Friday, February 29, 2008

Through the Fire

This is the day that the Lord has made! And I believe He did His part wonderfully. Now, I need to do my part to the best of my ability, REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN this day. The day goes so much better for me when I start off rejoicing.

If the volume is up on your computer, then you have noticed that I have song playing on this blog page. It is by the Crabb Family and it is entitled, "Through the Fire". I have a lot of favorite songs, but this one is in my top five for sure. I couldn't sleep last night and was awake from 2:45 am until I got up at 5 am. During that time, the words to this song kept going over and over in my mind as the Lord brought several people to my mind to pray for. People that are going THROUGH the fire.

Before I share the words of this song with you, let me share a few verses from the Bible with you about going THROUGH your fire.

Isaiah 43:1-3 BUT NOW [in spite of past judgments for Israel's sins], thus says the Lord, He Who created you, O Jacob, and He Who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you [ransomed you by paying a price instead of leaving you captives]; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. (2) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you. (3) For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;...

Listen to this passage in the Message translation:

Isaiah 43:1-5 But now, GOD's Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: "Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine. (2) When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end-- (3) Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! (4) That's how much you mean to me! That's how much I love you! I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. (5) "So don't be afraid: I'm with you. I'll round up all your scattered children, pull them in from east and west.

This Word is for someone today that is:

  • In over their head
  • In rough waters
  • Between a rock and a hard place
But you need to remember what God said about each of these:

  • In over your head? I will be THERE for you
  • In rough waters? You WILL NOT go down
  • Between a rock and a hard place? It WON'T be a dead end

Why? (3) Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you:

Wow! That's GOOD NEWS! Regardless what you are facing today, God wants you to KNOW that He will bring you THROUGH it. Listen to what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; (9) We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed;

God WILL BRING YOU THROUGH THE FIRE! Please read the words to this powerful song:

So many times I've questioned those certain circumstances
And things I could not understand
And many times in trials, weakness blurs my vision
That's when my frustration seems to get to out of hand
Its then I am reminded church I've never been forsaken
I've never had to stand one test aloneT
hat's when I look at all the victories
And the power rises up in me
And its through the fire my weakness is made strong

He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
And the hill would not be hard to climb
He never offered our victories without fighting
But He said help would always come in time
Just remember when your standing in the valley of decision
And the adversary says give in
Just hold on, our Lord will show up
And He will take you through the fire again

Once again, listen to Paul's words in 2 Corinthains 12:

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! (8) At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, (9) and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness.

God wants you to know TODAY, that in your WEAKNESS His strength is made strong!

He WILL bring you out. You may have to go THROUGH some things, but He hasn't forgotten about you. Please, PRESS ON in Jesus' name!

I love you guys, and pray that you have a HOPE-filled weekend! Remember, we start our Daniels Fast this Sunday! I am EXCITED about what God is going to do in and through us!

For more information, please check out our Daniel Fast blog at:


Pastor Rusty

This weekend's "THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR" reading:

  • February 29 (Friday) I Samuel 18:1- I Samuel 20:42
  • March 1 (Saturday) I Samuel 21:1 - I Samuel 24:22
  • March 2 (Sunday) I Samuel 25:1 - I Samuel 26:25

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Taking Inventory of the Blessings in My Life

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it. As I got up this morning, I was very much aware of the blessings in my life. Let me name a few things that I thanked God for this morning:

  • Salvation through Jesus Christ. I was on my way to hell, but Jesus came into my life, turned me around and gave me a reason to live. I owe Him everything. He is my EVERYTHING. I am also thankful for the person of the Holy Spirit who leads me and directs me every day. Of course, I am thankful to my Heavenly Father who blesses me with all of these gifts.
  • My wonderful, beautiful wife. Twenty-four years ago, God blessed me with Dorinda. She is an awesome lady of God, wife and mother. She is the consummate LADY, and my best friend.
  • My four children: Glenda, Jordan, Mackenzie and Taylor. God was SO good to me when He allowed me to be the Father of such special people. I am so proud of all of them. Each of them has their own gifts, talents and personalities. I wouldn't change a thing about them. Also, my son-in-law (Glenda's husband) is such a blessing to my life as well.
  • My two Grandchildren: Macy and Mia. Big Daddy's pride and joy.
  • My Mom and Dad, and my brother and sisters (and their families). I have a very rich heritage.
  • My Mother and Father in law. Godly people. I'm also thankful for my sister-in-law and her family.
  • The wonderful church that I pastor, West Memphis First Assembly of God. What a great group of people. I also came from a great church, Huntsville First Assembly of God. I have been truly blessed to pastor such GREAT churches.
  • The awesome STAFF that God has blessed me with.
  • The health of my family. That is easy to take for granted.
  • The wealth of my family: house, vehicle, clothes, groceries, my job, computers, etc.
  • To live in this great country, The United States of America. The greatest country to live in the world, in my opinion.
  • The ability to WALK, TALK, TOUCH, SEE, HEAR. There are many people that would LOVE to be able to do the things that I just mentioned.
  • My many FRIENDS that God has blessed me with.

This is not an all-inclusive list, but the things that I took the time to thank God for this morning. I am truly BLESSED. Each of these blessings came from one source:

James 1:17 (AMP)
Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].

(MSG) Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.

EVERY SINGLE GIFT comes from our Heavenly Father. Wow! Do you realize how BLESSED you are today? Why not take the time RIGHT NOW to give our Father praise for these gifts. I am so thankful that we can come to Him with our needs, great or small, and He cares about us. But there are times that we just need to give Him praise. Please read the following words from Psalm 100 out of the Message and let it speak deeply into your heart:

Psalm 100:1-5 On your feet now--applaud GOD! (2) Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence. (3) Know this: GOD is God, and God, GOD. He made us; we didn't make him. We're his people, his well-tended sheep. (4) Enter with the password: "Thank you!" Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. (5) For GOD is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.

Isn't that wonderful? I especially like v. 4 "Enter with the password: "Thank you!" Then we can truly make ourselves home in His presence, talking praise, thanking Him, and worshipping Him. He is ALL-GENEROUS in love. He is WORTHY of our praise.

So many times I take these blessings from God for granted, kind of like nine men in the Bible:

Luke 17:12-19 As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance (13) but raised their voices, calling out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" (14) Taking a good look at them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." They went, and while still on their way, became clean. (15) One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. (16) He kneeled at Jesus' feet, so grateful. He couldn't thank him enough--and he was a Samaritan. (17) Jesus said, "Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? (18) Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?" (19) Then he said to him, "Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you."

Out of the TEN LEPERS only one returned to give God thanks and praise. ONLY ONE! That is ONLY 10% of those who were blessed by God, stopped long enough to just simply say "thank you." Then Jesus asked the question: "Can none be found to come back and give glory to God EXCEPT this outsider?" I pray that Jesus will not have to ask today, "Can none be found to come back and give glory to God?" May He find SOME right now, reading this blog that are going to stop what they are doing, IN THEIR TRACKS, and give God thanks for His manifold blessings. He truly is worth isn't He?

When I sat down to type this blog, I had already put the title at the top, "Four Kinds of Fasting" but as I began to type, I knew that I was supposed to go another direction. God's people need to RETURN TO GOD to give Him GLORY, THANKS and PRAISE. As we begin our fast this Sunday, March 2nd, 2008, THANKSGIVING should definitely be a part of our fast. Let's fight the temptation to complain and gripe because of what we are "giving up" and instead give God PRAISE and THANKSGIVING.

