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Monday, December 31, 2012

Where Was God When Lives Were Lost?

Genesis 3 : 6 - 9, So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" NKJV

In the aftermath of human suffering and loss, people seem to be compelled to turn to God. However, when I say, "Turn to God," I use that term loosely. In many cases when people ask, "Where was God when lives were lost?" they are only aiming to blame Him for someone else's wrong actions. If people don't know God or His Word because they have no desire or interest in doing so, then how can they ever understand why God does or does not do something? How can you explain why I do certain things if all you know about me is my name?

When Jesus was in Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" They answered Him and said, "Some say that you are John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others say that you are Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." Then Jesus turned to those who had been walking and living with Him and asked them the same question. Simon answered Jesus correctly because the Holy Spirit had revealed Jesus' spiritual identity to him. Simon said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

If we want to know where God was at a particular time in our history or why He allows death to invade society, then we must go to Him in humility and seek His answer; it is pointless to ask the world a question about God. The people in the world don't know God. Consequently, they seek only to place blame at His feet in order to shift responsibility on Him and away from them. Let's dig deeper into this subject and see what the Word of God has to say about God's whereabouts during times of human suffering.

In the scripture for today's word, you will see that God isn't present in body form to prevent Eve from acting on Satan's lies and committing sin. She acted of her own freewill. Even so, where was God? He had already given Adam both the commandment and the warning of what would happen should they disobey His directive not to eat to the forbidden tree. Nevertheless, in spite of God's will being expressed to Adam, and although he knew before sinning what the repercussions would be, he decided to please himself instead of God.

Consequently, as a result of Adam and Eve's decision to sin, death was released on mankind. We don't see it immediately in this chapter; nonetheless, if you read chapter 4, you will see that Cain kills Abel. The first account of murder in the Bible occurred shortly after man chose to sin against God. At this point, the world's media would appear on the scene and ask, "Where was God when this evil man, Cain killed his innocent brother?"

Have you noticed that their attention is always diverted "at" God, instead of turning to Him? When God appeared on the scene after Adam and Eve sinned, He asked Adam, "Where are you, Adam?" While we're asking God where He was during a time of devastation and great loss, God is asking those who have been given His Holy Spirit and His Word, "Where were you?"

The Bible tells us that while Satan was tempting Eve, Adam was standing right beside her. He shirked his duties of defending Eve and standing up for God's will and Word and, thereby, allowed sin and death to invade our world. Now, I want you to notice that there wasn't an immediate consequence to their sin; in other words, neither of them died immediately. Nevertheless, what Satan and the world doesn't want you to know, but God does, is that shortly after they committed sin, death took one of their sons; and they lost the closeness of the other son, who committed the heinous crime.

It has been said, "Evil thrives when good men do nothing." This saying still holds true today. God has placed His church on the earth, along with civil government, to protect and preserve life. However, all too often, both God-ordained establishments turn a deaf ear to God and the cries of the innocent as they suffer at the hands of evil people.

We can choose to turn a deaf ear to sin and corruption. We can even join in with those who blame God when tragedy strikes. Nevertheless, while we're tempting the Lord with our wicked ways, God is still asking us the same question that He asked Adam on the day he abdicated his authority. "Where were you when I asked you to pray, and seek My face, and turn from your evil ways, that I might forgive your sins and heal your land? You did not do as I asked; therefore, by doing nothing, you allowed destruction to come upon you."

Here is a passage of scripture that I have preached from on many occasions. It will help us know what our responsibility to God is while we're living on earth.

Ezekiel 3 : 16 - 21, Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. "Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul." NKJV

God does not want us to live with shame, regret, grief, and emotional pain over human suffering and loss. He wants us to stand in the gap and build up a hedge around our families, homes, communities, and our nations through righteous living and prayer. Let's keep those who have suffered the loss of family in the recent tragedies that have hit our land lifted in prayer. And let us never become as Adam, who silently stood by and did nothing. Ask the Lord for boldness to stand up in the evil day and be salt and light in the earth, and He will give it to you.

Taking a Stand for Righteous Living,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sound An Alarm In My Holy Mountain

Luke 12 : 42 - 48, And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. NKJV

We are truly living in the last of the days that lead to the returning of the Lord. We know this because we are witnessing the fulfillment of the prophecies that were foretold both by Jesus and many of the Old Testament prophets. Therefore, we, who have been born again, must guard our hearts so that we don't allow the world and its influences to derail us from being and remaining faithful until the Lord returns.

Remember, Jesus tells us that in the last days it will be like it was in the days of Noah before the flood. People will be eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage; nevertheless, they won't discern the times. For them, the Day of the Lord will come upon them as a thief in the night. They will be caught unaware. 

