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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Devil Made Me Do It

1 John 4: 4, Dear young friends, you belong to God and have already won your fight with those who are against Christ because there is someone in your hearts who is stronger than any evil teacher in this wicked world. TLB

I remember as a child listening to a comedian who made the statement, "The Devil made me do it." It's interesting how we can still sometimes fault Satan or others for our own actions. However, if we are a Christian, the Bible tells us that the Greater One lives in us. In other words, we have already overcome the spirit of Antichrist when we received the Holy Spirit into our hearts. We have also overcome the world as well.

What is it in us then that causes Christians to stumble and sometimes fall back into sin or our old ways? We are required by Jesus to take responsibility or ownership for our own actions and behavior as God's children. Before you became born again, you were driven by the same spirit that is at work in the world. It was all about self and what self desired, but now that you have given yourself to the Lord, and His will, your life is to be all about Him. Paul tells us in Romans 7 that he had no good thing in his flesh. He had no power on his own to quit sinning, but God had mercy on him and revealed Jesus to him as the victory over his sin. 

Now that we're born again, God has given to us His HOLY Spirit. The Holy Spirit is alive and dwelling within our spirit to give us victory over our flesh nature. Flesh nature simply means that part of you that still desires the things of the world. Now that you're born again, you don't have to live your life any longer serving the desires of your flesh nature. We have the Spirit of God, who gives us the power over the world and our flesh (Adamic) nature. Consequently, we can serve our HOLY God with this same earthen vessel that used to be in bondage to the power of sin. 

As a Christian, you must practice walking in holiness and righteousness by faith. Paul tells us in Philippians that he had not apprehended all that God had apprehended him to accomplish. However, he didn't allow that to stop him from pressing onward. Every day that you wake up to live another day is an opportunity to die to the old flesh nature and live more for God than you did yesterday.  This will require that you strive in your walk to draw closer to the Lover of your soul and withdraw from the lusts and filth of this world. 

If you feel as though you have very little passion for the Lord, and you struggle to overcome carnal lusts and temptations, then this is your word from the Lord. The more we practice walking in holiness and righteousness by faith, the greater our passion for God will grow. I must decrease in order that He might increase in my life. However, if I don't strive to draw nearer to Him, my flesh nature certainly won't cheer me on to do so. If you are born again, you have the power of God dwelling in your spirit. I challenge you to activate the power of God in your heart through hunger for more of God and watch as He sets your heart and life on fire for Him.

Be That Burning Light That Leads Others to God,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Intense Passion

James 4: 6 - 9, But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. NKJV

When Jesus took His disciples to pray for an hour in the Garden of Gethsemane, His disciples kept falling asleep. Likewise, it is sometimes difficult for us to find the time and energy required to seek the Lord? However, there is a promise in Hebrews 11 of a reward that is given to those who diligently seek Him.

People who drink alcoholic beverages and smoke cigarettes have said that they had to acquire a taste for their vice. The body doesn't easily take to foreign substances that can do damage to it; therefore, humans have to cause their body to develop a taste for the substance. I bring this phenomenon up only to share a much deeper and spiritual principle. You were born with a carnal nature that has a "taste for the world and sin's pleasures." Consequently, you must acquire a taste for the Lord. 

You can be born again and very grateful that God has saved you from the destructive path you were headed down. Nevertheless, beyond your gratitude, do you find it laborious and a drudgery to get into the Word of God or prayer time? This was the problem that Jesus' disciples were faced with in the final hours of Jesus' earthly existence. Can you imagine how miserable they must have felt seeing Jesus die on the cross knowing that they had slept while Jesus fought His greatest battle alone in the garden?
Jesus gives us the reason why they slept during that hour instead of passionately praying. He said that their spirits were willing to pray, but their flesh was too weak. Why was their flesh in control of their spirit? Shouldn't our spirit man rule over the flesh nature? Satan doesn't want you to be passionate about God because he can toy with the weaknesses of your flesh and your weakened spiritual state to seduce you into temptation. He will offer you all types of reasons and excuses to prevent you from sacrificing the time and energy needed to seek God and overcome lusts.

Misery and failure don't have to be synonymous with Christianity. We must develop a taste for the things of God just like we have for the lusts of this world. As we press into the presence of God, we will discover a strength that wasn't there previously in our hearts or lives. In the presence of the Lord, there is strength, but there are also times of refreshing. How many times do we turn to the things of the world when we're in need of encouragement and renewal when we should be turning to the Lord and allowing Him to fill us with His joy, peace and life?

