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Out of the Box

Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” Luke 7:14

 

               Jesus and the disciples were heading to Naim (which means beautiful), and they were in a festive mood. Coming out of the city was a funeral procession. The contrast met head-on; a supernatural collision. A widow, with her dead son, meet Jesus, the light of the world. Jesus was moved with compassion, and He touched the coffin. Oh, the touch of Jesus! The young man sat up and began to speak.

               What do you have in your box? Your dead business, your dead marriage, your dead dreams? What about your finances? Your health? “Stop your crying,” Jesus says. He is about to speak life into your life. Grace is on His way. Mercy is on His way. The grave isn’t ready for you yet: self-harm, fear, condemnation, bad habits, hang-ups, substance abuse. Jesus is about to blow the lid right off!

               What will your response be to your ‘out of the box’ experience? There should be adoration, fear and awe of the Lord. There should be praise. Glorify His name and thank Him for the answer. And, there should be proclamation! Tell the world what He has done for you. Jesus is offering you a box, a gift. Take the lid off your box and see what God has in store for you. You may not have realized it, but this story is about YOUR resurrection. Call on God for your needs. Stop crying. Jesus is in the house. 

Why Are You Weeping?

But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the tomb. John 20:11

 

               Mary Magdalene was at the tomb of Jesus, weeping in her sorrow. The angel of the Lord asked her, “Why are you weeping?” She was weeping because Jesus had been buried, along with their hope, their happiness, and their very lives. She had been delivered from seven demons, but now believed her faith was in vain. She was oblivious to the angels around her. She asked, “Where have you lain him?” When she heard him say, “Mary,” she knew it was Jesus with her in the garden. She heard His still, small voice giving her encouragement in the resurrection. The resurrection is EVERYTHING!

               What happens when we are faced with our worse case scenario? The first response is fear and weeping, loneliness and isolation. We may believe our hopes and dreams are lost, leaving us sad and despondent. We act like God is dead, but He knows and understands. In the midst of problems, diligently seek Him. Encourage yourself in the Lord. Even though you do not have it all figured out, God does. He has done all great things, so how is He not able to handle this crisis? Keep trusting God. A journey of little faith will lead to great faith. Listen for God’s still, small voice until the moment of realization. Everything we believe and hope for is found in the Lord. Rest in the resurrection for joy comes in the morning!  

Miracle in the Storm

Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.             Acts 27:20

 

               Paul had warned that the ship should not sail; however, the men did not heed his warning. What happens when we do not listen to sound advise and those in authority? The storms of life come. Sometimes storms come when we get ourselves into a mess by making bad decisions. Sometimes storms come when bad decisions are made for us. This is how to capsize your boat:

  • Make your decisions in haste – Stop and listen to the Holy Spirit for it is by the Spirit He will reveal to us our direction.
  • Take the easy way out – These men did not want to remain in the harbor because it was not suitable to winter in.
  • Follow the crowd - The majority advised to set sail even though Paul warned them they would lose the ship, the cargo, and their lives if they sailed.
  • Depend on the circumstances – Use common sense. The Bible says the Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. (Psalm 119:105)

               Paul urges us not to give up on our dream. The Covid-19 virus is a rough storm on our economy. It has devastated small businesses. Though there are temporary setbacks, God is going to re-establish you. Nor can we lose our sense of direction.  Our direction comes from the Word of God. Listen to Spiritual authority by reading the Word, and God will direct you. Although foolishness abounds by those not listening to authority during this storm, God commands the wind and the storm. I am confident that we may be walking in the Shadow of Death, but we are not at the end of the matter. God has a purpose and a plan for you. it is important that you rely on God. Everything may be broken around you, but you are a child of God. Be still and know that He is God. 

The Miracle of the Seed

Jesus answered, “Time’s up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.”   John 12:23-24

The Seed Jesus Christ is:

  • A Promise - The Seed of God was promised for thousands of years, but in this moment, Jesus declares, “My time has come!” It was time for the seed to be planted so that it could burst forth with good things to come.
  • Productive – The Seed must be sown into the soil before it can begin to grow, to produce fruit. Jesus had to die and be buried before the lost could be saved.
  • Perpetual – The Seed continues to reproduce for all time.
  • Precious – The precious Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The seed must die, but it will rise up and multiply.

  • It is the Miracle of Death to Life – In a tiny little seed lies an embryo that must cast off the outer coat before it can burst forth and produce new life.
  • It overcomes the Virus of Sin – Sin plagues us all, and we are doomed to die. Thank God for the resurrection! The seed came up out of the ground bringing with it the glorious hope.

In order for the Seed to grow, it needs:

  • Light – Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World!”
  • Warmth – John said, “I baptize with water, but Jesus will baptize with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
  • Moisture – Jesus is the living water of life.
  • Rich Nutrient Soil – The ingredients of faith, hope, life, encouragement, blessing.

