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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Our Faith Opens the Door

Hebrews 11: 6, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. NKJV

Our God and the Father of our Lord is so gracious and kind to us because we have placed faith in Jesus as being the Son of God. Did you realize that from the very moment that you turned your heart to place faith in Jesus, God began to bless you? This insight gives us a better understanding into the love that God has for those who have placed their trust in Christ as their personal Savior. Let's look at faith in this light for a moment. When you came to faith in Christ, the blessings of God began to flow in your heart and life because you had realized that Jesus is the source of both this life and of eternal life. 

At the moment of faith in Christ, we are deemed blessed in God's eyes. Once we humbled ourselves and accepted the free gift of life through Christ, the grace of God was bestowed upon our lives. Can you imagine being blessed and having the grace or favor of God lavished on you simply because you believed? There was nothing that you did or could do in order to earn it, yet God freely gives us His blessing once we look to Jesus. 

Through faith, we can begin to comprehend the love that God has for those who receive His Son into their hearts. If we try and come to God in a way other than faith in Christ and try to earn God's favor and love, then we will never be able (or allowed) to experience either in our lives. Remember what the writer of Hebrews wrote in today's scripture, "But without faith, it is impossible to please God." We can now realize that faith opens the door for God's goodness to be dispensed upon us... there's nothing we can do to earn it.

If we can be saved by faith, apart from works or earning our salvation, then we must also continue to walk by faith, once we're born again. Faith in Christ will teach us how to rest in Him, and how to know that the same God who saved us by faith is the same God who will supply all we have need of now that we're in Christ. This will afford us the ability to deny self and selfish ambition in order to live our new lives pleasing the Father through faith. Faith empowers us to seek first the Kingdom of God and not be consumed with trying to work for something that we might need.  

I've made this statement before, but it bears repeating: It seems easy for people to trust in God for eternal security; so why is it hard to trust God for everyday needs and desires? The answer: We must continue living by faith after we have come to faith in Christ. This "faith walk" is accomplished by denying self and seeking the Lord. Remember, we need favor and not works to accomplish and obtain all that is needed in life. 

Resting in Christ,
Pastor Asa

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Christians Must Stand for the Truth

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

There's a huge difference between having a belief in the Bible as truth and standing on it as the truth. Jesus tells us in Acts 1 that once we become His disciples, we are to be witnesses of Him. Paul tells us that all believers have been given the ministry of reconciliation. We are to lead people who are lost in their sin into a relationship with the Father through Jesus, the Christ.

As Christians who have placed their faith in Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we will discover that our faith will often place us at odds with the world. First, they will ask you what the Bible says about a certain sin or another faith. After you give them chapter and verse, they will do to you as the scribes and Pharisees did to Jesus that day in the temple. They will ask you, "But what do you say?" Take notice that they asked that question in an attempt to use it against Him if He misspoke. "They tempted Him."

Recently, I watched an interview where the anchor was questioning the beliefs of a well-known pastor. In this particular discussion, the host brought up the teaching found in John 14: 6 about Jesus being the only way to the Father or heaven. This man was obviously concerned about this one verse, since he wasn't a believer in Christ. The host asked the pastor if he believed that John 14: 6 was true. The pastor answered very emphatically that it was and that no one could enter heaven except through Christ. After the host asked this question, he advanced the discussion in the same manner as the religious rulers did Jesus in the temple. He asked the pastor if he believed that people who rejected Jesus were going to heaven. To this, the pastor replied, "It's not my place to judge who's going to heaven and who isn't."

I only mention this scenario to bring out a very important point on the need for Christians to take a stand when the truth is being brought into question. The pastor was correct in that we aren't the final authority who will determine who goes to heaven. However, he did miss a great opportunity to take a stand for the truth by telling this man, who had rejected Jesus as being the Christ, that he was lost.

Had the pastor told the man that without faith in Christ, there is no hope for him, it would have given the Holy Spirit the opportunity to convict his guilty conscience. Now look back at what Jesus did when the religious rulers tried to tempt Jesus with the same type question. He told the men who wanted to stone the woman if they were without sin, they could throw the first stone. Jesus didn't back down when they took the focus off of Moses' law and placed it on HIM. He continued to tell the truth, though it placed Him at odds with them. This allowed the Holy Spirit to convict every man who was holding a rock of their own sin. They dropped their rocks and walked away convicted.

If we don't take a stand when our beliefs are brought into question by the world, then the world will miss the opportunity to be convicted of their sin. It's not easy, and it can cause us a lot of trouble when we stand... but we must stand anyway. What is more important, our well-being, or people's eternal souls? Jesus warns us in Matthew 10 if we seek to save our life, then we will lose it. However, if we lose our life for His sake, then we will keep it. We are to fear God, who is able to destroy our body and soul in hell; we are not to fear man who can only destroy our body. Have faith in God and take a stand for the TRUTH. The world is dying to hear it.

Preaching and Proclaiming the TRUTH,
Pastor Asa

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Headed To the Mountains

Matthew 14: 22 - 23, Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. NKJV

There's something unique about living in the mountains of North Georgia. It's the place that many people travel to when they are on vacation or when they just want to get away from it all. However, it doesn't matter where you go when you need some time to be refreshed as long as you take the time to get away.

Jesus showed us the principle of separating ourselves from the crowd by His own example. Many times in the gospels, we read where Jesus would just disappear and head to the mountains to pray and seek His Father alone. As a pastor, I hear people complain about having to stay on the job; they need a break, but can't afford to go anywhere. Nevertheless, you can get away with the Lord and not even leave your property. Simply find a quiet place where you can concentrate on the Lord and abide there.

Vacations are wonderful for getting out of the office and away from the everyday duties and drudgeries so that you can clear your mind and rest your body. However, do you ever consider that you need time away just to refresh your soul in the same way that Jesus did in the mountains near Jerusalem? When we grow weary in well-doing, it opens the door for the enemy to begin to attack our weakened state. This doesn't always call for a trip to the beach or a scenic trip up to a mountainous get-away, but it does require that we find our own little sanctuary. We all need a place of solitude where we can be alone with the Lord and allow Him to wash over us with His love and presence.

The Bible tells us that we can be replenished in times of refreshing when we take the time to seek the Lord alone. If we neglect setting the time aside to be with the Lord and allow Him to pour back into us, then we will become dull and drained. Our perspective on life can become skewed because of feeling worn down.

Your alone time is not a time of fleshly indulgence, but rather a sacred time of sacrifice...a time where your main objective is to be filled with the power and goodness of God. Once you forsake everything in an effort to be filled with the Lord's goodness, it gives the opportunity for the Lord to capture your full attention. Now you're in a position to experience the presence and peace of God unlike anywhere else. When we sacrificially honor the Lord by seeking Him alone, He will visit us in a very real way that empowers us with fresh vision and new life.

Headed to the Sanctuary of His Presence,
Pastor Asa

Monday, July 22, 2013

Find Forgiveness at the Cross

2 Peter 3: 9, The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. NKJV

When was the last time you heard a sermon that was centered on the "Cross of Christ?" Anytime I think about the love of God and how He placed all of my sin and the sin of every person born into this world on Jesus, I am humbled. At the cross of Jesus, there is personal forgiveness, as well as forgiveness for all mankind for all generations.

Have you stopped to consider all that God did for us on the cross where Jesus hung? We were guilty, yet the Father forgave us. Jesus was innocent, yet it pleased the Father to lay upon Him the iniquity of all mankind. Long before you and I were born, Jesus had already paid the penalty for our sins against the Father. Does this mean that everyone is going to heaven? No, it doesn't. However, it does mean that the way has been made for every person to enter heaven. Unfortunately, not all will choose to accept the free gift of eternal life.

We are to acknowledge the death of Jesus on the cross as payment for our sin while we confess our sins before Him. Why do you suppose the Father chose to expiate our sin debt in this manner? God knows that Satan operates through the power of condemnation and works to hold people in bondage. God by-passed all of Satan's schemes when He laid all of our sin debt on Jesus and has given to us the free gift of eternal life.

If you struggle with guilt and shame as a child of God, even though you know you have been forgiven, then remember this one truth. You were saved by faith apart from your own works. Guess what? You walk in that same saving grace by faith as well. If we begin struggling with guilt, shame, and condemnation to the point we can't obey God's will, then know these are indicators that tell us we are slipping from walking by faith and have gone back under the law of works.

While on the cross, Jesus asked the Father to forgive mankind because He knew that we had been blinded by our sinful ways. The power of forgiveness breaks the bondage and the blindness of sin off of our hearts and lives. Do you need to be free from condemnation and guilt today? Ask the Father to forgive you and to fill you with His unconditional love and, for Christ's sake, He will.

Forgiven in Christ,
Pastor Asa

Friday, July 19, 2013

Putting God First

James 4: 6 - 8, But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. NKJV

God told Jeremiah that He had only good plans, not evil ones, for those who are called by His name...to give us a future and a hope. Unfortunately, there are the tendencies in humans to both be afraid of God and not to trust in Him. However, if we allow fear to keep us from trusting in the Lord, it will open up our hearts and lives to the tricks of Satan. 

To the human mind, it sometimes seems easier to run ahead of God, and then just pray that He protects us from the consequences of our own ways. Nonetheless, when we trust in our personal wisdom, and we follow our desires over God's will, our lives become chaotic. Chaos and confusion aren't from God, but are the result of our flesh being in control of our decisions in life. When God is given preeminence in our hearts, He will bring order into our lives.  

Even though God has given us freewill, willpower is no match to the spiritual power that Satan can exert over us when we run from the plan that God has for us. We may be able to say "no" to Satan for a while in our own strength, but eventually we will wear down and give into his devices. Therefore, we have to realize and acknowledge that we're in desperate need of God's grace so that we can overcome the spiritual struggles we face.   

Does your life have order and structure? Do you put God first in your life? There is a direct correlation between running from God's authority and experiencing chaos in our lives. In order for life to exist and produce, be fruitful and multiply, there has to be a healthy environment. God's Word sets the structure into place, which allows life to exist and flourish. If you read Genesis 1, you will notice when God looked at earth, there was neither light nor life on it. The first thing God spoke into reality was light, and then He spoke structure over creation. There was an order to everything God did because it was required so that life could come into existence on the earth.  

In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us that we're not to worry about food, shelter, or clothing. He instructs us to seek first the kingdom of God (spiritual structure) and His righteousness (our covering for sin), and all these other things will begin to fall into place. We're not created to chase money, people, or possessions. We were created to pursue God and His goodness. Placing God first is simply an act of your will that involves your heart. However, before we can place God as number one in our lives, we will have to love Him more than this world or its pleasures. Therefore, if you've been running from God, and now you're running from Satan, then stop, submit to God, and you will have the power to resist the Devil and watch him run from you.

Thriving in Christ,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Word in Action

1 Corinthians 4: 20, For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. KJV

Acts 1: 6 - 8, Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." NKJV

When Jesus came to earth, He preached the gospel of the kingdom; and as the people heard His teachings and believed on Him, He began to demonstrate the power of the kingdom of God. Likewise, the Word of God gives us the authority to exercise spiritual dominion on the earth. However, why did Jesus give us both the Word and authority? Well, if someone makes a promise to you when you're in need, but they have no power to help you out, what will it profit you?

The Father has given us, his children the Holy Spirit to help us in serving His purpose on the earth. Remember, Jesus said, "Father, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Once we receive power from the Holy Spirit, we are able to live the Word of God first; and then we are empowered to demonstrate the power of God. It is through the demonstration of God's Word that His love is displayed to a lost world. Consequently, we become a witness of Christ to the lost.

The Bible is a book of love in action. God sent His Word to build faith in the hearts of people to be able to receive the power and blessings of His great love. Love isn't a feeling; it is a fruit of God's Spirit at work in our hearts. Love is a word of action. For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only-begotten Son. If we are only hearers of the Word, but not doers of it, then according to the book of James, we deceive ourselves. Therefore, Jesus has given us the authority through His Word to fulfill God's will on the earth and to put the Word of God into action; this is why we have the book of ACTS. It's a book about the Acts of the Apostles under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  

Are you a student of the Word? Do you operate under the authority of the Holy Spirit to show God's love to the lost and hurting? Let us not love in word only, but in deed. When men see our good works, it will bring glory to our heavenly Father. Apart from Him, we can do nothing of eternal value. Ask the Holy Spirit to use you to touch the lives of others through the Word in action. LOVE!

The Word Became Flesh,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

For Yet a Little While

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

Are you waiting on God to move on your behalf? Are you in a season of trouble and looking for the Lord to deliver you from evil? Are you standing on God's promises and believing in Him for a miracle or a need to be supplied? If so, then let me ask you another question. How long are you going to wait on the Lord? 

It sure would be nice if while we're waiting on Him to move, the Lord would let us know just exactly when He's going to manifest His promise so that we don't have to WAIT. Nevertheless, why does the Lord require us to wait on Him before He gives us the need or fulfilled promise? Our willingness to wait on God shows that our complete trust is in Him. Even so, living by faith prepares us for His emanate return. God requires that the JUST live in a state of preparedness. We are commanded to be instant in season and out. In other words, God requires us to wait on Him so that we might learn how to be consistent... no matter the test. 

If I wait on the Lord, then I am disciplining myself to operate by faith instead of being moved by my flesh nature. However, the question that needs to be addressed today is this: How long should we be willing to wait on the Lord when we are looking to Him for an answer or a need to be met? We must determine in our hearts that we will wait on the Lord until He moves on our behalf. After all, it isn't going to be on our terms, but on God's. Once we make the decision to wait on the Lord "until," the length of time won't be an issue. 

If we focus on a specific time frame, it can cause us to grow weary while we wait. We may also be tempted to act or jump prematurely. However, if we leave the timing in God's hands and simply trust His will over our need, then we will be able to rest in full assurance that He is faithful; and He won't leave us hanging. God cannot lie. If He said it, He will perform it. Nonetheless, we must be willing to wait until He comes through for us. Are you waiting on the Lord?

