Loving the Dark

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

The reason the Pharisees rejected Jesus wasn’t because they disagreed with Him. They rejected Him because they chose to disbelieve Him.
Doubt is a matter of the mind. Even Christians have times when they doubt. We don’t always understand what God is doing or why He is doing it. But unbelief is a matter of the will. It is a choice we make.

The Pharisees chose not to believe. They did not reject Jesus for a lack of evidence. Jesus was the perfect example. Even Pontius Pilate said, “I find no fault in this Man” (Luke 23:4). Judas Iscariot, who spent three years with Jesus said, “I have betrayed innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). So Jesus clearly was a model of everything that He said.

The Pharisees rejected Jesus because it interfered with the way they wanted to live. And that is why people reject Him today. Jesus said, “This is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19–20).

People don’t reject Jesus because they have examined the evidence and remain unconvinced. They don’t reject Him because they have found contradictions in the Scripture. They don’t reject Him because of hypocrisy in the church. They reject Him because He interferes with the way they want to live.

 

David Ball
Pastor

The Invisible World

Daniel 10:13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.

Rarely do we consider that when we pray, we enter into spiritual warfare. In Daniel 10 the prophet has been fasting and praying for 21 days. Verse 10 says, Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.

Then the angel says, “When you offered your prayer, it was heard in Heaven.”

Sometimes our prayers are not answered as quickly as we would like because behind the scenes in the supernatural world there is a battle taking place. Daniel was praying on earth, and God heard him in Heaven and dispatched an angel with the answer. But somewhere between Heaven and earth, between the visible and the invisible, the angel was accosted by an evil spirit, and a battle ensued. After twenty-one days, God dispatched a higher-ranking angel to help the first angel.

From this account, we see that actions in the supernatural realm can hinder our prayers from being answered. This is especially important to remember when we are praying for the salvation of those who don’t know the Lord. A battle is taking place, and the devil is at work, wanting to keep them from hearing the gospel and from coming to faith.

When you pray and don’t see your prayer answered, it simply means that you should keep praying. The answer might come twenty-one days later or twenty-one years later. But we should not stop praying because God hears our prayers.

 

David Ball
Pastor

God is with You

Daniel 1:7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.

Nebuchadnezzar could change their names, but he couldn’t change their hearts. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were determined to serve their God no matter the circumstance life put before them.
The king had made the call for some of Israel’s finest young men. He wanted the best and the brightest. He wanted to indoctrinate and brainwash them in the ways of Babylon. And he wanted them to abandon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and worship the gods and the ways of Babylon.

Ancient Babylon was a wonder to behold, filled with astonishing opulence. Yet there was no reverence for the One true God. Everyone cowered in fear in the presence of King Nebuchadnezzar.

It is believed by many bible scholars that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were between the ages of 14 and 17. They were good Jewish boys who had been raised by their parents in the way of the Lord. But the world, as they knew it, changed when they were torn from their families. They were placed in an alien culture of paganism and luxury like they had never known. They suddenly found themselves in the palace of the most powerful man on earth.

Has your world changed recently? Were you going one way only to find yourself headed in a new direction. Maybe you got a new job, and it is an entirely new world for you. The people at the new location are not supportive of your Christian values. Maybe your orders were changed and you are headed to a different city altogether.

Here is what you need to know: Wherever you go, God goes with you. He doesn’t live in one place; He is with you no matter where you go. And He has not forgotten about you. He has a plan for you.

 

David Ball
Pastor

You are Useful to God

1 Corinthians 1:26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.

What are the qualities God looks for in the man? What kind of people does He want? Is He looking for a towering intellect? Is He looking for born leaders? Or, does the Spirit of God look for different qualities when He is searching for a man that He can use?

One thing is clear in the Scriptures: it seems like God intentionally goes out of His way to find individuals who don’t necessarily look like they will amount to much. He chooses people who, at first glance, do not appear to have what it takes.

