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Weekly Messages

Prayerful Prison Break

Prayerful Prison Break

Acts 12:1-19

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Daily Devotionals

April 28, 2018: A Failure Finishes Well

Ephesians 2:1-7 (NIV)
1  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
3  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
4  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
6  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

 

Have you ever made more mistakes than you can count? Haunted by the sheer volume of errors you have made in the past?  Do you find the weight of your sin more than you can bear?  If you are like me you are often haunted by all the mistakes you have made and all the times you have rebelled against God.  When you start to count them you often reach the conclusion that you just don’t have what it takes to make it.  The number of mistakes convinces you to not try any longer because it is too embarrassing to have everyone see all of your blunders.

I don’t know if you noticed but yesterday’s devotion was filled with almost 100 mistakes.  It was even hard to read it or make sense out of it.  Perhaps you reached the conclusion that whoever wrote this has got to be a real loser.  Well just to let you know if you reached that conclusion you would be correct.  But before you write this writer off let me remind you that the kingdom of God is composed of such ones like this.  God called the Apostle Paul who was a murderer;  he called Zacchaeus, a tax collector; Mary Magdalene, a prostitute and many others who were not the ones most likely to succeed and look what he did with them.

When you take a long look at how many mistakes you have made do you find yourself wanting to quit and just resign yourself to never amounting to anything or do you see the record of your mistakes as a clear indication that you need Christ more than you thought?  Let the record of your mistakes be that which causes you to see you need for Christ more clearly and look to him again as your only hope.

The Apostle Paul, a colossal failure, a murderer found his hope in Christ.  This hope in Christ carried him all the way to the end.  He was a failure that finished well because of Christ. Do not let the record of your sins become an obstacle to your walk with Christ.  Rather let the record of your sins become the path that leads you to trust in Christ more.

 

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Daily Devotionals

April 27, 2018: Checking Signals

Ephesians 2:1-7 (NIV)
1  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
3  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
4  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
6  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

 

The eighth inning was over and the score was ten to nothing.  Team Heaven had not even got on base. let alone even hit anything that was thrown towards the plate.  You could hear the jeers coming from the opponent’s dugout. Perhaps you have heard some of them yourself.

“You cannot hit anything.  Look at the times you had it easy and you could not even hit the slow pitches.  How do you expect to be able to hit his fire when he really starts to throw?”  “You are just like every other team we have played, they quit just like you will, they reached the conclusion that we are just too powerful for you.  I mean face it we have been at this game a lot longer than you have and we have some of the best players on our team.

The bantering continues, “Just take a look at Giant Despair, he is our best first baseman.  He will tell you what the truth about you if you ever get on base.  He will remind you of all the places you have messed up and you will become so depressed you will not be able to run towards second base.  The demons of Team Hell are working overtime, they know that something is up and they have been told that somehow team heaven will win this game but they cannot see how.

Between Inning warm up is now over, the top of the ninth begins.  Just before the first batter comes to the plate the player-coach takes off his gloves and holds each of the bats of the players in his hand and then gently places their bat back in their hands.  Something almost electric happens when each player takes his bat from the player-coach.  The first batter comes to the plate and Satan playing catcher behind home plate begins to heckle the batter. This time the heckling seems to have no effect on the heater. he is not distracted by anything Satan mentions. In fact he seems to be more encouraged each time Satan says anything about his past.

Goliath is pitching for Team Hell.  His fastball is almost impossible to hit.  Every other team that has come up against Team Hell has cowered when Goliath pitches but for some reason not this time. The first pitch was a strike right across the plate. The batter took a swing but the ball was passed before he made his attempt.  Satan laughed and all the hosts in Team Hell’s dugout and the players on the failed and even many in the stands all hurled their abuse at the batter.

The batter stepped out of the batter’s box and looked down the third base line ot get his signals from either player-coach.  he saw the sign, arms held out from his side shoulder height in the form of a cross.  He glanced down at his bat and saw the blood stains from the bat his coach had given him.  He knew right then what he was to do.

He stepped back in the batter’s box and dug in his cleats to get ready for the next pitch.  There was a calm that came over him that even Satan and the umpire behind the plate could feel. The end up, the pitch, the swing and the batter connected with a solid line drive just over the first baseman’s head.  This inning was going to be one for the ages now.

