Put it to Death

Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of the Ten Commandments is this one: “Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17).

Coveting isn’t simply desiring something we don’t have. If you see something that you admire, it isn’t necessarily coveting. That simply could be appreciating something.

Coveting is when you become devoured by your desire for something. Many times it is something that isn’t yours to have, ever. Notice this commandment talks about your neighbor’s wife. It is not just wanting a wife; it is wanting your neighbor’s wife. It is wanting something that you are not intended to have.

From the original language the word covet is also translated “to pant after something,” sort of like a wolf that has gotten a taste for blood and is pursuing his prey. That wolf will not rest until he gets that prey. That is what coveting is. You become obsessed with something. You must have it.

How does coveting work? First the eyes look at an object, the mind admires it, the will goes over to it, and then the body moves in to possess it.

We sometimes think that only people who are poor have a problem with coveting. Rich people have everything they want so they have no reason to covet. But that is not right. Coveting is something that touches every life on every social rung of the ladder. No matter how much you have or achieve there is always more to acquire.

Some people covet throughout their life. They become obsessed with certain things, and they will make any sacrifice to get what they want. It may be a person. It may be an object. It may be a position. Whatever it takes, they are determined to get it. And that drive can destroy their lives.

So, Paul says we need to put those desires to death, consider them as dead because they are idolatry.

 

David Ball
Pastor

His Time

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.

By nature I’m an impatient person. I am always ready to go. I tell Peggy that I’ve spent half our married life waiting on her. When a pizza is delivered, I don’t want to wait for it to cool down. Microwave ovens seem slow to me.

In the same way, many of us grow impatient with God. The Bible says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time”. If we rush things, we can ruin them. We can destroy what God is doing.

Some have said, “Lord, I want to be used by You. When are You going to open the door of ministry for me?” Others ask, “When am I going to get married?”

Or, we may see someone who seems to be getting away with sin. We know what they’re doing is wrong. We say, “Lord, how long are You going to let them get away with that?” We can look at the state of our world and say, “Lord, when are You going to come back and establish Your kingdom?”

We have to wait. The Lord says to us, “Be patient, because in My time I will make all things beautiful.”

We can grow impatient with God and in our impatience we can sometimes take things into our own hands and make a mess out of things. If you don’t believe that, just read the story of Jacob. If things didn’t go his way, he offered God a little assistance. The Lord wanted to bless him and give him a birthright. But through conniving, he made a mess out of his life and he came to regret what he had done.

We need to wait on the Lord. His timing is a critical part of His will. He doesn’t ask for us to understand. He just asks for us to trust.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Under His Care

Acts 28:5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.

When the apostle Paul was placed on a ship bound for Rome, he experienced a shipwreck along the way. But the Lord had appeared to Paul and assured him that no lives would be lost. They would reach their destination safely. Everyone made it ashore, and as Paul was warming his hands over the fire, a poisonous snake bit Paul’s hand. Paul simply shook off the snake, and everyone thought he was some sort of god because he survived. But what we learn from this is that Paul’s time had not yet come.

Until God is done with us, we are indestructible. Jesus said of believers, “They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them” (Mark 16:18). This doesn’t mean we should hold snake-handling services as some so-called churches have done. Nor should we go out and drink poison to test our faith. That is testing the Lord, and it isn’t what God is saying.

Here is what it does mean: until God is done with us, nothing will stop us. We don’t have to live in constant fear for our lives, because until the day the Lord is done with us, we will be safe in His protective care.

And what about the day when He is done with us? As Paul himself said, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

In the meantime, we should not unnecessarily put ourselves at risk. We are not to do foolish things to endanger ourselves. If we seek to stay in the will of God, we have nothing to worry about.

That’s a great outlook to have while we live in a dangerous world. We can thank God because we are under His protection.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Stall and You Fall

1 Peter 2:2 2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation.

Several years ago I was working on my pilots license. My dad was a pilot and I always wanted to fly. There is a lot to learn. You have to lean the language of aviation, navigation and weather. But the thing I liked most was leaning about aeronautics. The science and practical application of how an airplane stays air born. One of the first things you learn is how to get out of a stall. When you stall, you fall.

