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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sowing Seeds Through Your Obedience

Galatians 6: 7 - 9, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. NKJV

As a pastor/teacher, I have taught on obedience for ten years. One night as I was teaching on obedience, the Lord had me use different terminology. He showed me by the Holy Spirit that when we obey as His children, we are, in fact, sowing (seeds) into our own future. It can't be much of a stretch to believe this to be true seeing how Paul used the same term in the scripture for today's word.

Whether you and I decide to sow according to our flesh or according to the Spirit of God, we will do so through the acts that we commit. Have you heard the voice of the Lord speak to you lately with instructions? In John 10, Jesus tells us that His sheep know His voice and another, they won't follow. If you are a Christian, but don't know how to recognize His voice, then that can change for you today. God requires us to be still and wait before Him until we hear His voice. God generally doesn't try to speak over the noise of something that has more of our attention than He does. Therefore, He requires us to get serious about seeking Him and hearing from Him before He speaks to us.   

Here's the main reason I believe God wants us to gain a different understanding about our obedience to His voice. Since God first spoke to man in Genesis 1, He has chosen to speak to us by a promise or prophesy with conditions attached. He has chosen this method of communication and instruction because it requires us to fulfill the requirements of the promise first. It also demands that we live by faith. The writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter ten that we have need of patience after we have done the will of God in order that we might receive the promise of God. This confirms to us that God's promises have requirements that we must fulfill before He can release the harvest of that promise. 

Jesus refers to the Word of God as being "SEED." He taught on the parable of the sower and used this one parable as a basis to understand all of His parables. As we receive the SEED of God's Word into our hearts and obey it, then our sowing of the seed (or obedience) will release God to give us the blessing. As we continue in His Word through obedient faith, we will have a continual harvest of God's blessings in our lives. Doesn't the Word instruct us to be instant in season and out of season? We are to be obedient when we feel like and when we don't. We are to obey God, whether we agree with Him or not. Why? God's wants us to receive His blessings continually through fulfilled promises so that we might not lack in any good thing.

Finally, Abraham obeyed God in Genesis 22 by taking Isaac upon Mount Moriah and offering him up to God as He commanded. After Abraham fully obeyed God's will, God spoke to him through a promise of victory for his descendants. As a consequence of Abraham's sowing or obedience upon the Mount, God could speak a blessing over the descendants of Abraham. "Your seed shall possess the gates of their enemies." Abraham sowed in obedience, but his descendants would be the ones who would reap the harvest. 

If you're a Christian, but you haven't heard of this type of devotion to the Lord, then there's a good chance that you're not seeing the full release of God's blessings in your life as well. Remember, faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God. Once you know a truth, and you implement that truth, you can begin to get a harvest from that truth in your personal life. When you begin to hear the voice of God AND obey His commands, you will want to continue to obey no matter what may come your way. Why? Jesus tells us in John 15 that if we will continue (OBEY) in His Word and abide in Him, then we will bear much fruit. 

Galatians 6: 9, And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. NKJV

I Rest My Case,
Pastor Asa

No Excuses

Jeremiah 1: 4 - 7, Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Then said I: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." But the LORD said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. NKJV

Don't you find Jeremiah's response to God to be a little humorous? Jeremiah thought he was too young to be a prophet of God, but God told him that while he was being formed in his mother's womb, He had ordained him to be a prophet. Now that's young!

Did you know that God has given you the power to overcome anything or anyone whom Satan might use against you to prevent you from fulfilling God's purpose for your life? Doesn't Paul teach us in Romans 8 that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose? 

You may ask, "Where is this power, and how do I access it so that I can move forward in my walk and purpose in Christ?" Romans 12: 3 says that God has given to every man (person) the measure of faith. With that faith, we can stand on God's Word and overcome our accuser when he tries to stop us from obeying God's will. God has also given us His Spirit, who will empower us to obey... once we choose to accept and fulfill God's purpose on earth.

Look at young Jeremiah's response to God when He declared to him that he would be a prophet. "I cannot speak for I am a youth." It was as though Jeremiah didn't give time for God to finish His thought before he jumped back at God with an anxious response. It would be the same as one of us reading this word today, saying to God, "I can't do what you've called me to do for you on earth because I'm ___________. Fill in the blank with your excuse.

We must understand that our faith has given us power over the Devil, our past sins, and changed our eternal destination, all because we chose to trust in Jesus as our Savior. If our faith in Christ has done all these things for us thus far as children of God, don't you also think that our faith in God's Word can empower us to be successful in our purpose as well?

It's true that all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory, but it's also true that God looked through the blood of Christ and saw our need more than our faults, and for His sake, He forgave us. When we place faith in Christ, it becomes the great equalizer. Our faith in Christ and God's Word makes us acceptable and worthy to serve and represent God in the earth. You can do all things through Christ because it is He who gives you the strength.