I hope you are having some fun enjoying the allegory of what Christ has done for us.  I have concluded another hymn for you to help you focus on Christ as you prepare to go into the world today.

Come back for more tomorrow as we watch ow Team heaven will stun everyone and how their player-coach mixes things up to keep Team hell all confused.

 

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Daily Devotionals

April 26, 2018: The Greatest Change up in History

Ephesians 2:1-7 (NIV)
1  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
3  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
4  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
6  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

For the next several days I want ot focus our attention on the passage of Ephesians 2:1-7.  In this one passage, we discover the great transaction that was made on our behalf.  It was a transaction that the enemy of our soul had no idea about.   Let us journey as the Spirit may shed light on our path int eh marvelous tedt before us.

In baseball, if a pitcher wants to fool a batter he will throw a pitch called a change-up.  It will look like all the world it is going to be a fast ball and the batter will swing at what he thinks is going to be a fastball and he will prepare to swing away with all his might, but when the batter least expects it the ptich will come toward the plate with a greatly reduced speed even though it looks like a fastball. He will swing away and look like a complete fool because he swung too early.

This text shows us what a fastball looks like when Jesus is pitching.

The game was not going very well.  It looked like we were going to be beaten badly.  The score read this way, God’s redeemed-Dead in sins and transgressions.

The enemy had every reason to think the game was over and they were going to win.  The record not only said they were dead, but they had done everythign they could and then some to earn that sentence of justice declaring them dead.  Everythign about their life up to this point indicated they wanted nothing to do with God and they were already signing up to jon the other side. It even looked they were going to be traded by the owner of team heaven, they were under the wrath of God, why would God want anything to do with them now.  Yes sir, the score looked very bleak in deed.

We cared nothing for the things of God and loved the things that God hated.

The ninth inning was coming up and things were looking hopeless.  What was up God’s sleeve, so to speak, to rescue his redeemed?  Tune in tomorrow to see what begins to transpire in the Greatest Change Up in History.

Enjoying every moment of this game as it unfolds,

Pastor Phil

take a listen to this song from Shane and Shane they will give you a little hint about the changeup that is coming.

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Daily Devotionals

April 25, 2018: Scars into Stars

Revelation 5:6 (NIV)
6  Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

John is transported into the future where he sees the end of history and all the redeemed surrounding the throne of God in all-out worship.  There is something that seems rather out of place to me as I observe this worship session. The Lamb still carries the scars on his resurrected body.  They are not hidden from view, they are on full display for all to see. We know from the Scriptures that there will be no embarrassment there, no pain, no feelings of regret, there will be only celebration, worship, joy, and gladness with every breath that we breathe in the new kingdom.  If this is so, then how is this the scene we will set our eyes upon?

What will the scars be for us in the new kingdom?  They will be signs of his everlasting love.  They will be reminders of how dark the night that our Lord passed through to save the lamb that was lost. As Eve was made from the side of Adam so the Church was made by the scars in the side of our Lord.  As our hands hang limp because of the weight of our sin the hands that will hold us up to the Father will be the ones that are scarred to remind us that the price has been paid and it shall never be forgotten so we shall never have any reason to worry that we might be cast out for the father’s care.

So now in this life, every time we are scarred by some vile event or some wicked persecution or even some trifling besetting sin let us bear the scars of our own soul and be reminded that we follow a Scarred One into glory.

This poem written by Amy Carmichael a couple of centuries ago helps us to remember

 

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?

This hymn might help you get a clearer picture of what Christ has done for you.  Take a listen if you have time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ipt5tN8r0dY

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Daily Devotionals

April 24, 2018: Reason for His Silence

Isaiah 53:7 (NIV)
7  He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

Romans 3:19 (NIV)
19  Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.

 

Why was he silent before his accusers?  Why did he not respond to the accusations of his accusers? Surely Jesus was being unfairly tried and convicted of crimes he did not commit, surely he should have someone to speak up for him while the accusations rang out across the several courts of justice he was just before his crucifixion.  The charge against him was he claimed to be God. He could have spoken up for his own defense so why was he silent?

