Now We See Things Imperfectly
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Cor 13:12
Prophecy is always easiest to see and understand after it has come true. We look back at the events of the past and we see all the details from today and it’s easy to see how they all worked together. But when you’re waiting for prophecy to come, sometimes it seems as if you are waiting in the dark. We can’t see many details, we don’t understand how the trials and roadblocks in life will work out to accomplish anything good. All we have are the promises of God. “Trust and obey. Follow me. Do not be afraid or worry for the Lord is with you everywhere you go.” Here is where faith must come in.
While we’re waiting to see with our eyes what God is doing, our confidence is not in “let’s hope it all works out.” God wants us to know what’s coming and be encouraged before we see events unfold. He wants us to see with our heart before we see with our eyes. That’s what faith is. Scripture says “we see things imperfectly,” but we still see them. Faith fills in the gaps of our understanding. All we’re waiting for is clarity, but we believe in faith that there is clarity. Jesus said he was telling us what was going to happen before it happened so we would believe, be encouraged, strengthened and comforted. When the confusion is gone and we see God as he is, I want to be able to say I had faith in what He was doing even though I didn’t see everything clearly.
Whoever Touches Them Will Be Holy
"You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy." Ex 30:29
Have you ever read the Bible all the way through? If not, you’ve in for a treat because as you do, you pick up on verses that you had never read before. A few years ago, I came across this verse alongside the verses that describe the articles used in worship in the temple. The temple was the focus of worship in the Old Testament and the place of the literal meeting place God spoke to his people. As the temple was being built, God told Moses to purify certain articles used for worship. What caught my attention was the verse that said “whatever touches them will be holy.” It’s his presence in the temple that makes the ordinary holy. God regards these physical items in the temple so highly that they will make whatever touches them holy.
This is exactly what Jesus does when he touch us. His sacrifice purifies the unclean; it removes the dirt of the world and to washes clean the heart that is stained by sin. I’ve been real dirty on the job before. So dirty that the only thing I want to do is take a long shower when I got home. I don’t mind getting dirty because I know I can be clean again and does it feel good to be clean! What a joy it is when we discover we can be eternally clean from the filth of sin. What blessings are ours to know we can be made holy by the touch of the maker of universe. Have you touched Jesus today? He is waiting and willing to touch you to make you clean and whoever touches him will be holy.
Blessings as we work in the field of souls,
1 Cor. 12
We are currently in a series called, “One Body, Many Parts.” I think in the future I need to do a follow-up series called “Growing Pains,” because I can see areas in my life that are stronger than they have been and a few that are not as strong as I want them to be. It makes sense because I know I’m not perfect yet, but I sure want to be. Perfection comes in heaven, but I have to admit, this growing stuff hurts. I don’t like a spot light to shine on my areas of weakness. And not only does God show us the areas we are weak in, then he rubs them and “Ouch!” that hurts. I don’t like that. It’s uncomfortable at least and it hurts at most. Like when you pull a muscle in your leg when you’ve been walking or running hard. It’s in a place you can’t ignore and you need to get the pain out. It hurts and is uncomfortable and if you don’t pay attention to the pain now the consequences in the long run can be more costly than the short amount of pain it takes to rub it out in the here and now.
That’s why God is called the great physician. He knows where the hurt is before we do and he allows us to go through that pain so he can help us heal from it and be stronger that we were before. I know pain is a part of growing but it’s far better to grow through the pain with the great physician at our side than it is for us to try and treat ourselves. He monitors out progress and let nothing by his watchful care except that which is for our good. It may hurt for a while, but my physician know where I hurt and he is on the job. By the way, he loves house calls.
Growing to be more like him,
Where’s the Focus Button?
Have you ever wanted to hear the voice of God? Have you wanted to hear him with your physical ears and not just with your heart? Perhaps part of hearing the voice of God is the want to. It seems as if Job wanted to hear from God desperately. For 36+ chapters he makes his appeal in face of his opposition, of all people, his friends. But when God does show up, His response to Jobs pleading is unexpected. Instead of vindication, Job receives education.
God helps Job with his perspective in life by helping him focus on what’s really important. Over and over again God reveals the wonders of creation as only God knows them. So complete is the lesson that the only thing Job can say is “WOW.” (my paraphrase) It seems as if God tells Job, “Job don’t focus on your small corner of the world. Look at the big picture, it’s not about you, it’s about me. You are destined to be a part of eternity, live like it.”
