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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Learning How to Honor Grace

Ephesians 2 : 8 - 9, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. NKJV

Since Adam and Eve fell in the garden, mankind has been performance based. Being performance based is rooted in the fact that, as sinners, we lost our spiritual identity and worth. Therefore, we struggle with not having an identity or value because sin stripped us of our spiritual inheritance. We have sought to earn or regain them through being good enough or by working hard enough (performance). It doesn't matter how many jobs we work or how many titles that men give to us; none of our works can match the value and worth of God's love for us.

I understand why the Lord had Paul write about GRACE being a gift that doesn't have to be earned because God knows how we struggle. However, the point that I want to discuss with you today isn't about performance, or trying to earn what has already been freely given. Instead, it is about the abuse of God's unmerited favor called "grace."

Abuse can occur when someone has been given a precious gift that cost them absolutely nothing. Paul explains the free gift of God's love in Romans 5 by teaching us that while we were yet sinners, God demonstrated His love for us by giving Jesus for our sins. The world didn't know or understand the work of the cross until after it was all over. Even so, God loved us, even though we were sinners and ignorant of His love, and of the grace that He had given on our behalf. 

Since believers enter salvation and experience God's unmerited favor without any real, personal cost, there is a tendency for many to abuse or take grace for granted. Why do you suppose God would entrust such a precious and valuable gift of love to former sinners who might, at times, handle it with carelessness? The best way to teach someone how to be responsible is to give them responsibility. God requires us to be responsible for the free gift of His love and mercy called grace. The Bible says, "Where much is given, much will be required."

We might not start out treating God's grace as sacred, but let us go through some fiery trials because we walked away from His love for the pleasures of this world, and it will be the goodness of God that will recapture our attention. I'll explain.

Suppose a person has been gloriously saved. Nonetheless, they decide to use grace as an excuse to go back into sin. Now suppose that their sin causes them to get into trouble, and they face severe consequences. However, instead of God allowing that person to face the full brunt of their rebellion, He decides to give them another opportunity. That "second chance" shows them the goodness and longsuffering of God while under grace. When a person who abuses grace, but God allows them to experience mercy instead of judgment (they knew they deserved a lot worse), they will see the goodness of God. According to Romans 2, His goodness produces or brings about a truly repentant heart.

It will be the goodness of God that will humble our prideful self and cause us to begin to respect and esteem the value of God's gift of love. If you're a child of God, then you have experienced the unmerited/unearned favor of God. There may be times that this world will pull you out of the will of God. However, it will be His goodness in times of trouble that will bring you back...and with a broken and contrite heart. If this sounds familiar to you, it's because Jesus taught us about the grace and goodness of God in the story of the prodigal son. When the son found himself wallowing in filth and eating with the swine, he came to his senses and desired to return to his father's house as a servant, not as a son. He no longer felt worthy to be his father's son. Nevertheless, the father lavished his love on the son when he saw him coming home.

After a child of God waivers and falls into sin, it will be the goodness of God that restores him to the place of grace from which he has fallen. We have a loving and compassionate heavenly Father, who is longsuffering. Let us honor the free gift of God and save ourselves from hardships and heartaches.

Saved by Grace,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Covenant of the Spirit

John 4: 24, God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." NKJV

Why did God, the Creator of man, create us with flesh instead of allowing us to be spirit beings... seeing that He is Spirit? After all, didn't He tell the Word (Christ) and the Holy Spirit (on earth), "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness?" Fortunately, for us the mystery can be solved by simply looking at the transformation of a seed. When a seed is planted into the ground, it begins to take on a metamorphosis. As the seed goes into the ground and dies, it gives life and way to the sprout, which becomes the new life above the ground. From that point on, the seed is never seen again. However, we know that it existed because we can see the fruit or evidence of the seed.

We know through the Word of God that God is Spirit, and that He created us as living beings with flesh. Even so, the flesh (us) is just a "temporary seed," if you will, that awaits the season in which the Farmer (the Father) plants it in the new Soil (Jesus) of His Kingdom.  When man sinned and decided to partake of the Tree of Knowledge instead the Tree of Life, all of us were cut off from becoming partakers of God's life. Had Adam decided to eat of the Tree of Life, He would have given us the power to be transformed from flesh into spirit beings. However, since there was no life in us, but rather sin, we had no power to be transformed from living in the flesh into walking in the spirit.

Mankind lived in this fallen state until the Seed of God (Jesus) came and was buried in the earth for three days in order to redeem fallen man from sin. Jesus spent three days in the earth and rose again; this was a foreshadow of how He would afterwards enter the soil of man's heart and resurrect us into the "new creation" in Him, thus fulfilling God's original plan for those who believe.

Now that we have seen and known the disastrous results that stemmed from man's sin, let us not walk according to our fleshly desires, but let us walk after the Holy Spirit and live. To gain a fuller understanding of my final thoughts today, I encourage you to read Romans 5: 1 - 8: 5.

In these chapters, Paul takes us on a journey of how man died in sin, but has now been given the opportunity to choose life in Christ and become born again. Even though Paul is speaking to believers, both then and now, he exhorts us to walk according to the Spirit, not rely on or live after the lusts of our flesh.

In Romans 5 and 6, Paul gives us many analogies in which he shows what will happen to believers if we should decide to abuse saving grace for the opportunity to go back under the flesh and sin. When you read chapter 7, you will see that Paul tells us that if we don't choose to die (in Christ) to our old man and become alive unto God, we won't have the power to become changed into the image of Christ (the Seed buried in us). Finally, he tells us that if we continue to neglect Christ's life in us and His will for us to die to the flesh and sin, and we choose to live in our old ways, we will also live under the condemnation of the Law.

In Christ, we have died to the old man who was under the power and penalty of God's Law. When we choose to live by faith in Christ, the Law of God loses its hold on us because we are living in the spirit and not in our flesh. After we have chosen Christ as our savior, God (the Farmer) requires us to live by faith and die to self so that the life of Christ might transform us into His glorious image. If you're a believer in Christ, but remain in bondage to self and sin, yield your heart completely to God, and He will live His life through your humility. 

