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Thursday, February 28, 2013

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 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Word Is a Light unto Your Path

Hebrews 3: 7 - 13, Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'" Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. NKJV

 Romans 1 and Hebrews 10 teaches us that "the just" shall live by faith. Consequently, the only way our souls can live (eternal life) is when we choose to walk out our faith in Christ. Even so, how do we live by faith? Paul tells us in Romans 10: 17 that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. However, notice that Paul didn't say faith comes by hearing the Word of God... as some might believe. He said that faith comes by "hearing," but "hearing" comes from us getting in God's Word. In other words, if you want to hear God's voice and receive faith by hearing Him speak to you, then you must study His Word and learn God's language. God will never speak anything to you that would contradict His written Word. Therefore, if we walk by faith by keeping God's Word and by fulfilling His purpose in our lives, then we are walking with God. By faith, Enoch walked with God.  

However, if we decide to harden our hearts to the voice of the Lord, then we are making a dangerous decision to distance ourselves from God. Many times in God's Word we are told that if we hear, heed, and obey the voice and the commands of the Lord, our souls shall live. Nonetheless, what if we should decide that instead of fully obeying God's Word, we will keep only the parts that suit our fleshly ways and desires? Then we are choosing to distance ourselves from God, who is life to us. Separating ourselves from the Word allows death to enter our souls. Paul tells us in Galatians, "He (she) who sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption." We can't disobey God in order to obey our fleshly whelms, and then not expect to reap the wages of our sins. If we practice self-justification, we are deceiving ourselves. 

If we truly desire to walk closely with God, then we must keep His Word hidden in your hearts through consistent obedience. Like Enoch, we must walk with God until the Lord takes us. We must not be like the Israelites, who told Moses to speak to God for them, and they would follow God from a distance. We're told in Psalms 103 that Moses knew the ways of God, but Israel only knew the acts of God. No one can know the ways of God, unless they continually obey His Word, and then take the time to be intimate in prayer with Him.  

Since the children of Israel decided to harden their hearts whenever the Holy Spirit spoke to them, they kept themselves from knowing the ways of God. You may be asking, "Why is it is so important for God's people to know the ways of God?" The answer is in today's scripture. God said, "They always go astray in their hearts because they have not known My ways." The writer also warns new covenant believers to beware lest we depart from the living God because of an evil heart of unbelief. If we should decide, as the Israelites did, to disobey God's voice and harden our hearts through self-justification, then we, too, will stray from the Lord in our hearts. Only by reading and applying God's Word to our everyday lives will be able to draw closer to God. There is no other way.

Seeking a Closer Walk with God, 
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is God Pleased With Us?

Psalms 95: 6 - 11, Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: "Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, when your fathers tested Me; they tried Me, though they saw My work. For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, 'It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'" NKJV

As I was praying in preparation for a service at church, the Holy Spirit told me, "There are some (leaders and believers) in the body of Christ, who have received instructions from Him; nevertheless, they've chosen to ignore His will."  He also said, "Those who are currently choosing to turn a deaf ear are doing so because of the deceitfulness of sin. They are rejecting the truth and believing a lie because they want to fulfill their own lusts instead of the will of God." 

When Christians choose to disobey God's voice, their hearts become hardened. The harder their hearts become, the less they will view sin as sin; they will begin to accept it as normal behavior. Sin becomes tolerated in the church when Christians justify disobedience. 

No Christian, who is truly born again, and who loves Jesus with all their heart intends to sin against God. However, many believers regularly sin inadvertently through the avenue of self-justification. Let me give you a perfect example: King Saul was told by Samuel, the prophet that he would return after seven days; and before the king and Israel's army went to battle, he would offer a sacrifice unto the Lord. Nonetheless, after the period of time had elapsed, Samuel was detained. In the meantime, King Saul noticed that his men were fearful because the Philistines far outnumbered them. As a result of this, the men began to scatter; and this caused fear to fill the heart of King Saul. 

Thus, King Saul, being motivated by fear demanded that the sacrifice be offered unto the Lord without Samuel...since Samuel delayed his return. However, when Saul gave up the offering unto the Lord, Samuel came and witnessed Saul's sin against the Lord's instruction. Samuel told the king that God doesn't take delight in burnt offerings and sacrifice, but His delight is in His people obeying His voice or instructions. It was fear that motivated King Saul to sin against the Lord. However, in Saul's mind, he had justified being disobedient (sinning) because Samuel didn't return; and he was losing control of his men. Self-justification caused Saul to harden his heart against the Lord's commands. Consequently, Saul acted in his own strength to try to appease God through works of the flesh. 

Whenever we seek to justify our wrong actions or disobedience to God's Word or instructions, we are hardening our hearts through unbelief and turning a deaf ear to God. Once our hearts are hardened in unbelief, we will consider another way, just as King Saul did to try to appease the Lord; and, we will have just fallen into the trap of the deceitfulness of sin. Here is a scripture that will verify my statement:

Hebrews 3 : 12 - 13, Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. NKJV

By this scripture, we can understand how Christians turn and walk away from God and their relationship with Jesus when they harden their hearts and justify being disobedient to God. When we justify our rebellion, our hearts are open to the acceptance and tolerance of sin. Our hearts will then grow cold toward God's presence and His convicting power. Hence, we have entered dangerous spiritual waters. James tells us that when we are hearers of God's Word, but we're not doers of the Word, then we will fall into self-deception. It is call "deceitfulness of sin" for a good reason; sin that becomes justified is deceitful and will lead sincere and well-intended Christians down a path to destruction. In other words, sin doesn't look like sin to us when our own evil actions in disobedience to God are justified by us as obedience. 

Christians ask me quite frequently how America has gotten in the condition that she is in right now. They also want to know why the church world is being apathetic about the decline of our nation. I'm sure this same question can be asked of any nation in the world. Even so, the Holy Spirit is giving us the understanding to this dilemma. He said, "It is called self-justification." We're told in 2 Chronicles 7: 14, if we will turn from OUR WICKED WAYS, God will hear our prayers. "Our wicked ways," is another term for self-justification. 

Has the Holy Spirit instructed you to do something, and you didn't exactly agree with His will? And, consequently, you sought another way to obey Him... other than by faith? The only way to please or agree with God is through faith, and obedience is the only way to walk by faith. It's time for us (Christians) to repent of the sin of self-justification and return to the Lord through obedient faith. In so doing, we will gain blessings and eternal rewards both for our nations and our own lives. 

May the Lord Grant Us Repentance, 
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, February 25, 2013

Liberated to Succeed

Luke 1 : 68 - 75, "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham: to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. NKJV

God sent Jesus into the world to set us free from the bondage of sin and fear. In Christ, we have been liberated to serve God. However, even though I understand what it means to be in Christ by faith in the realm of the spirit, I also understand that I live in a fallen world with many traps, snares, and ploys. What God has spoken over us in Christ is genuine; therefore, it will be equally true in the natural realm when we choose to act in faith on God's Word or instructions. When we obey the Lord and keep His Word, we are walking by faith. Consequently, we have the power to overcome this world...and all its entanglements. Even so, how will we truly know we have been made free if we never have to face spiritual opposition? If we have been liberated from our enemies and from fear as today's scripture declares, then we will continue to walk by faith, thereby overcoming every obstacle and temptation.

John tells us in his epistle that our victory over the world is found only in our faith in Christ. If you and I have placed our faith in Jesus as our personal Savior, then we will overcome this world. To overcome this world means that we won't allow anyone or anything to prevent us from obeying God and from continually walking by faith. Jesus is always our best example. Many times He was tempted and tried, yet He NEVER got off focus. He didn't allow anything or anyone to distract or derail Him from fulfilling God's plan. As a result of His continued obedience and dedication to His heavenly Father, He overcame EVERY weapon and enemy that opposed Him while He was on earth. Many times Jesus was challenged by religious leaders and was often called a blasphemer because He declared to them that He was the Son of God. However, all they really needed to do to prove whether or not Jesus was indeed the Son of God was to stand back and see if He overcame every temptation, snare, weapon, and human weakness that were required to fulfill all the prophecies that were spoken of the Messiah.  If they had watched with an open heart, they would have seen that He was the only- begotten Son of God. 

Shortly before Jesus was crucified He made a statement in John 14: 30 - 31, I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. NKJV

Jesus gives us the key to having faith and to knowing how to use our faith to overcome Satan and the trappings of this world so that we can live victoriously in Him. He said that Satan was coming to try Him, but he had nothing in Him. In other words, Jesus was ALL love. He loved the Father more than His own life on this earth. Therefore, since Jesus loved the Father with all that was within Him, Satan could find no fleshy ways in Jesus that would attract or lure Him away from living solely for the Father's pleasures. 

You may be thinking, "I could never be so sold out or committed that I could overcome like Jesus did." However, it's a choice of our will. We've already established that God has made us completely free in Christ. We've also concluded that since we have been liberated in the spirit realm, our freedom will be manifest in the natural through our victories over this world. The more we lay our lives down (self-will) in order to serve God's will through us, the greater we will walk in power over our enemies and over our flesh.
Nevertheless, before we can live, we must first die. Self must perish before we can fully experience the life and the liberty Christ has given us. The writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 12 to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us and let us run the race before us with endurance.

Therefore, If you want to have the strength that is required to endure in the race of faith, you must first be willing to lay aside your fleshly ways and any distractions that threaten your course. The more you willingly lay yourself on the altar of sacrifice, the easier it will be for you to keep running in the race. You can do this... in Christ!

Running With Endurance,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, February 22, 2013

When a Sin Becomes a Lifestyle

1 Corinthians 6: 9 - 12, Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. NKJV

Today's word is more than a devotional. The Holy Spirit has given me insights to share with the body of Christ that will help us understand what transpires when someone hears God's voice; nevertheless, they harden their hearts and do not listen to it. Each time someone hears the voice of God, but does not heed it, they distance themselves more from the Lord. Consequently, they give sin a place in their hearts...and its aim is to take over their lives. If they refuse to repent, but instead, choose to repeatedly disobey the voice of God, they will give themselves over to that sin, and it will become their new identity. It is at this point that their sin will become a lifestyle.  

Please notice in today's scripture that Paul identifies the person involved in a certain sin by whatever sin they have committed. For example, instead of saying a person has the sin of idolatry, he calls them an idolater. In other words, they have given themselves over to a particular sin so completely that it has become their identity. Paul goes on to say that there was a time when we identified with sin in our lives. However, we've been washed and sanctified by the Holy Spirit; now we have a new nature and identity in Christ.

We're told in Romans 3 that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all know this is true because none of us are perfect. Even so, in Christ, we have been forgiven and redeemed from the curse of sin and death. Although we're all born into this world as sinners, God loved us (the world) so much that He gave His only- begotten Son. Now, we must choose either to believe that sin has discredited us from ever becoming what God intended for us to be, or we can believe that we are a new creature in Christ. 

Yes, we've all sinned and fallen short of God's glory. Nevertheless, God has given us all another chance to be redeemed from the fall of sin and to become who He ordained us to be in Christ. Even though God is holy..., and we're born into this world as sinners... God still made a way for us to be reconciled with Him through Christ. Flawed humans can come boldly into His presence without being put to shame by His holiness. If God could see beyond our faults and failures, and not only see our needs, but actually meet them in Christ, then who are we to question Him when He calls us to live holy and righteous before Him?

 There is much debate in the times we're living in over the issue of people being born with a certain bend or trait that may cause them to be drawn to a particular type of behavior that predetermines if they are a "good person" or an "evil person." While there are some in the world that would say a person is born a murderer or a thief, the Word of God only declares that we are born with a sin nature. Let me explain the difference. Was Cain born a murderer or was he born a sinner? Let's see. When God rejected Cain because he disobeyed His will concerning an offering, Cain became filled with rage. Nonetheless, whenever God recognized that Cain's countenance had fallen, and that he was full of anger, God warned Cain not to give into sin. God saw that sin was demanding that Cain do something to get revenge for being rejected. The demand was for Cain to take the life of his brother, Abel, who had been accepted by the Lord. Did Cain obey the voice of God and let Abel live? No. Was Cain a born killer or did he give himself over to the sin of murder? He gave himself over to murder. As a result, He became a murderer because he repeatedly disobeyed God's commands. Therefore, we see through this example that, although we're born in sin, it doesn't necessarily mean that we are destined or doomed to become a murderer, extortionist, thief, liar, or etc. 

People who become identified with a particular sin aren't born that way; however, though a series of poor and/or bad decisions it is where they can end up. A child can experience many things in their formative years; rejection, heartache, or abandonment can lead to low self-esteem and behavior problems early in life. And, if these symptoms aren't properly addressed, Satan can further exploit them... as he did with Cain, whose behavior escalated into violence. If anyone hardens their heart as Cain did to the voice of God or truth, and they act on their evil desires, then they are more susceptible and tolerant of sin. The more they practice evil ways and turn away from the Lord, the easier it will be for them to commit a particular sin. They are slowly giving themselves over to the iniquity, and it will dominate their hearts and their lives. However, at any point along the way a person has the ability have a change of heart and turn from their sin. God gave Cain that opportunity a couple of times, but he refused God's way. Instead, he chose to make his own path, which led to destruction.  

Paul teaches us in Romans 1 that sin can become a lifestyle that develops into an identity when we consistently repress the truth in unrighteous behavior. An unsaved person might come to the knowledge of the truth that they are a sinner and in need of salvation; even so, if they should decide to continue living in sin, thereby, rejecting the truth, then they will begin to identify with that particular sin as a "way of life" and not a sin. At that point, they are not walking by faith in God's Word; they are deceived and are justifying their actions. Self-justification is an open door in a person's heart that will allow Satan entrance to fill it with corrupt and vile tendencies and actions. 

Like many others, you may be struggling with a particular sin, and you have been warring with it for an extended time; hence, this is a word from the Lord for you. We're told in Hebrews 11 that without faith, we can't please or agree with God. Therefore, allow faith to fill your heart today, and you can walk out of bondage to sin. God wants you free from sin's hold. Ask Him to forgive you and to cleanse you of all unrighteousness, and He will do it. Please email me at passion30@whcnorth.org.  Let me know what God has done in your life as a result of this word. We're praying for your victory.

Sharing the Truth in Love, 
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Choice

Romans 8: 10 - 14, And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors -- not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. NKJV

Do you find it difficult to trust the Lord? It often seems easy to answer a vague question such as this; but sometimes God gets very specific with His questions, and it is in those times that trusting the Lord can become deeply challenging. How is it that we can trust God with our eternal salvation and then struggle when He instructs us to do something that goes against our desires, our own wills, or our comfort levels? The answer is extremely simple; however, the process of walking out the answer in our daily lives can be very daunting.  

All humans enter this world having a carnal nature and mind. This nature originated from the fall of Lucifer and was perpetuated in humans through Adam and Eve's decision to sin. The carnal nature is all about "self," and it being in control, not God. Therefore, when we come to Christ, we are required by the Lord to die to self and place our complete faith and trust in God.  

Since we have no control over eternity, it's easier to trust God about it. However, when it comes to the life which we live now, it becomes a different story. We want to have control of this life, so we use our gifts, talents, desires, and our influence in order to sustain the will of self. As a result, it can give us a false sense that we are in control of our lives; but in reality, we move, and live, and have our being because of God's love and mercy.

This brings us to the reason for today's word. We will either be led in this life by our desires and decisions, or we will be led by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. We make decisions everyday that can alter and affect the rest of our stay on earth and not think anything about it. Nevertheless, when God asks us to do something by faith that aligns us with His will, we can begin to question Him about His reason or the motive behind His direction for our life.  

Here lies the problem with believers allowing the carnal mind to control their new life in Christ. Though we have confessed our faith and devotion to Christ as believers, we still need to have our minds renewed and begin to put on the mind of Christ. Until we learn how to become like Christ and trust our heavenly Father in the same way that He did, we will continue to resist God's will and direction for our lives.   

God not only sent us His Word, but He has also given us the Holy Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can access the presence of God; consequently, we build our faith in Christ through an intimate fellowship with our heavenly Father. You see; Jesus knew His Father, but we must come to know Him for ourselves. When we don't know our heavenly Father through personal time invested in His presence in prayer, it can cause us to waiver in our faith when He instructs us to lay something down and walk away from it.

I've said it many times; but it still bears repeating. You can't trust someone that you do not know. Consequently, how can we say we fully trust in God when we do not know Him or His ways? We're told in Daniel 11 that those who KNOW their God shall be strong and do great exploits. Therefore, we are to become acquainted with our heavenly Father so that we will be able to trust in Him and obey His will over our own will. After all, it is the plan of God to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future.

The process of dying to self begins with us taking the time needed to know God as our heavenly Father. Just listen to people who say they're Christians; how many call the Father "God" and how many refer to Him as "Father?" I don't call my father Frank; I call him dad because I know Him. Who is God to you? Make the right choice; get to know God and allow Him to become your heavenly Father.

Trust is key,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Parent's Prayer

Job 1 : 1 - 5, There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East. And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, "It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did regularly. NKJV

We hear many sermons about Job; they teach us that he was a righteous man, who loved God and abhorred evil. Nonetheless, have you ever heard a sermon about how good Job was at being a godly parent? Like so many parents today, Job seemed to be very concerned about the spiritual well-being of his children. The Bible tells us that Job offered sacrifices unto the Lord on their behalf, just in case they had sinned against God. Job stood in the gap for his own children. He continually came before God for them, offering an animal sacrifice to ensure that their sins were atoned for. 

As a pastor, I can say that the most-requested prayer of our members is for physical healing. However, the prayer request that rivals the need for healing is parents' requests for their children. Christian parents carry the spiritual well-being of their children on their hearts as much as their own well-being; this should come as no surprise. After all, don't we all want the best for our offspring and shouldn't the best include them having a personal relationship with Jesus and walking in His Word? 

We're instructed in Proverbs 22: 6 to train up our child in the way that he should go; and when he is old, he won't depart from it. Paul further exhorts fathers to bring their children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. As parents, we have a small window of time to shape the morality, ethics, and character of our children by teaching them the Word of God. After they reach the age of independence, we have to release them and their decisions to the Lord. 

We read in today's scripture that there came a time when God didn't look to Job's sacrifice for his sons and daughters; it was time for them to take on the responsibility of seeking God for themselves. At that point, God released Job from continually carrying the weight of their responsibility. No parent can obey God for their child. We cannot climb on their cross and make them serve God. Paul teaches us in Philippians 2 to work out our OWN salvation with fear and trembling. Therefore, if your child is beyond your sphere of influence in spiritual matters and chooses to live for the pleasures of this world, you will need to turn him over to the Lord. 

As a parent of three grown sons, I know a bit about the subject of "letting go" and giving them to God. What happens to them as a result of their decisions after they reach independence is out of your control and is in God's hands. Are you continually "sacrificing" on the behalf of a rebellious child? Does guilt cause you to bear an impossible burden that you can't bear any longer? If you are, then cast that care on God because He cares for you and your wayward child. You can rest in knowing that God loves your child or children far greater than you ever could. As a result of His great love, He knows what is best for them and will see to it that they receive His help in their hour of need.

We have a wonderful picture of a parent's trust in God in Exodus 2. Moses' mom hid him from Pharaoh so that he wouldn't be killed by him. Nevertheless, there came a time when she had to let Moses go. His mother placed him in a basket and sent him down the river; then she told Moses' sister to follow him to see what would become of Moses. We learn that Pharaoh's daughter took Moses in and raised him as her own son. Now, let's look at a couple of truths before I conclude today's word. God caused Moses' mom to release her INFANT son into a rushing river. TRUST! Then God allowed Moses to enter the very house of the one who was seeking to kill him. It was there, in the house of his greatest enemy, that God allowed Moses to be provided for and raised. 

We might not be able to handle our children, but we know that God CAN and WILL. Even so, we have to take our hands off them. I pray that this word gives you encouragement, but more than that, I hope that you now have the faith to let your child(ren) go. Release them into God's loving care and rest.

Letting Go and Letting God,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Forsaking the Temporal for the Eternal

Philippians 3: 7 - 11, But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. NKJV

I thank God for the ministry and the testimony of Paul (Saul). We get our first glimpse of Saul in the Bible when Stephen was being stoned. Saul held the coats of those who carried out the stoning of Stephen, and he consented to his death. However, later, in the book of Acts, Saul has an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. After this visitation from the Lord, Saul was struck with blindness and had to be led around by others for three days. God was teaching Saul how to walk by faith and not by sight. This encounter with the Lord was the beginning of Saul's conversion. 

Even though Paul suffered many horrific afflictions as a follower of Jesus, he was passionate about his pursuit of Him. What would cause a man who was caught up in the works of the law and the accolades of man to suddenly be willing to both suffer for Christ and to lose everything that he worked so diligently to gain? I submit to you that Paul had an experience with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that transformed his heart. 

As a result of Paul's encounters with the living God and of his seeing the glory of God, Paul viewed his own works as filth. It wasn't that had God made Paul feel condemned for the things he had accomplished through the power of his flesh; rather, Paul was humbled that God would love him enough to show him the splendor of heaven, despite how he had conducted himself when he was still called Saul. 

God's goodness transformed Paul's life and set him on a hot-pursuit for Jesus that wouldn't be satisfied by anyone or anything else. Consequently, God allowed Paul to see and experience things in the spirit realm that were unlawful for him to share with us in scripture. As a result of these encounters with God, Paul developed a hunger for the things of God and lost his desire for the power and prestige associated with man's religion. Paul was captivated by the love and the grace of God; and, therefore, gladly accepted the loss of the things he once esteemed and placed value on. 

I pray that God will also visit us and allow our generation to experience the greatness of His love and glory to the point that the things of this world will lose their hold on us. Nevertheless, we can draw God to ourselves by developing a deep hunger for His presence. Jesus told us in Matthew 5 that we are blessed if we hunger and thirst for righteousness, for we shall be filled. 

If you are experiencing a dry place in your relationship with the Lord, then begin a passionate pursuit of Him that will cause you to sense the infilling of God's presence in your heart. If you already seek the Lord, but you desire more of Him and His presence, then begin to empty yourself in your prayer time; ask the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with more of God. God is passionately pursuing us; now we need to be in passionate pursuit of Him. God has promised that those who diligently seek Him will be rewarded. Let's lose our passion for this world's temporal pleasures and fix our hearts on eternal treasures from heaven. There is nothing on earth that can satisfy our longing like having an intimate relationship with Jesus. I encourage you to keep pressing on in Christ. 

Going After God with My Whole Heart, 
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, February 18, 2013

Unintended Consequences

Romans 12: 1 - 2, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. NKJV

Hebrews 12: 14 - 17, Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. NKJV

When we choose to disobey God's will because we are busy satisfying our own, we may reap unintended consequences. Perhaps you have said or heard someone else make a declaration to this effect: "I never intended this or that to happen. All I wanted was to..." When I speak of "this," it usually involves the person who is making the statement, but "that" generally refers to someone else who was adversely affected by the one making the statement, "The unintended victim of the decision." Either way, there are usually regrets.

I used two scriptures today so that you could get a fuller understanding of this important Word.  Even though God calls and equips us to serve His purpose in the earth, He knows that we still have the freedom of choice. We can either choose to obey God's will, or ignore it because something else has captured our attention.  If believers decide to ignore the "calling of God" on their lives in order to fulfill their own desires, then there will be unintended consequences. For example, Jonah didn't want to obey God's command to go to Nineveh. Consequently, he got swallowed by a fish. While in the belly of the fish, he died, and his soul descended into sheol, or hell. Fortunately, God had mercy on Jonah and caused the fish to vomit him up on the shore. 

Likewise, Esau despised his birthright as the first-born male. Consequently, he sold it for some stew from his brother, Jacob. However, when the time came for him to receive his inheritance, it was too late. Though Esau sought repentance, there was none found because he had already made the wrong decision. Esau had regret and sorrow; nevertheless, he had to face the unintended consequences of his resolve to despise his birthright.

It seems easy for some people to say "no" to God when He deals with their hearts about fulfilling the calling on their lives. They may live for years and never give any time or attention to God's call. However, once He has placed them in an individual's heart, God's gifts and His calling are irrevocable; consequently, if anyone disobeys the Lord by not submitting to them, they will have to live with the regret and shame. 

The Holy Spirit specifically directed me to write this devotion today because He is dealing with the heart of someone who is running from their calling. He wants me to warn you of the fallout that will occur if you continually say "NO" to His instructions. He wants you to repent before you go too far and miss your hour of visitation from the Lord... or you wait until it's too late in life to fulfill God's call. If this is God's word to you, and the Holy Spirit has convicted you, please email me today and let me know that you have had a change of heart. Email me at passion30@whcnorth.org 

There Is Peace in the Center of God's Will,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, February 15, 2013

Give Me More of God

Psalms 24: 3 - 5, Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. NKJV

The purpose of today's word is to call attention to our privilege of having the presence of God in and on our lives. In Acts 17, Paul tells us that "in Christ," we live, and move, and have our being. There are many daily blessings from God that are wonderful, and they enable us to live and to prosper; even so, there is no greater blessing than being able to experience the very presence of God.

When I was praying about the subject of God's presence, a question came to me: Which is worse, being born under the time of the law and not being allowed to enter into the holiest of Holies as a worshipper, or being born under the time of grace where we have full access to God's presence, but we have no desire to enter? All believers have been granted a priceless treasure. We have the ability to come into the presence of God, who created us and has redeemed us from the curse of the law of sin and death.

Therefore, since we see the favor and the love of God, and that He grants us passage into His holy presence to commune with Him, what kind of life should we live? We must choose to honor the gift of God's presence in such a fashion that we conduct ourselves the same way in the world (everyday life) that we would when we're in the secret place of God. There's one thing about entering into the presence of a holy and all-knowing God; if our conscience hasn't been purged through the blood of Jesus, then guilt will manifest in the Lord's presence. 

The psalmist wrote: "Only those who have clean hands and a pure heart will be able to ascend the holy hill of God and be able to stand in His holy presence." Therefore, it is through our faith in the work of Christ on the cross that we are made righteous in God's sight and have been granted the grace to enter into the holiest of Holies. Even though we have right standing in God's sight through our faith in Christ, we still must choose to live righteously, so that we might have the boldness to approach God's throne in prayer or worship. 

The Lord is drawing His people back to Himself. What does that mean? He's calling us (His children) back to living a life that is dedicated and consecrated to the principles of Christ. Consecration simply means that we have devoted our lives to the sole purpose of pleasing God, both in His pavilion and in the world. 

As we commit ourselves to living holy before the Lord, His presence will go with us into the world. As a result, instead of ascending the holy hill of God, we will become carriers of God's holy presence, just as Jesus did while He walked on earth. Jesus has commanded us to be salt and light to the world. Therefore, even if we are currently living a life that is devoted to Christ, we can still allow the Holy Spirit to use this devotion to challenge us to pursue the Lord at a greater level. Remember, we are being changed from faith to faith and from glory to glory. Just because we are passionate for Christ today doesn't mean that God wants us to settle at that place and become stagnate. We must follow Him continually and passionately until we cross the finish line. 

If you have a deep desire to be filled with more of God, and you want more of His presence, then I invite you to join me and many others, who are participating in Passion 30...a thirty-day challenge for believers to draw near to God, so that He may draw closer to us. For details about the challenge, email me at passion30@whcnorth.org.

Not Looking Back but Moving Ahead,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Misguided Peter

Matthew 16 : 21 - 23, From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." NKJV

Would you like to have been in the room when Simon Peter began to rebuke Jesus openly? I would not! Nevertheless, let's take a closer look at what transpired between Simon and Jesus in the above scripture. Simon rebuked God, which tells us that Simon didn't really respect Jesus as God, or he wouldn't have spoken to the Lord of glory with such dishonor. Someone might say that Simon was only looking out for Jesus' best interest because he didn't want Jesus to have to suffer and die. However, Jesus was God in the flesh. He certainly didn't need Simon to come to his rescue. 

The point that I want to bring out is that Simon was passionate about Jesus, but not according to the Spirit. In other words, he showed great affection and feelings toward Jesus about His death. Nevertheless, his feelings weren't based on God's will; they were centered on Simon's self-will or self-interest. Peter wanted to spare Jesus from death, but he didn't care that he was being an offense to Jesus and a stumbling block to the fulfillment of God's plan. 

What is wrong with this picture? Simon certainly answered God's calling on his life. Even so, at this point he had not yet learned the principle of denying self. In the verses of scripture that followed the account of Peter rebuking Jesus, Jesus teaches the disciples that if they want to follow Him, they must first deny self. Denying self simply means that we submit our whole hearts and lives to the teachings of Christ. Instead of allowing self to be our guide, we must allow the Holy Spirit to instruct us who we are to be in Christ and how we are supposed to act. 

Simon was about to learn God's way of developing a true passion for Christ, one that wasn't according to Simon's desires, but was in alignment with God's will. In Matthew 26, Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane and asked Peter, James, and John to pray for an hour with Him. Jesus distanced Himself from them and began to pray to the Father. However, after a while, Jesus came and found the three disciples asleep. He told them that their spirit was willing, but their flesh was weak. Where was Peter's passion for Christ? Why couldn't he find the strength and discipline to obey Jesus' command to pray for an hour? 

