Archive for March, 2018

The Antichrist Has a Plan for You

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time (Daniel 7:25, KJV).

A Tool of Destruction

The antichrist’s plan, as stated in Scripture, is to wear out the Saints of God. The spirit of the antichrist has been present in this world for thousands of years, but as we approach the end time, that spirit is growing stronger in the world. The stress-level we all feel can be attributed to his workings.

But, God’s said those who know Him will be strong and do exploits (Daniel 11:32). We can be destroyed by stress due to lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Stress is a tool of our enemy. It affects our wellbeing and can severely impact our health, and can be in the genes we pass on to our children. We’re warned in the last days how life would cause men’s hearts to fail them for fear (Luke 21:26). We must understand the Word of God and know we can have peace, joy, and abundant life instead of stress, worry, fear, or anxiety.

Four Solutions for Defeating the Plan

Learn What You Cannot Control and Quite Stressing Over it

The things we stress over today won’t stress us out tomorrow. In the grand scheme of life, stressing doesn’t matter—it’s not worth it! To be knowledgeable, we need to predetermine our hearts and minds in how we’ll approach and react to situations. Scripture tells us we can know and proclaim today is the day the Lord’s made, and we can choose to rejoice in it (Psalms 118:24). We can make the decision that people, places, events, etc. will not ruin our day. We can (and should) be flexible to what comes our way, and trust God has it all under control.

Learn How to Control Your Thought Life

We can control what we think about; we don’t have to think about negative things. Paul admonished the church to think on things that were true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praise-worthy (Philippians 4:8). We’re told elsewhere in Scripture to think on the Word of God throughout the day (Psalms 1:2); His law is our delight (Psalms 119:143–144). Paul experienced great tribulation in his life, but he never stressed out over it. At one point, he told his captors: I think myself happy (Acts 26:2). Even in prison, he found opportunity to praise the Lord (Acts 16:24–34).

In nature, weeds grow automatically. If we’re not intentional about our thought-life, the same thing will happen in our mind. The Holy Ghost will teach us all things and to bring us peace (John 14:26–27). We can be troubled on every side, but not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed (II Corinthians 4:7–9)! God’s presence changes everything.

Learn to Trust God

In life, we can’t do anything without God (John 15:25), so why do we try? When we worry about something, especially our future, we’re not putting our trust in the One who has it all under control. Scripture tells us all things are purposed for good to those who are obedient to God (Romans 8:28). We must trust in Him and not our own thoughts or our own ways (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Jesus proved His true love for us on Calvary when He gave His life. Therefore, He tells any who are burdened to come to Him and He will give them rest (Matthew 11:28–29). He tells us never to worry or stress out about anything; go to Him and tell Him what we need (Philippians 4:6). He wants to help; He’s there to help. Let’s learn to trust Him to work out His perfect plan in our life. Once we learn to trust in Him, we don’t need to worry about a thing!

Learn to Praise the Lord

A heart that’s praising and thanking the Lord is beneficial to God and to us, but a broken, worrisome spirit will dry out our bones (Proverbs 17:22). Scripture admonishes us to praise the Lord with our whole heart (Psalms 111:1). If we praise Him with all our heart, there won’t be room to do anything else—especially worry! And, there’s no better place to worship and praise the Lord than in the church. It’s when we’re with the Body of Christ, we can exhort and encourage one another as we see the day of the Lord approaching—and the time when the spirit of antichrist will be cast down (Hebrews 10:25).

The Plan Overthrown

Jesus showed the ultimate stress in the garden before the crucifixion. He sweat great drops of blood that fell into the ground (Luke 22:44). Every pain Jesus felt was for our every, specific worry. His blood was for the remission of our sins, stripes for our healing, and the crown of thorns for the chastisement of our peace (Isaiah 53:4–5). He faced the cross so we could have knowledge and understanding (instruction) on how to live a life stress-free.

He paid it all. He endured it all. And, even though the antichrist has a plan to bear us down with stress, Jesus overthrew that plan on Calvary. Don’t let the plan of the antichrist come to fruition in your life. Lean on Jesus and don’t worry.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on March 28, 2018 with Pastor Melder

Celebrating the Sacrifice

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

I saw communion as a confusing occasion growing up. I didn’t understand why everyone would get in line just to eat a piece of bread and get a drink. Didn’t they know that wasn’t a substantial snack to hold them over until lunch?

