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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Living in Freedom

Romans 6: 7 - 14, For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. NKJV

Paul teaches us that as new covenant believers in Christ, we don't have to live in bondage to sin anymore. However, there are still two ways a believer can choose live their lives. They can be ruled by the lusts of the flesh nature and live for self... which goes against the teachings of Christ; or conversely, they can choose to live by faith and obey the Word of God. One road will hold us in bondage to self, and the other will liberate us from self to serve God without fear. 

Once you choose to live your life for Christ, it will take time for the Word of God to transform you from a carnally minded believer into a spiritually minded one. Conversion doesn't happen overnight, but it WILL occur in your heart if you will hold on to your faith and live for God and not self. Now, self will try to persuade you that God's way isn't worth the pain that you have to endure in order to die to the flesh nature. However, there are millions of believers, including myself that will testify and tell you that God's way is the only way to be free.

"How bad do you want to be liberated from living a life of bondage to lusts, habits, addictions, and people?" Well, you have to love God and His Word even more than you want to have a life of freedom. There's a saying that is used in the world of physical fitness when addressing people who want to quit before they reap the benefits of working out or exercising; nevertheless, it is also perfect for our spiritual well-being: "No pain, no gain." We must suffer a little in order to die to our self nature and our bondage to fear; otherwise, we will live the rest of our lives bound. 

If you make the commitment to serve the Lord and die to self with the hope of one-day walking out of "the pit," you will have to learn how never to tell God, "No." Living God's way will require you to take on a servant's heart and an attitude of gratitude toward the Lord. According to James, God gives grace to the humble, but He opposes the proud. Once we agree to suffer in our flesh so that we might obey and please our heavenly Father by faith, He will empower us with grace to face, endure, and pull down every stronghold and mountain that defies our faith.

However, beware of pitfalls along the way. Satan will constantly try to trip you up on your journey to spiritual transformation and liberation; so, you have to guard your heart. Whenever the Holy Spirit instructs you to obey His voice, but you realize that obedience will cost you something that you're not willing to give up, then you can be sure that Satan is moving in for an attack. Should we ever harden our hearts to the voice of God because we love something more than our commitment to Jesus, or we are afraid to face a giant, we will place ourselves back in bondage to our flesh nature. Remember, the flesh nature can't live free because it lives under the law; but we died to the flesh nature when we accepted Christ. Now we live under grace, and sin should no longer have dominion over us.

We mustn't ever tell God, "No," when He instructs us to obey Him, especially when it costs us something we love very dearly. Remember, God rewards those who diligently seek Him. If God asks you to give up something, it means that He has something better in the future for you. Nevertheless, if we should fall into Satan's trap of offense and fall from grace, we will become enslaved by the flesh nature once again. There are many people who confess to love Jesus every day; however, they have fallen into the trap of Satan and are in bondage. 

If you are a believer, and you know in your heart that you're not living a life of freedom in the Spirit, but you desire to do so, then the Word today is especially for you. When we say, "No" to God, but confess that we still love Him and place our faith in Jesus to save us, we won't have the grace to be the witness of freedom that Christ died for us to possess. Just like you couldn't save yourself from your own sins, and you realized that you needed to believe on the Lord, neither can you live the saved life apart from remaining submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. Only when you and I submit to God, and we do what He instructs us to do will we have the power to resist the Devil and have him flee from us. Christians, who believe in Christ, but for some reason, aren't surrendered to Christ's ways, won't be able to obey Him for more than as long as their own "will power" will enable them. This is called cyclical Christianity or repeat offenders against God's Word. If this describes you, then know that you're trying to serve God in the flesh and not from your heart. You must go back and correct the offense by placing it on the altar unto the Lord. Once you have repented and changed your mind, you will be empowered with God's grace to walk by faith without fail.  

If we could live the new life in Christ in our own power, then God missed it when He sent the Comforter to be with/in us. The Holy Spirit gives us the power of God to live continually for Him; we will not quit. This is why we are warned in scripture not to grieve or quench the Holy Spirit, by whom we have been sealed until the Day of Redemption. 

Since you have read the entire devotion today, let me ask you a question. Do you have something or someone in your life that has caused you to stumble in your faith walk? Do you desire to be set free from bondage and to live the life that God intended for you to live? If so, then lay your "Isaac" on the altar like Abraham and allow God to bless you once again.

Grace is the Only Way to Live Free,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why New Believers Struggle with Their Faith

Galatians 5: 1 - 10, Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. NKJV

The Apostle Paul is addressing the new converts in the church at Galatia. He has discovered that someone has caused them to fall from grace, and, consequently, they have gone back under the law. Instead of obeying the truth by faith and abiding in the new liberty they had received in Christ, they were persuaded to add the works of the law to their faith.

As Paul began his letter to the church, he exhorted them to stand fast to the liberty by which Christ had made them free. He was calling them back to their commitment to live by faith, and calling them away from the works of the law. So why did these new converts from Judaism to Christianity decide to return to their old ways and fall from grace? It was because they had been persuaded by non-believing Jews that they must add works to their faith. However, how could these non-believing Jews cause them to stumble and fall? Not all the Jews believed that Jesus was the Son of God; therefore, they also doubted that HE was the only way, truth, and life. They didn't believe that Jesus' teachings were the sole way to the Father. Consequently, they swayed these new believers into going back into bondage and giving up on the liberty they had gained in Christ.

Doesn't this illustration from scripture sound very similar to the kinds of situations that face brand new believers in our day? The voice of condemnation taunts new converts trying to get them to add something else to their faith in order to be "saved." The sacrifice of Christ on the cross fulfilled the law and appeased the wrath of God against mankind. If we place faith in Christ as our only way to the Father and the sole way to have eternal life, then the Father will forgive us and fill us with His Spirit.  

