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Monday, October 31, 2011

Kept from Things I Cannot See

Matthew 26: 20 - 22, When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. Now as they were eating, He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me." And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, "Lord, is it I?" NKJV

Is it possible for a Christian to know what they are capable of doing? God told Jeremiah that the heart of man was desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, and who can know it. God also told Jeremiah that He searches our hearts. According to today's passage, the disciples not only didn't know who the betrayer was, but each one wondered if it was him.

Likewise, when we get into desperate situations, it can cause us to panic and become defensive or territorial. If we should allow the power of lust to rule our hearts, it can drive us to commit unrighteous and evil acts. The key to overcoming the evil that is in our hearts (caused by the fall of man) is to trust God with our whole heart. As a husband, father, and pastor, I ask the Lord regularly to keep me from acting out of my heart in a sinful way against Him. 

While studying God's Word, I have found that there is nothing wrong with telling other like-faith believers that you don't trust your own heart. In fact, the Bible tells us in Proverbs not to lean to our own understanding, but in all our ways, we are to acknowledge God. Peter tells us in his epistle that Satan is going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. How does he know who is a likely candidate, and who isn't? He sets us up in certain challenging situations, and when the test comes, he moves in with his lies with the hope that we won't turn to God, but, instead, listen only to him.

Remember, Jesus calls us sheep, and as such we are vulnerable to the wolves of the world. If we should stray from the protection of our Shepherd and the communion of the flock of God, we can become prey for Satan to attack us in our mind, emotions, and desires. If you feel that God has given me this word specifically for you, then know there is something you can do today to keep you from crossing certain lines that will place you at odds with the Lord.

Each disciple asked Jesus if they were the one He was speaking about that would betray Him.  Likewise, we must also turn to the Lord and ask Him to keep us from listening to or trusting in our own hearts. This is called having integrity before the Lord. Once we give ownership of our hearts over to God, it is His responsibility to keep us from anyone or anything that might be a setup from Satan. 

Satan preys on our spiritual ignorance and blind spots so that he might gain an upper- hand over us. Paul tells us in Timothy that Eve was deceived, but that Adam wasn't deceived. Therefore, we must give our entire heart over to the Lord and place our trust in Him. As we begin to practice this, the Holy Spirit can begin to lead us into all truth, keep us from temptation, and deliver us from evil.

When God called Abraham out of his father's country and away from his kindred, it's obvious that Abraham had some flesh issues in his heart. On occasion, when he would go into a new place, he would ask Sarah to tell a partial lie; he asked her to say she was his sister and not his wife. He did this because of fear that the men of that village or city would try to kill him in order to get Sarah, since she was very beautiful. Let me interject this thought: notice that Abraham totally excluded God from the situation and made an assumption, which ultimately got him into trouble with the king. He was leaning on his own understanding (Genesis 20).

One day Abraham entered Gerar, whose king was named Abimelech. To protect himself, Abraham asked his wife to lie. Because of this fabrication, the king took Sarah into his house that night. God appeared to the king while in a dream. In the dream, God told him that he was a dead man because he had taken another man's wife. Of course, you can imagine how this made the king feel, seeing that he had been lied to by Abraham. When the king told God that he had done this out of the integrity of his heart, God replied, "Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore, I did not let you touch her. 

I love this story because it shows how God will keep me when I have been set up by someone else's wrongs...wrongs that might cause me to believe a lie and sin against God. God will keep us from sin as long as we honor Him continually in our hearts, as He did with Abimelech. God didn't allow the king to commit a sin that would bring a curse on him and his people. The Lord doesn't want us to be pierced through with great sorrow because of sin that we committed out of our ignorance. He desires that we trust in Him and honor His Word so that He might keep us from entering into temptation. Fear and lust both want you to listen to them as you make daily decisions; listen to God instead.

Lord, is it I?
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, October 28, 2011

Free At Last

Romans 8: 12 - 14, So, dear brothers, you have no obligations whatever to your old sinful nature to do what it begs you to do. For if you keep on following it you are lost and will perish, but if through the power of the Holy Spirit you crush it and its evil deeds, you shall live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. TLB

The Lord hates sin, and He hates it for a good reason; it destroys the souls and lives of those He has created and loves. We can see the love of God in the story of Israel's great exodus from the land of bondage. Pharaoh was an oppressive king over God's people. The taskmasters under Pharaoh were cruel to the children of Israel. If they didn't meet their daily quota of bricks and hard labor they would beat them. But after 400 years of that oppression, the Lord heard and answered the cries of His people because of their afflictions.

In much the same way, sin is a harsh taskmaster over God's fallen creation. So as He sent Moses to deliver Israel, He has also sent Jesus to deliver fallen man from the oppression of Satan over the world. Just as Egypt had cruel taskmasters, we too have the flesh nature to contend with on a daily basis. Although, we, who are born again have been made free from sin, we also know that the flesh nature which is rooted in bondage to the spirit of fear wants to oppress our lives with habits, lusts, and weaknesses of our flesh.

Even though you are a Christian that has experienced the saving grace of our heavenly Father, you may still be struggling with bondage to sins and to fear in your life today. This isn't the time to retreat in condemnation, but it is an opportunity to hear some "good news" about your plight. Jesus never came to condemn fallen man because of sin; He was sent to love us and give His life for our sin that we might become God's righteous children.

I will ask different people from time to time if they're being obedient, and they all seem to have the same answer: "I'm trying to obey, or I'm trying to quit doing wrong." The truth is, God never required us to "try" ... this is why He has given us His Holy Spirit. As we set our hearts to obey the Lord, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome any struggle, offense, mountain, or fear that might try to stand in our way. Just as Paul wrote in the verse today, we are not obligated to obey our old sin nature and indulge in its evil desires, but we can, through the power of the Holy Spirit put to death the deeds of the sin nature and live in freedom. Our heavenly Father doesn't want us to live in bondage or put up with oppression from the Devil of our past. He has given us everything we need to live a fulfilled life of godliness.

Jesus said in John 10: 10 that He came so that we might have life in us and enjoy it to the full (or in abundance). We can only obtain that level of life in our soul by allowing the Holy Spirit to liberate us from the bondages of the flesh nature. If you struggle with a habit or sin and have felt as though you couldn't ever get free, then take these verses out of Romans 8 and meditate on them until you see the chains of oppression begin to fall off of your life. Each day when you wake up ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to live that day in total victory over the enemy of your soul. The key to total breakthrough is consistency. He or she that endures to the end shall be saved. The Lord wants us to walk in His life and experience His liberty in our hearts. My prayer for you is that this word today will become a reality in your life, and you will enjoy life as never before.