Then, as I grew older, I started questioning why there were people comfortable drinking out of the same cup of wine as 50+ other people, but wouldn’t share a soda with just one person outside of church. Or, how leavened and unleavened bread were used in observance of this ceremony. Did they just get what was on sale?

And, imagine my further alarm, when in Sunday school I learned the wine symbolized the blood of Jesus, and the bread, His body. When I partook of communion I was drinking His blood and eating His flesh. Had I become a cannibal? Panic ensued.

As a child, you misunderstand quite a bit about the importance of communion and what it actually represents in the church. I’m not saying any of my observations were 100% accurate or 100% in alignment with Scripture—it’s just what I experienced. But, as a young adult, I went to the Scriptures to find out communion’s true meaning:

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:26–28, KJV).

Jesus told His disciples to participate in communion to remember Him (Luke 22:19). So, what are we remembering?

We’re to remember how He suffered the absolute worst punishment and pain anyone could possibly endure by being beaten and crucified. We’re to remember how He was stripped naked, shattering any shred of dignity while He hung on the cross. We’re to remember the blood that flowed from Calvary’s hill. We’re to remember His sacrifice.

Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind: past, present, and future. He gave His life for you and me so we could experience victory over sin, sickness, bondage, depression, and everything else—you fill in the blank. We’re to remember the great, and awesome love our Savior has for us.

Easter is approaching this Sunday. We’re celebrating Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. He didn’t just die on a cruel and rugged cross. He went to hell and took back the keys to death, hell, and the grave (Revelation 1:18). After three days, He arose into Heaven (I Corinthians 15:3–4). We serve a living Savior!

He did all of this so we could have life. But, it started with the breaking of His body and the shedding of His blood.

I pray when we celebrate Easter, and partake of communion, we remember His sacrifice. When we partake of the vine and the unleavened bread, let’s remember and honor the greatest love and sacrifice the world will ever know.

Saved By Grace: When Grace Looks Like Sacrifice

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it…And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:2–7, 11–13, KJV).

Grace Looks Like Sacrifice We’re Saved from Judgment

The sacrificial lamb was important during the Passover. As the blood of a perfect lamb was spread upon the doorposts of a home, the death angel passed over and the home was protected from the wrath of God. The judgment meant for the world around us, isn’t meant for the church. Jesus Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). Calvary wasn’t pretty; it was gruesome, dark, and horrible. But, it brought life to each and every one of us. When the blood has been applied in our life we will receive blessing and hope (Ephesians 2:12–13).

Grace Looks Like Sacrifice When We Give in Knowing We’ve Got the Power

Some fights will be won in our life only by surrendering. Jesus told the Roman soldiers that no one would take His life. He had the power to lay it down and take it up again (John 10:18). Jesus surrendered His body and won the war of sin for all. He gave up when He could have stood up to fight! In the Garden, the before Jesus crucifixion, Peter took out a sword to fight off the soldiers. But, Jesus could have commanded 80,000 angels to help—He didn’t need Peter!

We should ask ourselves what things would be better if we just gave in? Jesus was right in everything He said—He was the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Messiah, etc. But, He didn’t open His mouth to His accusers (Isaiah 53:7). He didn’t fight, but grace proved Him right in the end.

Grace Looks Like Sacrifice When We Give When We Deserve to Take

Sacrifices don’t pay anything back. In the Passover, the Lamb was the sacrifice and gave all. Jesus was the precious Lamb slain, and He gave His life so we could have all. The world has the wrong perspective about sacrifice and daily living. We live in a society of entitlement, and an ill perceived need to always be happy and fulfilled. But our lust in this world will bring forth sin and eventually death (James 1:15).

When we allow the cross to have its perfect work in us, we will give without taking. Christ was offered to bear the sins of many (Hebrews 9:28) and blotted out the ordinances against us (Colossians 2:14). Everything we’ve done has been erased and He’s made atonement for our sins. He remembers our iniquity no more—as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:11–12).

How to Get Rid of God’s Glory

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken (I Samuel 4:19–22, KJV).

We are our own worst enemy. We do a lot of things which end up working contrary to our best interest and the plans God has for us. Because of our sinful behavior, God’s glory may not operate anymore. Certain conditions must be met for Him to be present in our lives.

Book Background

I and II Samuel as well as I and II Kings provide a continuous history of the Nation of Israel. According to translators, the various authors include Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. I Samuel contains the life of Samuel himself and notes how he was a true prophet. Everyone knew he was a prophet, and his words were heard by the entire Nation (I Samuel 3: 19–21, 4:1).

God’s Glory

God’s glory can be comprised of numerous things. You can see the effects of God’s glory as did Moses on Mount Sinai. You can see the provision of God’s glory as when God provided quail to Israel in the wilderness. Israel could also see God’s glory through a pillar of cloud, pillar of fire, or a light as it shone on the mercy seat in the tabernacle. Today, we see God’s glory manifested through the Holy Ghost.

When the Glory Departed

Eli was the high priest of Israel and he had two sons: Hophni and Phinehas. Israel had gone out to battle against the Philistines and were losing. Eli’s sons decided to bring the ark of the covenant, confident God would fight the battle for them (I Samuel 4:11). The story ends with the ark being captured by the Philistines and both of Eli’s sons being killed.

Even as the prophet spoke the Word of God, the glory of the Lord was no longer with Israel (I Samuel 4:21). We’re left with many questions. How can you be living during a time where there’s a prophet who has a Word from God and lose God’s glory? How can we serve God and still lose? The answer lies in the behavior of the three men and the spiritual climate in Israel.

We Lose God’s Glory When We Profane God’s Stuff

Hophni and Phinehas had made the things of God ordinary; they treated His offerings with contempt (I Samuel 2:17). When offerings were brought to the Lord, they took the meat they wanted even though God had specific instructions for meat offerings. What they were doing was unholy behavior. We’re called to be holy because God is holy (Leviticus 20:7; I Peter 1:15).

If our behavior isn’t holy, God’s glory won’t be with us. If God ever becomes ordinary to us, God’s glory won’t be with us. Heaven help us if we think the church house is just another building, the Bible is just another book, etc. We can come to have church, preach the Word, and “work” in His Kingdom, but if we’re not holy, God won’t be in any of it.

We Lose God’s Glory When We Fail to Correct What We Know is Wrong

There will always be a gap in our spiritual attainment. We’re not saved until we make it to Heaven! But, knowing there’s a gap in our spiritual perfection should lead us in a lifetime pursuit of fixing that gap. Eli knew there were problems in his administration of his family, the tabernacle, and Israel. He was bold enough to confront his son’s sinful actions of fornication and taking the meat offerings (I Samuel 2:22–25). But, his mouth said one thing and his actions denoted another. Eli was telling his sons not to take the meat offerings, but he was eating it (I Samuel 2:29)!

We cannot say things with our mouth or heart and have different behavior. We’re told in Scripture if we know to do good, but we don’t do it, it’s a sin (James 4:17). It’s very dangerous to ignore God’s commands. God told Eli He would find a faithful priest to do what was in God’s heart instead of Eli (I Samuel 4:35). In the end, Eli’s weight of sin killed him—he was too heavy from eating God’s meat offerings, fell off his chair, broke his neck, and died (I Samuel 4:18). Our heart must seek correction from God so we don’t lose His glory (Psalms 141:5; Micah 2:7)!

We Lose God’s Glory When Our Shout Has No Substance

The Philistines were fighting Israel and had won the first battle. So, when Eli’s sons brought the ark into the camp, all of Israel shouted. The Philistines were fearful because they knew this was the God who had saved them out of the hands of the Egyptians; however, they pursued them in battle again. Even with the praise of Israel, and the ark of the covenant, the Philistines killed Eli’s sons and captured the ark (I Samuel 4:5–9).

God’s presence was in close proximity, but they didn’t have the right relationship with God. Therefore, God’s glory was not with them; their shout wasn’t enough. We can come to worship God but have 0% discipline in our relationship with Him. We can’t expect His glory to be present when there’s rebellion in our life. No flesh will glory in His presence (I Corinthians 1:29). Our life must be consecrated to Jesus Christ; that’s true worship—having a relationship with Him.