We are living in very troubling times. However, I'm not speaking of the violence and the threats of war that loom over us daily; I am just reiterating what the Bible has been saying all along. Times are troublesome because people are doing exactly as Jesus foretold in Matthew 24. Millions have lost the fear of the Lord; and, as a result, they're entering into temptation by disregarding God's Word and warnings. The Holy Spirit is prompting me to sound an alarm in His holy mountain (Joel 2).

America is at a crossroad. This country was founded upon the principles of God's Word. Consequently, these statutes are embedded in our constitution, as well as other civil documents that frame our government and beliefs as a "Christian" nation. It is because of its faith and willingness to live sacrificially unto God that He has caused His grace to shine on this nation and made it great.

Nevertheless, in recent decades, we have seen a "turning-away" from God and His Word in our nation. As a result, those who were previously committed to Christ and His service to God's kingdom have begun to cast off restraint, just as Jesus said in today's scripture. Pastors, ministers and churches are not adhering as closely to the true precepts and commands of God's Word as they once did. Both churches and society have become lax in upholding the Godly principles which cause and sustain life. The further our nation slips away from God's commands and the love for His kingdom, the more our nation descends into darkness and degradation. 

As Peter stated in his epistle, it is time for judgment to begin in the house of God. It's time we call ourselves back to living a life that is holy and acceptable before God. It's time for the church to become "salt and light" in the world again. We, the church are Christ's ambassadors; we possess the Word of life and Jesus' authority to exercise His will in the earth. I am very concerned (putting it lightly) that if we don't return to the Lord, we as a nation are headed into darker days and troubling waters. God is calling America and the churches in America to repentance and to "man" our posts in His kingdom. We must be about our Father's business. Therefore, we must forsake the allure and temptations of this evil world. Let us not get caught up in the widespread deception that is taking this world by storm. Instead, let us humble ourselves and pray, seek God's face, and turn from our wicked ways.

God doesn't want destruction to occur in America. Nevertheless, if we don't heed His warnings and pray for His protection to cover our sins, then what option will He have? He will have to allow the seeds we've sown in rebellion to produce corruption. 

God's heart is still for America, but He needs American Christians to wake up, rise up, and return to righteous living. He needs Christians in America to begin to pray and call on His name so that He can bless us with a mighty revival of repentance, like He did in Nineveh. God isn't willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. The Lord wants to find us as faithful and obedient stewards when He returns so that He can reward us for a job well done. It's a huge task, but know this: Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Let's ROLL!!!

Sounding An Alarm To The Church,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Weapon of Praise

2 Chronicles 20 : 14 - 17, Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, "Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you." NKJV

God has given His children the garments of praise so that we can overcome the spirit of heaviness. In the 2 Chronicles story today, we read that God instructed King Jehoshaphat to send people out in front of the warriors for the purpose of praising God. In the natural, this seems like a good recipe for disaster. However, in the spirit, it was instruction for victory without a fight.

Likewise, in church, we place much emphasis on praising the Lord. However, have we ever considered that praise is also prophetic? It is prophetic because we praise God for the victory before it is won. Let's take the example given in today's word about the King and the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. Can you imagine how strange it must have seemed to the king to send unarmed people to sing in front of the army that was to do battle? You might say that this took a great deal of faith in God. Isn't that exactly what praise is all about? We're not just singing our praises to God for what He has done on our behalf, we are also declaring victory over the battles that we haven't even encountered. We can do this because we know that the Lord is with us; He is fighting for us to ensure the victory that is needed for us to defeat our adversary, the Devil.

One of the hardest acts of faith as a believer is to praise God during a time of battle. As a pastor, I have seen in my own life how much of a struggle it has been at times to be engaged in a spiritual battle, knowing that I needed to praise God despite how things appeared in the natural. Nevertheless, I lifted my hands and praised the Lord for His goodness in my life. It's hard to praise God during conflicts and seasons of unrest because we are focused on the battle and not on the Lord. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to lay aside everything that may prevent us from running a successful race of faith. He also instructs us to keep our eyes on Jesus as we run. 

When we choose to focus on the Lord instead of looking at any impending danger, we are exercising our faith in God's faithfulness and goodness. When we praise Him, we are declaring prophetically that our God reigns over this battle and its outcome. This will invite God's presence into our conflicts enabling Him to destroy the works of the enemy and bring peace into the situation.

Let me challenge you today. If you're feeling weighted down by heavy burdens, or you're worried about a circumstance that is currently in your life, begin to praise the Lord and invite Him to fight your battles. At first, you may not "feel" anything. Nevertheless, as you lose yourself in God's presence, you will begin to sense God's Spirit stirring in your heart and empowering your praise to bring victory your way.

Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Discovering Our Liberty in Christ

2 Cor. 3: 17 - 18, Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. NKJV

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. There's far more to our salvation than just being saved. We know that our heavenly Father gave up His Son for us, and in turn, His Son, Jesus, gave up His life so that we could obtain life. However, Jesus also died so that we could be set free from the bondage of the flesh nature, which is rooted in fear. The Lord wants us SAVED and FREE, so we will serve His purpose in the earth, thereby demonstrating to the world how great our God really is.

Those operating according to the flesh nature (the world) want to hold us in bondage in order to gain control and exercise authority over us for their gain. However, God never intended for man to dominate man, even though He placed us under the authority of His leaders. God has placed the body of Christ under His ministers and governing authorities so that we have the freedom to become all that God intended for us from the foundation of the world. Does that mean that every person in authority will diligently serve God's intended purpose in our lives? No, it doesn't. Therefore, we must conclude that even though God has set us under the authority of leaders, we have the responsibility of seeking the Lord for His will in our lives, and it is our responsibility to obey Him in it. Why does God want us free from the fear of man and of being dominated, yet, at the same time, has placed us under governing authority? While God desires that we be free from bondage, He also understands that we are flesh and have a tendency to "do our own thing." As we submit to God's delegated authority in our lives, it assures us that we won't stray from God's protection. "Submit to God, resist the Devil, and he will flee from us.

Time and again, Jesus told His disciples and the Jews, who had believed on Him that they must continue in His Word. Even so, when we read the writings of the Apostles, it's obvious that they listened to His instructions. James tells us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only that we might not forget what manner of a person we are in Christ. Paul tells us not to grow weary while doing well, for in due season we will reap if we faint not. As we continue to abide in the Word through reading and obeying it, it will begin to liberate us. As we become liberated through God's Word from the fear, lusts, and the cares of this world, then the Holy Spirit will be given the opportunity to transform us into the image of Christ. God never intended for us to be in bondage to anyone. However, He commands us to love one another and to bear one another's burdens. As we continue to be liberated through obedient faith and are transformed by the Spirit of God into the image of Christ, we will be a true reflection of Christ to the world.  

Letting the Light of Christ Shine Through,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Full of Light

Ephesians 5 : 8 - 12, For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. NLT

According to Paul, who was writing to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, we are vessels that are full of God's light. When the light of God's Word enters our hearts, it changes us from the inside out. Even though His light shines in our hearts as His children, we must still seek to know His ways so that we can live in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Paul teaches us that the Word of God is not only truth, which educates us according to the ways of God, but it is also light. Light reveals what has been hidden in darkness and exposes the lies of the enemy. As we become one with the Word of God, our behavior and attitude should begin to reflect a change as well. In as much as we desire to obey the Word, we are choosing to walk in the light. We must learn to be honest with God and with ourselves if we want our lives to change.  

Paul goes on to write that once we become established in the truth, and it reflects in our behavior, then we are to rebuke and expose the evil deeds of others, which are done in secret. There are two ways you can expose and rebuke others who are in your life who practice evil deeds in secret. You can share truths from the Word of God that speak directly to their evil deeds and pray that God reveals the light of the gospel to them. You can also live in such a way before God and others that they see the light of God in you, and it brings conviction upon their sinful hearts of unbelief.  

Jesus commands us to let our lights so shine before men that they might see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven. As Christians, we must be careful that others see our actions of faith as carried out through love and not in condemnation. We are to lead people to "Living Water" by making them thirsty for Him in the way that we live and love God. Didn't Jesus call us the salt of the earth? Salt gives food flavor, but it will also produce a thirst in those who taste it. Therefore, we must season our words and actions with His love so that others will desire more of God. Do you remember how you came to the saving knowledge of Christ? More than likely, it was because you developed a thirst for righteousness and a hunger for truth in your heart. Once you hungered and formed a thirst for Christ, you were filled with His Spirit.  

It's high time the body of Christ raised the standard of righteousness in our world. May the Lord have mercy on us and help us to grow to be who He intended us to become and to achieve in the earth all that He has called the body of Christ to accomplish. Do you have peace in your heart about the way you live your life before the Lord? If not, then today can be the beginning of a new way of living for you. If we will confess our faults before Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

Walking in the LIGHT,
Pastor Asa

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Christmas Prayer for You

Luke 1: 30 - 38, Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy one who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." NKJV

The very first story that is told in the Bible is the account of creation. God looked at His creation and saw that there was a void in the earth. Something catastrophic had occurred leaving the earth formless and void. However, if you read the story found in Genesis one, you will see that God was restoring and filling the earth with living vegetation and living creatures. Throughout the Word of God, we can see God at work restoring the earth and the lives that had been devastated by the evils of sin.