     The Seed is only stimulated by adverse conditions. Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and by His stripes we are healed. We are living in difficult times; in a place we have never been. It is time for us to accept Jesus Christ, the Seed of faith, the Seed of life. To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2.

Joy of the Lord

Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

 

               As Christians, we do not have to sulk even in the midst of trouble. We know that God is a very present help in the time of need. Truly, there is a deep-seated joy in the Holy Spirit. We are all anticipating the pandemic will be over as quickly as possible. We can wait with hope. If we will but trust in the Lord, we can have joy while waiting for the virus to pass. I want a share another scripture with you today. I want it to bring you joy as you rely on God to be your safe place.

Psalm 46 (The Message Bible)

               God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea storm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us. River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city, this sacred haunt of the Most-High. God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us. Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

 

Be still and know that I am God!

Jesus is in the House!

And again, He entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. Mark 2:1

 

            It was noised that Jesus was in the house! Word had gotten around. Many gathered until they could not even get to the door. When four men brought a paralytic for healing, they could not get to the Lord. Did they let that stop them? They climbed onto the roof and lowered the lame man into the room where Jesus was preaching. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”  And he was healed.

            Now we cannot gather in groups like they did at that time, but Jesus is still in your house. He will meet your there. There is a miracle in the house for you. There is healing in the house for you. There is salvation in the house for you. Press on through, past your doubt and stir up your faith.

            Take authority over your life and over this virus that is bringing death. Declare in the name of Jesus that it has no power over you or your household. His peace is right there with you.

            

No Social Distancing

“When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: then hear from heaven your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men). 2 Chronicles 6:28-30

 

               In this scripture, King Solomon is giving a dedication to the temple of the Lord. This prayer was established for those who could not be in the House of  God. Pray together, and you will hear from the Lord. We can go boldly into the throne of mercy to find grace and help. Thank God for the victory over our lives.

               The reality is that the Coronavirus is a reality. But we are going to respond with faith, not fear. God is not just concerned about the church as a whole; He is also concerned about what is going on in your life. If we pray as a group, He will take care of each of our afflictions. When we approach Him, He will forgive our sins and heal our land.

               It is interesting that I have been urging the church to memorize Psalm 91 for the past couple of years. It may be that it was for such as time as this. No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. Psalm 91:10-11

               I love what Pastor Mike said during our sweet hour of prayer Sunday morning, “There is no social distancing from you, Lord!” Let us each call on the name of the Lord and draw closer to him during this difficult time. In this moment of separation, let us unite and pray for our land and our people. 

Crisis Mode or Christ Mode

Early the next morning, as everyone got ready to leave for the desert near Tekoa, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Listen my friends, if we trust the Lord God and believe what these prophets have told us, the Lord will help us, and we will be successful.”         2 Chronicles 20:20

 

               Enemies were threatening the very lives of Judah. When Jehoshaphat heard, he was afraid. So, he turned to the church, and together, they set their faces toward God, who is great and mighty. King Jehoshaphat said the battle is not ours, but God’s. He stood in front of the new courtyard and prayed, “Are you not God in heaven? Our ancestors lived in this land and built a temple to honor you. They believed that whenever this land is struck by war or disease or famine, your people can pray to you at the temple, and you will hear their prayer and save them.”

               This wasn’t the first tight spot the Israelites had found themselves. They also faced the plagues in Egypt, including the death angel. Now they had another disruption in their lives. They had let God become a token interest, a little dab of God. But good enough is not God enough. Their first response, however, was to seek God’s counsel. Their eyes were on God and all Judah stood before the Lord. What a sight!

               If you missed it, go back and notice the location of the scripture: 2020. God is the same today. Their lamb has become our lamb. God is looking for a church who will take authority over disease and sickness. He is looking for a church that will take a bold stand. We face things that are more than we are, but we can open our eyes and see the angels surrounding us. God is bigger and better than the forces we are facing right now. We need to live out of the Bible and trust God. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord through faith, hope, and love. Faith in God. Hope in Health. Love like never before. Do not be afraid for what the enemy means for evil, God means for good. 

The Triumphant Entry

But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 2 Corinthians 2:14

 

               Christ’s triumphal procession occurs in Matthew 21. Jesus is coming in on a donkey. Although He is of King David’s offspring, He was not a king on an earthly throne. He was, however, king of kings over the world and universe. He was, is and forever will be king. Jesus left his home in glory where there are pleasures evermore. He became man and emptied Himself.

               He was not on a walk of death into Jerusalem. It was a march of resurrection. Jesus fought for you and won! If you knew what Jesus had done for you, destroying principalities, casting devils out of your life; it is a victory every day! Colossians 2:14 says, He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. That day makes every day worth it!