New believers struggle with their faith because they haven't completely broken away from the old mindset of the flesh that ruled their hearts before Christ filled it. Now that you and I are born again and have been given a new nature, we must resist the temptations and accusations of the enemy that try to pull us back into bondage. This is the place in your walk where you will have to decide to make Jesus your Lord, not just your Savior. When we commit to the teachings of Christ, every bit of the old ways and the old thinking that we once walked in as sinners will be stirred within us. Continuing in this stale mind-set can cause old desires and thoughts to begin to pull us away from the narrow path of righteousness, but if we will resist the old man and crucify him through obedient faith, the grace of God will begin to remove the condemnation.

Another reason new believers struggle in their faith arises once they begin to follow their faith with obedience to Christ. Remember, the Jews that were saved in Galatia believed in Jesus, but struggled with obeying the truth. If we obey the truth every day, it will hold us personally responsible and will empower us to live by faith, therefore, pleasing our heavenly Father. Nevertheless, once the believers in Galatia tried to obey the truth, they were met by the resistance of non-believers.   

After you have made a commitment to Christ, you must begin to live your new life according to His teachings. At this point, there will be a crossroad where you will meet a lot of resistance in your walk. Why does this happen to new converts? It is because they have decided to walk contrary to the ways of the world and their old nature; and this decision will challenge every opinion, relationship, belief, self-confidence and pride that they had before they became born again. This is why Jesus told us in Matthew that, if we desire to come after Him, we must deny self, take up our cross, and follow Him. You will have challenges that might try to convince you to give up, but hold on to the only faith that has the power to save- your faith in Christ.   

If you struggle with walking by faith and living by the Word of God, then I want to leave some verses with you that will help you endure and overcome the condemning voices of the enemy.  

Hebrews 10: 32 - 36, But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: NKJV

As you face the battles that arise when you pledge your loyalty to Christ, remember that your faith and commitment will empower you to defeat all of your adversaries along the way. Stand fast in the liberty that you have in Christ and endure your cross with the hope that God is making you free and will one-day reward you for your faithful endurance as a good soldier. God rewards those who endure their cross, and they become filled with His love and power. Hope waits until the promise comes to pass.   

Waiting on the Promise,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, February 20, 2012

Follow the Unseen God

Hebrews 11 : 24 - 26, By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. NKJV

When my sister was a child, our mother took her for piano lessons. However, after she had gone to a few sessions, the teacher told mom that giving my sister the lessons was a waste of money. It wasn't that my sister could not play the instrument. It was that God had given her a natural talent and ability that had its own way of manifesting. I use my sister's story here to share a principle with you that will encourage you to seek the Lord and His will more and more each day.

When Jeremiah was a young boy, God told him that He had known him even before Jeremiah had been formed in his mother's womb. God also revealed to Jeremiah that He had called and ordained him to be a prophet to Israel. Can you imagine being a very young boy and have the God of heaven and earth declare such a prophetic utterance over you? To say that Jeremiah was slightly intimidated would be a gross understatement. 

I bring up these stories to prove to you that the unseen God has already mapped out your new life in Christ. Here's a very important key to discovering your purpose in Christ that many have failed to lay hold of: If you desire to live the life and fulfill the purpose God has for you, you must be willing to seek Him first. As we seek God by faith, He will begin to reward us for our diligence. This is the awesome part of seeking God. Once He sees us set our hearts on knowing and serving Him, He begins to unlock for us the treasure and the mystery of who we are in Christ.  

There are people who have made fortunes seeking out and finding lost treasure. Even so, as we seek God, and in return discover the treasure that He has buried deep within our hearts, we become the new person that God intended us to become before we became sin conscious. This is part of the redemptive work of Christ that is released in our lives once we choose to follow God's path; it began on the cross, but is completed in each of us who believe in Jesus.  

There are two schools of thought I know of which are used to discover and develop the hidden potential in each one of us. Many people in the Bible were raised and developed in a formal setting. Nevertheless, there are many others who had no formal training, yet seemed to have a natural ability to know just what to do and say. Just as we need teachers and mentors in our lives that can see our hidden potential, we also need to maintain a healthy communion with the Lord, so He can reveal to us our potential to serve His purpose.  

You may feel as though God overlooked you when it comes to possessing great talents and abilities. However, let me remind you that God has a great purpose for every believer in Christ. Our roles may not seem considerable in man's eyes, but they are in God's, and in ours, if we will humble ourselves and accept our place. In Christ, God has already accepted us; nonetheless, when it comes to us accepting ourselves, there can be a huge struggle. This is why God gives to every person the measure of faith that Paul tells us about in Romans 12. It is our faith in Christ that empowers us to overcome what the world has called us; and it will also be our faith that will cause us to move on to become what Christ has ordained for us.

Through faith, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He didn't fit the "person or identity" that the world placed on him. Why and how did he know these things, since he was raised in Pharaoh's house? Remember, when he was a baby, Moses' mom placed him in a river and his sister watched over him until he arrived where Pharaoh's daughter was bathing. 

Without Pharaoh and his daughter knowing what was happening, Moses' sister told them of a woman who could nurse the baby, who happened to be his own mother. God reunited the two in the house of Pharaoh, the enemy of Israel's new-born males. This time of nurturing was a great opportunity for Moses' mother to teach him about his Jewish heritage.

Once Moses came to the age of accountability, he began to accept his calling from the God of the Jews; he now knew what that had been buried deep inside his heart. He also knew that there would be a reward if he chose to fulfill his calling. Most of us have come up in life under very harsh circumstances, but God has been with us the entire way. He has waited on us to arrive at the place that we would accept Him and all that He has called you and me to fulfill in the earth.

 If you're not fulfilling your heavenly calling and purpose in Christ, make a commitment to step out in faith today. Don't allow what the world has said and done to you hold you back from being all God has called for you to become. Like Moses, know that there is a better day coming, and when that day arrives, you will be greatly rewarded for breaking out of the mold and into God's liberty. 

