The reason to be thankful

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:4-5‬

We MUST pray

Even when the house of Israel kept defying God, He practiced love and patience with them. Yes, He punished them for their disobedience, but then restored them when they turned from their wicked ways. In reading the prophet Ezekiel, God spoke through him to the people. The nations regarded Israel as “The people of Yahweh”, and it makes me think of present day believers. Aren’t we the people of Yahweh? So prophetic speaking of old may not end with just a particular incident, but may carry through the ages, for as God once spoke, it remains vital to all people that His word is true and never changes. So this is what was happening to the people because of their disobedience and their conduct. “When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said about them, ‘These are the people of Yahweh, yet they had to leave His land in exile. Then I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they went. Therefore, say to the house of Israel: This is what the Lord God says: It is not for your sake that I will act, house of Israel, but for My holy name, which you profaned among the nations where you went. I will honor the holiness of My great name, which has been profaned among the nations – the name you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am Yahweh – the declaration of the Lord God – when I demonstrate My holiness through you in their sight.” Ezekiel 36: 20-23 You have probably been concerned that God is acting judgment against America, this once vibrant nation. As I read today, and I understand not to believe all I read, but as I read, it seems like this virus has men in a big tussle about shutting things down. Businesses are going to collapse; people will be out of work; things will become hard, and we are worried about what the government will do. But I want to tell you today, we should be worrying about what God will do. Our nation is putting God on the back shelf, if keeping Him around at all. People want the government to do something, but I would hope that every one of us will start praying for God to move. After all His own words in the time of bad conduct is that He will honor His holy name, even through judgment. He will keep His people under His wing. He may very well bring on calamity such as what is happening today, but He is trying to get our attention to what is happening with all nations that He has once blessed, and I know HE wants to bless again. But what will we do, what can we do? We can reach out to the only One who can help, the One we should know beyond a shadow of a doubt, He will respond to our pleas. I for one will petition daily on behalf of our nation, not because I want it back the old way, but I desire to see a revival, so that the Lord will be glorified when the turnaround happens. Let’s not give credit to vaccine makers, or governments for help. Let’s go directly to God who is the only One who can bring us out of this. He has done it before, and He will do it again. But the glory and honor belong to Him and Him alone. Our Lord, our Savior, or God, Yahweh! So look around you brothers and sisters, You don’t have to go to specific groups, just listen to the Lord, petition Him on behalf of a nation, to restore His rightful place to a nation that once had its motto: IN God we trust. Let’s start trusting and bring others back to the place where they will also put their trust in God. Please spread the word, THE WORD of God, to pray for healing that only He can give. Pray for the nation and the world to recognize the One true God, Yahweh. Then perhaps God will once again bring glory to Himself by answering our prayers.

