Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Disabling Spirit

Luke 13:10-17
A favorite expression for describing someone who is upset is they are “bent out of shape.” In the passage of scripture today we are going to look at two people who were bent out of shape; one was a woman who was physically bent out of shape and the other was a religious man who was spiritually bent out of shape.  
I.     Physical DeformityLuke 13:10-11
"She lived in a posture of forced humility."--CH Spurgeon.
A twenty-year SundaySchoolPin does not mean someone is spirituallystrong.  
Masters of religionmay be spiritually empty vessels criticalof those aflame with spiritual fire. 
II.    The Spirit of InfirmityLuke 13:10;16
Luke describes her condition as two fold, 
·      disabled... weakness, frailty
·      boundby Satan ... oppressionnot possession
One of Satan’s greatest tools is to erect a strongholdin your mind to make you think you can’t do something that Godhas told you to do. 
Satan is the “father of lies” and a lyingspirit had convinced this poor woman that she couldn’t stand up.
A lot of us need for Jesus to deliver us from our “I can’ts” today.
Bentbacks come from deceivedminds. 
How sad when our weaknessesor other issues are how we are definedin life.  
III.  The Spirit of Deliverance Luke 13:12-13
·     JesusNoticesand Caresfor Hurting People.
We have the tendency to think we have to gain the attentionof Jesus. But Jesus seesus in our infirmity long before we ever seeHim.
Jesus still calls individual names.
·     Jesus Is PowerfulEnough To HealHurting People.
·     To be healed and free we must accept our newcondition

Friday, March 29, 2019

Leap of Faith

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Matthew 21:22

George Mueller said of faith,"Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends."  This quote speaks of our need to totally rely on God; especially when we need an extra dose of faith to make a huge leap.  It is not just about courage.  It is about trust. Just like a little child afraid to jump into the water, if they do not trust you, they won’t cooperate with you.  Sometimes we don’t cooperate with God because we do not trust Him completely to keep His word. To obey God requires that we take a leap of faith.  We say yesbut when it comes time to jump, we back away in fear.  
How many blessings and opportunities have we missed because we have not been obedient and carried through with our yesto God’s calling on our lives?  It is scary when we can’t see the end or when the first step requires great change in our lives, or when a whole room of our peers is staring at us, waiting to see who will make the first move.  Like George Mueller said, faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. If we knew it was possible, we wouldn’t be afraid or hesitate.  It is when we have no power over the situation and we have no idea where a road leads that we feel called to go down, we only have two options; we can either back away or we can go blindly in the direction God calls us depending on Him every step of the way.  He is faithful and He will not leave us stranded.  
Fear or Faith?Fear is real and there are some serious life-changing situations in our journeys that require us to make some very hard leaps of faith.  But does your fear outweigh your faith?  How desperate are you?  If you continue to disobey God out of fear, you will come to a point of desperation.  If you wait long enough, you will become weary and allow doubts and fears to grow. When we run from God and don’t obey, we will eventually come to a point that we are ready to obey and jump because we are parched and desperate.  We don’t have to suffer and get to that point.  God wants us to trust Him now.  He cares about us and loves us.  He has got our back.  We just have to believe and jump!  

Scripture to Claim:But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Just Ask

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5

In the scripture above, "If any lacks"implies that everyone has a shortage of wisdom. The difference in the measurement of our wisdom verses God's is what makes us question His sovereignty when the trials come. Our wisdom asks, "WHY ME?" and God's wisdom allows us to start asking for wisdom to see us through the trial. 
ASK- the present tense says to keep on asking. We can stay in constant prayer with our Heavenly Father.  God is not tight fisted toward His children.  He gives all wisdom without reproach - He does not disgrace us, shame us, or scold us because of our past failures or sins. Our God is a good, giving God!
This wisdom God offers to us, simply for the asking, is not mere knowledge of facts, or the accumulation of information. Many people have gone under the trials of life knowing all the facts.  The wisdom God offers is understanding for living. It is the God-given ability to make godly decisions and choices in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Why do we need wisdom for trials? Why not ask for strength, grace, or deliverance?  We need to ask for godly wisdom that allows us to see that strength, grace, and deliverance comes withGod's wisdom.  The trials that come to us in life are nothing less than gigantic opportunities to become wise.
Just BelieveAs we live in the world of advancing technology, we also live in a society where people want something for nothing. James sets the conditions of asking for godly wisdom. 
·     ASK IN FAITH - Faith is an unwavering trust and belief in God.  Hebrews 11:6says 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. To ask in faith believing, says we are committed to depend upon God and His wisdom rather than our own. 
·     WITH NO DOUBTING - Skeptics are born every day. They live in a sea of doubt and faith never enters their lives. To ask God for wisdom and then doubt tells of the conflict of trust that is going on inside of us. Doubting contrasts with faith. 

James views the "DOUBTING BELIEVER" (paradox!) as being on the waves that go in and out. A wave is at the mercy of outside influences. It has no power of direction. It is in a state of constant change. It is the perfect picture of the doubting that causes instability in our lives. God's wisdom gives us stability in our lives. He gives us the peace that allows us to see clearly and make the wisest and most godly choices when the seas of adversity are crashing around us, when the waves of doubt threaten to draw us away - outside influences of difficult circumstances. Ask Him in faith and belief that He will give you the wisdom you need every day. 

That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ. Ephesians 4:14-15

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.  Matthew 7:15

Sometimes in life, things are not what they seem.  There is no place in life where that is more certain than in religion. Religion will always trip up the unwary.  That is because the devil wants things confusing.  He has no desire for you be able to find your way through to the truth. The question so many people ask is, "With so many people claiming to speak the truth, how can you sort them out? How can you tell who is telling the truth and who is not?  Jesus warned us about religious leaders, who claimed to have the words of God in their mouth, but really had deception and pride in their hearts.  He called them ‘ravenous wolves’ in sheep’s clothing.
A false prophet is, by definition, someone who names the name of the Lord, but is not really speaking from the Lord. He is saying “The Lord said”, when the Lord has not spoken.  A false prophet is someone who comes to us as a teacher, a preacher of the Word of God - one of the sheep.
Jesus certainly had no need to warn against the preachers of other religions.  We are usually on guard when it comes to other religions we don’t believe in but someone who says they believe like we do and claims to be a Christian can catch us off guard.  We need to be paying attention. 
In sheep’s clothing– prophets wore sheepskin over their shoulders as a sign of their calling from God.  Shepherds wore sheepskins for a variety of reasons and were known by the uniform of their trade. A big Bible and a Commentary don’t signify a good teacher. The clothes don’t make the man.  Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, their real intent is to devour the flock.  They have the appearance of sanctity but are inwardly greedy, manipulative, and exploitative. Paul says that they will appear to be “ministers of righteousness” while in fact being servants of Satan. - I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Acts 20:29-30
Marks of a False Teacher - You can know a false teacher by these traits:
False Fruit– His message satisfies without challenging, it is non-offensive. He speaks of blessing without sacrifice or services.  His message is not from God, but himself, but discernment reveals truth.
False Following– Merely confessing with our lips is insufficient.  Lip service makes us feel good but not God. - v.21a Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven.  Paul said, “no man can say Jesus is Lord apart from the Holy Spirit”. I Cor. 12 :By the tests of time and character, assurance of salvation can be realized..  False activity or non-activity display the same incongruity of confession, and a heart for God without a knowledge of God = vulnerability. 
False Prophets Today- Cult leaders and False Prophets give people what they want and take everything they have.  A little knowledge is dangerous when it comes to faith and religion.  Human reason outside of God’s revelation is dangerous to religion.  All cults draw the person away from the truth concerning Jesus Christ.  
A heart for God without a knowledge of God = vulnerability.  There must be a basis for truth and that is the Word of God.  It is not enough to know what you believe but also why you believe.  The wolves are out there hoping to catch us at our most vulnerable point and we have to be ready.  We have to know the truth we believe and constantly turn to that truth as a filter for everything in our lives.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

To What Lengths?

Submitted by Sam Nobles
 “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ's behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God’” (2 Corinthians 5:20 HCSB)

What if you heard this story on the news tonight…

An experienced firefighter was recently charged with grave neglect of duty. Prosecutors maintained that he had abandoned his responsibility that resulted in the needless deaths of a family of five. Eyewitnesses were sickened when they discovered that the reason the firefighter remained locked in the emergency vehicle was simply because he was testing a new, hi-tech, MP3 player which, he maintained, he had bought as a gift for the fire chief. The fire chief immediately distanced himself from the defendant and he dishonorably discharged him from the department. 

In a prepared statement, the chief said, “There are no words to describe such a betrayal of those he was sworn to protect.” The lead prosecuting attorney argued that for more than three minutes after arriving on the scene the firefighter wore earphones and listened to a MP3 while a family of five was screaming to be rescued from the sixth floor of a burning building. This terrifying drama took place in full view of the firefighter, as he remained seated in the vehicle, listening to the MP3 player. The defense pleaded no contest but added that the defendant went to great personal sacrifice to purchase the expensive gift for the chief and hoped that the judge would take that into consideration as he passed sentence.

What sentence would you give the firefighter if you were the judge? There are a lot of ways to share our faith in Jesus with others, but if we neglect it altogether then we are no better than the firefighter who sat back and watched people die instead of doing what he was supposed to do. 

What sentence did you give the firefighter? Are you honest enough to judge yourself by the same standard? Think about your friends and family that aren’t saved. Think about their fate if you neglect your duty. Jesus was willing to give his life for sinners to be saved; what are you willing to do? To what lengths are you willing to go for people to hear and respond to the gospel? Maybe a better question is, “Are you doing anything at all?”

Scripture to Clam:
“…woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16b HCSB)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Pure in Heart

Most people think of themselves as moral people.  But what does moral really mean?  The dictionary defines moral as concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human characteror holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct.  True morality and integrity only come from the inside.  It is our heart attitude that truly changes our outside behaviorbecause our outward behavior flows from the inward nature of our hearts.  So, when Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart...",He was saying that what we all really need is to be right on the inside.  It is not about external purity, but internalpurity. God does not want us to go through the motions that we think will make us a Christian or that will make us seem like a Christian to the rest of the world.  He wants us to act with sincere desire from a pure heart. 
Becoming “pure in heart” is really the process of sanctification. It is seeking God with all our heart and desiring God above all else. When we are pure in heart, all our actions and intentions are based on who we are in Christ.  The choices we make are a reflection of Him.  We cannot be double-minded and be pure in heart. We cannot love sin and love God. We will always have struggles with sin because Satan is relentless in his attack on us.  But if we sincerely desire Christ more than anything, we can filter everything through Him and keep sin at bay – in His strength.  We have to intentionally work to protect our hearts and minds, as well as our physical bodies, from sin.  When we fail, because we will sometimes, Jesus Christ provides the cleansing we need to be pure in heart again. 
To be pure in heart means more than avoiding outward sins, it means avoiding double-mindedness. Double-mindedness is like a cancer of the spirit. It slowly eats away at your spiritual life until there is no real life left.  Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other" (Matthew 6:24).  James, in his book(James 4:4), reminds us that"friendship with the world is hostility towards God" and then gives us the solution: "cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (v.8) – which isan uncompromising desire to please God 
They shall see Godmeans fellowshipwith God.  If we allow sin to take up space in our hearts, we can’t have fellowship with God.  You don’t have to have a lot of areas of weakness or sin.  Unfortunately, it only takes oneweaknessto stand between the believer and a pure heart for God.  All Satan needs is one tiny piece of our heart to take us from Christ.  It is sin that stands between us and God and its removal restores fellowship.  Psalm 51:10 saysCreate in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Only God can restore the purity to our hearts because of the sacrifice of His son for our sin and because of His sanctification in our lives. The restoration of the purity of our hearts will bring us to Jesus and keep us in fellowship with Him. 

Scripture to Claim:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  Proverbs 4:23

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Grace High Priest Part-2

Hebrews 4:12-16
God has a remedy for the guilt and shame we feel about the hidden places in our hearts…GRACE.  How far will God go to give you 
Trapped in our sin and shame, we need an advocatebefore God.  

III. JesusUnderstands v. 15

·     Religion- "I messed up. My Dad is going to kill me!" 
Christianity- "I messed up. I need to call my Dad."

IV. FaithOvercomes v. 14

·      The problem is not what I have donebut what I amas a sinner.
·      The Latin word for priestis pontifex, taken apart and it means bridge-builder. 
·      Repentancefor our sin and professionoffaithin Christ’s work bring salvation. 

V. GraceConquers All v. 16

·      Merciful grace is unmeritedfavor that sets us free from the penaltyof sin and shame. 

·      The wrathof God against sin is not countered by His lovefor the sinner but by His amazing grace.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Sharing the Good News

(Submitted by Pastor Van)
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 NASB

It may be hard to believe, but there are millions of Americans who have never been presented the Gospel.  They have heard about Jesus and understand that sin is wrong and God will judge it, but they have never understood how it all goes together.  They know people who go to church and may even feel that they are not welcome because it is only for a certain group of people.  Christianity is just another of the religions to them.
We certainly benefit by refreshing our own understanding of the Gospel and our need of a Savior.  These steps to salvation should be a part of our memory so we can be used whenever the opportunity comes to testify of man’s need, God’s love and Christ’s provision.
God’s Simple Plan of Salvation
God says in order to go to Heaven, you must be born again. InJohn 3:3, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.”
·     First, my friend, you must realize you are a sinner. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
·     Because you are a sinner, you are condemned to death“For the wages[paymentof sin is death” Romans 6:23This includes eternal separation from God in Hell.
·     But God loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to bear your sin and die in your place. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  2 Corinthians 5:21 
·     Jesus had to shed His blood and die.“ . . . without shedding of blood is no forgiveness” Hebrews 9:22.   But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
·     InActs 16:30-31, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas: Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." 
·     “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” Acts 17:30 This repentanceis a change of mind that agrees with God that one is a sinner, and also agrees with what Jesus did for us on the Cross. 
·     Simply believe on Him as the one who bore your sin, died in your place,was buried, and whom God resurrected. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” John 1:12
·     “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13  Whosoeverincludes you. Shall be savedmeans not maybe, nor can, but shall be saved.
Just pray: 

“Oh God, I know I am a sinner. I believe Jesus was my substitute when He died on the Cross. I believe His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection were for me. I now receive Him as my Savior. I thank You for the forgiveness of my sins, the gift of salvation and everlasting life, because of Your merciful grace. Amen.”

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Unique Evangelism

(Submitted by Pastor Van)
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  2 Corinthians 5:20 NASB

While a walk down the River Walk in San Antonio, Susie and I came across a craft show along the river. She was attracted to the work of an older artist depicting contrasts of darkness and light in a unique way.  We noticed the inscription “John 3:3” on a branch in the tree on the canvas.  As we looked at all his paintings, we discovered that somewhere in every painting this appeared.  The reference was to Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus when Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3
I thought of how many opportunities the man had to witness as he sold his art.  He did not call attention directly to the small detail which caused me to wonder how many people saw it later and looked it up just to see what the Bible said.  They would be led to the story and the revelation of man’s condition and God’s provision through His Son. 
I also learned of an indoor golf practice facility between Aledo and Fort Worth called 1611.  I was surprised to discover that one of the owners is the son of one of my best friends when growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The conversation with the owners turned to the unique name given the facility off of Markum Ranch Road.  It had no relation to the address and there was no connection in my thinking to golf.  When asked, the owners pointed me to I Chronicles 16:11which reads,Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually.  Once again, I considered the great number of individuals who would ask about the name and hear an admonition from scripture to seek God. 
Both of these examples display the hearts of the owners to find God’s favor in their labor and lead others to do the same.  While we often consider evangelism the direct presentation of the gospel and invitation to come to Christ, it is a much broader work.  In order to gain the right to be heard to present the gospel, someone has to open the door to the relationship.  Someone else might add to the gospel their own story and then one day the individual is ready to personally listen the Good News in relation to their own eternal hope.  Paul wrote about to the Corinthians concerning some who were stating that one minister was better than another.  What he said should cause us all to understand that salvation is God’s work.   I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.  1 Corinthians 3:6-7 
A painting of the Alamo with “John 3:3” inscribed in a column of the entrance.  An odd name of a business that opens the door for a discussion of dependency on God. Both can be considered acts of evangelism.  A license plate, a sign on a door, a baseball cap, a t-shirt, a Bible on a desk…all turn thoughts toward God and provide opportunity to share a testimony of what God has done in your life and what He can do in others.  Look around and there may be a way you can point people to Christ in a unique way.
Scripture to Claim:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." Acts 1:8 NASB

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