Since the fall of man, mankind has had a void in their hearts. The fall caused us to become separated from the very presence of God. As a result of that void, people have pierced themselves through with many sorrows in their effort to fill that void with something other than the presence and life of God. Although sin originally separated us from the life of God, it did not separate us from the love of God. The love of God overcame His wrath against sin and caused Him to send His Son to earth.

For God so loved the "world" that He sent us His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. God created a void in heaven and filled the womb of a virgin on earth. What is so amazing and glorious about this virgin conceiving and giving birth to the Christ-child is the truth that she didn't need a man in order to obey God's will. When Mary heard the angel tell her about God's plan to allow her to bring forth the Christ into the world, she agreed with His Word instead of doubting it. As a result of her faith and willingness to agree with God, the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and the formation of Jesus began in her womb. 

This event of Mary becoming the Mother of God is the greatest story of all time. Many traditions and forms of celebrations have arisen over the centuries to commemorate that joyous occasion. Over two-thousand years later, people celebrate the birth of Christ and remember how God filled the void in man by first filling the womb of a virgin without the aid of a man. The lesson that we need to learn from the method God used to send His Son to man is very important. God shows us through the immaculate conception of His Son that we don't need man to partake or to enjoy His goodness and life in our lives. In fact, the more we try to add "man's ways" to the gift of God's Son and the celebrations that surround this blessed event, the less we will be able to experience the liberty of His gift.

In what should be a fulfilling and heart-warming season, we are witnessing an upswing of anxiety, depression, and despair in more and more people because of the "frenzy" that is brought on by a world that overshadows and surrounds this sacred event. As Christmas, which is the celebration of the birth of Christ, becomes more and more about something else, disastrous results can occur. Anytime something is misused or misrepresented, such as Christmas has been by the world, it will also alter the intended purpose, and the results of the season that surrounds it.

Christ was sent to earth to fill the void that was caused by man turning his heart on God. If we should turn our hearts toward the world's view of Christmas at the expense of not having Christ as the focal point, then the season won't have the power to fill the void in our hearts. Remember, it was Satan convincing Eve that she could find fulfillment outside of God's will that formed the void to begin with.

The "Christmas" that the world portrays will leave you empty and hurting. However, the CHRIST-mas that is spoken of in Luke 1 will fill your hearts and lives with great joy, whether you have a worldly Christmas or not. Always remember that nothing can replace Christ and the joy that He gives to the human heart. It's good to share our love through gifts and Christmas get-togethers, but our love didn't empty heaven in order to fill the hearts of mankind. It was God's love that did that. 

If you have to be away from your family and the ones who mean the most to you this Christmas, instead of looking at what you don't have, begin to thank God for the Christ that is always with you and allow Him to fill that void in your heart with His presence. Doesn't the Bible teach us that when we have Christ in us, we have the "HOPE OF GLORY?" Christmas and hard times come in seasons. Christ is year-round and will never forsake you, especially in your darkest valleys. If you are hurting this Christmas because of lack, separation, or the loss of a family member, then invite the Lord to fill that void with His comfort, peace and love. 

I want to thank you personally for allowing this ministry to be a part of your life this past year. Today, I pray that God will heal the brokenness in your life and fill your heart with His comfort and joy. May the Holy Spirit surround you wherever you might be this week and cause you to know that He loves you. May the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. 

Fill in the blank. MERRY _______________mas. It isn't the same without Christ.

Merry Christmas Y'all,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, December 21, 2012

God's Amazing Love

Romans 8 : 34 - 39, Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. NKJV

There's no possible way for us as humans to describe fully the love that God has for us. The purpose of today's thoughts isn't a veiled attempt to excuse sin, but rather to use what we, as former sinners, have gone through to illustrate further the experience and depths of God's love. The first account of God's love in the Bible is found in Genesis 2, where God provided the needs of Adam and Eve. All that mankind needed was supplied for them by the Lord God. Consequently, we can look at God's provision and better understand His love for us. Everything is fine until we get to the part in the story of God's love for us where man decided to take advantage of Him and His graciousness, and they chose to sin.

What would be the outcome of such a damnable decision? Would God choose to love mankind even after Adam and Eve ignored the goodness of God and decided to choose sin and its consequences over the bountiful blessings of the Lord? If you read the rest of the story in Genesis 3, you will see where God looked at the fallen state of man and made the choice to kill an innocent animal in order to cover the nakedness and shame of the fallen couple. This action was the first indication that God chose to continue displaying His love for the man whom He had created to be in His image and likeness. In order to justify and to cover the sins of the guilty, it required the life of an innocent animal. Where is the justice in this? Why did an innocent creature of God have to give its life so that a person who had consciously and deliberately chosen to sin could have his shame covered? We see now, that in order for God to love fallen man, it would come at a high price to God and creation, but it was a COST (CROSS) that God was willing to pay in order to show us the depth of His love for us, as sinners.

