Friday, October 31, 2008

Praying for our Nation

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

We are down to five days until our nation elects her next President. It is one of most important elections in the history of the USA. It is so important that God's people first of all, pray. And secondly, vote for Biblical principles. In 2 Chronicles 7:14-15, God tells us what will happen when His people pray for their nation. Let's look at it together.

2 Chronicles 7:14-15 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (15) Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.

In 1861 a noted chess master named Paul Morphy attended a dinner party in Richmond, Virginia. It is reported that during the dinner his attention was drawn to a painting on the wall. The scene portrayed a young man locked in an intense chess match with the devil. The devil's next move would surely claim victory - entitling him to the young man's soul. The devil wore a triumphant expression. After dinner the chess champion walked over to the painting, studying the board and the pieces portrayed on it. Suddenly he turned to his host and said, "I can take the young man's game and win!" "That's not possible!" his host replied. "Not even you can retrieve that game." The chess master answered, "Yes, I think I can. Suppose we place the men and give it a try." To the surprise of everyone Morphy bested the smug opponent in the painting. Victory was snatched from the devil and the young man was saved.

Sometimes we feel like that young man. We see Satan poised to claim victory. We feel something near despair as we watch our nation make wrong turn after wrong turn. Yet in the darkest moment God whispers, "I have good news for you. He hasn't won yet. If my people who are called by my name are sorry for what they have done, if they pray and obey me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from Heaven, I will forgive their sin and I will heal their land."

God gets the final move. And we can urge Him to take it - when we pray!

Then will I… heal their land.

Solomon's temple was finally complete. The work of 70,000 labourers, 80,000 stone cutters, and 3,600 foremen-finished. Pure gold covered parts of the interior. Precious inlaid stones sparkled. The Ark of the Covenant inhabited the Holy of Holies. Only the presence of God was missing. So Solomon prays "Arise, O Lord God, to Your resting place" (2 Chronicles 6:41 NJKV).

And how did God respond? "And the glory of the Lord filled the temple" (2 Chronicles 7:1 NIV). The people fell on their faces declaring, "He is good; His love endures forever" (2 Chronicles 7:3 NIV). After 15 days of celebration Solomon retreated to his palace.

But God wasn't finished speaking. God knows our tendency to forget His blessings and go our own way. Look around you. The conditions that preceded the fall of every great civilization are in place. Can our country be saved? Yes! By whom? God said:

(1) "If my people, who are called by My name." We must turn from self-promotion to God promotion.
(2) "Will humble themselves and pray." We must turn from self-reliance to God reliance.
(3) "And seek My face." We must turn from self-direction to God direction.
(4) "And turn from their wicked ways." We must turn from self-indulgence to self-examination. When will God heal our land? When His people turn back to Him!

If the terrain tells you you've made a wrong turn, it's time to make a right one. As a country we've been traveling through some rough terrain. And it's getting rougher every day. What can be done? God's people can turn it around! And that turn begins with - you and me! Blessings.

Pastor Rusty

Thursday, October 30, 2008

This is the day that the Lord has made!

"This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well." I start every blog, every email, and every letter that I send with those words. They are powerful words and they contain the attitude that I strive to live by. Let's talk about it.

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 NKJV

Some days the road seems too long and the climb too steep.

Max Lucado describes them as days when "Hope is Hindenberged by crisis. You never leave the hospital bed or wheelchair. You wake up in the same prison cell, the cemetery dirt is still fresh, the dismissal letter still folded in your pocket, the other side of the bed still empty. 'This is the day' includes divorce days, final-exam days, surgery days, tax days, sending-your-firstborn-off-to-college days. God made this day. He knows the details of each wrenching moment. He isn't on holiday. He still holds the conductor's baton, sits in the cockpit, and occupies the universe's only throne. "We will rejoice and be glad in it!" Oops, there's another word we'd like to edit: in. Perhaps we could swap it for after? Or through, or over. 'I'll rejoice when this day ends!' Paul rejoiced in prison. David wrote psalms in the wilderness; Paul and Silas sang in jail; the Hebrew children remained resolute in the fiery furnace; John saw Heaven in his exile, and Jesus prayed in the garden of pain. You no longer have yesterday. It slipped away as you slept. You don't yet have tomorrow. You can't spend its money, celebrate its achievements or resolve its riddles. Days are bite-sized portions of life: 84,000 heartbeats, 1,440 minutes, a rotation of the earth, a sunrise and sunset, a gift of 24 unlived, unexplored hours. And if you can stack one good day on another, you'll link together a good life. 'This is the day', live in it."

Life has a way of accelerating as you get older; the days get shorter and the list of promises gets longer. Then suddenly you wake up one day and all you have to show is a list of 'I'm going to's' or 'I plan to's' or 'some day when things are settled down a bit.'

Seize the moment! Live in the present! Take a moment and ask yourself, "Is this how I live?" If not, make some changes!

Just for today, I'll enjoy each moment to the fullest and try not to tackle my whole life's problems at once. Just for today, I'll try to improve my mind by learning more than I know; I'll read God's Word faithfully for it's my source of wisdom and strength. I'll be particularly sensitive to those Scriptures that require personal obedience, corrective action, and greater commitment.