I Know in Whom I Have Believed,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our Life Is In Christ

Acts 17: 28, For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring. KJV

Today I want to share some thoughts with you about the goodness of God. The Holy Spirit has been opening the eyes of my understanding in the past couple years so that I can recognize God's goodness in my life. Until the Lord began to deal with my heart about all that He had done and all that He was doing in and for my family and me, It seemed that I was only able to focus on the troubles and trials.

Satan loves to make things hard for believers. He and his demonic regime don't just want to attack us to make us struggle in our faith walk; they also want to discourage us so that we will dwell on the negative aspects of life. If this sounds like the way that you view life, then read on for better understanding. Satan had a stronghold on my mind through the lens of negativity. He was weaving a web of deception through my negative outlook on life, trying to convince me that I was a victim. However, God's Spirit stepped into my thought-life. The Lord began to speak to me through the passage in Psalm 27:13; I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. NKJV

As this scripture got down into my heart through my faith in God and His Word, the Lord illuminated my understanding so that I could see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Let me explain. God created birds to fly in the air. He created fish to swim in water, and He created man to walk on the earth. Consequently, the best environment for man is on the earth. If we should go high into the air, we will need oxygen; and if we should go into the depths of the sea, we will need diver's suits with air tanks. 

Therefore, in order for the believer to live in this fallen world, God placed us in Christ. He is our new environment; He enables us to live victoriously while remaining in our flesh suit on earth. If it wasn't for being in Christ while in this flesh world and having the favor and blessing of God on our lives, Satan would destroy us. But God! 

Now begin to focus on all the goodness that God has bestowed upon you to make your life comfortable. He has placed us on the only planet that is conducive for life; and He has positioned the earth at the correct distance from the sun, which allows us to be warm without being consumed. He gives us wisdom to build modes of transportation, and then protects us so that we arrive safely. God gives us good health and a sound mind to be able to accomplish our everyday tasks. The Lord blesses us with the material things that are needed to take care of our daily needs.  

Here is something that is very important to know and to put into practice. Jesus taught us a principle that we should apply every day. He said that whatever good you would have others do unto you, you, likewise, must be willing to do unto them. If we sow to our fleshly ways, we will reap corruption; however, if we sow to the Spirit, we will, of the Spirit, reap life and peace. If you desire to see the goodness of God in a greater dimension in your life, then you must live by these principles. When we choose to honor the Word of God in our hearts, and subsequently live them in out, God will see to it that we walk with His protection, provision, and power over our foes. As we honor God, He has promised that we would eat the "fat" or the blessed portions of the land. Therefore, begin to see yourself protected and provided for by the goodness of the Lord, and let God's peace fill your heart. He's got you covered.

In the Secret Place,
Pastor Asa Dockery

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Spirit of Adoption

Rom 8:14-17, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. NKJV 
One of the definitions in the Greek for adoption is the placing as a son (daughter). Let's see how adoption plays a role in the life of a Christian. When we were lost in sin, sin alienated us from the life of God. James teaches us that when sin is full-grown, it brings forth death. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and told Israel that His ear couldn't hear them to save them, not because He was deaf, but because their sin had separated them from Him.

Jesus came in the fullness of time and paid the penalty for our sins against God. In Christ, the Jews and the gentiles have been reconciled to God through His shed blood. Through Christ, we, who were afar off have been brought near to God. Before Christ was sent into the world, the gospel was only given to the Jews, but now the gentiles have been given the power to become children of God. We have been given the "spirit of adoption" and have become heirs of God and joints-heirs with Christ.  

The Apostle Peter seemed to have a very hard time understanding the love God  extended to the gentiles once Christ gave Himself for the entire world. In a vision from God, some food was lowered from heaven on a sheet, and Peter was instructed to partake of the banquet. When Peter saw the foods that were laid out on the sheet, which he considered unclean, he told the Lord that he wouldn't eat. The Lord gently, but firmly rebuked Peter and told him that He had made the food clean, and he was to partake of it. Later, Simon Peter learned that God had opened the Way for gentiles to be saved and adopted into His family.

When my wife was yet unborn, her biological parents were divorced. After she was born, and her mother remarried, she was adopted by her step-father. Since he was not a Christian and consumed alcohol, Debbie became the target of his anger and vengeance. Many times her life was placed in jeopardy as her step-father would hold a gun on her and would threaten her life. Unfortunately, Debbie didn't have a good experience being an adopted child. I bring her story up for one reason. We, who have been adopted and have found favor in the sight of God are also, at the same time, hated by the world that loves its own. 

Isn't it wonderful to know that you have been given the spirit of adoption and that God has accepted you into His family? We must remember this truth when we're faced by the hatred of the world and must learn not take it too personal. It's not us that the world has rejected. It is the One who has sent us to represent Him as His ambassadors. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that we are to let our lights so shine before men that they will see our good works and glorify our FATHER in heaven.

He Calls Me Son,
Pastor Asa