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2015 Devotions

 
December 29, 2015 
An Eternal Mindset

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
“…your life is but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14
 
A new year is upon us and with it comes renewed efforts towards self-discipline physically, spiritually, financially, maybe even relationally or academically. It is good to resolve to add some good habits while resolving to drop some of those that you have determined need to go. But may I recommend that you adopt the perspective with which Jonathan Edwards opened his book Resolutions, “I am unable to do anything without God’s help.” In other words…leave him out of the equation and five years from now we still have the same resolutions if we have any at all.
 
Allow me to present a different perspective on a New Year’s resolution in line with the verse from Psalm 90 that Moses left us some 3500 years ago. Let us resolve to become more eternally minded and watch how some of the wearisome old habits that have plagued us physically, financially or relationally begin to fall in line or fade into oblivion. They begin to lose their power to make or break our day. Resolve to have a singleness of eye; to see yourself, others, your work, your resources, etc. through God’s eyes. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8. An earthly mindset blurs our vision and leads to worldly concerns.
 
The old song says it best, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.” Resolve with me to spend some time in adoration of our Lord each day and let’s see if our self-discipline muscles take on some needed definition.
 
Pastor Doug
 
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December 25, 2015 
A Heavenly Birth Announcement

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
 
I am glad that God gave us a little glimpse into the heavenly mindset regarding the birth of our Savior: “good news of great joy!” Hardly another day at the office for these heavenly messengers. A little later in Luke we are given another snapshot of the heavenly mindset in 15:10, “…there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Heaven can barely contain its excitement over God’s plan being carried out.
 
Sometimes I wonder if the angels were perplexed at God’s selection of recipients for this announcement for the ages. A small band of shepherds taking turns watching their sheep out in the hills nearby probably raised some angelic eyebrows. But these angels were obedient and enthusiastic in their delivery and now it was up to the shepherds to respond appropriately.
 
And they did. First they found everything just as the angel had said and when they had seen Jesus they began to spread the word concerning what they had been told about this child, and others were in turn amazed at what the shepherds were saying. The joy was contagious and the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God. If the joy of the incarnation has been largely absent from your attitude this season ask the Lord to restore the joy of your salvation so that you may overflow with joy and hope. Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy…”
 
Merry Christmas,
Pastor Doug
 
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December 23, 2015 
His Love is the Theme of My Song

I am a musician. Music is constantly running around in my head. Hymns, show tunes, current pop songs, old pop songs, current church songs. My mom used to say, “There is a song for everything”, meaning you can come up with a song lyric for any situation or conversation for which you are involved. If you know me well, you know that I often burst into song in the middle of a conversation! Sometimes for a laugh, sometimes for a reminder of Who Christ is through the rich, Christ-centered lyrics of an old hymn.

Our lives are like a song, and songs generally have a theme. Love, pain, joy, a story, bitterness, discontentment, relationships, happiness, and, of course, country songs that list them all! What is the theme of your life song?

Colossians 3:1-3 says,

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

If you are a follower of Jesus, and are growing in Him daily, you are being

“raised with Christ”, so it is imperative that you “set your hearts on things above”, not on what this world is daily flinging at you. Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

May the theme of our song be that of Christ! Seeking Him, loving Him, serving Him, and giving to Him. This world is not our home, so we need to make the theme of our song about our future with Christ, and we need to sing for all to hear!

What kind of song are you? One of despair, hopelessness, loneliness? If you are without Christ, you can find the perfect love song to sing by accepting Jesus’ gift of salvation for your weary, sad heart. Come to Him, and your song will change to one of ultimate Love, and you will find yourself bursting out into song about the One who saved you…

 
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry Team
 
 
 
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December 15, 2015 
What would Jesus want you to give him for Christmas?

With what shall I come before the Lord…? … Shall I offer my firstborn…? He has shown you O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you… to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:6-8
  
“To act justly”. How would this play out in everyday life? To be right and fair, to live honorably, to keep your word even when it hurts. To speak
the truth and have no slander on your tongue. In other words, to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
 
“To love mercy”. James 2:13 tells us that, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Judgment will come at the proper time, but it is not ours to dole out in this life. Jesus did not come into this world to judge it and neither should we. The problem with extending mercy to someone is that it is so undeserved. That is what makes it mercy. It is a fragrant offering to him when we forgive someone who has sinned against us. But it is an offering of sour milk when we lock our offender in a prison of unforgiveness and do what we can to make their hell begin now. We will love mercy as long as we don’t lose sight of what it is that we truly deserve.
  
“To walk humbly with your God.” Jesus did this so well. He laid down his life and found true blessedness in being nothing in order that God might be everything. He modeled the empty vessel in which God dwelt and manifested his power and goodness. How pleased God would be if we were to embrace humility and take the place of entire dependence on Him. As a stocking stuffer this year could you be so bold as to ask him where pride still resides in you and ask him to extract those lumps of coal? If virtues were jewels, humility would be the diamond.
 
Pastor Doug
 
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December 10, 2015 
Overshadowed
 
It only seems right that the initial illustration of the New Testament principle,

“Christ in you”

Col. 1:27, would occur in the Christmas story.

Mary literally had Christ in her. Mary was the chosen vessel to bring our Lord into the world and countless millions were blessed by her willingness to surrender herself as a ‘bondservant of the Lord’. Gabriel had said, ‘you will be overshadowed by the Holy One’ and was she ever. It was not at all about Mary, it was all about Jesus. But the favor of the Lord was upon her and she knew it.

Our experience may mirror Mary’s in many ways. As we receive the Lord, saying, “behold the bondservant of the Lord, be it done to me as you have said”, we too will be overshadowed by the Holy One. He will increase and we will decrease. At least that is how it is supposed to work. In our heart of hearts we would like to increase while he increases as well. As a result everyone loses. You lose, the purposes of God are detoured, and those nearest you go largely unblessed by you. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I am so glad Mary submitted to being overshadowed by the Lord. Hers was not an easy road and ours won’t be either, but follow her example and whose to say how many will be blessed through us.

