A Convenient Time

Acts 24:25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”

There is a story about three apprentice demons that were coming to earth to finish their apprenticeship. They were talking to Satan about their plans to tempt and ruin humanity. The first said, “I will tell them there’s no God.” The Devil said, “No, that is not going to work. People know there is a God.” The second one said, “I will tell them there’s no Hell.” “No,” the Devil said, “People know there is a Hell and a judgment to come.”

The third one said, “I will tell them there is no hurry.” “Go,” said Satan, “and you will ruin them by the thousands.”

Procrastination is one of Satan’s most effective tools. If he can get someone to say “I’ll get around to it later.” Then the decision is not final, it isn’t absolute.

In Acts 24 we read about the master procrastinator, a Roman governor named Felix. He heard the gospel message as clearly and completely as possible. But Felix didn’t believe the message Paul proclaimed.

It was Felix’s moment of decision. Everything came together. The conviction of the Spirit. The recognition of his need for God. He probably acknowledged the truth of the gospel, intellectually. But he said to Paul, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you”

Procrastination is a great killer of those who are outside the faith. But it can also ruin those in the faith. I’m not talking about salvation but about our walk with God and our participation in the kingdom. If God is telling you to move in a certain direction, do not delay, do not procrastinate. Go where God is sending you because procrastination is a great killer.

 

David Ball,
Pastor

Be of Good Courage!

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The apostle Paul went to Jerusalem to share the gospel but the next thing he knew, he was locked up in a damp, dark prison cell. I’m sure he was discouraged on his first night because when the Lord appeared to him He said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome”. That phrase be of good cheer can be translated, “be of good courage.” So, I think Paul was discouraged, and a bit frustrated.

Whenever we read that the angels of heaven appeared and said, “Fear not,” it was because someone was terrified at that given moment. So when the Lord Himself said, “Be of good cheer, Paul,” he needed that special word at that particular moment.

Acts 23:11 says, “But the following night the Lord stood by Paul”. Sometimes it seems like the Lord is the only one standing by us. But even if everyone else forsook Paul, Jesus was more than enough company. If all the others despised him, the smile of Jesus was enough approval. Though his circumstances were less than ideal, I’m sure Paul knew it was better to be in that jail with the Lord than anywhere else without Him.

Prisons come in many shapes and forms. Jobs can seem like a prison sentence. Relationships can make you feel trapped. Some may even feel imprisoned by their emotions or their past. You should know that Jesus is there with you in whatever imprisons you. He knows what you’re going through. You have a God who knows what it’s like to face what you’re facing. You can bring your problems and concerns to Him. Go boldly to His throne and receive the mercy and grace He has for you in your time of need.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Choose Well…

Psalm 19:9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

When it comes to God’s wrath, some people say they don’t believe in a God of wrath or they are uncomfortable with a God of wrath. That sounds OK, until you think about what they are really saying. What they mean is “I want a God who doesn’t care about right and wrong.” To put it more bluntly, they are saying they want God to just overlook sin altogether.

But if God is really loving, then He is also just. That is what the Bible tells us. The love of God makes Him a righteous judge. Know this: No person will be in Heaven who deserves to be there. And no one will be in Hell who does not deserve to be there. No one will be in Heaven who went there unwillingly. And everyone in Hell goes there willingly.

God doesn’t force anyone to go to Heaven. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. On the other hand, no one will be in Hell who did not choose to go there. God gives everyone a choice.

J. I. Packer summed it up this way: “Scripture portrays Hell as self-chosen. . . . Hell appears as God’s gesture of respect for human choice. All receive what they actually chose. Either to be with God forever, worshipping Him, or without God forever, worshipping themselves.”

How could a God of love send people to Hell? He doesn’t. He won’t. If someone ends up in Hell, they went there willingly because they rejected God’s offer of forgiveness. They rejected Jesus and all He did for them. But if they ask God to forgive them of their sin, He removes it from them and transforms their life. Then they are born again.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Ownership

Genesis 24:5 The servant said to him, ’Suppose the woman is unwilling to follow me to this land? Should I have your son go back to the land you came from?’

