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Monthly Archives: March 2013

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

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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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

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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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

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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