               Jesus was walking in victory before the foundation of the world. It was always in God’s plan. 1 Peter 1:18-20 says, For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.  God chose Him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days He has been revealed for your sake.

               You see, even before you got yourself into a mess, God had a plan to get you out. He came in a victory lap. This victory didn’t start yesterday. When Jesus kissed the earth with His mercy and grace, breathed His last breath, He led captivity into victory. All the heroes of the Bible are in the lap of victory. There’s an invisible track, and Jesus is saying, “Come join in on the final victory lap.” It is the greatest gift of all. 

A Word Called Forgiveness

Jesus saith unto him, "I say not unto thee, until seven times, but until seventy times seven." Matthew 18:22

 

               There was a man who owed a king $2,000,000; yes, he owed a huge debt. He begged the king to forgive him his debt. The king felt compassion and wiped his debt away. Soon after, there was a man who owed the forgiven man $10; yes, it was a small debt. He asked the forgiven man for forgiveness, as well; however, the forgiven did not forgive but had him thrown in prison. The king discovered what had happened. The Bible says, forgive us our debt as we forgive or debtors. If we don’t forgive, we must go to prison, for we have been forgiven much.

               The key to a good relationship is to genuinely forgive. Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. If we live long enough, we will be offended. If we stay offended, it is a willful act. The Bible is full of stories about forgiveness. Joseph, for example, had evil brothers who sold him into slavery. When the brothers came to him begging for bread, he told them, “What you do for evil, God has meant for good.” C. S. Lewis wrote, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

               Keep this in mind, God has forgiven us ALL our sins. Do you have a heart of stone? God can put His hands on your heart and make it tender. It takes courage to acknowledge that you need to forgive. Take a step of Faith. God is working to turn something bad into something good. When I forgive, I set a prisoner free. I then realize that prisoner is me!

               

The State of the Church

Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.

Ruth 1:6

               Naomi had followed her husband, Elimelech, to the land of Moab, along with her two sons when a famine arose in the land. Ten years later and after the death of all three men, Naomi hears that the Lord is blessing her homeland, Bethlehem (which means House of Bread). She is ready to take her daughter-in-law, Ruth, back to the blessings of the Lord.

               There are times in our lives when we are tempted to pull away from the church. Admittedly, there are imperfections in the church; however, we must be steadfast in our willingness to stand firm. God has us on a journey to a rich blessing in the highland. You may be going through a rough time right now, but stay put and have faith. God will come through.

               God’s church is alive and well, and Russellville First Assembly is alive and well. God is working through us to lead the lost, the lonely, and the hurting to fresh bread. There is an aroma of fresh bread at RFA! There is a great move of God about to happen. The convicting power of the Holy Spirit is active. God is not waiting on us to get perfect before He uses us. We need to humble ourselves before God and let Him do a work in us and through us.

               Our job is to share the gospel with the next generation. We owe it to them to let them see it. They are watching us. We have an obligation to show them the truth. Get engaged with the church. Let go and let God use you. Ask yourself, “If I were the only representative of this church, what would it look like?” Do you need to be doing something better? 

A Covenant

Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. I Samuel 18:3

 

               David did not know that he was going to get called out of the field to take care of Israel, but Jonathan saw it. He watched David wipe out a giant. Jonathan knew he needed to get connected with David. So, they made a covenant, and the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David. He loved David as his own soul. The exchange was written on their hearts. There are three ingredients to a covenant: a March, a Mark, and a Meal.

               The March – An animal must be cut in half. As the blood pours out, the two people step between the halves. They recite an oath, choosing to die to self and live with the other in mind. Nothing but death separates the two.

               The Mark – While standing in the blood, they would cut themselves and mingle their blood together so you could not tell one from the other.

               The Meal – A covenant meal followed to celebrate the commitment to each other.

               Jesus made a covenant with all who will follow Him. He bore our sins, died, was buried and went into the pits of hell to kick in the gates to march us into heaven: The March of Death. He mingled His blood for us on the cross in our place: The Mark of Death. “This is my body which is broken for you. This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people:” The Meal of Death.

               A covenant is a commitment to a deeper relationship. God gave us everything. He was so committed that He gave His only begotten son. Let’s go deeper in our relationships. We need to make a renewed commitment to God, our families, our church, and our communities. But we cannot love each other without the love of Christ. Have you made a commitment to Him?

Restoring the Family

Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. Ruth 1:1

 

               In the four chapters of the book of Ruth is a story of a family. Because he thought things were rough in Bethlehem, Elimelech took his family to Moab. Elimelech and his sons died in Moab, so his wife, Naomi, went back to Bethlehem, taking her daughter-in-law, Ruth, with her.