Jesus tells us in John 8 that Satan was a murderer from the beginning. We know this by the account of man's choice to sin and die. Nevertheless, it was God, who took the first life. For the first time in the Word of God, we see the exchange of a life for souls. Does this mean that we can continue in sin and allow God to kill innocent lives to restore us... and through these continued sacrifices, witness the depths of God's love for us as sinners? I echo the words of the Apostle Paul,  "Absolutely not!!!"

This is where repentance enters the story of God's love for fallen man. When God came to Adam and asked him if he had eaten of the forbidden tree, God was giving man an opportunity to confess his sins and "get right." Instead, Adam chose to deny his actions and blamed them on his wife. If we should deny that we have sin, the Apostle John tells us that the truth is not in us, and we are liars. However, he also says, if we confess our faults to God that He is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Therefore, when you and I sin, we must look at God's love as a way OUT OF SIN and not the means to remain in sin, lest we perish in sin.

Does God love obedient children? Yes. Does that mean that God doesn't love disobedient children? No. Sin has cost God the life of His Son on earth. Consequently, because of sin, we, who didn't know the righteousness of God, have now become the righteous seed of God in the earth through Jesus. We have also become recipients of God's love at a much deeper level. Sin cost us everything. Even so, it cost God even more. We, who have chosen to REPENT of our past mistakes and failures, will never pay for one sin by going to HELL. Christ had to pay the price for us as the Last Adam, and through His life, God's wrath has been forever appeased.  

By Grace through Faith Are We Now saved,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, December 20, 2012

His Eyes Are on the Sparrow

Matthew 6 : 25 - 26, Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? NKJV

On occasion, the Lord will allow me to have a special encounter with Him. He does this just to let me know that He is with me and my family. Yesterday, while I was sitting in a drive-through lane, my thoughts were drawn to the way God provides for animals in the wild. Though it may seem strange now, at the moment it was just a normal train of thought. As I pondered on God's love and ability to care for and provide food for all the animals in the wild, my mind took another direction. Without me knowing it, the Holy Spirit was about to show me a deeper realm of God's love for us, His children. I began to think about the difference between wild animals and those who are domesticated. Animals that are in captivity, such as are in zoos, have to wait for the appointed time for someone to feed them. Instead of them going out and hunting their food, they have to depend on someone to bring them nourishment. However, the animals that are in the wild have the freedom to eat on their own schedule, provided there is food available. 

After this series of thoughts had gone through my mind, the Lord said to me, "When people depend on others to provide for them, it places them in bondage to them. However, when men trust in the Lord to provide, as Jesus taught them to do in today's passages, they are free from dependence." Our heavenly Father doesn't want us to live in bondage to fear over whether our needs will be met. 

I was enjoying being taught by the Lord at the drive-through; however, the best thing about this experience was about to be revealed to me. As I pulled up to the pay-window, the waitress told me that the person in front of me had paid for the meal. At that moment, I realized that God was teaching me to trust Him for our needs. Instead of just using scripture, God proved His love for me by having someone else meet the need. Do you suppose it was a coincidence that I was thinking about God providing for humans and animals, and then He had a person take care of our meal? No, it was ordained.

Instead of living in servitude to worry, we must simply trust in our heavenly Father to take care of us and our needs. Worry has never supplied one need in my life, and it hasn't taken care of you either. Instead of living in bondage, God wants us to remain free of fear by trusting in Him to provide.

The next time you're at a drive-through window, and you hear the Holy Spirit instruct you to pay for the person behind you, obey Him. One small gesture of love can be used by the Lord to impact that person's life in a powerful way and perhaps even to change their perception of God.

Free Does Taste Better,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

God Will Empower You to Succeed

2 Corinthians 12 : 7 - 9, And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." NKJV

Even though our souls have been saved from sin, our flesh nature still must be crucified daily. Therefore, lest Paul be tempted to exalt himself, he was given a thorn in his flesh; a messenger of Satan was sent to buffet him. The word buffet means to rap with a fist (to punish.) We know what the thorn was because Paul tells us later in this chapter that he gladly suffered persecutions, infirmities, and distresses. Consequently, here is what the Lord wanted me to share with you: Paul's thorn was in his flesh... not in his spirit. 

Paul repeatedly asked the Lord to remove the thorn. Nevertheless, the Lord told Paul that His grace was sufficient and His strength was made perfect in Paul's weakness. Although he had to deal with the demonic forces against him, Paul never allowed the attacks to keep him from obeying God. He understood what Jesus meant when He told him that His grace was enough. Instead of taking the thorn away, Jesus chose to give Paul the grace to endure it.