There is no better way to gain perspective on life than to see your life the way God does. When we hear his voice and see life the way He sees it, we will respond the way Job did, "I am unworthy — how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. Job 40:4 In other words, “Wow God, my life is much more than myself. I’m going to stop talking now, I’ve said too much already!”
Lord, help us to hear your voice so we can focus on what is worthwhile for eternity.
Sometimes, I Make a Choice To Trust and Believe
When it comes to faith, sometimes there is no super spiritual formula to follow or step by step guide to check off, we just need to take God at his word and believe. I know this pleases the Father because he does not give us ever answer, he just wants us to trust and believe that he will take care of the details that are out of our control. Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please God.”
This is difficult because we like to be in control. We’ve followed our own plans so much that sometimes we don’t know any better. But faith is a picture best painted by the hand of God and it takes time to see how it all makes sense. We need to trust that God knows our needs and that he desires to meet those needs. Be assured that you may not understand all that God has planned for you but that does not mean he doesn’t have a plan, it’s just not finished. And his ultimate plan for our lives is to make us like Jesus and that takes a lifetime.
When I’m frustrated and discourages, I remind myself that God is in control, and I am not. He has a plan and his plan includes hope and a future (Jer 29:11). I choose to believe He has my best in mind and I will trust Him to take care of the details that I can’t (Heb. 11:6). I can tell you this for sure, he hasn’t let me down yet.
My the Lord bless and keep you,
Revival or Judgment?
As a pastor I have a call on my life to see the lost saved, the hurt healed and lives to be changed by the truth of God’s word. As a people my heart longs for a revival fire of God’s spirit to open eyes to the truth and for multitudes to confess Christ as Lord. Wouldn’t that be something to see! But as the tide of our culture goes further out into the depths of depravity I know judgment is close at hand. But judgment is an instrument God uses to bring the people closer to him as well.
Judgment has a way of bringing us back to reality and forcing us to look at what is really important in life. At least, the loss of material possessions and pleasures shows us how bankrupt we are in regard to what will last forever. So when these times come, what must believers be ready to do?
First, we must have our priorities in place now. A wise minister once said to me, “Consider investing your life in the two things that will last forever. People’s lives and God’s word.” Are we investing in others and showing them what God has called us to be. 1 Cor. 13 is the best place to start if you’re looking for a list. Are we being followers of God by knowing what his word says and putting it into practice in our lives now? Then we can share the hope we have with others when they see the world crashing around us and we’re not losing it. God has promised in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” People need hope when times seem hopeless. We need to be ready to share the hope we have in Christ. People will be looking for answers and God has given us the answer key. When judgment comes, boldly proclaim the truth.
The King is Coming!
More than anything, I think this election like the few prior served to remind us where we are as a nation and the direction we’re going as people. There are some issues that passed states approval that are not an example of going forward. They’re examples of going down, way down. However, as I keep reminding myself, things are going to have to get worse before they get better. The collapse of godliness is the precursor to the return of the Messiah. But in the meantime we need not be discouraged by the failing of men, only hold on to the anchor of God’s word and trust that he is still in control. And, as Joel Rosenberg put it:
God’s not finished with us yet and as Christians we may be in the minority but our leader, our ruler, the King is coming.
Anxiously waiting for His return,
We’re Talking RELATIONSHIP!
John 10:3 ...and the sheep listen to His voice, and He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
In this day and age if you ask an individual if they are a Christian, 90% of the time they say “yes.” What they are really saying is that they know who Christ is because they have gone to church at one time or another, or they have been to a Christian Camp or a similar event or they think, “If I answer ‘yes’, this person will leave me alone.”
But when you start talking relationship, suddenly everything changes. Since God is our Good Shepherd, He is with us daily and scripture says He is speaking to us and leading us daily. According to John 10:3 we who are His sheep, “hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.” When you ask individuals, "What is God saying to you, what is He been speaking to your heart," or "were is God leading you?" The truth becomes obvious. The blank look that follows says it all. People don’t have time for God. They think a relationship with Him is not worth while. But when you realize this is the same Shepherd that in Psalm 23 leads us to green pastures and beside still waters, you can see the desire of God to care for His Creation. Our utmost good has not escaped the concern of Almighty God.
