4/1/13 – “THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY”

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Matt. 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].

Here is an interesting question that when asked it is quite amazing the answers you will receive depending on who you ask; “What does it mean to be a Christian?” The most common answer I hear is that you must be born again. That is the first step to becoming what the Bible calls a Christian, but when you first get born again you are now a convert in Christ. The goal of Christianity is what Jesus declared in the great commission found in Matthew 28:19, to go and “MAKE DISCIPLES” of all people.

Here in Matthew 16:24 as the Amplified points out, if anyone desires to be His disciple there is more to becoming one of His disciples than just being born again. Other translations read, “If anyone desires to come after Me…” To come after Jesus is the same as saying that you desire to be a Christian, or in other words a Christ follower. When you talk about what a Christian is according to scripture you find out that the Bible teaches us a Christian is one who walks in the footsteps of Jesus. That is what Jesus wants us to do, and He wants us to go and produce more Christ followers.

John 14:12  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

But before we go into this any further lets first define what a Christ follower looks like. Jesus began painting a very good picture of this here in John 14:12. Notice what He starts off with here. “Most assuredly”, that is an absolute. He goes on to tell us that if we believe in Him, the works that He did we will do also. Stop and meditate on that for a minute. The word used here for “believes” means to put confidence in, to trust, and to rely upon. For those who put their confidence in Jesus and rely upon Him, the works Jesus did they will do also.

What were the works Jesus did? You will find this answer not only in what we read about Jesus in the gospels, but it is also summarized in the Great Commission given to the church, His body. Jesus tells us in Mark’s account of the Great Commission that those who believe in Him will have signs that will follow their life. Those signs include casting out demons, speaking with new tongues, if they take up anything deadly it will not hurt them, and they will lay hands on the sick and the sick will recover.

So if a follower of Christ is one who does the works He did, which would also include raising the dead, how many who are born again today can say that they actually have these signs following them? Most only think that being a Christian means I go to church, don’t judged anyone, do my best to live right, and I go to heaven. They are not seeing any of these signs following them. If these signs are not following them then according to Mark 16:17 they must not truly believe in Him. Read His words for yourself.

Mark 16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
Mark 16:18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The heart of what makes you a “Christ follower”, which again is what the heart of Christianity is all about, is in fact doing what Jesus did. Not to many years ago one of the Pastor’s of a large seeker friendly church admitted that with all their programs, and with the messages they preach, they in fact are not making Christ followers. It is not difficult to figure out why when you look at our foundation verse of Matthew 16:24. Jesus tells us what one must do to become a Christ follower, or in other words, one of His disciples. It begins with the words “If anyone desires to be My disciple…” for this is the one thing that no one can give you.

A Christ follower will bear the same fruit that Jesus bore. They will see the works that Jesus did being done through them. That is what Jesus wants us to do while here on earth. Yet we find out that there are those who are born again, they have become a baby convert in Christ, but they don’t have the “desire” to be His disciple. Think about what it means to become a disciple of Christ. This means you want to look, sound, and act like Him. A disciple will in fact become like his teacher.

Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

This is the goal of a disciple, to become like their teacher. You must have a desire in your heart to become like Jesus if you want to be His disciple. Far too many who have become born again don’t really want to become like Jesus, for if they did they would not be satisfied with just going to church. They would want to see the works of Christ manifested through them.

I can remember at the age of 13 when I got on the back of my first bull, I wanted to become a professional bull rider. I had plenty of people who had told me I would not make it. I even had some who tried to get me to quit, and yet I was determined to get my Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association card, and in 1985 that dream became a reality. I desired to accomplish this more than anything else in the world. That led me to seek out those who could disciple me and help me reach my goal. I was willing to do whatever it took to reach that goal.

What if we had that kind of desire to become a disciple of Christ? What if we had that kind of determination, even when others think we have gone off the deep end, to persevere and press in even more to know Christ and the power of His resurrection? If you do not have a burning passion for Christ, and a burning desire to become like Him, doing the same works He did, you have missed the heart of Christianity.

Once you have this desire you must get something more then watered down teaching from the seeker friendly pastor’s of the world. You will never grow beyond the one who is discipling you as Jesus said, you will become like them. If you are under a pastor who does not teach about these things, and has himself never experienced these things, how do you expect to do them? You must find someone who has and is doing the works Jesus did, and then you must be willing to deny yourself.

This is the next part of the process that Jesus said was necessary to become His disciple. This is not easy, and something that will be a constant choice as a believer in Christ. Even Jesus Himself dealt with this in the Garden of Gethsemane. That is where Jesus denied self, and gave us an example to follow. In that Garden He prayed for three hours crying out to the Father asking if there were some other way to accomplish what needed to be done, but He finished with a powerful statement. “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.”

Jesus did not get His will while here on earth. If He didn’t get His will, why should we get ours? To deny self you must be willing to give up what you think about life and what you want in life to chase after what God desires for you. You will never deny self if you do not have the desire to become like Him. This is where many miss it. They may try to deny self, but they fail because deep down they still desire to get things their way instead of God’s way. Take a look at every great man and women of God throughout history and you will find someone who gave up getting things their way. God’s ways are not our ways. God’s ways are only walked out by faith, and that is going to challenge how you think and what you see. But walking by faith is exactly how the just are to be living their life each and every day.

Last but not least as Matthew 16:24 tells us we are to then take up our cross and follow Jesus. Taking up our cross does not mean to die to self, for that is what one does when they deny self. Years ago the Lord helped me to see what taking up our cross refers to. Jesus denied self in the Garden during those three hours of prayer. Going to the cross was the very reason He was born, and that represented Him fulfilling the Father’s will for His life. To take up our cross means we are to fulfill God’s will for our lives.

This would clearly include whatever God has gifted us to do in this life, but it also includes doing the work Jesus did, for as we stated earlier that is why Jesus gave the church the Great Commission. God is wanting every born again believer to be doing the same works as His Son. He wants to use us in our place of work or business, in the market place where we buy things, and wherever we go. Jesus did not die for us to just attend church and never do what He did.

My hope in writing this article is to inspire you to first and foremost make sure your desire is to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as one of His disciples. Secondly to realize that anyone who has that desire and learns to deny self, put their complete confidence in Jesus trusting in what He said, that they will see Him do these same works through them. The heart of Christianity is to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, seeing the same power and authority working through us to change the lives of others.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

3/25/13 – “HE IS RISEN – BE A WITNESS”

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Luke 24:6 He isn’t here! He has risen from the dead! Don’t you remember what he told you back in Galilee,
Luke 24:7 that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again the third day?”
Luke 24:8 Then they remembered that he had said this.
Luke 24:9 So they rushed back to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened.

It’s around 3:00 O’clock in the afternoon on a Friday and Jesus utters those famous last words on the cross, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said these words the Son of God breathed His last breath and gave up His life. There is no doubt that His disciples seeing what had been done to their Savior, whom they thought would rise to power and rule over Israel at that time, were devastated. Even though Jesus had told them He would be delivered into the hands of Pharisees and then crucified, they still didn’t get it.

The rest of that day and the following Saturday, what was the Sabbath and normally a day of rest for them, was probably anything but restful. Their world and the hope they had in their Messiah had just come tumbling down. But the story was far from over. On that first day of the week, Sunday morning as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb, they found the stone rolled away and Jesus no where to be found.

The angels revealed themselves and declare, “He isn’t here! He has risen from dead! Don’t you remember what He told you back in Galilee…”, so they rushed back to tell the eleven disciples and EVERYONE ELSE what had happened. On that morning something happened that would forever change mankind and the world. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who came to pay the price for man’s sin and deliver him from his sins, fulfilled what was needed to make full payment for all of mankind. Now man could once again be reunited with the heavenly Father and also be raised from the dead or born again.