Character

Have you ever wondered if your behavior caused another to stumble. It doesn’t mean that you have to have bad behavior, but behavior that does not glorify God, or praises the name of Jesus when you have opportunity. There is a certain character that develops in the believer, and that character is set apart in all circumstances. Let me give you an example of the Apostle Paul, when he wrote the Church at Corinth: “We give no opportunity for stumbling in anyone, so that the ministry will not be blamed. But as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything: by great endurance, by afflictions, by hardship, by difficulties, by beatings, by imprisonments, by riots, by labors, by sleepless nights, by times of hunger, by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the message of truth, by the power of God; through weapons of righteousness on the right hand and the left, through glory and dishonor, through slander and good report; as deceivers yet true; as unknown yet recognized; as dying and look – we live; as being disciplined yet not killed; as grieving yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing yet possessing everything.” 2 Corinthians 3-10 This morning, I slowly read all these character attributes of the believer, and wonder what my character is? Can I endure through times of affliction, hardships, and difficulties. I know I have never been beaten because of my faith, but could I be and not try to defend myself? Did Paul ever defend himself? Did he fight to the finish? Was his character that of the weak or the strong? Are we not told that when we are weak, then we are strong? Do we use weapons of the earth, or the weapons of faith and righteousness? If we are dishonored, will we still honor Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith? Will we be called deceivers, but know in our hearts that He who lives in us is true? Are we continuing to die on the outside but live on the inside. Are we disciplined in the ways of faith, not warfare? Will we enrich others at the expense of ourselves? Will we think of ourselves as rich, even if we have nothing? All questions that deserve an answer within each of us. I don’t know if any of us will ever find ourselves in a position that brings hardship and beatings and imprisonments because of the faith, but let’s not look to the things that can hardly happen to us, and think to ourselves that we would always be strong, while we break all the rest of the attributes that we face daily. If we say we are ready to give our lives for the cause of Christ, but will not give a coat to one in the cold, what does that say about our character? If we compromise on our faith by “wanting to fit in”, but then keep those of the faith at arms length, what does that say about our character? If we will willingly give to each other, but pass the stranger in need along the street, what does that say about our character? When I write this, I’m not thinking of what I can tell you, but what the Lord puts on my heart. This might be just for me, but I kind of doubt that. But it does hit home to me, and reminds me that oftentimes, I will fail to be the character of the Christian, because there are so many who want to take advantage of a kind and compassionate person, and I don’t want to be taken advantage of. I use the excuse that the other person just wants to get something for nothing, but am I the one who determines the quality of my character? Is not the character of the Christian one that is molded directly into the heart of Jesus. Isn’t he/she the light of Christ to the lost, to the poor, to the hungry? Aren’t we to be without judgment of whether the other person is worthy of our benevolence? What does that say about our character? I think I need to spend some time on my knees before the Lord today, and everyday, until I get those things that may not be the character I want to portray out of me and replaced with the character of Christ. Let’s pray for each other that we will develop and have the character of the believer, not the character of the world. Now might be a good time to start that! Pastor Andy

Lost Sheep

It seems like Jesus had his pull among the sinners and tax collectors.  After all they knew they were sinners, and He was offering forgiveness and restoration. But the Pharisees and scribes were complaining saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”  Jesus  would offer this as a response to their accusations: “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over  99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.” Luke 15:3-7  Jesus said that because he wanted them to know the joy of heaven that comes with the salvation of the lost. But even more than that, in His parable, he talks about one who was already a part of the sheep pen, but went wandering, and was lost.  It was the rejoicing over the (repentance) of the lost brother. I understand this, as I have a brother struggling with the isolation of wandering away from the sheep pen. He is lost, and he doesn’t even realize it.  The sheep that was wandering was focused on things other than the rest of the sheep, and ended up in territory that he felt he could not return from. I want to tell my lost friend that there is a way home. This way is through the repentance of your lostness and the need for you to be found.  Now imagine that sheep, when the master took to looking, when the sheep saw him, he started to run from the master. He did not want to be found, so he hid. He hid because of his shame and guilt, but the master wanted to find him anyway. He understood that the sheep wandered off, because he lost his sight of that which kept him secure and strong. He lost sight of what was most important in his life.  You, my friend, have lost sight of what is around you. You think you are too lost  to ever be found, but I want to tell you that you are not. All you have to do is reach out to another, reach out to one who loves you, and desire to be home. Stop trying to run away.  People today run toward their addictions instead of away from that which will harm the body and the family. They find excuses to run, thinking their addiction is too strong, has too much of a pull on them, and nobody can understand. You are wrong! We all understand, and you, in your addiction must choose to be found. Those who love you are like the master who is looking for you, but instead of wanting to be found, be cleared of your hopelessness, you simply hide and continue in the lies and the torment of those who want to find the real you.  Stop running!  Stop making excuses for wandering away from the love of your life.  If you think this might be you, it probably is you, so why not look around you. Is the place you have wandered to better now than before? Is your heart better than before? Why not surrender to the wandering, the becoming lost, hoping to be found, but continue hiding behind addictions. You are worth so much to the Father, and to me and to those around you. Stop trying to make excuses and live for Christ.  He is out there waiting for you to grab hold of His hand and come back to us. Pastor Andy

Clear conscience?