In Genesis 24 Abraham sends his most trusted servant back to the land of the Chaldeans, his home land, to get a wife for his son Isaac. He tells Eliezer not to take a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites. And he makes Eliezer swear an oath.

Now when Eliezer hears Abrahams request he has some questions. “What should I do if she won’t come?” It was a good question. “Should I kidnap her? Should I take Isaac back there? What should I do?” She hadn’t been following Isaac on social media so she might not want to go with Eliezer. So, Abraham tells him, “no, don’t take him back and if she won’t come with you willingly you are free from the oath”.

Take note of what Eliezer does after Abraham gives him this mission. Eliezer does not just say, ‘OK’ and then wander off. He listens and gives thought to Abraham’s request. He had questions to clarify what should happen if things don’t go as planned. Eliezer took ownership of the mission Abraham gave him.

There is a lesson here for us. Whether in the church or at work, you should take ownership of whatever task or job you are assigned, big or small. Engage your heart and your brain, and bring them to bear on the task in front of you.

There is no division of work, spiritual and secular. Everything we do should be done as unto the Lord.

 

David Ball
Pastor

The Quiet Days

Genesis 22:1 After these things God tested Abraham…

In Genesis 21 Isaac is born, the son God promised to Abraham. It is a majestic, a miraculous story. Abraham is 100, Sarah is 90 and God gives them a son. There is also some drama as God tells Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael into the desert which was very difficult for Abraham. It is a powerful chapter.

Then in chapter 22 we find the story of God calling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah. Again, an amazing and powerful story. But what we often miss is that almost 30 years go by between chapters 21 and 22. Thirty years go by and there is no record of God saying anything to Abraham. For 30 long years it seems that Abraham just goes about the business of caring for his family and flocks, and worshiping God.

I think we often miss some of what God wants to show us in the quiet times, the ‘not so dramatic days’ because we are waiting for the next big event. We’re looking for God to move in some earth shaking way. The fact is that the vast majority of life is lived out in quiet, mostly dull, mundane ‘daily-ness’. But that does not mean that God isn’t there.

Even in the ordinary, plain vanilla days of our life, God is still there. Are you walking with Him in obedience in the daily routine of life? It is in those times that God prepares us for the days when He moves dramatically.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Injustice

Genesis 21:19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the waterskin and gave the boy a drink.

In Genesis 21 Hagar is sent packing. Sarah had enough of Ishmael and his mom so she told Abraham to get rid of them. God told Abraham to listen to his wife and so he sent Hagar and Ishmael away. Not long after they left Hagar’s provisions ran out and it seemed they were both about to die. In his anguish Ishmael cried out to God and heaven heard him.

In Ishmael’s eyes this probably seemed like a great injustice. He did not ask to be born into this family. Hagar did not ask to be Abraham’s slave and she did not ask to be Sarah’s surrogate. All this was forced on her and now because she was obedient, she and her son are about to die of thirst in the desert. This had to seem very unfair.

There is a great deal that happens in this life that seems unfair. One child is born into a family who happens to live in a war torn village in Syria and the child starves to death. Another child is born into a privileged home in New York City. This child never knows hunger or want for anything. What is fair about that? There is a great deal of unfairness in this world.

But the bible tells us that God hears our cry. He hears the cry of those who are treated unjustly and He responds to those who seek Him.

God responded to Ishmael’s cry and provided water for them. If you are facing injustice or you know of someone who is, understand that God hears your cry and He has the answer, there is a well of water near you. Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink”. God has given us a well from which we can drink if we will ask Him.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Forgiven

John 8:36 “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Some people have a hard time believing God has forgiven them. They live with guilt and feel like they can pay a kind of penance by beating themselves up over their sins. The fact remains that Christ has forgiven them. The fact that they are forgiven is something they need to receive by faith. They need to realize that “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”.

In Matthew 9 we find the story of a paralyzed man who was carried by his friends into the presence of Jesus. When Jesus saw the faith of his friends, he said to the man, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you”. This is the first time we see Jesus’ use of the phrase, “Be of good cheer,” and He used it when he was assuring a man that his sins were forgiven.

Now, they brought the man to Jesus to have him healed, not to have his sins forgiven. So Jesus went on to say, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”, then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house”. He needed to receive and act on the promise. And the man did.

