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

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