   
Pastor Doug
 
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December 02, 2015 
Unquenchable Optimism  
  
 
I think my favorite Christmas story character is Simeon. I would love to know more about him. What is given in Luke 2:25-35 is packed with power, meaning and emotion. Simeon is waiting for Messiah, but he is waiting for even more than that. He is waiting for the consolation of Israel. In other words, he is waiting (with God) for the one who would relieve Israel’s grief.
 
We have no way of knowing how many days, weeks, months and, more than likely, years Simeon waited for this promise to be fulfilled, but it is fairly obvious that he continued to worship and work while he waited for God to bring the promised One before Simeon died. His heart ached over the condition of his people Israel and yet he did not lose heart. He may have been tempted to doubt the word he had received. And he would have had very few people from whom he would have received encouragement because they would have most likely not believed him–except for possibly Anna, who being a prophetess, was perhaps the one from whom the word spoken to Simeon came in the first place. Most of the encouragement probably came through the Scriptures Simeon would pour over daily and through the Holy Spirit who was upon him. But the day finally came. Relief washed over him as he held the little Lord Jesus, knowing that he could now die in peace because his eyes had seen his salvation.
 
What about you and me? Has the hope that you will see, “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”
Ps.27:13, faded into a distant memory, a truth meant for someone else but not you? I recommend that you follow Simeon’s example, continuing to worship and work while you wait on God. .
   
Pastor Doug
 
 
 
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November 24, 2015 
Living a Life That Says “Thank You”  
  
 
In John 15:9, Jesus says,

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. And 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.”

Kind of like a ‘pay it forward’ concept, isn’t it? We have received grace, therefore we give grace. We have received mercy, therefore we give mercy. When we were in step with the evil one we were not judged as we would have deserved, therefore we withhold judgment on others. We have been shown redeeming love, therefore we give redeeming love. We have benefited from the patience of God in dealing with us, therefore we give patience. We have been shown kindness when we had no right to expect it, therefore we give kindness to those who may never repay it. I think you get the picture. We are to model what Christ has modeled to us. Not under compulsion, but out of gratitude.
 
You may not remember to thank God as often as you feel you should, but you may be thanking him far more than you consciously know you are by the way you interact with those in and outside of your circle.

A verbal expression of gratitude is necessary and nice. It is polite and perfunctory. But see to it that it springs from a life that is saying “Thank You, Lord” by its actions.

  
Pastor Doug
 
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November 18, 2015 
Velcro  
  
 
Velcro was an amazing discovery. Who would have thunk that loose hair and a loop would create such a versatile connector?
It should not come as a surprise to you that some people unconsciously walk around like loose hairs looking for an available loop to hook into. I am sure you have met some while driving, or in the grocery line, just in daily interaction with the public. But the most difficult loose hairs to avoid are those we live with or have to do business with.
  
How do you know when you have encountered a loose hair? My experience is that you go in peacefully and you leave that person feeling uneasy. They seem to have a strange ability to ruffle you and you chalk it up to “I just don’t like that person” or “I don’t like how I feel after I have been around them.”
  
My suggested remedy is…..stop being so loopy. I am sorry that sounds simplistic, but it’s a proven remedy. Pride, ego, self-exaltation along with pet peeves and pettiness make us too loopy. If the loose hair can’t find a loop to hook onto, then you will leave as you came in….free. Like water on a duck’s back, the irritating behavior or cold comment rolls right off. You take care of your internal world and you will find that your external world has little or no power over you. “If the Son sets you free you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36
   
One last thought….Convictions are good, pettiness is not. There is a time to speak up.
Romans 14:16 says, “Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.”
  
Pastor Doug
 
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November 12, 2015 
In Step with ____?   
  
 
As I was tread-milling the other day I was struck by a thought. (I tried to duck but the reflexes are not what they used to be.) Here was the thought…..I wonder how closely my walk with God over the years resembles what I am currently doing – which is a lot of walking but not getting anywhere. You can see why I tried to duck when I saw this thought approaching. Ouch!
1 Peter 2:21 says,
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
I am not sure where in my early years of following Christ that I got out of step with him and onto my treadmill, but my logic tells me that it had something to do with suffering. As I have begun to accept the ‘cup’ that has come my way and trust the love, wisdom, power and sovereignty of God that it came through to get to me, it seems that my stride has begun to match his.
Galatians 5:25 tells us,
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
If you feel out of step with God then take some time each day to be still before the Lord and his Word. Become reacquainted with his voice and his prompting and watch what he does with you. Step off the treadmill, which may look like a lot of activity to those observing, but is rather unimpressive to God, the one who matters most.
Pastor Doug
 
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November 4, 2015 
Too Much Care?   
  
 
In Matthew 6:25, Jesus tells us to “take no thought for your life” or “do not worry about your life.” But we have had all these years to practice. How do we suddenly let go? Won’t that be seen as irresponsible? It might be viewed by others that way, but God will see it as resting and trusting in him and he will reward you as he sees best. (Philippians 4:6-7) 
  
Worry is defined as ‘too much care’ and we can rest assured that this established pattern will not die easily. You must be sure of God. And he assures us that if we abide in him we can ask whatever we wish and it will be granted to us. Why? Because we are his personal concern.
1 Peter 5:7 tells us to “cast your cares on him cause he cares for you.”
  
So when you find yourself having ‘too much care’ about someone or something, practice deflecting it on to the Fathers’ lap and rest in him. The goal is to be so caught up in seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness that you won’t have time or energy to concern yourself with the details that once dominated your thoughts and you will enjoy the freedom which comes with trusting that all these things will be added to you.
 