When Jesus died on the cross, He didn't die to take away our flesh, but rather to take away our sins. However, now that we've been redeemed from the curse of sin and death, Jesus has given us His grace so that we can overcome the weaknesses of our flesh nature. We have been empowered to trust God to bring us through the trials of this life. 

Why didn't Jesus answer Paul's request and take away the thorn? Did Jesus want Paul to be tormented to death by the messenger of Satan? He absolutely did not! Jesus wanted Paul to use God's grace to overcome his flesh and to defeat the demonic force that was at work there. Our flesh nature is by far our worst enemy. If we should refuse to face our greatest fears and opponents through God's grace, then we won't know what Christ is capable of performing through our obedience. 

Jesus told both His disciples, who were with Him, and us, who read His words in scripture that if we desire to come after Him, we must first deny our "self" nature. God gives every single believer the grace to deny self. As we obey the Lord through God's grace, despite the thorns in our flesh, His strength empowers us to overcome all spiritual attacks and obstacles. 

We're in a spiritual war, and we can't win it apart from God's grace. Nevertheless, because of Jesus and all that He has done on our behalf, we don't have to fight the good fight of faith without God's grace. You can't do God's work in the strength of your flesh; nonetheless, you can overcome any weaknesses of the flesh nature through His strength, thus bringing Him glory in your life. Now, is there anything that stands in the way of you obeying God's will? If you have examined your heart, and you have found that there is an obstacle, submit it to Christ as Paul did in today's scripture; then go out and obey God's will "anyway." You will find that the power of God is with you, and you will overcome the enemy. 

You Can Do This,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Breaking the Chains of Fear

Hebrews 2 : 14 - 15, Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. NKJV

Even though we are Christians, if we allow it, fear will still hold us in bondage. Therefore, we must not allow it to rule in our hearts and impact our decisions. When we're in bondage, we are a slave to someone or something against our will. Many people, including Christians are living in bondage to various things in their lives; however, the root cause is fear. Fear is the metaphorical chain that holds people captive. If we ever break the chain of fear, then we can walk out of the pit of bondage and live in freedom.

To understand fear, we have to trace its point of origin. Since God created both male and female in His own image and likeness, we know that He did not give us the spirit of fear. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul taught Timothy that God didn't give us the spirit of fear. Therefore, we know that fear didn't come from God. In today's scripture, we read that Jesus, our High Priest had to become flesh and blood so that, through death, He would destroy him (Satan) who had the power of death. Consequently, those who, through fear of death, live their lives subject to bondage are released from it . Is there any bondage in your life? If so, then know that you have a chain called fear holding you prisoner to that particular oppression. 

Let's explore how fear originated and how it found a way to fill the hearts of all humans. Fear is first mentioned in God's Word after Adam and Eve listened to and obeyed Satan's lies; it was their belief in the Devil's lies that produced fear. Nevertheless, fear didn't manifest in either of them until they heard the voice of the Lord God approaching them in the garden. Because they were afraid that God would discover their sin, they were scared to be truthful with Him about what they had done. Fear prevented them from doing the "right" thing in God's sight. 

Even though God didn't give them the spirit of fear, it never manifested in their hearts and in their emotions, until "after" they came into the presence of God. When you and I get in an emotional state where we can't stand to be in God's presence or find the courage to hear His voice and obey Him, then we are living in bondage to fear; and we are in need of deliverance.  When we read Genesis 3, we see that God never condemned Adam and Eve for their sin. Nevertheless, they were fearful of His presence. Why were they afraid of God? It wasn't so much that they were scared of Him; they were fearful of death. God had warned Adam before he ate of the forbidden fruit that he would die. 

The point that we're to take away from today's devotion is this: It's not God or His presence that is causing us to be afraid. However,  it is fear that prevents us from placing the faith in God that is needed to set us free from fear and liberate us from bondage. The Bible says that we will all die, and after death, we will have to face judgment. Even so, we don't have to fear death or judgment because Jesus has already paid the price for our sins. Now we can live free from the fear of death; and can obey God through our faith in Jesus. All God's children have a decision to make. Will we allow faith, or will we allow fear to rule our hearts?

When we choose to live by faith and obey God's instructions, even in the face of fear, we are choosing to live a life of freedom. Fear will rob us of a life well lived, but it doesn't have to be this way. Just remember, when you believe God, it will release faith, but when you choose to believe the enemy, it will produce fear. Whose report are you going to believe? Choose to believe the report of the Lord so that you can have an abundant life in Christ.

I Can Do All Things through Christ,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, December 17, 2012

Walking in the Favor of God

Philippians 4: 19 - 20, And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. NKJV

There is only one way that we can have ALL of our NEED supplied. When Paul wrote this passage, he wasn't just referring to material needs. We know this because he used ALL in reference to what God was able and willing to do regarding the needs of His children. 

