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

Have you forgotten something…

Ezekiel 23:35 Therefore, this is what the Lord God says: ‘Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, you must bear the consequences of your indecency and promiscuity.’

Ezekiel tells the people who are living in exile in Babylon that the destruction that is coming on Jerusalem will come because she forgot God. It is not that they didn’t remember God. It isn’t that they woke up one day and said, “What is the name of that God we used to worship? It was, Yah… something. What was His name?”

The idea is that they choose to set God aside. That is exactly what our modern, so called, ‘Christian Culture’ has done. It is also what many mainline denominations have done.

The ‘West’ doesn’t need social reform or Christian ethics in the government. What is needed in western culture is for the church to be a living example of Christ. So that through our testimony, the way we live and the things we say, we will point people to Jesus.

We need to remember Him in all that we say and do.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Heaven’s Call

1 Chronicles 29:15 We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

When we are young, life seems to go slowly. Birthdays take forever to arrive. But as we get older, time seems to speed up more and more each year. I can’t believe how quickly life is going by. The weeks go by in the blink of an eye and before I know it a year has passed.
The Bible says, “We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace” (1 Chronicles 29:15).

And yet the Bible also says that God “has planted eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We are not highly evolved animals; we are uniquely created in the image of God with a soul, a spirit and a desire to know the God who created us.

Those who put their trust in Christ are citizens of a different place. You might say that we have dual citizenship. We are citizens of the planet Earth, but we are heavenly citizens as well. Philippians 3:20 says, “We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”

I heard the story of a little boy who was flying his kite, which had gone up so high, he could no longer see it. Someone saw him tugging on the string and asked, “Where is your kite?”

“Up there,” he said.

“I can’t see your kite. How do you know it’s there?”

“It’s there,” the boy said. “I feel its tug.”

We feel the same thing. We feel the pull of heaven deep down inside. As Augustine wrote, “You made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless, until it rests in Thee.” There’s a desire in us, a craving in us, that nothing on this earth will ever satisfy.

 

David Ball
Pastor

What God Can Do

Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.

Our culture truly does not have the answers for the problems we face today. Ironically, our society seems to do everything it can to undermine the only one who can help us, and that is Jesus Christ.

There are people caught in our legal system as repeat offenders. There are judges who make wrong decisions. There is the breakdown of the family. And all of these elements combined produce a society that continues to go in the wrong direction.

Rehabilitation efforts largely fail. In fact, the only real programs that seem to produce lasting change are faith-based, and more specifically, are being operated by Christians who are calling people to faith in Jesus Christ. Society doesn’t have the answers.

Jesus met two men whose lives had been ruined by Satan. Society didn’t have the answers. Enter the Savior, Jesus. What did He do? He sought them out in their graveyard and offered them hope. In fact, Luke’s account of the story tells us what happened to one of the men who was delivered: “Then they went out to see what had happened and came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid” (Luke 8:35).

Why were they afraid? Because they didn’t know what to make of it. They could not explain it away. He was so transformed it frightened the people. They couldn’t even imagine a guy like him could be changed in such a dramatic way.

It is such a glorious thing when Christ so transforms someone that you can’t even imagine that person being what he or she used to be. You realize that it is the power of a changed life. And that is what God can do. Allow God to work on you and change you in 2017.

 

David Ball
Pastor