Just for today, I'll be agreeable, try to look my best and make sure my words are "seasoned with grace." Just for today, I won't find fault or try to change or improve anyone - except myself. Just for today, I'll have a plan and a goal. I might not follow them exactly but I'll have them nonetheless. By doing that I'll save myself from two enemies - hurry and indecision! Just for today, I'll develop my character. I'll do someone a good turn and keep it secret; if anyone finds out it won't count. Just for today, I'll do something I don't naturally want to do, thereby train my spirit to rule my flesh and my will to rule my emotions. Just for today, I won't be afraid to love or to risk; I'll take steps of faith that stretch me beyond my present comfort level, try to enjoy all God's blessings, and believe that every seed I sow in His Kingdom will be multiplied back to me many times over. This is how I'll live - just for today!

Three of the biggest mistakes you can make are:

(1) Longing for yesterday. A lady wrote to a newspaper editor, "Your paper is not as good as it used to be." He replied, "It never has been!" Learn from the past, but don't put a halo on it. The Bible says: (a) "Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' For it is not wise" (Ecclesiastes 7:10 NIV). (b) "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV).

(2) Longing for the right somebody. It's better to want what you don't have than have what you don't want. The 'somebody blues' can cause you to finish up like the lady who said, "I never knew what real happiness was until I married my husband; now it's too late!" Two dysfunctional people usually don't make one happy couple. When you're by yourself, at least you know who you're dealing with. God knows what you need better than you do, and "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11). Instead of finding the right person, strive to become the right person!

(3) Longing for some future destination. It's a mistake to believe that when you arrive at a certain point you'll be happy; when you retire, take that trip or reach that goal. In this earthly life your happiest moments are along the way, so don't miss those precious memories. When it comes to living you can't improve on the Scripture "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it". Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"The Value of One" Video

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

Last night someone from our church sent me a link to a powerful video. I would like to share it with you guys today.

In six days we will have one of the most important elections in the history of our wonderful nation. Our nation was founded as a Christian nation. Today, there are over 60 million evangelical christians in the USA. How many of that number will vote? How many of them will vote Christian values?

My friends, we MUST continue to be in prayer for our country and this election. And in addition to that...we MUST VOTE. We cannot sit back and be silent and allow our nation to be governed by values that are anything but christian.

Our vote does matter. There really is great value in one. This video is only about four minutes long. Please watch it, then pass this blog link on to everyone that you know. I believe we can and must make a difference.


Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Living a FRUITFUL life

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

I want to talk with you today about being fruitful. God desires for His children to bear fruit. Look at what Jesus says in John 15:8:

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit. John 15:8 NKJV

Do you want to know the will of God for your life? Jesus said, "I chose you… that you should… bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain" (John 15:16).
"But what if my branch is barren and my basket is empty?" you ask. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away" (John 15:2 NKJV).

The Greek word for 'take away' is 'airo' which means 'to lift'. New branches have a tendency to trail along the ground. But they don't bear fruit there. When the rain comes they get muddy and mildewed, sick and barren.

So, does the vinedresser throw them away? No, they're too valuable for that. He goes through His vineyard with a bucket of water, looking for fallen branches, lifting them out of the dirt and washing them off. Remember His words in John 15:3? "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." Once they've been washed, He lifts them, wraps them around the trellis, ties them securely, and pretty soon they're thriving.

What a picture! Whether you've fallen into the dirt, or you're just living beneath your potential, God won't throw you away. No, He'll lift you, cleanse you and help you to flourish again.

Without regular pruning, a vine will only live up to a fraction of its potential. Vineyards have only one purpose - grapes! Energy spent on anything else, no matter how impressive, is wasted.

Expert pruners have four things clearly in mind:

(1) Removing anything that's dead or dying.
(2) Making sure sunlight gets to all fruit-bearing branches.
(3) Increasing the size and quality of the fruit.
(4) Encouraging new fruit to develop.

To make room for the kind of abundance God created you for, He'll begin cutting away the parts of your life that are draining precious time and energy from what's truly important. To accomplish this, He'll even risk your misunderstanding of His methods and motives. His purpose for you requires the cutting away of… bad habits and attitudes… wrong relationships… lesser priorities… anything that distracts from your highest calling.

Are you praying for God's abundant blessings in your life? Are you asking Him to use you in His service? If so, you're asking for the shears! Pruning is how God answers such prayers!

If you're being pruned today, follow these steps:

(1) Pay attention. Don't waste this season of preparation.
(2) Ask God whether you're being pruned for greater fruitfulness, or disciplined because of sin - there's a difference. If it's sin, repent and get back on track.
(3) If your response to the pruning process is right, your rewards will be great.

Hey, 'too-busy' believer, Jesus said: "He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5 NKJV). Want greater results? Spend more time with God! Want to abound more? Abide more! It's the branch with the strongest, least-obstructed connection to the vine that has the greatest potential for fruitfulness.

But look out! A-hundred-and-one things will arise daily to keep you from spending quality time with God. And as for an extended period set aside to wait in His presence - that'll take a huge effort, but you can do it!

Ten times in 6 verses Jesus says, "Abide." Why? Because it's not natural! Jesus knew that in the coming years His disciples would be called upon to produce enough fruit to turn the world upside-down. But you can't even begin to have that kind of impact, without first achieving the one thing you're most likely to forget - more of Him!