We're instructed to taste and see that the Lord is good. However, if we never partake of His divine nature through seeking Him then our taste pallets can never develop a hunger and thirst for His righteousness and holiness. A hungry heart for God has to be developed by investing the time that is required to experience Him at a deeper level than just on Sunday morning. Begin today, to draw closer to God and watch as He begins drawing closer to you. Go after all that is laid up for you in the riches of His glory and experience the fullness of your God.

There's No God like Jehovah,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, August 29, 2011

I Think I Can- I Think I Can

1 John 4: 18, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. NKJV

When you were a sinner did you take risks because you sought the thrill of doing something exhilarating? When you think of the foolish things you did and how you could fly by the "seat of your pants" without a second thought, doesn't it make you shake your head and wonder how you made it? Even though many born-again believers used to "live it up" while in the world as sinners, now that God has saved them from their careless ways, when He asks them to obey Him, they sometimes refuse because they are filled with fear.

What has changed in us, since we were saved that has caused us to become so afraid that we sometimes disobey God because we fear what people might say or think? Satan had us blind to the pitfalls and the dangers of living in sin, but now we have been enlightened to the dangers of both. There's another explanation that gives us an even deeper understanding about the fear we face as Christians when stepping out. As carnal (fleshly) humans, we have lived our entire lives trusting in our senses and not in God. However, when we became born- again, God required us to forsake our senses and trust in Him to lead our steps. Now we are out of control and must listen diligently to God's voice and trust that He won't lead us astray. It is very challenging to trust in someone whom we can't see and in whom we can't listen to direction when we've been conditioned by the hurts of the world not to trust anyone. 

This is what the Apostle John is addressing in today's scripture. As sinners, we were once owned by the spirit of fear (when we were lost) yet, we had no fear of the Lord. Consequently, now that we are Christians, we begin to fear the Lord. However, must realize that wrong actions produce harsh consequences. We must overcome the fear of man (people) and learn how to develop a healthy fear of the Lord. Moses tells us in Exodus 20 that the fear of the Lord will keep us from sin. The fear of man, which is really self-preservation or self-protection, can cause us to disobey God and must be defeated through our faith in Christ. 

God has given every person the measure of faith that empowers us to overcome the spirit of fear. We must face our fears through obedience to the Lord's commands, and as we practice this principle, we are, at the same time, both perfecting love in our hearts and casting the fear out of our hearts. Have you ever heard the old saying, "Can't never could and won't never will." It's bad grammar, but it gets the point across. If we allow fear to hold us in bondage so that we never obey the Lord, then love won't be developed in our hearts. Job tells us in his writings that the thing he GREATLY feared had come upon him. God will allow us to face the very thing that we fear the most and which holds us back to show us that He is still God and Lord over our lives, in spite of what we fear.

The flesh nature or "self" will cause us to react in fear when God commands us to step out in faith, and we will have to decide to either trust Him or draw back  in fear and unbelief. If we choose to draw back in unbelief, God has said that His soul will have no pleasure in us. Another way to look at this dilemma is to see fear as a way of self-protection or preservation. Jesus tells us in the gospel of Matthew that if anyone loves his life, he will lose it, but if we lose our lives for Christ's sake, then we will find it. God hasn't given us the spirit of fear, but has, instead, given us His Holy Spirit who gives us power, love, and a sound mind. Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commands." Show fear who's boss of your life by obeying God in the area that you're most afraid. 

Trusting in God's Love,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Great Return on Your Investment

John 6: 8 - 10, one of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." NKJV

How would you like to be the person used by the Lord to feed a multitude of people? This young boy gave his lunch to the disciples out of a giving heart. Can you begin to imagine the look on his face as the disciples told him that his lunch was about to feed this vast multitude. You can almost imagine a puzzled look on his face as he tries to comprehend how this is going to be possible. I don't know of any account where Jesus miraculously provided a natural/physical need in people's lives where He used something that belonged to Him.

When He arrived at the wedding in Cana, His mother told Him that the couple had run out of wine and asked Him to fix the situation. To this, Jesus replied, "My time has not come." As He was telling her about the timing of God, she turned to the servers at the wedding and told them to do whatever He commanded them. He told them to fill six water pots with fresh water, and then He blessed it and turned it into wine. According to the governor of the feast, this was the best wine he had tasted.