When you think about who God is, and who we are, it’s a miracle that John chapter 10 exists. Here is a picture of ultimate goodness, unending kindness and perfect love. Here is a picture of a God who is concerned enough about His Creation to spend time with them daily. The greatest miracle of all is that we have a choice as to whether or not we want this relationship to continue for all time. We only have this life to make that choice.
Whose voice are you hearing?
Which shepherd do you follow?
Is it the Good Shepherd?
Have You Ever Been Caught Unprepared?
Have you ever been caught off guard by unexpected guests? I’m talking about the guests that stay the night or the weekend. When you have guests over you want the house to be spotless, the pantry to be stocked full and the welcome light on.
Many times in Scripture, Christ equates our lives to the conditions of a house. In Luke 6 Jesus talks about a wise man who builds his house upon the rock. Likewise we are to build the house of our lives on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. Not only to be prepared for the storms of life that require a solid structure built upon a solid foundation, but to be prepared for His unexpected return.
Before Christ left the earth He said “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3 We know that He is coming, but we don’t know when. Is it possible we can be prepared for His return even though we may be caught us off guard at the time of His return? Yes, we can be prepared even though we might be caught off guard. If our house is in order and sitting upon the firm foundation of Christ, we are prepared. Christ died and rose from the dead to give us new life; that’s why we celebrate Easter and His coming again. After Easter it’s our responsibility to be ready, house in order for His return.
Take time today to prepare.
God, What Do You Want?
Life is hectic. These past few weeks have been a time of fast paced coming and going for me. I've been so busy that my personal times with God have been few and far-between. As a result, I have started to slip into a habit of living life on cruise control and not actively engaging God in his fullness. Thus some areas of my life have started to run on the low side of "life to the fullest."
Now understand, there are areas of life where God expects us to obey what he has already said in his word. This is the point of John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command." But too often, we live life on cruise control obeying the commandments we learned from years past. Commandments such as love God with all your heart, love one another, resist temptation, and be an example, etc. But all the while, we forget God pursues a loving relationship with me today that is alive, growing and dynamic. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10 that God has work for us to do today and He is waiting for us to join Him in where He is already at work. So the question to ask God daily needs to be,
God what do you want from me today?" If we are too busy to seek God and join Him where He is working, then we will find our work for the kingdom exactly that, our work and not God's work. We will see little results, no growth and a lot of people who are all worn out. Sound familiar? I am tired of being tired. My desire is to see God do great things, move mountains and make the sun stand still. This will happen only if we stop "doing" and start abiding in Him and ask, "God what do you want?" Pray, ask and look for God to use you where He is.
A church with a heart for Christ in the heart of Belen.
Are You Doing the "Well Done"?
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he agave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.”
Jesus tells a story of a master who entrusts three servants with the management and investment of his wealth. Each was expected to use the wealth given to him. Each was given an amount that was proportionate to their ability. What is most interesting is that the two servants who used the resources were commended by the master for doing well with what they were given. Only the third servant who did nothing was punished and charged with wickedness and laziness. To compensate for his apprehension, the third made an excuse for himself. The master responded with a solution the servant should have known, “You could have deposited my money in the bank and when I returned I could have at least collected some interest.” (vs. 27)
God has given all of us talents and resources He expects us to invest for the kingdom. Investing takes time, patience and some sacrifice on our part. None of us have the luxury of telling God we don’t have what it takes to use what He gives us. God’s response is, “If you will trust me and use what I give you, you will not fail. I will make sure of that.” God expects us to use the resources He has given us whether they are little or much. What we discover is when we use God’s resources, they grow into other areas to bring a harvest that we never imagined they would. This is how God can “harvest crops where He does not sow and gather crops where He did not cultivate.” Imagine the frustration and anger the master has to the servant who did not even try to use the resources he was given. He would not have failed if he had put the smallest effort into the work. For we must remember the smallest effort can yield great returns. Our trust is in the resource of what God had given us, not the resources of our own ability.
“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.” James 5:7
Have you ever gone on a vacation and not enjoyed the trip to your destination? Especially when you drive, the traveling alone is part of the joy of going on a trip. The wide open skies, forests, mountains and scenic valleys make the long hours just a bit easier to endure. My wife enjoys reading as we travel, a concept I find hard to understand because she prefers historical fiction over the amber waves of grain. But one thing she is always good at doing. She always hears me when I say, “Wow, that’s beautiful, look over there.” She puts down her book and enjoys the extra special vista I brought to her attention. She never doubts my word and she is always grateful to see the sight.