Today you have two options:

(1) "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered" (John 15:6 NKJV). The word withered means worthless. Don't spend your life on worthless things! God's will is that you should bear fruit, "and that your fruit should remain" (John 15:16). Influence beyond your life span! A legacy that's eternal - that should be your goal!
(2) If you stay closely connected to Him, if you draw spiritual nourishment from Him, if you allow the power that flows through Him to flow through you, nothing will keep you from reaching the most abundant life possible!


Pastor Rusty

Monday, October 27, 2008


This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

Have you ever seen one of those inflatable clowns with a round base? When you knock him down he bounces back up wearing a big, cheesy grin! Perseverance: it's a powerful tool! The Bible says, "Blessed is the man who perseveres." Paul was flogged, shipwrecked, persecuted, and imprisoned in establishments without gyms, television and time off for good behavior! He could have thrown in the towel but instead he said, "I have no regrets. I couldn't be more sure of my ground - the One I've trusted in can take care of… me… to the end" (2 Timothy 1:12 TM). Can you say that?

God isn't impressed by human ability, dynamic personalities, titles, and designer clothes. He respects people who, when they get knocked down, bounce back with their faith intact, more determined than ever to live for Him. It's Satan's job to attack you - it's your job to fight back. If you are passive he will demolish you! Paul writes: "Resist the enemy… [and] after the battle you will still be standing" (Ephesians 6:13 NLT). Perseverance means staying in the fight and refusing to give up. It empowers you so you stop feeling like a victim of circumstances. It builds your confidence and becomes a tool you automatically use.

Somebody said the nose of the bulldog is slanted backward so he can keep breathing without letting go! Plus, your reward in Heaven is determined by your level of perseverance here on earth. "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne"
(Revelation 3:21). So, keep persevering.

On June 1, 1965, a four meter boat slipped quietly out of Falmouth, Massachusetts. Its destination? Falmouth, England. It would be the smallest craft ever to make the voyage. Its name? Tinkerbelle. Its pilot? Robert Manry, a copy editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper who felt that ten years at a desk was enough boredom for anyone. Manry was afraid, not of the ocean, but of all the people who would try to talk him out of the trip. So he only shared it with some relatives and his wife Virginia, his greatest source of support. The trip? He spent harrowing nights of sleeplessness trying to cross shipping lanes without getting run over. Weeks at sea caused his food to become tasteless. Loneliness led to hallucinations. His rudder broke three times. Storms swept him overboard. Had it not been for the rope around his waist he would never have been able to pull himself back on board. Finally, after 78 days alone at sea he sailed into Falmouth, England. During those nights at the tiller he had fantasized about what he would do once he arrived. He expected to simply check into a hotel, eat dinner alone, then next morning see if perhaps the Associated Press might be interested in his story. What a surprise! Word had spread far and wide. To his amazement, 300 vessels with horns blasting escorted Tinkerbelle into port. And 47,000 people stood screaming and cheering him to the shore.

One of the great themes of Scripture is perseverance. No matter how great your calling, your talent, your cause or your goal, without perseverance you won't make it. Hence James writes in James 1:12, "Blessed is the man who perseveres."

Most successful people are usually just "hungrier and thirstier." What we desire - they pursue! Napoleon was born in abject poverty. In school his friends made fun of him. But he devoted himself to his books and excelled in his studies. Eventually he became the brightest student in the school. Before he was through he conquered most of the world. If a seedling tree has to fight its way up through stones and hard soil to get to sunlight and air, then wrestle with the storm and the frost to survive, its root system will be strong and its timber valuable.

Understand this: it's impossible to succeed without going through adversity. Impossible! If you're successful and haven't experienced adversity, you can be sure that someone else has experienced it for you. If you're experiencing it without succeeding, there's a good chance somebody else will succeed one day because of you. Either way, there's no success without adversity.

The true test of your character is - seeing what it takes to stop you! Dr. G. Campbell Morgan tells of a man whose shop was burned down in the great Chicago fire. The next morning he arrived at the ruins carrying a table, set it up in the middle of the charred debris and put up a big sign which read, "Everything lost except wife, children and hope - Business will resume as usual tomorrow morning!" What a spirit of perseverance! We need that same spirit! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Friday, October 24, 2008

God still gives TRUMPETS

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

It is very easy at times to forget how blessed we really are. God has been so faithful to us, and we all have a testimony that we can share with others. One day David was thinking about the blessings of God and wrote in Psalm 103:

Psalm 103:1-5 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. (2) Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— (3) who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, (4) who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, (5) who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Think about what you just read. He is praising a God who: forgives all our sins, heals all our diseases, redeems my life from the pit, who crowns me with love and compassion, and satisfies my desires with good things so that my youth is renewed like an eagle. My friends, that is "shoutin ground!"

We have so much to be thankful for. As I was meditating on that early this morning, I received an email with a thought from Max Lucado. I would like to share it with you this morning:

"Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume" (John 12:2–3 NIV).

Marys need to remember that service is worship.

Marthas need to remember that worship is service.

And Lazarus? He needs to remember that not everyone can play the trumpet.

You see, as far as we know, Lazarus did nothing at the dinner. He saved his actions for outside the house. Read carefully John 12:9:

"A large crowd of Jews heard that Jesus was in Bethany. So they went there to see not only Jesus, but Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. So the leading priests made plans to kill Lazarus, too. Because of Lazarus many Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus."

Wow! Because of Lazarus many Jews were "believing in Jesus." Lazarus has been given a trumpet. He has a testimony to give—and what a testimony he has!