This almost begs the question but perhaps we have not looked far enough, perhaps something else was going on behind the scenes that we had no knowledge of before.  The reason for his silence, could it be perhaps that he was no accepting the full weight of our sin on himself and because he was becoming sin he was no standing in our place before the accusers and the evidence was mounting with each passing moment that he was a sinner, yes even more so with every hour that passed.

Listen to his silence and consider what he has done for you.  There was coming a day when you would have to stand before God to answer for your crimes against God.  The evidence would be overwhelmingly against you, so much that you would have no ability to answer the accusations, you would have only to the receive your just punishment and be led off into an eternity without God.

O but marvel of marvels dear saint, we have one who stood in our place and stood silently before the accusation of the law of God.  He was silent before his accusers because he was standing in our sted, he was taking our place.  He has set us free so that we might enjoy the everlasting pleasure of praising our God.  Psalm 142:7 (NIV)
7  Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.

Do you see it yet church?  His silence testifies to us that he took our place and now we have no reason to be silent any longer.  Let us loose our tongues and shout his praise for he has set us free from our prison that we might praise his glorious name.

Let the praise begin,

 

Pastor Phil

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Daily Devotionals

April 23, 2018: The Great Transaction

Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)
6  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)
21  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The record is clear, we have rebelled against the Sovereign One of the Universe.  We have each one decided not to obey God and go our own way.  That way has led us to death and destruction. Because of our sin our world now under the curse of sin.  Death and destruction are everywhere.  There is no soundness in our flesh we find ourselves dead in our sins and transgressions.  What hope is there for the likes of us?

If you were to look anywhere in the universe you would not find any reason for hope because the whole of the universe is under the curse due to our sin.  There is no one who does good not even one.  Our hope is not found in any man or creature in this universe. Our hope must come from outside this universe where the consequences of our sin have not polluted.  We have need of someone who is perfect in holiness and sinless in their obedience to God’s holy law.

Is our hope to be found among the angels who minister before the throne of God day and night?  It is not found there because we read of many angels who sinned and chose to rebel against God .  Even those who possessed such beauty as the angels do not possess such a nature that can redeem us.  It has to be someone who is higher than the angels.

And so it is. The Father and the Son and the Spirit were all in perfect agreement of what must happen to rescue those whom God the Father would choose to save.  Then willingly and without a moment’s hesitation offered his perfect holy life as a way for all of God’s children to be redeemed.  He alone possessed an infinite capacity to pay for the infinite wrath we had incurred by offering his life, the infinite God/man.

Consider this great transaction for a brief moment today.  This infinitely holy God chose to become sin for us and then take on himself all the wrath and judgment that we justly deserved so we would never have to face the eternal wrath of God for our sin. Consider the text in detail. “We all like sheep have gone astray.”  There is not one redeemed child of God who can ever stand and offer this testimony. “I have kept all the commandments since my youth.”

“Each has turned to his own way.”  Some may have sinned in one way that is more apparent and noticeable but others have sinned in their hearts by holding sinful thoughts and entertaining sinful actions. There is no one who can stand on his own before God.  We should have been condemned by the holy standard of God but just before the sentence was to be carried out on us all of our sin and acts of wickedness were somehow lifted from our lives and the sum total of all the sins of all the redeemed of all the ages were gathered into one place and then that seething mass of iniquity was placed in the body of our Lord Jesus.

When once our sin was placed on him now witness the unmitigated wrath of God against all sin now being hurled with full force upon the body of our Lord.  The Son knew this was what he must do in order to rescue the redeemed.  He did it willingly, but with great trepidation.  Now watch him and hear him cry from the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

He knew he had to pay for the sins of the redeemed, but what he did not know in his humanity was just how long he must endure the wrath fo the Father.  It was nine o’clock in the mornign and he cried “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  So the payment began. The wrath wrath of God was now landing full weight on his body on the cross.  The minutes ticked by at a dreadfully slow pace.  Minutes seemed like hours or days.  To be shut off from his Father from whom he had never experineced even the least bit of distance from in all eternity now seemed like every moment was an eternity.

When twelve o’clock came around the sense of pain and anguish was more than Jesus could bear.  He knew he would have to endure the full weight of our punishment, he just did not know how long he would have to endure it.  The time passesd so slowly he felt like it had been an eternity since nine o’clock. When Jesus cried out, “My God my God why have you abandoned me?” He had no way of knowing how much longer it would be.  Would he be on this cross for hours or days or months or years?  He had no way of knowing the exact cost but he willingly offered himself not knowing how long.  Do you see it yet dear saint? Jesus knew the cost would be great but he had no way of knowing just how much it would cost in his human mind.  He had given up all rights to his omniscience when he came to earth.  His sacrifice was of such a nature that he did not know what the price would be, he only knew that he must pay it if we were to be redeemed.

What was the result of our Lord’s sacrifice for us? Paul writes about this way, “He made him to be sin who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God.”   Because of what Christ has done for us we are no longer considered sinners but righteous.  We no longer need to fear the judgment of God only the embrace of God.  We are longer abandoned but loved by God.  No longer strangers but fellow citizens and members of God’s own hosuehold.

Talk about great transactiosn there is no better transaction in the universe.

 

Rejoicing in the Great Transaction,

 

 

Pastor phil

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Weekly Messages

Promises in Prayer

Promises in Prayer

Jeremiah 33:3

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Daily Devotionals

April 21, 2018: Where did our sins go?

Micah 7:19 (NIV)
19  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Psalm 103:12 (NIV)
12  as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

There are at least two descriptive phrases used in Scriptures to describe what happened to our sins when we were forgiven.  The first is found in Psalms 103:12 which says that our sins were cast as far as the east is from the west. The clear evidence is Scripture says the directional points of east and west and not north and south.  Since we believe that every word in Scripture is put there for a specific purpose we need to ask why did God chose the points east and west and not north and south?

The answer to this question lies in the answer to the next question. If you were to go east and keep going east would there ever be a time when you would begin to go west?  Answer: Never.  There is no measurable distance between east and west. The distance is an infinite distance.  While you can measure the distance between north and south.  If you go north long enough you will eventually start going south.

The other descriptive phrase used in Scripture as to where our sins went is they were hurled into the depths of the sea.  Job was asked by God “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? (Job 38:16)  The reason for this question to Job was no one could even go below a few hundred feet in the ocean due to the pressure being far too great for any human to withstand. 

The water pressure at the deepest part of the ocean is over 1,000 times greater than the pressure we have exerted on our bodies at sea level.  If you were to attempt to descend to the deepest part of the ocean you would be crushed after only descending a few hundred feet in depth.  The deepest part of the ocean as we know it is over  35,000 feet. The indication from these two passages of Scripture is that our sins have been hurled to some place where we can never go and retrieve them.  They are out of our reach and they are under His feet.  The phrase under his feet indicates that they have been fully defeated.  When a General conquered a nation he would bring their top soldiers or leaders and have them lie down on the ground and he would put his foot on each of their necks to indicate that they had been defeated completely.

So the answer to the question as to where your sins went is they have been cast into a place where no one can ever retrieve them or bring them up so as to accuse you before your Father God.  You now have no reason to fear God because he has cast all of your sins into the depths of the sea and he has trampled on each one of them so they cannot rise to accuse you ever again.

O what a Savior is ours,

 

 

Pastor Phil

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Daily Devotionals

April 21,2018: How Complete is our redemption?

Luke 10:35 (NIV)
35  The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

The man from Jerusalem had fallen on hard times.  He was beaten and in great need of much care that was going to be very costly.  When the Good Samaritan found him alongside the road he looked at him with compassion and got off his donkey and lifted the wounded man up and placed him in his own saddle.

The Good Samaritan went out of his way to rescue this one who was fallen and beaten.  He takes this one to a lodging house where he would be cared for a season.

Look closely at the phrase “Look after him and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expenses you may have.”

Not only does our Lord care for our past and present state but he also has made provision to take care of whatever else we need to be restored to health.

Have no fear little children your father knows what you are made of and he has already made every provision to see to it that you will be cared for all the way home.

One day our Good Samaritan will return from his long journey and take us home. He will, by his own merit, pay for anything that remains of sin or evil in our body. Until he comes for us may we be found looking and longing for his return.

Eyes to the skies,

 

Pastor Phil

If you are tired and weary try this song for some rest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZJicKiykxU