Archive for September, 2017

Putting Feet to Love (1 John 3)

September 29, 2017

“What manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1

Our Lord is so awesome! He loves us so much. So much so that we can pray to be able to “comprehend what is the width and length and depth and height of Christ love,” while all the time knowing that that comprehension it is beyond our grasp. Often, we seek to explain His love by saying that He loves us so much that He died for us. This is statement is completely true, in fact, John expressed this in his gospel when he said, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” Really, the only way to express the depth of God’s love is to say that it is impossible for Him to love us more.
My heart yearns, even hurts to communicate my love for Him in return. It is very easy to say those words, “I Love You,” but the way I must prove my love is in the same manner my Savior proved it, through action. 1 John 3 tells us how to accomplish this action.

1. Practice Righteousness. (Vs. 7) “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.“ In other words, do what is just and right.

2. Love One Another. (Vs. 11) “for this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” May our neighbor know that we love them through how we speak to and treat them.

3. Lay Down Your Life for the Purpose of Christ. (Vs. 16) Do this by meeting the needs of others. This is the action of love!

4. Openly Prove Your Obedience toward Christ (Vs.22) Publicly and unapologetically do what God said in His commands, and obey the conviction of His Holy Spirit. This is pleasing to God to “see.”

May you today, prove your love for Christ by loving others through your work of meeting their need.

Pastor Cary

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That you may know (1 John 2)

September 28, 2017

“we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”- 1 John 2:1

With summer coming to a close and the fall weather officially upon us, the season change makes me consider how I spent my summer days. Like you, I am sure your summer was busy! Going here and there, spending time with family, planning vacations, camps, BBQ’s on the weekends, keeping up with the yard work so you’re not the talk of the neighborhood facebook page or HOA meeting. But now you find yourself in a new season of life where maybe for the first time you’re taking a deep breath of fatigue. Maybe you’re considering of slowing down for a couple of months before Thanksgiving and Christmas arrive and life speeds up once more.

As I opened the Word of God this morning I found myself spiritually fatigued (surely you’ve never felt that) and behold I was reminded of three motivating truths as I read and I hope encourages you to press on to not take a spiritual break in your walk with Christ

  1. John says that “I am writing to you that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”- Often times we want to slow down and take a break from serving Jesus due to our awareness of falling short of the glory of God (aka: sin) Here John tells us energizing news, that if you find yourself struggling this morning, stop looking at your sin and start looking at the Savior! Jesus Christ the righteous. John tells us that He is our advocate to God the father. Now to be an advocate means to “help or intercede for someone else on their behalf” If you are in Christ Jesus He is pleading your forgiveness before the throne of God with his work of sacrifice on the cross and His blood never fails!
  2. “He himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world”. Secondly, since we have been freed from our sin, pardoned entirely before God, therefore, being energized to not take a break John reminds us that this is personal news for us, yes, but it needs to go public! Jesus is the propitiation, meaning he atoned for our sin by his obedience and sacrifice turning the wrath of God from sinners on Jesus. Do you know someone who does not know this news? That Christ died, was buried and rose from the grave 3 days later for the forgiveness of man. Surely you will meet someone today that does not have this hope. Make a difference today by spreading the scandalous news of the Cross for the forgiveness of sinners.
  3. Thirdly and lastly, this news will cause change! John writes “by this, we know that we have come to know Him if we keep his commandments”. Great news requires great actions. When we believe by grace through faith Jesus died for our sins so we can become sons and daughters of God Almighty we will reflect our citizenship. We can not declare Jesus to be our Savior and not be our master. For you and I this morning, it would be wise to look into our hearts and see where our disobedience lies and then return to the news that we have heard earlier! John would tell us “little children I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin” May you be energized by forgiveness to make the most of your day today!

Grace and Peace, Nate Ashbaugh

 

 

Where life is (I John 1)

September 27, 2017

the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us, I John 1:2

As the people of Puerto Rico struggle to understand life without the basis essentials of life in the aftermath of a second hurricane, I find myself broken for them.  I also find myself asking this question: “Where does real life come from?”