Grace is given to all who place their faith in Jesus as God's only begotten Son. Grace gives us the power to do successfully what was impossible to do before grace was granted. Therefore, we don't have to measure up to someone's standards in order to carryout God's will in our lives. All we must do is have faith in God, humble ourselves as Jeremiah had to do, and accept the plan that God has for us with thanksgiving.  A thousand mile journey begins with the first step. If you're not serving God according to His divine purpose because________, then you can begin today. Just be willing, and He'll be there to help you succeed.

One Step at a Time,
Pastor Asa

CROSSing Over

Matthew 10: 34 - 39, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. NKJV

Whenever you and I became a believer in Christ, we made a decision to become one with Him. Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that Christ humbled Himself and became a man. After He was flesh, Jesus chose to suffer the death of the cross that He might redeem fallen man from sin. If He has redeemed us from sin and called us "out" of the world so that we can become one with Him in the Spirit, then we must obey His will.

Jesus, the Son of God, became flesh for one reason, that He might be our Kinsmen Redeemer (the book of Ruth). After the resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven and received His gloried body (John 20).  Now that He has risen from the dead, Jesus is no longer flesh. God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and truth. Therefore, as believers and imitators of Christ, we're not to live according to the desires or ways of this world. We must be willing to die (our cross) to the flesh and it desires.

I have found that it is far easier to make an initial commitment to Christ than it is to carry out that commitment. We make commitments to become one with Christ in "good faith," but when God requires us to keep that commitment in our lives and not only in our hearts, He gives us the grace to embrace the change. As we become one with Christ in the spirit, we must be willing to love the things in this world less. In today's verses, we can see that Jesus requires us to LOVE HIM MORE. If we should choose to love this world more than Him, then we're not worthy of Him. Therefore, if the Lord has asked something of you that requires sacrifice from you, you must be willing to die to that relationship, status, or possession in order to become changed. After you have obeyed, you will receive more of His power and experience more of His love. God doesn't change, but as we allow Him to change us, it allows us to receive and experience more of Him.

Has the Lord asked something of you that you find difficult to let go of or give up for Him? If so, you're in good company. John the Baptist came to a point in his walk where he had decided to decrease so that Christ might increase. We must also decide, as John did, to decrease in our flesh in order for Christ to increase in our hearts and lives. Here's a hint: God ALWAYS has blessing and increase in mind when He asks something of us. He rewards those who diligently seek Him, especially if it costs us everything we love.

Losing the World but Gaining Heaven,
Pastor Asa

Good Master

Matthew 19: 16, Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" NKJV

Do you believe that being a Christian is all about being good and doing good things? If that is your belief, then allow me to share some truths from God's Word that can empower you to live a victorious life in Christ. Although "good" has its merits with man, it is a stench in the nostrils of God. Remember when Adam fell into sin, he and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves. If this had been acceptable to God, then why did He sacrifice an animal and skin it to cover their nakedness?

In the New Testament, Jesus warned the disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were all about making a show before man, but were disobedient to God. They were more consumed with self-righteousness through the law than they were of being obedient to God through faith in His Son, Jesus. The man into today's scripture really believed that he had all the qualifications to inherit life because he believed in his heart that he was keeping the entire law of God.

However, when Jesus spoke the truth concerning his heart, he found out that all he was really doing was deceiving himself. Being good has nothing at all with being righteous in God's sight. Being good has nothing to do with being righteous as a disciple of Christ. Having a good heart doesn't make us a Christian, but it is the result of a life that has committed to being a Christian. Once this man talked with Jesus, this man discovered that his goodness wasn't so good.

Matthew 19: 18 - 22,
Jesus said, "'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness, ''Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. NKJV

This ruler thought he was keeping the Law of God, but when he heard the truth out of Jesus' mouth, he learned that he had fallen short. He obeyed the law as long as it didn't cost him...thus revealing his heart's motive: he did it out of duty and not from a heart of faith and love.

If you will reread the commandments Jesus quoted to the rich ruler, you will see that Jesus commanded him to love his neighbor as himself; to this, the ruler replied that he had kept it from his youth. Nevertheless, when Jesus told him to take all that he had and sell it and give the proceeds to the poor, he walked away sorrowful. In one instance, the rich man said that he obeyed, but when it came down to him having to obey, he walked away disobedient. This man had a form of godliness, but he denied the power of Christ because his trust was in his riches and not in God.

If we are truly born again, we will love God more than anyone or anything, and we will demonstrate that faith and love by sacrificing whatever is required to obey His voice.