"I was always a good fellow," he would say. "I paid my bills. I loved my sisters. I even enjoyed being around Jesus. But I wasn't one of the followers. I didn't get as close as Peter and James and those guys. I kept my distance. Nothing personal. I just didn't want to get carried away.

"But then I got sick. And then I died. I mean, I died dead.

"Nothing left. Stone-cold. No life. No breath. Nothing. I died to everything. I saw life from the tomb. And then Jesus called me from the grave. When he spoke, my heart beat and my soul stirred, and I was alive again. And I want you to know he can do the same for you."

God gave Martha a bass drum of service. God gave Mary a flute for praise. And God gave Lazarus a trumpet. And he stood on center stage and played it.

God still gives trumpets. God still calls people from the pits. God still gives pinch-me-I'm-dreaming, too-good-to-be-true testimonies. But not everyone has a dramatic testimony. Who wants a band full of trumpets?

Some convert the lost. Some encourage the saved. And some keep the movement in step. All are needed.

If God has called you to be a Lazarus, then testify. Remind the rest of us that we, too, have a story to tell. We, too, have neighbors who are lost. We, too, have died and been resurrected. Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Victory over LONELINESS

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

I would like to talk with you today about something that so many people are battling…LONELINESS. Let's see what God's Word has to say about this subject.

God said, 'it isn't good for… man to live alone. Genesis 2:18

A nationally syndicated columnist writes: "I'm lonely and it saddens me. How could I not have enough friends? It seems as though every woman's friendship quota is filled and she's no longer accepting new applicants. It's easy to fill your day with work, but it's not enough." And if you think it's bad for women, 90% of men report that they don't have one close friend! Mother Theresa said, "Loneliness is modern-day leprosy and people don't want others to know they're lepers."

Throughout Genesis we read, "and God saw that it was good." It's a recurring theme - that is, until God created Adam. Then He said: "It isn't good for… man to live alone." Think: even though the fall hadn't yet happened and Adam was enjoying uninterrupted communion with His Creator, because he was without human companionship God said it wasn't good.

Inside every one of us there's a void that only God can fill. But since the Bible says, "We're all connected to each other" (Ephesians 4:25 TM), there's also a people-shaped void that God won't fill. And nothing else can either - not jobs, houses, cars, or money. The One who created you for connection says, "Do not be interested only in your own life… be interested in… others" (Philippians 2:4 NCV).

So, the answer to loneliness can be found in reaching out: in finding an unmet need and pouring ourselves into it. Or as the jingle of one communication's company goes: "Reach out and touch someone." Go ahead, try it - you'll be glad you did!

Loneliness can make you do things you wouldn't ordinarily consider. And if you travel for a living you're particularly vulnerable. For example, a motel room far from home can become the breeding ground for affairs, pornography, drugs and alcohol. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time has caused many a man and woman to fall. David prayed, "Turn to me and be gracious… for I am lonely." (Psalm 25:16)

You can live beyond Satan's reach by:

(1) Staying close to God. When you're lonely, distancing yourself from Him doesn't make sense. Jesus said: "I am the vine… you are the branches… you cannot do anything without Me" (John 15:5 CEV). Jesus is your source of strength and wisdom; He's the One who can meet all your needs.

(2) Coming out of hiding. Get involved in some aspect of ministry. Be willing to be more transparent by getting to know others and letting them get to know you. When you spend time around people who care about you, loneliness ceases to be an issue.

(3) Reaching out. Focusing on yourself is a guaranteed way to feel isolated. Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Instead of throwing a pity-party for yourself, reach out to those in need by giving of yourself, praying for them and loving them unconditionally.

(4) Forgiving those who've hurt you. Feeling sorry for yourself and harbouring grudges leads to bitterness. Forgive, turn it over to God, let Him deal with the offender and get on with your life!

He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him. Matthew 6:33

Somewhere beyond loneliness there's a contentment that's born of necessity. It's when doors seem to close in the natural realm that they suddenly swing open in the spiritual realm and you begin to see the possibility of having the kind of relationship with God you never had before. Blessings.

Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Do not dwell on the past!

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

I would like to talk with you today about getting past your past. Too often we get stuck in the past and allow it to control so much of our lives. It doesn't have to be like that. Listen to what God says in Isaiah 43:18-19:

Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Isaiah 43:18-19

When God determines your future He doesn't consult your past.

Mary Magdalene was a known prostitute. But after Christ redeemed her she became one of the last people to leave the cross (Matthew 27:55-61) and one of the first to discover and announce His resurrection (Matthew 28:7). Because she embraced Christ and the future He offers all of us, she's been mentioned with honor by every ensuing generation. Peter was a fisherman with a hair-trigger temper and some anti-social tendencies. Yet God filled him with so much Spiritual power that when he preached, multitudes came to Christ (Acts 2:40-41). Jacob lived up to his name 'deceiver'. But God gave him an extreme makeover and changed his name to Israel which means "A Prince with God" (Genesis 32:24-30). Ruth was a Moabitess who grew up worshipping idols - not a promising start. But after turning to serve the true God she became part of the ancestry of King David and our Lord Jesus (Matthew 1:5). Zacchaeus, a well known embezzler, hosted Jesus overnight in his home and ended up becoming a philanthropist. And how about Paul? Killing Christians didn't put him off limits to God. As an apostle he wrote over half of the New Testament by divine revelation, was taken into Heaven where he saw incredible things (2 Corinthians 12:1-4), and when aprons and handkerchiefs taken from his body were placed on the sick they were healed (Acts 19:11-12).