I love you guys, and pray that you have a THANKS-filled day! Blessings.

Pastor Rusty

Today's "through the Bible in a year" reading: February 28, 2008 (Thursday) I Samuel 16:1- I Samuel 17:58

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Who is the GOD who will DELIVER you?

This is the day that the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it. I pray that you are doing the same on this beautiful day. Enjoy the RIGHT NOW of God's presence. Why not just stop and soak up what He has for you at this VERY MOMENT!

Today I want to talk with you for a few moments about what the Babylonian king asked Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego just before they are thrown into the fiery furnace. He wanted to know, "who is this god who can deliver you from my power?" Well, the King was about to find out. My friends, if we want to see God bring great deliverances in our lives, then we need to take a look at these young men, and find out what they did, then emulate them. So, let's look together at this wonderful testimony:

Daniel 3:15 I'm giving you a second chance--but from now on, when the big band strikes up you must go to your knees and worship the statue I have made. If you don't worship it, you will be pitched into a roaring furnace, no questions asked. Who is the god who can rescue you from my power?"

There are a couple of things that the Three Hebrews did that you and I need to do as well:

I. Choosing DISCIPLINE over DELIGHT (Daniel 1:8)
Daniel 1:7-8 The head of the palace staff gave them Babylonian names: Daniel was named Belteshazzar, Hananiah was named Shadrach, Mishael was named Meshach, Azariah was named Abednego. (8) But Daniel determined that he would not defile himself by eating the king's food or drinking his wine, so he asked the head of the palace staff to exempt him from the royal diet.
Our church begins a 21-day Daniel Fast this Sunday (March 2nd) and continues until Saturday, March 22nd. Why the Daniel fast? Because it is what God laid upon my heart as I read through Daniel. God spoke plainly to me that we were to have a corporate Daniel fast. There are FOUR types of fast. I will share them tomorrow on this blog.
Now, there are a couple of things that we need to remember. Number one, this is a FAST, not a DIET. When we diet, we find out what we can do to substitute so that we can still get the GOOD STUFF without it affecting our diet. One of the meanings in the Greek for the word FAST is ABSTINENCE, to go without. Webster's dictionary says that fasting is to "abstain from food, and to abstain from SOME foods". This fast is going to HURT the flesh quite a bit. Some have asked me about sweeteners. I personally choose not to use them at all. Why? Because I WANT, even NEED my flesh to not be satisfied during this fast. Every time that I have a CRAVING or a HUNGER PAIN, I will make the choice at that moment to spend some time with God. Instead of searching out some food or snack to satisfy that craving, I will seek out God and His Word. Nor will I drink coffee or tea, whether it is decaffeinated or not. I plan to drink water. You see, we are choosing DISCIPLINE over DELIGHT. We are choosing to go without some of the delicacies in our life. I pray that we will not become so focused on the FAST that we forget why we are fasting…to FOCUS on GOD. Again, if we become too focused on the fast, it could very easily just become a DIET, and we might LOSE some weight, but we won't GAIN insight or the great things that God has for us.

To choose DISCIPLINE over DELIGHT we must ask ourselves,
A. "Can my CONSCIENCE be stretched?"

I shared yesterday on my blog how a young man told his employer, "your fabric may be able to be stretched, but CONSCIENCE cannot be". How about yours? Can it be stretched? Are you a person of integrity? Would you lie to serve your purposes? Would you cheat on anything if it would benefit you? God help us to DETERMINE in our hearts that my conscience WILL NOT be stretched. That's what the Three Hebrews and Daniel decided. Oh, they had to pay a great price for not stretching their conscience, a fiery furnace and a lion's den, but GOD HONORED THEIR FAITHFULNESS and BROUGHT THEM OUT!

Listen to what Paul says in Acts 24:16:
Act 24:16 (AMP) Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavoring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men.
(ASV) Herein I also exercise myself to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men always.
(BBE) And in this, I do my best at all times to have no reason for shame before God or men.
(CEV) And because I am sure, I try my best to have a clear conscience in whatever I do for God or for people.
(ESV) So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

Paul daily did the following:
1. Mortifying my body (Crucifying DAILY) (I John 2:16)
2. Deadening my carnal affections (Spirit) (Romans 7:14; Romans 8:7; I cor 3:3)
3. Deadening my bodily appetites (Body)
4. Deadening my worldly desires (Soul)
5. Endeavoring in all RESPECTS

Paul said I EXCERISE (I work very hard) to: have a conscience VOID OF OFFENCE towards God and men ALWAYS. Guys, we become offended way to easily. We need to determine in our hearts like Paul did, that I will work hard at not becoming an offence to God or man, and I will not be easily offended by anyone or thing. May we have the same desire that he had to work hard to not become offended or cause a SHAME to God or anyone. He wanted to have a clear conscience in whatever he did before God and man. How could he do that? His conscience and INTEGRITY were not for sale or compromise. Like Daniel and the Three Hebrews, he REFUSED to give in to the pressures of the world to COMPLY to the whims and wants of this world. His love for God was too great for that. My prayer is that each of us will make up our mind that our conscience (and integrity) cannot be stretched in any form or fashion.


B. We must have INTEGRITY in the SMALL matters or we will not have integrity in the larger matters. (Daniel 1:11-15)
1. The Three Hebrew Men

They refused the Kings FOOD BEFORE they could refuse his IDOLS:

Daniel 1:11-15 But Daniel appealed to a steward who had been assigned by the head of the palace staff to be in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: (12) "Try us out for ten days on a simple diet of vegetables and water. (13) Then compare us with the young men who eat from the royal menu. Make your decision on the basis of what you see." (14) The steward agreed to do it and fed them vegetables and water for ten days. (15) At the end of the ten days they looked better and more robust than all the others who had been eating from the royal menu.

Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, "Your threat means nothing to us. (17) If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. (18) But even if he doesn't, it wouldn't make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn't serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up."

The Three Hebrews in Daniel 3 would have NEVER been able to say NO to the Kings IDOL if they hadn't learned to say NO to the Kings food. Our integrity starts with the small matters BEFORE it can will be effective in the larger matters.

2. Joseph (Genesis 39)

The same can be said about Joseph. He had to be FAITHFUL over Potiphar's house BEFORE he could be put in charge over all of Egypt. Too many times we want to go right to the BIG STUFF and have GREAT RESPONSIBILITIY, but we MUST prove ourselves FAITHFUL in the smaller responsibilities FIRST:

Genesis 39:3-6 His master recognized that GOD was with him, saw that GOD was working for good in everything he did. (4) He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. (5) From that moment on, GOD blessed the home of the Egyptian--all because of Joseph. The blessing of GOD spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, (6) and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day.

Genesis 41:39-41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "You're the man for us. God has given you the inside story--no one is as qualified as you in experience and wisdom. (40) From now on, you're in charge of my affairs; all my people will report to you. Only as king will I be over you." (41) So Pharaoh commissioned Joseph: "I'm putting you in charge of the entire country of Egypt."

II. Choosing TRUST over FEAR (Daniel 3:28)
The next thing that they did was they REFUSED to allow their trust in God to be crowded out because of FEAR. They TRUSTED GOD completely! Think about this for a moment. They REFUSED to bow to the Kings idol even though they KNEW the consequences. They would be thrown into the fire. At that point, they didn't know if their decision to follow God would cost them their lives or not. But THEY REFUSED TO COMPROMISE REGARDLESS OF THE COST. God was faithful to them and brought them out of the fire, without even the smell of smoke upon them. Now listen to what King Nebuchadnezzar said, the same man that had asked "who is the god who will deliver you from my power":

Daniel 3:28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.