What’s true of aviation is also true of the Christian life: stall, and you will fall. The Christian life is one of constant growth, constant learning, and constant transformation. The problem is that some are willing to take Jesus as their Savior, but they are not necessarily willing to take Him as their Lord. They’re willing to take on Christ as their friend but not necessarily as their God. As a result, they stall in a baby-like state.

Now, babies are cute when they’re little. But it is sad to see someone behaving like a baby when they’re in their twenties. Spiritually, we all start out as babies. We start out with a hunger for God’s Word. There’s no shame in that because that very hunger for spiritual truth is an indicator of spiritual health. A healthy person is a hungry person.

If you’re hungry for God’s Word, if you want to hear God’s Word, that’s good. It’s something you should desire. The objective is to go from getting your food in bite-sized pieces to learning how to read the Word of God, process its truth, and learn how to think and live biblically.

Christian discipleship is all about growing up. It’s about going to the next level. It’s about living the Christian life to its fullest, as it was meant to be lived.

 

David Ball
Pastor

It is Finished

John 19:30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.

The cross was Jesus’ goal from the very beginning. He was born so that He would die. The incarnation was for our atonement. He was born to die so we might live. And when He had accomplished his purpose, He summed it up with a single word: finished.

In the original Greek, it was a common word. Jesus probably used it after He finished a project that He and Joseph worked in the carpentry shop. Jesus might have turned to Joseph and said, “Finished. Now let’s go have lunch.” It is finished. Mission accomplished. It is done.

So, what was finished? Finished and completed were the horrendous sufferings of Christ. Never again would He experience pain at the hand of wicked men. Never again would He have to bear the sins of the world. Never again would He be forsaken of God. That was completed. That was taken care of.

Also finished was Satan’s stronghold on humanity. Jesus came to deal a decisive blow against the devil and his realm at Calvary. Hebrews 2:14 says, “That through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil” This means that you no longer have to be under the power of sin. Because of Jesus’ accomplishment at the cross, finished was the stronghold of Satan on humanity.

And lastly, finished is our salvation. It is completed. It is done. All of our sins were transferred to Jesus when He hung on the cross. His righteousness was transferred to us. So Jesus cried out the words, “It is finished!” It was God’s deliberate and well-thought-out plan. It is finished—so rejoice!

 

David Ball
Pastor

What Breaks God’s Heart

Luke 19:41–42 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”

As Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the crowds were celebrating. They were laughing. They were cheering. They were having a great time but Jesus was weeping. He saw the city, and He wept over it. The crowd was rejoicing but Jesus was lamenting deeply. The crowd was reveling while Christ was sobbing.

Why did Jesus weep when He saw Jerusalem? Being God and having omniscience, Jesus knew these people were celebrating for the wrong reason. He knew they would turn on Him. Those who were crying, “Hosanna!” would soon be shouting, “Crucify Him!”

He knew that one of His handpicked disciples, Judas, would betray Him. He knew that another disciple, Peter, would deny Him. He knew that the high priest, would conspire with Pilate, the Roman governor, to bring about His death. And, He knew the future of Jerusalem. Looking ahead 40 years, He saw the destruction that would come on the city at the hands of Titus and his Roman legions.

Jesus also wept because His handpicked people, the Jews, would reject Him. He had healed their sick. He had raised their dead. He had cleansed their lepers. He had fed their hungry. He had forgiven their sins. Yet for the most part, He had been rejected. John 1:11 says, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” And so He wept. This broke His heart, and it still does.

Unbelief and rejection break God’s heart because He knows the consequences. When the door of a human heart is shut, He will not force His way in. He will only knock, wanting to be invited in. He has given us the ability to choose. But when we choose the wrong thing, He knows the repercussions that will follow, in this life and the one to come. And it breaks His heart.

 

David Ball
Pastor

A Reason for Suffering

Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.

There are times when God allows suffering or sickness to get our attention! If we are in rebellion and He wants us to stop, He may allow some kind of trial or suffering.

This was the case with the prophet Jonah. The Lord may allow a hard situation to wake us up to our real need, even something as tragic as the death of a child.

One parent who lost a child wrote, “A person expects to lose a parent, maybe even a brother, sister, aunt, or uncle; but never a child. My son would have been 16 years old this year. It has been 15 years since his death. He was the person who brought me to the Lord. Because of his death I received salvation. The comfort I found when I fell into God’s hands . . . God knows my pain; He lost a son too!”

“Fifteen years later . . . I still cry at Christmas; that’s when I remember his life and my loss. I still cry at Easter; that’s when I am assured I will see him again. I know I will never get over it because I don’t want to get over it. The intensity is less; but, like the joy of life takes the pain of birth away, I have found salvation through God’s Son because of the loss of mine!”

God used a terrible tragedy to bring this parent to the Lord. Maybe something radical or tragic has happened to you lately, the death of a loved one, bad news from a doctor, a close brush with death. Or maybe something else has gotten your attention. Maybe your marriage failed, your parents divorced, you got fired, your girlfriend or boyfriend dumped you.

It’s possible the Lord is trying to get your attention in this hardship. Remember that God is in control of all circumstances that surround the believer. As in the story of Job, the devil can do nothing in the life of the believer without express permission on the part of God.

But why would God give Satan that permission? Because Satan’s attacks show what you are made of. They separate the real from the false, the wheat from the tares. When attacked, a real believer will turn to God. A nonbeliever will turn against Him.

People react in different ways in a crisis. They either turn to the Lord or against Him; they either get better or they grow bitter. Suffering does not create character; it reveals it.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Just Beyond Our Grasp

Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.

Most people today think that contentment comes from what you have. If I just had more money, then I would be content. . . . If I were more intelligent. . . . If I were better looking. . . . If I were more successful. . . . If I got promoted. . . . The pursuit of contentment or happiness in this life is a never-ending endeavor. It always seems to be just beyond our grasp.

The apostle Paul said, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content”

Paul was in prison when he wrote that. He didn’t receive this revelation in a classroom; it came from living out the ministry he was called to and walking with God in good times and bad. He had experienced pain and pleasure, health and sickness, weakness and strength, wealth and poverty. He was a hero to some and a villain to others. And he found complete contentment in it all.

It’s interesting that Paul used the word learned: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” In the original language the word he used was generally used to speak of a special attainment or of having grasped a hidden truth. Paul was saying, “Check this out! I’ve found a hidden truth. I have found the secret of contentment.”

The word translated content is important as well. It means self-sufficient. In the context of this epistle, it speaks of a sufficiency in Jesus Christ. Paul was saying, in effect, “It doesn’t matter where I am. I am content.” It was all about his relationship with God.

Our contentment does not come from what we have; it comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

David Ball
Pastor

An Opportunity for Growth

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Have you ever had one of those days when you were walking with Lord, trying to do the right thing, and out of nowhere, you’re hit with heavy-duty temptations? It often happens at the worst conceivable time, like when you’re praying or you’re in church. You wonder why is this happening.

Without a doubt, none of us enjoy being tempted, but there are some valuable lessons that come through those times that God allows in our lives.

Someone said that Christians are a lot like tea bags; you can’t tell what they’re made of until you put them into hot water. Sometimes we think we are doing pretty well spiritually. Then the Lord puts us in some hot water. He lets us go through a time of trial and temptation in our lives. It helps to strengthen us spiritually.

James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). He wasn’t saying we necessarily need to experience an all-encompassing joy in our times of hardship. Nor was he demanding that his readers be happy about the trials of life. James was not saying that trials are great fun. They are not. In fact, Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful!”.

James is saying to make a deliberate choice to see beyond the trial. To understand that though our troubles we are earning crowns. Our trials are accomplishing something in our life. It may hurt now, but what will come as a result will be so much better. You will be able to look back and say, “It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.”

In the Christian life, God will allow trials. We are to see them for what they are and count them with joy and rejoice.

 

David Ball
Pastor

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