Walking in God's Power and Love,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Hope Is In the Lord

Matthew 9:36-38, But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." NKJV

The Lord has given me a special word of hope for you today. Everyone needs hope in order to endure difficult times...times such as we're faced with in today's world. You can feel the heart of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, when He saw the multitudes (in the verse above) as sheep having no shepherd. There are many believers out in the world that just don't know where to turn right now for hope. I know we all have Jesus, but even God said it wasn't good for man to be alone... and that was before the fall. The truth is, we all need one another, and we all need the Lord. We need someone to lead us and protect us spiritually as well.

It grieves the heart of God when His people feel as though they have no one to reach out to for comfort, direction, and leadership. It's just heart- wrenching to hear all that families are being bombarded with from the enemy. This is why the Lord has given ministers to the body of Christ, men and women who you can go to and find encouragement and hope in troubling times.

The word gospel simply means the "Good News." Allow me to expound on why the gospel is good news.To the sinner, who is spiritually blind, and can't find his way to God, Jesus is the Savior of the world; He came to seek and save that which was lost. He tells us that we didn't choose Him, but He chose us, and that's good news! To the person who has just received a bad health report and doesn't know where to turn, Jesus is the Great Physician. Our healing was purchased by the stripes that were laid upon His back. I could write a book and not scratch the surface of all that Jesus is to His people that are in need. The problem is connecting His people with the correct wisdom that will allow them to receive all that God has in store for them.

This world was created and established upon the truth. God upholds all things through the word of His power. So when things in the world begin shaking and you don't know what to do, simply turn to the Lord and His Word and ask Him to reveal truth to you, and He will. Truth can't be shaken; so if we have faith in the Word of God, we can't be shaken either. We can find hope in that. What has your heart's attention in this season of your life? Are you gripped with anxiety or apprehension over the condition of the world? Focus your attention on the truth of God's Word and watch as it transforms your life and outlook. Truth establishes us like an anchor and prevents us from being tossed around by the winds that blow.

Jesus tells us in the book of John, chapter 8 that if we will continue, abide, dwell in the truth, we will know the truth and the truth we know will have the power to make us free. Just begin to listen, read, and place your trust only in the truth of God's Word and you'll see the Lord do a mighty work in your life. So the key to the problem of connecting people with the provision is getting to know the Word. He's more than just a book; He's a person. He is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother. As you meditate upon Him day and night, His truth will begin to set you free. Do you know someone in your life that feels lost in more ways than one? Send this word of encouragement to them and let's be a part of making a difference in someone's life.

The Lord Is Our Refuge,
Pastor Asa

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Watch Out For the Trap of Offence

Hebrews 2 : 9 - 11, But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren. NKJV

At times it might seem as if God has forsaken you, especially during a trial or temptation, but you are not alone. Generally, when people are hit with very hard situations or alluring temptations, they will tend to withdraw from other people. The favorite phrase is, "You just won't understand." Perhaps you've used that one before. There is One who knows and understands exactly what you're dealing with in your heart. He is called the High Priest of our confession... Jesus.

The last thing Satan wants you to do is give honor to the Lord. In fact, he will set you up for an offense through disappointment, betrayal, or a missed opportunity for an expected blessing. Beware of hurts... that you don't allow them to fester in your heart and cause you to become cynical. Here's what you must be looking for from the deceiver. When life offers you an offensive situation, you can be sure that the enemy of your soul is going to be close behind ready to sow seeds of unbelief... that God not there for you. If you don't recognize these thoughts as being Satan's seeds, and you allow your heart to think on the possibility that God caused this hurt or disappointment, cynicism will seep into your heart. It will be so subtle that you won't even recognize it, but it still doesn't negate the fact that now your heart has become callous against God in this trial.

This isn't the end of the story. Once Satan gets you to agree with his deception about God, a wall will be erected between you and the voice of the Lord. As that wall remains unchallenged by truth, it grows with each new hurt and furthers the separation in your heart from the presence of God. Now the love of God that once flowed freely has diminished to a trickle. It isn't over yet, because Satan has not been confronted at this point. If you have allowed cynicism to build a wall of hurt that pulls you back in your love walk, you are falling into the trap of isolation.

The walls that keep others from hurting you can become prison walls that hold you in isolation... so that you feel alone and vulnerable in times of trouble. The Lord calls us the sheep of His pasture. Sheep and wolves don't get along at all. The wolf waits in silence as a sheep becomes separated from the rest of the flock. At that point, they are weaker and become vulnerable to its attacks. One on one the sheep is no match for the wolf. As the enemy traps you through offenses in his web of deceit, it isolates you.  With a wall of offense built in your heart between you and the Lord's presence, it creates a sense of spiritual weakness...so that when you would want to step out in faith, the strangle hold that the enemy has on you can pull you back into remaining neutral.

Finally, the good part... the passage that we used today says that Jesus was made perfect through suffering. Jesus was already perfect and suffering added nothing to His character. However, as our High Priest, He had to experience what sin has done to us and to be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, yet without sin. As the Spotless Lamb, He was perfect... so that He might offer Himself as an offering on our behalf, but as the High Priest, He had to suffer...so that He might be our Kinsmen Redeemer. He can relate to our pain, suffering, disappointments, rejections, etc.

So the next time you get attacked through the spirit of offense, be sure and remind Satan, when he tries to be your "buddy," that you already have a Friend that sticks with you closer than a brother. Remind Satan of all that Christ did for you on the cross so that you wouldn't have to suffer for your own sins. This will silence those lies and keep your heart pure before the Lord. With no bitterness or cynicism, the Word will have the power to impact your heart and bring transformation in your life. It will give you the victory through your faith to overcome every trial and temptation that Satan sends your way.

Hebrews 2:18,
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. NKJV

Keeping the Faith,
Pastor Asa

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

There Is a Difference

John 14: 23 - 24, Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. NKJV

In today's passages, Jesus is instructing His disciples to demonstrate their love for Him by keeping and continuing the work of His Word in their walk. Please allow me a few moments of your day to make a distinction between love and trust. Do you have someone in your life that you love, but don't trust?  They may be a relative or very close friend, but they have acted inappropriately toward you or violated your trust in some way, and this has strained your relationship with them. It's not that you don't love or care for them any longer; it is that your confidence in them has been shattered.

If any of those thoughts describes a relationship that you may have with someone, then let's look at this principle in a deeper way.  God was displeased with man in Noah's day because of their hearts continually being filled with evil. Therefore, He made this statement about the flesh of man; He said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man for he is flesh." Consequently, God shortened the lifespan of man to 120 years. Even though God has no confidence in man, God never stopped loving man.

In John 3, John writes about the love of God and declares that God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son. In spite of the evil ways of man, and although God couldn't trust the flesh of mankind to fulfill His will in the earth, God still gave His best for our worst. Although our sins stopped His will from being obeyed in the earth, it didn't stop Jesus from dying for our sins so that we might be reconciled with the Father once again. 