When Jesus and Simon Peter arrived at Capernaum the tax collectors required them to pay a tax or tribute. Instead of pulling the money out of His pocket, Jesus told Simon to go to the water and go fishing. He told Peter that the first fish that he would catch would have a coin in its mouth, and that he should take the money and pay the tax... lest they offend the men. It didn't matter what the natural need was, Jesus borrowed from someone or something else and blessed it to supply the need of the people. Why is this so important to know and understand? Jesus doesn't have to be here in the world in His physical body in order for Him to personally supply the need of a person or a people group. All He needs are people like the young boy who are willing to give their little... that He might make it become great.

Everywhere He went, there was an opportunity for Him to preach the gospel with signs and wonders following. Likewise, you and I have an opportunity every week to be used by the Lord to create a miracle in other people's lives. He had to have something in which to bless, break, and distribute. Every time we give into the work of the Lord, we're being blessed by our giving... and it will be used by the Lord to teach someone else about the "good news." Now, if you will remember, the Bible tells us that God is a debtor to no man. What we have given to the Lord will be given back to us pressed down, shaken together, and running over shall He cause men to give to us. The young boy gave his lunch, but there were twelve baskets of fragments left over. Can you imagine the reaction when the little boy returns home with an arm full of fish and bread and tries to explain what happened to his parents?

Proverbs 19: 17,
If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD--and he will repay you! NLT

Give and It Shall Be Given,
Pastor Asa

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Seeking Pity Instead Of Grace

Genesis 3: 11 - 12, And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." NKJV

If you ask the Lord to reveal more to you about His nature and power, you will discover, as I have, that it usually means He shows you something new about you. If that seems to puzzle or is contradictory to you, then consider that we were created in His image, but sin has blinded us to who we really were supposed to be before the fall.

Recently, the Lord gave me a deeper understanding about the scriptures in today's devotion. When the Bible refers to sin, it is generally in the context of darkness or spiritual blindness. In fact, when Adam and Eve sinned, the eyes of the flesh nature became opened and for the first time man became sin conscious. When we hear the term "sin-conscious," we tend to think of the realization that there is sin in our lives. However, as we can see in today's verses concerning Adam's sin, it isn't always the case. I find it very interesting that Adam had all the symptoms of sin, but wouldn't confess that he had sinned when God confronted him on the issue. We see that Adam was fearful, ashamed, and knew he was naked...the indicator that told God Adam and Eve had sinned. Even so, in spite of all these signs, Adam was blind to the truth that he had, indeed, sinned.

How could Adam have all the symptoms of sin, but not take responsibility for his sin? When God asked him if he had partaken of the tree of knowledge, instead of confessing his sin, Adam chose to blame Eve. This condition or state- of- being what the Bible calls spiritual blindness or being lost. All humans have fallen prey to this because we have all sinned. Adam blamed Eve, and she blamed the serpent. Sin isn't gender bias; it blinds us all to what is really hidden in our hearts before Christ reveals the truth to us.

When sin isn't recognized and confessed, it will lead us deeper into a state of bondage where we will begin to view ourselves as victims of sin instead of participants of sin. You see. Adam saw himself as a victim of sin instead of being guilty of a transgression that needed to be confessed and taken ownership of. When God confronted Adam about what he had done, Adam responded as a victim of his wife's actions. By doing this, he was seeking to find pity in God's sight that He might be willing to assist Adam as a victim. Let's break down that last statement. Instead of repenting for his sin, Adam wanted God to have pity on him in his fallen state. If this sounds familiar, it is called a spirit or mindset of entitlement. 

When people live in unrepentant sin, they will generally view themselves as victims and play up their negative situations trying to get someone to help them "out" of the bad situation by feeling sorrow for them... without addressing the real problem of sin in their heart. Instead of seeing sin as bondage, Adam and Eve both saw themselves as victims of sin.

Perhaps you know someone who plays the "guilt strings of your heart" occasionally, trying to manipulate you into helping them while they live in bondage to sin. Furthermore, if they continue living in bondage, it brings a curse upon their lives. If you know someone who fits this description, then you have an obligation to assist that person. However, you must not assist in a way that enables their sinful ways, but in a way that empowers them to overcome the sin and live in freedom. If we bear one another's burdens, then we have fulfilled the law of Christ, which is to love our neighbor as ourselves.  

Jesus requires us to speak the truth in love. He always brings balance to the way the gospel is to be implemented. The knee-jerk reaction to this word today is to tell people that you can't help them because they have sin in their life. We don't have to remind someone they have sin whenever they ask for help. However, if they use the same story over and over trying to get you to help them over and over, then you know that you have to speak out in order to bring true freedom into their life.