Do you have a ‘Clear Conscience?’ A clear conscience is a confidence that what you say is what you believe. It is a heart that desires truth, and the willingness to surrender to that truth, regardless of how much the flesh does not want you to. Here is what Paul writes to the Church at Corinth: “For this is our confidence: The testimony of our conscience is that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with God-given sincerity and purity, not by fleshly wisdom but by God’s grace. Now we are writing nothing to you other than what you can read and also understand. I hope you will understand completely – as you have partially understood us – that we are your reason for pride, as you are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 1:12-14 The testimony of a good conscience, that which is called integrity. It’s a heart that desires to live as God directs, not as we necessarily want according to the flesh. It also reveals a heart lived as a testimony of truth, not as a show of a false sense of belief, but that of humility and spiritual wisdom, compared to an intellectual argument. So many want to debate their truth, not from a desire to unite, but from a desire to win the debate. My understanding is more truth than yours, type of debate! The testimony of a good conscience however, is a life translated into the action of love for the sake of love. It’s a life desirous to benefit the other instead of self. Boy, what a world we would have is everyone started living like Christ lived. What a life it could be if CHRISTIANS started living like Christ lived! We are called to be different, to be lights in a darkened world, but how often do we try to live in the world where we think we are different yet our testimony reveals a life more similar to the world, than the one we profess. Pastor Andy

Don’t Wait

We have unfortunately and very suddenly lost my father-in-law this week. My wife and I (and others) have discussed regularly his need for the Lord. He would always counter with “I know”, “I am not a church guy”, etc, but to our knowledge never accepted Christ. I KNOW he saw it in my wife and hopefully me and I KNOW he heard the gospel message. We can only hope that he cried out to the Lord before he took his last breath. I received this devotional from Pastor Andy Anderson and of course the Lord timed it like only He can. As a side note and public service announcement … for those who are parents or for those who still have your parents around … PLEASE make sure your documents, accounts and the like are in order! Beneficiaries listed, wills available, desires for burial and services, etc! We really have none of that, other than burial plot, available to us. It is very difficult and prayers are greatly appreciated. Sorry this is long:

Sometimes you may wonder if your life as a believer will ever touch the heart of another, but how will you know, and if it doesn’t? Does that mean it should still not be lived that way? How many lives have we touched through our journey on this earth, may never be known this side of heaven, but we should rest assured that living the life of a believer, by choice, by desire, by the very heart of the Lord who lives in us, will not be for naught, and will produce fruit, even if we don’t see it. The book of Hebrews talks about the heroes of the faith who lived lives that none of us have ever had to face, yet they lived them knowing that there was something special that awaited them in glory. Just when you don’t think that your life has any impact for Christ, if you have lived to bring honor to Him, then just know that He is the One producing the fruit in others that have been touched by your testimony, or by your life of faith. Peter tells us about this life: “Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation. Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the Supreme authority or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good.  For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good.”1 Peter 2:11-15  One day, every knee will bow before the Lord!  One day those who don’t believe will know and will glorify God and beg for forgiveness for their stubbornness. For some it may still be time, for others, it will be too late, but ALL will know.  The day of visitation may be the day the Lord visits them, and the word, the seed that you have planted, will reveal the truth, and they will rejoice that they will be found forgiven. Others will stand before judgment and know that what you have spoken and lived before them was the truth, but they will go away to eternal punishment.  All of these are reasons for us to live our lives honorable among people. Yes! so that they see the difference, but also because you desire to be more like Jesus and less like the world. The saddest thing would be that others would be led to hell because they saw no difference between those who claim to believe, and the world who does not. We must be different! We must reveal Christ in us, and if we live with the assurance of the Holy Spirit in us, the only thing keeping us from living it, is ourselves, and much to be pitied, if we fail to live as we believe.

Vote … with God’s Leading

Here is a trustworthy saying: “I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing to my God as long as I live. Do not trust in nobles, in man, who cannot save. When his breath leaves him, he returns to the ground; on that day his plans die. Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry The Lord frees prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord raises up those who are oppressed. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects foreigners and helps the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever; Zion, your God reigns for all generations. Hallelujah!”  Psalm 146:2-10 We hear promises all the time especially during these times when it’s an election year. Yet, without sounding too pessimistic, will the promises made be fulfilled? Well, we certainly hope so. Yet, I wonder how many are doing exactly what the Scripture for today is talking about – putting our trust in mortal men, when we should be putting our hope and trust in the Lord. The longer I live, I am beginning to think that we are putting more of our trust in government than God. He is still sovereign; He is still on the throne; He is still the maker of all we have and are, and in Him alone comes our salvation. Are we to be involved in politics? Yes! But according to the Will of the Lord as He directs our lives and shows us HIS direction and HIS choices. I think it would benefit all of us much better if we put more concentration on our prayer life instead of CNN. Please don’t take this wrong, for I am not talking about NOT being involved. Let’s just not forget to bring ALL things to the Lord for consideration. Wouldn’t we do that with any special event in our lives. Through the Holy Spirit, God wants to direct our lives, not so that He can make us robots, to do his bidding, but to make us better. All through history we have documentation of those who tried doing things without God, and failed. Yet when they all submitted to the will of the Father, he blessed them. So be involved, but when something so important as the plans for the country in which we live are involved, and that is given to us by God himself, becomes the center of attention for our future and that of our children, don’t you think that our first and most important petition needs to be to the Lord Himself, for direction and help so that we don’t put our hope in man, but in God? Then we can rest assured that He is orchestrating his will in our country. If all of us believers spent time on our knees before God, asking him to heal our land, I believe he will answer that prayer and indeed HEAL OUR LAND. (“and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven,  forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14)
Pastor Andy

The Wisdom of Job

There is some comfort in reading Job and the trials that he suffered. Not that we want to dwell on the trials, but it is nice to know that one went before us, as many have gone before us. Then there are those who try to give good wisdom to the troubled, only to have it come out as sarcasm and judgment. Such a time was what Job had to endure by his so-called friends. They wanted him to admit that God’s judgment was aimed at him, and for him to change, but Job was an upright man. This testing did not happen to Job because he was evil, but was testing because he was strong and good. But his friends didn’t see it  that way. In one conversation with Zophar in which Zophar was trying to get Job to see the wisdom that God was delivering these hardships on Job because of his sin.  But I want to write in here Job’s response, which I think all of us should take a moment to meditate on: “No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you! But I also have a mind; I am not inferior to you. Who doesn’t know the things you are talking about? I am a laughingstock to my friends, by calling on God, who answers me. The righteous and upright man is a laughingstock. The one who is at ease holds calamity in contempt and thinks it is prepared for those whose feet are slipping. The tents of robbers are safe, and those who provoke God are secure; God’s power provides this. But ask the animals, and they will instruct you; ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you. Or speak to the earth, and it will instruct you; let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? The life of every living thing is in His hand, as well as the breath of all mankind. Doesn’t the ear test words as the palate tastes food? Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding comes with long life. Wisdom and strength belong to God; counsel and understanding are His.  Job 12: 1-13  We so often equate trials as God’s punishment, and I have heard many say that we are being punished now.  When I ask you and others to turn from wicked ways, it is for the purpose of repentance before our Almighty God, even if we don’t have pronounced sin in our lives. We are to turn toward repentance and acknowledge our Lord as our Master, even if it seems like He is not listening. Much happened to Job, but his faithfulness remained. He didn’t try to find his sin, but concentrated on his relationship with the Lord God. His friends wanted him to accept that he had sin in his life and he was being punished for it. But Job did not see it that way. He trusted God with all that he was and had, everything was in His hands. He gave, and He takes away. Satan was arguing with the Lord that Job only was good because God had given him so much, but God knows the hearts of His people. In Chapter one, the end verse sums up the relationship that Job had with God, when he says, “Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything.” v1:22  Let’s remember this wisdom. That all that befalls us today is not necessarily because we are evil, as some would like us to think. We do need to evaluate ourselves, but trust God still has this under control – ALL OF IT!  So we too, can say, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh! Pastor Andy

What kind of person are you?