Words to Live By,
Pastor Asa

Fulfilling Your Divine Purpose

Ephesians 2 : 10, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. NKJV

Do you seek to live the life that God has planned for you as a Christian? Do you seek to please Him by your faith? One day, all Christians will stand before the Judgment seat of Christ and give an account for the way they chose to live their lives on earth. Please continue to read. It's not that Christ is lining us up before Him to condemn us, but rather His desire is to reward us for a job well done. The only ones who'll be ashamed before Him will be those who chose not to obey the Father's will. (Matthew 7: 21)

Paul tells us in the text for today that God has created us in Christ for good works that we SHOULD walk in them. If God has laid out the road map, and we follow that map by faith, then we will end up at the correct destination. However, if we should attempt to stray from the preset coordinates, we won't please the Father. 

How do we please the Father? Hebrews 11: 6 says that without faith, no one can please (or come to agreement with) the Father. Romans 10: 17 says that faith comes by hearing. So when you and I hear the voice of the Father and do what He commands of us as His children, we please (or agree with) His will and fulfill the plan for our life. 

Here is an example of pleasing the Father by faith. In Genesis 1, God is speaking out of His mouth in heaven those things He desires to see on earth. As God speaks from heaven, the Holy Spirit, who is hovering on the earth, empowers the Word and fulfills the plan that was previously spoken from heaven. When God sees on earth what He has willed in heaven, then He declares at the end of the day that it was good.

We were created in Christ unto good works that we should walk in them. The only way to fulfill God's plan for your life and walk in agreement with Him is to hear His voice and do as He directs you. This is exactly what Jesus did while He was on the earth. He listened to His Father and obeyed His will on earth; it pleased the Father, and He accepted Jesus' sacrifice at the end of His life. Now God has greatly rewarded Jesus by giving Him authority in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.

If you're a Christian, but don't know the will of God for your life, then let me leave you with a passage that will help you discover His will for you.

Hebrews 11: 6, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. NKJV

Seeking the Father,
Pastor Asa

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What Is That in Your Hand

Exodus 4: 2, So the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "A rod." NKJV

When God appeared to Moses in the wilderness and declared His plan to deliver His people from the land of bondage, He asked Moses to throw down his rod. In Psalms 23, the shepherd's staff is called rod and staff. Rod being used to ward off predators and staff being a help or something to be leaned upon when tired or weary. The Lord asked Moses about the object in his hand. Do you think that God, who is omniscient, didn't know what Moses was holding in his hand?

God was testing Moses' obedience. Since he obeyed the Lord's directives, the Lord could change Moses' thinking about the rod. Once he threw the shepherd's rod on the ground and picked it back up again, the rod became a symbol of authority to him. At that very moment, the Lord took something that Moses brought from his past and used it to empower him to walk in his divine purpose.

We all have things from our past that we bring with us when we come from the ways of the world and begin to walk by faith in Christ. Just like Moses, God wants us to lay down those things we've held onto from our past, so He might be able to change our view of them. We all have trophies and mementos from our past and the experiences that we have encountered along the way. Generally, these items come from either painful or precious memories. The reason God asks us to lay them down can be found in the Law that He handed down on Mount Sinai. He doesn't want us to have any "gods" before Him. Any person or thing that captures our heart's attention over Him can become an idol to us.  

If we should refuse to lay them down because of their significance, it shows the Lord that we're not yet ready to move forward into our calling and fulfill our purpose. However, if we are willing to lay them down, He can empower us to use them as a tool in our testimony to help others overcome their land of bondage. Moses' rod stayed with him throughout his ministry, and God used it to perform great miracles. It all began when Moses threw it down and picked it up again as the Lord commanded.

What are you holding onto today that God has commanded you to throw down from your past? If it's still under your control, and you haven't released that "thing" to Him, then it's in your hand. God can't give to us what is in His hand until we throw down the thing that He requests from us which in our hand.

Hebrews 12: 1 - 2,
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 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, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. NKJV

Are You Ready for a Throw Down,
Pastor Asa

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Grace of God Was Extended

John 1: 16 - 18, And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. NKJV

When Jesus was thirty years of age, He began His earthly ministry by preaching the Sermon on the Mount (also known as the Beatitudes). In the above scripture, we see that John said when Jesus, who was the Word incarnate, came to earth, He came with grace and truth. In His first and longest sermon, He began speaking to all of mankind by declaring that both those who were present hearers of the Word and those who would later hear the Word were blessed. I find this very interesting because the last word that God spoke in the Old Testament was "CURSE."

Jesus spoke of many things that would be broken off of the hearers lives simply because they heard the voice of God declaring the truth to them. Remember, in Romans 14, faith comes by hearing and hearing comes from the Word of God. The people that day (and those since that day) were hearing the truth with grace and not the Law with condemnation. Truth that is received by faith brings God's abundant grace. The Law doesn't produce grace because it is based on man's works.