Pastor Doug
 
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October 27, 2015 
Time to Leave or Stay?   
  
 

“Brothers, in whatever condition each was called there let him remain with God.” 1 Corinthians 7:24

To stay in frustrating circumstances or to leave? That is the question. Neighborhoods, employment, relationships, how do we know when to leave and went to put roots down? The first thing we need to consider as we ponder these life changing decisions, is it my decision to make? 1st Corinthians 6:19-20 says “You are not your own, you have been bought with a price”. It may be time to leave and it may be time to stay, but as a child of God can you at least slow down long enough to remember who you belong to?

  
Circumstances were leading my son in law to consider if it was time for him to find a new job. A few days later he visited with an IT guy who was also pondering leaving. My son in law told the man how valuable he was to him and the company, and that it was men of integrity like him that held the company together. My son-in-law delivered the message he himself needed to hear to put his roots down in obedience to the Lord and finish strong there.
  
Pastor Doug
 
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October 20, 2015 
What is the Power For?   
  
 
Colossians 1:11 reads,
“…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may…” (pause) move mountains, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, preach and have people get saved. That is what I would have expected it to finish with, but it doesn‘t. So what is all this glorious power for? (continue) “…so that you may have great endurance and patience.”
Wow! Is all that power really necessary for patient endurance? It must be or Paul would not have prayed it or the Spirit included it.
  
Could it be that the place and the process God is taking us to and through to be more closely identified with his purposes on earth will require this patient endurance? I certainly believe so. Jesus felt it in Luke 9:41, “How long shall I put up with you?”
  
Could it be that this power is necessary for us to put up with sin and the effects of sin in our world, the slowness of people to respond to the gospel, the poor decisions and the consequences that follow for those we love, the arrogance and aggressiveness of those who are in step with the evil one and the apparent slowness of God to bring justice and sanity to our chaotic world? It must be so.
  
Don’t lose heart, my friend. Ask for this power to endure and remain patient. The consequences of proceeding without this is that you become hard, cold and cynical. The blessing of proceeding with it is you model Christ to those who need this alien perspective.
  
Pastor Doug
 
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October 13, 2015 
What is Your Profession?   
  
While listening to an audio magazine a short while back, one of the guests brought up the word profession and stated that it originated out of a Christian term ‘to profess. Rather than ask someone where they work, it would have been understood if you asked them what their profession is. And they would have known you were asking where it is that they profess Christ.
  
I professed Christ as an auto mechanic. Others profess him as mill workers, clerks, teachers, drivers, firemen, nurses, builders and such. This simple shift in perspective can mean the difference in who you go to work for. If I go to work for a company or a paycheck, then work will often represent drudgery and a barrier to my happiness. But if I go to profess and represent Christ to those who may never darken the door of a church, then work begins to take on a different flavor. I am now caught up in the purposes of God and I am trusting him to walk me in the good works that he has prepared in advance for me to walk in. Income becomes secondary because I am now seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness and I can trust that all these things (income and rewards) will be added to me.
  

In working for the Lord, rather than the company, I become the best employee that company may have. And may I add, that most of the professing of Christ will happen with actions rather than words. Your response or lack of response will model Christ far more than what you preach. As has often been said, most people would rather see a sermon than hear one. But I would add to that, people would rather see a sermon before they hear one. Be ready to speak, but make sure that your actions are supporting what you are saying.

  
Pastor Doug
 
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October 6, 2015 
Wanna Know Why?      
 
 
One of the old Sesame Street characters – I think his name was “Bad Bob” – came into town one day. Bullying his way through the soda shop, he grabs hold of the school teacher, who is shaking in his boots, and announces that he wants to know “Why?” With his voice stuttering the teacher says, “I don’t know why.” Bob says, “No, I want to know ‘Y’. And he proceeds to draw something close to a Y. “But Bob,” stammered the school teacher, “You already know Y.”
  
When unexpected or unexplainable difficulty lands in our lap we often want to know why. We press rewind to see if we have some unconfessed sin or if something we have done could explain why this trial has come. We want a reason. Well Paul left us a reason in 2Corinthians 1:8-11. Actually, he left us a couple of reasons why. The difficulty that Paul had faced brought him to an end of himself and he reasoned that it came….
1. “So that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” and
2. So that the Corinthians could be of help to them through their prayers; praying for relief, but also for the will of God to be accomplished in the lives of those we are interceding for. Somehow we play a role.
  
This pattern of ‘relying on ourselves’ is deeply engrained and must be disrupted so that we once again fall into the dependent posture that gets its direction and hope from God alone. It may be a severe mercy and it may cause deep despair but don’t allow yourself to lose heart. The Father knows what he is doing.
  

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” -Isaiah 42:16

 

Pastor Doug

 
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September 29, 2015 
A Different Form of Self-Confidence      
 
 
“When I am weak, then I am strong,” 2 Corinthians 12:10 tells us. It has taken me more than 30 years as a believer to finally begin to grasp what Paul was saying here. I – and I assume most of you – have come to the conclusion that when you are weak, uh you are weak. Most of us prefer to work out of our strengths and we allow those who are strong in the areas that we are weak to handle those areas. It makes perfect sense.
 
The problem is God. He seems to prefer to weaken us and do wonderful things through us so that it leaves little doubt as to who did the wonderful thing. I would not have known this had it not been for some very frustrating circumstances that left me as a weak and empty shell. I had classes to teach, counseling to do, lessons to write. Then someone called, “Would you do a wedding?” “Lord, I’m a broken man, I have nothing to offer,” I told Him. But it seemed as if He just nodded and assured me that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
 
There was a sweet spirit at that wedding; then there was another wedding, and another. Then there was a memorial service and another one and a message to deliver and another one. He came through every time. And I began to form a new self confidence. The work was His and His alone; my work was to trust in Him. Why would I ever go back to doing His work in my strength? I am not sure if I will ever be able to say with Paul that I glory in my weaknesses, but I can say that I have begun to grasp the meaning of “When I am weak, then I am strong.”
 
