Pride

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

 

An unguarded strength is a double weakness. You are probably aware of certain areas of your life where you are weaker and other areas that you think you have under control. We can be fooled into thinking we don’t need to worry about our areas of strength. Well, hold on. The area where you think you are the strongest is where you could end up being the weakest.

You might say, “I would never be unfaithful to my spouse. I would never consider that temptation. I know I’m weak in other areas, but I have that area covered.” Guess where you most likely will get hit? Guess where you may fall? The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall”.

We need to stand in God’s strength and not our own. Ephesians 6:10 tells us, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power”. Know this: You are no match for the devil. You do not want to take him on in your own strength. You are not fighting for God. You are not being strong for God. You are not fighting for victory; you are fighting from victory. You are resting in the finished work of Jesus Christ. It was on the cross where He said, “Tetelestai,” which is translated, “It is finished.” It is accomplished. It is done. It is completed.

Jesus Christ purchased our salvation. A decisive blow was dealt against the enemy at the cross. Satan was defeated at Calvary. He knows our closeness to God and fellowship with Him is our power base. His objective is to separate us from God in fellowship. His chief aim is to disconnect our hearts from God and inspire confidence in ourselves instead.

Keep your guard up in every area of your life. You could always be vulnerable in ways you don’t realize.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Make a Stand

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.

The church is under attack today as never before. It’s under attack all around the world. Christians are summarily mocked, marginalized and dismissed as lunatics in the west. While our brothers and sisters are martyred in Muslim and Communists countries. It is enough to discourage even the strongest Christian.

So, I have good news for you: We win in the end. We may lose a battle from time to time, but we win the war. Jesus said of His church, “The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The gates of a city were where the elders and leaders met to draw up their battle plan. Jesus says the strategies of Satan will never overcome the church. The gospel, and the kingdom of God will win.

To be clear I’m not talking about a militant Christianity where we force conversion. In fact this passage says we are to ‘stand firm’, not attack. We aren’t called to attack. We are called to stand firm in what we know and Who we know. As we put in the armor of God we will be able to stand firm and lovingly persuade others to turn from their sin, trust in Christ, and be forgiven.

In some ways the church today is like a sleeping giant. The devil has a battle plan. He has declared war on God’s kingdom. He has declared war on the church, and it seems as though the church is collectively taking a nap. It’s time for us to wake up, put on the armor of God. It’s time for us to stand firm.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Don’t Be a Poser

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

 

Often when the Bible speaks of “the world,” it isn’t speaking of the planet we inhabit but rather a culture, the culture of the world. The Bible says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).

Another version puts the same verse this way: “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

You can take every sin you’ve ever committed and put it in one of three categories: (1) the lust of the flesh, which is physical desire, (2) the lust of the eyes, that which we see and want, or (3) the pride of life.

These are the sins that trapped Eve in the Garden of Eden: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6). She saw the fruit was “good for food” (the lust of the flesh), it was “pleasant to the eyes” (the lust of the eyes), and “desirable to make one wise” (the pride of life). We fall into these sins as well.

When the apostle Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2), he was effectively saying, “Christian, don’t allow yourself to be turned into something you’re not”. To put it in modern terms, don’t be a poser. Don’t act like you’re not a believer just to be accepted. Don’t be conformed to this world.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Joseph’s Law

Murphy’s Law says if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. I have experienced this law more times than I care to recount.

 

Joseph’s Law is like Murphy’s but with this difference. It says ‘if something goes wrong, God is behind the scenes working it out for the good of his children’, (Romans 8:28). That is what Joseph learned. Even when it seemed like he took one step forward and two steps back. One day he was his father’s favorite son. He was given a dream from heaven. But the next day he was sold by his brothers into slavery.

 

He ended up in Egypt where he climbed the ladder to the top of Potiphar’s household, only to be falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison because he rejected the advances of Potiphar’s wife.

Yet even in prison God was at work behind the scenes. The captain of the guard put Joseph in charge of Pharaoh’s jailed butler and baker. While in custody, each man had a dream, which Joseph interpreted: the baker’s days were numbered, but the butler was restored to Pharaoh’s household. Joseph said to the butler, “remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of prison”.

Sure enough, both dreams came to pass, “but the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him”. And Joseph stayed in prison for two whole years. Now, why did God allow Joseph to stay in prison for two years? I think it’s safe to say He was putting some finishing touches on Joseph. Joseph started out pretty naïve and spoiled, but God was working something deep in his life, like humility and a heart of trust.

After two years Pharaoh had two troubling dreams that no one could interpret so Joseph was called on to tell Pharaoh what they meant. Egypt would face seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Then something extraordinary happened: Pharaoh elevated Joseph to a position of power to help prepare for the famine.

When you’re stuck in a ditch, it’s hard to think, ‘Wow, God has something great in store!’ But the fact is, you have no idea what God is preparing you for right now in the midst of your trials. God is molding and shaping you more and more into the image of His Son.

Painful, hurtful times are meant to change you. Looking back you should say more than, “Gosh, that was horrible.” If you don’t grow through hard times, it’s a wasted opportunity. God wouldn’t allow that to come into your life unless He wanted to teach you a lesson and change you. So rather than asking God “why is this happening?’ ask Him “What do You want to show me, Lord?’ Look for what the Lord wants to show you in whatever situation you’re in and learn from it.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Someone to Tell Them

Romans 10:14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

 

In Acts 8, we find the story of a dignitary from Ethiopia. He was the queen’s treasurer, he was a powerful man and he probably traveled with an entourage. He went to Jerusalem to search for God but found dead, lifeless religion instead. During his visit he obtained a scroll of Isaiah. And as he was traveling through the desert, reading aloud about the suffering Messiah, God led Philip to go to him and share the gospel.

Philip saw him traveling and heard him reading from Isaiah. So Philip walked up and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man said, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” Philip climbed up into the chariot, took the scroll, told him what it meant, and pointed him to Jesus. And before the day was over, that man had become a believer. This is what people are looking for today, someone to show them the way.

There is one thing that Christians and non-Christians have in common: both are very uptight about evangelism. Christians are uptight about evangelizing, and non-Christians are uptight about being evangelized. But some of us give up too easily. When we ask someone if they have heard about Jesus, or if we invite someone to church and they say no, we give up. Instead, ask, “Why do you say that? Did you have a bad experience in church?”

God has primarily chosen to reach people through people. So engage them, and most importantly, keep praying for them. Try it, and you will discover what a joy it is to tell others about Jesus.

 

David Ball
Pastor

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