Now, if God could do all that for 'people with a past', He can give you a new beginning too!

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln lost several elections before finally becoming one of America's greatest presidents? In fact, he failed so often it was amazing he kept trying. Did you know that the material used to make Kleenex tissues was invented as a gas mask filter during World War I, and it failed? Then when inventors tried to make it into cold cream it flopped again. Finally they repackaged it as disposable handkerchiefs and, guess what, people buy 200 billion of them annually. Not bad for a product that bombed twice!

You can't seize your future while you're obsessing over your past. So learn from it and let it go. Heed the advice of author Susan Scott: "My dog and cat have taught me a great lesson in life - learn to shed a lot!" Nobody starts out being good at everything. Tackling new ventures usually means learning by trial and error. When Charles Darrow got married he promised his wife they'd become millionaires. But the Great Depression came and they ended up hitting rock bottom. Darrow was ready to give up his dream but his wife encouraged him to keep going. Then one day he devised the idea of using 'play money' to buy 'pretend properties', and he turned his vision into a board game with little houses and hotels. It's called Monopoly, and Parker Brothers bought it from Darrow for - you've guessed it - a million dollars!

Remember, when you're on the right track and you refuse to give up, God can do something great through you. So keep going and don't look back.

When Eve awoke on planet earth she was already a wife! Imagine waking up beside a man when you've never seen one before. It was the ultimate sink-or-swim situation. She was created without a childhood. She never got to grow up. She stepped right into being a wife, then a mother. Did that happen to you?

A lot of us find ourselves having to be parents before we've had a chance to be children, or to know what it means to be innocent, to trust, to receive genuine love. If that's your story, God has a word for you, "Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing."

Refuse to blame your past for your present, or let it ruin your future. You can't go back and make things different. You're not the person now you were then, and you're never going to be. You can't re-live your first marriage, or your early childhood. Accept it, dismiss what used to be, and move on!

Often we hold on to our past because there's something there we think we still need. We cling to things because we fear we'll never be able to replace them!

Don't you know that God has more for you? If you're trusting Him for your future, then you haven't seen your best days yet. There's more ahead of you than behind you. So get up, get over it and move on in Jesus Name! Blessings.

Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Six Types of Prayer

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I hope you will as well.

I want to talk with you today about six types of prayer. It is so important that we spend daily time in prayer. Our prayer should include two very important items. In fact, these two items represent covenants that we have with God. These two items are blood covenant and water covenant.
Water and blood flowed from the body of Jesus as the last physical evidence of His crucifixion (John 19:34)

Water and blood reminded Pilate that he had killed an innocent man (Matthew 27:24)

Water and blood were used by the high priest of the Old Testament to offer up the sacrifices to God (Leviticus 7,8). Water and blood are parts of the birthing process.

Although the washing by the blood is an instantaneous work of God, the washing by the water of the Word is a continual daily process.

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (26) that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (27) so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

A lack of cleansing by the Word is the essential reason many fail to live in victory. There is no victory without the daily washing by the Word. It not only makes a difference, but is also the difference between victorious living and mediocre living. The step before the final step of entering into the land of promise is a time of cleansing through repentance—putting our sins under the blood and receiving more of God's thoughts than this world's thoughts.

So as we come before God in prayer, we must remember that when we become before God in prayer we need to understand the importance of blood and water! Now, let's look at six different types o f prayer:

Pray… with all [manner of] prayer. Ephesians 6:18 AMP

(1) The prayer of agreement!

"If two of you… agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father" (Matthew 18:19 NIV). When you're up against something too big to handle alone, find a prayer partner and come into agreement with them. This isn't for people who generally live in strife then decide to agree because they're desperate. God honors the prayers of those who pay the price to live together in harmony.

(2) The prayer of petition!

Be confident in asking God to meet your needs. Jesus said, "Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mark 11:24 NIV). If we'd stop trying to impress God we'd be a lot better off. Length, loudness or eloquence isn't the issue; it's the sincerity of our heart, our confidence before God, and the knowledge that it's according to His will - that gets results!

(3) The prayer of thanksgiving!

When our petitions outweigh our praises it says something about our character. Self-centered people ask but rarely appreciate. God won't release us into the fullness of all He's planned for us until we become thankful for what we've already received. Petition avails much, praise avails much more! "In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6 NIV). Powerful living comes through thanksgiving. We can "pray without ceasing" by being thankful all day long, praising God for His favor, mercy, loving kindness, grace, longsuffering and goodness.

(4) The prayer of intercession.

"I looked for a man… who would… stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land" (Ezekiel 22:30 NIV). To intercede means: "to stand in the gap" for someone else. If there's a breach in that person's relationship with God due to a particular sin, you have the privilege of placing yourself in that breach and praying for them. "The gap" is the distance between what is - and what can be.

(5) The prayer of commitment.

"Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him" (I Peter 5:7 AMP). As long as you keep trying to control events your stress levels will just keep mounting. But when you learn to hand things over to God, you'll wonder why you spent even a single day worrying.

(6) The prayer of consecration.