When God was looking for a man to lead the nation of Israel, He selected a shepherd boy named David, who was watching a flock of sheep. When God wanted to have someone lead an army to defeat the Midianites, God picked a guy named Gideon who was hiding out in an abandoned cistern.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul says, “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. . . . As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God”
God is not looking for ability as much as He is looking for availability. Are you a person who will say, “Lord, I don’t have much to offer, but what I have, Lord, I offer to you”? If that is you, then sit back and watch what God will do.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.

God does not promise to answer everyone’s prayer. Rather, He promises to answer the prayers of those who have a relationship with Him. The very reason that Jesus came to this earth and died on the cross was so we might have a relationship and a friendship with God. But we all have a disease called sin that we can’t get rid of and this illness keeps us separated from God. So, when Christ died on the cross, He took our sins upon Himself.

So, until someone has a relationship with God, they will not have their prayers answered; as Isaiah 59:2 says.
I have heard people say that we are all God’s children, and that we are all brothers and sisters. But in reality, we are not all God’s children. We are His creation but we aren’t all His children. The Bible says that we are God’s offspring, meaning that we are created in His image. But that doesn’t make us His children. We are adopted into the family when we turn from our sin, and ask Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord.

The Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). God adopts those who choose Him. You aren’t automatically His child. At some time you must ask Him for forgiveness. Then He adopts you as His son or daughter. And you will have access to the throne of God.

 

David Ball
Pastor

A Life of Purpose

Acts 11:23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.

Psychologist William Moulton Marston surveyed 3,000 people and asked them, ‘What do you have to live for?’ The responses were amazing. Of the people who responded, 94 percent were simply enduring the present while they waited for the future. They were waiting for some future event to happen, like for children to grow up and leave home or for a dream vacation or retirement. They were waiting for tomorrow.

If we are not careful we can spend our whole life waiting for some future event while life passes us by. John Lennon said, “life is what happens while we’re making other plans”. Someone else said, “Some men die by shrapnel, and some go down in flames, but most men perish inch by inch, playing at little games.”

Purpose is vital. It’s an anchor in the storm. It’s a fortress in the battle.

Barnabas encouraged the believers in Antioch to continue in the Lord with purpose of heart. Paul describes us before our commitment to Christ in Ephesians 2: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience”.

That’s how we used to live. But now we know there is a God. We know His Word. We know there are absolutes in life; right and wrong, true and false, black and white. We are men of purpose. Do the people around you know what you stand for? We have a purpose, take your stand.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Spiritual Nourishment

Someone said that if everyone in America decided to read their Bibles at once, we would have the worst dust storm in history because of the dust flying off Bibles. America is by and large biblically illiterate; even in the church. This is a problem because the church is the only institution Jesus promised to build and bless, and part of the way He does that is by the Word.

The apostle Paul’s best analogy of the church is that we are the body of Christ. But as a body, we need to eat; we need nourishment and that nourishment comes from the Word of God.

Look at the early church’s relationship to scripture as described in Acts 2:42: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” As we pull apart this verse, there are two statements I want to make regarding your relationship with the Bible.

First, to grow, you must learn. Doctrine in Acts 2:42 simply means good, wholesome instruction or truth that is taught. The problem in the church today is that there is an absence of doctrine. Many people do not want to learn, they just want to ‘experience’. In Hosea God says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. And Peter commanded to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. To grow, you must learn.

And to learn you must hear. In Acts 2:42 the doctrine the church adhered to was the apostles’ doctrine. What does that mean? Since they didn’t have the New Testament at the time, the apostles took Old Testament Scriptures and applied them in a New Testament setting.

Read Acts 2:14-28. In this passage Peter reads chunks of Scripture, letting it speak for itself. He and the other apostles believed that there is power in the Word itself to change a life. And people listened and were transformed. In general, that’s how you learn the Word: by hearing. As Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

And if you hear, you must commit. Acts 2:42 tells us the church continued steadfastly in doctrine. In other words, what they started with, they continued in. Some people expect that the Bible will hit them like a blot of lightening when they open it. “Bam! God’s word.” At times that may happen, but I’ve found that most often, it’s more like taking vitamins. Nobody who takes a vitamin expects it to give them a sudden surge of strength. They take vitamins to improve their health over the long haul. It’s a cumulative effect.

