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

Can Failure be Good?

Ecclesiastes 2:11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

Is success the most important thing in life? It depends on how you define success. For some achieving their goals is the definition of success. But they achieve their goals at a steep cost. Some through deception and betrayal or by abandoning their principles and sacrificing their integrity. Others by neglecting family and friends and even abandoning God. They may have achieved their goals but ultimately they are failures. Success can be a form of failure.

King Solomon went on a sinful binge, of sorts. He said, “Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless, like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere” (Ecclesiastes 2:10–11). He succeeded at everything he did, and it didn’t satisfy him.

We can do worse than fail. We can put success above our relationship with God. We can succeed and worship our accomplishments rather than the One who helped us reach them.

There are times when failure is good because we can learn from our mistakes. And one great lesson is to learn to fail forward. That means after we have done something wrong and have tasted the bitter results of it, we say, “I really don’t want to do that again.” So we put safeguards around our lives, taking precautionary steps so we don’t fall into the same trap. If that is the case, then we have learned something from our failures.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Pauper or Prince

Daniel 9:1 In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, a Mede by birth, who was ruler over the kingdom of the Chaldeans

In the book Daniel we meet a number of powerful men. People like Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Darius and Alexander the Great. We see God working His sovereign plan through the lives of these men.

But we should never think that God sees them simply as pawns on His chess board, They were men that God cared about and each one of them was given a chance to acknowledge and submit their life to the one true living God. God did not see them as tools but as men in need of a Savior.

Nebuchadnezzar encounters God, late in his life, and it seems from scripture that he turned his heart to God. Darius saw God’s power when He delivered Daniel from the lion’s den and very likely turned his life to the Lord as well. Based on secular history it seems that both Cyrus and Alexander had their own personal encounters with God.

Throughout the bible we see God revealing Himself to ‘monarchs’ and ‘madams’. God is no respecter of persons. He cares not if a person is a pauper or a prince. He calls each person, no matter their status, to acknowledge Him as God and submit their life to Him.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Good News, Bad News

Galatians 1:6–7 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

We have all heard a few too many ‘good news/bad news’ jokes. But did you know there is good news and bad news in the gospel?

The literal definition of gospel is good news. But the gospel message loses its punch if you don’t know the bad news. When you tell people the good news you should also make them aware of the bad news. That means telling people they are sinners. Of course, people don’t like to hear that. I’m a what? Hey, wait, I’m a good person! I’m not a sinner!

Well, the bible disagrees. Scripture says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Yet there are some today who don’t want to tell people they are sinners. They say most people are OK. Many people believe everything is fine as long as they try to live a good life.

We have to break the bad news: “I’m sorry to tell you this, friend, but you’re a sinner. You’ve broken God’s commands. You’ve fallen short of His standards and there is nothing you can do to make it right. But God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for you, and if you will turn from your sin and put your faith in Christ, you can be forgiven.”

The bad news helps us fully appreciate the good news. Anything less than this is a false gospel that will give false assurance. That is why Paul wrote, “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God. . . . You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not Good News at all” (Galatians 1:6–7).

We must be careful to preach the real gospel.

 

David Ball
Pastor