Through His love, God looked beyond the symptoms of our sins, such as disobedience and lack of character and dealt with the root cause, which was an evil heart of unbelief. Now, all that God asks of us is that we place faith in the work of Christ and believe on HIM for our salvation.

Here's the point of today's word: When we come to faith in Christ, it doesn't mean that we will be spared from ever again having loss or pain. In fact, there will be times where you may get hurt at God and stop obeying Him because "your trust has been violated." It is during these times that Satan can get into the battle and use our pain to stop us from demonstrating our love for God. Remember, Jesus said, "If you love me, then you will keep or honor my commands." We must understand that love, and trust is NOT the same thing. Even though God couldn't trust us as sinners, He never stopped loving us. If we should allow an offense to stop us from demonstrating our love and gratitude through our continued obedience to God, then we have made the decision to love ourselves, or the object of our affection that was lost, to pull back our love from God. 

You can see how Satan is very subtle, but effective in the way that he fights the children of God. We may not always agree with the way that God has chosen to sanctify us from our old ways, but we must not allow the loss or pain of "our cross" to keep us from loving God. Jesus has gone before us to demonstrate how to endure, and through love, finish the race that has been set before us by the Father.

By the Grace of God,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, October 24, 2011

When God Is with You

2 Corinthians 12 : 7 - 10, And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. NKJV

Are you presently experiencing a very trying season in your walk? Perhaps God has instructed you to step out in faith and doing so is very overwhelming to you. However, if you're like me, you have a heart to serve God and gladly accept His plan... that is, until you realize that fulfilling that plan has caused you to walk out on the water, which, by now, is way up over your head. There are times when we get out of the boat and step right into a commitment or a trial that tries our faith. It seems those are the times that we are most likely to ask God, "Where are you?"

The Apostle John tells us that our faith in Christ is the victory that overcomes this world. He also teaches us what things are in the world that we will gain victory over... the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. When we find ourselves in a position or situation that demands we walk by faith in God, then we should know that God has strategically placed us there, not to fear, but to allow the power of God to flow through us.

God not only knows our how fragile we are. He also knows about our tendency to be self-sufficient. However, the middle ground for these two extremes is only found in the midst of trust. To borrow a phrase from Paul, we are usually caught betwixt and between two extremes. If God should push us beyond the breaking point of our humanity, there is a risk that we will revolt out of fear. Furthermore, if He should leave us in our comfort zone, there is a risk that we will run ahead of Him.

So why does God allow us to be in such hostile situations that we often wonder whether we will even make it through, and we question whether He is even with us? Paul found himself in this very place in his ministry and sought God so that He might remove this thorn...which was a messenger from Satan. God told Paul that His grace was sufficient for him; His strength was made perfect in weakness. If active faith in Christ flowing out of our hearts is the victory over this world, then this is where we need to reside, spiritually. After God instructed Paul of the importance of operating in the strength of His divine grace, his attitude was changed. He understood that God was working in him and with him through the adversity, and this gave Paul solace. 

For the first time, Paul was willing to accept, not the thorn in the flesh, but God's will while resisting the temptation to give up because of the thorn. Now Paul was operating in the power of Christ like never before; he had gone to a higher level of resting in Christ and in trusting God with his life.

If this devotion has spoken to you about the present struggles in your walk, then allow me to share an important truth that I have come to know about God. When I have found myself betwixt and between and asked God, "Where are you and will you please remove me from this situation," He would begin to show me His hand at work. He didn't remove the situation, nor did He move me out of the experience. However, He would very lovingly show me signs of His presence all around me and that I was in the eye-of-the-storm. After showing Moses many signs to prove to the leaders of Israel and Egypt that God had called him, God told Moses, "You will know I am with you when you have led My people out."

The greatest sign God is with you is not that He has destroyed your enemies or kept you from the fiery trials, but that you have accomplished what He has called you to do while going through great adversity. Please allow this word to encourage you to continue obeying God in spite of the impossible situations because God is with you.

Walking by Faith and not by sight,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, October 20, 2011

When It Costs to Obey God

Matt 5:43-48, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. NKJV

In Matthew 5, Jesus begins teaching us on the principles of God's kingdom, not about the traditions or doctrines of men. You will notice that Jesus requires more of us under the New Covenant; He tells us that unless our righteousness exceeds that which is set by the scribes and Pharisees, we won't enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Pharisees had the reputation of "believing in God," but Jesus shows us through His teachings that they didn't have a record of "obeying" God, especially when it cost them to do so. It doesn't cost us anything to become born again because Jesus has done all of the suffering for us. The scriptures say, "He who knew no sin became sin's offering that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ."

However, now that we're saved and have been made righteous, Jesus requires us as His disciples to obey or keep His commands. Although it didn't cost us to believe in Jesus for salvation, it will now cost us (our flesh) to obey the Lord as His disciples. In Romans 4, we read where Abraham heard the promises of God, and God accounted his faith as righteous. Romans chapter 10 tells us to believe in Christ and confess Him as Lord, and we, too, shall be saved or righteous in God's sight.

God doesn't want us to remain just righteous; He desires for us to become mature or complete and blessed. After Abraham believed on God to fulfill what He had promised him, God instructed Abraham to take Isaac, his only son, and offer him on Mount Moriah. This act of obedience would cost Abraham his son, and it would cost Isaac his life, but in spite of the cost, Abraham still obeyed. If you will read Genesis 22: 16 - 18, you will notice that immediately after Abraham obeyed God's voice, God declared he and his descendants were blessed. Now, after obeying God, even though it cost him, Abraham is declared blessed.

You see, God doesn't just want us to be righteous, as I wrote before; now that we're righteous, God desires that the blessing of Abraham come on us through our sacrificial obedience to His voice, by faith. It cost Abel, Joseph, Job, and a host of others a lot to obey God's will, but they left this world blessed in the sight of God. The question that every Christian must answer with their lifestyle is this... "Do I love God more than this world or its pleasures?" Since becoming a believer, if you were to look back over the decisions you have made when God asked you to obey and it cost you, do your choices prove your love for God?

Blessed to be a Blessing,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Curse of Sin Has Been Broken

Isaiah 53: 10 - 11, Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. NKJV

Isaiah wrote, "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him." We know that Isaiah was speaking about Jesus, the Son of God. Nevertheless, if we were to read that statement with just a human understanding, it would almost sound as if God derived pleasure from the torture of His Son. However, that was not the case at all. Jesus had prayed while on earth that the will of the Father be fulfilled in His life through obedience.

Since Jesus was willing, obeyed every command of the Father, and chose to suffer and die for the sins of the world, His offering pleased the Father. While Isaiah was writing under the leading of the Holy Spirit, he declared that the Messiah would come as an innocent Lamb of God and upon Him God would lay the sins of the entire world. It is inconceivable for us as humans to fully comprehend what Jesus had to undergo and suffer in order to appease the wrath of God and please the Father.

