To Die is Gain…

Phil121

By Pastor Jeff,

I probably should at the onset of this blog state that I’m not suicidal so don’t call the professionals to have me committed. (There are probably many other things that could have me committed I must add!)

Philippians 1:21-25, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;”

I don’t know if it’s a by product of getting older, or that this past year was not particularly a good year in that I lost a good friend and my oldest son, that this world is getting increasingly antagonistic to what we believe as a church, or just that this world has less of a hold on my life. But I find myself more in agreement to what Paul is stating here that death is not something that is feared as it once was and even is starting to have a certain attraction to it.

The more we understand the beauty of what heaven is going to be, Revelations 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” It makes me desire to be there more, I know too many people that are suffering physically, mentally, and spiritually to not desire relief for them and as Paul says being with Christ is so much better! It’s getting tougher and tougher to digest the daily news of political unrest not just in other countries but in our very own. You see the disrespect to authority in our schools, law enforcement, and even in the churches that makes you shake your head in disbelief.

Yes, I’m definitely ready for the return of Christ, my cry often is Revelations 22:21, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” I also know this that our world is lost without the message of Jesus Christ and until He returns or decides to take me Home, I will with all I possible can tell others of His love and sacrifice for us all and through that love, we can have eternal life. 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

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Why go to Church?

church

By Pastor Jeff,

Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” I recently read some statistics that should send a loud alarm to the church. When it comes to millennial’s those from the ages 18-29; we find that nearly 40% do not have any religious affiliation and that number is growing significantly.

We have many reasons some of which have been around for decades such as hypocrisy, greed, fallen stars in the religious circles, and we just don’t have time to spend going to church every week.

But I want to address a growing complaint that I hear from young people, “The building is not the church, we are the church!” The word church in the Greek is ekklēsia”  a calling out, that is, (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both):—assembly, church.

No where in there does it talk about the building; so we would tend to agree that the focus that is put attending a church building is way over emphasized in the modern religious circles of today! If you look at the verse in Hebrews 10 it talks about the importance of the gathering together of like believers, so is that in a building? Not necessarily but it does not say we should not gather ourselves together as well. The early saints did gather together in houses, Acts 12:12, “And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.” They also gathered in the temple, Acts 2:46, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,”

The main problem I see with those that state that they won’t go to a building is that many are just using that as an excuse to do what they please and avoid having to be accountable to anyone! I need to have fellowship with others, I need to be accountable, I need other prayers, to avoid fellowship is dangerous and unbiblical.  If you gather together at a home, at a building, or in the open air, I’m all for it. But to use that as an excuse to do as you want to do with no time spent connecting with our Lord Jesus Christ you are setting yourself up for failure. It doesn’t take a big crowd to have church Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” You do however need to have more than yourself, ponder this, maybe you don’t think you need others but others may need you!

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No Such Thing as a SuperPastor!

SuperPastor

By Pastor Jeff,

Recently I saw a post of a very young pastor with a beautiful wife and three young children that committed suicide. The article went to say that he was suffering depression which prompted a thought which I will share here.

I believe the modern day church especially what has become “Super Churches” doesn’t really match up to the description of how the pastor/bishop and the church is to operate according scripture. Titus 1:6-9, “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”

In the church today we have senior pastors (never mentioned in scripture) who are appointed according to credentials rather than calling. I find it reproachable that churches have to take out ads, then go through an arduous process to replace or hire a pastor in said church. No wonder we have pastors leaving the ministry and even the faith as a whole when they find themselves under scrutiny from “The Board” and the never ending watch of those sitting in the pews. Pastors find themselves many times on the outside looking in when it comes to fellowship with anyone outside of leadership which leads to isolation and sometimes depression.

I ask you are pastors super human or are they sinners saved by the Grace of Jesus Christ? Ephesians 4:11-12, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Who is the giver? the board?, the congregation? No, Pastors are called and chosen by our Lord. The only one we need to please is Jesus, the only one we should be following is Jesus, the only one we should answer to is Jesus! That’s pressure enough, the church has become more of a business that a ministry. Who hasn’t watched old shows that have portrayed the Pastor as more of a friend who was invited over to dinner, family functions, respected as the Shepherd but treated as a fellow human being, rather than a CEO who can be fired and hired if he ever offends a member of the board.

I’m a servant, first of Jesus Christ, then my fellow man, the Apostle Paul put it best when he said in 1 Timothy 1:12-15, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” AMEN!

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What About Fasting? part 3

ezra8

By Pastor Jeff,

Matthew 6:16-18, “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”

Fasting should never be used to place focus on you but with all things we adhere to it should bring glory to Jesus Christ. When it comes to fasting many will ask the question, “how long should I fast?” Some will say a day, three days, a week or like our Lord Jesus Christ we should fast forty days. My comment is God honors what ever you do in the area of prayer and fasting, it could be one meal, multiple meals, multiple days or forty days if God is calling you to do that. I will  caution that any long fast should be done only under the direction of the Holy Ghost, I see no where in the epistles that fasting was something done often or long term. It should be done with a sincere heart, for the purpose of drawing closer to God, and for determining direction in your life.

