Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.

Philippians 3:13

When I started learning to play baseball one thing our coach always said was ‘keep your eye on the ball’. Watching the ball is a vital skill you need when you are learning to play baseball. I learned the hard way why this is important after a ball bounced off my head.
Certain sports require that you keep your eye on the ball. It is true in marriage too. You have to keep your eye on the ball. That means constantly doing things to strengthen your marriage. Don’t merely be reactive; be proactive. Be the best husband you can be. Stoke the flames of your romance. Don’t neglect it.
It’s true in the Christian life as well. It isn’t always sinful things that distract us. Sometimes it’s choosing the urgent over the important, choosing good over what’s best, choosing the short-term over the long-term. So be careful. The moment you take your eye off the ball and start kicking back a little, that could be a setup for a fall. Be constantly moving forward, growing, learning, and becoming more like Jesus.

David Ball
Pastor

Be a Man of God

Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!”

Nehemiah 4:14

When Nehemiah and the Jewish people started to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem attacks came in various forms. Check out how Nehemiah responded.
What I hope you see is that Nehemiah addressed the men: “Fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” The men were told to fight for their families.
For the most part each one was to rebuild the part of the wall that was closest to his home. If you were rebuilding the wall that was next to your house, do you think you would do a good job of securing the wall? Of course you would. That is your house, and your family is in that house.
If someone were to break into your house, would you defend your wife and children? Of course you would. You would do whatever you needed to do to stop the intruder.
So what about spiritual attacks against your family? What about a spiritual attack against your wife, children or your grandchildren? Would you be there as well? You should be.
As men of God we need to lead our families and protect them. You lead and protect in other areas, so lead and protect in this one as well. Lead your family in a Bible study. Protect your family through prayer. Be a man of God. You will be blessed if you do.

David Ball
Pastor

Pray and Move

And the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.”

Exodus 14:15

The Israelites finally got out of Egypt and were returning to their homeland. But on their way they arrived at the Red Sea. Talk about an insurmountable obstacle. There was no way to get across. They were slaves not sailors. Then they saw the Egyptian army was hot on their trail. What did they do? They prayed.
I love what God said to Moses: “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea”.
We live in a physical world and most of our decisions are based on what seems practical at the time. But on rare occasions God splits the physical world and reveals spiritual realities to us. We need to pray, the bible is clear about that but there comes a point when we also need to move. What is the plan of action? What’s the first step?
Maybe you’re praying, “Lord heal my marriage. It’s unraveling. My spouse is a mess.” Hold on. What about you? Pray that you would be the husband God wants you to be. Are you loving your wife as Christ loves the church? Why don’t you start there?
Yes, we should pray about trials when they come our way. But let’s make sure we’re doing our part. There’s a place for the practical, and there’s a place for the spiritual. They work hand in glove.

David Ball
Pastor

How to Start Your Prayer

Come, let us tell of the LORD’S greatness; let us exalt his name together.

Psalm 34:3

When Nehemiah heard the news that the walls of Jerusalem had been broken down he was a captive in Babylon. So, he prayed, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer!” Nehemiah 1:5–6. First Nehemiah acknowledged the greatness of God.
That is how Jesus taught us to pray, in what is called the Lord’s Prayer. He said, “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” Matthew 6:9–10.
Before you start giving God your list of requests, first stop and contemplate His glory. When you do, your list will change. As you get a better idea of how big God is, you will realize that He is bigger than your problems. So start by acknowledging the greatness of God.
It’s true that prayer changes things but understand the first thing prayer changes is you. First God changed Nehemiah and then Nehemiah changed things.
If you want God to answer your prayer, then you have to be willing to be part of the answer. So don’t just pray about a problem. Ask God what role you can play in it.
If we learn anything from the Book of Nehemiah, we learn this: Whenever we face walls that are falling down, whether it’s in our lives or the lives of our friends and family, the first place to go is to God in prayer. And the first thing to do is to acknowledge God’s greatness.

David Ball
Pastor

Devotion

Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene. . . .

Mark 16:9

Of all the people Jesus could have appeared to first after His Resurrection, He appeared to Mary Magdalene. It is interesting to think about, because, in Jewish culture the testimony of a woman was not held in high regard. In fact, some of the rabbis falsely taught that it was better for the words of the Law to be burned than to be delivered by a woman. Yet Jesus chose a woman to be the first herald of His Resurrection.
It is also worth noting that women were the last at the cross and the first at the tomb. Mary had courage that many of the men did not have when Jesus was crucified. She stood by Him through it all. In fact, the Bible tells us that after He was crucified, Mary “observed where He was laid” Mark 15:47. She watched as they took His crucified body from the cross and wrapped it and placed it in a tomb that belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. And Mary, along with the other women, was at the tomb very early on Sunday morning to demonstrate her love for Jesus by anointing His body with spices.
And her love was rewarded. God said, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13. God rewards the person who is diligent and passionate. And for those who will take time in their day to seek the Lord, for those who will take time to read His Word, for those who will take time to wait upon Him, He will reveal His truths to them.

David Ball
Pastor

Christ Died

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.


1 Corinthians 15:3

An advice columnist received a letter about the Resurrection. The writer asked, “Our preacher said that Jesus just swooned on the cross and the disciples nurtured Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered.”
This was the response: “Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher 39 times with a cat of nine tails. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his heart. Wrap him tightly in strips of cloth, binding his arms and legs. Put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours, and see what happens to him.”
Unbelievers offer their own ideas about the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus in an attempt to discredit the Bible and its message. A commonly held theory is “the swoon theory,” proposing that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross but went into a coma. It further proposes that in the cool atmosphere of the tomb, He was revived and somehow was able to get out of the tightly wrapped strips of cloth, and then roll away a stone that weighed between 1-2 tons.
The Roman guards reported that Jesus was dead. They were experts at execution, and they would be put to death themselves if they allowed a condemned man to escape. These soldiers were so certain Jesus was dead, they did not bother to break His legs. They thrust a spear into His body and out came blood and water (which occurs when the heart stops beating), giving them the final proof they needed.
A rational mind can only come to one conclusion. Jesus died on the cross. Some people hang their beliefs on flimsy theories. But the death and resurrection of Jesus means that one day, we will stand with Him before God.

David Ball
Pastor

Hell is a Choice

And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment.


Jude 1:22–23

Maybe you’ve heard someone ask this question or asked it yourself: “How can a God of love send someone to Hell?”
J. I. Packer said, “Scripture sees hell as self-chosen. . . . Hell appears as God’s gesture of respect for human choice.”
C.S. Lewis summed it up this way: “There are two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it.
Timothy Keller noted, “In short, hell is simply one’s freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity.”
If someone ends up in Hell, it breaks the heart of God. They go because they reject God’s solution, and chart their own course.
I want to do everything I can to warn people I know so they won’t end up in that horrible place. I’m not suggesting we should call every unbeliever we know and say, “You’re going to Hell!” The Bible says, “The goodness of God leads to repentance” Romans 2:4.
Tell people what Christ has done for you. Tell them about the hope of Heaven. Tell them about the forgiveness of sin. And tell them what the repercussions are if they don’t believe. Don’t leave that out. Don’t dilute it. We have the hope of Heaven, but we don’t want anyone to go to Hell.

David Ball
Pastor

The Strength to Carry On

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


Hebrews 12:3

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

The Afterlife

So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.


Colossians 1:28

There are many strange and incorrect beliefs about the afterlife, and sometimes even Christians adopt some of these views. What we need is a biblical understanding.
Heaven exists. And of course, so does Hell. We need to think about this because as we get older, the afterlife is getting closer. We start losing friends and family and we know our day will come. And one day it hits us, we have more friends in Heaven than we do on earth.
When I was young it seemed like the third grade lasted ten years. Now a year seems to pass in an instant. I had an 8 track in my first car! Today many people have no idea what that is. Life marches on.
Eternity gets closer. And the Bible is very clear on what happens when you die: If you are a Christian, you go straight to Heaven. And if you are not a Christian, and I don’t say this with any delight, you go to Hell. Jesus said it, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, its gate is wide and many choose that way” Matthew 7:13.
According to Jesus and the rest of Scripture, more people are going to Hell than are going to Heaven. That is not what God wants but He has given us a free will.
If Christians believe what the Bible says about the afterlife then we should do more to warn people about the reality of Hell. But even more tell them of the love of God. God’s love should motivate believers to share their faith with greater urgency.

David Ball
Pastor

Prayer

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.


Philippians 4:6

I was driving the other day when I saw a car with a student driver sign on top. I gave the car a wide berth, because I knew they were learning. I give student drivers a lot of space because they’re still figuring out how to drive.

But once we’ve been driving awhile we find ourselves eating burritos, talking on the phone, and adjusting the radio, all at the same time. I don’t recommend this but over time driving becomes second nature to us. It becomes a conditioned reflex.

And we have natural reflexes. If we touch something hot, we immediately pull back. We don’t even think about it.

So, when it comes to worry, we need to develop a conditioned or natural reflex. We need to turn our worries into prayers. When something alarming or threatening comes our way, our natural reflex is to panic. But the conditioned reflex the biblical says we need to develop is prayer.

Paul says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done”. Notice that he tells us to pray about everything, not just the big or scary things. Everything.

God is interested in big things and little things. God is interested in whatever concerns you, big or small. So the next time you’re tempted to worry, pray instead.

David Ball
Pastor