You see; it's easy to serve God on our terms; nevertheless, we won't possess the true power and authority that we need to overcome this world and its temptations. Only when we deny self, and then persevere in the Spirit will we have power over our flesh and be able to keep God's commands in our hearts. What was Jesus attempting to teach His disciples while they were in the garden? He wanted them to realize that only through prayer and personal intimacy with the Father would they be able to honor God's will and overcome temptation. 

There's a choice all believers must make: we can serve self-interest as Simon tried to do, or we can choose to deny self and serve God by faith. Only through a deep love for God will we find the power that is needed to crucify the flesh nature and fulfill God's plan for our lives. 

Do you seek a deeper walk with Jesus? Are there areas in your life where you desire the Lord to break some strongholds and set you free to serve Him in a greater capacity? If your answer is, "Yes," then I invite you to take the Passion 30 challenge. E-mail me at passion30@whcnorth.org and we will give you the resources needed to get you started. I look forward to hearing from you today.

Following Jesus All the Way, 
Pastor Asa Dockery  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Infused With the Life of God

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

What is eternal life? When does eternal life begin? Let's dig into God's Word today and find the answers.

God created us as living beings. Nevertheless, we did not have eternal life. If we read 1 Corinthian 15, we discover that Paul called Adam (man) a living soul; however, he described Jesus as a life-giving spirit. Therefore, we can conclude that God gave us life in order to "exist." Nonetheless, He knew that one day we would all decide whether or not we wanted eternal life. Eternal life begins when we come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; we do this by placing our trust in Him as God's only-begotten Son. Only through the person of Jesus Christ can anyone be saved and come to know the Father. 

Some have suggested that eternal life begins when we are conceived... meaning that our soul never dies, even after we pass away. However, that belief isn't supported in scripture. We must never mistake "eternal existence" with eternal life. We can have eternal existence and never come to know the Creator as our heavenly Father. It's true; we will all spend eternity somewhere (heaven or hell). Nevertheless, only those who know the Father will be allowed entrance into heaven.

If we all had eternal life from the moment of conception, then Jesus came to earth and died in vain; and if Adam had eternal life from the moment that God breathed into his nostrils, why does the Bible say that he only received the breath of life? Why doesn't the Bible tell us that Adam became a life-giving spirit when God breathed into his nostrils? If we were created possessing eternal life, then why did God produce the Tree of Life? I belabor this point to prove a greater one. All that have been born of a woman must come to faith in Christ, if they want to inherit eternal life. 

God is spirit; and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth. Consequently, if we were created as living souls, and God is Spirit, then we must undergo a conversion before we can truly worship or even know God. The way to eternal life is through Jesus Christ. When we believe in Jesus for salvation and confess Him as Lord of our lives, the Father sends His Spirit into our hearts. At that point, we are no longer living souls; we are spirit beings that have been infused with the life of God. 

I know you are a living soul, or you wouldn't be reading this devotion. Even so, have you been remade into a spiritual being in Christ? Do you know God as your heavenly Father? If the Holy Spirit is dealing with you about the condition of your spiritual heart, then simply ask Him to save you from being "just" a living soul. Allow Him to fill your soul with His holy presence, and you will receive the gift of eternal life today.

If you have prayed, and you have asked the Lord to save you from sin and transform you into a child of the living God, please let us know. We want to celebrate your new birthday in Christ with you. You may email us at prayer@whcnorth.org. 

A New Creature in Christ, 
Pastor Asa Dockery 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Great Exchange

2 Corinthians 5 : 21, For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. NKJV

You can't fill something that is already full. Therefore, when we come to Christ desiring that He fill our hearts with His peace, goodness, and glory, we must first be willing to give up anything that has control of our hearts. In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us that we can't serve two masters. He also instructs us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. 

There is an exchange that takes place when we answer the call of God to follow Him. We first have to forsake any fleshly desires that might hinder us from seeking more of God in our lives. What is so good about the great exchange is that we can give God our ashes, and He gives us His beauty in return. God will never ask us to give up anything that He doesn't replace it with something of greater and eternal value. 

Whenever Jesus came to Simon Peter and Andrew, his brother, He told them to follow Him, and He would make them fishers of men. This was their opportunity to accept an exchange. If they were willing to leave the temporal world as sinners and pursue Christ, He was going to give them eternal life. Jesus was also offering them a ministry that would have everlasting rewards. When the men heard the call of God, they both forsook their careers, families, and homes in order to fulfill Jesus' command to follow Him. 

Neither Simon Peter nor Andrew asked Jesus what was in it for them. I find this very interesting seeing that they were leaving behind the only way of life they had known. However, they were answering a greater call. True faith gives us the ability to say "good-bye" to our old lives without giving any thought to any questions that our flesh nature might ask of our hearts.

There was something about Jesus that caused twelve men to forsake all and follow Him. Apparently, being in Jesus' presence filled the emptiness in the disciple's hearts. They had an assurance that everything was going to be taken care of; they didn't have to fret. Could it be that their hearts were filled with the peace of God for the first time in their lives, and this peace overshadowed any doubts, worries or concerns? Yes!

We've looked at the faith and the hunger of the disciples; they were willing to forsake all because they possessed a deep desire for Jesus and longed for an eternal reward. Now, let's look at another man who was rich: In Mark 10, there is a story of a prosperous man who came to Jesus asking what he must do to be saved. Jesus gave the man a few commandments to uphold, and the gentlemen responded that he had kept those particular commandments from his youth. After this, Jesus told him that he lacked one thing, love. Jesus instructed the rich man to take all his possessions, sell them, give the proceeds to the poor, and then take up his cross and follow Him. Jesus went on to inform the man that he would have treasure laid up in heaven as a result of his willingness to forsake this world's pleasures. Unfortunately, the rich man walked away; he was unwilling to exchange temporary wealth for eternal blessings. 

After the rich man walked away from Jesus, Peter explained to Jesus how "he" had forsaken all in order to answer the call and to follow the Lord. Nevertheless, I don't see where Simon asked Jesus, "What are you going to give us, seeing that we didn't walk away from your command to forsake all and to follow you?" Even so, Jesus answers Simon's statement with a truth that is very revealing about the heart of God toward those who make the wise choice to leave everything behind. He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife or children, or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time - houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers and children, and lands, with persecutions - and in the age to come, eternal life. 

Just imagine, these men had forsaken their careers, families, and homes to answer the call without even considering what they would get in return. Now that's faith! It was because of their extraordinary faith that Jesus could give them the revelation about their eternal reward and the hundred-fold restoration in this life. It's sad that the rich man didn't have the faith to follow Jesus until he could hear what the reward would be for those who made the choice to forsake all and follow Jesus. Only when we completely trust the Lord, and then take a step of faith to abandon this life for the life to come will we come to know the riches of God's glory and the hidden wisdom of God.

It amazes me how the disciples were willing to walk away from everything that they loved in order to pursue God and His call on their lives without knowing the benefits of such an act of faith. It's time for this type of passion to return to the body of Christ. We must not sell-out our spiritual and eternal inheritance for the temporal pleasures of this world. What will it profit us if we gain the entire world, but forfeit our souls? Nothing!

God is calling His people, you and me back to Himself. If we choose to draw close to God, He has promised to draw close to us. Are you ready to forsake this world's pleasures, and after that answer a deeper call to know Jesus as never before? It's time for your exchange...click on the link provided and learn more about accepting the "Passion Challenge" (learn more).

It's Time to Step Out,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, February 11, 2013

Passionately Pursuing God

Matthew 5: 3 - 10, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." NKJV

Deep in the heart of every person, there is a void that only God can fill. No one or nothing can satisfy this emptiness except the love and the presence of God. However, there's only one way of filling the void, we must pursue the Lord with all our hearts. If we hunger after God and His righteousness, we shall be filled. 

If we desire to be blessed and to live a full life, then it will require us to pursue Jesus with all that is within us. The psalmist wrote in psalms 42, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God." Therefore, in order receive the blessings that Jesus pronounced over us in today's scriptures, we will need to develop a passion for Him. When we become passionate for Jesus, He can fill our thirsty hearts with His love and goodness. Once our dry souls experience the refreshment that comes from being in the presence of God, we will become empowered to forsake all else in our quest for more of God.

Nevertheless, we can't have a full, healthy relationship with God if we don't first have a hunger to know and to live His Word. David wrote this about God's Word. He said, "Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against it." David didn't try to confront sin in his own power, but rather he submitted himself to God's Word, and it gave him power over sin. In this same way, we must be willing to get in God's Word, and allow it to get in our hearts by applying it to our everyday lives. When we "do" the Word, it will liberate us from the flesh nature. Consequently, we can seek after the Lord with reckless abandon. 

In our pursuit to seek God, and to have the void in our heart filled to overflowing, we will have to guard our hearts against complacency and weariness. Therefore, we must be serious about our walk and our relationship with Jesus. James tells us in his epistle that we have to be doers of the Word, lest we deceive ourselves. In other words, it's not enough just to say I want a deeper walk with God; we have to be willing to discipline ourselves to obey God's Word, even when it costs us.  Sacrifices will be required, but remember; God is a debtor to no one. 

If you feel as though you've been living in a spiritually dry season, and you're ready for it to end, then you'll have to take a step of faith. Just as faith without works is dead, if you don't follow your desire to become closer to God with actions, then you won't experience a change; and you could grow weary in our pursuit and give up prematurely. 

God has told us in Hebrews 11: 6 that those who come to Him must believe that He is, and He rewards those who diligently seek Him. Therefore, since we have the promise of being rewarded for our pursuit of God, we must keep the prize in the forefront of our minds, so that we can endure until the blessings begin to flow and flood our being.

I cannot emphasize enough how vitally important it is for us to live by the Word of God in order to be successful in our pursuit of God. As we apply the Word of God to our hearts through obedience to it, it will surgically remove the flesh from around our spiritual hearts. In fact, in John 8, Jesus told the Jews, who had believed on Him because of the truth that He had spoken, that if they continued in His Word, they would know the truth; and it would make them free. Only by knowing and keeping the Word will we be liberated from the bondage of the flesh nature and walk in our inheritance as the children of God.

If you're ready to pursue God so that the void in your heart can be filled with His presence, then take a few minutes and read Ephesians 6. In this chapter, you will learn the importance of making yourself submitted and accountable to obeying God's Word. When we submit to the Word, it will cause us to become strong in the Lord and walk in the power of His might. Did you catch that?  Applying God's Word to our lives to the point that it changes our speech, behavior, and character will cause us to walk in God's power... not struggle in our weakness. Are you ready to take the passion challenge? For details about the "Passion Challenge," just click on the link. http://www.whcnorth.org/passion30.html

Passionately Pursuing God,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Friday, February 8, 2013

Faith in Jesus Makes You Victorious

1 Samuel 15: 17 - 23, So Samuel said,"When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel? Now the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, 'Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.' Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?" And Saul said to Samuel, "But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal." So Samuel said: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. NKJV

Did you know that Christians can struggle with sin in their lives even after salvation? It's true! We can wrestle with sin, bondages, and addictions when we don't obey the truth or continue in the truth after accepting Jesus as our Lord. However, there is another reason why believers struggle with these problems; it is because they are still spiritually immature. Paul refers to those who are spiritually under-developed as carnally minded or babes in Christ. They continue on the milk of the Word instead feasting on the strong meat of it. 

King Saul was given explicit instructions by the Lord to destroy the enemies of Israel. Nevertheless, in his pride, the king decided to only partially obey the Lord's commands; he decided to keep the "good" spoils to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord. This is the same as you and me disobeying the Holy Spirit and trying to appease God by offering Him our "good works." It doesn't work because it is not of faith; and anything that isn't of faith is sin. When King Saul self- justified doing what he felt "was right" in his heart instead of doing what God commanded him, he opened the door to sin. Consequently, Christians who disobey God by convincing themselves that they can do God's will their way, also open the door for sin to sneak in and take up residence. Nonetheless, had the King Saul completely obeyed God's command, he would have been walking by faith and would have overcome any tendency to sin against the Lord.

You may be wondering, "How can I live by faith every moment throughout my day so that I don't sin against the Lord?" The same way you came to faith in Christ, you heard the gospel of Christ; you believed it as truth, and became born again. Now that you're saved, you can only walk by faith when you honor God's Word and continually obey it. In other words, you apply the principles and the truth of God's Word to your everyday life. When we continue to walk in the truth of God's Word, we will know the truth, and it will make us free from bondage. 

Hence, if you're confessing that you are saved, yet you're beating yourself up because of a particular bondage that is still in your life, let me share a word of wisdom with you: Jesus tells us, in our patience, we possess our souls. Just because you have a weakness, it doesn't mean you're not saved; it simply means you have to trust God, and after that wait on Him to deliver you. If you do this, then you're not "putting up with" a sin or habit; instead, you're waiting by faith for God to set you free from it. 

Remember, the Word of God is filled with promises to those who believe in His name. If you continue obeying the truth, then in His time, God will set you free. Only when we apply the truth to our lives are we operating in faith, and as a result, inheriting the promises of God. Instead of making excuses for our sin, let us confess them to the Lord and allow His Word to empower us to overcome them. When we live by faith, we are empowered to defeat the Devil, sin, and our flesh nature; we will no longer fall prey to self-justification or condemnation. I may struggle, but I'm not defeated because I'm in Christ; and He is my victory over all my weaknesses. 

Walking in Victory by Faith, 
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Take another Lap around the Wilderness

Joshua 14 : 7 - 11, I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.' And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. NKJV

Joshua said, "But I wholly followed the Lord." Nevertheless, even though Joshua followed the Lord with his whole heart, and even though he entered into the Promised Land, he wasn't allowed to stay there because the children of Israel were not with him. He had to wander through the wilderness another forty years because the other spies brought an evil report to Moses and to the people about the inhabitants of the land. 

The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and he tells us to run the race that is set before us with endurance. Nevertheless, unbelief caused the children of Israel to believe an evil report and to ignore the promise of God to give them the land. Consequently, they wandered through the wilderness for forty years. However, not only did the children of Israel remain in the wilderness, but so did Joshua and Caleb. 

It doesn't seem right that these two men had faith and took God at His Word, yet they still had to wander in the wilderness with the unbelieving. Even so, God honored the faith of Joshua and Caleb by allowing them to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land shortly after the death of Moses. God didn't allow the unbelief of Israel to keep Him from honoring Joshua and Caleb's faith and faithfulness. 

Like Joshua and Caleb, you may be living your life for Christ and standing on God's promises; however, you may have loved-ones that are not. Because of someone else's unbelief, you're waiting on God to fulfill His Word in your life. Nevertheless, for their sake, He is delaying the fulfillment of His promise to you; this may be the reason why the Lord had the scripture written in Joshua 14, and it may be the reason He told me to share it with you today. He wants you to hold on "in faith" like Joshua did; after everything has been set back in order, you will see the salvation of the Lord. 

Have you been asking the Lord why He is requiring you to make another lap around the wilderness, but you're not getting an answer from Him? It may be that God wants you to remain faithful and obedient until the flesh or unbelief in others dies. When the time is right, He can work through you to lead them (family or friends) into their new life in Christ (The Promised Land). Therefore, don't grow weary in doing well, for in due season, you will reap if you don't faint. Continually encourage yourself in the Lord by remembering His faithfulness to Joshua and Caleb, who had to wait an additional forty years. Let me leave you today with a passage from Hebrews 10: 

Hebrews 10: 35 - 39, 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: "For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. NKJV

The next time you have to take another lap around the wilderness, just tell yourself that you're one lap closer to seeing the fulfillment of the promise in your life.

Walking by Faith, 
Pastor Asa Dockery 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Life Well Lived

John 12 : 24 - 26, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. NKJV

A life that is well lived is a life that lives to bring glory to the Lord. Salvation isn't just about being saved from sin; it is the beginning of a brand-new life in Christ. Through Jesus, we are empowered to live the life that God intended us to live before sin entered into creation. 

Paul tells us in Ephesians 2: 10"We are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." As Christians, who are made alive in Christ, we must understand and accept the life that God has ordained for us to live; therefore, we must be willing to lay aside our own plans. It's not that God doesn't want us to enjoy our lives; He just doesn't want our "self" nature to distract us so that we have no time for God.

In today's scripture, Jesus tells us that if we love our lives, we will lose them. In other words, if we allow the cares and the pleasures of this world to consume our hearts and our time, then we will miss the life that God has ordained for us to live in Christ. The enemy of our soul (Satan) wants you and me to believe that pleasure equals life. However, there is NO LIFE apart from abiding in Christ and keeping His Word. To prove my previous statement further, let's look at how Paul addresses the issue.

Galatians 2: 19 - 21, For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." NKJV

Paul held a different perspective about salvation than many believers and church leaders of our day. He viewed salvation as being raised from the dead... so that we can live for Christ. Consequently, when we see ourselves as one who has been raised from the dead for the sole purpose of serving Christ and living our new life through Him, it changes everything about us. It's no longer about us; it is about Christ being in us and working through us to fulfill God's will throughout the earth. 

Finally, Jesus knew the reason God sent Him to earth. He came to suffer and die so that the world through Him might be saved. We should have the same kind of clarity about our calling on the earth as Jesus did when He was here. If we keep an eternal perspective, we will be saved from becoming entangled in the trappings of this world. We are not here to please self, but to die to self; we are to sow our temporal lives on the earth in preparation for our eternal lives and rewards to come. Except a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it will abide alone. Consequently, we must die and be resurrected in Christ. When this happens, we can rest assured that we will carry out God's plans and purposes for our lives as believers. We live solely to bring glory and honor to the Lord through the new life that we've been given in Christ.  

Walking In Newness of Life, 
Pastor Asa Dockery