Following the Map of God's Will,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, February 17, 2012

Living by Faith and Not by Need

Deuteronomy 8 : 1 - 3, "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

In this world, we are conditioned to believe that we must make our own way. Can I tell you that this mindset doesn't liberate people? Rather, it places us in bondage to man. At first glimpse, this lie seems to offer people their independence. Nevertheless, this is the very reason many of us fall prey to the idea of self-sufficiency. Let me remind you that this lie found its first victim in the Garden of Eden. Satan appeared to Eve as a serpent and seduced her into believing that she didn't need to obey God's voice or commands in order to live. However, once they bit into that lie, they soon realized that life was over for them as they had known it.

Since we have been told most of our lives that if we want anything out of this life, we must get out and earn it by the sweat of our brow, we have come to accept it as gospel. Nonetheless, any teaching that excludes God and placing faith in His love and grace will ultimately lead people into bondage of some type. Satan told Eve that life doesn't consist or stem from listening to God, but through the efforts of our flesh.

In the verses from Deuteronomy today, we read that if God's people desired to see good life and be blessed, they would need to listen to His voice and obey it. God went on to tell them that He humbled them by allowing them to hunger so that He might feed them with manna from heaven. It was through this process that God taught His people how to live by faith... not according to their needs.

Many people are more "need- minded" than they are "faith- minded." When a need- minded person comes to God, it is always based on what they desire; it is not based on God's desire for them. This way of thinking leads people to live a cyclical life. We have a term which defines this type of livelihood; it's called the "rat race." However, should we reduce us and our existence down to that of rodents? You may ask, "Who sits around and thinks up all these systems and establishes these terms in which to classify people in order to make them feel less than human?" Satan does!

God doesn't want you to be led around by Satan with a carrot dangling in front of you. God has a plan for your life and your families' lives; His plan is to prosper you and give you a hope. So when we come to God and begin to tell Him ALL about our need, if we stop long enough and listen, we will find God is speaking about something "other" than our need.    

Does this mean that God isn't interested in our needs? No, it is just the opposite; He not only sees our needs, but Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 that God already knows that we have need of the things we seek Him for. However, He instructs us to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first. Even so, why does God ask us to seek the Kingdom before we seek for our needs to be met? It is because He wants to break the vicious cycle that Satan has placed the world under through self-sufficiency; His desire is to release us to live by faith, thus pleasing God and not ourselves.  

We have both a body and a soul. If our soul dies, our body will perish. Even so, if our soul is alive because we choose to live by faith in what God is telling us, then our body will also thrive. When Satan lied to Eve about the tree of knowledge, he simply caused her to get things out of proper order. This occurs when we place our needs (self) before God's Word and Will for our lives. Once we humble ourselves and begin to listen to His voice and fulfill His purpose, then the other stuff will begin to follow our righteous acts.  

So the next time a problem or need arises, be careful not to slip into a "survival" mindset and begin demanding God to take care of you and your need. "Murmuring doesn't make for a good outcome with God." Instead, when you come to God believe that He has your best interest at heart; He already knows what is needed in your life. In essence, God is teaching us, as His children, to trust Him... not lean on our own understanding. As we acknowledge Him in our everyday lives, He will direct our steps. However, He won't lead us by dropping bread crumbs for us to follow; He will direct our paths by His Word and His Spirit. I pray this word builds hope, encouragement and faith in your hearts to trust God and begin to take Him at His Word today. He has your back.

Living Life by Faith,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Are We There Yet?

Philippians 3: 12 - 14, Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. NKJV

Paul teaches us in the LOVE chapter found in his letter to the church at Corinth that knowledge vanishes. When it comes to having knowledge, there are two types that I'm aware of. First, there is the knowledge of man that we gain through our experiences and from one another. Secondly, there is the knowledge that comes from God. It is only through this knowledge that we are able to grow.

I've been a student of God's Word for a long time. There's something about it that is intriguing. The more we learn from the Word of God about God and His kingdom, the more we need to learn. The knowledge that we can glean from God's Word can never be exhausted. 

So how is it that we can read and study the Bible and never arrive at a final destination in our quest to know God? Jesus gave us a key in the gospel of John. He said that the Words which He speaks, "They are Spirit, and they are life." Unlike man's knowledge or wisdom which evaporates likes fumes from fuel, the knowledge that we gain from studying and devouring God's Word contains life and causes us to grow into the image of Christ.

 I have been teaching and writing almost every day of the week, and yet it only recently dawned on me: the more I learn from God's Word, the more I to want to learn. While I don't pretend to remember every truth that God has shown me, I can say that we have definitely grown from what we have learned as a body. 

Is there spiritual growth in your life? If you have a steady diet of the Word of God, whether it is through reading or being taught, there should be growth as a result. Like Paul, we haven't obtained all that Christ has apprehended us for, but also like Paul, we are to press on toward the goal. No one will reach the place of tapping out the truth that is contained in the Word of God on this side of heaven. Consequently, we must continue to be committed students of the Bible. Knowledge will vanish, but the truth will give us life. If we have Life, living and dwelling in us, then we won't be as apt to seek death or its pleasures. O taste and see that the Lord is good.

Feeding from the Master's table,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Gift

Romans 6: 20 - 23, For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. NKJV

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

Satan imprisons and punishes those who choose to pursue him; however, God loves, liberates and rewards those who follow Him. Please note that there is a difference between love and selfishness, and between holiness and evil. By no means am I comparing our great God to Satan. I am, however, pointing out some glaring distinctions between the nature and attributes of each.  

God mustn't be compared with Satan because they are not equaled on any level. Nevertheless, when people have been deceived by the Serpent, they need to see that there is a vast difference between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of darkness. Satan rules over his domain with lies, manipulation, and fear tactics. He exploits the fallout that occurred when man decided to sin against the Lord God. The reason Satan understands how humans react to the rejection caused by the fall of man is because he, too, is a fallen created being.