I would encourtage you to continue in the truth. Make God’s Word a priority in times of delight and distress. Put one foot in front of the other. Go to Bible study. Go to church. Keep reading that text. When you persevere in this way, you’ll find that when you come up against all the things that happen in life; bad news from the doctor, the loss of a job or relationship, it won’t crush you. You’ll resort to a promise of God that holds you firm.

The Bible is the primary way you’ll hear from the Lord. So learn it to be mature. Hear it to be instructed. Believe it to be safe. And continue in it to be holy and healthy.

 

David Ball
Pastor

A Dad’s Role

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Ephesians 6:4 says, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” This is directed to fathers because we are very important in raising kids. Unfortunately, too many dads are missing in action these days.

It was unheard of in the first-century for a father to abandon his responsibilities in the home. Nowadays, it seems to be almost the norm. We are losing fathers at an unprecedented rate in our culture. One expert said we are in danger of becoming a fatherless society.

Why are fathers so important? To a large degree, a child’s view of God is based on their view of their father. You will often see that people compare their relationship with their earthly father to the one with their heavenly Father. I know this puts a lot of pressure on men, but it’s the truth: dads are earthly representatives of God. And God is loving. God is caring. God is nurturing. At the same time, God is just, righteous, and holy.

So what are we to do? First, we are not to provoke them. In fact, the word provoke speaks of a repeated pattern of treatment that causes the child to be angry, resentful and outright hostile.

Instead of provoking them, we are to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. This could also be translated “to nourish and feed.” Another translation says, “Let them be kindly cherished.”

So help your children come to Jesus and develop their own relationship with God. And remember that dads are representatives of God to their kids, that is why their role is so vital in the home.

 

David Ball
Pastor

When Sorrow Is Good

2 Corinthians 7:10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

C. S. Lewis said, “Repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years.”

We read of people in the Bible who were sorry but who really did not repent. For example, an insincere king Saul admitted his sin, saying to Samuel, “I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command” (1 Samuel 15:24). But that didn’t get him off his collision course with judgment.

The rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked how to have eternal life. When Jesus told him, he went away sorrowful but not repentant. He wasn’t willing to change.

These people experienced what Paul calls “worldly sorrow”, which is not the same as repentance and results in spiritual death.

There is a difference between remorse and repentance. This is important to understand. People are often sorry when their sin catches up with them. They are sorry when they begin to reap what they sow. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are repentant. Repentance means a change in behavior.

If you are sorry in a godly way, then you not only will have remorse for what you have done, but you also will change your conduct. Lets not sit by passively and listen to God’s word without any real intent to apply it to our lives.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Attitude Check

Ezekiel 25:3 Say to the Ammonites: Hear the word of the Lord God: This is what the Lord God says: Because you said, ‘Good!’ about My sanctuary when it was desecrated about the land of Israel when it was laid waste and about the house of Judah when they went into exile, therefore I’m about to give you to the people of the east as a possession.

Have you ever observed an enemy being humbled or humiliated? What was your reaction? Have you ever watched in joy as your rival football team lost a big game? I think we all have. Did you think or say out loud, ‘awesome, they’re finally getting what they deserve!’

Well, you might want to check your attitude. God says we should not rejoice when others fail. Ammon and Moab gloated over the downfall of Jerusalem and God gave these two nations to the ‘people of the east as a possession’. He said He would make them fall and that they would not be remembered among the nations. Serious stuff.

When you see God dealing with someone for their sin don’t pile on or take pleasure in it. Don’t say ‘great, they’re getting their just deserts!’ We need to pray for them, in humility. But for the grace of God we could just as easily be in that situation. God isn’t honored when we rejoice in the downfall of others.

 

David Ball
Pastor