There is no other person in the history of the world that has died in place of another taking upon themselves all their sin, sickness, disease, poverty, lack, and the very punishment we deserved for our sin. By grace we are saved (delivered, healed, preserved, made whole) through faith, it is the gift of God. Grace means for all who receive what Christ did for them they will get the gift of eternal life, which they did not deserve. Not one human on the planet deserved to receive this gift of eternal life and be restored back to the Father.

Grace was made available to us because of God’s mercy, which was also revealed to man on the cross through what Jesus had done for us. Mercy means for those who have received what Christ did for them, they are not going to get what they deserved. We deserved God’s wrath. We deserved to go to hell. We deserved His punishment for our sins, but because of His mercy through Christ taking upon Himself all that we deserved we will not get what we deserved.

There has been no greater event in all of history. The birth of Christ was significant, but Jesus on the cross and then being raised from the dead fulfilled what needed to be done for us to be restored back into an intimate relationship with the Father. Even though there were those in the Old Testament who were close to God, they could not experience His presence living within them. We have a reason to rejoice! Don’t you believe that the greatest event in history merits being proclaimed? It is the most significant event ever. Far, far, far, far, greater than any super bowl, concert, election, etc., and yet not many seem to be talking about it. It’s time for the church to become the living witness Christ made them to be.

Is. 60:1 Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
Is. 60:2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.

There has never been a darker time in my lifetime than the one I see all around me right now. There is so much division and turmoil going on even within our own country, not to mention around the world. We have North Korea threatening a nuclear war against South Korea and the United States. Iraq is working on a nuclear weapon threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. We have a government in America that does not see our $17 trillion dollar debt as unsustainable, and yet every day we ad 3.2 billion dollars to America’s already staggering debt.

All that to say time for the church to arise and shine! Jesus has risen and just like those who 2,000 years ago went and began to tell everyone, it is our turn. If you are a child of God, born again, it is time to let your light shine. It is time to get out and become a living daily witness to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. We need to be telling Jesus’ story by telling our story. It doesn’t matter that not everyone wants to hear it, there are many who are bound in this darkness that are looking for a way out.

Scripture reveals to us in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is nothing new under the sun, for what has been will be. There have been times of spiritual awakenings in our country throughout its history. When are these spiritual awakenings seen? Usually when things start getting pretty dark, God looks for a people who worship Him in spirit and truth that are more hungry for God than they are for the things of this world. This hunger is seen not only in their desire for Him, but in their being bold to get out and become the witness they were created to be. Through this God begins to do miraculous things. There is another spiritual awakening beginning. Time to be a witness.

Matt. 5:16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your amoral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

When you get born again the light came on in your personal home. That light is now within you. Time to let the light shine. Notice that Jesus declares we are to let our light shine – BEFORE MEN. What good is it to have the light that will bring people out of darkness but you keep it hidden. That would be like getting lost with a bunch of people in an old mineshaft where you are so far down there is no light, but you have a flashlight in your pocket, and yet you won’t take the flashlight out and use it.

I have been down in a mine so far that without any light you lose all sense of direction. I had a family member who had taken us to this mine. We began to walk through one twisting corridor and then into another. There were multiple routes down in the mine and multiple routes back out. After we had gone for some time walking further and further down into this mine they turned the light off. Within minutes with no light at all I can’t even describe to you what it felt like. You lose all sense of direction. You can’t even see the tip of your nose, it was that dark.

This is how a lot of people are right now. They are so surrounded by darkness they don’t know the way out. They have lost all sense of direction so they just keep going around in circles thinking somehow their life will get better. Yet here we are with the flashlight in our pockets so to speak. We have the light within, which is our witness of not only the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also of His resurrection power to deliver people from their darkness, whatever it may be.

Acts 4:29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,
Acts 4:30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

Christians pray for many things, but what if we started spending our time daily crying out to God with this prayer that the disciples prayed back in Acts. Their desire was to have the boldness to speak the Word of God, and that God would stretch His hand forth through theirs to heal, and that they would see the signs and wonders that were to be done through the power of the name of Jesus. God will and does still honor such prayer today. They got their prayer answered.

Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.

After they had prayed they received a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit, began to speak God’s Word with boldness, and they gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ through signs and wonders being done by their obedience to step out and be a light in the darkness. I am ready to see more of God’s power displayed and people set free from the darkness of the day. Come on Christians, we have the greatest story of all mankind to tell! He is risen, now lets go and be His witnesses. Ask God to use you and get ready to see His glory shine through you. Share you story; because when you do you share His.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

3/18/13 – “THE RACE OF FAITH”

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Heb. 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Heb. 12:2 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Recently I have been studying more and more about faith and learning more than I had ever known before about faith. Faith is one subject you will never fully exhaust in this lifetime, but it is something that every believer has the ability to walk in. When you take a look at Hebrews 11, the great hall of faith as many call it, you begin to see what God calls faith. For years I have heard what many men call faith, but when you find out what God calls faith, now you have something.

God describes faith as an excellent sacrifice, referring to the gifts that Abel had offered which God received, as opposed to the offering that Cain offered God, which God did not receive. Faith is also described as walking with God, for God declares that Enoch was a man of faith. When you go back and study Enoch’s life you read basically one thing that describes Enoch. Enoch walked with God.

Faith is a work, or working for God as Noah is described by God as a man who when warned about the flood to come obeyed God and went to work building an ark. Faith is revealed in Abraham’s life as a pilgrimage, for Abraham was called on by God to leave his family and the place where he had lived to simply go and obey God, even when he did not know where God was taking him. He lived in obedience to God as a pilgrim on this earth awaiting his true homeland.

Sarah also is one who took God at His Word and God called that faith. Moses was a man who made a choice to give up the passing pleasures of sin to go and be with his brethren and then deliver them from the bondage they were in. God called his decision to do so faith. Rahab the harlot is also listed in the hall of faith for she hid the spies and then put her faith in their God by hanging that scarlet thread from her window and God called it faith.

Now as you come to Hebrews 12:1-2, our foundation verses this week, you must realize that Paul begins verse one by saying, “Therefore” which is a reference to all these people of faith he just got done writing about. He even reveals the details of this by saying that we have set before us this great cloud of witnesses who all had a good testimony through faith, and yet they never received in their lifetime the end result of what their faith was believing for, a Messiah who was to come and deliver them. Yet they were people of faith.

Paul states in Hebrews 12:1-2 that since we have all these witnesses of faith we should do three things. We should lay aside every weight, we should lay aside the sin which so easily ensnares us, and we should look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. If you want to be a man or woman of faith, and run this race of faith successfully, you will have to do all three things. This is quite contrary to what some teachings tell us today. They teach that once you have put your faith in Jesus Christ that is all you need to do. Not true if you want to walk by faith and not by sight, which is how the just are to live their life. This week I will talk about these three things that are necessary to live a life of faith.

1. Lay aside every weight.
The reference that Paul gives here is a picture of one who is running in a race, a race that will take endurance to make it to the finish line. Thus the reference at the end of the first verse telling us to run with endurance the race that is set before us. A runner even in today’s times that competes in athletic competition is going to get rid of every encumbrance that would cause them to not be able to run as fast or as far. Faith is a race that we run. That means we are to have action to what we believe. The problem for some is they are not running the race of faith, seeing their trust in God result in what only He can do in and through them. They are to weighed down.