Today, I want to share with you a principle from God's Word that will build faith in your heart to believe God for all of your needs to be met. We know from the Word of God that He requires us to have faith and to exercise it, in order to please Him. We can be assured that God has always taken care of us, whether we have acknowledged Him, or not. Nevertheless, now that we are His children and have placed our faith in His Son- Jesus, we have a heavenly Father who takes great delight in blessing us.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 2, "By grace we have been saved through faith." James also teaches us in his epistle that God gives grace to the humble; and He opposes the proud. When we've humbled ourselves and committed our lives to Christ, God gives us His grace. Another term for grace is unmerited or unearned favor. The favor of God is upon your life now. You may be wondering, "What does the favor of God have to do with meeting my needs?" How can His favor supply all of my needs? 

 Psalm 24 teaches us that the earth belongs to the Lord and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. Since it all belongs to the Lord, He can give whatever he wills to whomever He desires. Because we are His children and have found favor in His sight, if we will look to Him and not man to supply our needs, He will give us favor with people; and they will sow into our lives.

Do you remember when God told Moses to lead His people out of Egypt? He told Him to instruct the women to borrow jewelry, gold, and silver from the Egyptians. Did you know the Egyptians actually gave the Jews their wealth? Doesn't that story just amaze you? Egypt was suffering greatly as a result of the God of Israel, but they still gave their wealth over to the Jews. I would definitely call that divine favor. 

Like me, you have probably looked at your check book or bank records, reflected on all that you had been able to accomplish over a period of time and then realized that the numbers just didn't add up. How is it that you could accomplish all that you did with that amount of money? Let's see; if you struggle with worrying about tomorrow's troubles, then what I'm about to share will help you. When you look at your income, and you know that it wasn't enough to fulfill all of your obligations and needs, there is only one answer; the favor of God is on your life. God made a way for you at the very moment you needed it because your trust was in Him and not in man. God's favor makes up for any shortage or unexpected liabilities that we may incur. However, we have to humble ourselves under His mighty hand and wait on Him to meet our needs.

You see; there is yet one more reason not to worry about tomorrow's troubles because you know that God's favor will meet you when tomorrow arrives. Always remember that God gives grace/favor to those who are humble and wait on Him. When God blesses you, His favor doesn't have sorrow with it. In other words, you don't have to pay Him back with interest like you would have to do with a financial institution.

Let me share a brief testimony that will build your faith. Recently, there has been a rash of burglaries involving local churches. As a result of the threat of loss and to protect the church, we began to seek bids for security cameras. I had gone to the bank to ask for a loan, and the officer of the bank said that they could help us purchase the cameras. However, after this meeting, the Holy Spirit prompted me to wait and trust the Lord to supply the need. When I told our congregation about the need, someone gave one-thousand dollars, which was only fifteen percent of the need. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit kept assuring me that God was going to meet THE ENTIRE NEED. A couple of weeks later, on a Wednesday night, someone wrote a check for five-thousand dollars. The Lord showed the church His divine favor, and it didn't cost the ministry a dime of interest. The cameras are ordered and on their way. To God be all the glory. What need are you unable to meet today? Place your complete trust in the Lord. 

God Supplies ALL Our Needs,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, December 14, 2012

Being Enlightened by the Holy Spirit

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

Welcome to a new day to live out the plan of God for your life and to glorify your Lord. However, we don't always know what His plan is. Even so, not knowing is a good thing because it keeps us looking to God for wisdom and direction, especially when we encounter a trial or setback that wasn't expected. Have you had "the unexpected" happen in your life recently? Have you been blind-sided by a situation that has caused you to lose sight of the path for your life? If this describes where you are in your walk with Christ, then Paul has given us an answer in today's scripture that will assist us when we go through dark seasons and blinding tragedies in life. Nevertheless, first, let's lay some foundation so that you will have a better understanding of it. 

If you read Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve partook of the tree of knowledge, you will discover that their eyes were opened, and they became self-conscious. Just as the serpent had predicted, they had gained an understanding of good-and-evil. I have always found this portion, "the eyes of them both were opened," of scripture interesting, since they could already see. Consequently, we know that Moses was alluding to the eyes of their understanding and not their physical sight. Once man had partaken of sin, we became aware of a fallen world, and in exchange, we lost God-consciousness, in the way that Adam and Eve had only known.

This brings us to the scripture for today's devotion found in Ephesians 1. When we rejected sin and believed on Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord, our heavenly Father gave us the Holy Spirit. Through Him, we have the ability once again to know God and learn about His ways and to see God without the use or benefit of our physical, human eyes for sight. Besides our eyesight, we also have what Paul described as "eyes of our understanding." When Adam and Eve sinned, mankind lost the understanding that allowed us to see or perceive God and to trust in Him even though He is invisible to the human eye.  