It's inconceivable to us because Jesus was beaten and shamed like no other man. In addition to the things that we know through the written accounts of Jesus' public flogging, beating, crucifixion, and burial, He endured all of this while the weight of every person's sin and shame was upon Him. He was innocent of all false accusations and trumped-up charges, yet He accepted the punishment for our sin without revile or revenge. 

Why is it so hard for us to fully understand the depth of love that Jesus had for His Father? Allow me to share some thoughts about the limitations of our humanity. As humans, we can only handle so much falsehood spoken against us and not want to defend ourselves. We are limited in our humanity as to the degree of suffering we can incur and endure without lashing out at the perpetrator. When you take both of those thoughts and add in the truth that we are the ones who were guilty, and He was innocent, this exceeds the realm of human love or strength. Lest you might tend to believe that He was God on the cross, and this gave Him the power to overcome sin, let me remind you of the scripture, "My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?" To me, this is the powerful thing about what Jesus was willing and empowered to do while on the cross. Since Jesus said "yes" to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, God empowered Him to suffer for our sins as an innocent Man. Please note that Jesus allowed, not the wrath of man, but the love of God to flow through His heart while He hung on the cross. He made a conscious decision to love, and God gave Him the power to love as "a Man" on the cross. I pray that this Word in some way helps you to better understand the depth of love that Jesus had for His Father, as well as the depth of love that the Father has for the world.

While Jesus was in His greatest moment of agony, He summoned enough strength and love to say, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." When the Father heard these Words proceed out of His Son's mouth, it pleased the Father, and He has now forgiven all who have been found guilty before Him. All the Father requires is that we acknowledge the work that Jesus has already done on our behalf, believe on Jesus as the ONLY WAY to the Father, and turn from our sin; then, He will abundantly pardon us.

No Greater Love,
Pastor Asa

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Broken but Loved

John 3: 17, For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. NKJV

It's obvious when you look at creation as a whole that God loves diversity. Debbie and I have three sons, and each one of them is different from the other two. They're distinct in almost every way, even though they're brothers. It amazes me to watch each son become their own person, and as I watch the maturation process developing each of our children into the person in which they are to become according to God's plan, I realize that I am witnessing the vastness of God in their individuality. At the same time, even though they are very different from each other, I can see the connectedness of love.

In much the same way that God looked beyond our sins, weaknesses, and flawed behavioral patterns in order to love us back to Him, we are to grow in love toward each other. When God saved us, He didn't look at us, as though we would always remain the same; instead, He saw us as the people we would become when we chose to accept and embrace His love. As a pastor, I have the privilege of watching the children of our church over the years as they grow up and become young adults. It amazes me to watch as these young adults begin to walk in a new season in their lives and how they struggle to make sense of their beliefs and how to apply them to everyday life.

Paul tells us in Romans 3 that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all broken vessels in need of God's love in our lives so that we might be transformed into the original masterpiece that was intended by our heavenly Father. Inevitably, each young person has to come to the place in their faith walk where they must decide whether they're going to depend on God and allow Him to love them through their struggles, or choose to rely on "self." Even though we sometimes choose to walk away from the Lord, it doesn't prevent God from continuing to love and protect us.

In spite of our flaws, God has made a commitment to mankind to love us through the hard seasons of life. We all struggle at times over our faith in God because we are faced with difficult decisions and fiery trials while living in this corrupt world. This is a normal part of maturing and of coming to know the God that Christians call "Abba Father." Just as God didn't condemn us as sinners, but sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we might be saved, God is still deeply in love with us, as He works in our hearts to cleanse and to mature us in His love. 

Even though we taught our children beginning at a very early age about Jesus and salvation, each of them has their own belief system. This has taught me a very important principle. Sin has definitely had a major impact on all humans in the way we view God and how we each respond to God. Even though we were originally created in both the image and likeness of God, sin altered the image and changed the likeness in which we saw God. Therefore, we have a "world view" of God before we come to the knowledge of the truth. As sinners or fallen humans, we have our own way of thinking and believing... but not according to truth.

The Bible teaches us to train up our children in the way they are to go and when they're older, they won't depart from that path. God is our heavenly Father, who not only loved us while we were sinners, but continues to love us while He changes our hearts to see Him through eyes of truth. If you're a child of God, then you're on the same journey as me. Together, God is working through our mistakes, failures, and sins to bring us to the knowledge of the truth and to know His love, which surpasses knowledge. Through it all, God has never stopped loving us. Although He has loved us, He wouldn't allow us to remain the same as when He picked us up out of the miry clay. We may be broken, but we must never forget that we are deeply loved by our Creator and heavenly Father. 

Covered by the Love of God,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, October 17, 2011

Receiving Forgiveness without Punishment

Matthew 10: 29 - 31, Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. NKJV

The creation of God is a wondrous sight to behold. The Lord has created so many types of creatures that it could take years to discover and learn about all of them. Nevertheless, our heavenly Father knows when one of His smallest creatures falls to the ground. God is so meticulous that He has numbered the very hairs on your head.

If you study creation and pay close attention to the smallest details, you can begin to appreciate the painstaking lengths that God has gone through in order to make sure that creation is not only beautiful, but functional as well. It wouldn't be just (or right) for God to create so many creatures and then not be willing to watch over each and every one of them. This is the very message in Matthew 6 that Jesus conveyed to the people who were consumed with worrying over their lives.

I began this devotion with thoughts about God's provision so that we might look at a graver issue with a deeper realization of God's unsearchable love for you and me. Although God created the world to live in harmonious balance, man's sin has disrupted it with acts of violence and wickedness. Even so, in spite of God's plan being derailed from its original course, God has still managed to give life and to protect life.

The Lord has a plan for your life on earth. However, even though God has a plan for you and I to follow while living in this corrupt and sometimes violent world, we must be willing to suffer in order to fulfill it. I was speaking with someone the other day that has worked in the judicial branch of our local government for years. He began to tell me of a story about someone's rights that had been violated by another person. The perpetrator was originally charged with three felony charges and four misdemeanors. After a couple of years of waiting for the trial, and in order to settle the case, those charges were reduced to only two misdemeanors and a fine. When I heard how these serious charges were reduced to much lesser ones, I became concerned for the rights of the victim.

I quickly asked if the person who had been violated could have any further recourse, seeing that the person who violated their rights got off with little repercussions. He told me that the person who has the grievance isn't allowed to try the case. That statement is the very reason I am writing this word for Christians today.

Even though you may have a dispute between you and a relative, neighbor, or stranger, neither of you will be allowed to handle the process of justice except for the accused defending themselves. We must allow the retribution for wrongs or crimes against us to be carried out by someone other than ourselves in the judicial system.

The judicial process got me to thinking about what God has said many times in the Word about vengeance belonging to Him, and how HE will repay HIS adversaries. As Christians, we will have many offenses in this world; Satan will use people like weapons to try and hurt us or at least discourage us from moving on in our walk with the Lord. If and when this occurs, we must be willing to allow our heavenly Father to be our Judge and Jesus to be our Advocate. If we should try to seek vengeance, then we negate the JUSTICE process of God, and this can cause us further grief and even greater loss. Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 10 that though we're in the world, we don't fight as the world. The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God. We must be willing to seek vengeance through our God, and He will repay.

If we should harden our hearts because of unforgiveness and pursue the person who has wronged us in order to satisfy the hurt in our lives, we are choosing to cross a line with God. You see. God has laid the punishment for our sins upon Jesus and has forgiven us, even though we hadn't paid for our past sins. God doesn't require us to go to hell before He forgives us of our sins. When we choose not to forgive others and allow God His proper place of getting vengeance on our behalf, then it reminds God of the sins that He has forgiven us. This vengeful action can cause us, the victims of the original offence, to become violators of God's law and bring us into judgment before God. It's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God as the writer of Hebrews tells us. If you want to learn more about the principle of forgiveness, you can read about it in Matthew 18: 21 - 35.

Vengeance Belongs to God and Not Me,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, October 14, 2011

Knowing The Father

John 1 : 15 - 18, John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'" 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. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. NKJV

The prophet Malachi declared that God is the Lord, and He does not change. Even so, what is truth according to scripture, and why do we need to know the truth and walk in it? In the first chapter of the gospel of John, he writes to us about the Word of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Holy Spirit revealed to John the origin of truth that has the power to save people's souls. The truth that we now know to be the Word of God proceeded from the mouth of God.

Therefore, we know that truth didn't begin with man, but with God. Just by the Lord revealing this one truth about His Word, He assures us that man's beliefs and opinions have nothing to do with truth. In other words, if what we believe or what we speak as humans doesn't line-up with the Word of God, then we must be willing to accept that we are wrong in light of the Bible and begin to embrace change... if we want to know God for who He really is.

As you continue to read the first chapter of John, you will begin to see a progression of the plan of God as it pertains to the manifestation of His Word as truth. John boldly declared to his generation that the Word which proceeded from the mouth of God had become flesh and dwelt among them. We know that Jesus began as the Word of God, but when Mary received the will of God to bring God's Son into the earth to preach and proclaim the truth, He became a man. Once Jesus, the Word of God was born in the world, He was known as the only-begotten  Son of God.   

Why is it important that we understand where the Word originated, and that He became flesh? Jesus is the only (MAN) that has proceeded from the heart of God. He is the only man who knew the Father (our Creator) from the beginning. He is the only man who knows God for who He really is and not according to the knowledge of man or man's beliefs. Remember, God spoke to Mary, the mother of Jesus, about His plan to send His Son into the world in order that we might be saved. Instead of Mary being impregnated by a man, God impregnated her with the Seed of His Word through her faith. Now we can have assurance that Jesus is not just a man or just another prophet sent by God; He is, in fact, the Word and the Son of God. 

When Jesus spoke to the people of His day, He spoke the truth like no other man. He also spoke as One having great authority. Why was Jesus different than the "other ministers" of His time? He was the truth, and He had personal and intimate knowledge of God because He had been with God since the beginning. No man can make that claim, only Jesus. 

Therefore, if we as humans desire to know the truth, we must be willing to turn to Jesus, the Word of God, and believe in Him. If we will, then the Father will begin to reveal Himself to us, even though we haven't known God at all. We can conclude that truth doesn't come from our minds, but is revealed to our heart through faith in Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, we can come to know the Father and walk in the truth, just as He knew the Father and walked in the truth.

If you desire to know God as your heavenly Father in the way that Jesus does, then you must be willing to obey the command that Jesus spoke to the Jews, who believed on Him in John 8. He told those who believed in His teachings that they must continue in His Word, and they would know the truth and the (revealed) truth would make them free. There's only one WAY to the Father and one way to know Him as the true God; His name is Jesus, the Son of the living God. This is eternal life (John 17 : 3).

Walking in the Light,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Free to Serve God

Hebrews 9 : 13 - 15, For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? NKJV

In the context of today's passage, we read that God wants us to move beyond dead works and begin to serve Him with our hearts. However, in order for us to serve Him apart from dead works, we must first be willing both to seek and to listen to His voice. This brings me to the point of today's devotion. If you're a child of God, then you know that your sins have been forgiven by the Lord, and they will be remembered no more. Today, I want to ask you if you know that the blood of Jesus has done more for you than simply purchase your forgiveness. His blood not only offers us forgiveness of sin, but if we will pursue God's will and serve it in the earth, we will also discover that His blood cleanses our hearts and minds from the consciousness of sin.

We've heard many sermons and Bible studies on the power of Jesus' blood to forgive us of our sins, but how many times have you heard about the cleansing power of His blood? Forgiveness pertains to the way the Father sees our hearts, but cleansing has to do with the way we view our heavenly Father. If we know that our sins have been forgiven, we will be liberated from the power of sin. However, if our minds haven't been purged by His blood, we can struggle with being in the presence of God. This can explain, to a degree, why some believers are still afraid of God after they have received the Holy Spirit in their lives. 

The Jews who were led out of Egypt, the land of bondage, by Moses were afraid to hear God's voice when they came to Mount Sinai. They told Moses to speak with God and then tell them what He commanded, and they would obey. They were forgiven, or out of bondage, but they were afraid of God because of having a guilty or shameful conscience while in His presence. This is where many believers pull away from God; it is simply because they aren't taught about the cleansing power of Christ's blood in the walk of the believer. 

This fear comes from living their entire lives in unbelief. Now that God had delivered them and has saved us, He desires us to serve Him without fear. In order to dispel the fear of man, God requires us to walk by faith. The only way you and I can walk by faith is through obedience to God's Word and His voice. If you're afraid to be in the presence of God because you "FEEL" guilty or ashamed, even though you know that the Holy Spirit dwells in your heart, then know that you must submit to God by walking in faith and not in fear. Are you going to heed your feelings of fear now that God has saved you or will you submit to God and resist the Devil?

The first generation of Jews refused to obey the voice of God, and God didn't allow them to enter His rest or the Promised Land. The second generation obeyed the voice of God, and faith saved them from perishing in the wilderness. We all have a choice to make when we become believers in Christ. Will we serve God or will we allow a guilty conscience to keep us running from the God, who has already saved us from our sins? 

Romans 5: 8 - 11, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. NKJV

Now that you have been born again, you must take the next step and begin to serve Him by faith. Seek God with your whole heart and you will find Him. Don't be afraid to hear His voice or face what He might ask of you because He is for you. We don't have to fear the God that saved us, but we must reverence Him and honor His will in our lives. If we will reverence the Lord through obedient faith, He will purge our guilty conscience, and it will keep us from sin (Exodus 20:20).