Notice a couple of things about these guys:

A. Trust was in place before the FIERY FURNACE was ("who trusted in him")

B. It wasn't the first time that they had to choose to OBEY GOD over MAN

C. They were delivered BECAUSE they FASTED ("set aside the kings command" the command to bow AND the command to eat the kings food)

D. They developed the DISCIPLINE that it takes to victoriously make it through a major test. ("yielded up their bodies")

E. They REFUSED to bow to any other god in their lives ("rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.")

I hope this Word will minister to you today as much as it has to me the past couple of days. I love you guys, and look forward to fasting with you! We KNOW the God who will deliver us! He is FAITHFUL and GOOD! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty
Today's "THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR" Bible reading: February 27, 2008 (Wednesday) I Samuel 13:1- I Samuel 15:35

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Will your CONSCIENCE stretch?

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it! It is going to be a beautiful, WINDY day in West Memphis. As I type this blog, it is 6:00 am and the wind is blowing 25 mph. It reminded me of what Jesus says in John 3:8 (MSG) You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God." Those who are Christians (born from above, by the Spirit of God), wake up every morning saying, "Lord, I'm not sure where you are taking me today, or what you have planned, but take my life, my plans, and use me today for your glory!" And He will do it! What an exciting time to be alive and in the Kingdom of God! Continuing the thought about the wind (as I hear it singing outside of my window), it is very important that we allow the wind of the Spirit to carry us along, and not every WIND OF DOCTRINE or NEW thing that comes along to ENTICE US.

Paul puts it this way in
Ephesians 4:13-15 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 13 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

God desires for us to ALL come into the UNITY of the faith, and that grow into the full measure of Christ. The way we do that is to be LED by the Wind of the Spirit, and RESIST the WIND of false teaching and NEW doctrines. Let's be ROOTED and GROUNDED in God's Word. Hide it in our HEARTS and speak it out of our MOUTHS. When we do that, we will not compromise our walk with Christ. The question today for all of us is, "Will I allow my conscience to be stretched by anyone or anything?" Let's talk about it.

Psalm 119:11 Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin.

Ever hear of a Pitcher plant? It attracts insects with its bright colours, but once inside, they lose their footing and slide down a sugar coated tube into a liquid that drowns them. Satan does that too; he sugar coats the way to ruin and before you know it you're hooked.

Adam Clark once worked in a shop selling silk. One day his boss suggested he stretch the silk as he measured it; this would increase profits, and also Adam's value to the company. He refused. Adam Clark told his boss,
"Your silk may stretch but my conscience won't."

Nixon aid Jeb Magruder, commenting on the Watergate scandal said: "We conned ourselves into thinking we weren't doing anything wrong, and by the time we were doing things that were illegal, we'd lost control."

The book The Day America Told The Truth, reports that 91% of those interviewed lie regularly, and 70% believe there are 'no absolutes' when it comes to good and evil. God says: "Don't move back the boundary lines" (Proverbs 22:28 TM). Why? Because they're there for your protection! Paul writes, "Hold fast that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21) because right's right, even when everybody's against it, and wrong's wrong, even when everyone's for it.

After fasting 40 days, Satan said to Jesus: "Change these stones into… bread" (Matthew 4:3 NLT). Now eating's okay when you're hungry, but following the devil's suggestions is not. So, while Satan twisted the Scripture to justify sin, Jesus used it to withstand him. And you can to do that too!

My prayer for each of us today is that we, along with Adam Clark, will say, " CONSCIENCE will not STRETCH" PERIOD, END OF STORY!

I pray that you have an INTEGRITY-filled day! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today’s “THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR” reading: February 26, 2008 (Tuesday) I Samuel 8:1-I Samuel 12:25

This week’s MEMORY VERSE to hide in your heart: Isaiah 58:6-8

Isaiah 58:6-8 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? (7) Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? (8) Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rearward.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Power of FASTING

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it.
On this Monday morning my heart is filled with thanksgiving for so many things. First of all, my wife just emailed to me what she shared on her blog today, and it made me cry. Not bitter tears, but tears of remembrance and thanksgiving.
Secondly, I am thankful for the wonderful day that we had yesterday in all three of our services. In our morning services, a large percentage of people responded to the altar call that they had “lost their cutting edge” and weren’t as close to God as they needed to be.
God spoke into my heart a truth that is so challenging, and it is this, “YOU ARE AS CLOSE TO GOD RIGHT NOW AS YOU WANT TO BE.” Think about that. If something is lacking in your relationship with God, whose fault is it? Who are we going to blame? God hasn’t moved. Amen?
Then, last night we had 85 sign up for our 21 day Daniel fast. I was hoping for 60 last night, and was overwhelmed at the response. I am excited about what God is about to do in and through us.
All this week, I want to talk with you about the IMPORTANCE, and POWER of fasting. For those of you that are not aware of it, we begin a 21-day Daniel Fast this Sunday, March 2nd, and continue it until March 22nd. You can read about the Daniel Fast in Daniel chapters one and ten. If you were not in church last night, and would like to sign up for the FAST, please call the church office and tell Beth that you would like to sign up. God has placed it within my heart for us to have 120 going through this fast simultaneously. Can you imagine what miracles that we are going to see through this time of consecration and dedication to the Lord? I am excited.
Even if you do not attend our church, why don’t you consider joining the fast with us? If you would email me at: I would be happy to share some thoughts with you about the fast and the type of food that you can eat and should avoid, etc.

Let me share with you what Isaiah 58 says about the power of fasting:

Isaiah 58:6-8 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? (7) Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? (8) Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rearward.

There are NINE aspects or benefits of fasting in these two verses:

1. “To loose the bands of wickedness” (Isaiah 58:6) Freeing ourselves and others from addictions to sin
Matthew 17: (21) But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.

2. “To undo the heavy burdens” (Isaiah 58:6) To solve problems, inviting the Holy Spirit’s aid in lifting loads and overcoming barriers that keep ourselves and our loved ones from walking joyfully with the Lord.

3. “To let the oppressed (physically and spiritually) go free (Isaiah 58:6)-for revival and soul winning, to identify with people everywhere enslaved literally or by sin and to pray to be used of God to bring people out of the kingdom of darkness and into God’s marvelous light.

4. “To break every yoke”-conquering the mental and emotional problems that would control our lives, and returning the control to the Lord.

5. “To share (our) bread with the hungry” and to care for the poor-to meet the humanitarian needs of others

6. To allow God’s “light to break forth like the morning (Isaiah 58:8) brining clearer perspective and insight as we make crucial decisions.

7. So “thine health shall spring forth” (Isaiah 58:8)-to gain a healthier life or for healing.

8. That “your righteousness shall go before you” (Isaiah 58:8)-that our testimonies and influence for Jesus will be enhanced before others.

9. That “the glory of the Lord” will protect us from the evil one

There TRULY is power in FASTING and PRAYER. I pray that you join with us during this fast as we break away from INSANITY: “Doing what we’ve always done and expecting different results.” Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today’s “THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR” reading: February 25, 2008 (Monday) I Samuel 4:1-I Samuel 7:17

This week’s MEMORY VERSE: Isaiah 58:6-8

Isaiah 58:6-8 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? (7) Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? (8) Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rearward.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Double-Edged Sword

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it! We have SO MUCH to be thankful for. If we will just take the time, slow down, and take inventory of our lives, we will realize how blessed we really are.