I wonder how many times God tries to get our attention and we fail to hear his voice. When we don’t look up from the things that so consume our time, we fail to see what he has for us. Don’t get me wrong, life has its concerns that need attending too, but when we are consumed with the day to day we miss the joy in the journey. James reminds us that the journey is long and that patience is necessity. If we rush through our days too fast, we miss the joy of seeing our heavenly Fathers demonstrations of beauty and love. He never stops trying to get our attention. All we need to do is look up when he says, “Look at how beautiful this is!” Take time today to look around you and see what God wants to show you. You don’t want to miss it.
Blessings as we work in the field of souls,
The Dish of Faith
Do you enjoy fellowship over a good meal, especially a good pot luck on Sunday, which our church does really well I think. I believe the idea of fellowship and food came from God himself because in Luke 22:29-30 Jesus said, “And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom. . . “
Have you walked through the line and delighted to fill your plate with all the varieties food you have not had in a long time? And have you ever come across that one dish, the mystery dish that no one knows much about but according to the person who is coming back for a second helping, is really good? That is what faith is like.
Faith is the one meal we don’t seem to eat enough of but from the reports of a few who have tried it, is really good. Not only is it good, but according to Heb 11:6 “without faith it is impossible to please God.”
We like to be in control. We have followed our own plans so much that we don’t know any better. But faith is a dish best served by the hand of God and it takes time to cook. We need to trust that God knows our needs, that he desires to meet those needs and that he will provide for all we need. Be assured that you may not understand all that is in it, but once you have tried it, you will want more. Allow faith to have its work finished in you, so that you may be completely full, lacking in nothing. Now, pass me some of that mystery dish, it sure looks good.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2–3
Everyone Will Know
Certain people have signature slogans, song and other identity tags that let you know who they are even before you see them coming. I can think of the days when I watched professional wrestling. Did those guys ever have flashy costumes complete with theme songs and signature wrestling moves. It was real wasn’t it? You knew who was coming in to the arena before they ever stepped into the ring.
Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34–35. By our love for one another, Christ said that everyone will know we are God’s disciples by the evidence of what we do. Not by our beliefs or by the stands we take, but by how we love and care for each other when there is a need.
This past week we had so many people live out this passage in our lives by helping us move to a new house in our neighborhood. The out pouring of support and physical labor was more than I dreamed. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to ask someone else to put themselves out especially if heavy physical labor is involved, but I guess that’s why it’s called a labor of love. Jesus also said it’s better to give than receive. So to everyone who helped and wanted to help, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
A special thanks to Cindy Sluter and Rena Melzer for cleaning our bathrooms. Jim Clark, Aaron Ridley & David Ridley for helping us move. Ken & Linda Jenkins for helping us move and cleaning our old house, that was an unexpected blessing. Ann Colgrove for making us three meals and wow were they great. Candace & Jamie Doogle for loaning us a few moving carts. Laurie Duffy for bringing over two huge subs from the church and countless others who got the word late and still called to offer help. Thank you all so very much. You truly were examples of God’s love for us. Words cannot describe how much I thank God for my church family and the disciples of the Lord here in Belen.
Blessings to you all,
Pastor David. Type your paragraph here.
Follow My Example
Role models are big in our society. They do everything from speaking out on current events to selling us the latest hair shampoo. But as popular as celebrities are, not many of them are individuals we would say we’re following as examples in our lives. But as believers, how many of us would say, “If you need an example of what a Christian really is, look at me and follow my example?” This is exactly what Paul did in 1 Cor 11:1 when he said, “Follow my example.”
Granted, no one is perfect and we all have areas we are growing to be more like Jesus, but the world is in need of examples of true and genuine believers to stand out from among the rest whose lives reflect the person of Christ. For too long we have put off our responsibility to be accurate examples of what a Christian really looks like. We fear that works will become part of our salvation or others will see us as prideful. When others look at us, they should see Christ in us and Christ in the church. Nine times, Scripture exhorts us to be an example that others can look to and follow. Jesus himself said, I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:15-16 Our families, co-workers, friends and fellow believers need us to be Jesus to them. We cannot neglect this responsibility because the Lord said, “Follow me, do as I have done.” Paul said with boldness, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Cor 11:1
What to Pray When You’re at a Loss for Words
In school I was the good kid, the teacher’s pet, the model student. I didn’t intentionally try to cause trouble or disturb class with talking out of place. As a matter of fact I was chosen best student my 8th grade year in middle school. I’ve never had a problem with speaking in front of crowds either. I enjoy conversation with large groups of people. Church congregations, pastors’ luncheons, family gatherings, funerals, live TV, just ask and I’ll speak in front of anyone. And no matter who it is, I’ve never been at a loss for words in any situation. But there are times when I’m at a loss for words with the one person you would think is the easiest person in the world to talk to - God.
