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

All in the Family

1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.

J. Vernon McGee once said the only exercise some Christians get is running others down and jumping to conclusions.

It saddens me when I see Christians fighting with each other, and even worse, dividing over theological minutia or style of ministry.

Jesus taught us to pray like this, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name,” notice that He used the word ‘our’. In a way this is a family prayer that we offer together with other believers. When you become a Christian, you become part of God’s family. We are part of the ‘body of Christ’. We are brothers and sisters.

In three prayers of confession in the Old Testament: Ezra 9, Nehemiah 9, and Daniel 9, the pronoun ‘we’ is used frequently. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel were not guilty of the sins they were confessing but they included themselves in the prayer. They said, in effect, “Lord, we have sinned against you. We’re all in this together.”

Paul told the Galatians: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” We should not be biting and devouring each other. We should be loving, patient and forgiving one another.

Some people are lovable. There is something we like about a person that is easy to love. But other people are not lovable. They’re cantankerous, irritating or sometimes just odd. But if they are part of the church, then they are our brothers and sisters, too, and we are to love them. If we can’t love unlovable people, then how much do we really know about the love of God?

 

David Ball
Pastor

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