God has been speaking to my heart the importance of FASTING, as well as spending DAILY time in His Word. I would like to share a thought with you from Hebrews 4:12.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful,and sharper than any twoedged sword.— Hebrews 4:12

What is the significance of the “two-edged sword” referred to in Hebrews 4:12? If you start looking, you’ll find out this phrase regarding a “two-edged sword” appears all over the New Testament, so it must be pretty important. For instance, when the apostle John received his vision of Jesus on the isle of Patmos, he said, “And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (Revelation 1:16).

Notice that this “two-edged sword” came out of Jesus’ mouth! Why would Jesus have a sword in His mouth? Shouldn’t the sword have been in His hand? The phrase “two-edged” is taken from the Greek word distomos and is unquestionably one of the oddest words in the entire New Testament. Why is it so odd? Because it is a compound of the word di, meaning two, and the word stomos, which is the Greek word for one’s mouth. Thus, when these two words are compounded into one (distomos), they describe something that is two-mouthed! Don’t you agree that this seems a little strange? So why would the Bible refer to the Word of God repeatedly as a “two-edged sword” or, literally, a “two-mouthed sword” ?

The Word of God is like a sword that has two edges, cutting both ways and doing terrible damage to an aggressor. Ephesians 6:17 calls it “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”. The term “word” is taken from the Greek word rhema, which describes something that is spoken clearly, vividly, in unmistakable terms and undeniable language. In the New Testament, the word rhema carries the idea of a quickened word.

Here’s an example of a rhema or a quickened word: You are praying about a situation, and suddenly a Bible verse rises up from inside your heart. At that moment, you are consciously aware that God has given you a verse to stand on and to claim for your situation. You’ve received a word that came right out of the mouth of God and dropped into your spirit! That word from God was so sharp that it cut right through your questions, intellect, and natural logic and lodged deep within your heart. After you meditated on that rhema, or that quickened word from God, it suddenly began to release its power inside you. Soon you couldn’t contain it any longer! Everything within you wanted to declare what God had said to you. You wanted to say it. You want to release it out of your mouth! And when you did, those powerful words were sent forth like a mighty blade to drive back the forces of hell that had been marshaled against you, your family, your business, your ministry, your finances, your relationship, or your body.

First, that word came out of the mouth of God. Next, it came out of your mouth! When it came out of your mouth, it became a sharp, “two- edged” — or literally, a “two-mouthed” — sword. One edge of this sword came into existence when the Word initially proceeded out of God’s mouth. The second edge of this sword was added when the Word of God proceeded out of YOUR mouth!

The Word of God remains a one-bladed sword when it comes out of God’s mouth and drops into your heart but is never released from your own mouth by faith. That supernatural word simply lies dormant in your heart, never becoming the two- edged sword God designed it to be. But something happens in the realm of the Spirit when you finally rise up and begin to speak forth that word. The moment it comes out of your mouth, a second edge is added to the blade! Nothing is more powerful than a word that comes first from God’s mouth and then from your mouth. You and God have come into agreement, and that agreement releases His mighty power into the situation at hand!

So begin to willfully take the Word into your spirit by meditating on it and giving it a place of top priority. This is how you take the first necessary step in giving the Word a “second edge” in your life. Then when you are confronted by a challenge from the demonic realm, the Holy Spirit will be able to reach down into the reservoir of God’s Word you have stored up on the inside of you and pull up the exact scripture you need for that moment. As that quickened rhema word from God begins to first fill your heart and mind and then come out of your mouth, it becomes that “two- mouthed sword” described in the Scriptures. That’s when demons start to tremble in terror!

That is why I weekly give us a memory verse to hide in our heart! It is SO important to not only HIDE the Word of God in our heart, but to SPEAK IT FORTH! When we do that, the Double-edged Sword is able to be the weapon that God intended for it to be!

I pray that you have a WORD-filled and centered weekend! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

This weekends "Through the Bible in a Year" reading:

February 22, 2008 (Friday): Judges 17:1-Judges 21:25
February 23, 2008 (Saturday): Ruth 1:1-Ruth 4:22
February 24, 2008 (Sunday): I Samuel 1:1-I Samuel 3:21

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Weapons, Warfare, and Carnal

Good afternoon! This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad it!

I am LATE in the posting of my blog today. I apologize for that. I usually post at my house, and my internet is out right now, and I have been counseling all day. So, here goes, a few hours late!

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.— 2 Corinthians 10:4

I would like to share with you some thoughts on this verse from Rick Renner's "Sparking Gems from the Greek".

In this powerful verse, Paul speaks to us about the subject of spiritual warfare. In fact, this is one of the foundational verses on this subject, so it is vital to understand what Paul is talking about. Today I want to especially draw your attention to three words in this power-packed scripture.

Pay special attention to the words weapons, warfare, and carnal.

First, Paul tells us that we have “weapons.” These spiritual armaments have been provided by God and are at our disposal. They are both offensive and defensive weapons and can be found in Ephesians 6:13-18, where Paul lists them one by one and explains what each piece represents.

Second, Paul uses the word “warfare.” The word “warfare” is taken from the word stratos. By choosing to use this word, the Holy Spirit alerts us to some very important facts about spiritual warfare.The word stratos is where we derive the word strategy. This informs us that spiritual warfare does not occur accidentally but is something that is strategically planned. Just as any army plans its line of attack before a battle begins, the devil plans a line of attack, decides which methods he will use, and chooses the approach he wants to take as he cautiously charts a well-thought-out assault. But the word stratos doesn’t just describe the devil’s strategies. It also tells us that if we will listen to the Holy Spirit, He will give us a strategy that is superior to any schemes of the devil. The devil is not the only one with a strategy. The Holy Spirit always holds the key to every victory, and He wants to provide us with a divinely-inspired strategy that will render null and void the works of the devil every time! The Old Testament is filled with examples of divinely- inspired strategies. Consider the case of Joshua and the children of Israel as they stood before the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27). What strategy did the Lord give them? They were to walk around the walls of Jericho once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day. Then after the seventh time around the wall on the last day, they were to blow trumpets made of rams’ horns. None of this sounded “reasonable” to the natural mind, but the effects of that God-given strategy are still renowned today!

Or consider the time Jehoshaphat sent out a praise team before the army to sing and to worship the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:20-25). What army would send singers and musicians to the frontlines of battle in front of its armed soldiers? Yet as they sang praises to God and played their instruments, the Lord supernaturally set ambushments and the enemies were smitten. That day the children of Israel walked away from the battle without losing a single fighter. Not only that, but they were also weighed down with gold, silver, jewels, and other riches in abundance! There was so much plunder that it took them three days to gather it! How did they win this famous battle? They received a strategy from the Lord and then followed it accurately. The results of that strategy are legendary. In both of these cases, the line of attack made no sense to the natural mind, but it released so much power that it completely crushed the foe. So don’t be surprised if the Holy Spirit gives you a strategy that doesn’t make sense when you first hear it! Remember, He operates on a higher level than you and me, and He knows what we don’t know. Therefore, He may tell you to do something that seems odd to you at first. But you can be sure that Spirit- inspired strategies always work!

Imagine an army that is fully equipped with weapons of warfare but has no strategy about how to use those weapons against the enemy. Even with all those weapons and artillery at their disposal, an army in this condition would utterly fail. Likewise, although it’s crucial that you put on the whole armor of God, that’s just the first step. You must then have a strategy on how to use those weapons and how to attack! Until you receive a strategy from the Lord on how to use your spiritual weapons, they will be of little help in driving back the forces of hell that have come against you.

This leads to the word “carnal.” In Greek, this word is sarkos, which describes anything that is of the flesh, fleshly made, or fleshly conjured up or anything that is natural or of an unspiritual nature.Paul uses this word when he writes, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” In effect, Paul is saying, “Don’t look to your flesh for the weapons or strategies I’m describing to you because they do not arise out of natural talent, mental exercises, or human efforts. These are spiritual weapons and spiritual strategies, and they come from the spiritual realm.”

When you put all these Greek words together, Second Corinthians 10:4 carries this idea: “Our God-given weapons are to be used in connection with a divine strategy. But don’t look to the flesh to find that strategy, for the battle plan you need is not going to arise out of your own natural talent, mental exercises, or human effort.”

If you want to receive the strategy needed to assure your victory, you must turn your attention to the realm of the Spirit, for it is from this realm that you will hear from God. You must spend time praying in the Spirit and reading the Word. By yourself, you will never conceive a plan that will deliver you. Just as spiritual weapons come from God, so do spiritual strategies. So use your head as much as you can, and think through every step. But as you seek God, stay open for Him to graciously give you a supernatural strategy for destroying the work of the devil. And don’t be surprised if God tells you to do something that seems a little odd. Since the beginning of time, God has been giving effective strategies that seem strange to the mind of man!


Lord, I know that today I’m going to need a supernatural strategy to do what I need to do. My own natural mind is working all the time to come up with solutions. I’m doing the best I can do, but now I need extra help. I need a divine strategy — a divine idea so powerful and effective that no force will be able to resist it! I know that these kinds of strategies are imparted by the Holy Spirit, so right now I open my heart wide to Him. Holy Spirit, I ask You to drop a supernatural idea into my spirit and soul. Please help me to properly discern it, understand it, and then follow through with obedience. I pray this in Jesus’ name!


1. Has the Holy Spirit ever told you to do something that seemed odd to your natural mind but resulted in His power being mightily demonstrated in a situation?
2. Have you found that your natural talent, mental reasonings, and human effort are helpless to win the battles you are facing today?
3. God is ready to give you the battle plan you need to have victory in your life. Are you willing to spend the time in prayer that is required for you to receive that plan?
I pray that you guys have a VICTORY-filled rest of the day! Blessings!
Pastor Rusty
Today's "Through the Bible in a Year" reading:
Thursday (February 21, 2008): Judges 13:1-Judges 16:31

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Scripture on Fasting

Good morning! This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it! I choose to rejoice regardless of my circumstances and regardless of how I feel!
I want to continue to look at fasting today. Let's read Isaiah 58:6-14:
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness
F125 will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD ,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

I have noticed several things from this scripture:
I. The Purpose of the Fast-
1) The kind of fast that God honors is to pray that:
a) loose the chains of injustice
b) untie the cords of the yoke
c) to set the oppressed free
d) to break every yoke
2) The kind of fast that God honors is to give so that:
a) You share your food with the hungy.
b) You provide the poor wanderer with shelter.
c) You clothe the naked.
d) You do not turn away from your own flesh and blood.
II. The Result of the Fast-
1) Emotional Results
Your light will break forth like the dawn.
2) Physical results
Your healing will quickly appear.
The Glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. (Protection)
3) Spiritual Results
Your righteousness will go before you.
You will call and the Lord will answer.
You will cry for help and He will say, "Here am I."
I hope that breaks the scripture down for you as we focus our hearts and minds on the fast that God has called our church body to.
I pray that you guys have a great, blessed day in the Lord! Blessings!
Pastor Rusty

Today’s “Through the Bible in a Year” reading:
February 20, 2008 (Wednesday): Judges 9:1-Judges 12:15

This week’s MEMORY VERSE: Matthew 17:20-21
“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dethroning King Stomach

Dethroning King Stomach

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it. We have to make the CHOICE every day to REJOICE. Regardless of what you are going through, God is FAITHFUL and He is the great I AM, the SAME yesterday, today and FOREVER.
We talked yesterday about the THREE DUTIES OF EVERY CHRISTIAN…GIVING, PRAYING and FASTING. Today I want to talk a little bit about “DETHRONING King Stomach”.
Fasting means CRUCIFYING “KING STOMACH”. Consider for just a moment what has happened to the human race while under the rule of KING STOMACH:

· Garden of Eden (Adam and Eve) Genesis 2:8-9, 16-18

Genesis 2:8-9, 16-17 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. (9) And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

And with one MEAL, Adam and Eve IMMEDIATELY went from peacefully enjoying God’s presence in the cool of the garden to fearfully hiding from His presence among the trees of the garden. THEY LITERALLY ATE THEMSELVES OUT OF HOUSE AND HOME.

They ate themselves out of the WILL of GOD for their lives. They ate themselves out of God’s provision and PLAN for their lives and out of His magnificent presence. But their stomachs were temporarily satisfied, and we still suffer the consequences of their appetites today.

· Sodom and Gomorrah (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

When speaking of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, people usually focus on the rampant homosexuality in those cities. But that is not all the Bible teaches. The Lord said to Israel through the prophet Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 16:49-50 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. (50) They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.

The first thing that you may notice is that there was NO GIVING (poor and needy) and not PRAYING (pride and idleness). But it is interesting to note that the inhabitants of those cities were not only guilty of homosexuality, according to the account in Genesis, but as we see here, they were also guilty of gluttony (fullness of food). Along with their other sins, their excessive loyalty to King Stomach carried them right into damnation.

· Esau (Genesis 25:29-34)

Genesis 25:29-34 One day Jacob was cooking a stew. Esau came in from the field, starved. (30) Esau said to Jacob, "Give me some of that red stew--I'm starved!" That's how he came to be called Edom (Red). (31) Jacob said, "Make me a trade: my stew for your rights as the firstborn." (32) Esau said, "I'm starving! What good is a birthright if I'm dead?" (33) Jacob said, "First, swear to me." And he did it. On oath Esau traded away his rights as the firstborn. (34) Jacob gave him bread and the stew of lentils. He ate and drank, got up and left. That's how Esau shrugged off his rights as the firstborn.

The commentator Matthew Henry wrote, “Those who are under the power of a carnal mind, will have their lusts fulfilled, though it be to the certain damage and ruin of their precious souls.”

We need to understand that there are some PROMISED LANDS, and some PROMISES that God has for us. But some of them will never be realized as long as King Stomach rules our appetites and controls our lives. God wants to pour out supernatural blessings in our lives, but they will never be realized if we are not willing to seek Him in fasting and prayer. That is one of the reasons that I feel God leading us to a CORPORATE fast March 2nd -22nd, 2008. This will be a 21-day Daniel Fast. I BELIEVE God is going to give us many BREAKTHROUGHS in the weeks to come, as we are willing to do our part…FASTING.

I pray that you guys have a great, blessed day in the Lord! Blessings!
Pastor Rusty

Today’s “Through the Bible in a Year” reading:
February 19, 2008 (Tuesday): Judges 3:7-Judges 8:35

This week’s MEMORY VERSE: Matthew 17:20-21
“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

Monday, February 18, 2008

Matthew 6: Three Duties of a Christian

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. God is GOOD! Wow is about the only word I can think of to explain the way God moved last night during our altar service. There was so much love, unity and excitement about what God is doing. For 20-30 minutes we just stood in God's presence. Some were weeping, others laughing, some on their faces…it was such a time of spiritual renewal and refreshing.

I believe that God was responding to our upcoming 21-day Daniel fast. I shared with our congregation that God is calling us to a 21-day fast beginning March 2nd and continuing until March 22nd. The response has been overwhelming. Last night, and this morning, I have had emails and phone calls from people EXCITED about the fast. God is UP TO SOMETHING!

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 that there are three duties that EVERY Christian should be doing on a regular basis. GIVING, PRAYING, and FASTING. He says, "WHEN you give…WHEN you pray….WHEN you fast…" I believe there are so many things that God wants to do for us, through us, and in us if we are obedient to His Word, especially in these three duties. I just finished a wonderful book by Jentezen Franklin entitled, "FASTING". This book has been life changing for me. I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who is interested in a deeper relationship with God.

I would like to share a few things with you today that God is speaking into my heart about the THREE DUTIES OF A CHRISTIAN.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (KJVR) And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

(MSG) By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped.

During the years that Jesus walked this earth, He devoted time to teaching His disciples of the kingdom of God, principles that conflict with those of this world. In the Beatitudes, specifically in Matthew 6, Jesus provided the pattern by which each of us is to live as a child of God. That pattern addressed three specific duties of a Christian: GIVING, PRAYING, AND FASTING. As I mentioned earlier, Jesus said, WHEN you give…WHEN you pray…WHEN you fast."

He made it clear that FASTING, like giving and praying was a NORMAL part of the Christian life. As much attention should be given to FASTING as is given to giving and to praying.

What is fasting? Pastor Franklin in his book says the following, "Since there are so many misconceptions about it, I first want to clarify what fasting—biblical fasting—is not.

  • Fasting is not merely going without food for a period of time. That is DIETING—maybe even starving—but fasting it is not.
  • Nor is fasting something done only by fanatics. Fasting is not to be done only by religious monks alone in a cave somewhere. The practice of fasting is not limited to ministers or to special occasions.
  • Stated simply, biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. Fasting has always been a normal part of a relationship with God."

Listen to the impassioned plea of David in Psalm 42:

Psalm 42:1-5 A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. (2) I'm thirsty for God-alive. I wonder, "Will I ever make it-- arrive and drink in God's presence?" (3) I'm on a diet of tears-- tears for breakfast, tears for supper. All day long people knock at my door, Pestering, "Where is this God of yours?" (4) These are the things I go over and over, emptying out the pockets of my life. I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd, right out in front, Leading them all, eager to arrive and worship, Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving-- celebrating, all of us, God's feast! (5) Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God-- soon I'll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He's my God.

When you eliminate food from your diet for a number of days, your spirit becomes uncluttered by the things of this world and amazingly sensitive to the things of God. As David says in Psalm 42:7, "Deep calls unto deep". David was fasting. His hunger and thirst for God were greater than his natural desire for food. As a result, he reached a place where he could cry out from the depths of his spirit to the depths of God, even in the midst of trial.

Solomon, when writing the books of wisdom for Israel, made the point that a CORD, or rope, braided with three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Likewise, when GIVING, PRAYING and FASTING are practiced together in the life of a believer, it creates a type of threefold cord that is not easily broken.

Could we be missing our greatest BREAKTHROUGHS because we FAIL to fast?

Again, from Pastor Franklin's book, "Remember the thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and hundredfold return Jesus spoke of in Mark 4:8, 20? Look at it this way: when you pray, you can RELEASE that thirtyfold return, but when PRAYING and GIVING are a part of your life, I believe that can release the SIXTYFOLD blessing. But when all three—GIVING, PRAYING and FASTING—are a part of your life, that HUNDREDFOLD return can be released. If that's the case, you have to wonder what blessings are not being RELEASED. What answers to prayer are not getting through? What bondages are not being broken because we fail to FAST."

There is a story in the Bible, found in Matthew 17:14-21, where some of the disciples couldn't heal a boy who was demon possessed. When the boy was brought to Jesus, the Bible says He "rebuked the devil: and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour" (v. 18) BUT WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE?

After all, Matthew 10:1 records that Jesus had already given the disciples POWER to cast out evil spirits and to heal every disease. So why couldn't the disciples cast out the demon and cure the boy?

That's what they wanted to know as well. When they were alone with Jesus, the asked Him. Jesus replied:

Matthew 17:20-21 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and

Most of us when we read, or when pastors and teachers teach from this passage we tend to focus on, "and nothing shall be impossible unto you." I think a lot of people stop right there, but Jesus didn't because He knew there was MORE…much more.

See that word, HOWBEIT? It is the connection—it's the KEY that unlocks the power in the statement, "NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE UNTO YOU." Jesus told the disciples that they needed FAITH, even faith as small as a tiny seed. But that wasn't all. Long before this incident, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the Wilderness, where He spent FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS taking no food. "HOWBEIT this KIND goeth not out by PRAYER and FASTING." For Jesus, casting out that stubborn demon wasn't IMPOSSIBLE.

If Jesus could have accomplished all He came to do without fasting, why would He fast? The Son of God fasted because He knew there were supernatural things that could only be released that way. How much more should fasting be a COMMON PRACTICE in our lives?

According to the Words of Jesus, FASTING is the duty of every disciple and every believer in Jesus Christ. I challenge you today to read Isaiah 58, take notes, and think upon what you are reading. I believe that God will SPEAK into your life.

I pray that these words will saturate your mind today, and you will meditate upon them… "WHEN you GIVE…WHEN you PRAY…WHEN you FAST…"


Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a Year" reading: February 18, 2008 (Monday): Judges 1:1-Judges 3:6

This week's MEMORY VERSE: Matthew 17:20-21

Matthew 17:20-21 "And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say
unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain,
Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible
unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Importance of PRAYER

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it! Regardless of what face today, you can choose to rejoice. It really is your CHOICE to make.

God has really been dealing with my heart on the subject of prayer. I would like to share some thoughts with you today concerning this.

Why do we pray? In any relationship, good communication is paramount. God cares about you and deeply loves you. He wants you to reach out and talk to Him through prayer. As with any relationship, communication is very important to the success of your relationship with God. It is impossible to develop intimacy with God without prayer. Don't let the enemy deceive you into thinking that you are not worthy to pray to God due to the amount of sin in your life. Jesus had to die for all people, since all have sinned. Through his shed blood, we can openly approach and speak with God.

Here are some reasons why every person should pray:

  • God commands us to

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24

I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. 1 Timothy 2:8

Pray without ceasing 1 Thessalonians 5:17

  • Deploy God's abundance
    Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Matt 7:7-8
  • Appeal to God's mercy
    Exodus 32:11-14: Moses' prayer averts disaster from God
  • Follow Christ's example
    But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16
  • Loose God's plan and bind Satan's plan
    "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:18-20

How to pray:

What to pray for:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16 (see James 5:14-20)

What will hinder prayer?

One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9 NKJV

It is so important to spend time with God everyday in prayer and Bible study. This Sunday night at First Assembly, I will be talking about the importance of FASTING. If you are in the area, I hope you can make it to our services. My prayer for you today is that you have a God-centered weekend! Blessings.

Pastor Rusty

This weekends "Through the Bible in a year" reading:

February 15, 2008 (Friday): Joshua 9:1-Joshua 12:24

February 16, 2008 (Saturday) Joshua 13:1-Joshua 19:51

February 17, 2008 (Sunday) Joshua 20:1-Joshua 24:33

This week's MEMORY VERSE: James 1:12

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The LOVE of God

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will REJOICE and be glad in it.

We have been looking at temptation this week, how to recognize it and defeat it. Since today is VALENTINES DAY, I wanted to talk about the Love of God for a few moments.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. "1 John 4:9-10

Many things in the world seem to work against people experiencing the real and true love of God. People touched by sex addiction may have a difficult time relating to real love, because the sex industry promotes lust as love. Lust is only a cruel counterfeit of love. Lust has the nasty tendency to invade and destroy families through infidelity, incest, molestation and other abuse. A place that is designed to be a safe haven for children to be raised in righteousness becomes a den for destruction and preying on innocence. People who grew up in such environments will have difficulty believing that God loves them.

Whatever bad experiences may be in your background, I encourage you to set them aside for this moment. Please consider that people's sin has opened the door to evil in our world, which causes pain, destruction and death. Man brought sin into the world when he rebelled against God, and now all people reap the consequences of that sin. Now in His mercy and grace, God offers forgiveness and healing from the destruction of sin. He lovingly invites each of us back to Himself to experience the real love that we desperately need.

Please take a moment now and pray to God, asking Him to reveal His love for you as you read the remainder of this blog.

God loves us as a perfect father loves his children: Luke 15:11-32
provides a wonderful illustration of the fatherly character of God's love. The father in the story is generous, forgiving, merciful and joyful with his son, who returns from making major mistakes in life. The son had squandered his entire inheritance on "RECKLESS LIVING". The father welcomes his repentant son unconditionally. He even gives a feast in his son's honor to celebrate his return to the family.

God loves each of us in the same way. Though we may have made some bad mistakes in life through sin, God welcomes us back with open and loving arms. When He sees that we are truly sorry for our actions, He does not condemn us. He loves us and heals us, and empowers us to live a new life, free from the old bondage to sin. Some other verses that show the fatherly aspect of God's love for us are: I John 3:1
and Psalm 103:13.

1 John 3:1 (AMP) SEE WHAT [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) us is that it does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him.

(MSG) What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it--we're called children of God! That's who we really are. But that's also why the world doesn't recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he's up to.

Psalm 103:13 (AMP) As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverence, worship, and awe].

(MSG) As parents feel for their children, GOD feels for those who fear him.

One of my favorite songs is entitled "The love of God". Please read the following lyrics, and meditate on the truth of these words:

Chorus 1
O love of God how rich and pure
How measureless and strong
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song

Verse 1
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin

Verse 2
When years of time shall pass away
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall
When men who here refuse to pray
On rocks and hills and mountains call
God's love so sure shall still endure
All measureless and strong
Redeeming grace to Adam's race
The saints' and angels' song

Verse 3
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were ev'ry stalk on earth a quill
And ev'ry man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Tho' stretched from sky to sky

God proved His love for us through Jesus Christ: Consider what God did when He sent Jesus into the world and then allowed him to die a slow and agonizing death on the cross, without intervening to save Him. God knew that the only way people could ever be reconciled to Himself would be through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross (Hebrews 10:10). If there is ever doubt in God's perfect love, we can remember how He let Jesus die because of His love for us.

God is patient, not wanting anyone to perish: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). God has lovingly delayed the final judgment of mankind so that people will have ample opportunity to discover God and turn from their sin. There will be a final judgment, and only God knows when that will occur. Those who have accepted the sacrifice of Jesus' on the cross will spend life in eternity with God! Those who reject Christ, will spend eternity in destruction:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)

We encourage you to seek God and believe that you will find Him. The Bible says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3). As you consider what Jesus Christ did, ask God to reveal the depth and reality of His love for you.

My prayer for you today is that you have a LOVE-filled day! Remember to express your love to your spouse, children, boy or girl friend, but while doing that…please remember to express your love and appreciation to your Heavenly Father as well! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a Year" reading: February 14, 2008 (Thursday): Joshua 5:13-8:35

This week's MEMORY VERSE: James 1:12

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How to Respond to Temptation

This is the day that the Lord had made. I will REJOICE and be glad in it. It truly is my CHOICE whether to REJOICE or not. TODAY, I choose to REJOICE!

We have been looking at TEMPTATION. We all battle temptation daily, and have to make choices to do the right, Godly thing. Let's look a little deeper at this subject today.

Once we understand the purposes of temptation and the mechanism behind it, we now have the challenge and obligation of rejecting every temptation that comes our way.  This is much easier said than done!  Our mindset going in will make all the difference in our success in rejecting the temptation. 

Our mindset must be one as a son of God.  Regardless of our earthly gender, we are spiritual sons of God in Christ and are no longer slaves to sin.  Paul wrote, "So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir" (Galatians 4:7 NIV).   Jesus was the "firstborn" Son of God (Colossians 1:14-16) and we are the adopted sons who share in his inheritance (Romans 8:14-17).

Part of our inheritance in Christ is dominion over sin.  Temptation is an opportunity to forfeit this dominion and re-enslave ourselves to evil desires.  Just as God told Cain to resist sin, so we too have the opportunity to resist sin:   "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:7 NIV).  If we let it, sin will rule over us and enslave us to our own evil desires (Psalm 19:3; Romans 6:12-14).  

How should we respond to TEMPTATION: God has given us several immediate actions we can take whenever we are facing temptation. For clarity, I've organized the actions by spirit, body and mind, since temptations appeal to one or more of these areas.   If we're able to take at least some of these actions when tempted, we'll increase the likelihood of victory over the temptation. The goal is to initiate these RESPONSES during STAGE 1 of the temptation, so that evil desire (in STAGE 2) is not able to take root.

1. Spirit: The first thing we can do when faced with a temptation is to pray for help. Though we may not feel like turning to God, our prayers will open the door for God's power to strengthen us. Jesus told his disciples, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Matthew 26:41 NIV). Our bodies are weak because of the sin nature we inherited from Adam, but we have Jesus as a willing source of help for overcoming temptation. Hebrews 2:18 NIV states, "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Jesus was tempted in every way, yet did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). He knows how to rescue us and help us overcome temptation (2 Peter 2:9). Our prayer for help need not be elaborate. It can be simple and to the point. For example, we can pray, "Jesus help me," or just "Help!"

2. Body: The bodily actions help us sever contact with the temptation source (if it is external).
The goal is to get ourselves out of the "hot zone" of the temptation.
The bodily actions are also ways of honoring God with our bodies (Romans 12:1).  Our bodies, as temples of God's Spirit, are to be used exclusively as instruments of righteousness (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). Paul wrote, "Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness" (Romans 6:13 NIV).

Flee: The best course of action will be to flee the temptation if we are able.  We don't want to hang around and see if we can withstand it if flight is an option. Consider how Joseph fled the house when he was cornered by Potiphar's wife in Genesis 39:6-13. He didn't hesitate to run the moment she propositioned him for sex. Paul instructed Timothy along similar lines concerning lust in general: "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).  We can also note here that our choices of the friends and the places we go can greatly help or hinder our ability to prevail over temptations.

Look for the way out:  If we are unable to flee the temptation outright, we can look for the way out of it. God promises that he will provide a way out of the temptation for us: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV).  