From time to time I find myself simply unable to say what needs to be said. It’s like my heart knows what to say, but my brain is out to lunch and there’s a sign on the door that says, “Come back tomorrow.” It’s in those times I want to pray something meaningful but I don’t know where to begin. Paul says in Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” It seems like Paul is saying, “If you don’t know what to pray, don’t worry. God still has you covered.”
When we don’t know what to pray and all we can do is express desperation, the Spirit says what needs to be said. It’s as if we have an interpreter that knows exactly what we need to say even if we don’t know it ourselves. That’s who God is. He is our helper in time of need. Scripture says, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever”, John 14:16. So if you find yourself at a loss for words in the presence of the King of the universe, don’t worry. He will help you with the right words even if you don’t know what they are.
Have You Ever Been Caught Off Guard By Unexpected Guests?
Have you ever been caught off guard by unexpected guests? I’m talking about the guests that stay the night or the weekend. When you have guests over you want the house to be spotless, the pantry to be stocked full and the welcome light on.
Many times in Scripture, Christ equates our lives to the conditions of a house. In Luke 6 Jesus talks about a wise man who builds his house upon the rock. Likewise we are to build the house of our lives on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. Not only to be prepared for the storms of life that require a solid structure built upon a solid foundation but to be prepared for His unexpected return.
Before Christ left the earth He said “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3 We know that he is coming, but we don’t know when. Is it possible we can be prepared for his return even though we may be caught us off guard when he returns? Yes, if our house is in order and sitting upon the firm foundation, we can be prepared. Christ died and rose from the dead to give us new life, that’s why we celebrate Easter and he is coming again. After Easter it’s our responsibility to be ready, house in order for his return.
Take time today to prepare.
Blessings, Pastor David
“No, in all these things we are more than overcomers through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
What are We Really?
As believers, what are we to expect our new lives in Christ to be like? Are we to live as if nothing bothers us or gets under our skin? Does God intend for us to be fearless conquers for the kingdom with never a trouble or care? Well if this is what God meant when he had Paul write Romans 8:37, then I honestly have to say I’ve missed the mark. My life since I gave my all to Christ has not been without its share of valleys and storms. But Jesus himself said, ““In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”” John 16:33b
There is that word again, overcome. If Jesus himself said we will have trouble i.e. bad times, low moments and times in our lives when we are beat up and spit out, then what does he mean when he said I have overcome it? Doesn’t that mean I have overcome it too? I believe Jesus meant that we will have hard times and difficulties but they will not get the best of us. We will overcome them meaning we will be standing in Christ when all is said and done. We are destined to be made perfect in heaven but on earth there is still work to be done. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer guarantees that we are a work in progress. And to do work, you need tools.
Trials are the tools God uses to make us his overcomers. Every master has tool they use to create their great works and God has a plan to use the trials in my life to make me his master piece. I can trust since he is using them and not letting life just happen then I am being made into an overcomer through him who loves me.
Blessings and peace be with you,
Strike 3, God You're Out!
". . . . the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.” “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18
Of all the stories in the Old testament, this is one of my favorite. Three young men faced with a life or death scenario. Bow down or die. Some would say “Just bow down, it’s no big deal. This is your life were talking about.” But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t think so. They knew that bowing down on the outside is a sign of a lack of commitment on the inside. God commanded, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything . . . You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” Exodus 20:4 Their devotion was to God and they took that devotion to its ultimate end. And this is the place some fail when it comes to living for God.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s response to the King was that it is better to stand for God even if it means you pay a price for it. The reward will always outweigh the sacrifice. Some people will gladly embrace Christ if they feel they will get and not have to give. But the moment hardship comes and sacrifice is involved, they bow their knee to another god. Sometimes we don’t give God a second chance because of a hurt or hardship that has caused us to sacrifice and go through some measure of discomfort. Understand, your pain will never come close to the suffering God went through on the cross. He carried the sin of the entire world and that is a load we will never know and thank God for it. No matter what we go through in this life, it is well worth the temporary cost. Heaven is forever. May we echo the words of three young men who said “Understand this o King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Blessings, Pastor David.
