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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"It's Not My Fault"

1 Samuel 15: 8 - 12, He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments." And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night. NKJV

As children of God in Christ, we have been made kings and priests unto the Lord. However, even though God has appointed the body of Christ to walk in Kingdom authority and to fulfill certain duties on the earth, there are times when we struggle to be obedient to His will. If you struggle to obey God, and you beat yourself over the head, so to speak, know that you're not the only one. Many Christians, if not all of us, struggle to obey God from time to time.

This isn't an attempt to justify self-justification, but rather a lesson on what it might cost us when we allow ourselves the liberty to disobey God's will. Let me say that partial-obedience is still disobedience in God's eyes, and we see this in today's passages. King Saul was commanded to destroy utterly all the Amalekites, as well as all the animals. Saul destroyed all the people, but he allowed the king and the best animals to continue living. This greatly displeased the Lord to the point that He regretted appointing Saul the king of Israel. 

It doesn't require much faith to obey God when we already agree with His will. However, what do you do when God's will opposes your will in any given situation? Do you submit to His will, or do you respond to God with self-justification? This is where self-justification can begin to enter our hearts, adversely affect our faith-walk and greatly reduce our authority to carry out the will of God in the earth. I use King Saul's story today to illustrate what happens when children of God partially obey and use justification to prop up their disobedience. You see; if God takes the time and effort to order our steps, but we fail to see the value of His request, know that there is going to be severe repercussions for our disobedience. 

Why does a child of God partially obey or justify disobedience before God when we know that He already knows what we're really telling Him is NO? We see the answer to this in today's passages on King Saul. He had an agenda in his heart that caused him to assess the situation differently than God. As a result of Saul's agenda, he overrode God's plan and sinned in God's sight. Had Saul yielded his plan to God's will through faith instead of acting out of fear, then God would have been pleased by his faith and given him greater dominion. Since Saul chose to act in fear of the people and please them rather than God, God chose to remove him as king of Israel.

When we seek to please ourselves or other people when God has given us specific instructions, as He did with King Saul, then we will forfeit our spiritual authority as well. Finally, when we seek to disobey God and justify our sin, we will also have to blame someone else in order to shift the blame from us. As you read the entire chapter on Saul's rejection of God's perfect will, you'll notice where the king had to blame the people whom he had previously used as an excuse to God for his sin.

1 Samuel 15: 13 - 15,
Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, "Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD." But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" And Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed." NKJV

King Saul declared to Samuel, the prophet, that he had fully obeyed the Lord and utterly destroyed the Amalekites, but Samuel could hear the sounds coming from the animals taken from Israel's enemies. Afterwards, Saul continued to justify his wrong deeds by placing the blame on the people that he was supposed to have ruled over. King Saul sought to please himself and man more than God, and it ultimately cost him the throne. Beware of partial obedience and self-justification because they will cost you far more than your fears threaten to take from you if you obey God. God told Samuel that He looks upon the heart... which was the very reason He chose David as King of Israel and rejected Saul. David was a man after the heart of God. He loved the law of God and hid it in his heart.

Seeking to Please the Father,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Power Of God Is With You

Philippians 2 : 12 - 15, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation... NKJV

Throughout the Old Testament, we read that God moved upon men and women to do, what must have seemed like impossible, acts of faith. Noah was moved upon by God to build an ark and to gather every species of animal. This large vessel would be used to save his family and the animals from certain destruction. However, can you imagine how Noah must have felt when God spoke such a great word to him? There was much that Noah didn't know or understand about rain since it had never before rained. Noah didn't have a degree in engineering arks, nor did he have the understanding of the buoyancy of such a great floatation device. Nevertheless, one thing Noah did have, and apparently he did this one thing very well, was his ability to hear and OBEY the voice of God. As Noah obeyed the voice of God, the Spirit of God moved upon him giving him great abilities to complete the vision of God to build an ark.  

The Bible is full of stories where God moved upon plain, ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary acts for His glory to be displayed in the earth. The longer God gives me the breath to serve Him, the more I realize and see where Christians struggle the most in their walk of faith. There is somewhat of a disconnect that occurs in believers between hearing the Word of God and being willing to obey or implement the Word that they have heard. So we must be willing to hear and obey the voice of God just like the saints of old.

It is here that you and I must realize that God told Noah to build an ark. He also told Abraham to leave his father's country and kindred, and He would give him the land of promise. It was God, who told the widow at Zarephath to give Elijah a cake to eat "first," and God blessed her. So we can conclude that they all had one thing in common. They all heard the voice of God speak specifically to them about His will that had to be accomplished in order that He might be able to bless and keep them from harm.
Does this mean that God will speak to our heart each time He is about to do something new in our lives, or that He will warn us of impending storms on the horizon? Paul addresses this question in Romans 10, which is used by ministers around the world to teach newborn believers on the concept and operation of faith. You must first hear, and then you must follow through with what you have heard. Obey God's will, and then He can pour His power through your obedient actions.

Jesus tells us plainly in John 10 that His sheep know His voice, and they won't follow another. So why does it seem as though there is a disconnection among many in the body of Christ between hearing the voice of God and obeying His will? It's very simple. We must be open or become willing to hear God's voice, and then we must begin to move forward as He reveals the details. If a "Christian" is not receptive to hearing God's voice, not to mention willing to step out in faith and obey His will, a disconnection will occur. We must be open in our hearts to hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit speak to us, whether He brings glad tidings or harsh warnings. When God speaks to us, it is always with the intention of bringing us into a stronger and closer walk with Him and to allow His power to be displayed through us. If God should show you a vision or give you a warning that seems more than you can bear... STOP, DROP, and PRAY! 

Through prayer, Jesus was given the power to face and to endure the suffering of His crucifixion. It was also through prayer that Paul could accept and move forward in his ministry when God told him that His grace was sufficient. Prayer and a willing heart invite the grace of God onto our lives so that we are able fulfill the task that is set before us. Grace will empower us to the point that we will have joy fill our hearts, instead of an attitude of unwillingness filled with complaints. You see; when we go to God in prayer about the mountains that He wants us to remove through our faith and His grace, He empowers us with the Holy Spirit upon us to have the joy to overcome the weaknesses of our flesh man. It doesn't mean that we will "enjoy" what we have to confront, endure, and overcome. God's grace gives us the power to endure an impossible season in our life. The Holy Spirit will give us the ability to walk through that season with joy. And the result will be a life that gives honor and glory to God and denies self the right to complain. Victory is sweet in Jesus.

Rejoicing in Christ,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Can't Hear You Over The Noise

Hebrews 12: 1 - 2, Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. NKJV

Have you ever tried to talk with someone in a room that is filled with other people conversing? Restaurants in America seem to enjoy playing music at a very uncomfortable level. Consequently, when you have loud music and even louder voices in a closed room, it can become very distracting. I suppose you could stand up and shout for everyone to be quiet and ask the restaurant manager to turn off the music, but you might be asked to leave. Except for walking out of the loud room, I suppose the only other option at this point is to remain focused on the person you're talking with while turning a "deaf ear" to the other voices and noises.