Free from the Guilt of Sin,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Now That I'm Saved

Hebrews 10 : 36 - 39, 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

Are you saved from sin? If you are, then the Word of God commands you to live by faith. However, many believers struggle when it comes to understanding their salvation. Hosea tells us in chapter 4 that God's people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge of the truth. When Jesus came to earth, He didn't preach about the traditions of the elders or the doctrines of the Pharisees, but He taught the people truth. In John 8, He told the Jews, who had believed in His teachings, to continue in His Word, and they would come to know or recognize the truth, and the truth that they knew would set them free from the bondage of sin.

Even so, we must avoid the pit that Israel fell into when God delivered them from the land of bondage... which, to us, represents coming out of sin. Even though God had saved Israel from living in bondage to Pharaoh, the Israelites chose not to listen to God when they met with Him at Mount Sinai. If we are saved, we must walk in our new identity by faith. As the scripture has instructed us in Hebrews 10, "The just shall live by faith." If we should draw back from heeding the voice of God because of fear or unbelief, then God has said that He would have no pleasure in us.

But the generation that came out of Egypt didn't want to listen to the voice of God or hear the truth because they were living in unbelief. Let's bring this conversation up to today's generation. Many Christians believe the fallacy that once they're born again, they no longer have to be accountable to God or serve God; they need only to enjoy life on their terms. Isn't that pretty much what Israel did in the wilderness. They wanted God to provide for them, but they didn't want to obey God by faith. If, as Christians, we choose to walk according to the desires of flesh, instead of dying to those desires, we will not be able to fulfill God's purpose for our lives. Paul tells us in Galatians 6, if we sow to the flesh nature, we will of the flesh reap corruption, decay, and death. Nevertheless, if we choose to sow to the spirit, we will of the Spirit reap life and peace. Those who chose to walk in unbelief all died in the wilderness, but those who denied self and chose to obey the voice of God, these entered into the Promised Land. 

Salvation isn't just about going to heaven someday. True salvation is also about living victoriously by faith while in this present world and inheriting the promises of the Kingdom of God. If you are born again, don't you desire to please the Father? Don't you desire to be transformed into the image of Christ and to live holy before God? I desire these goals to be true in my life as well, not out of fear, but rather out of my love and devotion to the God that loved me when no one else could reach me because of my sins.

If you have been living your new life in Christ only to please "self," and you desire to make a change today, then submit your will to His will. Put God before everyone and everything else and pursue Him. You won't lose anything that is good for you. Instead, the good things will become a greater blessing in your life because your priorities are correct now.

Inheriting the Promises of God,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Watching Over the Weak

1 Corinthians 8: 9 - 13, Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall. NIV

To say that I am a Christian is to say that I am Christ-like. The simple fact that I tell people who don't have knowledge of Christ that I am a child of God holds me to a higher standard. However, although we may be Christians, it doesn't mean that every believer knows this principle or abides by it in their personal walk.

If you will remember in Genesis 4 when God questioned Cain as to the whereabouts of his brother, he replied to God with a selfish attitude saying, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Whether we realize it or not, whether we accept it or not, as Christians, we are held accountable by our Lord Jesus to be salt and light to a lost world. If we cause our brother, who may be weaker in the faith, to stumble and fall back into sin because we have liberty in Christ, then we will be held personally responsible for being derelict in our service unto the Lord.

We are citizens of the Kingdom of God, who have been given both the authority and the mandate to exemplify the rule of Christ in the earth. Therefore, God holds us, his children, to a higher level of accountability before the world.

We must guard our hearts from selfish indulgences and protect our Christian witness around anyone who may be struggling with their faith in Christ. Does that mean that God wants us to walk around quoting the Word of God and covering ourselves in white robes all the time? No, it doesn't. Let's refer to today's scripture. Paul was addressing someone who was in the presence of a brother who was known to struggle in his conscience when he observed believers who consumed meat that had been offered to idols. Obviously, these two men knew each other well. Therefore, we must protect our witness in the presence of those who know us better than they know Christ so that we might allow the Lord to use us by our good works to show them Christ. (Mt. 5:16)  

It grieves the Holy Spirit when Christians choose to satisfy self over the need to be an effective witness for Christ before the world. Allow this word today to challenge you to become a greater warrior in the faith for the sake of those around you who don't know anything about Christ except for the One who lives through you.

Being Salt and Light for Christ's Sake,
Pastor Asa Dockery   

Monday, October 10, 2011

When Attacks Become Personal

Philippians 4 : 6 - 7, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. NKJV

Your heavenly Father loves you. However, when the love of God is taught or shared from a believer to a non-believer, it is generally in the context that God gave His only-begotten Son to die in our place. It is true that when you accepted Christ as your personal Savior, you became a victorious child of the Most High God. Through Jesus and the work of the cross, you have been made more than a conqueror, and He causes us to always triumph over our enemies.

Nevertheless, since we haven't died, gone to heaven, and remained there, none of us have really had to put the promise of eternal security to the test. We know that Paul taught us to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, but none of us has faced that battle in our walk of faith, yet. I'm not suggesting that we have to die before we have proof that salvation belongs to us. I'm just merely stating that we haven't had to face eternity so none of us have been able to realize the degree of the love of God. Therefore, we have to fight the spiritual battles that we face in this life with the assurance that God is with us "by faith."

During an attack of the enemy, the love of God is put to the test and tried more so than any other time in our walk. It is during an assault against us that we can begin to waiver in our faith that God truly does love us. Why does it seem easier to believe the Bible and the truth that God does, indeed, love us more so when times are good, but then we struggle with our faith when we come under an attack?

Here is the explanation that the Lord conveyed to me about this struggle. I have found in my own walk that it is easier for me to pray and have faith for someone else who is battling the very thing I am enduring myself than it is for me to stand in faith for my situation. Perhaps you have found this to be true in your life as well. Why does it seem that our faith is stronger at times when we pray for others and weaker when we have to believe for ourselves?

The key to winning any battle is to have the ability not to take it personally. Our battles are harder to obtain victory over because it's personal to us. It's good that we have noticed this occurs so that we can go to God and learn an even greater truth about the authority of God in our lives. God not only loves us, but He has also given us His authority on the earth through Christ so that we might walk in dominion over the schemes of the Devil.

The Lord said, "The battles that I face, though it appears to me to be a personal attack, still belongs to the Lord." In the same way that I can fight with more vigor when someone asks me to pray for their situation, when I realize that this "personal" battle is really God's battle, and Satan is trying to get me in between God and the battle, then I can then obtain the confidence to fight Satan on a spiritual level. No matter how personal the battle may be and believe me, I have experienced many personal attacks; we must never take ownership of the battle. We are in this world to serve God (not ourselves). Therefore, it is God who will fight this battle, and it is God who will win this battle. We will be still and see the salvation of the Lord.     