From the very beginning of the Word of God, we see the conflict between Light and darkness, and Day and night. Satan, as I stated earlier, manipulates us through our most vulnerable areas, such as our emotions and desires. He speaks to us through our humanity during trauma, disappointment, loss, and pleasure. Through these diversions, he preys on our distracted attention. The Bible tells us that Satan is allowed to operate in our lives either under darkness or our own spiritual ignorance.

Once he gains access into our lives through the avenues that I mentioned, he begins to form a web in which to hold us captive. If we should find ourselves bound to a person or a situation and can't find the way to freedom, we will know that Satan has captured us through a point-of-entrance. It doesn't mean that Satan has possession of our souls; it only means that he has gained control over an area of our life. He will begin to utilize fully the ground that has been gained to launch an assault on the parts of our life that remain in freedom.  

Just as infection enters our body through a cut or a virus and begins to spread throughout our entire body, Satan operates in much the same way. As the Apostle Peter said in his epistle, "Satan seeks those whom he may DEVOUR." Once Satan gains access and seeks to take complete control, if he isn't stopped through the power of God, he won't relent until he has his prey under total bondage to his lies. Afterwards, he will begin to punish his prisoner and wear them down in order to destroy their soul completely.

While Satan operates under a cloak of darkness and deception, God operates out in the open. He doesn't manipulate our emotions; He speaks directly to our hearts. From the very moment that a person who has been caught in Satan's web of deception decides to call on the Lord, God begins to free them. In the verses that I shared from Romans 6, Paul tells us that Satan's work in us requires wages. However, God's love is a gift. While Satan preys on our fallen mindset of needing to earn acceptance and love, God requires nothing of our flesh...only faith from our hearts. God has already paid the price for us to be free. All we have to do is accept it.

In order to set us free from the very nature that Satan exploits so that he can continue to hold us in bondage, God has circumvented our soul and requires us to follow Him by faith. As we walk by faith and not by sight, we override our emotions and desires. God has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit; together, they guide us on this path called Righteousness. Since our soul isn't charting the course and isn't in control of our decisions, we can come out of the prison where Satan once held us captive. In Romans 8, Paul teaches us that those who are LED by the Spirit of God are the sons and daughters of God.

Did you catch that? In Christ, you are no longer a slave to sin. You won't have to pay the wages of sin with your eternal soul. You are a child of God. Jesus has made us to be kings and priests unto our God. Here is the best part of living a life of faith: God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Instead of coming to the end of your life and losing your soul because you chose to serve Satan, God will reward you with life everlasting... plus an eternal reward that hasn't been revealed to us on this side of heaven. Nevertheless, we still must make the decision to have life. If we fail to make that decision, then we fail to have or inherit life. Once you choose Christ, you must choose each and every day to live His life.

Living the REAL LIFE,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Father Desires to Commune with You

Matthew 18: 11, For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. NKJV

Have you ever thought of yourself as a "that"?  Christians tend to think that Christ was sent to earth by His Father for the sole purpose of saving souls. However, according to this passage of scripture, Jesus was sent to fulfill more than just salvation. He literally paved the way for us to, once again, have fellowship with God. Christianity tends to focus only on the cross and salvation; but the Bible teaches us that these are also avenues that God has chosen to restore man's ability to hear the voice of God.

When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of sin, it hardened their hearts to the voice of God. We see this illustrated in Genesis 3 when God asked Adam and Eve if they had eaten of the tree of knowledge, and they both passed the blame on to someone else. Moses records the fellowship between man and God with the account of the voice of the Lord God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day; however, this was before Adam and Eve sinned. We can't conclude that this was God's normal activity, but we can say that He did fellowship with Adam regularly. I draw that conclusion from where God and Adam worked together in Genesis 2. 

Shortly after the fall, God drove man out of the garden and then placed cherubim with a flaming sword at the entrance. The very place God had created to have fellowship with man and to provide for his needs was now sealed in order to keep man from entering and partaking of the Tree of Life. 

From the time of Adam until the time of Moses, God chose to speak to and to work through various men in order to carry out His will in the earth. By the time we get to the account of Moses' calling from God to lead His people out of Egypt, we can see the emergence of a new role that Moses was to fill on behalf of God. As a great prophet of God, it was Moses' duty to speak with God and to tell the children of Israel what He had conveyed on their behalf. It was during the era of Moses' leadership that God instituted another office called the priest.  

The prophet's primary function was to go before God for instructions so that the children of Israel could hear them and live by God's commands; on the other hand, the priest had a different role. The priests were called to perform the duties of serving in His temple and to offer up sacrifices for the offenses of God's people. Unlike the prophet, who represented God to man, the priest would represent man and their offerings and prayers back to God. Once the office of the priest and High Priest were in full operation, the communication between God and man was somewhat restored. Although the children of Israel could hear God through a prophet and offer to God through a priest for their sins, they refused to hear the voice of God because of fear ( Exodus 20).

These things that I have shared with you today are what theologians and Bible scholars call, "types and shadows." Typology is a term that describes how God concealed the work of Christ under the old covenant with His people. In the New Testament, Jesus was the fulfillment of what was only being portrayed in the Old Testament. Jesus was, and still is forevermore, the Prophet and the High Priest of God. In Christ, we have total redemption and restoration of all that was lost due to the fall of man.  

Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, man's ability to enter the presence of God was restored; once again, they could commune with God without fear. The shed blood of Jesus was the payment for our sin debt; but it also made the WAY (through the work of the Holy Spirit) for God to enter man and for man to enter the presence of God. Now that we are spirit-beings who have been redeemed from the fall, we have access into the holiest place where God dwells. 

In Christ, the flaming sword has been done away with, and the veil that prevented ordinary people from entering God's holy sanctuary has been abolished. If you have faith in Christ, you can enter the secret place where God dwells, and you can hear His voice. In the beginning, God's intention was for mankind to be able to commune with Him without having to go through a man to do so. However, since man sinned, God instituted another way in which He could communicate with His people until the Messiah came to earth and set things in proper order. Now, all people, through the blood of Jesus, can come to the Father for themselves. We are no longer required to go to a man in order for God to hear our prayers or petitions. Anyone can come to God in a time of need and find help in times of trouble in the name of Jesus. He is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father, but by Him.  