On the Damascus Road, Paul prayed: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6) Its saying, "Here I am, do with me as you please. I hope I like what You choose, but even if I don't I'll do it anyway; Your will be done, not mine." Now you're deciding to voluntarily follow God, rather than struggling to get Him to follow you. As a result, God will do the work that needs to be done in us, so that He can do the work that He desires to do through us. Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Monday, October 20, 2008

Healing Wounded Relationships

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I hope you will as well.

I would like to talk with you today about Healing Wounded Relationships. There are numerous reasons that relationships become wounded. Among the reasons are: insensitivity, anger, frustrations, carrying a chip on our shoulder, carrying our emotions on our sleeves. Let's see what God's Word says to us about this.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 14:3 NIV

It happens every day. Maybe it's happening right now in your once-happy home: unrealistic expectations, infidelity and broken promises destroying the dream of lifelong love and trust. Thankfully, God is the healer of broken relationships and violated trust. When someone you love is hurting:

(1) Give it time. Healing is a process, not an event. Wounds of the heart heal slowly. Maybe you're thinking, 'But I've apologised over and over. How long will it take them to let it go and start trusting me again?' It takes as long as it takes! Demanding the other person to heal on your schedule only delays the process. 'But if they really forgave me they wouldn't keep bringing it up.' Not so. When your loved one can bring it up without you getting upset, healing will happen faster.

(2) Don't expect things to be normal for now. They won't be - and that's normal! Ever notice how you automatically protect an injured limb against knocks and bumps? It's a natural, instinctive reaction. The fact is, the one who caused the pain may be ready for business as usual, but for the wounded 'normal' feels way too vulnerable right now. By lowering your expectations and giving them space, you'll hasten and promote the healing process.

(3) Remember, people heal at different rates. God said, "There is a time… to weep… a time to laugh… a time to embrace and a time to refrain" (Ecclesiastes 3:4-5 NIV).

Be sensitive. Let God teach you patience and growth as you give your loved one time to heal.

Just sitting waiting for healing to happen doesn't help; it only lengthens the process. Working to become a positive influence is what moves things forward. If you want to help:

When your loved one needs to talk, listen without trying to defend, explain, rationalize or excuse your behavior. Don't try to correct their 'misperceptions' or lessen their pain by minimizing it. Validate. Don't tell somebody, "You shouldn't feel that way." When people talk about their pain, often they're doing the work necessary to help them heal. By letting them know their feelings are legitimate rather than making them feel weak or silly, you enable them to work through the negative emotions. Apologize. Yes, again! Whoever said, "Love means never having to say you're sorry," didn't know much about human relationships. Every genuine apology promotes healing. A heartfelt "I'm so sorry" is medicine to a wounded soul. So apply it till it's no longer needed - and your loved one will let you know when that is. Repair. Offer to help repair the hurt you've caused. "I know I've wounded you, and I really want to know what I can do to help heal the damage." Genuinely spoken, those words realign and make you part of the solution, not just the cause of the problem.

God said, "I have heard your prayers and seen your tears; I will heal you," and the sooner you become actively engaged in promoting the healing process, the sooner you'll get out of the penalty box and back on the field.

I am so thankful that God says that He will restore: I will restore. Jeremiah 30:17 NIV

There are no painless, foolproof guarantees; healing a relationship involves shared effort and risk. I have to trust that ultimately you'll forgive me and put the offense behind you, and you have to believe that I'm sincere about changing. Healing wounded relationships is a two-person job. Your job is to work at trusting me again, and mine is to provide you with evidence that I'm trustworthy. When we do that we invite one another's co-operation, encourage each other and shorten the distance that separates us. Making a relationship work means deciding you have real and positive options, and both committing to them.

If your betrayal caused the wounds, you can make your own job easier by becoming more accountable. By voluntarily keeping your partner in the loop about your schedule, without their having to quiz you, you graduate from being the bad guy to becoming a full-fledged team member, pursuing a mutual game plan so you can both win. By agreeing to self-police you also remove the resentment one partner feels when the other one monitors them. In other words, it relieves them of the dirty work of micromanaging you, and spares you the humiliation of feeling like you're always under the microscope.

On the other hand, if you are the wounded party you can make your mate's job easier by letting them know you value the relationship enough to make it work by keeping up your end. Tell them you appreciate their efforts. When healing a relationship becomes the main focus of both partners, and you include God, who said, "I will restore", it will happen! Blessings.

Pastor Rusty

Friday, October 17, 2008

Test me, O Lord…Examine my heart and my mind

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

In Psalm 26:2, King David prayed a prayer that each of us should pray daily. He asked God to test him and to examine his heart and mind: Test me, O Lord… examine my heart and my mind. Psalm 26:2 NIV

Are you going through a test? Tests demonstrate what you've learned. Until you're tested you really don't know what you know - and what you don't know. Tests are opportunities to prove your maturity and your potential.

God's not a hard-hearted parent who enjoys seeing His children struggle through life's tests. If He were to visit you in person He'd probably say: "I don't enjoy making you go through this, but it's the only way to prove you're ready for what's ahead. Before I can use you greatly - I must test you thoroughly." Generally God's tests are about your character. And like any good actor in a stage play that doesn't go according to the script, your job is to "stay in character!" Regardless of what anyone else does, follow God's script for your life.