This is the answer that John gives himself to answering in the first four verses of chapter 1 in First John.  Allow these verses to wash over you:

  • John teaches us that life is in Jesus. 
  • Jesus has always existed as the Son of God who created everything that has been created.  John teaches us that Jesus revealed God to us.  

In John 1:14-18 we see Jesus revealing to us the glory of heaven.  John gives me great encouragement in testifying that he saw Jesus, He listened to Jesus teach, and He walked with Jesus.

  • John teaches us that Jesus came to give us life.

God has come to give us both earthly life and eternal life.  John proclaims this truth so that all men can have this life.  This life brings one into fellowship with God the Father as well as with all true believers.  Glorious joy comes when this life is given (John 15:11).

Here is where it gets really good:  This joy is what sustains our lives when we lose the earthly pleasures of life.  This is why a man in a village in Malawi can have joy even though he only has the clothes he wears on his back.  This is why a man who has made millions of dollars still lives in the house he lived in when he first his business.  This is why he can easily give away millions for Kingdom Work because he has life in Jesus.

Question:  “Where is your life?”

As I prayed for the people of Puerto Rico I prayed that God would restore their essential needs for life, but I also prayed that God would show them where true life exists.  This is what I also prayed for my life and for your life as well.

When God steps in (Titus 3:4)

September 26, 2017

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, Titus 3:4

Sometimes it is clear that the Devil steps into present positions in life.  It may happen as you attempt to do good to someone or it may happen in your home when you are trying your best to draw closer to God.  The warfare may come in the middle of friendships or even in your church.  Be assured the Devil will step in.

Question: “What will you do?”

In Titus 3 we read, not about the Devil stepping in, but about God stepping in.  Keep in mind Paul is giving Titus instructions concerning proper order in the churches on the island of Crete.

The first two verses of chapter three focus on our calling to a life of disciple.  Paul lists no less than 7 disciplines that should characterize the life of someone who has experienced God’s stepping into their lives.  Here are those 7 disciplines:

  • Respect authority.
  • Obey God
  • Commit to righteous deed.
  • refuse to slander.
  • Reject argumentative behavior.
  • Gentle in spirit.
  • respect all people.

The list seems almost impossible in our current world situation.  However, when God steps in the impossible, characterized in Vs: 3 becomes possible.  How does this become possible?

God steps in.  The glorious news is simple this, “God appeared.”  Jesus Christ came to be our substitute on the cross.  He made atonement for our sins.  But He also made us new people (this is the work of regeneration).  We are spiritually, “born again.”  God’s work through Jesus is sufficient.  We who say “yes” to Jesus are now declared righteous before Him.

listen to this truth: “We now can accomplish the 7 disciples listed above as well as so many more.”

Brothers and sisters, when the Devil steps in, you and I have a power source already present in our lives.  Jesus has already stepped in.  Now the Holy Spirit resides inside of us.  We have the power to overcome the enemy in Jesus name!!!  Oh how I pray that you discover this truth today.  Oh how I pray that you live in this truth today!!!

Training while you wait (Titus 2)

September 25, 2017

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, Titus 2:11-12

“What’s the use?”  These words came from my mouth as I stood there on the scales in our bathroom.  I had spent the previous week exercising and starving myself to take off weight.  But I had not reached my desired goal.  In the moment I lost focus on where I was headed.

Question: Do you ever lose focus on where you are headed spiritually?

In Titus 2 Paul is directing Titus to teach sound doctrine to all in his congregation, Vs: 2-11.  The question that arises from Paul’s directions is this, How can these people live out these directives?  The answer is in the verses that follow:

I. The church must focus on their daily spiritual training in the gospel.

This training includes rejecting the ungodliness of the world and living a Spirit-filled life.  This training focused on a mature life in Christ that is living in honestly and holiness.

II. The church must focus on their daily spiritual awareness of Christ’s return.

Paul was looking forward to Christ’s return.  As he waited for His return he fully engaged in the Lord’s work.

By doing these two things the church would find themselves growing in the gospel and they would be reaching others with the gospel.  This is what it means to train while you wait.