There are many weights that try to hinder us in our walk of faith. There is the weight unbelief, doubt, the flesh, other people, and lifestyles that are focused on the things of this world instead of the Kingdom of God. You see this all the time in people’s lives. The number one thing you hear from Christians when you talk about the importance of being in God’s house, or serving in church, or getting involved with outreaches that are going and doing the work of Christ is, “I don’t have time.” Yet there are people who raise their families, work jobs, and fulfill the same type of responsibilities who don’t miss church, are involved in the work of God both in and outside the church. They have the same 24 hours in a day. The reason laying aside every weight is so important is because you have to realize that the things that take up much of our time have no ability to produce nor help us grow our faith.

If we allow our time to be consumed with things that are in fact countering what God’s Word says, we are going to see the results of such a lifestyle. For example you cannot fill a sponge with used motor oil and then when you need to be refreshed squeeze that sponge and get fresh water from it. When squeezed whatever it has been used to soak up is what will come out. If you instead soak up fresh water with that sponge then obviously when you need to be refreshed you squeeze the sponge and you will be refreshed. It is our choices that we make each day that determine how much faith we will walk in. Choose to lay aside the things that are nothing but a weight in draining your faith and you will begin to see your faith become stronger.

2. Lay aside every sin that so easily ensnares you.
The topic of sin is not a popular one amongst some ministers and believers today, but Paul addresses this as an issue with our walk of faith. First of all as Dr. Lester Sumrall, a great man of faith once said, “You cannot wade around in sin and walk in great faith.” Why else would the apostle here in reference to this great cloud of witnesses we have as an example of faith tell us to lay aside the sin that so easily ensnares you? A vital key to dealing with this issue and how to overcome sin is found in the following verse.

Gal. 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

What is the best way to keep from falling into the snare of sin? Stay full of the Holy Spirit and full of the Word of God. If you walk in the Spirit you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh, which is where sin initiates from. We are tempted with our own fleshly desires. To walk in the Spirit you simply need to walk in obedience to His leading, which if you stay full of the Holy Spirit will be easier to do. You must also stay full of the Word and walk in the light of that Word for Jesus Himself said the words He spoke to us, they are Spirit and they are truth.

Just because we have been born again does not mean that if we wade around in sin there won’t be any bad consequences. As Romans 6:23 states the wages of sin is still death, or separation from the kind of life God wants for us. Sin causes us to break fellowship with God. That broken fellowship hinders our walk of faith. As 1 John 3:22 tells us that whatever we ask from God we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and to those things which are pleasing in His sight. If you sin don’t run from God, and don’t fall for the modern day belief it doesn’t hurt your life, instead run to God and return to intimate fellowship with Him.

3. Looking unto Jesus.
The third key given here to walk by faith as these in the hall of faith have done is to keep your focus on Jesus. They all were looking toward the Messiah coming. The amazing thing is Hebrews 11:39 tells us that they all had obtained a good testimony through faith, even though they did not in their lifetime receive the promise of new life. That is a testimony to their faith, seeing a promise that was yet afar off, and now we have received that promise. How much more should we be walking in faith?

This phrase, “Looking unto Jesus” is defined as giving Him our undivided attention. To do this we must remove all the distractions in life that try to pull us away from our walk with Him. He is the author and the finisher of our faith. He not only initiated this faith within us when we put our trust in Him for salvation, He is the one who will help us to complete our walk of faith. To do so we must keep our hearts set on Him, and for that to happen we have to make Him our priority in life.

So as we are surrounded in scripture by these great men and women of faith, you will find that these three things became evident as a part of their life. They learned to lay aside the things that would only become a weight in their life, hindering them in walking with God. They learned to address and deal with sin in their life, like Moses choosing to give up the passing pleasures of sin to instead walk with God and His people. They also had a focus on the Messiah to come, even though they never experienced in their lifetime what He would come to do. Run your race of faith and you will win!

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

3/4/13 – “CHOOSE THE GOOD PART”

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Luke 10:38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.
Luke 10:39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.
Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
Luke 10:41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.
Luke 10:42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

When you take time to think about all that Jesus did for us on the cross and the primary reason why He bore our sins, and the punishment we deserved for our sins, sometimes we may forget what it really was all about. The central reason Jesus did all this for us was to restore our relationship with God, a relationship that had been shattered by sin, which brought a separation between man and God. All God desired was to have a relationship with us. I know this is not new revelation to anyone, but it seems that we tend to forget and drift away from one of the key things we have available to us.

When I think about relationship with God, one of the people in the Word I think of is Enoch. It is quite interesting that he in fact was not of course born again, and yet he walked so close with God that God decided to take him on to heaven. I believe Enoch got a passion to walk close with God from his great, great, great, great, grandfather Adam. Adam lived to be 930 years old so he was still alive when Enoch came about. If Enoch could have such a close walk with God how about us who are now born of God’s Spirit?

The account of this encounter in Luke’s gospel that Jesus had with these two sisters Martha and Mary I believe can teach us a lot about why we may not be experiencing the type of relationship that is available to us; but yet seems to be somewhat out of our grasp. Through this encounter with Jesus we can learn from these two women what I believe is some very important truths about our walk with the Lord. We must always remember Christ’s purpose in coming was to restore us back to the Father so we could in fact walk with Him, and know Him intimately. We need to realize that anyone can walk closely with Him. In fact we are as close to God today as we want to be. But before I get to far ahead of myself let’s take a closer look at Martha and Mary.

Martha welcomes Jesus into her house, which is a great start to begin a relationship with God. We all need to receive Christ into our individual home (our spirit man) acknowledging the payment He made for our sins and receiving new life. It is believed that Martha, sister of Lazarus and Mary, may have been a widow, and that her brother and sister were living with her. This would explain why she felt compelled to wait upon the people in her home, as any good hostess would do.

Now take note of verse 39 because it is quite important to what happened here to Martha. It tells us that Martha’s sister Mary also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word. So Jesus is in their home fellowshipping with them and their guests. Jesus was taking time to share the Word with them and giving them an opportunity to build relationship with God, for God and His Word are one as John’s gospel tells us. The fact that it says Mary also sat at the feet of Jesus reveals that both Martha and Mary were both sitting there enjoying His company and what He had to say to them. But then something happened to Martha.

Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

Martha begins to allow something to distract her attention away from listening to Jesus, and this distraction pulls her away from fellowship with the Lord. The word for distracted here in the Greek language means to be pulled away by something. In this case what pulled her away was something she allowed to become more important at the time then spending time with the Lord and further developing her relationship with Him. What this one incident revealed was something far more than just a concern for the guests that were in her home.

We don’t see any indication as to her guests demanding something to eat or drink. We don’t see Jesus making such a demand on her as well. But there was something going on in Martha’s life that resulted in her being concerned about taking care of the physical needs of her guests. It could have been a genuine concern about them being hungry or thirsty, but because of what Jesus said in the next verse it is more likely that her concern was about what these people might be thinking about her. She could have been thinking to herself, “What are these guests going to think of me if I don’t properly take care of them? They may think I am a bad hostess not providing food and drink for them while in my home.”

This even lead to Martha thinking that the Lord did not care about her because He said nothing to her sister about helping her provide for these guests. I can assure you if what happened to Martha happens to us, we will eventually come to the place that we don’t think God cares about us because we are not seeing results that we were expecting God to do. All the while we don’t realize that the reason for this is usually because we are not tuned into God, and then we wonder why He doesn’t respond to our prayers or problems.

Luke 10:41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.

As always Jesus brings us great insight to the real problem with Martha. He tells her she is worried and troubled about many things, not just the immediate issue of the guests in her home. She was someone who was filled with the cares of this life for this is where worry comes in. The word troubled here means to be disturbed in mind, or in other words a mind that is not at peace, which would be a clear result of allowing the cares of this life to come upon you. What is it that causes us to become like Martha? One of the primary reasons that we get caught up with cares in life and then disturbed in our mind Jesus answers in verse 42 of this story.