My Life Is Hidden in Christ,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When Hard Labor Gives Way to Rest

Genesis 2: 1 - 3, Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. NKJV

In the sixth day of creation, God made man, and when He had finished His work, He entered into the seventh day. God now began to rest from all His labors. Even so, at some point during this time, the Lord took the man and his wife and put them in the garden. As we know, the garden was filled with every source of nourishment that they would need. However, today, I want to bring your attention to what God was doing when He began fellowship with His creation. He was in His rest, and it was time for Him to enjoy both man, whom He had created, and the work of His hands.

Adam was created with the "REST of GOD" on his life because he had the presence of God as well. They were in perfect harmony, and it pleased the Lord. Any and everything that man needed, God saw to it that it was provided. In other words, God made life very easy for mankind. Up to this point, mankind had no sorrow, and no hard-labor; woman didn't know what pain was, nor did she know what it meant to have her husband rule over her. However, all of this changed the moment they sinned against God's command and ate of the tree of knowledge.

There are many people around the world that profess to have faith in Christ. However, they are not aligning themselves with His commandments. Just like Adam and Eve, when we choose to disobey God's Word and will for our lives, we will grieve the Holy Spirit, and He will lift His presence from our lives. (Explanation in next verse) Likewise, the moment the first couple partook of sin, the presence and the consciousness of God lifted from them; for the first time, they knew what sin was like. They also knew what life would be like apart from the presence of God. 

Here is something that Satan and religion don't want you to know; however, God does, and He's greater than all else. You can confess faith in Christ and tell people you're born again, but if you sin against God's Word, His presence won't dwell with sin. You won't lose God's love or the saving power of the Holy Spirit, but you will lose His power to live victoriously because you have chosen to live in rebellion. It also means that you will have trouble, hardship, and be weighted down with heavy and grievous burdens. Sin produces death, and death produces failure, calamity, bondage, and heartbreak. However, the presence of the Lord produces life, joy, strength, hope, and freedom...just to mention a few. 

When God brought Israel out of Egypt, His presence went before them. (Exodus 33) His presence manifested as the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. He provided all that was needed in order to sustain their lives while He tested their obedience. Nevertheless, continually, the people of God chose to sin and dishonor Him, even though His presence was with them. There came a time when they pursued other gods and began to put the creation before the Creator. Consequently, His presence lifted, and every one of them, age twenty and older, perished in the wilderness. God didn't allow them to enter into His rest that He had promised to those who would love Him more than this world. 

Today, the promise of a rest from God for His people is still available. Even so, we must choose to live by faith and denounce unbelief or rebellion. When we begin to seek the Lord and His righteousness first, He will begin to release His presence upon our lives. We will know the moment this occurs because life will immediately become easier. Instead of everything breaking down and people always failing you, you will begin to experience success and favor. When God promises us His rest, we need to snap to attention and heed what He is saying to us. If we do, it will go well for us, and we will also possess the authority that God has promised to us in the New Testament. I want to leave you with a scripture that reveals why God's presence lifted off Israel in the wilderness. Have a blessed and restful day.

Hebrews 3: 7 - 14, Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways. 'So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'" Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end... NKJV

Pressing to Enter into His Rest,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, January 23, 2012

Praying Beyond Our Human Limitations

Mark 11 : 23 - 24, For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. NKJV

Aren't you glad that God knows the end from the beginning? Since God is both omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing), He knows what we need before we even realize it. Paul tells us in Romans 12: 3 that God has dealt to every person the measure of faith. Through faith, we have the power and access in Christ to come boldly before the throne of God and obtain mercy and find help in times of need. Jesus instructs us to believe when we come before our heavenly Father so that we might receive the answer to our need.

Too many times, we can allow our human constraints to place limits on our God. Today, I want to encourage you to begin to seek God for more than just your everyday needs to be met, or your problems to be solved. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6: 25, "Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?"

Our purpose as Christians on the earth is to be ambassadors for God's Kingdom. Jesus challenged us in Matthew 6 to think and live higher than the heathen who don't have a covenant with the supernal God. Wasn't it God who gave us the ability to dream big dreams and to imagine the impossible? Well guess what. With God, all things are possible. So we must learn how to come into agreement or alignment with His perfect will and not lean too heavily on our flawed human limitations. Let me leave you with an example so that you might see how God operates in a believer's life in order to get them to believe Him for more, not settle for less.

Genesis 15: 1 - 5,
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." However, 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." Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." NKJV

Abraham is widely known as the "father of the faith" meaning that God used him to begin a new work in the earth and to establish a "seed" by faith. He was the father of the faith, yet we see him asking God why he remained childless; he even offered to take in someone else's son as an heir. However, we can pull back from the story and look at the entire time that Abraham was waiting on God for his own son and see more clearly that there was a disconnect with Abraham. 

In the scripture from Genesis 15, we read where Abraham is talking to God about a SON, yet God is trying to convey to Abraham about a NATION that would span many generations. If the father of the faith struggled for twenty-five years to grasp and accept one of the first promises that God had spoken to him, then could it be that we might have our sight set too low? Could it be that God has promised you greatness, but life has beaten you down, and you have settled for far less than God's intended best? Perhaps it's time to begin to look back over the past years of your walk with the Lord and resurrect the old prophecies, visions, and dreams that He has declared over your life.

Dream BIG,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, January 20, 2012

An Unanswered Prayer

Matthew 26: 36 - 43, Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." 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." Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." NKJV

I used this story about Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane as a way to encourage you today in your walk of faith and in your prayer life. Please note that Jesus was asking the Father to let the cup pass from Him. Even though, earlier in the Gospels, He had said that He was sent to suffer and die on the cross, we read here that Jesus still prayed for the cup of suffering to pass from Him.

Jesus was praying a prayer that diametrically opposed God's will...and He asked this request of God three times. However, after the third time He knew the answer. Jesus woke up His sleeping disciples and told them that His betrayer was at hand. Isn't it interesting that shortly after Jesus prays a prayer that God doesn't answer in the way Jesus requested, the betrayer shows up on the scene?

Over the years of being a pastor, I have had many occasions where people would ask about their unanswered prayers concerning an infirmed loved-one. You guessed it; their loved-one died. Consequently, this tragedy left the believer wondering where God was and why He allowed it to happen. The Lord gave me specific instructions to write this word for someone today. If you have prayed for a friend or family member, and the Lord took them into His presence, you could easily become discouraged, lose heart, and lose your faith in the power of prayer.