Let's look ten of the test that the Lord may use to examine our hearts and minds:

(1) The test of small things. This test comes when we're asked to do something beneath our ability and potential. It proves how faithful we are to our commitments. It also reveals whether or not we're ready for greater responsibilities. Jesus said, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much" (Luke 16:10 NIV).

(2) The motive test. This test comes to us when we are doing all the right things - but not necessarily for all the right reasons. It's right to pray. Yet Jesus warned: "When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love… to be seen by men" (Matthew 6:5 NIV). Sometimes we don't even know our own hearts. That's why we need the mirror of God's Word: "For the word of God is… able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12 NAS). When you stand before Christ to be evaluated and rewarded, the question will not just be what did you do, but why did you do it?

(3) The stewardship test. Jesus said, "Give, and it will be given to you" (Luke 6:38 NIV).
Only when your hand is open, can you receive more from God. The practice of giving on a regular basis prevents you from being owned by what you own. Money is called currency because it's supposed to flow through you. When you withhold out of fear or greed, you limit what God wants to give you. Want to keep the flow of blessing going in your life? Become a river, not a reservoir.

(4) The wilderness test. This test comes when we feel Spiritually dry and our joy level is low. It reveals our ability to adapt to adversity and change, and as a result enter a new level of growth. It proves we're able to perform even when life isn't fun. "He led you through the vast and dreadful desert… to… test you so that in the end it might go well with you" (Deuteronomy 8:15-16 NIV). The wilderness test is where we submit to short-term pain, confident that in the end it'll produce long-term gain.

(5) The credibility test. Nothing matters more than your confidence before God - and your credibility before people. When Lot tried to rescue his sons-in-law from the destruction of Sodom: "He seemed as one that mocked" (Genesis 19:14). They'd probably seen his selfish treatment of his Uncle Abraham, and heard about his shady business dealings. As a result he lost his credibility when it mattered most. Is that happening to you?

(6) The authority test. Before Paul took the Gospel to the Gentiles he first went to Jerusalem and submitted his plan to the apostles, asking for their blessing. He had no: "Nobody is going to tell me what to do" attitude. God placed David under a flawed leader called Saul. It's pretty bad when your boss wants to kill you. But you can learn as much from the mistakes of a failure as you can from the achievements of a success. Because David submitted, he qualified to sit on Saul's throne. Want to be a leader? Learn to be a follower. Submit!

(7) The offence test. Jesus said, "Offences will come" (Luke 17:1).
So be ready! Those who lead always take the worst of the flack. The front line is no place for the weak-willed or the weak-kneed. So, what are you going to do when offences come? Get mad and get nowhere? Get even and get into trouble? Or get over it by practicing forgiveness. "If you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mark 11:25 NIV).

(8) The warfare test. This test is for those who claim to be strong in faith, but prove to be weak in fight. "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, 'If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt'" (Exodus 13:17 NIV). Now, you haven't been called to be insensitive and abrasive, but if your destiny is worth pursuing - it's worth fighting for! So, toughen up! It's a battlefield, not a bed of roses. You must engage the enemy each day using each Spiritual weapon at your disposal. If you don't he'll steal every God-given blessing you've got, including your identity, your testimony, your integrity, your family, your calling, and your future. This test demonstrates your ability to continue in your vision even while you're experiencing disappointment and opposition. So remember, the level of attack is the best indicator as to the level of blessing that waits for you beyond the attack!

(9) The test of time. This test has two dimensions. One reveals the strength of your life's impact, the other reveals the length of it. Each calls for signing your signature with excellence on all you put your hand to. The electric light still burns even though Edison has left the building. The needy are still being cared for even though General Booth is in Heaven. Now, your legacy may not reach those heights, but your influence can outlive you. And the test of time has a second dimension - an eternal one. How you live your life today determines your rewards and status in Heaven. "Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you'll be found out" (1 Corinthians 3:12-13 TM).

(10) The Lordship test. Simon Peter passed this test by obeying a command that seemed to make no sense at all: Jesus said to him, "'Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.' Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.' When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break" (Luke 5:4-6 NIV).

First Peter tried fishing alone and failed. Next he tried it with Jesus and succeeded. Same fisherman. Same boat. Same nets. What changed? He was willing to do it God's way! If you want to succeed, talk to God, listen to what He has to say - and do it! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Thursday, October 16, 2008

God’s “Holding Pattern”

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

If you have flown very often, chances are you're familiar with the term "holding pattern." That's when your plane is unable to land because of unfavorable ground conditions. Generally the pilot announces that he's been told to maintain a holding pattern pending an update from the control tower. It happens regularly, so planes have to carry enough fuel to stay airborne till they can land safely. The Bible says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong… let your heart take courage." When God puts you in a holding pattern it's not just a question of having enough faith to receive His promise, it's also a matter of having enough "Spiritual staying power" to stay airborne until it comes to pass. That's why you need to carry enough Spiritual fuel to handle delays and wait for clearance.

The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit, "a rushing mighty wind" (Acts 2:2). After God had delayed Noah long enough to accomplish His purpose, "He sent a wind"
(Genesis 8:1 NIV). Anytime a wind comes from the presence of God it blows away all hindrances and obstacles, it dries the ground under your feet so you can move ahead. It demolishes the spirit of fear and heaviness that makes you want to quit.