Seeking God’s Glory

We’re human. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). But, what we do when we fall short makes all the difference. Eli just got fat and heavy on his sin, and he died in the end. But, we see a different approach by King David. He fell short—had an affair, lied, murdered a man, and stole his wife. But, when the prophet Nathan revealed his sins, David went to the Lord in repentance and wrote Psalms 51. The crux of David’s Psalm was verse 11: Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. David couldn’t live his life without the glory of God in it. Lord help us to feel the same way.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on March 21, 2018 with Pastor Nave

The Pickled Truth

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

When I was young, my family would pile in our van at 4:00am, and buckle in to endure a 14-hour road trip to the beach. We had assigned seats in the van, which everyone occupied, except for when we ate lunch. My Mother moved to my seat to dole out the food, and to supervise my two younger sisters in their eating rituals. And, this meant that I got to ride in the front seat with Dad.

We’d pick up McDonald’s because it was cheap, and we’d all eat cheeseburgers. During consumption of said cheeseburger, I was able to keep all crumbs in the wrapper (as letting one loose in the van was a federal offense) as well as condiments alike, except for one thing: the pickle.

My Dad would instruct me to “bite down hard,” so I would get the cheeseburger and pickle in my mouth. But, somehow my bite-depth was always miscalculated. When I pulled the cheeseburger away from my mouth, the pickle appeared—dangling from my lips. And, soon from my lips to my white shirt it went.

I was left to wear a red and yellow stain on my white shirt like a badge of shame for the remainder of the day. But, soon my shirt would take an expedition through the laundry, and that spot was no match for my Mother’s stain-fighting superpower. My white shirt would be returned to me to wear again another day, fresh, clean, and white.

…even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25–27, KJV).

On the days when I didn’t have a pickle-stain on my shirt, I was often told how nice I looked. I’d glow and thank the person for their compliment. As I child, I had a misconception that the white shirt I wore was of my own doing. I’d take credit for keeping it clean—well, maybe that day, as long as I stayed away from the pickles.

When I think about our Savior, Jesus Christ, He died so we could be washed in His precious blood. Any stain—pickle or otherwise—we have on our clothes, is washed away, and we’re left clean and white. Then, when Jesus presents Himself a glorious church, we’ll show up with a spotless apparel, and be told we’ve done a good job keeping our garments clean.

It’s easy for us to look in the mirror and think we’re responsible for the whiteness of our garb. As I grew older and learned to keep food in my mouth when I ate, it was very easy for me to lose sight of who’s credit that accomplishment really went to: my parents. It was their instruction and responsibility in training me up to help me learn how to properly feed myself, and to save my clothing from imminent pickle-stains.

Similarly, we must remember Jesus Christ is the One who took ownership of our sin. He took responsibility for keeping us clean and white. When we’re baptized in the name of Jesus we become clean from sin, and every time we spot our garments afterward, we plead the blood and become white again. But, it’s all by His doing, His effort, and His sacrifice.

And, in the end time, when He says, “well done thy good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23), we cannot think—praise God, I did it, I made it. We cannot take the credit. Jesus is the One who does our loads of sin-stained laundry every day we live. That garment without spot or blemish is because of Him—not us.

Lord, I pray we can remember who keeps us clean today and every day. You’ve eradicated every trace of our pickled-stains and made us as white as snow. Thank you, Jesus, for Your blood and Your sacrifice. To God be all the glory, honor, and praise. Amen.

Saved By Grace: When Grace Looks Like Pain

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt (Genesis 45:4–8, KJV).

Whether we like it or not, pain has a specific purpose in our lives. God designed humankind not only to experience pain, but to endure it both physically and emotionally. Although difficult, we cannot curse all pain that comes into our life. Pain can be what saves and delivers us—it can be the difference between walking into our destiny with God or missing it all together. Ultimately, pain helps us understand our need for God.

There is only one place we can take our pain and only One who can provide relief as well as an understanding of pain: Jesus Christ. He will teach us pain isn’t present to destroy us, but to save us.

Grace Looks Like Pain When…

God Moves Us from Where We’re At

In Scripture, we’re told Joseph was the favored son of Israel (Jacob). He was comfortable with his position in life. It’s during the times of comfort God chooses to move us. For us, when everything changes and pain steps in, we start to question the work of God’s hand. But, remember: sometimes grace looks like pain. At the end of Joseph’s story, he tells his brothers it wasn’t their hand that caused trials in his life. He recognized the root was in God (Genesis 45:8); the Lord had to move him into a different position to pour out blessings on his life.