You may be asking, "Why is this information important to me as a Christian?" As you face dark seasons in your life, where it seems as though the Light of God's presence has been extinguished, or you are blind-sided by tragedy, you don't have to allow yourself to feel isolated, lonely, or abandoned by God anymore. Since becoming a child of God and receiving the Holy Spirit, you now have someone who will remain with you through every season of your life. He will be there when this world goes "dark and cold" to reassure and comfort you.  

It is during the trying times of life that humans can lose all hope. However, once we accept Christ and receive the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit gives us enlightenment. He does this so that we will have hope in our heart to stand, when it appears that in the natural, physical realm, there is no hope to be found. We must, at that moment, decide to either look to God or look at our circumstances. If we will choose to take our eyes off what is seen and begin to trust in the unseen God, who dwells within us, then He can begin to enlighten our understanding and lead us on in our walk of faith. Through the truths that God has given, we all can learn to lean more on the God of hope during times of isolation and heartache. We can know that we have a hope and a future, even when it seems as though all hope is gone. Allow the Lord to enlighten your understanding and to lead you into greener pastures and a greater hope in Christ. Remember, this world is not our final destination. We're just passing through on our way to an eternal reward in Christ.

Seeing the Invisible through Eyes of Faith,
Pastor Asa

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When God Does a Deep Work in You

Hebrews 12: 11 - 14, Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: NKJV

Did you know that God is at work in your life today? Paul tells us in Philippians 1: 6 that He (God) who has begun a good work in you will perform until the day of Jesus Christ. After you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord, your heavenly Father began, at that very moment, to work all things together for your good. You may not know why you're going through the circumstances you're facing, but you can be sure of one thing; God is using it to cause you to mature spiritually. 

Just like me, I'm sure you have had some setbacks, some disappointments, and some losses that didn't make sense at the time. Even so, I have discovered that those were the seasons in my life when God was doing the deepest work in my heart. Many times, we can only see what we have to face or endure at the moment; we don't always realize the work that is taking place within us. Nevertheless, others will witness a change in us. 

Now that we've established the fact that God is very much at work in our lives, let's address the reason for this work. We know that God is transforming us into the image of Christ through our suffering. However, He is also preparing us to fulfill His purpose in the earth. Has the Lord ever instructed you to obey a specific instruction or direction for your life, but you felt so overwhelmed by it that you ignored Him? Most of will have to answer, "Yes," to that question. When God told Moses to deliver the people of Israel out of Egypt, he responded to God with doubt about his abilities. As a result of Moses's low self-esteem and lack of faith, God began to show him a series of miracles. God did this work in Moses's presence so that Moses would know God and would place his trust in Him. These miracles produced faith in Moses so that he could step out in faith in God's ability... and not consider his own inability. As we know, Moses successfully brought God's people out of bondage.

I want to give you one more example of when God had to do a deep work in a person's heart before He could get him to agree to fulfill God's purpose through him. Jonah was a preacher whom God had chosen to deliver a message of warning and repentance to a country called Nineveh. We know that Jonah was very reluctant and even rebellious toward God's instructions to warn Nineveh of the impending destruction against their nation. It was because he ran from the presence of God, instead of humbling himself, that God caused some events to transpire in Jonah's life that weren't so favorable. While he was on a boat and on the run from God, God caused a storm to be stirred up so that the men on the boat feared for their lives. As a result of this storm, the men realized that Jonah had brought this trouble upon them. Therefore, they agreed to throw the evangelist overboard into the sea.

When they cast Jonah out of the boat, he sank to the depths of the sea and drowned. He literally died while he was on the bottom; nevertheless, God caused a great fish to swallow him. Jonah remained there for three days; and on the third day, God had the fish vomit him up on the shore. It was after these unfortunate events that Jonah obeyed God. Which do you believe was tougher in the natural for Jonah to do? Was it harder for him to endure the experience in the sea or to obey God? To me, it would seem much easier to warn a nation than to have to face death and be swallowed by a fish. However, the Lord instructed me to use Jonah's story as an example to establish a spiritual principle about obedience. Like Jonah, many times, we would rather face the sea than to obey God's instructions because we are in need of God's work inside our hearts. 

Peter tells us not to think it strange when we find ourselves in the midst of a fiery trial. Peter had learned that as a servant of Christ, we have to endure seasons when God has to work "in" us so that He can work "through" us. By knowing this truth today, you should be filled with joy, even though in the physical, you still have to face hard situations. God is working it all together for your good. He will get the glory in the end... and you will obtain the victory. 

Walking By Faith,
Pastor Asa Dockery