However, let's look at this principle from a different perspective. We have the desire to see everyone come through sickness and be made whole. I have seen or heard of many that were terminally ill, and God heard the prayers of the righteous and saved those who were at death's door. Nevertheless, there may be those times when you pray for someone, and it will appear as though God didn't even hear your prayers. God had a bigger picture in mind when Jesus prayed, and He may also have a bigger purpose in mind when your requests didn't seem to get past your mouth. 

The Lord doesn't always let us know the outcome of certain prayers because there are things that He knows, but we can't handle or understand that information at the time. Therefore, He will give us the opportunity to trust in His will and judgment. Even so, if we should disagree with His answer, or if His answer doesn't fit our desire, the enemy will use that breech in our fellowship to bring in the betrayer. You will know he has arrived if you find very little or no desire to pray after the passing of someone you love. 

When Jesus was about to depart from the disciples and return to heaven, He told them that He had many things to discuss with them, but they were not able, at that moment, to bear the news. He went on to tell them that the Holy Spirit would come and be with them and in them, and He would guide them into ALL truth. When God is silent concerning our unanswered prayers, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to empower us to one day face the truth. In the meantime, we must go on trusting our heavenly Father. 

Jesus concluded His prayer with "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Ultimately, at the end of a prayer for a serious situation, we must leave the outcome in the hands of the Father, knowing that we have done everything we could for the person in need.

The Lord is my Rock,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jesus Gives Us Life

Genesis 2: 7, And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. NKJV

John 10: 10, The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. NKJV

I find something very intriguing in what Jesus stated in John 10: 10. He said that He had come that we might have life. Maybe I'm strange, and you might agree, but weren't people already living when Jesus spoke this in their ears that day? There is as much difference between living and having life as there is between earth and heaven. Therefore, we can conclude that the only true way to experience the God-kind-of-life that Jesus was teaching about is to be included in the One who is life- Jesus.

I used the verse in Genesis 2: 7 to try and illustrate the difference between a living being and having life in Christ. When God breathed into man's nostrils, he became a living being, having breath. When Jesus breathed on the disciples shortly before His passion, He told them to receive the Holy Spirit. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we not only receive life at that moment, but we also have eternal life. Jesus didn't stop at us having life; He desired that we have abundant life. The only way to have that kind of life is through abiding in the Vine. 

Remember, we can only have a new life if we are in Christ. If we "confess" Christ, but "live" according to the world, we're not abiding in the true Vine. It doesn't matter what you and I confess if we don't follow through with obedience and the action that backs up what we say we believe. In the same way, if we don't look to Jesus and obey His will in our lives, then we deceive ourselves. We are only living; we are not walking in His life.

If you read about the pioneers of the faith such as Noah, Job, Sarah, Ruth, and the father of the faith, Abraham, you will notice that when they began walking with God, they possessed very little. However, eventually God increased them with greatness. It isn't about how much you possess, but how much of God's attributes you possess. We are required to come to know the God that we say we believe. Consequently, as we walk in faith with God, the life of God will begin to flow into our life through the Holy Spirit and bless us with God's character and characteristics.

The longer you and I walk in faith and obedience to God's will and maintain our fellowship with Him, the greater His life will increase in us. The Bible tells us that God never changes; it also teaches us that His kingdom and dominion on the earth are always increasing. Even so, how can it increase on the earth if it's not done through His people, who dwell on the earth? You are a people...this tells me you are a very good candidate for the life of God to shine through so that He can show the world His greatness in an earthen vessel. 

Do you want to shine for God today? Do you want to be great for God today?  A thousand-mile journey begins with the first step. If you're accustomed to just existing and getting by, then get better connected to the Vine and let His life and glory begin to increase both, you and your family. You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you, but you must be willing to let His strength flow through you. It's all a matter of the heart.

Abiding in the Vine,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Overcoming the Obstacles

Matthew 20 : 30 - 34, And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!" Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!" So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" They said to Him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened." So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. NKJV

There are so many accounts in the gospels where people were healed even though they put forth very little effort of their own. Many times Jesus would seek people out in order to heal them, or He would travel to them when He was asked. Then, once He made the connection with them, He did all that was needed to ensure that the person was made whole.

However, there are those like the story of the two blind men that I shared with you today. In this example, the person had to overcome some obstacles that stood in the way of their healing, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAD THE FAITH FOR A MIRACLE. I really wanted you to get that, did you?

These two men received their miracle once they got to Jesus, so that wasn't the issue. Nevertheless, the problem for believers sometimes is being able to make their way to Jesus. Do you remember the woman with an issue of blood? She had been plagued with that condition for twelve years. She had tremendous faith in her heart because Mark tells us in chapter 5 what she was thinking and believing as she pressed through the throng of people that surrounded Jesus. She also had to overcome the condemnation of the law which forbade such a person to be caught out in public. She was determined to make it through the crowd and get her miracle. However, before she could overcome and receive, she had to physically lower herself.

There's yet another story where a man was a paralytic. Jesus was in a house ministering, and it was filled with people. Nevertheless, this man had four friends who didn't allow this situation to deter their faith. They climbed upon the roof and began to tear it off. Then they lowered the man to where Jesus was, and he was healed. 

Sometimes we need more than just the faith to be healed. There are times when we also need to add perseverance to our faith so that we overcome the obstacles that are in our way of reaching the Lord. Satan is very effective at placing roadblocks, hindrances, and people in the way of others who need a touch from Jesus. The Lord laid this word on my heart for somebody that perhaps has given up, or is about to give up on getting their miracle. Remember this, the Kingdom suffers violence, and the violent seize it by force. 

Allow a righteous indignation to arise in your spirit because you know that Jesus has already paid the price for your miracle, and Satan is trying to rob it from you. Stand on God's Word, overcome anything or anyone through the prayer of faith, and you will touch the Healer. Seize your miracle or healing today!

You are the Healed of the Lord,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

There Can Be No Hope Without Faith

Hebrews 11: 1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. NKJV

Mark 16:9-15, Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. NKJV

I am baffled by the unbelief and hardness of heart that the disciples walked in while following Jesus... yet they still followed Him. It seems that they were alright as long as Jesus was with them. However, the moment He was arrested, every one of them forsook their Lord. This scenario reminds of the principle written about by King Solomon in Proverbs 29. Where there is no vision or revelation, the people perish or cast off restraint.

When Jesus called the twelve men to lay everything down and follow Him, it seemed as though they had no problem with that degree of sacrifice. There had to have been something about being in the presence of Jesus that gave them the peace to lay down their livelihoods, forsake all, and follow Him. We can know that the power of His presence was the reason they walked with Jesus because the moment He was no longer leading them, they all forsook Him and returned to their old ways. 

This brings me to the reason for today's word. Were the disciples walking by faith as they followed Jesus, or were they walking in unbelief? According to Hebrews 11, true faith is the substance which produces hope in the hearts of true believers. By this definition, the disciples didn't have faith in their hearts. Moreover, because of the principle I spoke of in Proverbs 29, we understand why the disciples threw off the restraints that originally caused them to sacrifice in order to follow Christ. Without faith, they had no hope to endure the night season. 

Many confess faith in Christ. However, the Lord will prove those who are truly committed and expose those who only confess, but don't believe; He does this by fiery trials. Peter teaches us in his epistle not to consider it strange when we find our faith being tried by fire. James also teaches us to count it all joy when we're surrounded by various trials. Obviously, the disciples discovered something about Jesus in the time of separation that eventually solidified their faith, because you never read of them denying Him again. Jesus is just as PRESENT through our faith in His Word as He was when they were walking with Him physically.

Our faith must not waiver, even when it appears as though Jesus has forsaken us. When we enter a dark season, and we no longer FEEL as though God is with us, then that is the time for our faith to become energized. Faith will give us the hope that one day this will pass, just like an eclipse. You will sense His presence and experience His goodness once again. In the past five years, have you gone through some dark, depressing, and hopeless days? How did you respond to the trial when it looked as though God had turned His back on you? Did you go "a fishin'," or did you stand on God's Word until God said, "Let there be Light"? 

It's time for hope to return to the church, and for those who have gone through the sifting of Satan to return to the Lord and strengthen one another with their testimonies. Through Christ, we are overcoming the lies of the enemy and realizing at a deeper level what the Lord was saying all along, "Greater is HE that is in you, than he that is in the world."

Luke 22:31-32, And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." NKJV

Jesus prayed for Simon's faith, and Simon returned to Jesus after the sifting was over. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of our heavenly Father, and He lives forever to make intercession on our behalf as our High Priest.

One Day, We Will See Him Again,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, January 16, 2012

Do I Have FAITH?

Deuteronomy 8 : 1 - 4, "Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. NKJV

I have discovered that when believers are hit with serious trails, they are more open to taking a closer look at themselves. There's something about having something go wrong in a person's life that causes us to evaluate our past conduct. However, too many times this can open the door for the enemy to bring us under condemnation. If you find yourself leaning toward self-doubt, condemnation, and guilt when you're surrounded by "shark-infested waters," take notice of what Jesus did when He was tempted in the wilderness by the Devil. He answered Satan's thoughts with, "It Is Written."

Jesus knew His spiritual identity. Nevertheless, many times Christians will turn to other sources to find help and strength when responding to spiritual assaults from their adversary, the Devil. This brings us to the teaching for today. Just as Jesus turned to His heavenly Father to draw His identity and power, we must be WILLING as His disciples to follow His example while under an attack of Satan. 

Having faith in Christ means that your confidence is in Him; your faith is no longer in yourself, or the ways of the world. So when trials come that challenge your faith and cause you to begin to doubt God's faithfulness or the authority of His Word, then we must, at that point, decide where we will turn. It will be determined in the trial, not on a pew in church, whether or not our faith is genuine. 

Jesus was out in the wilderness and had fasted for forty days when He found Himself being tempted by the Devil in every point that we will be tempted as Christians. He was tempted in the areas of provision, protection, and power. These areas are covered in the Apostle John's epistle who wrote, "All that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life."

How we choose to react to trouble, heartache, and disappointment will determine if we have true faith in Christ. True Biblical faith will produce hope. Hope is needed for those moments and times when it may seem as though God has abandoned us. The writer of Hebrews describes or defines faith as being the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. Therefore, if we have true faith and are born again, we will have a true hope in our hearts that God is faithful to His Word and us, even in a tragic or life-threatening situation.

Lest you get under momentary condemnation because you don't feel hope the very moment calamity hits your life, you must also remember that you and I are human. It's easy for us to become disoriented while being blind-sided by the Devil because we will be experiencing the raw emotions of our situation. The Lord not only understands this about us, but gives us time to heal and find our direction before He begins to push us in the direction of finding Him when the cloud of "dust and doubt" begins to settle.

The place that we must guard our hearts is when Satan tries to exploit our raw emotions to seek vengeance or go out on our own to find healing and comfort in the ways of the world. These would be classified as acts of the flesh responding to "a wrong." However, we must choose to remain submitted and committed to Christ. The Lord knows that our emotions will respond because He made us that way. We must process and judge what has occurred in our lives so that our hearts won't be overwhelmed. This is more of a process that it is a reaction of the will. Whew!

When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He didn't lead them directly into the land of promise. He was testing their obedience to see whether they had faith or unbelief in their hearts. It seemed that Israel as a nation walked with Moses and God until something "wrong" happened to them. You see, they repeatedly hardened their hearts against God and didn't choose to obey His Word whenever they came under a spiritual attack. Since they consistently chose  for forty years to reject God and harden their hearts to the Holy Spirit, they had no hope that would carry them through the trials in the wilderness. 

As a result, that generation all perished in the wilderness because they were filled with unbelief. We must be careful to guard our hearts from entertaining unbelief and departing from the living God when we find ourselves going through difficult situations in our walk. True faith will produce true hope, and hope will always bring us back to the Word of God as the final authority. Once we overcome the initial emotional process of hurt, loss, and disappointment, we will find renewed hope and strength. However, we must first decide in the fiery furnace to turn to the Lord as our eternal source for this temporal life.

God is faithful to His Word, and you will find that He will be faithful to you when you make a heart decision to trust and obey His Word always. God won't always come on the scene in our time. Nevertheless, He has given us the power of the Holy Spirit, and He gives us hope that doesn't make us ashamed. He won't let us hope in something that will never happen. Once He gives us hope, we can know that what we are hoping in, He will bring to pass. Abraham hoped even though everything in the natural screamed there is nothing to be hopeful about.

True hope will do just that in your life. Even so, you must make the decision to place your complete trust in the Lord. We all must make the decision to have hope, even after we have made the decision to have faith in Jesus. Why? Because we live in a world that is filled with tribulation that will challenge your faith.

Walking by faith and Not by Sight,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Wisdom of God is Greater Than Satan

1 Corinthians 2 : 7 - 8, But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. NKJV

Have you heard the old adage that says, "Ignorance is bliss?" Well, the Lord doesn't want His children to walk in darkness or spiritual ignorance, because it can cost us greatly. If we don't know the ways of God, we might tend to think that only Satan is in control in the earth, and then lose all hope and faith in the Lord...and that is exactly what Satan is shooting for with his fiery darts.

If we, as the body of Christ, don't know the ways of God, and we find ourselves in a "furnace situation," it can leave us feeling all alone and vulnerable to Satan's lies. The voice of Satan intensifies when we can't hear God or know what the Lord's plans are when we face the furnace of affliction. To me, this is the definition of isolation, and the reason why many believers choose give up in a heated battle over their faith. Satan will use our spiritual ignorance (of not knowing the ways of God) to lead us astray while he is pressing us with the threat of danger. Therefore, it is essential that you and I know the truth that is contained in the Word of God and that we continually seek God's face.

Paul gives us wonderful insights in his writings that allow us to understand and know the ways of God. What Satan doesn't know, but we can know (through the Word of God) is that Satan is ignorant of the ways of God. Satan believes in his heart that he is wiser in his ways than God is. If you will look at today's text, Paul shows us how God used Satan's ignorance against him to carry out the will of God to crucify the Lord of glory.

It's important that we understand the previous statement. Satan will use our ignorance of God and His Word to deceive us, but God's wisdom is greater than Satan. Let me put it this way; if Satan knew what he was really doing when he attacked you and me, he would leave us alone. How do we know this to be true? Just read Romans 8 : 28, where Paul is giving us the revelation that God has promised to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose...that He will turn around the trials that were meant to bring evil to us and use them for our good.

Have you ever done something that seemed like the right thing to do, and it got you into a bunch of trouble? It was a trap of Satan, and it worked to a degree, because you thought you were doing the right thing... but now you're in trouble. Generally, this is where we will call on the Lord and seek His face and His direction to lead us out in victory. As we do, through His wisdom, the Lord will begin to show us strategies that will conquer the enemy's lies. When we come out of that trial with the victory, we become more like Christ through our faith. Then, guess what? God  just used the ignorance of Satan, through our faith, to turn an evil situation into a glorious victory that grows us in our faith walk with the Lord. God didn't set up our fall; it was our ignorance of the trap that set everything into motion... but, thankfully, God delivers us from all of our afflictions.

This is why God tells us to seek Him early... to call on Him, and He will answer us before we fall into the traps of ignorance. Isn't our God amazing? The cross in the natural looked like Jesus' defeat, but in the Spirit, it was the final act of God that sealed Satan's defeat and brought us victory over our own sin. WOW!

I Love the Lord,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Victory Has Been Won

Matthew 26 : 38 - 39, Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." NKJV

After Jesus was baptized, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There He fasted and prayed for forty days. And when His fasting had ended, He came out of the wilderness in the power of the Holy Spirit, entered the temple and began to teach. As He was teaching, a man with a demon began to manifest. Jesus took control of the situation, delivered the man and continued with His teaching.

If you study the gospels, you will find that Jesus regularly slipped away to be alone in prayer with the heavenly Father. Before Jesus went to the cross, He first went to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed. Jesus knew His hour to suffer on the cross was upon Him; as He prayed, He asked the Father to let the cup of suffering pass from Him...three times Jesus prayed this request before His Father. He was bringing His flesh into subjection to the will of God; Jesus knew the sole purpose of coming to earth. He even told this to His disciples when He was alone with them earlier. He also told them that after 3 days, He would arise and meet them in Galilee. So we can see that Jesus wasn't trying to nail down what the Father's will was, but rather,  He was subjecting His humanity to the suffering of the cross. Once He obtained complete submission in prayer, He knew that He would be able to endure the next three days.

Because Jesus had become sin, the Father had pulled away His Spirit (or presence) from Jesus. When His Father pulled away, Jesus spoke these words, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus was now a perfect man upon that cross. How do we know that?  Then, as Jesus hung on the cross, He said, "It is finished" and gave up His ghost. When He said His final words upon the cross and died, the veil was torn from top to bottom. God had split the veil to reveal to all of mankind that He was pleased by the sacrifice of the "Last Adam".

The wrath of God against fallen man was appeased; the sin debt for all our sin was now paid. Because Jesus prayed and yielded His will to the Father's will in the garden, before He was hung upon the cross, He then had the grace to endure the suffering so that He could gain the victory for us.

Christians can have faith in Jesus and still have a war in their souls over the lust for sin in their lives. If you have sin in your heart that you want to be set free from, then do what Jesus did in the garden: He prayed until "His" will became the will of the Father. Here's the key to this prayer accomplishing victory in your heart. Jesus wasn't praying for God to take away sin; He was praying that He would submit to the Father's will. Although that was the way Jesus prayed, too many times we ask God to take away our burden (or sin), but we don't seek Him about His will after the deliverance. If we don't pray to be able to submit to the Father's will, then there's a good chance that we will go back into our old ways.

He didn't pray once, or twice, but three times. Man is a triune being, and, as such, Jesus was bringing His entire being into agreement with the Father's will. His victory over sin was won in the garden when He chose to submit to God. James tells us in chapter 4 that we must submit to God and resist the Devil, and he will flee from us.

If you have a war raging in your soul over sin, lust, habits, sickness, or disease, then go to the garden and get your will in subjection to the Father's will. Because Jesus submitted in prayer to the Father, He had the authority to enter Hades (hell) and take back the keys of death and hell. No longer does Satan have the authority, but all authority has been given to Jesus. Those who refuse to submit will have a constant battle within their soul. Jesus told us to come unto Him, and we would find rest for our weary souls.

Kneeling in the Garden,
Pastor Asa

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Who Are You Building Your Eternal Hope On?

Psalms 118 : 19 - 24, Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. NIV

In today's scripture, we can see that David is celebrating the goodness and the mercy of the Lord. Why is he celebrating? It is because in previous verses (not shown), David had been chastised by the Lord for his sin, but the Lord did not turn him over to death; the reason that God gave mercy and grace to David was because David's faith was in the Lord to be his righteousness...not in his own righteousness.

Today's Word shows us that the Lord was revealing the Day of Salvation to David; the Day of Salvation would be the day that the Jews' Messiah (Jesus) would come to earth. The above passage begins with David talking about entering the Lord's salvation through the gates of righteousness. It was a desire of David to build the Lord a temple for Him to dwell in, but because he had shed innocent blood, the Lord wouldn't allow it. So when David saw the Day of Salvation, it was in the scope of seeing a "building" more so than a "person".

In John 14, Jesus uses this metaphor that David depicts concerning Himself. Jesus declares that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the door, or in David's words, "the gate" that we must enter if we are to inherit salvation.

In the prophecy that David received from the Spirit of the Lord, he saw Jesus as the Messiah being rejected as the Capstone of the temple of God by the Jews. In other words, the Jews found righteousness in "self" and not in "Christ" so they rejected Him as their foundation of faith.

When Jesus came to earth as God in the flesh, He was the Day of Salvation sent to fallen man. He was the fulfillment of David's vision and was rejected by His own special people just like David prophesied. Romans 3: 23 says that "all have sinned," but God has not turned us over to destruction. He has loved us, and through His love given to us grace and truth and not punishment. So let us rejoice over the fulfillment of our salvation. David saw a temple with gates, but we see Jesus and celebrate His goodness in our hearts and lives. Let us build our lives on the Rock, Christ Jesus and live.

This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made,
Pastor Asa

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When Man Alters God's Law

Leviticus 20 : 10 - 11, 'The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death. NKJV

Have you ever read something in the Bible that made you begin to think? I'm not sharing this word today because of people living in adultery. But rather, to share with you something that was revealed to me the other day when I was thinking on the story of the woman that was caught in the act of adultery and was brought before Jesus. Before I go any further, let's look at that story from John's perspective.

John 8 : 2 - 6, Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?" This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. NKJV

While it was still early in the morning and not everyone had gotten up and out of bed, these self-righteous men apprehended a woman and brought her to the temple. They didn't bring her into the temple because they were obeying the Law of Moses; their intended purpose was to tempt Jesus...in order that they might find something to accuse Him. So you can plainly see that these so-called religious rulers were judgmental to say the least. In other words, they were just as corrupt as the woman that they were about to stone.

If you continue to read the story, you will see that Jesus doesn't answer their question, but ignores them and begins to write on the ground. Many people, including myself, have preached on His writing; but all we have to do is look at the text for today's word and know exactly what He wrote.

They only brought the woman; where was the man (adulterer)? Did they alter the Law of Moses that commanded them to stone both the man and the woman? If they weren't altering the Word to accommodate the sin in their own lives, then why didn't they grab the man out of bed and bring him to be condemned beside her? This is where we can see what Jesus wrote without being there. As He wrote the correct Law upon the ground, the men from the oldest to the youngest saw the truth written before their own eyes. Then Jesus made the statement that brought conviction on every one of the hearts of the men that were present. "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." When you look at the law in Leviticus and see the way these men went about serving justice... according to their own traditions... and Jesus' question to them, you can see that Jesus turned the tables on these men, and they had to forgive, or they would be condemned for their own sin of violating the Law.

They had taken the Law of God and twisted it so that they could break the law themselves and not be condemned. Please pray for our leaders in the body of Christ that have altered the truth to fit their sinful ways and led innocent people astray. Jesus came to set the captives free, not to condemn us. Jesus did not come to condone sin, so neither should it be condoned in the body of Christ.

Saved By Grace,
Pastor Asa

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Restorer of the Family

Acts 16: 25 - 34, But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here." Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. NKJV

Are you faced with a seemingly impossible situation in your family? Has Satan or sin brought division into your home? If so, the Lord has given me a Word from His Word to build your faith. As your faith is built up through God's Word, you will also be strengthened in your inner man. When we make a conscious decision to go before God by faith with an insoluble situation, God will, at that moment, begin to release His strength (GRACE) to empower us to hold on until the impossible becomes possible.
When we place faith in God's Word for a particular need, our faith takes the weight and the care off our shoulders and places them at His feet. Everything that doesn't align itself with the Word of God and His will for our lives must be brought into subjection to His authority. Now that you have given the Lord your need and are standing in faith, leave the situation on the ALTAR until the Holy Spirit can ALTER the situation. 

The very moment faith entered the heart of the jailor in this portion of scripture; the Holy Spirit began to change lives. It began with the father, but quickly spread throughout his entire household. In what was possibly one of the worst nights of Paul and Silas' lives and ministry, God chose to bring salvation to a lost household. You must look to God and not the circumstances, if you are to remain strong and committed to the faith process. 

God seems to perform His best work in some of the darkest periods and places of our lives in order to show us that He is God over everything. Remember, faith will move mountains, as long as you're standing on and speaking the Word of God over those mountains. Jesus tells us that all things are possible to those who believe. Believe today and see the salvation of the Lord in your families' lives.

Standing on God's Word,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, January 6, 2012

Avoid the Pit of Condemnation

1 Peter 4 : 12 - 14, Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. NKJV

How do you respond to trouble when it knocks at your door? I have seen how many Christians (including me) respond to trouble. There is a tendency to ask, "What did I do wrong that caused this trouble?" But here is the danger in asking   such a question: It places your attention on you and not on the righteousness of God. Do you remember what kind of a day scripture says that Job had when he lost his family, his livestock, and his health? He lived under the old covenant... before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But thankfully and unlike Job, we're under the new covenant (of grace by faith in Christ), and we do have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Father has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth and to convict us when we sin against the truth. God doesn't have to use fiery trials to break us of sin. But if we don't want to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, then He will let us reap the corruption of our flesh.

So when you face trouble in your life, do you struggle with self-condemnation? I have heard some teachers say that if a Christian has problems, it's because they lack faith. Peter contradicts that teaching and explains the correct purpose of the trials. We are partaking of Christ's sufferings when we are faced with trials in this life. Will we continue in faith or will we draw back in unbelief?