God Shows Us We Can Trust Him

Sometimes pain comes for no other reason than God showing us we need to (and can) trust Him. He has ordained a perfect plan in our life, and there are pieces that must come into place for it all to work. We cannot stay in control of our life—we must give it to God and trust Him. Joseph’s promise was to come into a place of authority. When circumstances unfolded in his life, it didn’t make sense to him, but he learned to trust God to bring the promise to fruition.

We’re Tempted to Give Up

Joseph had control of everything in Potiphar’s house, but his wife tried to entice Joseph with an affair (Genesis 39:8). Joseph had tremendous integrity, refused her, and found himself cast into prison anyway through false accusations. Even after all he’d been through, the Spirit of God was still encouraging him to stay right, stay where he was at, and not give up. It’s easy to allow the enemy to convince us to stop trying, to give into our flesh, or not believe God has everything under control. We must remember during the times in our life when we feel we can’t take another step, grace is still present and working.

We’re Forgotten

We’ve all faced a time when we’ve felt alone—when those who should be around to support us are nowhere to be found. When Joseph was thrown into prison, God allowed him to provide a dream interpretation for the Pharaoh’s butler. The butler was released, and Joseph asked not to be forgotten. But, years after the servant’s release, Joseph was still in prison (Genesis 40:23). There’s significant pain felt when it seems the world doesn’t care to pull us out of a world of darkness, but God’s grace is there shining a light. Grace, through pain, is working in spite of other’s actions.

God Has a Plan for the Pain

There was a day when Pharaoh had a dream. God made a way for Joseph to be called from the depths of the dark prison to provide an interpretation. Pharaoh saw the hand of God on his life, and finally moved him into a position of power and authority. There were no random events in Joseph’s life on his journey to promise and power. God’s hand was in his life at every turn (Genesis 39:2, 21, 41:46). There are bigger things at work than the pain we’re facing. Don’t think the pain is judgment—it’s our deliverance!

The Abominable

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Revelation 21:8, KJV).

What are Abominations

Abominations are actions that are considered foul and loathsome to God. They become a stench in His nostrils and make Him sick to the point where He must turn away. His presence cannot dwell where there are abominations.

Abominations in Food

In the Old Testament, there were many dietary laws given to the Nation of Israel. Some of which regulated animals they could eat (clean or unclean). They were to abstain from eating anything in the water that didn’t have fins or scales, such as eels, mollusks, octopi, etc. (Leviticus 11:10–12). Additionally, God considered eating any scavenger birds as an abomination (Leviticus 11:13–19), or anything that swarmed upon the ground (rats, mice, ants, etc.) (Leviticus 11:41).

The church today has since been removed from these dietary laws—and abominations—through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Matthew 15:11 tells us, it’s not what goes into a man that defiles Him, but what comes out.

Abominations in Sacrifice

To God, offering anything to Him unclean or with a blemish is an abomination (Deuteronomy 17:1). We today, must keep ourselves (living sacrifice) holy and clean to be acceptable to Him (Romans 12:1). In the same realm of sacrifices, we cannot offer children (or other people) as a sacrifice to false gods (idols) (Deuteronomy 12:31). Jesus was the perfect sacrifice and none other is needed (Hebrews 10:19).

Abominations in Other Actions

God speaks all throughout Scripture about the proper sexual intimacy and purity for His children. When it comes to intermingling with the same sex and/or beastly relationships, these are an abomination to God and it causes confusion (Leviticus 18:22–23). Furthermore, we’re not to practice incest (Leviticus 20).

Idol worship was also considered an abomination to God, and many practices surrounding it. Any graven image was to be burned by fire. Also, the materials used to coat the idols (silver or gold) was not to be desired. Idols couldn’t be taken into the homes (Deuteronomy 7:25–26), and whoever made an idol was an abomination was well (Deuteronomy 27:15).

Society has blurred the lines today between what’s right and wrong for people to do. Regardless of how our culture dresses today, we must know wearing garments made for the opposite sex are an abomination to God (Deuteronomy 22:5). Also, those who are engaged in any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, dark arts, or communication with the dead are those who are abominable to God. What culture deems as entertainment is not so in God’s eyes (Deuteronomy 18:10–12).

Those who participate in prostitution or sodomy are loathed in God’s eyes, especially those who try to use these practices to give money to the church (Deuteronomy 23:18). And, even a cheater or a dishonest person is an abomination to God (Deuteronomy 25:15).