Through the Blood of Jesus,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, February 13, 2012

Until Christ Is Formed in You

Galatians 4: 19, My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you... NKJV

There's much more to being a Christian than just saying, "I'm saved." All who confess faith in Christ must also undergo the conversion process. Our transformation is manifest when Christ is formed in our hearts, and it becomes evident in our everyday lives. Now, we all know that this doesn't happen overnight. Nevertheless, does that mean we can wait until it's time for us to go to heaven before we commit to the process of being converted? No, it does not. As soon as you choose to accept Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit will immediately begin the work in your heart of converting you from "flesh-like" to "Christ-like." 

Those of us who have placed our faith in Christ as the Son of God have, by faith, become the children of God. However, none of us have the kind of faith it takes to walk fully in what God intends for us to inherit; nonetheless, we are reaching for the goal. On the other hand, many people teach that, once we accept Jesus, we have "it" all, and in-part that is true. Jesus is ALL that we need in order to please the Father and become born again. Nevertheless, now that we're saved, we have an inheritance that must be given. There is a backlash that has come from teachings that tell believers they have "it" all at the moment of salvation. Believers will use that teaching or doctrine as an excuse to settle, instead of pursuing God for the rest. Therefore, we must begin to lay aside the old man and be renewed by putting on the new man... becoming more like Christ.  

Allow me to give you a couple of stories from the Word of God that will help explain the term, "Becoming Christ-like." Abram had an encounter with the Lord in Genesis 12. During this visitation, God promised Abram that, in him, all the families of the earth would be blessed. As Abram walked with God, which is a type of us continuing in our faith by obeying God's Word and instructions, God promised Abram a son. The son whom God promised didn't automatically materialize in Sarai's womb, but, instead, began as a Word in Abram's heart. When Abram entered a covenant with God, God swore to Abraham that he would, indeed, have a son of his own. After twenty-five years, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and Sarah, and she conceived their son of promise.  

God waited until the bodies of Abraham, and Sarah were beyond the human ability to conceive and bring forth a baby before He allowed them to inherit their promise. Doesn't that sound a lot like us having to wait to inherit the promises of God until our old man is dead? Yes, it does.

The second story is about a virgin named Mary. God spoke to her about the promise of a Son, just as He did with Abraham. Isn't that interesting? God is making the same promise to a virgin woman in the New Testament that He had previously made in the Old Testament to a man. What is the significance of God repeating this principle? The Old Testament represents the flesh, and the New Testament represents the Spirit. Abraham believed God and had a son by a woman who was unable to be pregnant. Mary believed God and gave birth to the Son of God without the assistance of a man.

So what do these two stories have to do with us being Christians and the need to become Christ-like? When we're born again, we look more like the first Adam than the Last Adam. As we CONTINUE abiding in the Word of God and standing on the promises of God, the Word that has been hidden in our hearts begins the transformation in us. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that we have borne the image of the earthly man, Adam. However, as the Word grows in our hearts, we will become like the Last Adam. We start out in the flesh; nevertheless, as we grow in the faith, we will take on the attributes of Christ and be converted into spiritual beings.  

Does this sound to you like we get "it all" at the moment of salvation? You have the remainder of your life to become Christ-like. Even so, that doesn't mean that you need to procrastinate. If we harden our hearts to the voice of God like the children of Israel did, it will prevent the Holy Spirit from performing God's will in our hearts and lives. None of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior want to stand before Him naked and ashamed. We don't want Him to look at us with disappointment on the Day of Judgment, nor do we want to hear disapproval in His voice. For this reason, it is essential that all believers know that Christianity is more than a one-time experience. 

We are to enter a covenant relationship with Christ, just like a man enters a covenant relationship with his wife. The two shall become one flesh. We must become one with Christ in order to inherit the promises of God. Our faithfulness to God's Word and His will assures us that Christ is being formed in our hearts and will transform our lives.

Walking the Talk,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Developing Godly Character

Romans 5: 1 - 4, Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. NKJV
Possessing HOPE is essential if we, as believers, are to endure and to overcome the tests and the trappings of this world. If you and I have no hope, we will more easily succumb to worldly attacks and temptations. In today's devotion, let's look at the process of attaining the hope that we so desperately need. First of all, do you have faith in Christ as your personal Savior? If you answered yes to this question, then let me ask you one more question that is important to your life in Christ. Do you find it easy, or do you find it difficult to accept being wronged, persecuted, or rejected by people who oppose your faith? If you find it laborious to accept hardships that come because you're a Christian, then it only means you're human. Nevertheless, now that you're a born again (human) child of God, He wants you to grow up and become a mature son or daughter.
As children of God, Jesus expects us to enjoy the good in life. He also requires us to have the boldness and confidence to endure night seasons or hardships as a good soldier. Why does Jesus necessitate this for those who have committed their lives to His Lordship?  God asks it of us because He knows we must possess fortitude in order to be built up in Christ to the fullness that is needed to be His ambassadors in the earth. We are to grow in Christ becoming true witnesses and reflections of Christ's humility and love toward others.
Jesus gives us some very "difficult to fill" commandments in Matthew 5 because He wants us to become ALL, that God has designed for us to be, in Christ. Therefore, we will have times and seasons when God allows us to be tested so that He can stretch, develop, and mature us. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that if we desire to enter the Kingdom of heaven, then our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. He continues His lesson to us in the Sermon on the Mount by telling us that if we only love those who love us, subsequently, we will not truly reflect the nature and character of our heavenly Father. Jesus instructs us to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us, in order that we might be the children of our Father in heaven.
You see; we will only begin to develop godly character when we're in Christ, and we place faith in Him to bring us victoriously through the trials of this life. As Godly character begins to strengthen our spiritual hearts, we will then possess true hope. Hope will give us the perseverance that is needed to endure the sufferings, and it will empower us to do "the right thing"... which will bring Him glory and honor before all people. Without the process of loving like Christ and being obedient to the Father, we will remain weak. You will know you're spiritually feeble when it's easier for you to say, "Yes" to the world's pleasures when you find yourself under an attack or faced with a temptation.
You are saved by the Word of God that enters your ears and your heart. If the Seed of God's Word enters your ears, but gets choked out when persecution hits your life, then there can be no spiritual growth. Therefore, your walk will lack the strength needed to be a true reflection of Christ to your world. Endure hardship as a good soldier. Keep the faith! As a result, you will find favor with God, and He will openly reward you in due season.
It's Only a Test,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Hebrews 12: 28 - 29, Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. NKJV
Exodus 3: 2 - 4, And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn." So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" NKJV
There are many scriptures in the old testament that describe God as a consuming fire. In fact, God uses fire throughout scripture. Let's look at a couple of  examples: Pharaoh pursued the Israelites down to the Red Sea, and God used a wall of fire to protect them from Pharaoh and his army all night; and as God led the children of Israel through the wilderness, there was a pillar of fire by night. However this protecting and guiding fire of God was also a very powerful force that man couldn't come near lest they be consumed.   

Further, when God called Moses, He spoke to him from the flame that was in the midst of a burning bush. What is so amazing about the story of Moses' calling is that the bush was on fire, but it wasn't consumed. Let's take the principle of God being a consuming fire a little deeper. In the Most Holy Place behind the veil of the temple, the presence of God dwelt over the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat. Only the High Priest could enter that sacred room, and, even then, he had to have the blood of animals go before him. The priest had to be sure to follow every detail that God had laid out for them, or else His presence would consume them. If God found a priest unworthy, and His presence killed him, no one was allowed to enter and remove the body. So they devised a way to pull the dead priest out and not be consumed themselves. As a precaution, the High Priest would have a rope tied to His ankle. Maybe you're wondering why I'm telling you these stories about the consuming fire of God? Hang with me; we're going somewhere!   

King David dishonored the Ark of the Covenant by placing it on a cart instead of having it carried on the shoulders of the priests. One day, as the cart was being pulled, a wheel hit an obstruction and the cart, along with the Ark, began to rock. Uzzah, one of David's men, saw that the Ark of the Covenant might fall and proceeded to steady it with his hand. God had previously warned David that if anyone should touch the Ark, they would die. Consequently, when Uzzah came in contact with the presence of God in his unclean flesh, he fell dead on the road.
Now let's fast-forward to the New Testament. Paul writes to us in Ephesians 2, and he says that we are saved by grace. However, when John spoke about Jesus coming after him, he said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. On the Day of Pentecost, after the resurrection of Christ, and for the first time in history, Peter proclaims that the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh. It was on that very day that God began to dwell in earthen vessels.   

Did you catch what I just wrote? The same presence that kept Pharaoh and his mighty army at bay and the same power that consumed any and every High Priest, who entered into the Holy place without proper preparation was now living and dwelling within man under the new covenant. You may be asking how it is possible for the fire of God to enter a fleshly being, and we not be consumed like those who came in contact with His presence in the Old Testament and died. It is because "by grace" you have been saved through faith. You have a FIREWALL, and it's called GRACE.     

Under grace, we have the ability to be filled with the raw power of God's holiness and not be consumed. To show you how great God's grace really is, look at what happened to Uzzah when he, just once, touched the Ark with his hand. He died without mercy. Now how many times do you suppose a typical believer commits sin in one year? How is it that we can slip up and sin and still not be consumed by the fire that dwells within us? Some believe that when they sin and aren't consumed, it's God's grace telling them its okay, but they're deceived. Peter tells us in his epistle that God is long suffering, not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance. God is LONG SUFFERING under the new covenant because He gives people a space to come to their senses and repent before they reap the fallout of their unrepentant sins. Now we can better understand why God spoke from a bush that was on fire, but wasn't consumed, when He called Moses away from his past sins.   

In Romans 6, Paul addresses the issue of believers who seemed to think it was okay to sin because they were under grace. He asked them (and us), "How can those who are in Christ and died to sin, live any longer in it?" Grace wasn't given so that we could see how far away we could get from God's presence and still be saved; rather God gave us grace that we might enter His holy place and not be consumed. Therefore, when believers sin and think nothing about what they have done, they are trampling underfoot the grace of God and the blood of Jesus.   

As I conclude the word today, let me draw your attention to 1 Corinthians 3:16 - 17. Here, Paul tells us that we are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells within us. If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy them. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. Consequently, when the children of Israel chose to rebel against God and decided, instead, to follow after idols and false gods, plagues broke out, and they began to die. When believers choose to live in sin while proclaiming to walk in God's grace and refuse to repent of their sin, they open the door for corruption to begin to consume their flesh. This may not be popular, and it might make some feel uncomfortable, but this is the Word of God. God will give us grace and space to repent. Nevertheless, if we refuse, we will pay a very high price. God requires us to live holy, even as He is holy. Remember, if it hadn't been for the GRACE of God, we would all have been consumed already. But God!

Thank God for His Grace,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Remember to Apply the Blood

Matthew 27 : 50 - 53, And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. NKJV

There isn't much said about the blood of Jesus at His crucifixion. However, we can certainly see the effects of it at Calvary when He had yielded up His Spirit. Two miracles of great significance occurred; one happened shortly after Jesus died, and the other one after He returned to earth in His glorified body. 

The first miracle occurred when the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom and the second when the graves of many burst open and those who were dead got up and walked through Jerusalem. Why did God allow these miracles to take place? They were manifested so that He could confirm from heaven that the blood of Jesus was sufficient for the sins of man. Now we can enter the holy place where God dwells in heaven; death no longer has dominion over believers in Christ.