              Taking the family to Moab was like walking away from God and into the world. It may look better, but it is not! The devil has put a target on families to destroy the makeup of society. No family is perfect. We are secluded from each other, so we do not see what goes on in other families. Sometimes families get into Moab, and Moab gets into them. But, if you want out of your mess, you are going to have to be determined to get out.

              There is something very strong about the family. Yet, we need something more, something even more than the church family. We need a relationship with Jesus. You can find grace in a relationship with Jesus. If you find yourself in Moab, follow grace back to Christ. We may not have it all figured out, but God will work it out. Our help is in the Lord. 

The Doctrine of the Blood of Jesus Christ

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

               Brother Dean Caldwell was in the House! He told us that a doctrine is a creed to live by. The doctrine of the blood of Jesus Christ is the doctrine we must live by to enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death!  That started in the Garden of Eden when God killed an innocent to cover the guilty. It is also seen in Exodus 12 when the Israelites killed lambs and put the blood on the doorposts so the angel of death would pass over their homes. Jesus covered our sin with His blood when He died and walked out of the tomb to conquer the blood and death. Because God is His father, divine blood flowed through his human veins, making Him both God and man simultaneously.

               When we are born again, God removes sin and births the newness in Jesus Christ. When we go to heaven, our new bodies will not need blood because we are covered in the life blood of Jesus. You cannot live here without blood; you cannot live a life in Heaven without the blood of Jesus. The Bible is non-negotiable. When we leave this life, God calls us out of the blood. If we are saved and covered with the blood of Jesus, we will be alive and well. If we are not saved, we will not be given that privilege. What doctrine do you live by?

 


A Pivotal Point

Then He asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16:15-16


               We dedicated this week to the burning of our $2.3 million dollar mortgage. Pastor Larry Moore returned to give us a word saying, “This is a pivotal point to fix your focus. A good time to ask at this milestone: Why are we here? What is our business? Where are we going? How do we get there?” His answer:

  • Build the foundation on the Lord, Jesus Christ. If you will declare His divinity, He will release your divinity. He is the reason we are here.
  • Our business is in the Conversion of the Sinner and the Confirmation of the Saints. We must pray like never before and stand for what we believe.
  • This church has a glorious future. The best days are in front of us.
  • We get there by doing the will of the Father. We cannot hide inside the church. We must take it out to the culture. John the Baptist was one voice crying in the wilderness. We can be that one voice crying in this world to get it ready for the second coming of the King, who is both the founder and the foundation.

              As the countdown to the rapture takes place, let us be fueled up and fired up to reach a lost and dying world. Jesus said, “I am the door!” Let us lead the lost to the door that is Jesus Christ. Let us make a real clarification of whom Jesus is in our lives. Our efforts are for Him.  


Faith Can Change Your Narrative

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2


                I was so thrilled to have David & Kim Owens with us this week. I had the privilege of listening to his words of faith on faith and would like to share them with you.

                A narrative is a story. A story has three elements: past, present, and future. We all have a story. No matter what our past, we have the opportunity to look beyond our circumstances into another dimension. Faith is the bridge that allows us to look into that dimension where God is. We need to be living in that dimension and allowing God to fill us with light, hope and revelation knowledge.

                Jesus tells us, “Be not afraid. Only believe.” That is the present imperative tense telling us to stop an action taking place and cross over past the facts into the truth. Fear cannot go where we are going. It is time to start deleting our old stories by repeating our new stories. The blessings of the Lord will make us rich and put us in alignment with what the Father wants us to be. Our faith is authored in another realm and will be finished in another realm. The only thing that is going to survive is faith.

                Faith can help you see beyond sight. Is it time to change your story?

Building Strong Families

But I will confirm my covenant with you. So, enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives.

Genesis 6:18

                  Noah did not have children until he was 500 years old. He then spent the next 100 years both raising his family and raising his ark. He was a just man, perfect in his generation. Yet, he was a mockery to those around him. He held steadfast to what he believed. Noah did three things that gives us a method to build strong families: 


  1. Model – The method starts with us modeling the Lord. We can not live one way at church and another way at home. 
  2. Mentoring – God did not interact with the family, only Noah. After Noah modeled the Lord for years, the Lord began to speak directly to the family. Only the love that comes from the Father builds strong families. 
  3. Manual Labor – Faith without works is dead. The ark was 4 ½ football fields long and three floors tall. Noah and his family worked diligently, side by side, for a century building it. 

                We need our families to be saved. There is only one door into the ark of safety. Jesus is our door. He is the pitch that covers our sins. There are three stories on the ark and three stories in us: Spirit, Body, and Soul. Give all three to the Lord to the redemptive grace of God. We are building more than houses; we are building homes. The most important thing we can give to our families is to live a Godly life.

 

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