What God Hates

To sum up this topical study, Proverbs 6:16–19 makes a final statement about 6 things God hates, with 7 being an abomination unto Him: pride, lying, killing innocent people, doing evil things, seeking out trouble, giving a false testimony, and breaking up unity. We must remember, no abominations will make it into Heaven (Revelation 21:23–27). Let’s avoid the abominable and get our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life!

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on March 15, 2018 with Brother Jonathan Pierce

Two Places at Once

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

Back when I was in college, I kept a day-planner that dictated my life. It had my class and work schedule, paper due dates, birthdays, appointments, church services, shopping lists, and much more. If I ever misplaced that thing, I would have been seriously lost. Fast-forward a few years, and I was introduced to my first smart phone. Hello calendar and reminder apps. My life was changed forever.

But, even with these new technologies that have revolutionized how I track my life, I still face the same problem. Whether on paper, or in a digital format, I find my calendar is always double-booked. The most laughable question I receive at work: I see your calendar’s booked solid. Are you sure you don’t have any openings?

I often wish I had the power to duplicate myself so I could be in two places at once. That way I could appease everyone and not miss anything. Anyone else feel like that? And, while I’m at it, I’d make sure one copy of myself was taking a nap!

No matter how much I try, the natural laws of this world govern my body to be in one place at a time. When it seems completely ludicrous to think this concept would ever become a reality, I’m here to reveal a truth to you. You can be in two places at once—if you understand this outside the natural dimension and into the supernatural one.

It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter (II Corinthians 12:1–4, KJV).

There’s a lot of earth-shattering stuff happening in this setting of Scripture. I’m not going to dive too deep into this (I’m trying to keep this short for your benefit). But, Paul’s got a key concept here—being out of the body, caught up to the third heaven. Basically, being in two places at once: one on earth and one with the Lord.

You may not agree with the Scripture reference here, but let me put it to you this way. We live in a harsh world, governed by Satan (Ephesians 2:2). But, the Spirit living within us, is not of this world, and is of our Father in Heaven (John 14:26).

When we find ourselves a closet of prayer, and get down to business, the Holy Ghost (Spirit of God) living inside of us gets activated. When we push forward in prayer, we move from the natural into the supernatural realm. We move from this world right into the throne room of the King—another dimension, another time, and another place. We’ve officially attained being in two places at once.

When we’re alone with God, no schedule matters, time doesn’t matter, and earthly concepts no longer matter. We’re able to leave our present prayer room, leave our present circumstance, leave this physical world and physical body, and enter into a spiritual one. We enter into the heavenly presence of the Almighty God.

Your calendar might be like mine most days—booked up to the max. But, know you’re not bound by the physical appointments. God’s got a heavenly appointment you can make any time if you tap into His presence through prayer (I Thessalonians 5:17). You’ll find how easy it is to be in two places at once.

Saved By Grace: Grace Looks Deeper

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:1–8, KJV).

Something Out of Nothing

There are creative people in the world today who can make something out of nothing. Individuals have wonderful imaginations, giving them the ability to form and build up. This is an innate nature from our own, Heavenly Father. God is the ultimate creator; He is the master of taking nothing and making something out of it.

God made humankind and has a vision of what we will become (Psalms 100:3). We get too focused on our own failures and don’t see the larger plan, but God has created each one of and will turn us into His own masterpiece. Our lives certainly didn’t look like any artwork until God’s grace was activated in our life.

Working Grace

We are in need of God’s grace and mercy every day. Even as God’s masterpiece, there are parts of our painting that aren’t finished yet. God still needs to grow and perfect us. Scripture tells us the sufferings of this present world cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). We cannot wait until Heaven to allow God to reveal His glory in us. He has something in store for us today and something new He wants us to step into and be changed before we make Heaven our home.

God sees a masterpiece in us even among the broken pieces. He loved us in our sin—not what we would be, but the way we were. God continues to work in our life for ages to come. Jesus faced the cross because He knew the change it would bring in us; we would have joy knowing we were redeemed (Hebrews 12:2).

God Looks Deeper than Perception

In Scripture, Samuel was instructed to anoint a new king over Israel. He went to Jesse’s home and surveyed his sons. The one chosen to be king was out in the pastures, tending the sheep (I Samuel 16:1, 6–7). God said we cannot look on the countenance or the height of a man. We must look beyond perception and view men the way God does; we must look upon the heart. God looked upon David’s heart and anointed him to be king.

