The Strength to Carry On

Hebrews 12:3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

How easily Jesus could have said, “You know what? Forget this. No one here appreciates me. I’m not dying for these losers. They don’t deserve it.”

After all, think about what He had to face. His own disciples effectively abandoned Him. Judas Iscariot, His friend, betrayed Him. Then He was beaten physically, with fists to His face. His beard was ripped out. A crown of thorns was pressed on His forehead. His back was ripped open with Roman whips. He was jeered and laughed at and spit on. And then He was nailed to a cross.

It was His love for us that kept Him going. We read in Hebrews 12:2 that “because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame”. What was the joy awaiting Him? It was you. It was me. It was us. He did it for us. He knew there was no other way that we could be made right with the God that we had offended.

Jesus is our champion who initiates and perfects our faith. God finishes what He starts. He will complete the work in us.

We all go through times when we think we can’t go another day. But you can. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Think of what He did for you. Think about how He went to the cross for you. He’s the one who will give you the strength to endure.

He will never fail you. He will never let you down. He will keep you running in the race of life.

David Ball
Pastor

Do you believe?!

Hebrews 11:6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

When Jesus walked among us He healed a great many people. But He did not heal everyone. He could have healed everyone. Jesus could have said, “Everyone will be healed on the count of three. Ready, one . . . two . . . three”. And everyone, everywhere would have been healed. He didn’t need to touch people. He didn’t even need to see them.

Jesus could have done that, but He didn’t. He responded to people who called out to Him, like Bartimaeus, the blind man who heard Jesus passing by and shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Mark 10:47.

The only place where Jesus wasn’t able to do miracles was in His hometown, Nazareth. And what stopped Him was their unbelief. I find that really interesting. Jesus wanted to heal them. But He wouldn’t because of their unbelief.

The difficulties of our life are no problem for God. But our unbelief often gets in the way. Like the father who wanted healing for his demon-possessed son, we, too, need to say, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24.

Faith can make the difference between something happening and not happening. You don’t have to have super faith. You just need a little faith.

You may look at the stories of men and women in the Bible and think, “That could ever happen for me.” The work of God isn’t limited to a particular time in history. The Bible says that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8

God is not limited by our situation. He is limited by unbelief.

David Ball
Pastor

Forward March

But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”


Luke 9:62

It took God one day to get Israel out of Egypt. But it took forty years to get Egypt out of Israel. The Israelites were always looking back.

Some Christians are that way. They’re always looking back. They say, “Remember the good old days; before I was a Christian? Man, we would party! We had so much fun!”

Were they really the good old days? Were they really that good? Or is our memory a little distorted? Have we forgotten the emptiness? Have we forgotten the despondency, the repercussions of the things we did, the dull ache deep inside? It is easy to forget all that and just remember the few good times.

That is what the Israelites did. They were always looking back and sometimes we do the same thing. This is why Jesus said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”.

Have you ever been driving and had a highway patrol car pull up behind you? It makes you nervous, doesn’t it? You spend more time looking in your rear view mirror than watching the road ahead.

You can’t safely go forward when you’re always looking back. And you can’t walk forward spiritually if you’re looking over your shoulder. Paul says in Philippians “Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

The things that are behind us are past, keep your eyes on the prize – Jesus Christ.

David Ball
Pastor

A Battle You Can’t Win

Exodus 9:12 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and just as the LORD had predicted to Moses, Pharaoh refused to listen.

Someone said “your arms are too short to box with God”. If you’re fighting with God, you’re going to lose. And if you’re running from the Lord, you’re running out of time. God might humor you, and you might think we’re getting away, but He will bring the struggle to an end.

That is what happened to Pharaoh. The Jewish people were living as slaves in Egypt until God’s time was right. The problem was that Pharaoh wasn’t willing to listen. Instead of releasing the Israelites, he dug in his heels and refused to let them go. He effectively challenged God, saying to Moses and Aaron, “And who is the Lord? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2). Pharaoh was saying, “I can take God on.”

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

The Lord gave Pharaoh many opportunities to release the Jews, but Pharaoh refused. So the Lord brought ten plagues on Egypt. These included lice, flies, bugs, spiders, frogs, and hail. It got worse and worse. And Pharaoh hardened his heart. So the Lord gave Pharaoh over to his decision, the Lord strengthened Pharaoh in the decision he had already made.

Jesus said, “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged” (Matthew 7:2). Pharaoh drowned the Jewish baby boys, and God was about to drown Pharaoh’s army.

Many times the things we try to inflict on others come right back on us. The trap you set for another may be the trap that brings you down.

David Ball
Pastor

Weather Report

2 Corinthians 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been shipwrecked. I haven’t. But the apostle Paul was shipwrecked three times. Paul told Timothy, “Cling to your faith in Christ and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked”

I have seen people who have had their faith shipwrecked. They experience a tragedy, and they say they’ve lost their faith. I would suggest that the faith they had wasn’t faith in the right thing, because a faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.

We all hope for clear sailing on the sea of life but invariably life has its shipwrecks, things that happen that don’t make sense. The Bible says, “When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:3–4).

If your faith can’t stand a test, then it isn’t in the right place. Get rid of it and replace it with real faith in a real God. I believe when Christians go through a crisis, their faith will not be destroyed. They should not lose their faith. Their faith will grow stronger if they cling to the Lord in the midst of it.

There are times in life when there are no storms. There are no shipwrecks. Thank God for those days. But after you have lived a while, you know something about storms. One is always on the way, maybe not tomorrow, next week, or next month, but a storm will come. So be prepared.

David Ball
Pastor

How Did I Get Here?

1. Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

One of the best ways to deal with temptation is to avoid it. Granted, temptation can hit us anywhere, even sitting in church. And it isn’t always an immoral thought. It could be anger, hatred, or jealousy. Temptation can hit us anytime, anyplace.

But let’s be honest. There are certain places that make us more vulnerable to temptation. If I’m trying to lose weight, I avoid Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts because if I see them I’m going to get one. We know where we are weak and unnecessarily put ourselves in the way of temptation.

The devil is cunning. He has been doing this a long time. He won’t say, “Hey, happy Christian. Come here. I want to ruin your life. I want to destroy your family, your kids and grandkids, even your great-grandkids. I want to mess you up so bad that it affects your family for generations to come.”

Who would respond to that? No, the devil says, “I know you would never do this stuff. I know you would never be unfaithful to your spouse. I know you wouldn’t lie or steal. But just once, try it out. Just take a little taste. Take a test drive. Take this thought out for a spin.”

That is where the problems begin. It starts with a little thing that becomes a bigger thing. As we begin a new year let’s commit to keeping our mind focused on Christ.

David Ball
Pastor

Failure is Always an Option

Genesis 12:10 At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner.

Abraham is the father of faith. But he was not always perfect in his faith. God told him to leave his country and his relatives, so he headed to the land of promise, the land of Canaan. But when a famine hit the land, he hit the road.

His faith moved him to the land God promised but it did not keep him there. The God who brought him to Canaan would have gotten him through the famine. But Abraham didn’t go to the Lord in prayer. He took matters into his own hands and went to Egypt.

Abraham stopped trusting God. And he asked his wife to participate in a lie by saying she was his sister. Pharaoh saw the beautiful Sarah and added her to his harem. But when a series of plagues hit Pharaoh’s house, he discovered that it was because Sarah was Abraham’s wife. He took her back to Abraham and basically said, “Why did you lie to me? Take your wife and get out of here.”

It’s a sad thing when an unbeliever corrects you. Abraham’s sin was exposed. And by the way, sin always will be exposed. The Bible says, “Your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). It doesn’t matter how carefully you hide it. It will come out one day.

We all sin. We all fall short. We all mess up. Maybe like Abraham, you’ve told lies. You’ve told lies to cover up your lies. You don’t even know what is true anymore. You just know your life is a mess. There is no joy. There is no peace. God can fix it, but you have to admit it and reach out to Him. He will forgive you of your sin.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Love is Kind

Romans 2:4 …do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

Just as patience will take anything from others, kindness will give anything to others. God, of course, is our supreme example. You’re a Christian because God’s love won you over. The goodness of God brought you to repentance. In the same way, when a husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church, she will respond. Just like the church responds to Jesus, a wife will respond to the love of her husband.

We need to show kindness to our wife. When you first started going out with your wife, you wanted to impress her. You dressed nicely and cleaned your car. You picked her up at her house and opened the door for her. You told her she was beautiful and brought her little gifts.

But after you got married things changed a bit. You still bring her gifts: “Honey, here’s my dirty laundry. Can you get it washed soon?” You open the door for her but sometimes close it before she’s all the way in. It is easy to take her for granted.

The Bible says of the virtuous woman that “her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her” (Proverbs 31:28). Guys, when was the last time you praised your wife? When was the last time you complimented her?

I don’t know why but it’s generally the nature of men to suppress emotions and to suppress affection. So we have to make a conscious effort to go against the grain of what comes naturally. We have to make a conscious effort to show kindness.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Where Revival Begins

Jonah 2:7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple.”

God told Jonah to go and preach to the people of Nineveh, but Jonah boarded a boat and went in the opposite direction. When a violent storm hit, the sailors cried out to their gods. But Jonah told them, “Throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me” (Jonah 1:12).

You know the rest of the story. They followed Jonah’s advice, and the Lord brought a “great fish” to swallow Jonah. I have to say Jonah was very stubborn. He spent three days and nights inside the fish’s stomach, wrapped in seaweed, swimming in stomach acids, and humidity like you wouldn’t believe. Yet he refused to budge.

Eventually, Jonah came to his senses. He prayed in the belly of the fish, he had a personal revival. Jonah was ready to do what God had called him to do. He was revived and recommissioned by God.

First God sent revival to Jonah, then Jonah brought revival to Nineveh. That is because nothing can happen through us until it first happens to us. It starts with us.

If you want to raise your children in the way of the Lord, then make sure you are walking in the way of the Lord. They will listen to your bedtime stories and mini-sermons, but they will be watching your life to see if you live that out. Some things are taught but most things are caught.

If you want to tell people you work with about Jesus, then make sure you are a model of what it is to follow Christ. Revival starts with you and me.

 

David Ball
Pastor

Your kingdom come

Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

How can we know the will of God? We find it in the Word of God. The more we read the Bible, the more we’ll understand it, and the more we’ll discover what is God’s will.

Jesus said we should pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. This reminds us that the primary objective of prayer is to line up our will with the will of God.

In John 15:7 we find this amazing promise from Jesus: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you”.

Of course, we immediately focus on the last part of that verse: “You will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” But hold on. Let’s go back to the conditions Jesus gave: “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you. . . .” In other words, if we maintain a living communion with Him, and His words are at home in us, that will change the way we pray.

God wants us to discover His will. And true praying is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is taking hold of His willingness. Prayer is not about getting our will done in Heaven; it is about getting God’s will done on earth.

If you want to see your prayers answered in the affirmative, that is the key. Find out what the will of God is and then start praying that way.

 

David Ball
Pastor