The Lord, Whose Name is Jealous
I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.
Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
Ex 20:3, 34:14
Does the word jealousy leave a bad taste in your mouth? Maybe you’ve dated someone who was jealous or know of someone who is married to a jealous spouse? Webster’s dictionary defines jealousy as (resenting the success of others; being suspicious and fearful.) So what did God mean when he said he was a “jealous God?”
At first glance, it’s obvious that Webster’s definition does not fit God. He does not resent the success of others because no one has been more successful than the creator of the universe. God is not suspicious or fearful. So what does God mean when he says he is jealous?
The Old Testament rendering of this word applies only to God. It means to be zealous for and passionately loyal. The root word also means to purchase, to buy, by implication to own, especially in relation to God and His people. So based on these definitions, I understand the Biblical definition of jealous to be, “Passionately zealous and loyal for what he has purchased and rightly owns.” Based on this definition, suddenly we get a whole new understanding of who God is and what he’s like.
Like a perfect protector he won’t sit idly by and not protect what he paid a fortune to obtain. The Bible says “You were bought with a price . . .” and God is jealous to protect you at any cost, even death. He died for you. Jn. 3:16 So when Scripture says God is a jealous God, our first thought should be, “Thank you God. I am protected and no one can hurt me. If they do, they’re going to have to go through you to get to me.”
What a comfort to know God is one who cares for and protects what is his.
What kind of country would we have if at the end of the Revolutionary War Washington agreed to the partial surrender to Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown? Would King Henry have left us alone to form our own union? No. It took a total surrender on the part of the British and the Americans as well. The British to cease all hostilities and the Americans to be willing to sacrifice all for freedom.
Here's one of the more powerful quotes from C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity:
Christ says, "Give me all. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think are innocent as well as the ones you think are wicked—the whole outfit.
In other words, Christ demands nothing less than total surrender. Not just the parts of us that are bad, but the good as well. I cannot surrender to God unless I trust He has my best interest at heart. For those in the world surrender carries the idea of giving up, but for the believer it is so much more. It sometimes can be a daily battle, but the best part of total surrender is the new life God gives in return.
Clean up on Isle 3 - The Church is Messy!
We love to look at the church in the New Testament and idolize them for how well they did church. We think, they loved each other whole heartedly, gave to each other sacrificially and preached the gospel so completely that thousands were saved every time they broke bread, right? Believe it or not the first church had to deal with messes as well. A seminary professor told me once, “Keep in mind the first church was not perfect. It had its share of problems too. As a matter of fact, the longer the book the more problems.”
Now, fast forward 2100 years. If the church today is anything it’s messy. We don’t live in an age of innocence. If we’re expecting the body of believers to be instantly pure at salvation, we’re going to be greatly disappointed. We have to realize we’re too late to expect many believers to be untouched by the world. When I was young, divorce was a big “thou shalt not do” and in the church culture still is today. But now we’re dealing with the children who grew up in divorced homes with no morals or godly influence and it has messed them up. When they come to church they’re messed up as adults and some don’t know their messed up. So what is our responsibility as the body of Christ?
It’s a long process to see God mature other believers in the faith. We are called stick together and help one another out. But watch out, if you see others make a mess in their Christian walk and you fail to help them, God may let you mess up with no one around to help you it clean up. A little help on isle 3, please?
Sometimes we forget that our calling involves obedience as well as devotion, faith and love. Peter instructs believers to “. . . sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” 1 Peter 3:15
But knowing what you need to do and doing it are miles apart. This is what separates disciples from those in the crowd who are content to follow till the going gets tough. And when the going gets tough, who do we desire to please? God or man? These past few weeks have given me the opportunities to put into practice what it means to take a stand for truth. I have been called to stand for what I believe in front of friend and others who are not as friendly. No one enjoys conflict, but Paul said “correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and carful instruction.” 2 Tim 4:2 I would add to Paul the council of Peter when he said , “Above all love each other deeply. For love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Pet. 4:8 Again this is what separates disciples from everyone else in the world. For when others respond in the flesh, and we with the Spirit, suddenly the strength we have is not our own and we carry the yoke of Christ and he carries ours. For when time comes to an end, I would rather have the approval of Him who never ends than of those who are no more.