Grace Looks Deeper than Behavior

How we are today isn’t the end of what God wants to do in our life. Even the nature of who we are today is still something God wants to perfect tomorrow. God took David’s feet out of the pit and set him upon a solid rock and established his goings (Psalms 40:2). David wasn’t always perfect, but God took him from a place of a lowly shepherd and poured out grace in His life. Once God anointed David, His Spirit came upon him from that day forward (I Samuel 16:13). Just as God poured out grace on David, we can see how God pours out His grace in our lives every day.

A People Pea-Shooter

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Oversleeping? Never going to happen—not on my watch.

I’m always terrified I will oversleep, so I have a minimum 2-alarm clock rule: always set the digital alarm clock and the phone alarm every night before I go to bed. In extreme cases, I’ll set my Fitbit alarm.

Truth be told, I can typically count on my internal alarm clock to kick in. It normally wakes me up right before any of the digital clocks sound the alarm. But, if I’m exhausted, and not getting enough sleep, my body won’t always naturally arise. I need those alarms at that point; something to get me out of bed.

I wondered how people woke up prior to technological inventions. I thought about the Proverbs 31 woman and how she rose while it was yet night (Proverbs 31:15). According to theologians, she would get up many times in the middle of the night, do housework, and return to bed. It must have been God.

I came across an interesting fact on the underside of a Snapple lid the other day, fact #1345 to be exact, which answered my question. “Knocker Uppers” were professionals paid to shoot peas at windows. They were the pre-wakeup call, pre-alarm clock, pre-smart phone crew.

Can you imagine? Who got them up? Knocker Uppers not only had to be their own alarm clock, but also a killer shot to be able to shoot peas at a window accurately and efficiently until the unconscious human woke up and came to the window to tell them to stop.

This job didn’t pay much, but it was a critical need. Large numbers of people carried out the job especially in larger, industrial towns. Knocker Uppers never left a home until they ensured the person was awake. They worked until the job was done, as long as it was necessary, and they didn’t give up.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light (Romans 13:11–12, KJV).

Paul preached to the church about the necessity of waking up out of sleep. He taught how the world dons a cloak of falsified comfort around the child of God, and rocks them into a scary state of slumber. Paul knew truth and wanted to ensure everyone else knew it too. He was awake and bound and determined to make sure there wasn’t a soul risking death due to accidentally sleeping in.

Paul was a Knocker Upper, but in a spiritual sense. He kept shooting spiritual peas by preaching and teaching the Word of God. He didn’t stop until people heard the Word, were changed, and were converted.

Like Paul, we need to be the Knocker Uppers for the truth to the world today. We need to be out in the highways and byways teaching everyone we encounter the Word of God. People are sleeping all around the world, and it’s high time for them to wake out of sleep.

Don’t give up on shooting your spiritual peas. Keep relentlessly teaching and preaching the Gospel. Keep lifting up people in prayer before the throne of God. God is coming back for His church soon—we need to be awake and we need to be ready, and so does everybody else.

Let’s start today and wake up the world around us. Let’s work together to keep shooting those spiritual peas at every window/soul we encounter. It’s time to get up.

Join Us for Children’s Sunday

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Did you hear?

Bro. Eddie Gorden and his family will be with us Sunday, March 4th for Children’s Sunday at 10am and 6pm! Come expecting to have a great time and who knows what may appear.

Need a ride? Not a problem! Call us at 309-829-3936

God’s Peculiar People

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:11–14, KJV).

A Peculiar People

Jesus died on the cross so He could purify us to become a peculiar people. Peculiar means special or strange; we’re strange in the eyes of the world because we’re different. God called us to be distinctive in our attitude, communication, dress, manners, love, and our priorities—just to name a few!

Being Separate

The Holy Ghost working in us make us different. It helps us to live a lifestyle of separation and change in such a way we don’t have to tell the world we’re peculiar. We’re charged not to be like the world. God didn’t call us out of darkness into His marvellous light for us to dwell in the darkness of the world. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. We can’t disconnect from sinners, but we can disconnect from sin.