While Jesus was continuing to preach on the Mount, He blessed them and then began to declare that those who heard His Words and believed on them were also the light of the world and the salt of the earth. He declared this to the hearers long before many of them even implemented His words into their lives. The Words He declared over them took root in the hearts of those who believed and received what He declared over them. Now let me take you back to a time before man fell from God's grace and into the bondage of sin.

Genesis 1: 28,
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. NKJV

Very soon after God blessed both the male and the female, He began to declare truths over them, as if they were happening as He spoke. Doesn't this sound exactly like what Jesus did when He preached that day on the Mount? Before man made the choice to fall into sin, God was speaking over them with truth and grace. He made declarations, but they could choose whether they wanted to fulfill them or not. 

If we will choose to walk in truth and in the light, then God's grace will come upon us and declare that we are blessed. As a result, His grace will proclaim who we are in Christ. Let's walk by faith, not according to the desires of our hearts, and be blessed.

Letting My Bulb Shine,
Pastor Asa

The Law Of Faith

John 11 : 23 - 26, Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" NKJV

I remember the first time I flew on an airplane. To say I was afraid would be a gross understatement. The reason I was so petrified to fly stemmed from a fear of heights and a lack of faith in the law of lift. Being an earthling most of my life I was accustom to the law of gravity and I understood how that law worked. When I owned a drywall business and worked upon scaffolds, occasionally I would fall from them. Gravity was always there to assure me that I wouldn't be suspended in mid-air.

After we had been in the air for a few hours I began to relax "a little." I was growing more comfortable with the fact that the "law of lift' superseded the law of gravity. As long as the aircraft maintained the correct air speed the law of lift would keep us in the air and headed to our destination.

Whenever Adam chose to sin against God's will, his sin placed all of mankind under the curse of the law of sin and death. Here's the good news. Before man sinned God spoke promises over man- both male and female alike. You can find these promises or prophecies in Genesis 1. As God spoke these promises over Adam and Eve He was invoking the principle or the law of faith. You see, God has given every person that has entered the world through the womb of a woman the measure of faith (Ref. Ro. 12 : 3)

When they chose to place themselves and all of mankind under the curse of the law, it was done by them ignoring the law of faith. It would be the same as a pilot on an airplane turning the engines off in mid-flight. Man crashed. In Romans 3 Paul introduces to us a principle called the "law of faith." He didn't introduce faith but he did expound on the principle so that we could know and understand that faith will cause what is impossible under the law to become possible through faith. Jesus said that all things are possible to those who believe.

Here is an example of how the law of faith operates. Before the law of God was handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai, God appeared to Abraham over four hundred years earlier. When God spoke to Abraham through divine promises the Bible tells us that Abraham believed God and was made righteous in God's sight. Did you catch that? Abraham was before the law and was made righteous through faith in God's promises apart from the Law.

Jesus told Martha that if anyone should die who has faith in Him; because they believed in Him, they will also live on the last day. We know that Jesus came to earth as the Word of God incarnate over two-thousand years ago. He was crucified as the Lamb of God and paid the price for all of man's sin for all time. As we look back to the cross and believe on His atoning death, our faith saves us from the power and bondage of sin.

Jesus died for sin two-thousand years ago but what will happen to those Jews who died before that era? Remember what I wrote about the law of faith and how Abraham believed God and was made righteous? Though they died without seeing the shed blood of Christ and though He had not come to earth and obeyed the Father, their faith saved them. The "Law of Faith" supersedes the law of sin and death. This was fulfilled when Jesus died and descended into the bowels of earth. While Jesus was in paradise, He preached to those whom death had held captive since the fall of man. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 that when Jesus ascended from the depths that He led captivity captive and gave gifts to men.

In other words, though the righteous Jews had died just like Lazarus, they too were brought out of the depths and ascended into the heights where God dwells. No longer do the souls of the "dearly departed" descend but now they ascend and ever live with the Lord. "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." The faith of the early Jewish believers saved them from death but they couldn't escape death until after Jesus arose from the dead. They were saved but they were held by death until Jesus' life was given that they (and now us) might live.

If you will read Matthew 27, you'll see where many of the graves in Jerusalem burst open after the resurrection of Jesus on the third day. These saints who were once buried were now walking around the streets of Jerusalem alongside Jesus who had first come out of His tomb. He is the first-born of many brethren.

This is further proof that their faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had brought the Jews of the old covenant out of Abraham's bosom which was called Paradise that they might live with Christ in heaven. Has Satan lied to you about the grace of God? Has Satan told you that you're too wretched, too vile, too lost, etc...? Remember, the law of faith gives us victory over the curse of the law of sin and death. ONLY BELIEVE IN CHRIST and you too shall live.

I'm alive because of the law of faith,
Pastor Asa

The Judgment Seat of Christ

Matthew 7 : 21 - 23, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' NKJV

It's appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment. All humans will be made to give an account for the way they chose to live their life while on the earth. Christians will have to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and sinners will be brought before the White Throne Judgment of God.

