Better Days

Have you ever read the Bible and had a passage speak to you directly about a situation you are facing at that very moment?
That is what happened to the prophet Daniel. He didn’t have the Bible that we have today. In his day the Old Testament was a collection of scrolls. And Daniel was reading from a scroll that contained the writings of the prophet Jeremiah.
And as he was reading through it, Daniel realized that what Jeremiah said was happening in real time—in Daniel’s lifetime. And he experienced a personal revival.
At the time Daniel read Jeremiah the Jewish people were living as captives in Babylon. Jeremiah and other prophets had warned Israel to turn from their idolatry or judgment would come upon them. But the people ignored it. And finally, that judgment came.
As Daniel read Jeremiah, he came to the passage that says, “After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10). Next it says, “For I know the plans I have for you”…“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”. 
If you find yourself in your own personal Babylon today, this verse applies to you. If life isn’t going the way you hoped. And it does not seem like it will ever improve. I’m certain of this: Better days are ahead for you. Ultimately God will work out whatever you’re going through, for your good and for His glory. The ‘better days’ that I’m certain of are the days of Heaven, when we’ll be in the presence of the Lord.

David Ball
Pastor

Meek not Weak

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Matthew 5:5

Meekness is not something we hear people talk about today. It certainly isn’t celebrated in the culture but the Bible says it is really important.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). To put it another way, you will be blessed if you’re a meek person. Meekness means that you are no longer inflated with pride. You have seen your real condition, and as a result, you’re meek.

And by the way, weakness and meekness are not the same. Let’s say, for example, that you’re a professional boxer. And someone harasses you. But you don’t hit them back, even though you could. You choose not to strike back, even though they’re mistreating you. That is not weakness. That is meekness. Meekness is power under control.

The word Jesus used here for meek is a Greek word that describes the breaking of a powerful stallion. Have you ever ridden a horse that didn’t want to do what you wanted it to? I have and it is not a great position to be in. When a horse submits to the rider’s will, that is meekness. The horse is still strong but under control. 

In the same way, when we surrender ourselves to God’s will, we exhibit meekness. How different this is from our culture. In the Bible, the last are first. Giving is receiving. Dying is living. Losing is finding. The least are the greatest. Weakness is strength.

A happy person, therefore, will be a meek person. Seeing ourselves as we really are produces a vital spiritual quality: meekness. 

David Ball
Pastor

Choices

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

John 15:16

Before the world was made, God chose you to be with Him through all eternity.
Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16).
The question that comes to mind is why? Why did God choose us? What good did God see in us that He would choose us as His children? I hope you’re not offended by this but the answer is there isn’t any goodness in us. There is no merit in you or me. It is not even because we are lovable that He chose us. The fact is He chose us in spite of us.
In Ephesians 1:4-5 we read, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”.
Why did God choose us? It’s the same reason that He chose the nation Israel. Speaking through Moses, God said to Israel, “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8). The Lord chose them because He loved them. And that’s why He chose us: because He loves us.
God chose us, but the Bible also says we must choose Him. Dwight L. Moody said, “the whosoever wills are the elect, and the whosoever won’ts are the non-elect.” You are His because He chose you before the foundation of the earth.

David Ball
Pastor

The Value of God’s Word

If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.

John 8:31

Some people like to work out. They enjoy the exercise and seeing the results in their physique. But I dread working out. And I complain while I’m working out. But after I’m done, I’m glad that I did it.
That’s what it’s like to study the Bible sometimes. There are times we really want to read it and look forward to it. But there are also times when we get up in the morning and think, “I’m skipping it today.” But then we do it anyway not because of legalism; but because of discipline. And there’s a difference.
Discipline says, “I’m going to read the Bible because I need to do it. I know God wants me to do it. And when I’m done, I’ll be glad I did it.” It’s something we determine to do before anything else, even if it means we don’t have time to check our social media or e-mails or texts. It’s something we discipline ourselves to do.
The Center for Bible Engagement recently did a study and came up with an interesting finding: “The ‘power of 4’. They found that there is no statistical difference between people who read the Bible two to three days a week and those who do not engage scripture at all or only once a week when it comes to behaviors like getting drunk or sex outside marriage. But for those who read scripture four or more times a week there is a difference.
In other words, if you’re not reading your Bible four or more times a week then it is likely that the choices you make will not be any different from those who don’t read the Bible at all.
Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” We need to understand the value of God’s Word. We need to long for God’s Word.

David Ball
Pastor

Our Joy

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

James 1:2

A wise father who sent his son to college promised to give him a monthly allowance. But he told his son, “I’m not sending you a monthly check. If you want it, you’ll have to come home to get it.”
In the same way, our heavenly Father says, “I have things for you, but you have to come to Me to receive them.” God wants fellowship with us; He wants to interact. God likes to hear from us. God likes to talk to us. God likes to give us gifts.
And God allows certain circumstances in our life to remind us of our dependence on Him. If life were all rainbows and unicorns, we would not be prone to seek Him in prayer. If we were always in good health we would not pray as much. If we never had a need for God’s provision or we never had prodigal child, would we still pray? Probably not.
Trials bring us to God. Right now you might be going through a difficulty. Maybe you’re facing a trial of some kind. You have a family conflict, a problem at work, or problems with your health. Maybe life isn’t going well for you, and you’re saying, “My life is terrible right now.” And, I am sure it seems that way.
But understand God intends the trials we face for our good. And they will turn out for our good if they brings us to God in complete dependence because that is a sign of spiritual maturity.
James says, “When troubles of any kind come your way, receive the trial with great joy. Consider trials as your friend? You can when you see how they open your eyes to your dependence on God.