The World vs. the Church

The book of Exodus gives us a clear picture of the peculiarity of the church vs. the world. Moses is a type and foreshadow of the called-out church. He went up on the mountain (higher with God), above the carnality of life. He spent 40-days in prayer and fasting, received instruction from God, and kept his focus on the Kingdom. The rest of Israel was at the bottom of the mountain; they represented the world. They were partying, complaining, building and worshipping an idol, engaging in promiscuous activities, and were not connected with their Creator.

The Strong Desire to be Like the World

God has called us to come out from the world, be separate, and not to touch “unclean” things (II Corinthians 6:16–18). Likewise, He’s also commanded us not to love the world, or the things in the world (I John 2:15). If there is any desire in us to be like or apart of the world, the root of this unction is idolatry. We must be careful to life a separate lifestyle so the stronghold of the world does not get rooted in our spirit. We must desire to be like Jesus!

In Scripture, the elders of Israel told the prophet Samuel they wanted to be ruled by a king. Their eyes were on the world and wanted what they had instead of following the man of God (I Samuel 8). Samuel prayed, and God instructed him to give warning as to what would happen if a king ruled over them. The king would take: (1) their sons, (2) their daughters, (3) their fields, (4) their olive-yards, (5) one-tenth of their seed, (6) vineyards, (7) their menservants, (8) their maidservants, (9) their best young men, (10) their donkeys, (11) one-tenth of their sheep, and (12) them as his servants. But, Israel still chose to have a king so they could be like the other nations (I Samuel 8:19). Don’t desire worldly things! Desire to be set apart with God!

God’s Desire for Us to Come Out from the World

When Israel went into the Promised Land, God instructed them to destroy the pagan people and not make covenants or marriages with them. Furthermore, they were to tear down their pagan altars and groves because God had called them to be a holy and special people (Deuteronomy 7:1–6). But, we find in Judges 1 where tribe after tribe didn’t heed the Word of the Lord—they didn’t drive out the inhabitants of the land. Because of this, their next generation worshipped Baal and Ashtaroth and didn’t know the God of their ancestors (Judges 2:10–15).

In the New Testament, those that sought after the world were finally given over to their vile affections and sinful lusts (Romans 1:21–27). If we do not be separate from the world, we will become what’s in the world. God knows we’ll be attracted by what surrounds us, and it will influence us. Instead of surrounding ourselves with the world, we need to surround ourselves with the church and His peculiar people!

The Benefits of Being Peculiar

When the Egyptians saw the Nation of Israel place blood on the lintels and doorposts of their homes, they seemed strange. But, when the death angel passed over that night, their first-born was spared from death. It was peculiar, but beneficial. Noah was told to build an ark for 120 years. When the flood came, he and his family was safe while the rest of the world was destroyed. It was peculiar, but beneficial.

Jehoshaphat was being attacked by 3 different armies, and he sent for people to praise and worship. God responded and destroyed the enemy. It was peculiar, but beneficial. God’s people marched around the walls of Jericho, and on the seventh day, the walls fell down flat and they overtook the city. It was peculiar, but beneficial.

Jesus spit in the dirt to heal a blind man. He turned water (used to wash dirty feet) into the best wine at a wedding. And, He allowed mankind to crucify Him on a tree. It was peculiar, but beneficial. The Gospel doesn’t always make sense to the world, but it makes us into Saints of God—and that is peculiar, but beneficial.

How to Become Peculiar

We must guard our eyes at all times. We cannot put anything wicked before our eyes (Psalms 101:3) and turn our eyes away from anything evil (Psalms 119:37). We are in charge of what we see. The average American spends 7 hours a day watching TV, and those shows are not programmed by Holy Ghost-filled people. If what we watch isn’t pleasing to the Lord, we must turn away and get our eyes on something Holy—let’s get in the Word!

We also must guard what we hear. Scripture tells us faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Our subconscious picks up on what’s around us and it influences the way we think and act. If we are going to be influenced by what we hear, we need to surround ourselves with good and lovely things. The more we spend listening to the voices in the world the harder it will be for us to hear and distinguish the voice of God.

Lastly, we must focus on other people. God instructs His church to choose to act with compassion, love, and mercy. This seems contrary to what the world deems appropriate, but we must free the oppressed, remove the chains from the blind, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, etc. It is only after we become a peculiar people that God will pour out blessings on our life (Isaiah 58:6–11).

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 28, 2018 with Pastor Melder