In His teaching in Matthew, Jesus brings out a very important subject that needs to be shared with people around the world. There will be "Christians" that will stand before Jesus believing (and even convinced) that heaven will be their eternal destination. According to Jesus, they will base this philosophy upon their "own works of righteousness," instead of basing it upon faith in Him. The very sad part about this truth that Jesus reveals is that it is directed toward those who have participated in ministry. If these "ministers" are deceived yet, they are leading people, then where will that leave the people that they are teaching? 

Anyone can confess that they are a Christian, but that doesn't make them a child of God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us that if we love Him, we will demonstrate that love by keeping His commandments. Are you a Christian? Do you live your life based on your beliefs and opinions, or do you live your life according to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit? Paul teaches us in Romans 8 : 14,  that those who are led by the Spirit of God, these are the (mature) sons of God. James warns us that if we are "hearers" only of the Word, but not "doers" of the Word than we deceive ourselves. The Apostle John tells us that if say we have truth, but walk not in the light, then we have gone astray, and the truth isn't in us.

Do you discipline your life to live according to the Word of God? It is very important that you realize the truth about having an obedient heart as a believer.

It's one thing for an evil person to know they have rejected Christ, and they're going to spend eternity in torment. However, there will be MANY that will come before Christ thinking they're saved, but will hear Jesus say, "Depart from me, I never knew you."  They will have to depart from Him because they did their own "thing" and refused to obey the will of God. Jesus calls such a person "foolish."

If you have faith in Christ, you will also have a deep desire to obey the Father. If that desire to obey isn't in your heart, then ask the Lord to save you from unbelief and self-righteousness. The result of such humility and honesty will invite the Spirit of God to fill your heart with His life and the power to obey His will on the earth. My prayers are with you.

In His service and According to His Will,
Pastor Asa

The Value Of Patience

Hebrews 10 : 36, For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. KJV

When a woman conceives, typically she must wait forty weeks for the fetus to develop, and then she can deliver her child. The writer of Hebrews touches on this principle in his letter to the Jews. Every promise in the Word of God has conditions attached to them. We know this to be true because God told Israel, and Jesus told His disciples and all those who believed on His name that if they would obey, they would be blessed.

However, there's more to receiving promises than just obeying the requirements that come with a given promise. We must also have patience that we might wait for the manifestation of the promise(s) in our lives. Generally speaking, the fulfillment of a promise on our behalf is what we're seeking, but God desires us to be willing to wait. Have you ever wondered why God operates on a different time-table than us? Martha told Jesus that He was four days late; Jesus told her that according to God's clock, He was on-time.

Why is patience being perfected in our lives so important to God? Jesus tells us in Luke 21:19, By your patience possess your souls. We can become so consumed by our natural needs that we lose sight of the importance of maintaining a healthy soul. Remember the Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostle John, and the apostle wrote, "Beloved I would that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers." Since we're more concerned over our needs and God is more concerned about the condition of our souls, there is a struggle that comes as a consequence of this dichotomy. 

Since our soul is won or lost based on our patience, God esteems patience many times over the comfort of our flesh that wants everything "now." So how do you suppose God has chosen to produce patience in His people so that we're willing to endure by faith until the end?

James 1 : 2 - 4, My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. NKJV

Do you find it difficult to count it all joy when trials come against you and your family? When trials come into a Christian's life, they will require trust in God and humility before Him. When we are patient in our trials, it shows the Lord that we, indeed, trust Him. As we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and wait for His delivering hand to bring us out of the trial and restore us from the hurt and loss that occurred, our patience will mature our character.

The difference between a mature Christian and an immature one is patience. The trying of our faith produces patience, but patience matures us as the children of God. So the next time you lose your patience, remember this; "THERE'S A TRIAL FOR THAT."

Patiently Waiting on God,
Pastor Asa

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Glory Will Be Incomparable

1 Peter 4 : 1 - 2, Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. NKJV

Throughout the New Testament, we're taught by both Jesus and the Apostles that those who live godly will suffer persecution. We're also instructed by the Lord and the Apostles of the faith to endure the sufferings of this world through our faith in Christ. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that if our desire is to reign with Christ, then we must choose to suffer with Him as well. Why do you suppose suffering has such a significant role in our faith walk with Christ?

Jesus tells us in the gospels that if we become followers of His teachings, the world will hate us and will persecute us. In Matthew 24, Jesus also teaches that there will be a time when they will kill us. Here is something that might be hard to embrace, but it remains true, nonetheless. If we have true faith in Christ, then we will choose to suffer with Him rather than to escape suffering and deny Him.