As we seek to learn more about Jesus and to please Him with our lives, we will have to overcome the distractions of Satan. You might be able to walk out of a noisy restaurant, but you can't run away from the distractions of Satan. The only way to overcome distractions is to learn the principle of being focused on Jesus while living in a world filled with spiritual distractions. Our flesh nature, even as Christians can cause us to fall prey to distractions from time to time. So we must train ourselves to remain focused on Christ no matter what cries out for our attention.

We must guard our hearts when focusing on Jesus so that we don't allow fear to overcome our faith. If we allow this to happen, we will take our spiritual eyes off of Jesus and drown in our unbelief. Which would have been easier for Jesus, giving Simon the power to walk on water, or silencing the storm for Simon? You may be asking what that question has to do with Simon being distracted. Why is it? Simon had the faith in Jesus to walk on water, which is humanly impossible, but didn't have the faith that Jesus could have authority over the storm? Perhaps we can learn a very valuable lesson from Simon's story. It's easier to walk by faith when there are no storms or threats that oppose us while we're walking by faith. However, if our faith can't stand up to the fire of a trial, then what good is our faith? 

This story perfectly illustrates just how important it is for Christians to maintain our spiritual focus on Jesus, especially when storms arise. We must keep our eyes on Jesus in order to continue walking above the weight and the sins of this world. We must ask ourselves one question, as it pertains to maintaining focus by overcoming distractions. Why doesn't Satan want us to keep our eyes on Jesus? He knows when Christians have their complete focus and heart's attention on Jesus, he has no power over them in which to stop them from reaching Jesus. Therefore, if you struggle with "spiritual attention disorder," and you allow fear to rule your walk and cause you to lose focus, then you must learn how to die to the flesh nature. Dying to the old nature, which vies for your attention, is a day-to-day process, but it is an obtainable goal. This is the victory that overcomes the world even our faith. Satan couldn't stop us from coming to faith in Christ because Christ originated our salvation, so he attempts to distract us from walking by faith so that he might cause us to go back into unbelief.

Walking in Victory Toward Jesus,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Psalms 128: 1 - 4, Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. NKJV

Today is a very special day, and as you prepare to celebrate by giving thanks to our heavenly Father let me share this special message with you. It is just a simple reminder of the best blessings that the Father has bestowed upon us... and that is to have our families and/or friends with us to share in the blessings given to us by the Lord. As we train ourselves to fear the Lord and walk in His ways, it allows Him to release His blessing so that we are able to enjoy life with those we cherish.

One of the definitions of grace is divine influence upon the heart. God doesn't make a big "to do" over blessing us to draw attention to Himself, but it does give Him great pleasure when we live in a way that permits it. In subtle ways He empowers us to enjoy life, even though the world we live in isn't so kind to us. We can read in the Bible how that God blessed the clothing and the shoes of His people while they were in the wilderness for 40 years. His blessing just makes things work better and last longer. He also gives us a stronger harvest when we sow, because we have chosen to seek His kingdom and righteousness first.

Let us all give thanks unto the Lord, especially today, for His grace and His goodness; when they come from Him, they make us rich and add no sorrow. I pray God's richest rewards on you and your family on this very special day (and always). Happy Thanksgiving from the Dockerys!

I'm Hungry,
Pastor Asa

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

He Gives His Beloved Sleep

Psalm 127: 1 - 2, Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep. NKJV

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Do the concerns of the day keep playing over in your mind? The Psalmist gives us some insight into why this might be occurring in our lives. Let's look at what the Lord is saying to us today.

In Genesis 11, we read about a group of people that had a common goal; they wanted to build a tower so that they might make a name for themselves in the earth. They desired to build something that reached toward heaven and that would awe the people who would live after them. They trusted in this tower to be their honor and their legacy of greatness in the earth. There was one huge problem with this; although they were all unified in the building of this mega-tower, they didn't include the Lord in their plans. God has said that He will have no other gods before Him...they had made it a god by declaring that it would reach heaven. So this got God's attention, and He confounded their language so that they couldn't understand one another. As a result, the tower stood uncompleted, and acted as a reminder to the people that they should include God in their plans. It taught those who were involved in the planning and building of this huge undertaking that when you leave God out of your plans, you're plans are doomed to fail. Instead of being a structure that awed and impressed people, it has become a fixture in history that serves to remind us of man's limited abilities, of his shame, and of his dishonor. The Lord must be in the building process and in the plans, or those who labor will do so in vain.

The Psalmist also talked about the Lord being the watchman who guards the city. In America, we have 24/7 security guarding our most important resources and weaponry. When we begin to think it is our greatness that has kept us safe, at the cost of ignoring the Lord as our spiritual protection, it causes us to begin to think that we are above having a breach in our security. This will cause a false sense of ease (rest), if you will, and allow complacency to slip in unaware. Before September 11, 2001, America considered her borders safe; it was almost as though we thought they were impenetrable. But early that morning on the East coast of America, we watched in horror at what was unfolding before our very eyes; and I've heard it said by someone in government that they had never even considered the possibility that a commercial airplane would be used as a missile whose goal was to destroy human lives. America had become too independent of God and more dependent on our own reputation and skills. It cost this nation more than lives and money; the peace and the sense of safety that we once took for granted now has been replaced with homeland security and code alerts. Except the Lord is the Watchman, then our watchmen guard in vain.

What the Lord wants to convey through the Psalmist and through this devotion today is that we must place our complete faith and trust in Him in everything that we set our hands to do. We will never become so secure, so righteous, or so holy that we no longer need to look to and trust in the Lord's provision, protection, and power.

As a result of us placing our complete trust in the Lord to take care of us and our children, He will give His beloved sleep. Teach yourself the principles of this Psalm, and you will develop a trust in the Lord that will allow you to enter into His rest and have peace in your heart. (Even in a time of trouble) As a pastor, I have many occasions in which things trouble my spirit. Yet, I have learned how to lay those thoughts and feelings at His feet and ask for His rest to guard my heart. He is faithful to take those cares and give me sleep and rest. When you wake up from His sleep, you will be rested as well. So take whatever troubles that you have been carrying to bed with you...and tonight, give them to the Lord first; let Him have them...and then you enter into peaceful sleep and rest.

Encamped About by His Angels,
Pastor Asa

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Lord Requires Faith, Not Curiosity

John 3: 1 - 4, There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" NKJV

The writer of Hebrews tells us, "He that comes to God must believe that He is (exists), and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him." In today's verse, you read about a Pharisee, who was a ruler over the Jews, named Nicodemus. There was something different about this Pharisee that set him apart. He sought out Jesus... even though it was under the cloak of darkness. I suppose he came to Jesus at night so that the other men wouldn't know that he was curious to find out more about this Jesus.