Control our body:  Finally, we can exercise our power to control our bodies. If we've been allowing sinful desires to rule us, we may have forgotten that we still retain the power to choose our actions. For example, we can turn our eyes away from the temptation, cover our eyes, cover our ears, shut off the temptation source, etc. Isaiah wrote, "He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure." (Isaiah 33:15-16 NKJV).

3. Mind:  Perhaps the most important area of our temptation response is what we do with our thoughts.  The mind is our strategic command center in the battle against sin. We can be successful in the body and spirit actions, yet completely lose the battle in the mind.

If we've been habitually practicing sin, our minds may be completely overrun with the sinful thoughts associated with our habit. If we're in that situation, there is hope for recovering a sound mind.  The Holy Spirit will help us do this:  "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).  Here are some simple steps to foster the return of a sound mind in Christ:

Pray: First we'll need to confess and repent of any habitual sin we've been practicing.  We can then ask for cleansing of our conscience from the dead works of sin (Hebrews 9:14), and for renewed sensitivity to sin.  Finally, we can ask the Lord to reunite our hearts to fear him and walk in authentic repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10-11).  Here is an example prayer to this end:

"Heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sins.  I believe in Jesus and place my faith in him today.  I confess that I've practiced sin in the following ways: ________________ (list as the Holy Spirit brings the sin to mind).  I turn away from those sins now and commit to living for you.  Please cleanse my conscience from that sin with the blood of Jesus and renew my sensitivity to the ugliness of sin.   Please unite my heart to fear you and to walk in true repentance.  I receive your Holy Spirit afresh.  Please restore in me a sound mind and a steadfast spirit.  Thank you, Lord!  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."

Meet with God daily:  Practice meeting with God each day for a quiet time, taking time to worship, pray and study the word.  These actions help detoxify our minds from the evil things we've loaded into them. 

With those steps in mind we can execute the RESPONSES for the mind, which are based on 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 KJV:

"(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ"

God has given us the authority and power to take evil thoughts captive and destroy them.  A simple battle plan for doing this is:

1. Recognize the lies behind the temptation

2. Take control of the thought and cast it aside

3. Redirect our mind to a pure topic

Recognition: Our daily quiet time will help sharpen our "lie-recognition skills." This special time of learning God's word and meditating on it will help us better recognize the devil's counterfeits and the lies behind them. We do this in partnership with the Holy Spirit who will remind us of the truth and counsel us on what to do (John 14:16,26).

Recognition of the lies can come in a variety of ways.  The goal is to simply know what is a lie the instant we hear or see it.   That ability comes with time after we've been faithfully feeding our minds on the word and spending time with God.   The Holy Spirit will often step in and help us discern the nature of a thought.  I've heard the Holy Spirit compared to a baseball umpire.  Just as the umpire declares a ball a "strike" or a "ball," so the Holy Spirit may declare the nature of a thought as it comes into our mind.  The Spirit may say something like "That's a lie!," or "Danger, steer clear!, or "That's true."  Another possibility is that the Spirit may simply remind us of a scripture that bears application to the thought at hand. 

Taking control of the thought: Once we recognize the temptation, we then have the opportunity take control of the thought by not allowing our minds to dwell on it or construct fantasies around it. Since our minds can generate evil thoughts in response to a temptation in less than a second, our thought-control actions need to be immediate. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Treat the tempting thought as an enemy and give it no mercy. Do not shelter it, protect it or toy with it. This often will go directly against what our flesh wants to do with the thought.  The prospect of entertaining an evil thought may "feel" good to us, and that is precisely when we must force ourselves to say "No!" to our flesh. 
  • Correct the lies with the truth: The truth of God's word destroys the power of temptations and the lies behind them. We can take the same truth that helped us recognize the temptation and apply it as the correction to the tempting thoughts. This is one of the ways of using the "Sword of the Spirit", and is how Jesus defeated the devil in the wilderness temptations (Luke 4).
  • Jettison the thought from our minds, just like we would with a rattlesnake we found in our car.  The idea is to get the thought out our minds so that we prevent our own evil desires from engaging the thought, dragging us away and enticing us to sin (James 1:15).

The dangers of not taking control of evil thoughts are that sin will be conceived (stage 2) and that our evil desires will take control of our thoughts.

Redirect thoughts: Redirecting our thoughts to pure topics
helps ensure that we keep moving past the temptation and minimize the possibility of letting it back into our minds. The Bible gives us a variety of things we can shift our thoughts to:

  • Things above:  Colossians 3:1-2 instructs us to focus our minds on "things above." This is a broad category that gives us flexibility to do whatever works best for us.  Examples include:  thinking about Jesus being crucified on the cross; picturing God sitting on the throne in heaven in all his glory; mentally reciting scriptures that pertain to the temptation at hand. 
  • Jesus: Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 3:1-2; Colossians 3:1-2).  He set the example for us to follow in resisting temptation even to the point of death (Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 4:15-16). We can look to him for "online help" during temptation at any moment (Hebrews 7:25).  Some example ways to do this include picturing Jesus in our mind, praying to Jesus, and recalling scenes from Jesus' life when he defeated temptation (ex. Luke 4, Matthew 16:22-24, John 6:15, Luke 9:53-55). 
  • Pure topics:  Philippians 4:8 gives us some ideas about pure topics:  "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (KJV).  Paul allowed room for creativity here, so feel free to choose something in those categories that works for you.   For example, the topic that I've found very effective is the blood of Jesus.  What could be more pure than that?  Whenever I am tempted with an evil thought, I imagine a scene with Jesus on the cross with his blood being shed for me.  At the same time, I repeat "the blood of Jesus cleanses and protects my thoughts" either audibly or in my mind.  This is POWERFUL and quite appropriate since Jesus was the sacrifice that atoned for my sins. 

Like any warfare skill, these "thought control" actions take time and practice to master. The Holy Spirit is always with us to train us and teach us how to bring our thoughts into obedience to Christ. I've found that temptations tend to follow a wave-like pattern.  Initially they seem very strong, yet weaken as we resist and reject them. If a temptation seems unbearable, we can take courage that in time it will subside and cease if we stand our ground in faith.  If we stumble in sin at any time, we should make a quick return to the Lord and not give up in our walk with him.  Practice leads to perfection.

Summary:  It may be helpful to jot the summary actions down on a 3 x 5 note card and keep it handy for periodic review:

Temptation Response Actions

  1. Pray for God to help us
  2. Flee the temptation
  3. Look for the way out of the temptation
  4. Control our bodies (especially eyes) and honor God
  5. Recognize the lies behind the temptation
  6. Take control of the thought and apply the truth
  7. Redirect our thoughts to pure topics

Personal application and review questions:

  • Considering Proverbs 23:7 AMP ("For as he thinks in his heart, so is he."), how does our mindset affect our ability to fight temptations?
  • In what ways have you allowed sin to gain control over you? 
  • What are two bodily actions you can take when you are tempted?
  • What is one spiritual action you can take when you are tempted?
  • What should you do if you fail and fall to a temptation?  (Luke 18:1, Philippians 3:12-15, Revelation 3:19-20)

I truly hope that you take these tools and use them DAILY to help in the battle against TEMPTATION. I pray that you have a WORD-filled day. Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a Year" reading: February 13, 2008 (Wednesday): Joshua 1:1-Joshua 5:12

This week's MEMORY VERSE: James 1:12

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."  James 1:12

TOMORROW'S BLOG: Examples of Fighting Temptation