Luke 10:42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

As simple as it may sound Jesus here in verse 42 gives the all-important answer to what is causing Martha to be worried and troubled about many things. Jesus declares, “But one thing is needed…” He didn’t say there were many things that were needed, just one thing. This is so simple but yet it seems to elude many people. That one thing that is needed to keep from being worried and troubled is to simply keep the main thing the main thing. Stop allowing things to distract you in your relationship with the Lord. Mary had chosen the “good part”, which was making the priority sitting at the feet of Jesus and just enjoying a time of fellowship with Him as Mary was building her relationship with Christ.

What is powerful is that when we choose to prioritize our life around our relationship with Jesus, what we receive in and through Him cannot be taken from us. Notice Jesus said, “Mary has chosen…” for you see it is simply that, a choice we make. We can choose to be earthly minded and allow things everyday in our life to keep us from coming and enjoying what Jesus died and paid for, a relationship with God. Or we can choose to come to the Word of God, open that Word, and then allow Jesus to speak to us and help us in becoming closer to God, instead of becoming distracted like Martha by choosing to do other things. The choice is simply up to us.

James 4:8 Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.

We are, as I stated earlier, as close to God as we want to be. It really is all about our choices. What is so awesome is that we can choose  to draw close to God anytime we want. The closer we draw to Him, He then responds and draws closer to us. If we make the choice that Mary made and simply make our relationship with God a priority, then we will choose that good thing, fellowship with Him, sitting at His feet as we look into the Word of God and pray. But as life happens we often, not even intentionally, begin to get more and more distracted. Television, computers, games, books, magazines, etc., can begin to take us away from what Jesus said is the “One thing” that is needed for us to stay free from getting caught up in the cares of life.

The more we become like Mary and “choose” what Jesus said was the “good part”, the “one thing that is needed”, the stronger our relationship with Jesus and the Father becomes. That is what Jesus coming and dying in our place was all about. It gave us the ability to be once again close to God and have Him close to us. If Enoch could do so and not be born again, how much more a New Testament Christian? Choose the “good part”. You will be glad you did.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

1/25/13 – “GIVE SATAN NO PLACE” – PART 3

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Eph. 4:27 Don’t give the devil any opportunity ‹to work›.

In this third and final part of our series on how we can make sure we give satan no place in our life we will cover the third way scripture reveals as to how satan comes. The first two ways we covered in part one and two revealed how he comes as an angel of light through false and deceptive teachings; and how he comes as a serpent, very sly and cunning. This week we will cover how he comes as a roaring lion.

1 Pet. 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
1 Pet. 5:9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

The first thing we are told here in these verses is to be sober, be vigilant because of this adversary of ours who comes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. The word “sober” here means to remain calm, in control of self. This has a lot to do with your soul. You should not be reacting to things based on your feelings. You should be grounded in the Word and walk in the light of who you are in Christ. The second word here “vigilant” means to pay attention. Simply put, you need to know how satan works and pay attention to what you are allowing in your life.

This is especially important when it comes to satan trying to take advantage of you as a roaring lion. You are to resist him, not people, steadfast in the faith. One of the key things that satan does to try and get at our life is to continually remind us of our past, or to get us involved with things of the past. Either one is not good. He has not changed, he is still the accuser of the brethren and if you don’t know who you are, he can get pretty loud and seem quite convincing all the while using his lies to devour your life.

Rev. 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
Rev. 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

Notice in verse 10 above that we see satan described as the accuser of the brethren. What is he accusing us of? One of the primary things that satan accuses us of is that we are not right with God. He will bring to us these thoughts and make them quite loud at times trying to convince us that we don’t deserve what God has for us. But the fact is he is telling some truth as he did with Jesus in tempting him. But he never tells the whole truth for he is the father of lies.

No one on this planet has done anything of their own merit or effort to deserve anything God has done for us. In fact, if we got what we deserved we would be going to hell and then eventually the lake of fire for all eternity. We are not redeemed because we deserve redemption. We are redeemed because of God’s mercy. Mercy means God is not going to give to those who are born again what we deserved. Because of Jesus we have received grace, which is getting something we did not deserve. But as a child of God you must know who you are in Christ if you are going to overcome this accuser who will try to convince you that you are nothing and certainly not deserving of what God desires for your life.

Notice it tells us in verse 12 above that the believers overcome this lying accuser by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and not loving their life to the death. These are three of the most important elements in keeping satan from devouring you from what you have already been redeemed from.

Rom. 5:9 Therefore, since we are now justified (acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God.

One of the most important keys to not giving satan place in your life is to now know who you are in Christ. In Romans 5 here we see that we are now justified by Christ’s blood. This is very significant when you understand the importance of what that actually means. The term justified means to be declared right with God. As the Amplified here says, you were brought into right relationship with God. There are four very powerful truths that make up our right standing with God, and you must know these truths to combat satan’s lies when he is trying to devour your life by convincing you to find your worth in people’s approval, or in what you do instead of what Christ has done. He also works to convince people that they deserve punishment for what they have done, or that they are worthless and cannot change. The blood of Christ did something to change all of that.

The four foundations upon which our righteousness stand are, justification, reconciliation, propitiation, and regeneration. Justification means we are accepted by God, we can do nothing to earn our acceptance. Reconciliation means we are approved by God for we have been restored into an intimate relationship with Christ. Propitiation means Jesus bore the punishment we deserved, God is not punishing us, and regeneration means you are a new creation, and now old things can pass away and all things can become new. Because of this you are not hopeless for you can change anything about your life.

This is what you and I must know was accomplished when the blood of Jesus was shed for us. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb, knowledge of who we are in Christ because of our right standing with Him. What the devil will try to do as a roaring lion is convince you that you are not accepted by God, not approved by Him, He is punishing you for what you have done, and your situation is hopeless for you cannot change. These accusations must be confronted with revelation knowledge of what the blood of Jesus has done for you.

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

We overcome by the word of our testimony. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. You must also recognize the importance of your words. James chapter 3 tells us that our words are what determine the course our life takes. The key to dealing with our words is what we are putting into our hearts. You are not going to overcome satan by feeding continually on all the worldly things around you and then defeat the lies of this roaring lion when he begins to fill your thought life with things contrary to the Word of God.

This is why satan has worked so diligently to take control of what you see on television, hear on radio, and listen to through the many forms of media and wrong friends. If your heart has an abundance of worldly things going in, then that is what is going to come out. Your words determine your future. Your words determine whether you are going to walk in the life of God, or the death of the world. We must realize that what we listen to has everything to do with what our outcome in life will be like. Remember we are supposed to resist satan steadfast in the faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Everything that is of this world is out to strip you of your faith in God by robbing you of the Word of God.

Whenever we face thoughts or challenges from this roaring lion that is trying to devour our life, we must respond with what scripture says. This is exactly what Jesus did every time He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Jesus responded each time with, “It is written”. He is our example. If you want to defeat this enemy of ours and give him no place in your life you are going to need the Word in your heart, and in your mouth, especially when you are under attack from this accuser of the brethren.

Matt. 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Matt. 16:25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Last but not least we must not love our lives all the way to the grave. If we are unwilling to follow after Jesus, deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him, we are going to be taken advantage of in this life. You must lose your life to find true life. This simply means you must lay down your old ways of thinking and doing, you must get focused on serving the Lord with your life, and developing your relationship with Him. If you don’t you are going to be mislead in life.

So don’t give satan any opportunity in your life. Beware of false teachers and doctrines that just tickle peoples ears, beware of the subtlety of satan working through the worldly things around us, and beware of this roaring lion who will try to falsely accuse you. We can keep satan out of our life if we just stay alert and pay attention to the way he works.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

2/18/13 – “GIVE SATAN NO PLACE” – PART 2

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Eph. 4:27 Don’t give the devil any opportunity ‹to work›.

Last week we began talking about what we need to do to give satan no place in our lives. His primary target in our life is our soul, which is made up of our mind, will, and emotions. If the devil can change our way of thinking, getting us to think like the world, he can change the course of our life. In fact, before getting born again most of us were already conditioned to do so. That is why we must renew our minds to think now like God thinks. What satan has been a work doing is in infiltrating every part of society for the purpose of conditioning our minds to think contrary to God. There are three primary ways he works to do so.

2 Cor. 2:11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

It is important as a believer to realize the ways in which satan tries to take control our lives. If you will look at the last part of verse 11 above you see that Paul states he was not ignorant of satan’s devices, for if we are, satan can then take advantage of us. That is why we need to understand how he works so that we can keep him from getting control over us through deception and seduction by taking control of our soul. As we began to discuss last week he comes in one of three ways. As a serpent, as an angel of light, or like a roaring lion. We already covered in part one of this series how he comes as an angel of light. This week we will take a look at how satan comes like a serpent.

2 Cor. 11:3 But [now] I am fearful, lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

The work of satan as a serpent is very subtle and seducing. The purpose is to get the believer to no longer be wholeheartedly, sincere, and devoted to following after Christ. To follow after Christ is to live like Jesus lived. Talking like Him, acting like Him, walking in His very example. Jesus Himself said that He did nothing except what He saw the Father doing. If we are going to remain devoted in following Christ, that means we are going to do the things we see Him doing, and we are not going to willfully do the things Jesus would not do. We will live a pure and sincere life of following in His footsteps. This is what many believers today call “bondage” or being “old school”. Yet the very heart of Christianity is in fact to be Christ-like.

Notice in 2 Corinthians 11:3 that how satan achieves this is in deceiving people in their thinking so that he can corrupt their minds. This corruption is a slow process that takes place slowly over time. Because it is not immediate in its actions, many don’t even realize that it is happening. The word for corrupted here means to decay. If you have ever seen an old car that someone purchased to restore, one of the things you will find is rust. Rust is something that takes place over years and years of time, slowly eating away at the metal until it is gone.

This is how satan as a serpent works to corrupt our minds, slowly conditioning people to the ways of the world where little by little they begin to change the way they think and even what they believe. They begin to slowly change their view of scripture and what God says. Where the church clearly understood the importance of guarding their lives from things that God said we should have nothing to do with, they now accept such things through many forms of entertainment and social media, claiming that such things are neither harmful nor wrong, yet the Bible says otherwise. This corruptive work is all around us through television, radio, and just about every form of social media.

Eph. 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
Eph. 5:9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),
Eph. 5:10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
Eph. 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
Eph. 5:12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.

These verses are quite clear and yet it seems that many ministers want to throw them out of the Bible. We are to have NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THE UNFRUITFUL WORKS OF DARKNESS. Too many believers don’t seem to understand that if you fellowship with darkness, then darkness is going to have a negative impact on your life. The reason satan wants to corrupt your mind is so that he can control your outcome. He wants to dictate how you live and what you do. If he can get you to fellowship with darkness he is on the way to achieving his goal.

To fellowship with darkness means to participate in such activity. How does satan get Christians minds corrupted to the point of accepting behavior and then participating in behavior that is damaging to one’s life? He does so through the mind. His subtle approach is getting us to watch programs and build friendships with others who are already living in such behavior. We think nothing of these things, especially many of the television shows and movies that people watch today because after all it is just entertainment.

The word “entertain” comes from a Latin word which means, “To hold inside”. Whatever you entertain your mind with begins to take hold of you on the inside. It begins to control the way you think, the way you feel, and it effects the decisions you make. If you are being entertained by the works of darkness then after a while what do you think will be the result? This again is seen by many as a form of bondage to actually live in line with the Word of God. But if we choose to allow satan to corrupt our minds through forms of entertainment that are filled with works of darkness, we will begin to be conditioned to think like the world instead of thinking like God.

For example many today who say they are a Christian see nothing wrong with having sex before marriage, or even living together before getting married. Yet this is called fornication and is still a sin in the eyes of God. Others see nothing wrong with using foul language or going out to nightclubs and partying with sinners. Where do Christians learn such behavior and think that it doesn’t matter? One such place is again through the different forms of media we have around us every day.

There is very little on television or in the movie industry today that is not influenced with satan’s deceptive works. You see people having sex outside of marriage, living in adultery, drinking, doing drugs, being disrespectful to parents, disrespectful to elders, and to God. This continual onslaught of entertainment slowly corrupts one’s mind to accept these things as an acceptable part of culture and therefore an acceptable part of their lifestyle. You even have ministers telling their congregations that the Word of God is not relevant for today. Yet God said His Word will never pass away.

Realize this is all a work of the devil to condition people’s minds to begin to accept such things as an acceptable behavior. This is what he did to Eve by convincing her that if she were to partake of the fruit of the tree God said they were not to eat, she would not die, and in fact she would become like God. Through his continual conversation with her, he was able to convince her it was okay to do something God said would be destructive to her life. The devil has not changed. He is still doing the same thing today. He is at work through our modern sinful culture convincing people that doing what God said not to do is really okay.

Prov. 22:5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them.   

Those who choose to accept satan and his lies through his corrupting work by not guarding their soul will eventually experience thorns and snares in their life. The soul is referring here to your mind, will, and emotions. If you don’t guard against the works of darkness that subtly in the name of entertainment begin to effect the way you think, then you will become ensnared by sin or see thorns growing up in your soul which Jesus said will choke out the seed of God’s Word in our life.

Snares are traps that are just waiting for their next victim to come along and get caught into it’s trap so that it can take hold of your life and begin to control how you live. Thorns Jesus described as the cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things, which will choke the very life out of God’s Word that is planted in our hearts. In doing so we won’t experience godly fruit in our life, but instead that of darkness.

If you want to keep this subtle serpent from taking control of your thoughts and in doing so then controlling your life, you must guard your soul. You must take time to consider what you are watching and listening too. You must also recognize who you are spending your time with, for other people will also have an impact on how you think as well. If you guard you soul from this subtle work of satan then he cannot corrupt your mind and get control of your life.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

2/4/13 – “GIVE SATAN NO PLACE” – PART 1

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Eph. 4:27 Don’t give the devil any opportunity ‹to work›.

One of the keys to succeeding as a believer is you must know who your enemy is, how he works, and what you must do to give him no opportunity in your life. The devil would like nothing more than for believers to remain ignorant of how he works, and what he is up to because for those who are ignorant of his ways, he can then work in one’s life to deceive and seduce bringing about his ultimate desire, which is to take control of your life.

First and foremost we must understand what satan’s primary target is in the lives of people. When you understand what that target is and then learn how he works you can fulfill what the apostle Paul stated here in Ephesians 4:27 and give him no such opportunity to work in your life. His target is the soul of man. The soul is made up of our mind, will, and emotions. If he can get your soul reprogrammed to think, act, and feel the way he wants you to then he has control of what goes on in areas of your life.

Scripture reveals to us very clearly in James chapter three that the tongue of man is what determines the course one’s life will take. This is why Jesus said to the Pharisees of His day that it was not what one put in their mouth as food that defiled or in other words brought destruction to man, it was what comes out of his mouth. This is determined by what you think, and what you think on will determine your set of values or beliefs in this life. Those beliefs will come out through your words, which in turn will come to pass in your life.

The devil knows this and so he has been at work since the beginning of the fall to infiltrate the mind of man so that he can get control of their life. Satan is out to steal, kill, and destroy, but the primary thing he wants to steal from the believer, put to death in their life and completely destroy, is their faith in God. If satan can get you to think and feed on things that are contrary to the Word of God he can begin to get into your belief system. This is being seen very evident in the church today as the church as a whole in many ways looks nothing like the church of Jesus’ day. The world and its ways have now crept into the church when in fact God’s intention was for this to be the other way around. The church was supposed to infiltrate society.

When you begin to talk today about things that scripture clearly states about what God expects of His church you immediately get people saying things like, “That is old school, not relevant for today,” or “I am saved by grace you can’t put that bondage on me.” I am fully aware that man-made religion has also imposed on man things that God never did impose on us, yet today we see more of the world in the church then we do of God. Church in many cases has become all about attracting people to become a part of a social club in which we won’t deal with areas that God wants to change in their life because we don’t want to offend anyone.

People will often refer to Matthew 18:7 where Jesus warned us saying, “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” What most don’t realize is that the word “offense” means leading one into sin. For people to get offended because you preach the Word of God to them does not mean that you are violating what this verse says, for even Jesus had people get offended in His own home town and many other places for just telling them what the Father said was true.

I bring all this up because it will help us to see the first of three ways satan works to get into our lives and control our thinking. Far too many pastors and churches have begun to drift away from all the teachings of Jesus Christ and the disciples. Paul said the man who preached any other gospel than what he preached should be accursed. He also told the leaders at Ephesus before he went to Rhome that he had not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. Paul also told Timothy, who was the pastor at Ephesus, that what he had heard from Paul’s preaching he was to share and to pass on to other faithful men who would preach the same thing. Yet today we now have ministers that are saying not everything Paul said applies to us.

On top of that we have a very watered down gospel that is not producing great disciples of Christ, but instead just buildings with big social gatherings. Disciples of Jesus go out and do what He did. They proclaim the gospel with those around them. They cast out demons if so presented the opportunity to do so. They lay hands on the sick and those sick people recover. If the Lord so calls upon them they will raise the dead, and they will even speak with new tongues. These are the very things that Jesus said would be signs that will follow the believer.

Unfortunately if you asked the average believer in church today if they have done any of these things they would have to say no. That is a sad thing to hear when Jesus declared that he who believes in Him would do the same things He did. Time for the church to wake up from the lying half true deceptions they are being fed and become a powerful force filled with faith and the Holy Spirit that is impacting and changing lives with more than just a message of love. People need to know God loves them but the disciple’s primary way of revealing that was no different than what Jesus did. They did the same works He did.

2 Cor. 11:13 For such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah).
2 Cor. 11:14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light;
2 Cor. 11:15 So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds.

So here we have the first of three ways that satan tries to take advantage of people and deceive or seduce them into teachings that are actually contrary to scripture, or lacking of the whole truth, which is just as bad as having no truth at all. He comes as an angel of light. Paul speaks here of those who are actually false apostles, who were claiming to be workers of God, but in fact they were not. Today we have many who are claiming to be ministers of God who are teaching things that go completely contrary to scripture. One such minister has even written a book declaring that no one will go to hell all will go to heaven.

So as 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that even satan himself masquerades as an angel of light, and that these false teachers are his servants propagating false doctrines that are in fact misleading people further away from the Word of God, not further into the Word. This is what Paul also described to Timothy as well in his second letter to this young pastor.

2 Tim. 4:3 For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,
2 Tim. 4:4 And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.

Here we have a description of these last days “angels of light” who are really being used by satan to mislead and deceive people through a reduction of the scriptures to satisfy people’s lifestyles that in fact are not in line with what scripture teaches us. Remember the reason for this is so that satan can indoctrinate people with a watered down or perverted view of scripture so he can simply take advantage of their life.

What gives place to this type of deception? Paul tells us in verse three. It is due to people who will not tolerate sound and wholesome teaching from God’s Word because they don’t want to change. They instead want ministers to only tell them things that are pleasing and gratifying to their flesh so that they can satisfy their own way of living. As a believer you have to ask yourself is that how God wants us to live our lives? Did He die to become our sugar daddy and just give us whatever we want? Jesus died to deliver us from the old nature. That involves a complete change from how and who we used to live for.

Before being born again we were actually under the influence of satan through a fallen nature, but once born again we can now be freed from the old nature and it’s ways walking in what the Bible calls “newness of life”, or a new way of living. It is a life that is brought under complete control of God in which we learn how to fully trust Him with our lives as we become His servants doing His will here on earth.

For us to give satan no place in this area of our life we must make the choice to fully serve God with all our hearts, building our relationship with Him. That is what the heart of Christianity is all about. Getting to know God and then making Him known. Doing what Jesus Himself did. Don’t allow satan to take advantage of your life. Believe the whole Bible. Believe who it says you are and what you can do and don’t fall prey to the false ministers of the day.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

1/28/13 – “PRINCIPLES OF FAITH”

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Heb. 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Heb. 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Faith is a subject that you can never truly exhaust or learn all about because faith is something that should be continually increasing in the life of a believer. One of the things we must do is make sure we are actually walking in the faith of God and not a worldly type of faith. The faith of the world has to see something before it can believe it. The God-kind of faith believes when it cannot yet see it.

I want to share some very powerful and timeless truths about faith. Like anything in life it is easy to drift away from what true faith really is. Many times I hear believers who say they are believing God for something, but then when you hear them speak or see what they are doing in relationship to what they are believing for it becomes evident that often they are not in Bible faith. Faith is what connects us with God, and so it is vitally important to make sure we are walking in the principles of Bible faith.

Not walking in Bible faith would be similar to getting a car that has no tires or wheels. You sit in the car, start it up, and rev up the engine but you go nowhere. The intended purpose of the car is not being utilized because you are lacking a significant part of the car. So it is with faith, for if you have parts of it working but are missing some of the elements that make faith work, it won’t accomplish it’s intended purpose in your life.

FAITH IS OUR EVIDENCE OF WHAT IS NOT YET SEEN
As Heb. 11:1 states faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. I want to start by focusing on this last statement first. Another translation of this part of the verse states that faith convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see. That is what evidence does. If you think about a court case for example, for the jury to be convinced of something they did not actually witness they must have evidence to prove to them what is actually true. This is what faith does for the believer. Faith is the evidence that convinces the believer that what God’s Word says is true.

FAITH IS NOW – IT IS NOT HOPE
This brings me to another key principle about faith. Faith is now, not something we are yet expecting to happen. Hope is future tense, faith is present tense. Most believers who think they are walking by faith are actually walking by hope not faith. For example you could pray with someone for healing and after words say, “Are you healed?” They often then respond, “I sure hope so.”

Hope is what faith connects with, but faith then changes our hope into something we now have, even when it cannot yet be seen. That is difficult for the human mind to often grasp, but that is how the God-kind of faith works. The word hope in the Bible is defined as an expectation; it is something you can expect because God’s Word says it is so. Faith then takes what you now know you can expect from God and receives it as if it was already done.

You can see the difference in what is a worldly type of faith as opposed to the God-kind of faith when Thomas, who was not initially present with the disciples after Jesus had been raised from the dead and appeared to them, said to the disciples that he would not believe Jesus was alive until he could see his hands, feet, and side. Jesus then appears in their midst again with Thomas present and He tells Thomas to feel His body for himself. Jesus then said to him that he had believed because he had seen, but blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed. If you want to get blessed by God you must do so by faith, and that takes believing it is so before you can see or feel anything.

FAITH PUTS US IN FULL AGREEMENT WITH GOD
If you look now at Hebrews 11:6 you will see that it is impossible to please God without faith. This is an interesting and powerful statement about faith. The word “please” here is actually defined as being in agreement with. You see faith does not change God, faith changes us. When you get in faith you come into full agreement with what God has said. You again see what you are believing for as already done. That is why the promises we have in scripture based on what Jesus has done for us are always past tense. For example, by His stripes you WERE healed, not going to be one day. God sees all that Christ has done for us as a completed work, so when we get in faith then we see it the same as He does, a completed work.

Rom. 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (NKJ)
Rom. 10:17 So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself). (AMP)

FAITH COMES BY HEARING
This is a very familiar text for anyone who has ever heard about faith and how we get faith. We are initially all given a measure of faith as scripture clearly reveals, but we can increase the faith we have. We do so by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. What I like about the Amplified and several other translations on this verse is the fact that it more definitively tells us a key to building our faith.

The Amplified states that this faith comes through the preaching or proclamation of the message that came from the lips of Jesus Himself. This is important when it comes to our ability to receive and walk in what God desires for us to have and to do because of what Christ did for us. We must focus much of our time on the Words of Christ, and all that the New Testament reveals we have through Christ Jesus.

Recognize here that our faith is built on the preaching of this message. This does not mean that faith will only come from being in church hearing the Word preached. It means that when we hear the Words of Christ and all He has done proclaimed then our faith will get stronger. You can proclaim God’s Word to yourself and this is a very important key to growing your faith. If you want to see your faith become stronger you must begin to consistently speak over your life and confess out loud to yourself what scripture says you have as a promise of being a born again child of God. The more you do the more your faith will grow.

You must also make sure you are not constantly listening to things that then go contrary to what God’s Word says. To do so is to allow what the Bible calls thorns to get into your heart and those thorns will choke out the Word that you have sown in your heart, and that Word will thus produce no fruit in your life. So it is not only important what you are saying, but it is also important what you are listening to. You need to address both areas in your life if you want faith to grow.

James 2:26 A body that doesn’t breathe is dead. In the same way faith that does nothing is dead.

FAITH HAS CORRESPONDING ACTION
Remember a key to faith means we are convinced that we have what the Bible has promised as a present possession even when we can’t see it. So when faith is actually released through our words declaring the promises of God over our life, then faith acts. As a body without breath, which actually refers to our spirit has no life, so it is with faith that does nothing. When a persons spirit leaves their body that body will cease to function. It will lay lifeless. This is what also happens to faith when there is no action following ones faith.

If you believe for example you are healed then you are going to act in line with one who is healed. You don’t wait until you feel healed, nor do you wait until you see a change in your body. You can’t fake faith, and by that I mean you can’t think that if you act that will prove you have faith. But if you have faith then you are convinced that your body is already healed. If you are convinced of this then you will act upon what you know is true even when you have not seen nor felt any evidence in the natural.

This is often hard for people to do but it is exactly what James is talking about when it comes to faith. Many are waiting to feel or see something before they act. This is not faith, but instead hope. One such instance in the New Testament was when ten lepers came to Jesus to be healed. Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priest, which you would not do so unless you were healed. The Bible says as they went they were cleansed of their leprosy.

So make sure you are walking in the principles of Bible faith. It is then that you will see the results that God’s Word promises. Often we are missing a simple element of faith and that is why we are not getting anywhere. Use the faith you have, keep feeding on the Word, and watch your faith grow and produce great things.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

1/21/13 – “WHAT IS A TRUE CONVERT?”

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Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Last week I shared a message about false converts. Unfortunately there are many who believe they are Christians, which means one who follows Christ’s example, but have never had a true conversion experience. When you do have a true conversion experience you are a convert in Christ. The word converted here in this verse means you have turned your life around and done a 180 and are now walking after God.

The concern I have for many who say they are Christians is that they may not realize they are false converts. Jesus did not die to give us a “ticket to heaven”. Jesus died to change our life here on earth and provide us the way to heaven. Do we really think based on all of what scripture reveals of how God wants to transform our life that we are to pray a prayer and not see change in our lifestyle? Should we still look and act like those who don’t know God at all? Not according to scripture.

Matt. 12:33 “Make a tree good, and then its fruit will be good. Or make a tree rotten, and then its fruit will be rotten. A person can recognize a tree by its fruit.

I hear people saying today that we should not be concerned about the way people live, but if you read what Jesus said here we should. To tell people that their lifestyle really doesn’t matter because after all God loves you is not telling the whole truth. God does love you and He will never stop loving us, for He has loved us with an everlasting love. That is not the issue at all. But what some are not addressing is what the scriptures do address, and that is if you have come to receive Christ into your life there should be a change. If there is no such change we should find out why. Anyone who loves you and cares about you is simply wanting to make sure you are not a false convert.

Jesus said it clearly here in Matthew 12; if you make the tree good its fruit will be good. A person can recognize a tree by its “fruit”. If the person has not had a true conversion experience then guess what you are going to continue to see? You will see bad fruit, the same type of fruit that a sinner produces because if they have not been truly converted they are still a sinner. Yes there are carnal Christians who did see a change but chose to go back to the ways of the flesh, or have been deceived through their lifestyle back into sin. No one is perfect on the outside, that is a given, but please read the whole Bible which teaches us in 2 Corinthians 7:1 we are to cleanse ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and we are to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Some seem to have forgotten these verses are in the Bible.

So those who address such issues and are sincere in their motives of trying to help people walk in newness of life are not trying to beat people up with the Bible, nor are we saying we are better than others, because every believer is the same in the eyes of God. But our concern is for those who truly have never had a conversion experience and are therefore separated from God. This will explain for some why they have never seen their lives change, and why they don’t love God’s house, God’s Word, and the things of God. You get your heart changed by falling in love with God and these things become something you enjoy doing, they are not a religious chore. So what does it take to become a true convert?

2 Cor. 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.  

Look at this scripture carefully as we shared this last week because it is the key to a true conversion experience. If you, after seeing the sinful nature within which is revealed through God’s law have godly sorrow, then repentance will be an automatic by product of that godly sorrow. Godly sorrow PRODUCES REPENTANCE, which is a change of mind, change of heart, change of lifestyle. But the sorrow of the world leads to death. The sorrow of the world means you are sorry you got caught, but you don’t really have a desire to change.

Matt. 19:16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
Matt. 19:17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
Matt. 19:18 He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, ““You shall not murder,’ “You shall not commit adultery,’ “You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’
Matt. 19:19 “Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
Matt. 19:20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
Matt. 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Matt. 19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Here we have a perfect example of what 2 Corinthians defines as worldly sorrow. This rich young ruler found out that his money was his god and he was unwilling to give up his god to receive Jesus as the Lord of his life. This produces death, which scripturally refers to being separated from God. Notice that when Jesus revealed the fact that money was his god he went away sorrowful. Today if someone dealt with you about having another god in your life most people would say you are being to critical or harsh. But Jesus was showing this young man what he needed to do to change and enter into the kingdom of God.

When people see the true nature of their sin they don’t always want to turn from such a lifestyle. You cannot just come to an altar, pray a prayer, and think I am going to heaven because after all I believe in God and prayed a prayer. This man believed in God and if Jesus would have just asked him to pray a prayer to enter the kingdom he would have done so. But if that is what Jesus would have asked him to do he would not have been a true convert because we see clearly he does not have godly sorrow. People don’t understand that it is not just a prayer that gets you born again. Without godly sorrow there is no repentance produced. No desire to change you mind, change your heart, and change your lifestyle.

Most people want to be introduced to Jesus and think they are therefore born again but don’t want to change. They want to keep living the way they always have as a sinner, chasing the same fleshly carnal desires, in love with the world and the things of the world, which scripture says if this is true of your life then the love for the Father is not in you. If you don’t have a love for the Father you are not going to repent, turn your life around and change your lifestyle with God’s help. Many have met Jesus Christ, but have not been dealt with according to their sin to find out if they have godly sorrow. In fact many ministers today and believers say we should not address people’s sins, but Jesus did. If they don’t realize they are a sinner, and if they don’t then have godly sorrow, there will be no conversion as scripture clearly teaches.

John 4:15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
John 4:16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
John 4:17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’
John 4:18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
John 4:19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
John 4:25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
John 4:26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

Here we have Jesus coming to a woman at the well of Sychar. He speaks about water that she could get that does not have to be drawn from this natural well. She wants to know where it comes from. He then deals with her by a word of knowledge that she is living in adultery. She did not walk away sorrowful like the rich young ruler, instead she acknowledges that He is a prophet. Then notice what she says in verse 25. She knew that the Messiah, the deliverer was to come, and when He did He would tell us how to get free from our sins. Jesus reveals Himself to her and declares I am He. Jesus did not do so for the rich young ruler. This is godly sorrow. She wanted to turn from her sin but knew that could not happen until the Messiah would come.

We need to make sure people, including ourselves have actually had godly sorrow in our life.  If we have then repentance was produced and that is what leads us to salvation. This is what must take place in our lives for one to become a true convert in Christ. Without godly sorrow there is no repentance and therefore no change. Make sure you are a true convert and then keep chasing after God with all your heart and you will see you life transformed by God. That is what being born again is all about.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

1/14/12 – “ARE YOU A FALSE CONVERT?”

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2 Cor. 13:5 Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected?

Most people who see my title this week would probably automatically say they are not a false convert and for most I believe that is true, but it is important even if you are not one to understand that there are many false converts who need to know the truth about salvation. I have seen many examples of this. One that comes to mind is a gentleman who in our church is being raised up as a teacher of God’s Word. At a very young age he prayed a prayer at the altar, but by his own confession never notice any change in his life. He went on to live a life of sin and destruction up until several years ago.

He began to realize his life was not headed in a good direction. He also became very honest with himself about his sin. In doing so he cried out to God and repented of his sin, ask God to take his life, and he has never been the same since. After that time he had a hunger for the Word of God, and a hunger to get into God’s house and grow in his walk with God. This hunger had never been the before. He has since realized that all he did that day as a young boy was say some words; there never was any godly sorrow in his heart.

You will find out that there is no reference to a “sinners prayer” in the Bible. What one actually does in being born again is to invoke the lordship of Jesus Christ in their life (check out Rom. 10:13). When you come to Christ you call upon the name of the Lord. You were the lord of your life, but now you invoke His lordship. He now becomes the Lord (Supreme in authority) over your life. As Paul states above we need to examine ourselves to make sure we are not counterfeits. Doing so can obviously mean the difference between eternal life and eternal death.

2 Cor. 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Scripture teaches us that without repentance there is no salvation. Repentance simply means a change of mind, change of heart, and a change of direction. There is no true change where there is no repentance. It is shocking today how many ministers and believers don’t want to hear about nor use the word repentance, and yet Jesus Himself declared, “Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand”.

This verse from 2 Corinthians is a powerful verse that reveals to us the most important element in someone receiving the salvation God offers. The key is godly sorrow. Godly sorrow produces repentance. Stop and think about this for a minute. If you have godly sorrow an automatic by-product is going to be repentance. That repentance is going to lead you to salvation. Acts 3:19 says to repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out. If there is no repentance then there is no true conversion. You are not a convert of Christ without repentance so therefore you would be a false convert.

A false convert would be someone who thinks they have been converted but in fact never had godly sorrow. If they did not have godly sorrow there could be no repentance, therefore no salvation. As 2 Corinthians 7:10 also reveals there is worldly sorrow which produces death. Simply put, one who has worldly sorrow will feel bad about being caught in sin, but they are not willing to give up their lordship over their life. This produces death, which simply means you are still separated from God. God is life, and when you repent (change of mind, change of heart, change of lifestyle) you enter into new life, or conversion. You being then born again start to convert, turn from the world’s ways and turn to God’s ways.

Matt. 3:8 Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart];

John the Baptist in dealing with the sinners of his day declared that one should bring forth fruit in their life that is consistent with repentance. Our lives should be living proof that we have had a change of heart. Modern day preachers call this legalistic, but there is nothing legalistic about it. You are not earning your salvation, you through godly sorrow have a desire to turn from the old ways of the flesh and turn to God. This today is a missing message from most of the pulpits of America, but Jesus Himself declared there was not a greater preacher born of women then John the Baptist. So if that is true shouldn’t preachers today follow in that example?

If we do not declare the whole truth of God’s Word we are only deceiving people. Then as we watch people who claim to be Christians live like sinners live, think like sinners think, and bear the fruits of sinners; we are told that it doesn’t matter because after all we are covered by God’s grace. Grace wasn’t given to cover our sin grace removed the sin that was within our spirit. Grace is a teacher as stated in Titus 2:11-12 that teaches us to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age. We need ministers of the Word to stop tickling people’s itching ears and speak the truth of the gospel that liberates people from their sin, and does not give them an excuse to continue living in what Jesus died to deliver us from.

We know this is a process, but it should not take people years and years to become as Titus states godly, and live a sober life, which simply means we should live with restraint when it comes to our flesh. You see the real issue with many today who think they are saved and yet do not exhibit the fruits of a changed life within is the fact that they are not truly born again. That is why they cannot seem to overcome the sinful ways of the flesh. That is why many do not have a desire to obey God’s commands and walk in the light of the Word. Scripture reveals the Word of God is foolishness to those who are perishing. It is no wonder then why many so struggle “trying” to live a godly life. It should become a part of our nature from within that changes us on the outside.

Rom. 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

So how does one find out if they have godly sorrow or worldly sorrow? Next week I will share in detail how Jesus Christ Himself witnessed the gospel to people and I will show you the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. I know of very few believers who actually witness to people the way Jesus did. He said if we would follow Him He would make us fishers of men.

As Romans 3:20 reveals the law given to Moses, which here represents the 10 Commandments was for the purpose of revealing the knowledge of sin. Most people if asked think they are going to heaven because they believe that they are a good person. But as you will see next week Jesus said there are none good but one, God. He was simply stating that no one is good enough on their own merit to go to heaven. Once someone through the law sees their sin you will find out if they have godly sorrow or worldly sorrow. They are going to either justify their sin or acknowledge it is something they are not proud of. They will have a desire to turn from that sin and get free from it, not continue to justify their right to sin. This is the key difference. A believer in Christ may still deal with strongholds in their life, but they don’t willfully justify their sin.

Gal. 3:22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
Gal. 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.
Gal. 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Gal. 3:25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

The law was given so that when Christ came people would be able to see their sin, and in doing so the law would be a tutor to bring us to Christ so that we could be justified by faith. As soon as one sees that sinful nature and if they have godly sorrow repentance is automatically produced. They will have a desire to turn to God. Change of mind, which will lead them to a change of heart, which will lead to a change of lifestyle.

2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Some will say, “Yes, but we are just an old sinner saved by grace.” You must not have read this verse of scripture. If you are in Christ you are a new creation, not an old sinner. Yes we have a sinful nature in the flesh to deal with, but that new creation within will lead us to bear fruits worthy of repentance, which is all things becoming new. New words coming out of our mouth, new thoughts in our minds, new actions lived out. So examine yourself and make sure you have the witness of the Holy Spirit within. Time to make sure we are not counterfeit Christians. Join me next week, as we will show the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker