Be Strong

Zechariah 8:9 The Lord of Hosts says this: ‘Let your hands be strong’

God encouraged these men because they needed it; there was very little, outwardly speaking to inspire them. They had traveled hundreds of miles and over the course of four months to get to Jerusalem. When they arrived they found a city in ruins. They spent two years rebuilding the temple and it was only half way done. And what they had been able to accomplish was a shabby shadow of Solomon’s Temple.

So, God says to them ‘let your hands be strong’. They were discouraged because after all their effort they produced something that looked pretty pathetic.

We are a results driven society. Everyone expects to be a winner, and to take home the trophy but only a few actually do. So, it is easy to get discouraged when we look at the results of our efforts. We are told to be a witness to friends, and raise our kids to love the Lord. But when we do most of the time all we get is push back. It seems like we are plowing in concrete.

God said to the men in Zechariah’s day and He says to us, ‘keep it up’. You may not see the results you want or the outcome you expect but as you bear witness to friends and neighbors, as you raise your kids, you are doing the work God has given you. Let your hands be strong!

Don’t let material results be your motivation; let His voice, the words of His mouth inspire you.

 

David Ball
Pastor

History is His Story

1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

What is your personal testimony? It is simply the story of how Jesus changed you.

Paul was a great orator and communicator, not to mention being an apostle. But in almost every instance when he was talking to a nonbeliever, Paul began with his personal testimony.

Every person’s testimony is valid, by the way. Over the years I have heard some crazy testimonies, as I am sure you have. But I can tell you everyone’s testimony has the same basic structure. Once you were lost. Now you are found. Once you were dead but now you are alive in Christ. That is your testimony.

However, the power is not in your story; the power is in the story of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead. That is why Paul said, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Sometimes in our attempt to build a bridge for people to cross over we forget the cross. Don’t forget the cross.

Once Billy Graham was asked: “After all of these years of preaching, what should you have preach on more?” Without missing a beat, he said, “I would preach more on the cross of Christ and the blood, because that is where the power is.”

When you share your testimony, share it in a way that honors the Lord. When you tell your story, never boast of what of you gave up to follow Christ; rather, boast about what He gave up to restore you. Your story is really His story.

 

David Ball
Pastor

When You’re Overwhelmed

Psalm 61:2 “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Are you facing a personal crisis? Maybe a problem at work or a financial problem. Maybe your marriage is going through a rough spell or you have a son or daughter who is away from the Lord. Maybe you have a life-threatening illness. Or maybe you’re paralyzed by fear as you think about an uncertain future.

When we’re facing a crisis, we like to have a backup plan. Then we like to have a backup plan for our backup plan. And then a backup plan for the backup plan for the backup plan. But sometimes the Lord puts us in a circumstance where there are no backup plans. There is no safety net. There is no way out but Him.

In Acts, chapter 12, that is what the early church was facing. Things were looking very bleak. Herod had put James to death and then arrested Peter. If God did not come through, it would be a complete disaster. So what did the believers do? They prayed.

Philippians 4:6–7 tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

David wrote, “Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:1–2).

God promises that He will give us a peace that passes understanding, not a peace that comes from understanding. When you are overwhelmed, pray and know that He is God.

 

David Ball
Pastor

God’s Heart

Jeremiah 31:2b-3 When Israel went to find rest 3 the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.

When my granddaughter was a toddler, she wasn’t very good at playing hide and seek. She would hide and then giggle while she called out to me to come find her. I would play along and say, “Abi, where are you? I can’t find Abi! Where are you?” She would jump out, laugh, and then go back to the same hiding place again. She wanted me to find her.

In the Garden of Eden God called out to His son who was hiding, “Adam, where are you?” Was God unaware of Adam’s whereabouts? Of course not. God knew exactly where he was. He was saying, in effect, “Adam, I miss you. Adam, why did you eat of the forbidden fruit? Adam, why are you trying to hide from Me? Adam, I want to talk with you.”

That is the heart of God. He says in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now and let us reason together… Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

If you want to see how God feels about those who are lost, look at the three stories Jesus told in Luke 15. He compares God to a woman who lost a coin, a shepherd who lost a sheep, and a father who lost a son.

If we learn nothing else in the Bible, we learn that God loves all of mankind and longs for fellowship and friendship with us. We learn that God doesn’t want any person to go to Hell, and the best evidence of this is that He poured His wrath on His Son, who had never committed a single sin, so that we could be pardoned.

God cares for us, He searches for us, and He wants to walk with us every day.

 

David Ball,
Pastor

Moved by Compassion

Mark 6:34 “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.”

Sometimes it is easy for Christians to see nonbelievers as the enemy. Preachers sometimes rant and rave about the sins nonbelievers commit. But let’s remember something: behind their sin is an empty, searching, lost person whom God loves.

We are not called to condemn. We are called to appeal to nonbelievers with the message of hope, the gospel. We need compassion. Jesus was overflowing with compassion. He was moved by the needs of others.

When He saw Mary and Martha weeping over the death of Lazarus, He “groaned in the spirit and was troubled”. That phrase carries the idea of physical, emotional, and spiritual anguish. Jesus is the only one who can accurately say, “I feel your pain.” As He watched Mary and Martha weeping, His heart went out to them. He was in anguish, too. He hurt for them. He hurt with them. That’s our Savior.

Jesus knew that the same people who cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One” as He entered Jerusalem would soon shout, “Crucify Him!”

Yet He felt compassion, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. We should seek to imitate the Lord and have compassion on those who annoy us and even those who wish to do us harm.

If we want to be used by God in any capacity, this must be foremost in our minds and hearts. And it can’t be an obligation, or mere duty, not guilt, but a God-given burden for people.

 

David Ball,
Pastor

Get a Helmet

Romans 13:12 The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Like it or not, as a follower of Jesus you will have people who show hostility toward you. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. (John 15:18–19).

It’s true. If you dare to speak up about Jesus Christ, watch what will happen. You have entered a new realm. The world will treat you the way it treated Jesus. This is the battle between God’s seed and Satan’s seed, which we can trace back to Genesis 3.

We have a choice as Christians. It isn’t a choice of fighting or not fighting the spiritual battle; it’s a choice of victory or defeat, advancing or retreating. In the Christian life, either you are overcoming, or you will be overcome.

We’re living in a very critical time. The devil knows his days are numbered. He knows his judgment is sure. So, he’s doing everything he can to wreak as much havoc as possible before he faces his judgment. That is why we need to get busy. Every battle counts. Every day is important.

So, when Paul says, “The night is nearly over and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” He is saying, like my high school coach, “It’s time to suit up”. But before you do, cast off the works of darkness. Be done with compromise in your life. Be done with trying to live in both worlds.

Let’s get busy. Let’s engage. And let’s watch what the Lord will do.

David Ball
Pastor

What is Worship?

Ezra 3:6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord but the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid.

Sacrifices and offerings were offered to God for two years before the foundation of the Temple was even laid. When we think about worship in Jerusalem our minds are usually drawn to the Temple. But in Ezra we see that sacrifices and worship began long before the temple was rebuilt.

Isaiah said, ‘God doesn’t dwell in buildings made by human hands’. God doesn’t need a house so He can meet with man. Man needs a place to meet with God and that place is the altar. The altar is the place of sacrifice. It is the place where blood is shed. Every sacrifice described in the Old Testament was to be done in a prescribed way because each one looked forward to Jesus.

This should be a reminder to us. Our worship is not about the building we enhabit. It is not about the place where we meet. Our worship is about the altar; the place of sacrifice where the lamb was slain, it is about our heart.

What is most important to God is the offerings we bring, our fellowship and peace offerings. They are a sweet savor to Him. It is only when our hearts are right that the building means anything.

David Ball,
Pastor

Check Your Connection

Ezra 2: 59 Now these’re those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan & Immer but they were not able to give evidence of their fathers’ households and their descendants, whether they were of Israel:

Of the fifty thousand Israelites who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon there were some who could not trace their Jewish heritage. Records had been destroyed when Jerusalem fell. And because they could not show evidence of their lineage, they were excluded from the priesthood, until a priest came who could consult the Urim and Thummim.

We are not told what happened to these families but most likely they were not sent back to Babylon and were eventually accepted into the community. But in the short run, they were disqualified from the priesthood. They were not allowed to partake of the holy things. These people lost out because they could not show evidence of their heritage.

Is your legacy in Christ visable and verifiable? Is there proof in your life that you are connected to Jesus? Someone once asked, “If you were accused of being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict”?

There should be. There should be ample evidence in our life of our connection with Jesus. And when that evidence is lacking, when our lifestyle does not verify our linkage to Christ, we will lose out. We will miss out temporarily on what God has for us, the holy things He wants to give us.

David Ball,
Pastor

New beginnings

Psalm 80:18 Then we will not turn back from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your name.

I think we would all agree, America needs an awakening, but before that can happen the church needs a revival. We often use the words revival and awakening interchangeably, but there is a distinction. An awakening is when the people of a nation come alive spiritually. Individually, they see their need for God, and turn to Him. A revival on the other hand is when God’s people come back to life again.

Revival simply means to bring something back to life that was once dead. To be revived is to wake up from a state of sleep. We understand sleep after we wake up, not while we’re sleeping. Too many believers today are asleep and don’t even know it.

The church needs revival, it needs to wake up. Revival is getting back to the Christian life as it is explained in scripture. Revival is being in the bloom of ‘first love’, walking closely with the Lord. You can’t always have the emotions you first had as a new believer any more than you can have the same butterflies you had when you first met your wife to be. That is unrealistic.

But your love can grow deeper. It can grow stronger. That is how we ought to be as followers of Jesus. We need to walk in the faith we had a new believer. Revival is nothing more than a new, long term, commitment to obey God.

Only God can send an awakening to America. But revival can happen in your life and mine right here, right now. Lord, revive us, again…

 

David Ball
Pastor

The Highest Privilege

Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Today half of all Americans claim to be born again. Even more claim to believe in God. If you want to apply a litmus test to your relationship with God then, for the sake of argument, let’s say that Jesus was coming back in 15 minutes. How does that grab you?

If your heart jumps and you say, as the apostle John did, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” then I would say your life is right with God. But if your heart sinks and you say, “Fifteen minutes? I have some big-time repenting to do,” then I would say your life is not right with Him.

A person who is walking with God as he or she ought to should always be looking forward to the Lord’s return. A person who really knows God should always be a little homesick for Heaven. Are you?

If Jesus Christ were to return today (and He could), are you ready? Jesus said, “One will be taken and the other left” (Matthew 24:40). Some people will be left when the Lord comes for His church. What would happen to you?

And there is always the possibility that death could come. You don’t know for sure. No one does. What if this were your last opportunity to get right with God, and you let it slip by because you thought there would be a tomorrow, there would always be another opportunity? You don’t know that.

The Bible tells us that the prophet Isaiah went to King Hezekiah and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live’” (2 Kings 20:1). Are you prepared to meet God? Don’t wait. Get your life right with Him now.

 

David Ball
Pastor