Come and get it!
“Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” John 4:31–32
What food do you crave when you’re hungry? Not just the regular meal time hungry, I’m talking the kind of hungry you get when you haven’t eaten all day and you feel like you could eat the bark off a tree, that kind of hungry. What do you crave? A green chili cheese burger? A stake? How about some carne adobada? The Whataburger fast food chain once advertised that a man drove 6 hours one way just to eat a Whataburger burger? Wow, that’s the type of hungry I’m talking about.
Jesus was traveling through the region of Samaria when he stopped at a well and had a conversation with a Samaritan woman about life, God and living water. And as wonderful as the conversation was about all of those topics, what struck me was Christ’s response to the disciples urging him to eat after he had gone a long time without any food. Christ said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” The disciples didn’t understand. They asked, “Did someone bring him food while we were gone.” Jesus said, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God.”
Understand, Jesus wasn’t giving us a new food substitute. But what he was saying is that there is a soul hunger that physical food cannot satisfy. A hunger to be close to God and to do his work. When we eat food, we get hungry again. But spiritual nourishment that God provides satisfies for eternity. The emptiness we have in our heart can only be filled by the presence of the savior. When we stay away from his table too long, we feel that urge to be filled up again. The best thing about a meal at God’s table is that it is always available, 24/7 without cost or limits on how much we can have. And unlike most foods, you can never get enough of God.
Blessings – Pastor David
Scripture for Sunday 12-6-24
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1–2
Content Discontentment. Is It Possible?
Our senior adults are going through the book Nearing Home by Billy Graham Sunday mornings at 9:15 a.m. In the study, Graham talks about being content in life and viewing your life from God’s perspective and seeing his hand at work where we are. After the study was over, the a.m. sermon was about not being satisfied and wanting more of God’s work in my life and in the world around me. The next day, a church member and good friend pointed out the contrast between both statements. I thought about it for a moment and realized they both exist at the same time.
Paul says in Phil 3:13-14 that he stains “toward what is ahead” and presses forward to win the prize that is set before him. But in Phil. 4:11 he says “I have learned to be content in whatever the circumstance.” Was Paul confused? I think he was pointing out the tension we need to have between being content with what we have but not with who we are. I am called to be satisfied with what God provides day to day but God desires we know him more intimately today than we did yesterday. I think the difference comes with who and what satisfies my life.
God never intends for us to be satisfied with things but to be filled with him, Eph 5:18. When we see our circumstances and realize God wants to give us more of him and not more things to satisfy the voids in our lives, I can be content with what I have and reach out to get ahold of more of him. When my satisfaction comes with who I am in Christ, things of this world won’t satisfy and my contentment comes from gaining Christ. God is infinitely more concerned with who we are and who we are becoming than with what we have.
Blessings, Pastor David
Scripture for Sunday - “Rejoice always, pray continually,” 1 Thessalonians 5:16–17
Faith in Action Works Well.
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17
There’s been a nasty word in the English language that has not been welcome in the Church since it was introduced centuries ago. It’s a despised, 5 letter word that I think has been misunderstood and overlooked for too long but is starting to make a comeback. It’s the word, works. We have associated it with what should not be part of salvation and rightly so. Some churches and denominations incorrectly say you must work hard, be devout, pious, holy, perfect, sinless, stainless and the like in order to earn favor with God. And if you’re not “good enough” your hopeless.
While it’s true that there is nothing you can do to “earn” your salvation, works are a part of the evidence of salvation. Just as fruit is evidence of a healthy fruit tree, if your not producing fruit, something’s wrong. Likewise James points out that a healthy, growing believer will have evidence in their life that they are alive in Christ. James says in verse 18 “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds (by what I do).”
There are no “spies” in God’s army. There is no need to hide the truth of what God has done in our lives. The truth needs to be known and the evidence should be obvious to a world that’s dying to know what’s real and what’s not. If a court of law were to try each of us to see if we were believers or not, would there be enough evidence to convict you? James says the evidence should be overwhelming. There should be action in the life of every believer and no doubt as to who is the Lord of our lives. If you must choose between faith and works, choose faith that is demonstrated in works so others can see what you do and know that you are a child of God.