The writer of Hebrews teaches us, without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sins. So if a person never confesses the name of Christ, or he chooses to reject the gift of His life on the cross, he won't have the power to experience God's forgiveness (even though in Christ, his sins are already forgiven) nor will he experience freedom in his heart from the bondages of sin and death.

The shed blood of Jesus purchased our salvation. God, through Christ has ransomed or redeemed us back from sin and from having to live under the dominion of Satan's lies. "Whom the Son of God sets free, they are free indeed." Let me ask you a couple of questions. Have you applied the blood of Jesus to your heart and life through faith in Christ? As a believer in Christ, do you have something that is trying to hold onto your life or robbing  you of your abundant life in Christ? If so, it is a thieving spirit that has violated the blood-line of Christ, which was spilled for you, your family, and your life in this world.  

Remember to apply the blood; remind the enemy, who is trying to rob you in the spirit realm, that the blood of Jesus is against him as well. You took a stand of faith for your soul's salvation, now you must take another for your freedom in the area that Satan has stolen from you. The blood of Jesus is our freedom from the curse brought on by the sin of Adam and Eve. In Christ, you are blessed! Satan can't do anything about it!

I Plead the Blood of Jesus,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Righteous Shall Flourish

Psalms 92 : 12 - 15, The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. NKJV

Ephesians 4 : 11 - 15, And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ... NKJV

Paul tells us that Satan can appear as an angel of light in order to deceive people. You will know when something or someone is having an influence in your life if something happens or is said that forces you to make a decision. However, ask yourself one question before you decide. "Will this decision draw me closer to Christ or move me away from Christ?" We're told in Proverbs to guard our hearts with all diligence. Satan loves to use people and situations to test our "root system." If we don't know what the Lord's will and purpose for our lives are, or we don't know what the Word of God says about such decisions, then we leave ourselves prey to be deceived and led astray.

Young trees have "root balls" that pull nourishment from the earth beneath them. Large trees will have roots that grow at least to the edge of its longest limbs. The roots that are buried deep in the earth do more than provide the nutrients; they also keep it from being moved in a wind storm. Paul teaches us that Christians have been planted in Christ and placed under the leadership of His church for their spiritual growth and protection. The Lord has provided a safe place for believers to come and thrive so that they can become strong enough to withstand the temptations and the lies of the enemy out in the world. Paul uses the term "wind of doctrine" in his writings. This suggests that Satan's lies and/or man's lies will try to sway or move us away from the safety of God's covering. Even so, we must remain planted in Christ.

Our heavenly Father has placed us in Christ just like He placed trees in the earth so that we might grow up in Him and live a life of abundance. Since we're in this world, but not of the world because we're in Christ, then we will be able to produce spiritual fruit; we should not produce  works of the flesh in our walk with Christ. Throughout the Bible, we're instructed to dwell in the house of the Lord and to partake of His goodness, not of the world's sinful pleasures, in order that we might grow up. If we struggle to develop a "taste" for the Lord, we will fail to see His goodness, will remain weak and vulnerable to the doctrines of men, and will be swayed from the truth. 

There is one final thought I want to share with you that is the very key to your spiritual growth and protection. Satan loves to prey on people who rely on their intuition or "gut instincts" when it comes to discerning people's motives and agendas. Guarding our hearts might protect us from people we don't trust. However, Jesus was betrayed and denied by those who were closest to Him. Therefore, we must invest time in God's presence and in His Word  so that He might protect and keep us from greedy or vile people whose only motive is to rob us of our peace and faith in Christ.

Buried in Christ,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, February 3, 2012

Having Peace with God through Christ

Ephesians 2 : 13 - 16, But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. NKJV  

If religion is the solution to the issues that we are plagued with in the world, then how does one explain that religion has been the catalyst for the majority of history's conflicts and wars. The first murder in the Bible was over an offering unto the Lord between two brothers. The core reason for the violent act wasn't just over the offering. It was a result of God rejecting Cain's offering and accepting Abel's.   

When man rejects God by refusing to honor His Word, it opens a huge door for Satan to attack. It's not that God rejected Cain or us; however, God tells us that it is us who reject Him when we choose to sin in His sight. The world and its systems or kingdoms have rejected God because they refuse to abide by His kingdom principles. As a result, those who are caught up in the world's system look only to themselves and not God when they find themselves in a conflict or feeling threatened.  

When Jesus came to the earth as the embodiment of the Word, the world and the spirit of religion rejected Him. He was God incarnate or God in flesh. As God in the flesh, Jesus proved to us that it wasn't God the Father, who first rejected man, rather it was man, who had hardened their hearts toward Him. You see; Jesus wasn't born of the seed of a man. He was God's Seed in the earth. Therefore, He was truth incarnate and there was no sin in His heart or deceit in His mouth. Still, religion hated Him and sought many times to begin a conflict with Him in order to bring His life to an abrupt end. When God chose to wrap Himself in flesh, it took away the excuse man used to cover our sin.   

Because Jesus had no sin in Him, religious zealots could find no fault in which to base a case against Him. This is the reason they became infuriated at Him- He was exposing them for the sinners and deceivers whom they truly were in their hearts, and this threatened them.   

John 15 : 22 - 25, If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both, Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled, which is written in their law, 'They hated Me without a cause.' NKJV

Had Jesus been just a "good Man" or another "great prophet of God," they (and us) would have continued to blame one another for our faults. However,  Jesus, the Son of the living God, through the Word that He spoke on the earth has taken away man's excuse for their sin. It is at this point that I want to remind you of how Jesus never used His deity and purity of heart to condemn those who sought to condemn Him in order to destroy Him Instead, He showed sinners His greatest act of love on the cross, where he was hung without a cause. He said, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." Jesus didn't condemn the world; instead, He used what Satan meant for evil and turned their violent act of war into the greatest act of love known to mankind and forgave us all.   