Jesus forgave the man’s sins and in this case, God’s forgiveness brought healing. God does His part, He offers forgiveness but then we need to do our part and receive His forgiveness and walk in His forgiveness. Are you living like you are forgiven? Or, are you living in guilt because you are unwilling to receive His forgiveness? Receive and act on the forgiveness you have been given.

 

David Ball
Pastor

A Riches-to-Rags Story

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

The history of America is filled with rags to riches stories. In fact one of our Presidents began life as an impoverished orphan and rose to hold the highest office in the land.

But the story of Jesus is not a rags-to-riches story; it is a riches-to-rags story. It is a story of leaving the glory of Heaven to come to earth. Jesus could have been born in the most elegant mansion on the ritziest boulevard in Rome. He could have had aristocratic parents who boasted of their pedigree. He could have had the finest clothes from the most exclusive shops. He could have had legions of angels as an army of servants to respond to His every whim. But He had none of that. Instead, Jesus humbled Himself.

God came into our world. He was like any other baby who needed to be cradled, needed to be nurtured, and needed to be protected. The Creator of the universe was born in a stable in Bethlehem. He made Himself vulnerable to two young humans, Joseph and Mary.

Like everything else in the Christmas story, we have romanticized this aspect. I think, in many ways, we miss its raw, powerful meaning. This stable or barn (or maybe even cave) where Christ was born was cold and damp. It also would have smelled of manure and moldy hay. God incarnate was born on the dirt floor of a stable. Our Savior came not as a monarch draped in gold and silk, but as a baby wrapped in rags.

Jesus rose from His throne and went to earth. He went from being a Sovereign to a Servant. He went from the glory of God to a stable filled with animals.

Think about what Jesus left to come to us. Jesus stepped into the world in a manger so that we might have a home in Heaven.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Citizens of Another Kingdom

Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

It seems that no matter how much we attain in life, we always want more. We want the newest, the latest, the coolest thing out there. Part of that is the way God has wired us. As much as we live life, as much as we experience, as much as we see, it’s never enough. Why is that? The Bible says that God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

We know instinctively that this world doesn’t deliver on its promises. As Jim Reeves sang, “This world is not my home. I’m just a passing through.” The Bible says that we are citizens of another kingdom. When you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you become a citizen of Heaven. That is your real home, not Earth.

We are told in Philippians, “We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for His return as our Savior.” That is why we have this longing deep inside, a longing for something this Earth can never deliver.

That is also why we are always a bit out of step with this world and all it celebrates. That is why certain things the world parades before us will leave us cold. As followers of Jesus, we want something more. We want much more.

C.S. Lewis describes it as the “inconsolable longing.” He said, “There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.”

Earth can’t deliver on its promises, but Heaven will. As Christians we’ll live happily ever after—in Heaven, in the presence of God.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Bringing Your Best

Malachi 1:8 ‘But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor?

The prophet Malachi ministered around 432 BC. The nation of Israel had been reestablished for about 100 years by this time. They started out strong, worship was real and the people were sincere in their devotion to God. But now, 100 years later, things had begun to wane. The people were lukewarm towards God and their worship was weak.

They offered blind, lame, and sick animals as a sacrifice. So, God asks them, ‘why don’t you give them to your governor? See how impressed he is with your gift. And God says, ‘you wonder why I don’t receive you kindly when you bring Me junk’. The people of Israel had cooled over time in regard to their love for God. The same thing can happen to us.

When we bring blind or lame sacrifices to God it is an indication that our love for Him has cooled. In what ways do we bring lame and blind sacrifices to God? Certainly, we don’t bring farm animals to church each week to sacrifice on an altar. The sacrifices we bring are our time and talents, we bring a heart to serve the body of Christ. So, when we bring ‘blind and lame’ sacrifices to God we bring things that are not our best.

Every summer when people get ready to move to their next assignment I usually get a few who will ask me if they can donate something to the church. I have to confess I’m always a little skeptical. I have had too many people try to unload their old, beat up stuff on the church so they don’t have to move it.

What does it mean to give our best? It means to give God the very best we have. The best of our time. The best of our talents. Bring God your best to God. He deserves it. And when we do He will receive us kindly.

 

David Ball
Pastor