Luke 18:9-14, “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

The next question many have is what constitutes a fast? Some will contend that the only true fast is that you consume water only during the period you have designated. Again my comment is that whatever you sacrifice in prayer and fasting, God WILL honor. If you determine in your heart to give up desserts for a period of time, God WILL honor that, you decide to turn off the TV to read your bible, God WILL honor that! For me whenever I go a couple day fasting I will drink water and fruit juice because I find I lose energy fairly quickly on that. Do you think God will not honor that?

Some of you might of heard of a Daniel fast and lets look at what the bible says, Daniel: 8-16, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.” 

God honored the position these four took as He will with any decision you make to glorify Him. Don’t ever make fasting a ritual or become so entrenched in the act that you leave God out. I remember when my children were young and in school, I was making lunch for them when I was fasting and out of habit ate a potato chip, how horrible, I felt that my whole fast was ruined! When I think of that now, it makes me realize how immature I was and how wrong some of the teacher I received was.

1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

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What About Fasting? part 2

ezra8

By Pastor Jeff,

Matthew 6:16-18, “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” 

Want to ruin any Fast? Just do what it says here; by openly making a scene you take what God could use to change your life to just a hunger strike. Attitude is the key to entering the presence of God in anything we do, prayer, giving, preaching, and fasting if we are doing it just to look good before man, it is of no effect with the Kingdom of God. James 4:6, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” I mentioned Moses before as an example of someone who not only fasted for forty days once, but twice, and scripture says this about this man, Numbers 12:3, “(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)”It was this meekness (humility) that allowed God to use this powerful man to deliver His people from Egypt.

There are different types of fasting, we find one God chooses for us Isaiah 58:6, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” You may be impressed by the Spirit of God to enter a fast which as stated here can do great things not only in your life but others! Some set a particular day every week, every month or more to fast to put power to our prayer life, Luke 2:36-37, “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” Because of her dedication she got to witness the newborn Savior of the World Jesus Christ.

Then are those that a leader of the Nation, a church leader, may in response to a situation, a answer that they may be seeking will call a period of fasting and prayer, 2 Chronicles 20:1-3, “It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” Many other fast are found in the Bible such as with the city of Nineveh,  Nehemiah, King David, as well others.

In the next lesson I will discuss the different types of Fasting.

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What About Fasting?

ezra8

by Pastor Jeff,

When you ask any believer about prayer and they will undeniably tell you that they pray regularly and earnestly, but when you mention fasting we often fumble to find an adequate response.

The word fasting is referenced over seventy times in the bible with some memorable fasts by Moses who twice went forty days in the presence of God without any natural food. Jesus also fasted forty days in the wilderness before His temptation by Satan, Luke 4:1-4, “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

One of the most powerful examples of what can happen when we chose to fast is when Jonah warned Nineveh of impending doom, Jonah 3:5, “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” God responded with mercy, Jonah 3:10, “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”

Now I want to be careful and tell you that fasting does not change God’s mind for eventually Nineveh was destroyed, but what fasting does is allow God to remove our unbelief, Matthew 17:21, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

Fasting was often used in the selection of missionaries, Acts 13:2-3, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Elders, Acts 14:23, “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed”

Ezra 8:21, “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.” 8:23, “So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was entreated of us.” Fasting unleashes the faith that is in us and we Apostolic’s should never take it lightly. In future blogs I will discuss the different types of fast and even its benefits for us physically, thank you for your time.

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Walking by Faith

walkbyfaith

By Pastor Jeff,

2 Corinthians 5:6-7, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” 

How many times have you heard this scripture? I would venture to say that even recent and non-Christians have heard many times and we that have been saved by His grace for any length of times, hundreds, or even thousands!

I recently was having a little pity party (I know most of you have never endured one or two of them). I found myself reminding God about what He said in His word concerning our prayers. How He said in John 14:12-15, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” We’ve been asking in Jesus name for certain things to happen and pretty much the opposite of what we been praying for was what we were seeing.

I wonder how many times our Lord Jesus the Christ looks down on us and has a good laugh as we attempt to tell Him how things should or shouldn’t happen. I can picture Jesus calling His angels over and telling them, “Would you look at this, my beautiful creation is trying to tell me the Creator how to run things!” Chuckle, chuckle…

Then as I shut my mouth for a bit, the Lord Jesus Christ brought this verse in 2 Corinthians 5:7  to my heart and mind, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” We are so dependent on our senses which is just the opposite of how Jesus operates and we need to not be so quick to judge others and even God by those senses. I know I will be reminded of this many more times before I go to see my Lord but I hope that I will learn to trust Christ more and more. I want to know as someone who will WALK by FAITH!

 

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