David Ball
Pastor

Songs in the Night

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Acts 16:25

The world watches with great interest when a Christian faces adversity. Every one of us faces hardship. We all lose loved ones. We each face sickness and encounter difficulties and hardships in life. But when it happens to Christians, nonbelievers watch to see if our faith is genuine. That is the time to show them what Christ can do, even in hard times.
Acts 16 tells the story of Paul and Silas, who were thrown into prison for preaching the gospel. Their backs were beaten bloody with a whip, and at midnight, in a filthy environment, with their legs stretched and in shackles, Paul and Silas held a worship concert. They were praying and singing hymns when suddenly an earthquake shook the prison, their shackles fell off, the doors flew open, and they could have just walked out but they didn’t.
The Philippian jailer, assuming they had run, knew he would be tortured and put to death. So, he took out his sword and was ready to kill himself when Paul said, “Don’t harm yourself, because all of us are here!”
Then the jailer said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”. Paul and Silas made an impact on his life.
In the same way, there are people watching you right now. They’re developing an opinion about God based on your life. It has been said that a Christian is an epistle, written by God and read by man. You may be the only Bible some people ever read.

David Ball
Pastor

Present and Accounted For

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Hebrews 13:5

I remember once when I was a young believer when I didn’t feel God’s presence. I woke up one morning and just didn’t have the warm fuzzy feeling I had the night before. And being new in the faith and not knowing the Bible very well, I wondered if God had left me in the night some time. What happened?”
I talked to a Christian friend about it and he said, “You’re going through a test.”
“What? A test? But I have not studied, I’m not prepared!”
“No, not that kind of a test”, he said.
“What’s a test?”, I said.
My friend explained there are times when God allows us to go through a difficulty with the intent that we grow stronger. God allows us to experience times in our life when we don’t feel His presence so we will know He is always there even when we don’t feel Him. And in time I came to realize that God is always there even when I don’t feel Him.
You might walk outside tomorrow to an overcast sky. And if you did not understand our solar system you might think, “The sun was here yesterday but I don’t see it today. I don’t feel its warmth. I guess the sun has gone away.” Of course we know that is ridiculous. The sun hasn’t gone away. It has just been obscured by clouds.
In the same way, some people wrongly conclude that God is gone when they don’t feel Him. But truly He is still there, even when you don’t feel Him. The Bible tells us in Hebrews, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ ”
We are called to walk by faith, not by feelings. God has promised in His Word that He will be with us. That is how we know He is there.

David Ball
Pastor

Rejoice

Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17–18

It’s been said that worry is the interest we pay on troubles that seldom come. We try to justify worry, of course: “It’s okay for me to worry because I’m in a difficult situation.” In many ways we are all in difficult situations, some more than others. But maybe we just need to lighten up a little when we can. You might think, “Easy for you to say.” And you may be right.
I want you to consider the words of the apostle Paul, who was writing under adverse circumstances. He was under house arrest. It was possible that he might be acquitted but it was just as likely that be might be beheaded. He didn’t know what his future held. Yet he gave us some of the most inspiring words found in Scripture:Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:4–6.
I love these verses because Paul wasn’t sitting in some ivory tower, crafting nice sounding phrases. He was not lounging on a beach in the Mediterranean, eating calamari and drinking iced tea. He was incarcerated, and yet he was still able to say, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”
By the way, it’s a command from God himself. To put it another way, to not rejoice is disobedience to God. Anyone can rejoice when things are going well. But when we’re facing adversity or sickness or hardship or death, and then we rejoice, we are obeying God.
God is on His throne. He loves you and is watching out for you. So rejoice in the Lord.

David Ball
Pastor

Worry into Prayer

Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6

There are so many things today that cause people to worry. There are the worries of the world. There are worries in our country, including the threat of terrorism. Then there are personal worries, such as health, financial and family worries.
It seems as though worries are always there, always closing in on us. But worry isn’t productive. In fact, it’s a sin, a failure to trust God. The word worry comes from an Old English term that means “to strangle” or “choke.” That is what worry does. It chokes us. Worry does not resolve tomorrow’s sorrow; it empties today’s strength.
Modern medical research has proven that worry breaks down our resistance to disease. It affects the nervous system, the digestive organs and the heart. In fact, 80 – 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are stress related.
Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”.
We need to turn our worries into prayer. That requires developing a conditioned reflex. We all have natural reflexes, like when we touch something hot and immediately pull back. And there are conditioned reflexes, something that becomes natural after we’ve done it a number of times. For instance, standing when the national anthem is played.
We can’t control our universe, as hard as we try, but we certainly can pray about it. The next time you’re tempted to worry, pray instead. Turn your worries into prayers.

David Ball
Pastor

A Good Question

If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes.

Job 14:14

The book of Job is one of the oldest books of the Bible. In Job the question is asked, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” That is a great question. What happens when we die? What is there beyond this life?
Before I was a Christian, I thought about life and death quite often. I was a teenager. It was a heavy subject to be contemplating, but I found myself thinking about death on a regular basis. My belief at the time was that once you stop living, you simply cease to exist but something else inside me questioned that belief. I knew of the existence of Heaven and Hell but was too concerned about my present life to think too much about them. Until the day I almost died.
The afterlife is something that many people think about today because numerous books have been published on spirituality and life beyond the grave. For the Baby Boomers, the inevitability of death is approaching. We are having to come face-to-face with our mortality. We used to sing that we were forever young, but that song doesn’t ring true like it once did. We are becoming forever old. The clock is ticking. Time is marching on. We are trying to pretend it isn’t happening and trying to turn back time, but we know that death is coming.
What happens beyond the grave? According to the Bible, there is life beyond the grave. And because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, and our belief in Him we as Christians have the hope that when we die, we will immediately go into the presence of God to a wonderful place called Heaven. That is the message we have been given to bring to this world.

David Ball
Pastor