People who have faith will choose to suffer for the sake of Christ, but people who live in unbelief won't suffer. Let's look at the blindness that is caused by unbelief. Jesus taught on the subject of hell. Further, in John 8, He told the Jews that they would perish in their sins because they chose to reject Him as their Christ. Though Jesus told them what would await them after death, unbelief hardened their hearts, and they chose not to suffer being named a follower of Christ. Unbelief prevents people from suffering for "a moment" and will cause them to spend all of eternity in torment because they refused to accept the suffering for faith in Christ.

Luke 23 : 39 - 43, Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." NKJV

Jesus is hung between two thieves. One of them, acting in unbelief, mocked Jesus and demanded Him to save Himself (and them) from having to suffer on the cross. All this thief wanted Jesus to do for him was to save him from suffering on the cross even though he was guilty of the crime. The other thief had a humble heart of faith toward Jesus and asked Jesus to save him from his sin and not the cross. Here's the sad part of this story. In a matter of a few hours, all three men were dead. Jesus and the humble thief were in paradise and out of pain. The other thief who only wanted to be saved from the pain of the cross was now in complete and eternal torment with no hope of ever getting free. 

I wanted to share this word with you today as my brother or sister in Christ to encourage you if you're suffering wrongfully. Paul tells us that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us. Be strong and courageous in the Lord. Know that the Lord is with you, and He will deliver you from all your afflictions.

Standing in Faith,
Pastor Asa

Monday, June 6, 2011

We Will Believe Him

Matthew 27: 41 - 43, Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'" NKJV

Don't you find it amazing and at the same time very perplexing how the spiritual leaders witnessed all that Jesus did in forty-two short months, yet refused to believe that He was the Christ? These supposed "men of God" were so filled with unbelief that it caused them to disregard the greatness and validity of Jesus' works. These "holy men" showed nothing but distain and contempt for Jesus, yet they were willing to say that if Jesus would come off of the cross in response to their demand, they would believe Him to be the Son of God.

We can see through both the hearts and words of the voices that mocked Jesus that day how unbelief negatively affects the human heart. Unbelief, if we allow it to rule our hearts, can cause us to become cynical toward God. The people that ridiculed Jesus that day weren't interested in coming to faith in Him as Christ, but simply used this moment of vulnerability to spiritually persecute and oppress Him.

Doesn't it almost sound "noble" of them to offer Jesus the chance for Him to "win" them over to faith if He would just come down off of the cross? Why do you suppose Jesus ignored the "cries" of those who said they would "believe" if He would do this one act of pleasing them? Let's think this offer through for a moment. If Jesus had submitted to the will of a few men who were taunting Him, He would not have fulfilled the Father's will and pleased the wrath of God against fallen man. In other words, you and I would have no case before God. After death, every person that has ever been born would spend eternity separated from their Creator in torment. Aren't you glad that Jesus ignored a few voices so that He could save countless souls from an eternity of torment, and so that He could give us eternal life? Let me leave you with this final thought for today.

Acts 1: 3,
...He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. NKJV

We can see that Jesus remained in Jerusalem for forty days after His passion. He showed His disciples and those who would believe that He was alive and that He was indeed the CHRIST, the Son of the living God. However, here's the point you must catch today.

Acts 2 : 22 - 25,
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know -- Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. NKJV

The very same men that mocked Jesus on the cross and saw His mighty miracles, the very ones who said, "If you be the Christ come down from the cross and we will believe you," were now persecuting His disciples. In other words, they lied to Jesus while He was on the cross. We know this because Jesus not only came down from the cross, but He also came up from the grave after being dead for three days...and they "still" did not believe Him. Tell me, which would make a greater impact on you if you were a sinner seeking salvation? To see Jesus pull the nails out of the wood that held Him to the cross and come down or to see Jesus alive for forty days after you watched Him be placed dead in a tomb for three days?

Unbelief refuses to believe in Jesus as being the Christ, the Son of God. Therefore, we must make a choice to place faith in Jesus. We must not try to get Him to prove Himself to us. It's all about trust.

Trusting in the Lord,
Pastor Asa

The Lord Is Our Helper

Genesis 3: 9 - 10, Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." NKJV

When the Lord God came to fellowship with Adam, He soon discovered that sin had entered the heart of man. Even though God knew that Adam and Eve had sinned, He still didn't jump to conclusions and pass judgment against them. Instead, the Lord began to question Adam as to how he knew that he was naked. God didn't bring up the word "SIN," but asked him if he had eaten of the tree of knowledge. You and I both know that God wasn't ignorant of the sin in Adam's heart. However, the Lord was giving Adam a chance to take responsibility for his own actions.

This account of the fall of man into sin gives us a glimpse into our own hearts and carnal nature. Take notice that once man had sinned, he became afraid of God. Adam and Eve were so fearful of their actions that they tried to hide it from God. Here is the contrast between God and us: On one hand, God is patiently working with Adam and Eve trying to get them to confess their sins and repent. On the other hand, sin had so filled their hearts with fear that they were too WEAK to face the truth about what they had done.