What is the answer for this bondage mindset and is there any hope? Yes, there is hope because we've all been in bondage to sin at one time or another in our lives. Hebrews 11: 6 says that, without faith, no one can please the Father. When we look to Jesus as the answer for our sin problem, and we confess our faults before the Lord, then He will forgive us and cleanse us from our unrighteous ways. Once we humble ourselves before God by faith, He will empower us to come out of bondage to sin through His grace. Grace is spiritual strength from God's Spirit which empowers us to face the truth about the sin in our hearts and to walk out of the pit or bondage of sin.

Once you are liberated by the power of God's grace, you will no longer view yourself as a victim, but rather as a victor. "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." Beware of people who continually seek your pity as a means to get their needs met. By the same token, guard your heart that you don't become a judge of people and condemn them before they've had time to prove their real intent. Words of wisdom from God's Word to equip you as a disciple of Christ!

Serving God and Loving People,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Where Was God?

Genesis 3: 1 - 6, Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'" Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good... NKJV

Where was God while Satan was in the garden tempting Eve? Where was God while Satan was afflicting Job? He was and still is present in His Word. Didn't God give them specific instructions concerning what they should eat and the tree that they were not to partake of in the garden? Therefore, God was present with them, but in Word form. He wasn't physically with them because He wanted them to trust in His Word. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the WORD WAS GOD!" If they had the Word in their hearts, then He was in their hearts with them. However, they could only know this by faith. The same applies to us. If we have the Word in our hearts, then God is with us... though not in a physical, tangible way. Therefore, we must believe that He is with us through faith. Why must we believe? Jesus, the Word incarnate said, "If you have seen Me, then you have seen the Father."

 If we hide the Word of God in our hearts, then it is with us when we need it. Now, if Satan can get us to doubt the Word, or be hearers of the Word and not doers, then he can use this to his advantage. David wrote a psalm to the Lord; in it he declares a truth that we all must know and practice as children of God. He proclaimed, "Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against it." If the Word isn't hidden in our hearts through obedience, then we can fall prey to temptation and sin against His Word. It is very obvious that Adam didn't keep the Word that God spoke into his hearing because he didn't keep the serpent out of the garden, nor did he stop Eve from eating the fruit. He was standing beside her while she looked on the fruit, took the fruit from the tree, partook of it, and gave to him and he ate. Since they didn't bother to obey God's commands, the Word of God wasn't in their hearts. This opened the door for Satan to bring doubt into their hearts. If we separate ourselves from God by ignoring the Word of God through the act of omission, we will begin to feel as though God has somehow forsaken us...although He has promised us that He will never leave us, nor forsake us in both the New and Old Testaments. Let's look at an example of where it seemed as though God just didn't care about someone and allowed them to die without any help.

When Lazarus died, Jesus waited four days to return. Martha chided Him for His negligence. She was angry at Jesus because He had ignored her request for Him to come in person and heal her brother. Why didn't Jesus come to heal Lazarus while he was sick? Why did He ignore Mary and Martha's request and allowed their brother to die and lay in a tomb for four days?  The answer has been there all this time. However, apparently we've been so distracted that we missed it like they did that day.

John 11: 11 - 15,
These things He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well." However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him." NKJV

Jesus didn't go to Lazarus' tomb so that He might cause the disciples to believe in Him once Lazarus was raised from the dead. Jesus used a "death" situation to teach His disciples (and us) to have faith in His Word, to use His Word in the same manner that He does, and to expect the same results. When we live by the Word and activate the power of God's Word in our death situations, the Word will reassure our hearts through faith that God is with us. We might not be able to see or touch Him, but He is just as present, powerful and real.

Romans 10: 6 - 11, But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, "'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." NKJV

Are you living by faith through obedience to God's Word? If you're not abiding in His Word through active faith, then you will give a place to the enemy to cause doubt and unbelief in your heart. We don't need Jesus in the flesh in order to have a victorious life. We already have Him in our hearts when we believe and obey His Word on a daily basis. With God all things are possible.

God Has Been Here All Along,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, August 22, 2011

In Times Of Trouble

Hebrews 13: 5, Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." NKJV

When Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness by the Devil, He quoted the Word. He said, "It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Our heavenly Father asks us to walk in faith knowing He is faithful and will never leave us nor forsake us. However, occasionally, there will be times when our faith will be tried. When this happens, we must remember that God will test our obedience, but it's Satan who will test our faith.

When we find ourselves in tests, as Jesus did in the wilderness, will we do as He did and stand on the Word and faithfulness of God or will we allow covetousness to cause us to begin to doubt God's faithfulness? Personally, and you won't hear that term from me often. I believe we all struggle with doubt from time to time. This is not the issue. The real issue is what will we do when doubt comes knocking on our heart's door wanting to come in and deceive us.

Why do you suppose Jesus, who was the Word of God in flesh, had to quote scripture in order to combat Satan? He was walking "by faith" in God. Therefore, He wasn't going to allow His desires to dictate how He responded to the temptations of Satan. It's not about being hungry or broke; it's about answering Satan when he comes to us and casts doubt in our hearts about the "seemingly" absence of God during this time.

This is why we must both stand on and speak the Word of God because it shows Satan we trust that our Father hasn't abandoned us. It reveals to God that we are submitted and committed to walking by faith because we know He won't forsake us. Here's the key for today's devotion: It goes against the carnal nature to trust God when walking in a time of lack. Furthermore, it crucifies our flesh when we choose to stand on God's Word despite our undesirable circumstances. Therefore, we can take a bold stand against the strategies of the Devil and keep him under our feet by speaking the Word over the situation, knowing that God is indeed with us. 

Since God has sworn to us that He won't forsake us, especially in a time of lack, then we can have confidence and boldness to stand on His Word and declare the truth to Satan and silence his lies. Lack does not mean that God has forsaken you; it is simply an opportunity for us to use our faith in God's Word to see Him provide for us. The widow at Zarephath was in a time of lack, but she obeyed the Word of the Lord from Elijah. Man didn't provide for her during the remainder of that famine. However, God's Word caused her food supply to last until the season was over. 

What good does it do us if we say we walk by faith, but won't allow our faith to be tried? This will only cause us to grow spiritually weak. When our faith gets tried, and we remain faithful to God and stand on His Word, then God can supply all of our need, and our faith will make us strong.

Living by the Word of God,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, August 19, 2011

Having the Mind of Christ

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

The Word of God says, "Let every man be a liar, and let God be true." Whenever God allows us to face the fiery furnaces in this life, our flesh nature makes it hard on us to trust in God. In our hearts, we still believe that God is good, and that He desires only good things for us. Life can deal us some serious blows that are very hard to endure, much less overcome. Wouldn't it be so nice if Jesus would just protect us so that we would never have to have another bad day or hear an evil report?

Wake up your daydreaming! We all live in a fallen world. Evil things happen to good people, and good things happen to evil people. Wait a minute; didn't Jesus say that there was none good but God? Yet, God still gave His Son for us, and Jesus still gave His life for us while we were evil. Thank God He doesn't just bless good folks, or we would still be lost with no hope. What you will find is this: there is no justice in this world, but God is just. More than that, God requires the just (Christians) to walk by faith and not by sight or feelings.

How can a just and holy God allow us to face horrible situations? To answer this hard question, we need to use some more Bible. 1 Peter 4 : 1 - 3, 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 

Satan is convinced that when Christians face tragedy or calamity we will betray our faith in God and go back into sin, but Peter, under the leading of the Holy Spirit tells us just the opposite. When we choose to suffer for the sake of Christ, we will cease from sin. So what Satan meant for evil, God, through the Holy Spirit within us, turns around for our spiritual benefit and maturity. Peter also tells us that all who live godly will suffer persecution. Have you faced a few mountains since becoming a child of God? Learning how to stand on the Word of God during the difficult times of life builds godly character in us. In other words, we become stronger in our faith rather than weaker when we choose to stand on the Word instead of running in the weakness of our flesh nature.

All you must know when facing a trial is what God is speaking to you by His Word and the Holy Spirit. When you have a Rhema Word from the Lord, and you know that it is impossible for God to leave or forsake you, the attack of Satan will only make you stronger in your faith, not weaker. God has predestined us to be conformed into the image of Christ. Therefore, when you go through what might seem like (hell) at times in your saved life know that the old man is being crucified, and the new man is emerging out of the flames of affliction.

The end result of your battle is victory over the Devil. You might be thinking, "I thought he was defeated at Calvary?" If you believe that, you are absolutely correct, but your carnal mind doesn't know that yet. Our faith doesn't give us so much victory over the Devil as it does victory over the mind that he offered to Adam and Eve when they sinned against God's will in the beginning. We used to be alienated from the life of God because of the carnal mind. Once we pass through the fire and overcome the flood, our faith in God renews our minds and we become one with God in our minds as well as our spirits.

With each trial we are separating ourselves from the strongholds of this world and becoming one with Christ through our faith. Instead of trials taking us further from Christ, through faith, they bring us closer to Christ.

Becoming Like Christ,
Pastor Asa

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Liberation through Transformation

Romans 12 : 1 - 3, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. NKJV

There is something innate and deep seated in the hearts of humans that seeks to be free. Throughout history, people have fought and died for the dream of freedom from various bondages. When people are in spiritual darkness (bondage), they will endeavor to be free apart from divine instruction. Satan can use their passion for freedom to drive them away from God, thus placing them deeper into bondage.

If you truly want to experience total liberation, you will have to undergo a transformation as well. A person can't fully experience liberation apart from first encountering a spiritual transformation. In other words, we can't do the same things the same way and expect different results. In John 8, Jesus saved a woman who was taken in the very act of adultery from her accusers who sought to stone her. After all the men left, and Jesus and the woman were alone, He told the woman that He didn't condemn her. However, that wasn't the last thing He told her. He said, "Go and sin no more." She had to have a change in her heart before she could be totally free from the very thing that brought her into bondage. 

As a pastor who teaches the principles of God's Word, I have taught from Romans 12: 1 - 2, many times. Today, the Lord opened my eyes to see deeper into these verses. We all need our minds renewed through the Word of God so that we might have a spiritual perspective on things that we face, instead of a worldly view. It's one thing to have your mind renewed and to become a true disciple of Christ, but Jesus doesn't want us to stop there. Jesus tells us in the gospels that if we desire to follow Him, we must deny self, take up our cross, and follow Him. Let's look at the first condition Jesus requires of us who seek to live completely free.

We must be willing to deny "self" in the way that He denied His will and obeyed God's will. What does it profit us if we learn the truth of God's Word, but don't submit our hearts to obey any of them? It profits nothing!

Paul doesn't just tell us to have our minds renewed in order to be transformed; in verse 3, he continues by instructing us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Now we're down to the place of getting real with our walk and taking ownership for our own actions. It is only when we deny self and ask the Lord what He wants to change in us that we will begin to experience true and lasting liberation from the flesh nature. We can have our minds renewed, but still be filled with spiritual pride and fall prey to Satan's devices.

Obviously, the Lord has this on His heart, or He wouldn't have revealed it to me to share today. Are you submitted to God's plan for your life? Are you a true disciple who denies the selfish nature so that you might experience God's liberating power in your heart? Let the Lord speak to your heart today as you seek His will and not your desires... and see what happens.

Whom the Son Sets Free,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

God's Original Plan For Your Life

Ephesians 1 : 15 - 21, Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. NKJV

Can you imagine what our lives would have been like today if sin hadn't been allowed by Adam to enter into our world? Sin separated us from the life of God, but not from the love of God. It is because of God's love that He has given every person that enters this world the opportunity to live the life that He originally intended. There's only one condition that is required for us to be reconnected to God's original plan for our life; we must now place our complete faith in Jesus as the Son of God. If you will read Ephesians 1, you will see that God chose us in Christ before sin, but more than that, He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. In other words, God knew what was going to happen when He created man. Therefore, He made provisions for the fall of man in His original plan.

Here's where you and I come into the story. In much the same way as Paul describes in the above scripture, we must now decide to believe in Christ and allow Him to reveal God's master plan to us. So you don't have to imagine what it would have been like had sin not been allowed in the earth. To the degree that you allow yourself to trust in the Lord, He will be able to reveal to you His hidden wisdom to you by the Holy Spirit. Literally, our faith in Jesus as God's only Son allows us to know and to fulfill all that God had originally planned for us from the beginning.

The obstacle we all must overcome is the fallen mindset that we carry over into our salvation experience. When you received Jesus as your personal Savior, it wasn't with the mind that you believed, but with your heart. God bypassed your mind and dealt directly with your heart. Therefore, we can't use our human reasoning and memory to try and figure out God's plan for our life; we must believe with our hearts and this will renew our minds. The fallen mind wants you to think that you're not worthy, or that you have no ability to know what God's will is for your life. We must train ourselves to believe... instead of trying to think with our human reasoning. As we do this, the Holy Spirit will give us wisdom, revelation, and knowledge that our minds are incapable of producing. To put in it earthly terms... just think of faith as God's secret communication tool especially designed for His children's spiritual education. This keeps Satan and his will out of the equation.

If you struggle with your spiritual identity and purpose as a Christian, then do what Paul did when he heard about the faith of Christians in Ephesus; he prayed and asked God to give them the spirit of revelation... that He might illuminate their understanding. Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, they learned how to know and walk in their heavenly calling. Do you have obstacles that confound you? Are there hurdles in the way of you accomplishing what God is telling you to fulfill in your life? Simply pray and ask the Lord to give you the spirit of wisdom and understanding. After you pray, believe and wait for the release of God's power to fill your heart and show you the way to get beyond human limitations.

Final thought: If God didn't allow sin to eternally separate us from Himself, then how much more is He able to show all Christians His will for us and then empower us to fulfill that will in spite of having fallen prey to sin. Utilize your faith and not your mind to communicate to the Father. He, in turn will use the Holy Spirit to speak to you and not your mind. When Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was Simon, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit told Him that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus told Simon that flesh and blood hadn't revealed this to him, but it was given to him from the heavenly Father. All it takes is faith.

Walk By Faith and Not By Sight,
Pastor Asa

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Made Clean By the Word

John 15: 3, You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. NKJV

As Christians, we have been redeemed from sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Satan no longer owns you; now that you have received the Holy Spirit, you belong to God. Does that mean we are made perfect because of the blood of Christ? No, it does not. We have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, but at the moment of salvation, we were not made perfect or mature. Jesus told His disciples, who had remained with Him over three years that they had been made clean by the Word He had taught them.

When we're only taught the principles of salvation, but never taken on into discipleship it can cause us, "believers," to think that we have achieved all that is required of us from the Lord. If all you know about your walk with the Lord is based on salvation teachings alone, and you practice those principles that have been imparted into your life, it can cause you to feel as though you have "arrived."

This is why Jesus requires believers to continue in their faith by hearing and keeping the Word of God in their everyday lives after they become born again. Even though we've been cleansed from dead works through the blood of Christ, and our spirits have been regenerated through the Holy Spirit, our souls are yet to be purified. As I wrote previously, the disciples had been with Jesus for almost forty-two months. During this time, Jesus had taught them many truths that had transformed their carnal minds. Through the truths that He revealed to the disciples, they learned the importance of following God's Law and not the traditions of the elders. As Jesus continued to teach the disciples, they became clean in their souls from the pollution of the world's ways, which defiles the soul.  

One day, as Jesus was teaching in the temple, some Jews believed His teachings. He told those Jews, who believed on Him to continue in His teachings, and they would become true disciples. You see; there is so much more to being saved than just becoming born again. Now that we are saved, we must continue living in His Word and keeping His teachings in our hearts and lives. This will purge our souls from the fleshly ways that we walked in as sinners. 

We're all fine (or believe we're fine) until we look in the mirror and see the dirt on our faces. In much the same way, we must look into the Word of God so that it might reveal to us what is hidden just out of our sight... but that others can see very plainly. The Word of God will purge your soul and make you free from deceptive pride and fleshly lusts.

Lord Show Me through Your Word,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Become As a Little Child

Matthew 18: 1 - 5, At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. NKJV

The disciples were being "childish" and fighting over who was the greatest among them. Consequently, Jesus used that occasion to teach them (and us) some powerful truths about children and God's view of them.

What is about children or being child-like that God loves so dearly and protects with great passion? He loves children, but He also loves the way they trust without having any strings or conditions applied to the recipient to which that trust is extended. Innocent trust is very precious to God, and He strives diligently to protect the willingness of children to trust without question. Parents teach their children not to trust everyone, and that not everybody is looking out for their best interest. 

Since children are so vulnerable to becoming prey in the hands of someone evil, Jesus not only teaches us to become as a child, He also teaches on offenses as a warning. We live in a fallen world that is filled with evil and wickedness. Jesus wants us to be aware of offenses, while continuing to place our trust in God, lest we allow the attacks of our adversary to turn our hearts away from faith in God and become spiritually hardened.

Whenever a child or a believer stumbles or backslides from God because of the offense of someone dishonest, Jesus tells us that God takes such violations against the innocent very seriously. 

Matthew 18 : 6 - 7, "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! NKJV

Even though we become born again, it doesn't mean we won't experience offenses in our new walk with God. However, it does mean that through our faith, we don't have to go back into unbelief or revert to sin in order to get vengeance. We belong to the Lord, and He will fight our battles for us. We must continue to trust in Him, even though the offense was allowed to occur. Remember, the goal of Satan's use of offenses or injustice against us is to try and turn our hearts away from God.  

Our church recently helped a ministry that reaches out to children who have been sexually abused and exploited by the very people who should be protecting them. This ministry works in Bulgaria with children and parents to educate them on the dangers of the sex-trade and predators.  In that region of the world, it is a known fact that 80% of the children involved in Europe's sex trade come from Bulgaria. The parents are so poor that they can't afford to care for their children. The parents of the children are approached by people who promise to take their children and give them an education and "save" them from a life of hardship. 

Once the children are removed from their family, homes, and villages, they are introduced to a life of slavery. Please pray for the children in Bulgaria, America, and around the world that are taken daily and sold into the sex trade industry. Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Reaching Out to Help the Hurting Children,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, August 1, 2011

Being Deceived Can be Deceptive

Hebrews 3 : 12 - 13, Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  NKJV

Jesus warned us that in this world, offense would come. However, He also said, "Woe" to the one who caused the offense. Living by faith can be very tough at times simply because trials come to us all.  Let's take a journey back in time to when the Jews were entering the wilderness. It doesn't take long before they realize that there were no restaurants or hotels to stop at on their way to the Promised Land.

Even though they couldn't find a place to lodge or an IHOP to dine in late at night, God still managed to take care of their every need while they wandered. They allowed the hostile environment to cause them to harden their hearts against God. Now they had a real problem on their hands. It's one thing to be wandering around in a wilderness, but when they turn their back on the One who is taking care of their every need, things can get real nasty.

Can you imagine something physical happening to you that would ever cause you to turn your heart against God? It seems foolish to think that the chosen people of God, who had been delivered out of Egypt's bondage, would allow natural situations to cause them to react with spiritual rebellion against their Provider. 

Now we're getting to the reason for today's word from heaven. If a natural event causes someone to depart from the living God, then know that it is the result of the deceitfulness of sin. Only sin that is in the heart will justify sin in the flesh as a legitimate reaction to hardship and backslide from God.

Satan wants people to believe that it's God causing us trouble. However, if you think for a moment, it was Satan, who started all the trouble in the beginning. Faith is more than just believing in God. True faith is followed through with obedience. The reason God allowed the children of Israel to perish in the wilderness after forty years is because they wouldn't obey His voice; they had hardened their hearts in unbelief.   

Hebrews 10: 35 - 39, Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: "For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. NKJV

When life gets difficult, and you feel as though you're slipping, hold on! Jesus will pull you out of the troubled waters. Look to Him until you see His hand moving in your situation. Our faith pleases God, and He will move heaven and earth to save us.

Waiting on the Lord,
Pastor Asa Dockery

The Dead in Christ Shall Rise

1 Thessalonians 4 : 16 - 18, For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. NKJV

We're told in Romans 1 and Hebrews 10 that the JUST shall LIVE by faith. When you and I placed our faith in Jesus as the Christ, He filled our hearts and our souls with His life. I find that interesting because Christians still grow old, and they still pass away. Even so, the Bible says that the Just shall live by faith.

After Adam sinned and brought death on humanity, God told him that he was taken from the dust and to the dust, he would return. When Jesus promised us life, He didn't mean we wouldn't physically die. He was letting us know that at the time of death, we will pass from this temporal life into eternal life. Though my body is alive, it doesn't have eternal life. My soul has eternal life because it is filled with God's Word and His Spirit. When my body dies, it will go into the ground, but my soul which contains life won't go to the ground. Instead, it will go to be with the Lord. Therefore, we must live by faith, even though our outward man is perishing day by day.

In Isaiah 55 we're told by the Lord that the Word which goes forth from His mouth won't return void, but it will accomplish what it was sent to fulfill. God sent His Word into the earth in the form of a seed. However, when His Word returns to Him, it won't be in the form of a seed. It will reside inside the fruit, and the fruit will be gathered to Him. If we have this hope, then we know by the Spirit of God, who dwells in our hearts, that one day we shall see all of our loved-ones who have gone before us in the faith. Our faith in Christ shall once again reunite us in glory.

Even though our souls have been redeemed from the power of death, and we shall never die, our earthen vessel will perish and return to the dust. The body is the last part of our triune being that will be redeemed from death. Then the final work of the redemption process will be completed, and the souls of those who have died in Christ will receive their glorified body. Just as we're going to be reunited with our loved-ones, we will also be reunited with our bodies...new and improved of course!

Romans 8 : 22 - 24, For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. NKJV

Awaiting My full Redemption,
Pastor Asa