It takes more than a suspicion or a curiosity to get to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. When you approach Him, you must believe that He is, indeed, who He says He is. Obviously, Nicodemus saw something in Jesus that other religious leaders didn't, and this drew him to Jesus. He saw the mighty works of Jesus and listened to the powerful messages that Jesus taught; he also recognized that Jesus was able to teach with great authority. This gave Nicodemus enough evidence that he was willing to admit that God was with Jesus, but He didn't say that Jesus was God.

So when Jesus was asked by this Pharisee about His authority, He wanted to lead him on into a faith relationship with Him. He told Nicodemus that he must be born again... if he wanted to see the kingdom of God. It's at this point that we see curiosity could only take him so far in his dialogue with Jesus. Once Jesus spoke to him in a spiritual context, this leader began to be bewildered. You see, Nicodemus was thinking naturally, and Jesus was speaking spiritually. This leader wanted to know how Jesus acquired His authority. The natural man can't receive the spiritual truths of God, and this is why we are required to come to God by faith. If we truly believe in Jesus as the only begotten Son of the living God, then the Father will give us understanding of spiritual truths.

Even though Jesus offered Nicodemus an opportunity, through faith, to see with spiritual eyes, he chose to hear and see only with his natural ability. As a believer, you will have many occasions to misunderstand your heavenly Father; it will be in those times that you will be tempted to ask Him, why? We have the right to ask the Father why, as long as we do so in faith and trust. If we do it in doubt... where we are questioning His character and His authority as God, then we cross over into tempting the Lord. We are required to remain humble in the sight of the Lord, and He will give us spiritual understanding in exchange.

So the next time something happens in your life and it begins to challenge your belief in the Lord and in His goodness, know that this will require trust from you. When you're faced with a hard season, a tough decision, or a tragedy that tests your confidence in God's character, then know that it is a temptation of the Devil. Before you can get clear understanding, you must first be willing to submit to the Lordship of the Father and trust Him, then you will have the power to resist the Devil's temptation to oppose the Father; then Satan will have to flee from you. You will know Satan has left you when you don't have negative thoughts or feelings about God... or feel pushed with the need to question His will for your life. Without faith, we can't please Him, but with faith, we can know Him personally. He is faithful.

Trusting Through the Test,
Pastor Asa

Friday, November 18, 2011

Better Not Let God Hear You

Matthew 26 : 40 - 41, Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." NKJV

There's a valuable lesson in the passage for today's devotion that I want to share with you. When we allow our flesh nature to rule our hearts and cause us to disregard our obedience to the Lord's command as the disciples did, it will cause us to enter into temptation. God has done everything within His power for us through Jesus Christ in order that we might be saved and obtain spiritual victory. Nevertheless, there are still some THINGS we must obey so we will be able to walk in victory over our flesh and over unbelief.

We know by what Jesus said to the disciples that none of the disciples "had" to enter into temptation. However, they chose to allow their flesh to rule their spirits. Instead of praying for God to strengthen them for the battle that was just ahead of them, they slept. They did this because of unbelief. Anytime we can hear the voice of God and ignore Him as the disciples did, it tells God that we don't believe His instructions. We also see this unbelief in operation with Adam in the garden. God told him not to eat the forbidden fruit, but he disobeyed and indulged anyway. We always talk about and preach on the sin of commission (doing something wrong), but did you know that there is also a sin of omission? James tells us, when we know the good that we should do and choose not to do it, to us, it is sin. 

The thing that opened Adam and the disciples up to being tempted and sinning against the Lord was their lack of obedience to do what He had previously told them. God has promised to make a way of escape so that we won't have to enter into temptation because something is too hard for us to handle. Nevertheless, if we should choose not to heed His voice because of unbelief, then we will allow the enemy to tempt us into sinning against the Lord. Why is OBEDIENCE so important to the child of God as it pertains to living in victory over the Devil? To obey God is to walk or live by faith. When we choose to obey and live by faith, we are, at the same time, crucifying the flesh nature and living a victorious life over the wiles of the Devil. John teaches us in his epistle that our faith in Christ is our victory over the world. If we should allow unbelief to rule our hearts, and if we give place to our flesh instead of the voice of God, we are allowing ourselves to be placed in bondage to Satan's lies. 

Let's advance this teaching to the reason for today's word. When we find ourselves living in unbelief as the disciples did, there's a tendency to begin to complain to God about the conditions that we have to live in. Look at how many times the disciples hardened their hearts and walked in fear when Jesus expected them to walk in faith. They did this over and again because they doubted the true identity of Jesus. Had they submitted to His Lordship and obeyed Him, they wouldn't have had any problems with unbelief.

We also see this principle of unbelief at work in the generation that God delivered out of Egypt. Every time the Holy Spirit spoke to that generation, they hardened their hearts because of unbelief. The only way to please God is by our faith, and that is demonstrated through our obedience. Therefore, when they chose to operate in unbelief, it prevented them from inheriting the promises of God. Consequently, they walked in lack. When they encountered lack, they began to murmur and grumble to Moses and God about the awful conditions of the wilderness. Unbelief had them blinded to the fact that the condition of lack wasn't caused by God, but, instead, by their own disobedience. 

When Christians choose to walk in unbelief, we will be blinded. Moreover, our blindness will cause us to blame someone else for our lack of faith, as Adam blamed Eve. In conclusion, we know the unbelief that both the generation that was delivered in the wilderness, and the disciples of Jesus struggled with was caused by their unwillingness to surrender to the authority of God in their hearts. Therefore, whenever their unbelief got them into a desperate situation, they turned on God (Jesus). When we choose to ignore the voice of God because of a flesh-fit, and it opens the door for trouble, we must be careful not to murmur;  instead, we should repent for our unbelief, lest we tempt God with it and force Him to become angry with us. God overlooked the sin and the weaknesses of Israel when He delivered them; He has looked beyond our faults as well. However, there is one thing God won't overlook, and that is a heart that murmurs against Him because it is filled with unbelief. If you find yourself murmuring against the Lord, you might want to check your heart with the Holy Spirit to see if you have missed an earlier command from the Lord.

Just sayin',
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Distractions from the Enemy

Nehemiah 6 : 1 - 3, Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it(though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, "Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono." But they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?" NKJV

God has called you and me to do a great work in the earth. Therefore, there is no higher calling or mandate than to accept and to fulfill the purpose of God for our lives. There came a time when Nehemiah, the king's cupbearer, heard about the destruction of the wall that once protected the Jews from their enemies. When he received the news and realized the reproach that such an evil deed had brought upon his people, Nehemiah became very sad, and his countenance fell before the king. God gave him favor with the king, and Nehemiah was relieved of his duties, so he could go and rebuild the wall.

Occasionally, we are called upon by the Lord to lay aside one calling in exchange for a higher calling so that God might use us to rebuild walls and lives that have been torn apart by the enemy. If the Lord has moved you from one place to another, or released you from one purpose in order to prepare you for another, then you must be aware of the schemes Satan will try to use to distract you from serving God's will in a new place or new season. Satan has only a few weapons at his disposal, and one of the most effective of those is distractions. He works very diligently to capture our focus away from God's purpose for us so that he might cause us to leave off God's work. 