Hidden in Christ,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, October 7, 2011

God Will Do What He Said

Galatians 6 : 7 - 10, 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. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. NKJV

I have found that walking by faith and believing God for a promise to be fulfilled in my life isn't hard until Satan sticks his nose in my business, then faith becomes a struggle. The Apostle James tells us to count it all joy when we fall into various trials. Let me preface this passage with these thoughts: Have you ever had the Lord make a promise to you, and you got excited with anticipation of the fulfillment of that blessing or increase in your life? Only to discover that shortly after you experienced the goodness of the Lord, it seemed as though the bottom just seemed to fall out of your life. Things that worked well for you may have even stopped working altogether. You no longer had normal problems; instead, they quickly escalated into weird and unexplainable coincidences or happenings.

It's one thing for a believer to have a bad day, but when we have a bad day when we were expecting a blessing from heaven, it tends to cause us to become disillusioned and disappointed. Now, I will remind you what James tells us to do when faced with various trials. We are to count it all joy and wait on God's promise to be fulfilled because we know that God can't lie. Therefore, we wait on God while exercising great patience. We're taught that we should have joy when we meet with disappointment and discouragement instead of breakthrough. We should feel joy, not because we're not human (now that we're a Christian), but because we know that God is faithful, and this is a test to see if we will remain faithful even though it appears God has abandoned us.

The promises of God aren't given to people who walk in unbelief. Instead, they are granted to those who are found to have faith in God when it appears as though God has forgotten what He has promised. If this process sounds strange or new to you as a believer, then allow me to give you a couple of examples before you begin your day that will encourage you to hang on and not give up on God.

In genesis 1 : 28, God promised Adam and Eve that they would have dominion over the earth, over the animals, and that they would also replenish the earth. After this time of prophecy and blessing, God put them in the Garden of Eden to test their hearts. Would they hold on to the promises of God and obey His voice in the interim or would they grow weary while waiting on God and disobey? We see that God tested their hearts by placing them where they had to decide, which, in turn, would determine if He could bless them. Unfortunately, they made the wrong choice and lost the blessing of God.

In Exodus, God made a promise to Israel that He would give them a land flowing with milk and honey. Shortly after Israel was delivered from the land of bondage, they found themselves in the wilderness having to depend on God for food and water. The wilderness was nothing like the promise they had heard about while they were in Egypt. When the people realized that God had brought them to the wilderness and not the Promise Land, they begin to rebel because they didn't count it joy. They allowed discouragement and disappointment to cause them to harden their hearts to the voice of God in unbelief. Since they chose to walk in unbelief, God couldn't bless them with the Promised Land.
God speaks through Moses in Deuteronomy 8 and tells the children of Israel why He had brought them through the wilderness. It was the same reason that He placed Adam and Eve in the garden and why He tests our hearts after we receive a promise. He allowed them to hunger to see if they would keep His commandments  and to see what was in their hearts. When we expect God to fulfill His Word, but He tarries the fulfillment of it, and we go into a decline instead, we must be careful to guard our hearts so that we don't allow unbelief to fill our hearts. 

 If you will read James 1:12, you will discover that James is no longer talking about trials. He says, "Blessed is the man or woman who endures temptations." Why did he change his focus from trials to temptations? While Adam and Eve waited on the unfolding of God's promises, Satan came and tempted Eve. While Israel waited on God to fulfill His promise, Satan tempted them with unbelief, and they entered into that temptation. While Jesus waited on the provision of the Father after forty days of fasting, Satan tempted Him; however, Jesus was submitted to God completely. 

Yes, you and I will have to face some serious and burdensome trials while we wait on the faithfulness of God. In the meantime, we must be careful to guard our hearts against weariness, and we must encourage ourselves until the promise comes. Have you gone through so much hardship and discouragement that you have either given up or are about to give up on God's faithfulness? Allow these truths to begin to get down into your heart and spirit and stir up your faith to keep on obeying and believing.  Who knows? This might be the breakthrough word that takes you over, and into the very promise that you were about to believe couldn't be inherited. In your patience, possess you, your soul.

Waiting on the Faithfulness of God,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, October 6, 2011

We Have the Mind of Christ

Proverbs 25 : 2, It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter. NKJV

In Isaiah 55, God told Isaiah to prophecy to His people; He wanted them to know that their ways were not His ways, and neither were their thoughts God's thoughts. He went on to tell His rebellious people that His ways and thoughts were higher than theirs. It's not that God doesn't ever want us to know His divine wisdom and plan. However, here, He wanted to awaken His people to the sin that had blinded them; they were walking in their own will and not God's. If God didn't want us to know His wisdom, His plans, and experience His life, He wouldn't have gone through the trouble of giving us the written Word or His Spirit.

God desires His people to seek His face and to learn His ways. We're told in Hebrews 11,  that if we will seek God, He will reward us for our diligence in seeking after Him. The Word of God tells us that the Lord knows our thoughts from a far, and He also knows what we have need of before we ask it of Him. It's difficult for the human mind to comprehend that God is so vast and loving, and that He can know our very thoughts and have intimate knowledge of each person's needs. How is it that He knows so much about us, but we know very little about Him? Throughout the Word of God, God invites mankind to get acquainted with Him and to come to the saving knowledge of His Son. 

Since mankind wrestles with the fallout from sin and feels unworthy, many people easily buy into the lie that they are unworthy to communicate with the God of creation. However, through the blood of Jesus, we have been made worthy to know the Father and to share our hearts with Him. Jesus has made it possible for all who believe in Him as the Christ to come before the Father and to be transformed in our minds. According to Philippians 2, we can now have the same mind(set) that Christ has and know the thoughts and the ways of God so that we might live in the way that pleases Him. It's God's good pleasure for us to know Him so that He can bless us. After all, we are the children of God.

Jesus tells us in John 10 that His sheep know His voice and another, they won't follow. If we can know and recognize God's voice, then we can also communicate with the Lord and come to know Him just as He knows us. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that we are to know even as we are known. This is the completion or the goal of God for His people... that we might know Him as the true God and Jesus Christ, His only-begotten  Son. You can know the ways of God, and you can think the thoughts of God today. Seek the Lord with your whole heart, and you will find Him.

1 Corinthians 2 : 12 - 16, Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words, which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But, the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ. NKJV

Discovering Who I Really Am in Christ,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Activate Me

Matthew 9 : 36 - 38, But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." NKJV

Jesus tells us in the gospels to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. After Jesus' passion, the disciples were assembled in the upper room and were praying. As they were praying, the Father sent His Spirit upon them and baptized them with His holy fire. It was through this divine act that the church became mobilized to fulfill the Great Commission.

In today's passage, we read where Jesus was looking upon the people that day, saw the weariness on their faces, and was moved with compassion for them. Even though that scripture was penned over two-thousand years ago, the compassion of Christ is still reaching out to the multitudes of people around the world who are weary and scattered. Jesus is saying to the church of today, "My tables are filled with partakers, but My fields are in need of laborers."