Blessings – Pastor David.
As you see the day approaching - Heb 10:25
You don’t have to be a pastor or an expert in theology to figure out we are living in some perilous times. But as a Christian, these times can be some of the most exciting we’ve ever seen. As a matter of fact, I’d like to give you a few reason why these days might be the greatest in history.
1. We could be a part of the fulfillment of scripture. This means we will not only read about the plans of
Almighty God, but we could experience them first hand.
2. We might actually see with our own eyes the coming of the Messiah.
3. Evil and injustice will be dealt with perfectly once and for all.
4. We all will be in a place where there is no more sorrow or disease or death.
5. We will see the object of our faith in person, Jesus Christ and every soul that has ever lived will
proclaim that Jesus is Lord forever and ever Amen.
WOW! Sign me up. And what is more exciting is that God uses us, his children, the redeemed of the world in the last few pages of history.
The writer of Hebrews was living in a time similar to ours so it’s easy to understand why he wrote what he did in Heb. 10:24-25:
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Likewise let us consider how we can encourage one another to love and do good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together in Church, Bible study and fellowship as a lot of people in the world have given up the faith. Let us prepare ourselves for the great day of the Lord. It will be here sooner than we think. Let’s prepare now so when it comes, we will be ready.
Serving him together,
Tis the Time to be . . . in the Season Once Again.
Depending on your age, chances are you probably don’t look at the Christmas season today the same way you did when you were younger. If you were like me in times past, waiting to get to December 25th was as agonizing as having a root canal. Now many people would rather have the root canal than fight the crowds or make one more casserole. But one thing that doesn’t loose it’s joy is the true meaning of the season, Jesus. Consider this story from British missionary Geoffrey T. Bull.
As a missionary to Tibet, his future was bleak following the communist takeover in 1949. His captors drove him day and night across frozen mountains until he despaired of life. Late one afternoon, he staggered into a small village where he was given an upstairs room, swept clean and warmed by a small charcoal brazier.
After a meager supper, he was sent downstairs to feed the horses. It was very dark and very cold. He clambered down the notched tree trunk to find himself in pitch blackness. His boots squished in the manure and straw on the floor. The fetid smell of animals was nauseating. The horses sighed wearily, tails drooping and Geoffrey, cold, weary, lonely, and ill, begin to feel sorry for himself.
“Then as I continued to grope my way in the darkness,” he later wrote, “it suddenly flashed into my mind. What’s today? I thought for a moment. In traveling, the days had become a little muddled in my mind. Suddenly it came to me. ‘It’s Christmas Eve.’ I stood suddenly still in that Oriental manger. To think that my Savior was born in a place like this. To think that He came all the way from heaven to some wretched eastern stable, and what is more to think that He came for me.”
Take time this year to thank God for the gift he has given you in Christ Jesus.
““Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Matthew 10:29
God is a God of details. There is no part of his creation that is hidden from him seeing it, even the smallest pieces of matter that make up the visible world is know by God. Matt. 10:29 says that the things we place the lease value on like inexpensive, “disposable” birds are so important to God that he knows when each one falls out of its nest. How many times a day all over the world does this happen and yet God knows about each one, wow! Does God have nothing better to do with his time? Instead Jesus was trying to help us see how much more important to God we are. We are infinitely more valuable that a couple of penny birds and if God pays as much attention to them, how much more attention does he give us.
He knows what our needs are before we even ask him, Matt. 6:8. He gives us strength to carry the loads of life, Matt 11:29-30. He has prepared good works for us to do so we can know what he desires for those who love him, Eph. 2:10. He has a place prepared for us in heaven and he will come back to take us to be where he is, Jn. 14:3 and on and on the promises go.
How heavy is load you are carrying. How much are you in need of rest and an understanding ear to listen to the pains in your heart. Believe it or not, God knows and wants to be a help in your time of trouble. Place your burdens on God and let him carry the load for you. He sees your life he knows your need. Who better to be a savior than God.
Leaning on the everlasting arms,
Bible Study Hour: 9:15 AM
Worship Service: 10:30 AM
Bible Study, Kids Music & Missions,
Rooted Youth: 6-7:30 PM
115 S 4th ST
Belen, NM 87002
1:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Tuesday - Thursday:
8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Copyright © First Baptist Church Belen. All rights reserved.