God never stopped loving and reaching out to man, but the fear that sin produced in their hearts (and ours) causes us to become blind to God's goodness and grace.  Sometimes when we're forced to face the truth about our own faults and sins, it may seem easier for us to run. When the opportunity to sin arises in our hearts, the Lord will convict His children about hidden sin as He did with Adam. If you find yourself struggling with being faced with the truth about sin in your heart and life today, but out of fear you're hiding it from God, let me share some good news with you.

Remember, the Lord didn't force the truth on Adam. Instead, He asked him some questions? He wants us to trust Him and not fear Him when we have unconfessed sin in our life. Our trust will enable the Holy Spirit to begin the reconciliation process in our heart. Fear that is left unchecked can cause us to resist the goodness of the Lord, which leads us to repentance. The decision to trust God is the first step toward humility and becoming broken over our sin. At this point, you are submitting God and resisting the Devil. Therefore, the stronghold of sin will begin to crumble from your heart. Now you are in a position to receive strength from the Lord, our help in times of trouble, to confess your faults and receive the forgiveness of God. It's a great comfort to know that God loves us, even when we miss the mark. He shows us His goodness instead of judgment. It is even greater to experience His forgiveness once we confess our faults and turn from our wicked ways.

Jesus teaches us in John 15 that apart from Him, we can do nothing. When Paul realized that he had sin in his heart in Romans 7, he also realized that apart from Christ, he was just a hopeless wretch. I share those two references with you to encourage you with this final point. You and I have no strength to face the truth of who we are and what we have done apart from the strength of Christ. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit reveals sin that is residing in our heart, if we will simply humble ourselves, then He (JESUS our Helper) will give us the strength to walk in the truth. Furthermore, we will have the courage through our obedience to face it. This is called God's amazing GRACE. His strength is made complete in our weakness. To access God's grace, we must humble ourselves and agree with His will. The Lord is your Helper today. You can lean on Him. 

Standing Still,
Pastor Asa

Mercy Instead of Judgment

Romans 2 : 1 - 4, You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? NIV

In the passage for today's devotion, Paul is teaching believers in Rome about the goodness of God. Paul is being very gracious, yet firm as he addresses the issue of hypocrisy in the church at Rome. Apparently, there were people who were being disobedient in their walk, and at the same time, they were judging others for their faults. In today's vernacular, we would call this practice, "Blind spot religion". This occurs whenever Christians see the faults of others, but are blind to their own faults, and in pride, they will tend to judge and condemn others. All the while, they are guilty of the same trespasses.

Today, the Lord wants me to share a couple of points about these particular verses to help us become more aware of God's goodness, instead of giving so much time and attention to the faults and failures of other believers. First of all, we need to recognize the attitude with which this judgmental mindset operates. It has a self-righteous stench to it. Beyond that, it will blind us to the goodness of God. Satan loves it when Christians become self-righteous and prideful. It allows the enemy to blind us to the truth so that we don't clearly see God's hand at work in our life or in the lives of others.

As a pastor, I have witnessed good hearted, well-meaning believers give into a trap of the Devil and sin. I've also watched how God's goodness would cover them and keep them from most of the consequences of their own doings. Instead of the person seeing and acknowledging the goodness of God for what it was because of the hardness of their heart, they simply dismissed it as "getting by with their sin." It is a terrible place to be spiritually. The place where Satan has a believer so deceived through pride that they can't even see the goodness of God as an opportunity to repent. Instead, they view His mercy as being His approval to partake of sin once more.

Note: There is no way possible for me to know who will be reading a particular devotion. I'm told that these words are forwarded to people all over the nation and in many parts of the world. Having stated that point, let me ask you a question. Are you a Christian, who is currently involved in an "activity" that is displeasing to your heavenly Father? If so, then know that God's goodness is at work on your behalf, and He is protecting you from the onslaught of the enemy who would love to consume your soul with the power of sin. BUT GOD!

The only way to see the goodness of God is to humble yourself... not try to justify your wrong actions. Although God gives all of us a period in which to come out of the "FOG" of sin and repent, if we should harden our hearts and decide to use His goodness as an occasion to continue in sin, we will force His hand of correction to rise against us. Remember Hebrews 12 tells us that God chastens those whom He loves and scourges every son whom He receives.

I hope this word today helps you to see more clearly the heart and love that God has for His people. God loves us so much that He will protect us from the repercussions of our sin when we fall from grace, to give us the opportunity to repent. However, if we should decide to continue in sin, He is left no other choice but to correct us as one of His children. Paul warns us in Galatians 6 that if we sow to the flesh, then we will of the flesh reap corruption, decay, and/or death. God's goodness will shield us from reaping what we have sown in our flesh until we repent, but if we don't, then He can choose to allow us to reap the harvest of our own sins. I love the goodness of God.