Here is one of the main indicators that lets me know whether or not something is a distraction from Satan: He will use both situations in your life, and he will use the flesh of others to direct the focus of your attention to you. This is the ploy used by Sanballat and Geshem that we read about in today's passage. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem used intimidation, threats, and manipulation like weapons to distract Nehemiah from fulfilling God's purpose through his continued obedience. 

Please take the time to read the first five chapters of Nehemiah to get a full understanding of all that Nehemiah had to endure and to overcome just to remain committed to the rebuilding of the wall. God had called Nehemiah away from serving the king because there were many lives at stake. Likewise, isn't it interesting how Satan will use people, threats, intimidation, and seduction to try and pull us away from serving God in order to protect ourselves? Consequently, Nehemiah was an excellent example for us to model our prayer life after when faced with these types of attacks. Throughout his book, we read where Nehemiah would call on the Lord to provide strength, protect, and fight for him so that he could continue to rebuild the wall.

Satan loves to distract Christians so that lives are left unguarded from his lies and assaults. He will use lusts and fear to cause us to place our focus on "self" instead of serving the purposes of God in our life. Do you know without any doubt that you're in the center of God's will? If you answered "Yes," then you must guard your heart from becoming distracted. If your answer was "No," then you must be willing to seek God's face and allow Him to remove any distractions from your life, thus enabling you to focus clearly on His will and not your own. You will know when you receive a "mandate" from God because you won't be able to ignore it or run from it. Like Nehemiah, God's hand will rest upon you. 

Staying Focused During the Storms,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Praise Your Way Out

2 Chronicles 20: 21 - 22, And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the LORD, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: "Praise the LORD, for His mercy endures forever." Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. NKJV

In the Old Testament, the people of God fought in the natural/physical realm, but under the New Testament covenant, believers war with spirits of darkness. These spirits war against our hearts and our minds trying to bring us into captivity and bondage. As Christians, we must be on guard and watchful when we find ourselves being controlled more by our emotions than by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is (in control), there is (or will be) liberty.

The Holy Spirit gave the instruction to write this devotion for someone, in particular. If this word resonates with you, then receive it as a word from the Lord for you today. Life is moving at such a rapid pace that it becomes a little overwhelming at times. What we might not realize about living in such a fast-paced world is this... our senses are stimulated by all the techno-gadgets, and this can "work" our emotions into a frenzy. If we don't keep a check on what is allowed to grab our attention, and we latch on to everything that comes along, we can quickly become emptied in our soul. Once we become weak or have an empty feeling in our hearts or emotions, we can be opened up to negative feelings.

You see. Our soul is not the source of our life, but rather it must be constantly filled by the presence of God. If all that feeds us during the day primarily comes through our senses and from this world, then eventually we will become depleted. Therefore, we must pull back from the world that is vying for our attention and begin to set our hearts on praising the Lord. As we praise God from our hearts, the presence of God will begin to be released through the anointing that comes from praise. 

Your praise will invite God's presence into your heart and fill your emptied soul with light and life from the Holy Spirit. Doesn't the Word of God command us to put on the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness? Heaviness can occur when we become either tired or weak with a lack of spiritual energy caused by being away from His presence.

One of the primary reasons we were created was to give God praise. Therefore, we must fulfill that function if we desire to be fulfilled in our soul. If we neglect the vital essentials that keep us strengthened and well, then the world can begin to tear down our defenses and make us susceptible to becoming emotionally driven. As sons and daughters of God, we're to be led by the Spirit of God and not by our emotions or desires. By maintaining a consistent focus on praise, prayer, and time in God's Word, we are feeding our soul with God's life.

 Paul and Silas were thrown into prison, and at the midnight hour, they began to praise God. As they praised the Lord, His presence began to shake the foundations of what was holding them against their will. Likewise, when we choose to praise God in our place of bondage or pain, God's presence is released into our situation to break strongholds from our hearts, our souls, and our minds. Let your faith supersede your feelings and begin to attract the presence of God into your "prison" today.

Praising God,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blessed But Barren

Genesis 15 : 1 - 4, After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward." But Abram said, "Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!" And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir." NKJV

If you don't know the story of Abram's life up to this point, I invite you to read Genesis 12 - 15. When God spoke to Abraham, He told him to leave his kindred and to get away from his father's house. We know that Abraham obeyed God; however, he only partially obeyed. He came out and left all of his family behind, except for Lot, his brother's son.

While Abraham walked with God by faith, God blessed him with great possessions and favor. By the time we catch up with Abraham in Genesis 14, he has accumulated much wealth, cattle, and possessions, but he was yet to have an heir. It is here that we see Abraham confronting God about the barrenness in his life.
Although God had blessed Abraham with all the natural blessings he desired, Abraham was not content because his heart's desire and God's promise of giving him a son had not been fulfilled. 

There is a vast difference between being blessed and in being fruitful. In the past, Christians have mistaken the meaning of having the blessings of God. We have taken them to mean that we are fruitful, but that just isn't the case. As we walk with God, His presence becomes so evident in our lives that we begin to receive favor from people. However, this is not a true indicator that we have been obedient to God's will, nor does it mean that we have become fruitful in the Spirit.

Blessings come from walking with God or walking by faith in Christ, but fruitfulness, can only occur one way- through obedient faith, or faith that is followed through with action. We know that Abraham came out, just like God commanded, but he brought Lot with him, and this was disobedience in God's sight. 

You can be a born-again believer, not be obedient to the Lord, and still be blessed. We've already established this truth in the life and story of Abraham. While walking with God by faith, but in disobedience, the blessings flowed into Abraham's life. Even Lot was blessed tremendously because he walked with Abraham for twenty-five years. It is equally important that we see Abraham had a "problem" of lying when it came to his relationship with his wife, Sarah. So we know that, besides the fact that he was disobedient, Abraham also had character flaws.

None of Abraham's weaknesses or sins kept God from calling him out to live a blessed and fruitful life by faith. It really doesn't matter who we were when God called us or what weaknesses or character flaws we have when we come out of bondage to sin... all that matters to God is that we obey and leave behind what He tells us to leave.

Finally, Abraham has gotten to the point in his walk with God that he challenges the Lord about the previous promise He had made to him of having a son of his own. We too, must get to the place, if we're not fully cooperating with God's will, where we begin to apply pressure on God to keep His promise to us about being fruitful in our walk... not just blessed.

Once Abraham confronted God about the barrenness in life of not having the ability to have a son, God began the process of separating Abraham and Lot. One year after they finally separated, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, the son of promise. Through this story, we should get a glimpse of what it really means to be obedient to God and of the result of our obedience. You must know that fruit comes from obedient faith...not our works. Abraham tried to twist God's arm with the birth of Ishmael, but God rejected him because he wasn't the son of promise, but of works.

As I leave you for today, ask yourself this question, "Am I blessed and fruitful?" Now ask the Lord the same question? He will reveal to you whether or not you're being fruitful in the spirit. The Lord has truly blessed the body of Christ, but are we bearing the fruit of obedience?

Lord, Make Me Fruitful,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, November 14, 2011

Even Though

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

Even though God initially didn't give Abraham any details concerning the land that He had promised to give him and his descendants, it didn't keep Abraham from believing in God (Genesis 12).

Likewise, even though I don't know where God is taking my family and me, I choose to move forward in Christ. I may not know any details of the journey or the destination; nonetheless, I am not discouraged from continuing to walk on, through faith in God.

The New Testament believer is commanded to walk by faith and not by sight. Even so, what exactly does that mean to us who have placed our trust in Jesus? It simply means that we have chosen to surrender control of our lives to Christ on earth, both now and in our future, and to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our steps. What are we really giving up or surrendering when we finally yield our plans and desires to the Lord? Do we actually have the ability to determine just how long we live or how well our life will be in future years? We absolutely do not! We are not God; however, we can be rewarded if we will seek God first and please Him by faith.

When we're young and filled with zeal for life, it is normal to have visions of grandeur and high aspirations for ourselves. Even though we may have plans for our lives, we also know that life doesn't always go according to our plans. Depending on what time of day you opened this email, you may have already realized that today isn't cooperating with your schedule. However, we are learning  to place our plans and our lives in God's control, and He will work all things for our good.

I bring up the issue of having plans to point out to you a deeper truth. Even though you have plans for your life, and though you may be on track to fulfill most, if not all, that you have purposed in your life, it doesn't mean that your life is pleasing to your heavenly Father. There is no eternal value in our plans unless  we come into an agreement with God's plan and will for us.

The Word of God tells us that we have no promise of tomorrow. God only promises us today. "Today, if you will hear His voice and not harden your hearts..." Just having plans doesn't mean we will have a hope or a future, but when we surrender our agendas and dreams to include God's will, then He can guarantee us both fulfillment in this life and eternal bliss in the life to come. The great reward that I have learned from trusting the Lord and obeying His plans over my own plans is this: I don't have to sweat the details. I simply obey what He requires of me, and I leave the rest up to Him to work out for me and my family.

A life that is surrendered to the Lordship of Christ is one of peace, security,  reward, and of hope for the life to come. "Won't it be wonderful there, having no burdens to bear?" When we enter His rest, we cease from our own labor.

Peace Beyond Comprehension,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, November 11, 2011

Growing From Faith Into Love

Mark 12: 30, And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. NKJV

Recently, I was called on to deliver the eulogy at my brother-in-law's memorial service. As I was seeking the Lord for wisdom that would be a source of strength and comfort to the family, the Holy Spirit taught me something new about faith.

My brother-in-law's testimony included being a man who was once the prodigal son of a pastor, but was now a devoted follower of Christ. Rick had faith in Christ in his early years, but he struggled with giving his life completely over to Him. Approximately fourteen years ago, the Lord began to deal with his heart, and he made a solid commitment to obey... no matter the cost.

A few years ago, Rick was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). As the disease began to take its toll on his health and his body, he grew from being just a man having faith in Christ into a man of God, who was determined to live in order to bring His Lord honor and glory. As difficult as life became for Rick, he never allowed the attacks of the adversary to discourage him from obeying and loving the Lord.

In today's scripture, Jesus is admonishing His disciples to do more than just have faith in Him. He commands us to love the Lord with all our hearts. In most parts of the world, it doesn't require much to confess or have faith in Christ. However, when it comes with a price of personal sacrifice, it can become very trying on us to demonstrate great faith.

In Matthew 6, Jesus instructs us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. As we move beyond the initial commitment of faith in Christ and begin to demonstrate our faith through love, we will no longer live for "self," but we will live, instead, for the glory and honor of our Lord. As a result of such love, we will exemplify a testimony of having Christ living in our hearts and ruling over our decisions.

There is so much more to being a disciple of Christ than just confessing faith in Him. If we will choose, like so many who have gone before us, to live our new lives to serve and honor Christ, then others will be able to see His strength, characteristics, and heart shining through our love for Him. Didn't Jesus also command us to let our lights so shine before men that they would see our "GOOD WORKS" and glorify the Father in heaven? We must decrease through personal sacrifice and, at times, choose to suffer so that we might obey God's will in order for others to see Christ in us.

As people of faith, we can either allow suffering and persecution to prevent us from obeying the Father's will, or we can choose to love the Lord more than ourselves, and through obedient faith, bring glory and honor to His holy name. The choice is ultimately up to you to decide.

I Must Decrease and He Must Increase,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Looking Good For the Race

Hebrews 12 : 11 - 15, Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: NKJV

You are in a race of faith. Your focus is either on "looking good" for the race or "finishing" the race. Today, you will learn how to avoid hitting the wall and on remaining in the race without being diverted by the distraction of self-justification.

Jesus died for sin, but self-justification sent Him the cross. Did that get your attention? It's true that Jesus was sent by the Father to become our sin offering and to redeem the soul of mankind from destruction. However, if you read the final chapters of the gospel of Matthew, you will learn that Jesus was crucified because some self-righteous people made up false charges against Him. They were threatened by His authority and fame that were growing daily. 

Before coming to the knowledge of the truth in Christ, humans try to be good. Mankind has a "performance" mindset that drives us to base our worth on our accomplishments. We try to be justified in God's sight based on our good works. Even if we're not cognoscente of this in our lives, we still have a tendency to seek approval through good deeds because, after all, we're only human.

Even though the Jewish leaders sought to please God through self-justification, this didn't stop God from instituting the principle of faith. Under the new covenant, we must resist operating according to our works and decide to submit to God's will. Once we accept Jesus as our great Sacrifice for sin, then we must take the next step and begin a LIFE that is built on faith through obedience before the Father.

Sometimes, when we find ourselves in a fiery trial that challenges our spiritual identity, it can be easy to slip up and try to please the Father by being "good enough."  As humans, we have, once again, attempted to perfect our flesh and resist the truth that all have sinned and come short of God's glory.  However, God hasn't called us to perfect our flesh or to cover our human weaknesses with religious acts. He has called us to perfect our walk, and through our faith walk to become holy, even as He is holy. 

If you seek to be good enough in your strength, then you have fallen into a place that will lead you to condemnation and defeat. However, if you seek both to obey the Father and to please Him by faith, then you will begin to live a victorious and holy life. 

It seems there is always a struggle in Christians' lives between being "good enough" and obeying God by faith. Allow me to use an analogy to help you see where the Lord is taking us today. In the world of auto-racing, the main goal is being the first to cross the finish line so that you win the prize. However, when "Christian" humans endeavor to walk by faith, there is a tendency to focus too much on starting the race and not enough attention placed on finishing the race of faith.

Paul tells us in no uncertain terms, in Philippians 3 that he had arrived at the place in his walk of faith where he no longer looked at his past accomplishments or his present accomplishments. Instead, he was focused on finishing the race and wining the prize that was yet to come in his life. Let's look at this in another light. You may get a few things right along the way and feel really good about yourself. You may get a few things wrong along the way and feel awful about yourself, but neither of those is justification by faith. Basing whether or not we are successful in our faith walk on either of these would still mean our focus was on self-accomplishments and off of Jesus. The writer of Hebrews admonishes us to look unto Jesus, who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith while running the course in life. As we keep our eyes on Jesus, it will teach us to focus on winning the race and not being "good" while in the race. "Run, _____________, Run!" 

So if you slip and blow it, repent; don't beat yourself up over it. You're not under the law, but grace; good sacrifices are no longer a requirement... only repentance and brokenness. Perfect your walk of faith, and God will do the rest of the work in you. Just listen and obey the Lord!

Resting and Winning,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

To God Be All Glory

Genesis 1 : 26, Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." NKJV

Did you know that worship, and dominion are interconnected? If we make the choice to worship God, then He has promised that we will walk in dominion in the earth. Whenever Lucifer was created by the Lord, He made him with timbrels, (tambourine) which is a sign of merriment in the Old Testament.

When Lucifer rebelled in his heart against the authority of God, it was for the sole purpose of glorifying himself over God. He desired to exalt his throne above God's throne, and this cost him his dominion as an Arch-angel. We see Satan make his first appearance in the New Testament when Jesus was led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness. Satan promised Jesus that he would give him great authority over his kingdoms and the glory of them if He would just worship him as "god." To this, Jesus quoted a portion of scripture from the Law of God, "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve."

Satan will offer people this world's pleasures and fame as long as they make a commitment to worship their "self" nature and not God. Nonetheless, it is not hard to see that the price a person pays for listening to Satan far outweighs any short-term fame, wealth, or authority because they soon become enslaved to his lies. Jesus tells us in Mark 8, "What shall it PROFIT a man if he should gain the whole world, and lose his soul?" Once again, we can see that worship, and dominion are connected. 

It is God, who has given us the right to have dominion over the earth, and it was Satan, who stole that right through man's sin. As man made the decision to worship self in the place of God, he has slipped deeper into bondage and depravity. The key to remaining faithful to God is to avoid hardening your heart to His voice. If you truly desire to live with authority, then you must see to it that God has the proper place of priority in your life over self.
The more a person or a people harden their hearts against God, the more they will turn their worship toward self...this will produce bondage in their lives. Instead of having dominion over the creatures that God promised us in the beginning, men will worship them as god. 

Romans 1 : 18 - 23,
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man -- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. NKJV

They didn't worship or honor God because they rejected or suppressed the truth that God had revealed to them. As a result, they chose to worship the very thing that God had given man dominion over. Do you honor the Word of God in your heart? When the Holy Spirit speaks the truth into your life, do you listen? Each time we deny the authority of God to speak into our lives, we are giving our dominion over to Satan to hold us in bondage. 

Worshiping God through Obedience,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Resisting the Lies of Satan

Matthew 6 : 19 - 21, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. NKJV

Have you noticed how the world is vying for our attention? We should all beware of the distractions of the world; they can cause us to stumble in our faith walk. Since the economy has worsened over recent years, it seems as though the voices in the world are trying to promote fear and intimidation as a constant diet. But as people of faith, we must resist the report of the enemy and only believe the report of the Lord. Let me qualify that statement: There is nothing at all wrong with listening to the news; it is a way to stay informed so that you might know how to pray for your country. There is something wrong with allowing the world to use fear and greed as a tactic to motivate people to act on what they are "selling".

The more we subject ourselves to the lies and deception of the world, the more we can become inclined to heed those lies and miss what the Lord is saying to the church. This has been revealed to us in the Genesis account with Eve and the serpent. Eve was fine until the serpent spoke against God's Word and shook her confidence in God. This caused her to become open to the spirit of deception and to believe a lie over the truth. If Satan can use the world to paint a very dismal picture that might suggest that God has somehow abandoned us, it can cause fear to rule our hearts... which will open us up to listening to his lies.

Jesus gives us the key to obtaining and walking in victory over the lies that might cause Christians to think that God has forsaken us in this world. He instructs us to focus on our eternal existence more so than our temporal existence on the earth. James tells us in his epistle that our life here is only a vapor. Therefore, we must discipline ourselves to prepare for our future life and not be bound to only surviving in this life. Everything about the Lord and His Word centers around us having and walking in faith. To the human mind, this is irrational, but that doesn't negate the truth that faith works and unbelief fails.

The world wants our attention so that it might cause us to listen with our minds and operate by our souls instead of listening with our hearts and operating out of our spirit man. The difference between the two methods of operation is that fear will hold a believer in bondage, and faith will cause a believer to live in freedom. You must not allow the old mindset of your past to dictate to you; it will tell you that you are in this world, so you must operate as this world operates. Resist that temptation lest you end up living in fear and being intimidated every time you hear a bad report coupled with the world's opinions. Instead, get into the Word of God and read what you must do as a child of God that He might be your provider, protector, and sustainer. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness during a forty day fast, He answered every ploy of the Devil with the Word of God. I strongly believe that there is someone who is reading this today that the enemy has bound by fear, and you need this word to encourage you to break that stronghold and hear what the Lord is saying to His church.

Lay up your treasures in heaven. Look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith. As you practice the Word of God by putting it into action, you will begin to experience the liberty and freedom of faith in a very real and tangible way. We weren't created in the image of the world; we were created in the image of God. If we operate on the same level as the world, we are forced to live beneath God's best for us as His children. Please make a conscious decision and ask the Lord to help you to walk by faith and not by sight. Ask Him to help you to have the vision and fortitude to lay up for yourself treasures in heaven; these treasures can't be stolen or corrupted by the lusts of this world. Choose to live in freedom through your faith in God's Word, and then, if you haven't already begin to structure your life to receive a total transformation in the way you view the world and yourself as a Christian. We can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength. Let's turn this world upside down for the cause of Christ and reach a world that is shrouded in darkness with a hope that can't be extinguished!

Being a Light to Others,
Pastor Asa

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Believe That I Know God

Romans 10: 1 - 4, Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. NKJV

Is there a test that a Christian can take that determines whether they're self-conscious or God-conscious? Even though the people of Israel were God's chosen people, they still didn't know the God that had chosen them. Had they known Him, they would have also known what God required of them as it pertained to them being righteous before Him.

The Jews in Jesus' day rejected Him as their Messiah because they believed they were correct in their service to God. There is a way that seems right unto a person, but its end is the way of death. We can see that Israel being chosen by God wasn't enough for them to inherit eternal life. According to scripture, they didn't know God or His ways. The very reason that God sent His Son, Jesus, is so that He might show Israel and the gentiles the WAY to know the Father. Even so, His chosen people rejected Jesus because they were convinced He was a fraud, and were convinced that their way would lead them to the Father. 

Let me ask you a question before we continue. Were the Jews self-conscious or God-conscious? Satan had blinded them from seeing the Light of the gospel because they chose not to believe in Jesus as the Christ. When anyone rejects the truth of God's Word because they're convinced that they know the way to the Father, it gives Satan access to their mind to deceive them. Ultimately, without repentance, they will believe a lie and perish.

There's an old adage that goes something like this... "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." Today, I want to use that saying but with a twist. "You can fool people into believing that you are holy because they see your outward appearance, but God isn't fooled because He looks on your heart." Just because we may be accepted by people in "religious circles" doesn't mean that our righteous deeds are acceptable in God's sight. It is easy to learn what a certain group of people will accept and what they won't, simply by hanging (very quietly) around them for awhile. Once you find out their "likes" and "dislikes," all you have to do is perform in order to please them and be accepted. 

Although you may have acceptance and can make the presentation of "self" look pleasing to people, are you living a life that is holy before the Lord? This is by no means a word intended to diminish anyone, but is only to be used to illustrate how easily we can be deceived by our own hearts. It has never been about pleasing people, but rather about pleasing God. If your focus is on pleasing self or people, then you are self-conscious. If the focus of your heart's desire is always to please the Father as Jesus did while on earth, then you are becoming God-conscious. When you boil down all that we've covered today, it comes to this one truth: the Jews were religious and self-righteous, but they were ignorant of God and His ways.

How can anyone please the Lord and not hang out with Him during their day? How can we know God or His ways so that we might please Him if we never seek His face with our heart or invest time in His Word? There must come a time in everyone's walk with the Lord when we must decide not to place any confidence in what we believe about God and begin to discover who He is through intimacy with Him. The Jews who rejected Jesus believed in God, but Jesus knew God as Father because He had been with Him. In the end, Jesus was accepted, and they were cut off. However, if they should ever turn to the Lord in faith, the veil that covers their hearts will be lifted.

But for the Grace of God,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, November 4, 2011

In The Beginning- God

Acts 17: 26 - 28, And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being... NKJV

When testifying about their faith in Jesus, I often hear people say things like, "I just don't know where I would be today if the Lord hadn't saved me." However, before we address that statement, let's go back to the origin of all mankind. If it hadn't been for the Lord God, none of us would even be alive. Is it not amazing that, although man originated from God, only a small portion of people will dare to acknowledge God's existence, and even fewer will acknowledge their faith in Jesus?

If we only live, and move, and have our existence in God, then how much of our life or what we own should we be willing to attribute to Him? ALL OF IT! If this is true, and the scriptures bear it out that it is, then why don't more people give more honor and glory to God? When Satan caused man to sin against God, he accomplished far more than just getting them to eat a piece of fruit. Through sin, we also became separated from the life of God in our minds because of spiritual blindness. The Bible records that after they had eaten the forbidden fruit, the eyes of them were opened, and they knew they were naked? Sin does separate us from God, just like death separates us from life. Nevertheless, sin goes much deeper than separating us from God; it also separates our minds from knowing the mind of God. 

If we don't know God or know how to walk in His ways, then how will be able to please Him? The writer of Hebrews reveals that without faith, it is impossible to please or agree with God. We must believe that He exists, and He rewards those who diligently seek Him. Here is where the problem lies: Because sin had separated us from life, the heart of man became darkened through the deceitfulness of sin. Consequently, we learned to lean on our own understanding and stopped seeking God. 

Thus, man began to take the glory and honor for his or her accomplishments and denied the existence of the living God. We were blind and lost in the "pit of sin," without hope. But God! Had it not been for God and His infinite mercy, we all would be headed for an eternity of torment and pain. Now, we, who have been saved can also testify as to where we would be had it not been for the Lord saving us.

The Lord invites us to call upon Him while He is near and to seek Him while He may be found. It's not that man is reaching up to God, but rather God is reaching down to man. Salvation never began in the heart or mind of man; it began in the heart of God. He is, indeed, our heavenly Father. Even so, will man allow Him that place in their life? Even though man missed the will and destiny of God in the beginning, today, we can get back on track by humbling ourselves and seeking His face. 

No one has the promise of life beyond the breath that you just breathed. Therefore, we should be willing to accept the gift of eternal life while we have the chance and acknowledge that life begins with God. After we accept this gift, we must also remember that God is the one who authored it, and it will be God, who will complete that work in us. As a result, our response to God should always be one of humility and brokenness along with a deep desire to know Him as our heavenly Father. God is not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. The Lord gives grace to those who are humble before Him.

Seeking the Lord,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Through Faith We Receive Understanding

Hebrews 11: 3, By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. NKJV

Faith requires us first to trust God, and, in return, He will give us understanding of His ways. However, we can't know or understand God through man's knowledge. There is only one Way to understand the Father and this is accomplished through a relationship with Jesus, His only-begotten Son. If you're a believer in the Lord Jesus and know that He is, indeed, the Son of the living God, then you can rest in the assurance that you have been born again.

In today's devotion, you will discover that if a person tries to understand God through knowledge, they will eventually fall prey to the spirit of offense and walk away in spiritual darkness. There is only one way to know the Father or understand His ways and that is through faith in Jesus. After you place trust or confidence in Christ as your Savior, the Father will begin the process of revealing His ways to you.

The Scribes and Pharisees constantly persecuted Jesus and rejected His truth because they didn't understand Him. To come to faith doesn't mean that you understand God; it means that in spite of sometimes not understanding Him, you choose to trust Him. The Scribes and Pharisees sought understanding apart from faith in Jesus, and this caused them to stumble at His teachings. It wasn't because Jesus was speaking to them in a foreign language. They stumbled because they didn't believe He was the Son of God because, if they had believed He was the Christ, they would have understood and received His teachings.

In John 6, we read where Jesus was teaching some Jews about Him being THE BREAD from heaven. He told them that their fathers had eaten of the bread that God through Moses gave them, and they (their fathers) were dead. He went on to tell them that if they would eat His flesh and drink His blood, they would never die. When He told them to eat His flesh and drink His blood, they MISUNDERSTOOD Him and began to walk away. Remember, I said earlier that if we don't walk by faith, eventually we will take on the spirit of offense; this is the very thing that occurred with them. Between you and me, they were probably more offended that He had said they would never die than they were over Him commanding them to partake of His body...simply because they refused to believe that Jesus was the Christ.

Let's address the problem of unbelief. God is spirit, and we are carnally (fleshly) minded. Humans believe in what they can see, and God is invisible. The just are to walk by faith and not by sight in order to have eternal life. It is the same as someone from a foreign country coming to your homeland and trying to communicate to you in their native language. You wouldn't understand their words. So how do we come to understand the Word of God? Faith is our interpreter. The writer of Hebrews wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: By faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

If you truly desire to know the invisible God as your heavenly Father, you must first be fully willing to trust in Jesus as the Son of God. As you begin to implement this principle in your walk, the Holy Spirit will enlighten your understanding to be able to comprehend the hidden wisdom of God and to know His ways. By this, we will know that we have eternal life.

Understanding God through Faith in Jesus,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Silencing the Accuser's Voice

John 8: 7 - 11, So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." NKJV

There is a time for every purpose under heaven. Jesus tells us in Acts 1 that we will know when it is the right season or timing to share either the Word of God or the love of God with someone. The Lord has called us to be witnesses of Him to a world that is trapped in spiritual darkness. As His witness, we have to know when to speak out and when to just "be there" for them when sin kicks them to the curb. 

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will come upon us and give us the authority to be His witness to whomever He sends our way. However, authority isn't enough when it comes to knowing HOW to minister a word to someone who is in darkness or rebellion. We must ask the Lord for discernment. Allow me to explain further. When someone is in sin or has rebelled against God, it also means that they have hardened their hearts to the voice of God. Some people may need to hear a truth from God's Word that will awaken them from sin, but others may require that we show them grace first. For this, we need to ask the Holy Spirit for direction because He discerns the heart and knows the mind of the recipient. 

Before I continue, let's bring this down to where you and I live for a moment. How do you feel when someone approaches you and tries to correct you with the Word, but seemingly has no love or compassion? You will probably want to erect emotional walls to protect your heart from being hurt even deeper. However, there are two approaches that the Lord has directed me to share with you today that will enable us to be a more effective witness for Christ. 

Throughout the gospels, you can see that Jesus showed great compassion, mercy, love, and grace to the sinners. Nevertheless, when it came to those who thought they were "saved" but lived in religious rebellion, Jesus seemed always to speak the truth directly to their hearts. He never minced words when addressing wolves in sheep's clothing. However, we can see that Jesus used two totally different approaches because He knew the hearts of the people that He was ministering to with the word.

In John 8, Jesus addressed some people in another way... very differently than we might think. Early, one Sabbath morning, Jesus was ministering in the synagogue. As He was teaching the people, some scribes and Pharisees brought a woman to Him that had been caught in the very act of adultery. According to the Law of Moses, if she were to be found guilty, this woman was condemned to die. Consequently, since she was taken in the act of adultery, the evidence was overwhelmingly against her. However, instead of Jesus telling the men to stone her, He turned the tables on her accusers. Please note that Jesus didn't condemn her in front of her accusers. Instead of quoting the Law of Moses to her, Jesus directed the subject of sin to her accusers, and they became convicted in their hearts. He spoke the truth to them, but He extended grace to the accused woman.

After every man had departed from His presence, He asked the woman where her accusers were. She told Him that there were none, to which Jesus replied, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more. After the accusers were gone, Jesus spoke the command to obey to the freed woman. He first gave her grace, while in the company of her accusers, and then He spoke the truth into her heart that she was required to obey. His love empowered her to receive the truth that she needed to live a life without immorality.

If our hearts are hardened because of the accuser, the Lord will show us grace so that we might experience His love, and then He will reveal the truth to our softened heart. What I am describing generally takes place during a difficult trial where you feel nothing but guilt and shame; that is when God's grace is released. If you respond correctly to His grace, then He will speak the truth so that you can begin to obey by faith and please the Lord. 

Are you living under a cloud of condemnation that makes you feel guilty and ashamed? If so, then turn your heart to the Lord in humility and love, and allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse your conscience through His grace.

But for the Grace of God,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Unhappy with God

Ephesians 4 : 17 - 19, This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; NKJV

The Bible tells us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart. However, what happens when we become unhappy with God? Whether we like it or not, God has sent us to establish the work of His Kingdom in a world filled with sin and violence. In the book of John, Jesus tells us that we are in this world, but we are not of it. Consequently, we must not lose sight of that truth, lest we succumb to the schemes and lies of the Devil and get off focus.

Paul tells us in Corinthians that Satan is the god of this world. As such, he doesn't want a bunch of Christians running around spoiling his plans. Even so, the children of God don't have to concern themselves about Satan because Jesus has already defeated him on the cross. The only one that we need to be aware of and not give into is our "self." Self is that old nature that you and I used to live in agreement with while living in sin, but now we have been redeemed, and self is the one whom we must crucify daily. If we refuse to die to self, then he will get us entangled in the affairs of this world and engage us in a personal battle with Satan.

Should this occur, as it did in the Garden of Eden with Eve, Satan can then turn our hearts on God because we feel He isn't keeping us as safe and provided for as we think He ought. We are commanded to trust God, not place demands on Him. Remember, Satan tempted Jesus to cast himself off a mountain; however, Jesus reminded him that we are not to tempt the Lord God.

 Satan lied to Eve about the character of God; he wanted to convince her that God was keeping her from being like Him by forbidding them to eat of the tree of knowledge. Consequently, they took an offense against the Lord. When this offense took over their hearts, they tempted the Lord with sin. Therefore, we must guard our hearts from being offended or getting defensive with God so that we don't become demanding of Him.

Jesus has told us in the book of John that, in this world, we would have tribulation. However, He also told us to be of good cheer because He had already overcome the world. If we should take our eyes off Jesus and look at how God is allowing this world to mistreat us, then our hearts will open up to hurt and to the possibility of an infection of bitterness and/or unbelief against God. 

Once Eve heard that God had "rejected them" from being like Him by keeping them from that one tree, hurt filled their hearts against God. The spirit or mindset of rejection is a hard lie to overcome because we started life as a sinner. At times, it's difficult for us to forget our past, even though God has already sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin and has accepted us in Christ. This world has a way of making us FEEL like we did before God bathed us in His love. 

After Adam and Eve discovered that they were naked, and were ashamed, they sewed fig leaves together and made aprons to cover themselves. The Lord revealed to me the other day what the significance of the outward covering meant. Since they were now blinded by sin, the leaves represented a hardness or callousness against God. The fig leaves also represented the works of man. It's easy for someone who feels rejected to fall into the pit of performance, and through works try to earn God's love and favor. This is the pit that God wants us to stay out of and is the reason for today's word.

If you experience a hardship or tragedy that causes you to become offended at God, it is not the time to turn away from Him. Satan meant it for evil, but if we remember why we're on earth and Who it is that we love and serve, then this can keep us from tempting the Lord with sin. If what the Lord has had me share with you seems hard to grasp, remember this... by grace you have been saved. In order to live victorious in this world, we must live by faith in Christ and walk humbly, by the grace of God. 
Are there areas in your heart today where you hold anger against God because of something that has happened to you? Then you should know that Satan did this to cause an offense; however, no weapon of Satan can prosper against the righteous seed of God. You can simply humble yourself before the Lord right where you are, ask Him to take away the sting of Satan's attack, and allow God's love to heal the wound in your heart. Jesus came that we might have life in abundance. Delight yourself in Him.

Looking unto Jesus,
Pastor Asa Dockery