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

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