How about you? Could those frustrating circumstances you are currently facing be the springboard for you to learn this valuable Christian principle?
 

Pastor Doug

 
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September 23, 2015 
Ascribing Worth     
 
  
As I was walking and reading the other day I could not contain a laugh as I read 2 Corinthians 5:16 which says, “From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” But we’ve had our whole life to practice that view! Is it possible for us to see people as God sees them? 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” We are so quick to validate or invalidate an individual based on what we think he has to offer and we forget that “if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17)
  
It is easy to lose sight of the fact that God always seemed to lead with weakness. Joseph, Moses, Gideon, David, Nehemiah, Peter, Paul and even Jesus were all emptied (broken) before they were filled or exalted. God’s power is made perfect in weakness. This is why Paul said, “I glory in my weaknesses, because when I am weak, then I am strong. So if I am tracking with this correctly, “God has chosen that which is weak in the eyes of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor.1:27) tells me that those who score lowly on the worldly point of view chart are actually in the most favored position!
  
Are we willing to break our old pattern of evaluating an individual based on ability or appearance and give way to a new pattern of thought?

 

Pastor Doug

 
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September 15, 2015 
How to Treat A Snakebite     
 
  

I recently overheard a former Wycliffe missionary share how the missionaries sent into the bush would often carry a small hand generator with them in case they were bitten by a venomous snake. In the event they were bitten they would immediately jolt the area the venom entered and the positive charge of electricity would (supposedly) neutralize the poison. Hmmmmmm.

  
Whether this is true or not there is a similar spiritual principle that we do know to be true. In Romans 12:17-21 we are told to “not repay evil with evil” and to “not be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good”. In other words, a positive response is the best way to respond to evil. It neutralizes the poison.
  
We see that Jesus responded in this manner and we are told in 1Peter 4:19, “Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” So when you are bitten by a venomous comment or action, what would happen if you were to respond with forgiveness, or kindness, or compassion, or silence? Would that positive response be enough to neutralize the poison the comment or action carried? I have found it to be true and I believe that is what is meant by overcoming evil with good.

 

Pastor Doug

 
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September 8, 2015 
Are You Loaded?     
 
  

In the classic movie ‘Moby Dick’ there is a scene where the whale surfaces and a flurry of activity ensues as the men scramble in the excitement of the moment. All except for the harpoonist who sits patiently awaiting his moment to fire the harpoon that is in place and ready to be launched. This picture of the harpoonist is the most desired and quite possibly the most effective position for the Christian to have. Andrew Murray calls it “perfect passivity with the highest activity.” It is the picture of a believer who understands that he is caught up in the purposes of God and he stands ready at any moment, as he moves about his day, to model Christ with words or with actions.

  
This posture of dependence and expectancy is very honoring to the Father. As a young believer you may have experienced the impulsive act of firing your harpoon at anyone who was nearby and suffered the consequences that followed. By the grace of God one or two responded favorably, but the rest scattered and would have nothing to do with you. You concluded, “I must not be an evangelist” and you left the harpoon at home. May I encourage you to pick it up again and not leave home without it. This time there is no pressure and it is His work and not your idea of His work that will make you effective in hitting the desired target.
     

Pastor Doug

 
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September 1, 2015 
Second-Hand Smoke?     
  

The 18th Century preacher, John Wesley, used to preach with such fervency that some would come to his meetings “just to watch him burn.” Some of course would catch fire themselves, but others were satisfied with the ‘second hand smoke’ of his messages and they developed a habit of feeding off his zeal rather than drawing closer to the flame themselves.

In John 4, the woman at the well had a one-on-one encounter with Jesus that lit a fire in her. In her zeal, she ran off to tell the townspeople who, after hearing Jesus, declared, “We no longer believe because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know.…”

As enjoyable as it is to sit under anointed teaching and be warmed by the flame that the Lord has lit in another, we must guard ourselves from being completely satisfied with that. The strongest of terms could not emphasize enough how critical it is for a child of God to sit or kneel alone with the Father on a regular basis. If we were to do this I believe we would then have the teaching from the pulpit and the books we read to help refine the theology that the Lord is forming in us, and the fire in us would be fueled rather than just warming ourselves with another’s flame.

The God of all creation would like to have a one-on-one relationship with you where he speaks and you listen, and you speak and he listens. This is accomplished by a stillness of soul before God and his Word. John said of Jesus that “he would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” It is a fire that threatens to burn away all the meaningless things of your world and set you aflame with a zeal and fervency that your world needs to see in you.

     

Pastor Doug

 
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August 25, 2015 
Have You Been Wronged?     
 
  

Perhaps you can help me. I seem to have misplaced my list of those who have wronged me or disappointed me. You know, those who repaid my kindness with cruelty. Those who discharged their venom on me because I was an easy target. Those I poured myself into only to find out later that they leaked. Those who misunderstood me. Those who hated me without reason. Those who despised and rejected me. Those who assumed the worst of me. Those who were delighted when I was humbled. Maybe if I were to look at your list, my memory would be jogged and I could have fresh recall of these scoundrels?

On second thought, maybe it’s best that I don’t find this list and relive those moments. Jesus seemed to lose his list all the time. He would lose it by forgiving those who would have been on it. In Matthew 12:32, Jesus says, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven…” and in Luke 23:34 He says, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing,” as they were nailing him to the cross!

