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

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