Here is a footnote for us: “We cannot train while we sit on the couch of spiritual idleness. We must live with a Spirit-filled zeal knowing the training will be worth it when the Lord returns.”

Difficult days (II Timothy 3)

September 20, 2017

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty, II Timothy 3:1

Anyone who says, “The days are not difficult,” is either oblivious to what is happening in our world or they are obsessing in their own self life.

These are difficult days.  I sat in my office chair and read an article about the devastation in Houston as well as the state of Florida.  At the same time I put aside the article so that I could open my Bible to II Timothy 3.  Again I sat in my office chair reading about the devastation in the world.  Take a moment and read through II Timothy 3.

Why so much spiritual devastation? Paul says, “Because of the damaging teaching of false teachers.”

Brothers and sisters we must pay attention to the eroding views of our day.  Religious leaders have directed our nation and world down a path that leads to ruin.  No longer are there the days of preachers who are speaking with passion and warning against the sins of our world.  Today we see preachers who speak to the felt needs of a people trying to attract them to a mush God that only exists to meet their every need and wish.

Because of such preaching we have a society that fulfills II Timothy 3:13

while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

The outlook is bleak apart from a return to God’s Word.

Paul was clear with his readers, standing and living out God’s Word will be costly, Vs: 12.  But the cost does not compare to the fruit that can come.  The Word of God can change a nation.

Here is what I passionately believe today: “we cannot afford to shy away from the debates, the difficulties, and the depravity of our day.  We must engage the world with a Bible world-view which is able to make all men wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.”

This day I have my Bible open and my mind ready to deliver the Word of God.  Oh how I pray you are getting ready even as your read this blog.

Taking off some weight (II Timothy 2)

September 19, 2017

11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, II Timothy 2:11-13

Yes, it is true, many of us could use to take off some weight.  Sadly this truth comes to many of us after we have been broken down by unhealthy practices.  But this is not the weight Paul is writing about in our text today.

Paul knows Timothy is weighted down by the weight of his calling.  This calling has left him in both a fatigued and fearful place.  In the first 15 verses of chapter 2 Paul helps Timothy to take off some spiritual weight:

First, Paul challenges Timothy to embrace the power of Christ’s resurrection, Vs: 1.

As a believer we are not asked to do the work of the ministry in our strength but in His.  We have access to Christ’s power by faith, Ephesians 1:18-23.

Second, Paul challenges Timothy to pass on the glorious truth of the gospel, Vs: 2-3.

If Timothy remained weighed down, the gospel would not be passed on.  This is the Devils goal in weighing you down.  The Devil always opposes the gospel in you.  I challenge you to take time to simply give to the Lord the weights you are caring.  Take time to invest in His Word.  You may endure hardships but you will overcome.

Third, Paul comforts Timothy in reminding him of the sufficiency of God for his salvation, Vs: 11-13.

So often we thing, “my faith is totally up to me to accomplish.”

It is true that we must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.  But that belief includes a total trust in Christ alone to save us.  He does it all.  Even when we get weighted down, He is still our Savior.

I want to challenge you to stop being weighted down by what you think you have to do.  Start resting in what He is doing!

What do you need? (II Timothy 1)

September 18, 2017

 who saved us and called us to[a] a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, II Timothy 1:9

This past week was a spiritual rollercoaster for me personally.  I truly could never come to place of ease and peace about ministry questions in regard to the hurt in our world.  Questions flew through my mind such as, “Where should we go to minister? What can we do if we go?  What am I doing that I don’t need to be doing?  How can I best lead your church to maximize Your glory in the world?

These questions still consume my thoughts as I made my way to II Timothy 1.  The words of this chapter written first to a sincere pastor who was struggling with church issues were right on time in my life.  I pray they will be the same in your moments of questions as well.

God said to Timothy, “this is what you need for success in My work”

  • Timothy you need My Spirit for direction in the toughest of moments in life, Vs: 7.

Brothers and sisters, questions that are asked without the question being given to God will end up as unanswered questions.  God offers us answer coming through the pipeline of the Holy Spirit.