The art of losing this list must have something to do with forgiveness and I bet if we were to forgive as we have been forgiven we could lose our list as quickly as it resurfaces! Give it a whirl the next time you find your list.

     

Pastor Doug

 
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August 18, 2015 
Guard Your Heart     
Proverbs 4:23 tells us,

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Guard it from what? Being hurt?

I don’t think so. Love demands that we be vulnerable. We are to love God and love others made in the image of God.

I believe we are to guard our hearts from resentment and bitterness. It is impossible to live for Christ and not be wounded. So… what do you do with the wound? The wound came so that you could feel more closely that which God feels; to have a heart like his. The ache reminds us that we are not home yet. But if we don’t go to God with the ache then resentment and bitterness can grow in our heart and clog the flow of the life of the Son of God in you and me.

So guard your heart from a reaction of the flesh and respond in the Spirit with forgiveness, forbearance, patience, kindness, meekness and love. God will supply these if you are willing to let him.

     

Pastor Doug

 
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August 13, 2015 
Matching Wounds     

Ponder this thought: It is impossible to go through life without being wounded. Whether the wounds are real or imagined, inflicted by those we love or those we dislike or by a complete stranger, it is a wound and it will leave a scar or a limp. Does time really heal these wounds? I don’t think it does. They scab over till someone or something reopens them.

What if we were to see our wounds as the opportunity to be more closely identified with Jesus? What if every wound he received during his 3 years of ministry, at the hand of those who were his own, was an opening for you and me who bear a matching wound? What were some of those wounds? To come into his own and have his own not receive him. To be misunderstood, hated without reason, falsely accused, humiliated, treated unjustly, despised, rejected, disowned, betrayed. He is our vine, we are his branches. We are to be disconnected from our old root system and grafted into the vine. In order to have a successful graft we must be cut to our life source. The closer the match of the wound on the vine with the wound on the branch, the better the life flow.

So…where do we go with the ache of an old or a recent wound? Jesus says, “Come to me…and you will find rest for your soul.” Isaiah 53:5 tells us, “By his wounds we are healed.”

Philippians 2:12 tells us “to continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Think of yourself as a blob of dough (some of us already do), with an eyedropper of blue food coloring added. In order for the coloring to be worked into the ‘neglected’ parts of the dough, it must be stretched and kneaded till it has spread to every part of our being.

The Lord has been ordering your steps in order for his light to be worked into the dark areas of our being, but we have been resisting his will. Our knee-jerk reaction is to focus on the source of our trouble rather than on what our Father may be allowing the trouble for. He tells us to “endure hardship as discipline.” But nooooo, we insist on trusting our wits and walking on our own two feet, and the light he has placed in us settles somewhere around the little piggy that cried wee, wee, wee all the way home.

So the Lord turns our world upside-down, inviting us to once again take the dependent posture and get back to the business of working out what he has worked in. And it’s all because he loves us.

     

Pastor Doug

 
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August 4, 2015 
Hunger Pangs     
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  ~ Matthew 5:6
  
I have found it somewhat disconcerting that in order to truly hunger and thirst for righteousness I must first taste – to a certain degree – unrighteousness. Bleck! Spptt! Gag! Which, of course, is the right response.
Jesus says we are blessed if we hunger and thirst for righteousness. You and I wonder how this can be so. Are we to rejoice in this gnawing emptiness in our souls? Yes. We are to rejoice because we feel it. Pity those who don’t.  
But is that the end of this story? No. Jesus promises that we will be filled, and so we wait. But while we wait he brings us appetizers; always at just the right time. Just when we might be tempted to believe that unrighteousness has momentum on its side, a light shines into the darkness and we taste a bit of righteousness – and isn’t it sweet! I don’t know about you, but for me a little taste of righteousness can sustain me for a long time.
Jesus saw injustice, he was grieved at hardness of heart, and he saw the people as sheep without shepherds. He was well acquainted with grief, and yet the joy of the Lord was in him. So…count yourself blessed if you are experiencing hunger pangs.

   

Pastor Doug

 
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July 28, 2015 
Letting Go of the Known for the Unknown     

I asked the eleven and twelve-year-old kids in my class who had the most money on them. I had one boy with $5 on him, so I asked him if he would give me that money in exchange for what I had in my pocket without seeing what I had in there. He stood to lose $5 if I had nothing in my pocket and he stood to gain thirty times more had he taken me up on it.

Isn’t that a lot like what we are faced with in our walk with God?

Are you willing to give up the known and the familiar for the adventure He has set before you thathas the potential of taking you into unknown, unfamiliar, possibly uncomfortable, and maybe even unpopular scenarios where you will bear witness of him?

It’s the $5 exchange for 30, 50 or 100 times more if we will only trust him! Do we really believe him? Is every word of God flawless? Or is this a Lucy and Charlie Brown thing where she is going to pull the football away just before he kicks it and we end up flat on our back looking and feeling like a fool?

Because He is fully trustworthy, I’m willing to take that risk. Are you?

Pastor Doug

 
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July 21, 2015 
Are You Awake?     
 
A young boy straggled into the kitchen one morning, “Mom, I fell out of bed last night.” “How did that happen, honey?” asked Mom. The boy responded, “I think I fell asleep too close to where I got in.”
 
This might accurately describe a number of believers’ lives – hopefully not yours. The labor pains involved in bringing them into the kingdom subsided and once the crisis was under control, well…they became drowsy and were out before they knew it. The problem with sleeping is that you don’t know you have been asleep until you wake up. Those who are sleeping generally aren’t very hungry, aren’t too concerned about others and are somewhat preoccupied with comfort and security.
 
So…..that nudging that you have been ignoring; it’s time to stop ignoring it. Romans 13:11,14, tells us “the hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” And “clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ and to not even think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
 
Let’s be found fully awake when our Lord returns, so that we will not be ashamed at his appearing.

Pastor Doug

 
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July 14, 2015 
Contentment     
 
  

In Philippians 4:12, Paul writes, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” I am fairly certain that this was not a secret he intended to keep to himself, but judging by what is seen and heard amongst believers today we would be hard pressed to say it is common knowledge.

 

I believe Paul’s contentment and joy was found in entrusting his today and his tomorrow into the Father’s hand. Paul was content to let the Father plan his future, even if his plans were quite different from what Paul would have designed. Paul deferred to the Lord. Paul also trusted that he had what God wanted him to have and he didn’t have what God didn’t want him to have that day.

Could this be why he said, “I die daily” and, “I have died and my life is now hidden with Christ”? The old Paul would not have chosen this path. Could it be that your lack of contentment is due to the ‘old you’ still dictating your today and your tomorrow? Paul’s contentment was not based on what he did and didn’t have. His contentment was found in being putty in the Father’s hand; and so will yours.

   

Pastor Doug

 
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July 7, 2015 
Roller Coasters    
 
  
I’ve never liked roller coasters; how about you? I don’t think Jesus would have liked roller coasters either. What I mean is, Jesus didn’t ride the roller coaster of emotions others tried to get him to ride with them. In Luke 12:13, He refused to get on the ride with the man who wasn’t getting his share of the inheritance. In Luke 10, Martha tried to get him to see things her way. And of course there’s the calming of the sea in Mark 4:35, where Jesus didn’t get on when they accused him of not caring if they drown.
 
This groundedness lives in you and me as well. If you like riding the roller coaster of emotions and chaos of, say, your spouse, your child, your co-worker, your extended family, well….hang on, because misery loves company and it may be a long, rough ride.
 
What might happen if you decided to get off, or perhaps never get on? Would it possibly shorten the ride for them? How do you do this? Meditate on Philippians 4:4-7, and give it a whirl the next time you are invited to ride someone’s emotional roller coaster.”
   

Pastor Doug

 
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June 30, 2015 
Do You Understand?    
  
Jeremiah was frustrated, and God told him in Jeremiah 23:20 and 30:24, “In days to come you will understand this.” Peter was baffled, and Jesus spoke in John 13:7, “You do not realize what I am doing now, but later you will understand it clearly.” There are seasons where we must do as Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”
   
Job and Joseph are great examples of guys who did not have a clue about the drama involving them, being played out in the unseen world, but they held on in faith And so must you and I. If God has allowed a coil of circumstances that is entirely unfamiliar and quite possibly dark, then stand firm and wait for him to light your way a step at a time. Isaiah 30:15, “In quietness and trust is your strength.”
   

Pastor Doug

 
 
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June 23, 2015 
Calm in the Storm   

How did you handle the last storm that shook you externally or internally? Did you say things you later had to apologize for? Did you lose it emotionally? Did you forget to whom you belong?

 

Look at the storms the Father brought Jesus through and how he responded. This calmness is available to you and me. It was during the last week of Jesus’ earthly life that he gave his peace away. John:14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give it to you as the world gives.”

This peace transcends our circumstances and may be a far greater testimony to those observing you in the storm than anything you could say. Jesus could calm the storm, but what if empowering you to remain calm in the storm is the greater miracle?

 

Pastor Doug

 
 
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June 17, 2015 
Empowered to Obey  
 
In the healing of the paralyzed man in Matthew 9, Jesus tells this guy to do what naturally he has been unable to do; to “get up.”
Amy Carmichael wrote, “All God’s biddings are enablings.”
 
It seems to me that if God is asking me to do what naturally I am unable to do, such as loving my enemies and praying for those who persecute me, then I can trust that the power to perform this is there. So in the area of, say, loving my enemies or those who are unlovely, it becomes not so much a question of ability but rather a question of the will.
 
So you find it difficult to love those who make life difficult for you? Welcome to the human race. So you are willing to trust God at his word and love this difficult person out of love for God? He will supply what to you is impossible. And, welcome to real Christianity! His power is indeed made perfect in our weakness.
 

Pastor Doug

 
 
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June 9, 2015 
The Battle  
 

Judges 3:1-2 offers an often overlooked and misunderstood insight into the battles that come our way. Read it. Here is a glimpse, “…these are the nations that the Lord left…in order that the people of Israel might know war.” Here you and I are, not combative people but rather non-confrontational, just trying to go about our daily lives with as little conflict as possible and yet we encounter snipers cleverly disguised as co-workers, neighbors, family members, and sheep. “Why can’t I just be left alone?” we mutter. Well…..because the Father wants you to learn warfare. And how we fight this battle is critical if we are to move towards Christlikeness.

 

Oswald Chambers writes, “The reason the battle is not won is because I try to win it in the external world first.” Get alone with God. Ask him to show you how to walk throughout this conflict in order to obtain the goal of the conflict, which is hidden to you. We must learn to take the dependent posture before God and quit seeing ourselves as so capable. The first gate to being blessed is humility. Read Matthew 5:3. Pray, “I can’t do it Lord. Please show me the way. I am fearful of what I am capable of doing in this situation. Please place me on the path to victory.” He who guides us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake would love to honor the one who takes this stance.

So, before the battle can be fought in the seen realm, it must first be fought in the unseen realm. “My righteous one will live by faith, but if he shrinks back I will not be pleased with him.” (Hebrews 10:38).

Fight this battle in faith and you will never be the same again.

Pastor Doug

 
 
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June 2, 2015 
Today 

 

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
 

How are you at living “today”? Are you reliving yesterday? Or are you living in tomorrow? Both of these are thieves stealing from today. Helmet Thelieke wrote; “We too are crucified between two thieves, regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow.” Have you forgotten how to live in the moment? I had forgotten how. Now I am amazed at what a difference it makes to say to the Lord over and over in a day, “I am yours, Lord. I surrender to Your will.”

 

He is my vine and I am his branch. Right now he is my life, my strength, and my peace. I lay down my agenda in favor of his; my impulsiveness, and my self-confidence. He has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-discipline. The same spirit that supplied Jesus on earth lives in me and I stand ready at any moment to walk in the good works that he has prepared in advance for me to walk in. I don’t have to generate them, I simply walk in them. It is a walk of dependence, a walk of expectancy and a walk of worship. It is practicing the presence of God – and quite the adventure.

So….what are you doing today?

Pastor Doug

 
 
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May 31, 2015 
Battling Darth 

 

“… and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” ~ II Corintians 10:5b
 

Are you continually aware that you are fighting a war? Every believer, at the moment of conversion, has entered into a lifelong battle with the dark side. And I’m not talking Star Wars. This is the reality in which we live, whether we are conscious of it or not.

 

The enemy’s job is to engage us in one of two extremes: either to make sure we remain oblivious to the reality of war in the spirit realm; or get us so focused on demons and their influence that we unwittingly become his pawn.

Paul makes this statement (above) in the context of spiritual warfare. The battleground is largely in our own mind. Satan is a liar from the beginning (John 8:44), and he is fully capable of planting thoughts in our head, often disguised as our own ‘inner’ voice. One of the ways in which we fight this war is to examine each thought and hold it up against the truth of Scripture. Does it pass the Philippians 4:8 test? “Finally brethren, whatever is true… honorable… right… pure… lovely… of good repute… excellent… worthy of praise… [let your mind] dwell on these things.” If not, reject it. Then replace it with Truth. Be familiar enough with His Word that you can refute the lie with Scripture as Jesus did when He faced the devil in the wilderness. That is your sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17).

When I have found myself in an on-going struggle with anxiety or stress, I can often trace it back to a lack of discipline in my thought life. I have allowed my mind to wander down the “what if” path rather than “frisking each thought at the door” of my mind,” as Kay Arthur puts it.

And pray! “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert…” (Eph. 6:18) The sword, which is His Word, and prayer, are our two offensive weapons. Are you putting them to good use each day?
 
Laurie Higuera
 
 
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May 26, 2015 
A Faith That is Growing 

 

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:6
 
There is a strange passage in John 2:23-24 where the people saw the miraculous signs and believed in His name, but Jesus would not entrust himself to them because He knew all men. Okay, I’m confused. Doesn’t Jesus go on to say in John 6:29, “
The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent”
? So what was the problem in the John 2 passage that made Jesus not accept their faith? 
 
The Gospel of John is the Gospel of belief. Ninety-eight times the word “believe” is used and it essentially means “to trust.”  It never means intellectual assent to a proposition, but involves a personal response and commitment. Jesus apparently saw something deficient in their trust in him. They did not know him and that needed to be developed before they could fully commit. In John this belief is progressive.
 
2 Peter 1:5 says “
to make every effort to add to your faith.” I want to develop a faith that receives Him (John 1:12) obeys Him (John 3:36) and abides in Him (John 15:5)  But herein lies one of the difficulties with this progressive faith: God doesn’t send us a memo
to tell us which deficiency He is addressing or strengthening. Our responsibility is to trust his unseen hand at work and prove ourselves to be one he can trust with any hard task.
 
Pastor Doug Higuera
 
 
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May 19, 2015 
Entering His Rest 
 
 
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11:28
 
How different would your life be if you operated daily from a place of rest rather than from a sense of tremendous responsibility?
 
“Take no thought for your life” ~ Matthew 6:25
Huh? If I don’t, who will?

“Your heavenly Father knows what you need” ~ Matthew 6:32. The ones living resurrection life have learned this by letting go of “taking thought for their life” and have exchanged it for “seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness” ~ Matthew 6:33

.

 

Entering this rest does not mean you will never feel the burden of responsibility again. “Humility is the great secret of rest of soul because it does not presume to secure outcomes.” Willard. It simply means that the undercurrent of your life has been handed over to the One to Whom you now belong. Serving from a position of rest in Him means I am not trying to impress Him but to please Him with a childlike responsiveness to His Word.

What will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive (Titus 2:9-10)? I believe it is a contentment that rests confident in Whose I am today, in what I have today, in where I am today, and leaves where I will be tomorrow in his hands.

Let’s pray. “Lord, you are my shepherd, I shall not want. You make me to lie down in green pastures, you restore my soul. Father I desire to operate more and more from a place of rest so that I can be more Christlike in my daily interactions, with the result that my lifestyle and my teaching will be attractive to those in my circle of influence. In Christ’s name.”

 

Pastor Doug Higuera
 
 
 
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May 13, 2015 

True Rest

 

“Therefore let us be diligent to enter [God’s] rest, so that no one will fall, through following [Israel’s] example of disobedience.” ~ Hebrews 4:11

Had a conversation with someone the other day who is so busy he hasn’t had time to pick up a book I recommended to him a month ago on Sabbath rest. As we laughed about that, I realized I had slipped back into neglecting it myself – making time to just stop, reflect, listen. Ironically, a sign in my living room reads, “Serenity: Make time for quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud.”

Though that is an important aspect of rest, I believe the author of Hebrews is talking about more than just setting aside ‘down time.’ Instead of trusting in God, Israel set the example of disobedience by trusting in themselves. God desired that Israel understand that they could not live acceptably on their own, and He desires (and requires!) the same for us. The “rest” of God is learning to put our full weight down on His grace, His strength that enables us to do anything and everything each and every day.

Paul testifies that we “can do all things through Christ who gives [us] strength,” (Phil 4:13) and that the Lord Himself told him to rest in His grace and strength because it is sufficient for anything (II Cor. 12:9). His grace IS strength. It not only saves us but it is how we are to live, day by day, moment by moment.

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He declared to the disciples, “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you (that is the Holy Spirit); but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Are you living as one who has indwelling power from on high? That is how true Sabbath rest comes.

Have you entered into His rest today?

 
 
Laurie Higuera
 
 
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May 12, 2015 
A Life Knitted Together with Christ
 
 
For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life…” Col. 3:3-4
 
In Mark Buchanan’s book
Your God is too Safe
, he refers to a place known as Borderland, between Kenya and Uganda. It is a 100 by 300 yard section of land, where many end up staying. They have left one country but they never quite enter the one they were headed for. This, unfortunately describes many who have heard the gospel and perhaps even responded, giving mental assent, but haven’t really taken hold of the new life in Christ. They have left the old country, so to speak, but have not quite entered the new country with all its promise.
 
The word for “hidden” here simply means to be “knitted” together with Christ. This person is all in. There is no going back because they truly have the cross before them and the world behind them and they realize that Christ is not just part of their life, but He IS their life. This knitting together also means I am now identified with Christ and his kingdom purposes. I am now his person, in his place, under his rule. This is the life I was designed for to be fully knitted together with the Lord of All.
 
Pray with me, “Lord Jesus, only You can see if I am still dwelling in borderland, or if there are still areas of my life that I haven’t fully surrendered. My desire is to be all in, so that I might take hold of the life that truly is life and not settle for something less. Please take me where I am incapable of taking myself. In Jesus name.”
 
Pastor Doug Higuera
 
 
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May 6, 2015 

Is Your God Too Safe? 

 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”  ~ Matthew 10:29-31  
  
 
Are you a worrier? Jesus was big on addressing that issue. He seemed to directly connect worry with one’s view of God.
 
In C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, Lucy and her siblings are in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Beaver who are about to take them to meet Aslan the lion (who represents Jesus) for the first time.
 
“Is—is he a man?” asked Lucy.
 
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”
 
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
 
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just plain silly.”
 
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
 
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “…Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
 
Are you missing a very important part of His character in your perception of God? Yes, He is the Sovereign King, but it is that combined with His goodness that makes Him fully trustworthy. If God is good, and involved enough to be concerned when one of His sparrows falls to the ground, is He big enough to handle whatever concerns you today?
 
 
Laurie Higuera
 
 
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May 5, 2015 

The Life I Now Live in the Body 

 

“…the life I now live in the body, I live by the faith of the Son of man who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20;
“We live by faith, not by sight.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7  
  

“We are all ordinary people,” G. K. Chesterton said, “and it’s the extraordinary people who know it.” When ordinary people order their world according to the person of Christ and the Word of God, they begin to move toward the extraordinary. Most ordinary people order their world according to what they see, feel, and hear on a horizontal level. Those who are living resurrection life, do so less and less.

Coming to Christ as Lord and Savior is the starting line of faith, not the finish line. Since we are still here in a body, how then do we live this new life of faith? Answer: “Step by step.”

This life of faith is not to be viewed as optional for the follower of Jesus, as the Scripture says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6) and “My righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back I will not be pleased with him” (Hebrews 10:38).

 

So what are you facing right now that requires a faith response? Please pray with me, “Lord, only You can see where I am ordering my world according to what is seen and felt rather than the unseen realm where You dwell. Please grant me an eternal perspective on the landscape that is dominating my life for the purpose of moving me ever closer to a life of faith that pleases You. In Jesus’ name.”

 
Pastor Doug Higuera
 
 
 
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April 29, 2015 

Truth You Can Know 

 

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” ~ John 17:17 

The other night my husband and I watched the movie “Interstellar.” It was your basic Hollywood apocalyptic fare, with pretty much the same doomsday plot of any number of movies of the last decade. But in between naps, I was struck with just how sad it was that we humans spend so much time coming up with these wildly convoluted theories as to what’s going to happen to the planet, to us as a race, and even how and why we love. (‘Love’ is impossible to explain away for those who call apes our ancestors.)

Aren’t you glad we have God’s Word to explain all of that for us? We can relax with no worries because we can know for certain what the future holds for this world and all mankind. And we can know how to love and why, because we can know the Source of all love: God Himself.

The Scriptures tell us that one of the biggest things to beware in these last days is religious deception (Matt. 24:4-5,24). In this information age we are bombarded with all kinds of opinions and false teaching, even from folks who appear on the surface to be harmless. Don’t be deceived. Know His Word.

 

In His Word, God our Creator has revealed Himself and given us everything we need to know in order to thrive in this life. It is absolute truth you can count on. It is truth you can know.

 

Have you spent time in His Word today?

 

Laurie Higuera

 
For information regarding learning how to study the Bible for yourself,
 
 
 
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April 28, 2015 

No Longer Living for Myself

 

“…He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again…therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come!” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:15, 17

Pastor Wayne Barber tells an account of a couple who after reading 2 Corinthians 5 came to him concerned and confused. “We thought we came to Christ a few years ago but we realized after reading this verse (17) that there is nothing new about our life, we have just added Jesus to our old way of doing life.”

What happened?

The answer may be found in verse 15, “…that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him…” If a “believer” is not recognizing anything in regard to newness in their walk with God it could very well be that they have either slipped back into living for themselves or that they were never truly converted in the first place. If it is the latter, then by all means make sure you have really repented and surrendered your life to Christ, then understand that you are now a new creation in Christ.

 

This resurrection life begins with surrendering your will in favor of His. Pray with me… “Lord, I am living too much of my life for myself, the old is not gone, the new has not come. Please take hold of my life in a new way and show me where to begin to live the life I now have in you, for you and for others. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Pastor Doug Higuera

 
 
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