in our history were always when Jesus was lifted up among us. Each day presents a fresh opportunity to do this, to set the world aside and rest in Him. When we taste his goodness we will share it with others.
Still Seeking His Face,Pastor Andrew

Jesus edged out by Tradition

“He said to them, “ All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”Mark 7:9 NKJV
          Seventh-Day Adventists have a unique relationship with God’s law. At a time in earth’s history when God’s law was largely believed to be done away with, our pioneers found beauty and permanence in God’s perfect law of love. God granted precious revelations to our founders to better understand the issues at play in the Great Controversy between this law and the enemy’s law of self interest.          At some point, however, God’s law became to us more than a revelation of Jesus’s heart, it became a substitute.This is what happens with God’s law when our first love grows cold. Like the Jews we began to burry God’s law under the traditions of men.          During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s a precious revival took place among us which sought to restore Christ to pre-eminence. The effects of this revival were far-reaching yet the effects of the legalism it sough…

Obedience is not an end in itself

““If you love Me, keep My commandments.”John 14:15 NKJV

          While God’s law reveals what Love looks like, only a personal relationship with the one who is LOVE can write such a law upon our hearts.          We tend to get obsessed over attempting to observe God’s law as if that were the entire point. We treat obedience as if it were the epitome of success. Yet obedience is not an end in itself.
          Genuine obedience to God’s law of love can only happen from the inside out. We only are obeying God when we want to, forced compliance is always temporary.          Obedience is a consequence of connecting with Jesus. It is the natural fruit of a growing conversation between ourselves and our Heavenly Father. It is the fruit of, not the purpose of, our faith in Christ. If obedience were the entire point then God’s government would be one primarily interested in control. Yet God is most interested in winning our hearts and securing our happiness. This is exactly what makes God wort…

Beautiful Law, Safe God

“The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.”Psalms 14:2 NKJV
          Our degree of Surrender is directly proportionate to the degree we understand that God is safe and we have no reason to resist his loving advances. God’s law is meant to stand as a articulation of His character, a public manifesto of his love and wisdom. 
          What do we see when we look into his law? Do we see coercive limits upon our freedom and happiness? Or do we see something else, something which outlines and protects relationship? Is God’s law a blessing or a curse?          Everyone will either discern the nature of God’s law and surrender or resist what they do not understand. Many accusations have been leveled against God’s law over the years, yet those who actually search it out for themselves find a beauty beyond compare. They find rest from the exhausting demands of selfishness and protection from evil. Everything about God is wond…

Worthy Rebellion

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV
          Rebellion is not Intrinsically Evil, It is not always a bad thing. We were engineered to be incapable of surrendering to anything but perfect love. Because of this we rightfully should rebel against anything that misrepresents God and the love he has for us.          When God’s love is buried underneath the traditions of men, rebellion is necessary. Yet not rebellion for rebellion’s sake, but rather for the sake of reformation so that we can be reconciled to God.          Sadly, many understandingly rebel against false pictures of God imposed upon them, but then they fail to search for the real deal. Many simply continue on in rebellion never turning to consider that perhaps they don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water. Perhaps God is infinitely better than they were told and he is simply waiting for them to seek and discover him for themselves.
          Instead of …

Love vs Power

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”Romans 11:33 ESV
We all crave more, we want to live and prosper and find satisfaction and pleasure in this life and in the life to come.
The path of life, life itself, is defined by a trusting relationship with God. A relationship which leads us to yield our sovereignty and to take up a life of obedience to God's law of love.
Happiness and Life are found not in discovering the hidden mysteries of God's power, but rather in feasting upon the open revelations of his love.
So many of us struggle to surrender to God because we don't understand his ways. While much of what we don't understand now will be revealed in the hereafter this cannot provide the foundation of our faith. 
Our faith must be built upon and strengthened by what God has revealed regarding his great love for us.
The tree of knowledge represents a demand on behalf of created beings to se…

Perfect Love does Exist

“"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."”Revelation 4:11 ESV
God does not demand our allegiance but he alone deserves it. Worship is the recognition of where honor is due. God is unsearchable and scripture declares no one can figure him out, yet what we can understand is that he is completely worthy of all the love and honor we could ever bestow upon him.
If a being existed who was truly all powerful, completely unselfish, and who created and sustained life for love's sake, it would only be right to worship Him. Scripture simply declares to us that such a being does indeed exist.
We have been born into a struggle which has called into question the righteousness of God and the genuineness of his law of love. We have been given this life to make our choice to believe God's self revelation and be reconciled to an eternal fellowship with him, or to believe the rebel…

Dependence Rocks

“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength...”Isaiah 30:15 ESV
Contrary to the delusion of our fallen natures we were never created to be our own masters. By definition no created being can be. Thankfully, happiness is not found in independence but rather in complete dependence. Because God is God alone, no created being can find satisfaction in pretending to take on such a prerogative.
The enemy portrayed freedom and happiness as being found in looking out for one's own interests, but nothing could be further from the truth. While being one's own master may appear empowering, this delusion ends in death.
The truth of our humble estate is not bad news. To have all of our needs met by leaning on the arm of Omnipotence is actually liberating and restful. True freedom is found in losing sight of self and living for the good of others, paying forward the blessing God has bestowe…

The Source of Life

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”John 14:6 NIV
          What is the essence of life? The answer to this question speaks directly to the issues at play in the Great Controversy between good and evil. Jesus declares that he is the way, the truth, and the life. On that dark day Adam and Eve chose the tree of mysterious knowledge and self-reliance instead of the tree of life.
          What we obey reveals where our trust lies. When we obey the dictates of our fallen nature we reveal that our trust is placed in self. When we obey God's law of love we reveal that our trust in one greater than ourselves. Only in doing this can we find contentment and rest.
          The tree of life was so named because it revealed that life is defined by a trusting connection and dependence upon God, the source and sustainer of everything. God does not simply show us the path to life, we find life in him, in his loving embrace.