Are you a child of God? If you are, it doesn't matter where life finds you today, you are still a servant of the Most High God, and you have a job that needs your time and attention. According to Paul's letter to the church at Corinth (and us), we all have a ministry. It's called the ministry of reconciliation. No one can reach a lost and hurting person like someone, namely you, who is with that person and knows Christ like you do. If you're a Christian, then know that God can use your availability to reach out to those whom the "four-walled church" cannot. You are the church or temple of the living God, and God wants you to be activated and to win souls for Him. Simply make yourself available to the Lord and the Holy Spirit will show you the plan and the person or persons you are to impact for His kingdom. One sows the seeds and another waters those seeds, but it is God, who gives the increase.

We must not place the burden of saving the world upon "the church" because you are the church, "the called-out ones." You've been called out of darkness and into His marvelous light. It is now  your personal responsibility (DUTY) to share your testimony and love with others. Will you make a commitment to Christ... to at least be willing to let Him use you to reach someone who might otherwise spend eternity separated from God without your help? 

Casting the Net for Laborers,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why Me Lord?

Romans 8 : 10 - 17, And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors -- not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. NKJV

It doesn't matter what church you attend, eventually someone is going to sing "Amazing Grace." We love to sing, discuss, and hear sermons about God's amazing grace. After all, if wasn't for His great grace, none of us would be attending the Marriage Supper of the Lamb with our Bridegroom in heaven someday. However, if you look beyond the surface of God's saving grace, you will discover that it wasn't fair. How could God offer His innocent Son upon a cruel cross and allow Him to go to hell in our place? If that wasn't bad enough, then He allowed us, who were guilty of sin, to be released from the penalty of sin and didn't require us to do one thing to deserve or earn it? Where's the fairness in that, I ask?

Now that we've discussed God's saving grace, let's turn our focus to God's empowering grace. The first paragraph addresses the love of God that brought us to salvation in Christ. This paragraph will address the love of God that empowers us to become Christ-like. Ouch! I love today's passages from Romans 8 where Paul teaches us about the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, as Christians. I was with him like air in a tire, until he got down to that last sentence. What does he mean, telling us believers that we have to suffer with Christ if we're going to rule with Him one day?

Since becoming a child of God, have you had to suffer some stuff that caused you to feel ashamed? Why does God allow Christians, who love Him with their whole hearts to suffer certain trials? Does it mean that God isn't pleased with us, and that He wants to teach us a good lesson? No, it doesn't. Remember, the JUST shall live by faith. Why would God not require us to pay for our sins while we were sinners, but make us pay for our weaknesses now that we're His children? You see; that reasoning doesn't make sense or line up with the Word of God. Paul tells us in Romans 5, if Christ died for the ungodly while we were still sinners, how much more, now that we have been made just through His blood is God going to save us from His wrath? 

When Christians experience trials that bring shame or embarrassment to them, we must choose to suffer the reproach of Christ right along with Jesus. The key is to continue in obedience during the trial, just as we did before the trial began. Job stated in his afflictions that even though God slay him, yet he would trust Him. The only other option is to take on a victim mindset and accuse God falsely. This is called giving yourself to the spirit of offense.

Let's talk about grace not being fair for a moment. If Christ, who was innocent, was willing to suffer the shame and disgrace of the cross for us, then shouldn't we also choose to suffer the reproach and shame of being associated with the cause of Christ for Him? I'm not suggesting that disease, and disasters make you more righteous or holy, but what I am implying is this... in all things we are to be thankful and remain pliable in God's hands. The trap that we must be careful not to fall into is the one where we say, "Why me Lord?" "God, this isn't fair!" 

Paul had every "right" to teach the church about the sufferings of Christians in order to reign with Christ one day. Once God converted Paul and called him into the ministry, he soon realized beatings, stoning, ship-wrecks, and snake bites would become a real part of his walk and ministry. Out of desperation, Paul asked God to take the reproach away from him, but God replied, "My GRACE is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in your weakness." Is God's grace fair? No, it isn't. Nevertheless, thank God for our sakes, it isn't. However, God's grace is indeed just. This too shall pass. Faith in the fire transforms us into the image of Christ.

Walking by God's Unmerited Grace,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, October 3, 2011

Knowing When

Exodus 12 : 40 - 41, Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years -- on that very same day -- it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. NKJV

Exodus 14 : 13 - 14, And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." NKJV

We're told in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a time for every purpose under heaven.  I've watched synchronized swimmers with amazement and wonder, curious as to how they're able to be absolutely in sync with each other while their heads were under water. They understood the principle of purpose and timing, and this governed their every move. The team that perfects purpose with timing the best walks away with the highest honor.

Like the synchronized swimmers, Moses walked in perfect harmony with the timing and purpose of God. When God told him to march, Moses carried out God's plan to the letter. As they stood at the banks of the Red Sea and saw the Egyptian king and army closing in on them, Moses sought direction from the Lord.

You may not be in a fight for your very life today; you might not be in need of a deliverance from your adversary, but if you are, then learn how to walk in sync with the Lord. Moses had to seek the Lord's direction for each and every move that he was to take in the extraction of Israel from the land of bondage. He did so because they were in a spiritual battle over their freedom, and they were fulfilling a promise that God had made to their father, Abraham. 

Did you know that God has a plan for you, and a portion of that plan must be fulfilled through your obedience today? If you're fighting to hold onto your faith because Satan has you in his sights, as Pharaoh did when he pursued Israel to the Red Sea, then do what Moses did. Seek the Lord's will and allow Him to order your footsteps. 

There was a time when God instructed Moses to "STEP," and there was a time when God wanted Moses to "STAND." If you don't know when to step and when to stand, then you could move out-of-sync with the Lord and hinder your release from bondage or pursuit by your enemy.

Moses had learned how to walk-in-step with the Lord because he had gotten out-of-step with God earlier in his life. Moses didn't step, and he didn't stand; instead, he acted in his own power and struck an Egyptian. This act of murder prolonged the stay of Israel in Egypt for an additional 30 years. Once we get out of God's will, purpose, and timing, we can prolong or over- stay our season. This will lead to greater agony and affliction, as we can clearly see in Exodus 2. Are you in sync with the Lord's purpose and timing in your life today? If not, then turn from your own ways, as Moses had to do and listen to the voice of God, as Moses also did.

God will use every season of our lives for our good, if we will live each season of our life unto Him. (Romans 8 : 28) God knows we will experience both good and difficult seasons, but He doesn't want us to prolong our stay in either of them. While we're living this new life in Christ, God is at work in us changing us into the image of Christ. He's transforming us from former slaves of sin into liberated children of the Most High God.

Synchronizing My Steps With God's plan,
Pastor Asa Dockery