  • Timothy you need the Word of God for a road map in life, Vs: 8-9.

It is God’s Word that maps out the answer for all we face.  Lord us me for your work as you see it in Your Word.

  • Timothy you need the mission of God to stay on point, Vs: 8-9.

The mission of God is to get the gospel to every person in every nation, Vs: 10-11.  This happens when we see our places of work as our mission field.

  • Timothy you need daily prayer, Vs: 12-16.

Each day, prayer filled the heart of Paul, as he prayed for Timothy (Vs: 3).  It is through prayer that we gain the spiritual strength we need to face each.

At the end of chapter one I cried out to God, “here are my questions.”  I am now seeking the filling of the Spirit to understand the Word of God that directs me in the mission of God.  As I pray, God opens the doors to accomplish His purpose.  To this my troubled heart in now settled.

 

Getting out of park (I Timothy 6)

September 15, 2017

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness, I Timothy 6:11

This morning, after my quiet time, I spent just a moment on Facebook, and I am glad I did. I great pastor friend was writing about the hurt he was feeling for the many people who have been hurt by the hurricanes.  He said, “I cannot just sit here, I am going out to do something to help someone today.”

Here was a pastor who was unwilling to all the car of his spiritual life to remain in park.  He pulled the spiritual care of his life into gear and was going to do something for the glory of the Lord.

In I Timothy Paul gives to Timothy personal directions that would keep his spiritual car out of park.  For our time I am going to only consider one part of the directions, Vs:11.

Paul gives Timothy a direct command:  “Pursue…”  He lists 6 things he was to pursue:

  1. Righteous-This is what God requires.
  2. Goodness-This is proper behavior.
  3. Faith-belief that leads to actions.
  4. Love-a desire to care for people you hold in high regard.
  5. Steadfastness-this is a genuine patience.
  6. Gentleness-this is the attitude governed by the new man.

My pastor friend employed these 6 pursuits in making his decision to move from a spiritually parked position to a position of working.

He cried out to God, “What do you want me to do?”  God said, “Do what is God.”  He responded: “I will walk in faith adjusting my schedule knowing you will provide.”  Love led him to minister to those who were hurting.  He did not turn away when people were unkind, he was patient.  As he ministered, the gentleness of God carried his hands to do the work for the glory of God.

Question:  Are you in park today or are you in drive spiritually?

If you are in park, “Pursue God.”  If you are in drive, “Fight the good fight of faith!”

What is in my heart? (I Timothy 5)

September 14, 2017

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.  I Timothy 5:24-25 (The Message)

Seldom do I ever quote from the Message (Paraphrase edition of the Bible), but here I believe it speaks to the essence of what God dealt with my heart about today.

Paul has been instructing Timothy (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) in how to correct lead the church in Ephesus.  In chapter 4 Paul focuses on proper relationships within the church (Vs: 1-2).  Paul directs the church in how to minister to widows (Vs: 3-16).  He also instructs church in proper respect and accountability with respect to the office of elder (Vs: 17-22).

As the Holy Spirit leads Paul there is a transition from individual instruction back to corporate direction.  It is to these words that my heart was cut to the core.  Two simple statements focus on how deeply I was cut:

“The true Child of God who is committed to serving the Lord will produce fruit for righteousness.”

As I came to see this in new light, I cried out to God, “Please direct me to minister to all people in righteous ways.”  I thought of the Psalmist words in Psalm 37:4-6

 4Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday

These words led me to again understand that the innermost thoughts of my heart must belong to God.

“The true Child of God who is committing sin will eventually produce fruit that will be detected.”

This statement rocked me because I could be in sin and because of a deceptive heart, I could be blind to what I was doing.  So I again cried out to the Lord, “Please forgive me where I have failed.  Reveal to me any sin so that I can confess it, repent of it, and get ride of it in my life.”

As I completed my time with God I found myself being filled with fresh spiritual wind to do God’s work.  It is my prayer that God would reveal to you the place where you heart resides today.  Most of all I pray that you delight in bearing righteous fruit.