The purpose of having faith isn't to keep us from having trials, but it is to be placed in Christ so that we might walk in the righteousness of God as His child. So when a trial visits your house or interrupts your life, look to the Lord to lead you through it; do not look to your own weaknesses. He has given you the measure of faith (Romans 12 : 3), and He promises to help us endure the trials by faith and to then overcome the trials while remaining in faith.

So if you have faith in Christ today, and you're faced with job termination, sickness, relational conflicts, etc., then know that God has already given you the power to overcome the trials of life. The key to having  victory in your battles is in your faith. The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord, not us, will deliver us out of them all. He will be faithful, but we must remain faithful. Those who endure to the end will see their salvation.

Waiting on the Lord,
Pastor Asa

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Amazing Wisdom of God

Proverbs 21 : 1 - 2, The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he turns it wherever he pleases. People may think they are doing what is right, but the LORD examines the heart. NLT

When Jesus was on the cross, He prayed something that we need to look more closely at today. He asked the Father to forgive those who had beaten and crucified Him; He said that the people who were doing this to Him did not know what they were doing. Paul gives us some insight into why they didn't know in 2 Corinthians 4. When people reject truth, or in this case, they rejected Jesus as the truth and treated Him as a blasphemer, it allows Satan to spiritually blind them.

In the countries of the world, you will find that governments rule over the affairs of the people, yet the government leaders may or may not know the Lord. But if some governments refuse to acknowledge God, it won't prevent Him from being Lord over the earth or His people. Many government leaders will do what they perceive is right according to the thoughts of their own hearts. Yet the Word tells us in Proverbs 29 that when the righteous are in authority the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people mourn. We are instructed in God's word to pray for our leaders on a consistent basis; this empowers the Lord's will to be carried out in the earth over the will of man or governments.

When men and women in leadership don't place their faith in Jesus as their Savior, it allows Satan to blind them to God's will. But the church has a higher calling and authority than the government. If we will pray, then the Lord can turn the hearts of the kings and accomplish His will in the earth. Please pray with me and ask the Lord to place His wisdom and direction in the hearts of our leaders. In Genesis, there is a great example of Godly wisdom that led a heathen ruler during a famine. While Joseph was in prison, as the result of false accusations, Egypt was about to face a seven year famine. Joseph's hard times in prison were about to end, but for Egypt, they were about to begin. Here's the reason why we need to pray for God's wisdom to lead our officials:

The Lord knew that a famine was about to cover the land for seven years, but before the famine began, there would be seven years of plenty. So He gave Pharaoh a dream concerning the next fourteen years of his administration. This gave Joseph, the "dreamer," an opportunity to interpret the dream for the King. When Pharaoh heard the meaning of his own dream, he placed Joseph over the kingdom... even though he was not an Egyptian. The wisdom that God gave Joseph preserved the lives of Jews and gentiles alike. It doesn't matter what party is in office as long as we pray for Godly wisdom to rule that office. James teaches us that when we find ourselves in various trials or temptations, we should ask God for wisdom.

Why would James be directed by the Holy Spirit to tell us to ask for wisdom during trying times? Wouldn't it make better sense to ask for the trial to be over? This is why we shouldn't listen to man's wisdom, but rather seek God's direction. If God delivers us out of a trial, but we don't know what caused the trial, then there is a very good chance that we will slip back into the same trial again.

Like never before in my generation, we need the wisdom of God to lead us through these tough times. Who knows, there may be Godly wisdom and direction that comes out of this test that will astound the greatest minds in the earth today and win them to Christ. Now let's pray!

Lord We Come to You Today,
Pastor Asa

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Way of Suffering

Philippians 2 : 8 - 11, And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NKJV

Since it's only you, this devotion, and the Lord here today, let me ask you a question. Do you consider yourself perfect? If you answered no, then ask yourself, "why?" What does perfection look like to you? Is perfection obtainable in the flesh? Doesn't the Word of God declare that Jesus was perfect and that He was also a man? Many would argue that fact and say that Jesus was God in the flesh... so it was impossible for Him to sin. Consider this also; James tells us that God can't be tempted with evil, but we read in Luke 4 that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness and was tempted. If He was only God, and not man, then Satan would not have been able to tempt Him. If He were only God, then the writer of Hebrews misrepresented Him as our High Priest when he wrote that He could be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. Jesus, as the Son of man knows what it is like to be tempted, yet He resisted temptation, because He was submitted to God's will.

James tells us that if we will submit to God and resist the Devil, then the Devil will flee from us. So let me ask you again, what does perfection look like to you? Perfection is not according to our opinion, but rather perfection is based on God's Word and it being hidden in our hearts. God commands us to be holy, even as He is holy. He wouldn't ask something of us if it was impossible to obtain. Having stated these truths on perfection, let me add one more. Jesus was perfect in all His ways, yet the religious world called Him a winebibber, glutton, a friend of sinners, and last, but certainly not least, a blasphemer. When you hear their testimony as to what Jesus was, it doesn't quiet line up with God's testimony of Jesus does it?

So we can conclude that we're not called to live up to man's requirements or definitions of perfection; a perfection that is according to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is where our calling is.

James 3 : 2, For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. KJV

James teaches us that if we can bridle our tongue and not offend in word, then we are perfect in the sight of God. Even as small as the tongue is, it is still hard to tame that little critter. The reason being, it vents what is hidden in our hearts. So we must begin with the heart if we want our tongues to remain silent. How did Jesus keep Himself from the pollution of this world and not offend in word?

The verses in our text for today teach us that Jesus was more than just obedient; He humbled Himself through submission. As a pastor, I have found that a lot of people will obey spiritual authority as long as they agree with it, but the moment they don't agree with authority, they rebel. This is why Christians can't tame the tongue. We sometimes refuse to obey when the suffering of our flesh man is involved. Yet Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the death of the cross. The Word declared that He "became" obedient. It was a process that He was willing to undergo that prepared Him for the suffering. It is that process of being "willing to be made willing" to suffer that we all must submit to if we want to be perfect before the Lord.

1 John 2:5-6, But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. NIV

There's a song that is sung during the celebration of Jesus' resurrection each year entitled "Via Dolorosa" which, when translated, means "The Way of Suffering." It talks about a person walking today where Jesus walked. I want to use that line to share one final thought: the Lord doesn't require us to walk the streets of Jerusalem to be like Christ, but He does require us to walk "the way" that Jesus walked, and Jesus walked humbly before the Father. Did He please the religious rulers, or did He seem to be humble to them? No. Was He still perfect? Absolutely! All the Father asks of us, as His children is that we place our faith in Christ and walk in humility before Him while we live in a fallen world. By the way, you are complete in Christ!

Learning How to Tame My Tongue,
Pastor Asa

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Heart of the Father Is Relationship

John 17 : 1 - 3, Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. NKJV

John had a wonderful view of the relationship between Jesus and the Father. He also gives us insight into our Heavenly Father's love for us, His children (who used to be sinners). The purpose for Jesus coming to earth was to reconnect fallen man back to God as their heavenly Father... not just their Creator. There is a story in Luke that depicts the Father's heart toward us, whether we're in fellowship with Him or in rebellion against Him. The Holy Spirit instructed me to send this out as a devotion to let you know that God will always love you, but sin can separate you from His life.

Luke 15:11-14, "A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. NKJV

Just look at the heart of the father in comparison to his wayward son. Although his son was demanding, the father was very gracious and giving. The son was driven by lust and pride, but the father was moved by love. Even though the father knew what would happen to this young man's inheritance, he gave him the portion anyway.

Luke 15:20-24, "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry. NKJV

As the prodigal son was returning home, his father met him and greeted him with love and affection; after they were reconciled, the father told the servants to prepare a feast for his son that was (dead), but now was alive.

Take notice how the father treated the son... both when his son was leaving and when he decided to return home. The father's love never changed, but the attitude of the son did. This story reveals the heart of our heavenly Father. He will lavish His love on us whether we're in pride like the prodigal, or headed back home. 

Although the father never stopped loving his son, the sin that was in the son's heart separated him from his earthly father. John tells us in chapter 3 that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. God never stopped loving mankind after the fall, but our sin separated us from having a relationship with Him. As Christians, if we choose to walk in sin, it will adversely affect our relationship with God. Sin severs the line of communication between us and our heavenly Father.

The father in the story never esteemed his riches over having a relationship with his sons. Likewise, the heavenly Father gets pleasure in the prosperity of His children, because He is all about intimate relationship. Is there a sin, or an iniquity in your heart today that has separated you from having true fellowship with your heavenly Father? If so, then confess your faults to Him, because He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. He cleanses us as well as forgives us so that we won't have the desire to go back into the sin or iniquity of the past.  

Walking in Fellowship With the Father,
Pastor Asa

Monday, January 2, 2012


1 Peter 5 : 10 - 11, But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. NKJV

In recent weeks, the Lord has led me to write to you on the subject of man being created in the image and likeness of God. Today, the Holy Spirit has laid a specific word on my heart for believers who find themselves surrounded with troubles. As a result of the fall, sin defiled the heart of man. "Self" became the replacement for the authority of God, and the mind of man took the place of the voice of God as the final word on wisdom. The perverted lusts of man became the compass and the basis for poor and immoral decisions.

Now that we have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus and made complete in Christ, we must begin to allow God to strip the old man and his ways from us and begin to be renewed, once again, into the image of the One who has created us. This transformation will require us to suffer many things as we lose the heart for the world and gain a new heart for the Lord and His Kingdom. While we are kept in Christ, God can transform us from the image of the first Adam and into the image of the Last Adam, Christ. 

Since we are human, troubles cause us to fear because situations are out of our control. Therefore, we must train ourselves to rely on the strong arm of the Lord. Once a believer begins the conversion process of becoming Christ-like, it will shake us down to the very core of our being. Nevertheless, according to Jesus and the writers of the New Testament, these things must come to pass, if we are going to overcome the flesh nature, and, ultimately, the things of the world, through our faith in Christ.

Peter admonishes us in his epistle not to think it strange when we're faced with fiery trials. Even so, James tells us to count it all joy when we fall into various trials. IT IS IN THE SHAKING AND THE SIFTING THAT WE BECOME ESTABLISHED IN CHRIST. It is through the hard and terrible trials that we learn where we should be firmly planted. Hard times in and of themselves can't make us like Christ. However, our faith in Christ during the hard seasons of life will make us Christ-like.

As we learn and grow in our faith walk, we will become established firmly in the Lord. At this point, I can only speak from my own experiences; in the past few years, while the world has been shaking all around us, I have become more unsettled than ever before in my life. The unsettling came as a result of the shaking... this was a part of my maturation process. God wanted me to stop relying on and listening to the soulish part of my being, which was crying out to keep control. Today, I saw a picture in my mind of God wrapping His arms around His children while the "shaking to mature" was all around us. He constantly tells us by the Holy Spirit and in His Word that He has us in His care. Nevertheless, we must come into agreement with that truth before we can begin to experience the loving embrace of our heavenly Father while the storms are raging all around us.

When we "FEEL" out of control and become shaken, we will try to console our flesh and bury the feelings with self-help tactics. These futile attempts eventually give way to the sinking feeling in our heart as we realize that it will take God in His time to settle and establish us. The way I have found that I am overcoming the weaknesses of my flesh and being established in Christ is confirmed with a peace that doesn't make any sense. As the peace grows in my heart and "keeps me" so that shaking no longer moves me to fear or self-protection, I can begin to know that God has been doing "a good work" in my heart and life.

Jesus said that He would give us peace, but it would be in the midst of tribulations. How will any of us know whether we're rooted and grounded in Christ if God never allows us to suffer or be shaken? The cause of the shaking isn't good, but the results of the process will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness and are good because God is good. So the next time trouble knocks at your door, remember the Words that God spoke to Moses at the banks of the Red Sea when they had no way of escape. Be still and see the salvation of the Lord. Let me leave you today with a perfect verse that sums up what I have tried to articulate.

Psalms 23: 4 - 5, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; NKJV

Because God is with you, you can walk through death and not fear. Because the Lord is with you, you can eat in the presence of your enemies. Why? Because He has established you in Christ, and nothing shall pluck you up.

I Feel a Praise About To Erupt,
Pastor Asa