God Is So Good,
Pastor Asa

Humility and Repentance

Psalms 103: 8 - 10, The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. NKJV

The mercies of God are new every day. This is a good thing because humans are known to be repeat offenders. Isn't it great to know that we have a heavenly Father, who understands our weaknesses and faults? It's always encouraging and uplifting to read or hear about the goodness and mercy of God, but sometimes it can be hard to hear the requirements that God has for those who love Him. Doesn't Jesus require those of us who love Him to demonstrate our love by keeping His commandments? The gift of salvation is free, but once we become born again (redeemed from our sin debt), God has a purpose for our lives.

Our God is a merciful God; He loves sinners and broken people, but He is also a holy God, who hates sin. A God is merciful and kind toward us as sinners, He still requires us to repent of our sins and faults so that He can forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

There's a story in Genesis about a man who killed his brother and asked God to have mercy "after" God had pronounced his sentence. God granted him mercy, but we don't see anywhere in the story where the man repented.

Genesis 4: 10 - 15,
And He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth." And Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is greater than I can bear! Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me." And the LORD said to him, "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him. NKJV

While reading the above scripture, did you notice that Cain told God that his punishment was more than he could bear? Did you see the heart of God change toward Cain after he had pled his case? God granted him mercy because Cain asked for mercy. Why do you suppose God would grant an evil, murderous person mercy when he didn't repent of the sin that he had committed? Even though Cain had not repented of murdering his brother, he still had humbled himself (at least in this one area) by asking for God's mercy. God will not place more on us than we are able to bear. Therefore, Cain received the mercy he had asked God to give.

 The accounts in the New Testament where Cain is mentioned show him as being evil. However, we must be careful not to jump too hastily and condemn Cain, lest we condemn ourselves. Didn't God look beyond our faults and send Jesus to die for our sins before we had an opportunity to repent? Even though God has granted us mercy instead of condemning all of mankind to eternal condemnation, we are still required to ask for forgiveness and to follow that request with a change of heart. (REPENTANCE) 

Cain did receive mercy that day because God is merciful, but Cain didn't seek nor did he receive forgiveness for his sins. When God addressed Cain about his evil deeds, Cain did exactly what his father Adam did, he denied his sin. God won't always strive with us should we choose to ignore His forgiveness by not admitting our wrong doing and repenting of it before Him. If you have wronged someone and have committed a sin, but you haven't repented for it, then make things right. Today is the day of salvation through God's forgiveness and restoration. Confess what you have done before Him and ask Him to forgive you, and He will give you a clean heart. Not only will God grant you mercy, but He will also forgive you and He will wipe away every guilty stain with the precious blood of His Son through repentance.

Pastor Asa

Full of Light

Ephesians 5 : 8 - 12, For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. NLT

According to Paul, who was writing to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, we are vessels that are full of God's light. When the light of God's Word enters our hearts, it changes us from the inside out. Even though His light shines in our hearts as His children, we must still seek to know His ways so that we can live in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Paul teaches us that the Word of God is not only truth, which educates us according to the ways of God, but it is also light. Light reveals what has been hidden in darkness and exposes the lies of the enemy. As we become one with the Word of God, our behavior and attitude should begin to reflect a change as well. In as much as we desire to obey the Word, we are choosing to walk in the light. We must learn to be honest with God and with ourselves if we want our lives to change. 

Paul goes on to write that once we become established in the truth, and it reflects in our behavior, then we are to rebuke and expose the evil deeds of others, which are done in secret. There are two ways you can expose and rebuke others who are in your life who practice evil deeds in secret. You can share truths from the Word of God that speak directly to their evil deeds and pray that God reveals the light of the gospel to them. You can also live in such a way before God and others that they see the light of God in you, and it brings conviction upon their sinful hearts of unbelief. 

Jesus commands us to let our lights so shine before men that they might see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven. As Christians, we must be careful that others see our actions of faith as carried out through love and not in condemnation. We are to lead people to "Living Water" by making them thirsty for Him in the way that we live and love God. Didn't Jesus call us the salt of the earth? Salt gives food flavor, but it will also produce a thirst in those who taste it. Therefore, we must season our words and actions with His love so that others will desire more of God. Do you remember how you came to the saving knowledge of Christ? More than likely, it was because you developed a thirst for righteousness and a hunger for truth in your heart. Once you hungered and formed a thirst for Christ, you were filled with His Spirit. 

It's high time the body of Christ raised the standard of righteousness in our world. May the Lord have mercy on us and help us to grow to be who He intended us to become and to achieve in the earth all that He has called the body of Christ to accomplish. Do you have peace in your heart about the way you live your life before the Lord? If not, then today can be the beginning of a new way of living for you. If we will confess our faults before Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

Walking in the LIGHT,
Pastor Asa