What kind of person are you? Are you the kind of person YOU want to be, or the kind of person GOD wants you to be? All those who believe, should be able or responsible enough to live for Christ, to want him in their lives through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  But how many choose to believe, but it doesn’t change their lives or the behavior of their lives?  Peter was a man of conflict.  He loved Jesus, yet denied he even knew him, when it appeared that his life might be in danger for being associated with Jesus.  He would separate himself with Gentile believers, when some of his brothers came from Jerusalem, and ate separate from the Gentile believers.  Then in his letter to believers, he says that he will soon put aside this tent of a body, as Jesus has made it clear to him.  He was no longer afraid. He no longer spoke one way and lived another.  Now righteousness, because of the love of Jesus, was made complete in him. He ends his second letter, writing this: “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat. But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.”  2 Peter 3:11-13 So what kind of people ought we to be?  Holy and godly in a world that still strives to become more ungodly.  We ought to stand for righteousness, even when it’s not the popular thing to do, because it’s the right thing.   We ought to pray that God will take those little insects of sin that keep affecting our lives, and causing us to stumble, and start to renew our hearts toward him.  Let’s make every day, Sunday, in which we gather together, strengthening each other, in Christ.  Let’s make every day one in which we wake to the joy of being alive in Christ, and start each day in honor to him. Let’s make our lives consistent with Christ, instead of making Christ fit in the spare time that we give him.  What kind of person are we? We will never be perfect this side of eternity, but just as Paul writes to the Romans, “What then? Shall we continue to sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not!” ( Romans 6:15)  We are to desire to be righteous, with the righteousness of Christ, not our own.  When we incorporate Christianity into our worldly living, we get a watered down version of the truth.  But when we incorporate the world into our life of faith, we start to live by faith, walk by faith, and be a living example to those who live wholly in the world.  He then tells us in the end of the letter, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever, Amen. So what kind of person are we?  Not yet what we want to be, but we will keep praying for our lives to become more like him, and less like the world, as we look forward to the day of God, and speed its coming, keeping our focus on Christ and not the world.  Don’t get distracted my friends, keep the faith! keep the focus! Pastor Andy

Is there a stranger in your house?

Is there a stranger in your house you are unaware of?  No, I’m not talking about mold, but you should keep watch for that also. I’m talking about the hidden things, the things we allow in our house that we would never allow with us in church.  Does the evil of anger exist as an everyday occurance? How about the hidden sins of addiction, or abuse? Do they exist or seem to co-exist with you without you even knowing?  How about that hidden mold of indifference, that uncaring about your fellow man?  I wonder if we were to be given eyes for 24 hours to see the spiritually unclean things that exist right with us in our houses, what would we see?  Scripture tells us: “When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it roams through waterless places looking for rest, and not finding rest, it then says, ‘I’ll go back to my house where I came from.’ And returning, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that man’s last condition is worse than the first.” Luke 11: 24-26  This verse tells us that unclean spirits do exist, and that we are capable of sending them out of our houses (minds), but it’s what we do after that makes the biggest difference. Notice that when this unclean spirit returns it finds the house swept and put in order. To me, that tells me that the person did not leave the place, (the mind) messy with other things, but put in order. But the difference is that it was not filled with good, it was not filled with something better, but instead was empty; just the ripe situation where the evil could return, and in this case stronger with more help than ever before to torment the person.   We do good when we pray for the Lord to take things out of our lives that obviously are bad for our spiritual health. But what do we replace it with?  It tells me that we will be filled with something, but what that something is, is what is allowed to be in our thoughts, in our hearts. So if you have a problem with addiction, don’t just pray to get it out, replace it with spiritual food, spiritual life. If the problem in our “house” is fleshly sins, and we pray to get rid of it, replace it with spiritual freshness and thoughts and actions.  If the problem is with anger or worry, or anxiety and fears, pray to get rid of them, but they have to be replaced, or they will come back even stronger.  The point this morning is that we spend a lot of time praying for the Lord to fix us, but not fill us.  It’s time we complete our prayers with the filling of the Holy Spirit, the filling of things Holy. Philippians 4:8 has the answer: “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise – dwell on these things.”  It’s not enough to pray for the removal of things from our “house”, things that are bad for us. Even though that is important to pray for, it is also important to pray for the mind to think about things that fill us up with goodness, the things listed above.  This is a verse we should memorize if at all possible, and use it whenever you pray for the Lord to take bad things away from us. Then make the conversation, Lord, please fill me with You! Fill me with all that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable, because I want to have a heart of moral excellence, and I desire to be more like You. Is there a stranger in your house?  Get rid of him, but then invite a brother, our Lord and Savior to occupy the unused spaces. Pastor Andy