When people reject God, who is our peace, they are choosing to live a life of war. Because they can't kill God, people will place blame and see other people as the source of their problems. Once this occurs, conflict usually follows. Jesus is the Prince of peace. Even so, He came to die for the sins of mankind so that we might have peace with God.  Therefore, you can clearly see that Christianity isn't a religion; it is based on a relationship. Once we're in Christ, we have been reconciled with God and have peace with Him.       

Do you have peace with God today? Please take some time and allow the Lord to reveal whether or not you really have peace with Him. If you discover that there is no peace in your heart, and you have lost most of your closest relationships while fighting for what you felt that you deserved, then ask the Prince of peace to forgive your sins and fill your heart with His presence and love. Now you can have love for your brothers and sisters and peace in your life.

He Is Our Peace,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Honoring the Goodness of God

Romans 2 : 1 - 5, Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? NKJV
How often do you take the time to recognize the goodness of the Lord in your life? Unfortunately, it's so easy for us to fall into a rut or routine and lose sight of His goodness. However, it is the goodness of God that makes our lives in this world enjoyable and, at times, even tolerable. Whenever life becomes trying or filled with pain, we can be reminded of and long for the days when life was better. Even so, let's learn something very important from this. It is when we recognize that our lives are filled with God's goodness that we most often forget to include Him in it. Further, when we forget God and then our lives take a turn for the worse, pain, and misfortune can grab our attention very quickly.
The purpose of this word today is to bring attention to the value that must be placed by believers on God's presence in our lives. I have heard it said that respect and honor must be earned, not given. However, that isn't the case...especially when it comes to God; we must become humble and give Him both respect and honor because of who He is. Even so, beyond that, God has sacrificed His Son, and Jesus gave His life for us while we were still sinners. Why did God pay such a high price for our soul's salvation? Through this one ACT of love, Jesus displayed the depth of His love for us in order that we might honor and respect God's goodness. Nevertheless, now that we are His people, it is incumbent upon us to honor His presence and not take for granted His goodness.

What exactly does His goodness do for those who have it on their lives? In Psalms 23, we see that goodness will follow those who place their complete trust in the Lord. They will be anointed with oil, which means God's presence will be smeared on their being. They will be filled with His divine nature and with the attributes that will attract overflow into their lives. He will cause them to have protection, provision, and the power to eat in the presence of their enemies. He will give them peace to lie down and nourishment to keep them built up both spiritually and physically.  

Here's a lesson that Israel learned the hard way, and we would be smart to heed the wisdom they gained instead of  making the same mistake. Israel saw the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. He brought them out of the land of bondage and through the Red Sea. He gave them water from the Rock and fed them with Manna from heaven. Nevertheless, they despised the goodness of the Lord in His sight because they chose to harden their hearts to the voice of God when He spoke to them concerning His commandments. They disdained the goodness of the Lord instead of honoring Him. As a result, they lost His goodness, which had held back sickness and disease. His presence had brought multiplied blessings upon them as the people of God. His presence had also kept the enemies of Israel at bay. One of the last points is probably the most important: When Israel chose to dishonor and rebel against the Lord, and showed contempt for His goodness, they lost His protection. The enemies of Israel took them into captivity because the spiritual protection of Israel was removed.
I really can't do justice in this short devotion on the goodness of God, but if you have breath today, then you have partaken of it already. The Lord isn't asking for much in comparison to what you will receive in return. All that He wants is for us to put Him first and to honor the gift of His goodness in our everyday lives. The goodness of God gives us the protection to live another day in the world,  the ability to fulfill His purpose, and the opportunity to give Him the glory He so richly deserves. Oh how I love Jesus!
Thanking God for His Goodness,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

By Invitation Only

Matthew 6 : 9 - 10, In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. NKJV

What do I mean when I say, "By invitation only"? The Holy Spirit is very gentle and sensitive. He will not come unless he is invited. In fact, the Lord told John to look for the presence of the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove as the very evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. Therefore, how important is it that we position ourselves in a way that invites the presence of God is in our lives? Let's go back and take a look.

In the beginning, God created man in His image, blessed them, and gave them control over the earth. The Lord wanted them to rule the earth in the same manner that He ruled in heaven. Unfortunately, Adam rebelled against God's authority in his life and lost his own dominion over the world.

As a result of Adam's rebellion, all of mankind was placed in bondage to sin and Satan. Adam's sin grieved the presence of God, and His presence lifted off them, allowing them to see their own nakedness and shame. It was shortly after the fall of man that God instituted the plan of redemption. His first redemptive act was to kill an innocent animal in order to cover the shame of man's nakedness. This covering was a shadow of what the blood of Jesus would do for our sin-ridden conscious under the new covenant.

Through the knowledge of sin, man lost the presence of God because sin grieves His presence. Sin is not a suitable atmosphere for the Lord. Therefore, as believers we must guard our hearts from indulging in the pleasures of this world so that we don't grieve or quench the presence of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus gave us the model prayer, He began by honoring the Lord's presence. Hallowed means to set apart from all other names or gods and to exalt His name above all others. After He spoke of honoring the name of the Lord, Jesus went on to say that we are to invite His kingdom or rule of authority to be done on earth as it already is in heaven. 

The body of Christ is in desperate need for the presence of God to return in great power. Therefore, we must first train ourselves to honor, revere, and esteem the name of the Lord in our lives through obedience to His Word and will. Secondly, we must create a pure and sacred place in which the presence of the Lord will feel welcomed. I used the word "feel" because He can be grieved and quenched. I have been in places with people where I was made to "feel" very unwelcome, and it wasn't comfortable for me.

Jesus gives us a clue in Matthew 5 as to how to become a vessel that honors and attracts the presence of God. He said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." We might not be perfect; we might not get everything right. Nevertheless, if we focus our heart's attention on hunger, then He has promised to fill our hunger and quench our thirst with His righteousness. Will you join with me in prayer that the hunger for God will return to the church, and His presence will once again fill the houses of worship in an unprecedented way?
"Holy Spirit, thou art welcome in this place."

Seeking the Presence of God,
Pastor Asa Dockery