Don't try to get out of anything prematurely. James 1:4 (TM)

The Bible says, "To every thing there is a season" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). So no matter how hard you pray, you can't pray your life's seasons away. There are some situations you aren't meant to change - you're just meant to survive! Paul calls these times, "light affliction, which is… for a moment" (2 Corinthians 4:17). When you can't alter your circumstances you must learn to grow through them.

In winter, trees take advantage of the season to rebuild their strength and prepare to be fruitful next season. Their sap and substance go underground. Then in the spring it pushes its way back up again in the form of new growth. Looking back over your life you'll find that your achievements are seasonal. Growth comes, then struggle, and vice versa. Each season has its purpose. God has a reason for not wanting you to be productive all the time. When He permits winter winds to blow through your life He's preparing you for the coming spring. James writes, "Consider it a… gift… when tests… come… under pressure, your faith… shows its true colours. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way" (James 1:2-4 TM).

One of the issues you'll struggle with in a waiting period is the urge to hurry, to make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. Don't do it! Every situation doesn't call for immediate action. Remember, patience comes from trust, and you can't trust a God you don't know. That's why you need to spend more time getting acquainted with Him through reading His Word and praying.

Somebody has said that patience is the quality you admire in the driver behind, but not the guy in front! God is a God of order; He ordains specific times for bringing specific purposes to pass. And it doesn't pay to get ahead of Him. Certain things can't be accomplished "by might, nor… power." So how are they accomplished? "By My Spirit." David said, "My times are in Your hands" (Psalm 31:15 NIV). David understood that others can't short circuit God's plan for you. Once you're able to acknowledge that, you find peace - and stop trying to "make things happen." When God drops a seed into your life it needs time to take root and grow. And you don't have to be concerned with the outcome because when it's planted in a fertile, faith-filled heart, the results are guaranteed.

The hard part is knowing that you're on the verge of a breakthrough, then having God tell you to wait. It's when you think He's forgotten you and every second feels like a lifetime, that your patience gets a workout. David said: "I waited patiently for the Lord… and… He… set my feet on solid ground and [gave] me… a hymn of praise" (Psalm 40:1-3 NLT). When you honor God's timing, you always land on solid ground, and end up with a reason to praise Him.

So, when you know you've a mandate from God but He puts you on hold, stay on the line till He gets back to you. It's well worth waiting to get your answer directly from Him. Think about it! Would you dare trust any other answer?

David asked God, "What is man that you are mindful of him?" (Psalm 8:4 NIV). Even in times of frustration and waiting, God is still thinking about you and working everything out for your good. His delays aren't denials. So, when you sense a divine breeze in your spirit, rejoice, it's a sign that He's clearing you to land and good things are about to happen! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Grasshopper Mentality

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.
For many years, God has dealt with me about the grasshopper mentality. It has kept God's people from accomplishing what He wants them to since the beginning of time. Let me share with you some thoughts concerning this.

We were in our own sight as grasshoppers. Numbers 13:33

You'll never know what you're made of spiritually until you come against something too big to handle alone. That's when you discover what you really believe. When Moses sent twelve scouts to check out Israel's new homeland, they all saw the same thing: a land rich in honey, milk - and giants! Yes, Joshua and Caleb saw them too. Faith isn't ignoring the obvious, that's denial.

Acknowledging a problem isn't an expression of doubt. And it's not a sin. Paul said, "We would have come unto you… but Satan hindered us" (1 Thessalonians 2:18). You can't overcome what you won't acknowledge. The difference between the scouts was in how they saw the problem. Ten said, "We saw the giants… and we were in our own eyes as grasshoppers," but Joshua and Caleb said, "Do not fear the people of the land. For they are but bread for us to eat! The Lord is with us" (Numbers 14:9 TLB). Real faith feeds off the stuff the enemy throws at you. It says, "Bring it on! The Lord is with me. He has robbed the enemy of his power to hurt me."

1. The negative report of the ten spies caused three reactions in the people.
(1) Fear. Fear is irrational. It can make you forget every good thing God's promised, or done for you.
(2) Some wanted to go back to Egypt - back to how things used to be. Hello!
(3) Others wanted to settle in the wilderness. You've got to move with the cloud, otherwise today's manna is the last you'll see.

So, is the God you serve bigger than the giant you see? He says He is.

When you come up against a giant, either your faith will cause you to soar or your fear will cause you to sink. The Israelites died 21 miles from the Promised Land, going in circles. Why? "We saw the giants… and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers." If you're to see (and seize) what God's promised you, you'll have to conquer your giants. Now, you have the power to, but do you have the will to? Joshua and Caleb stood alone. Faith will place you in the minority at times! "The whole congregation… said… would to God that we had died… in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 16:2-3). In order to go where God wants to take you, you'll have to rise above the opinions of others.

2. So, who are these good people with grasshopper mentalities?

(1) They constantly talk about life's injustices, about how they've been mistreated and misunderstood. To them Paul answers, "Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3).
(2) They make excuses for not conquering in life. Sometimes they even put others down because they're walking in victory. To them Paul writes, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).
(3) They complain about what they don't have instead of focusing on what they do. To them Peter writes, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:13).

Israel had repeatedly witnessed God's power; why now were they intimidated? It's a perception problem called low self-esteem, and it's how the enemy prevents you from winning. The Israelites quickly forgot their Red Sea deliverance and instead remembered Egypt where they'd lived as slaves. Be careful. Hard times can make you think you don't deserve to be blessed! Anytime you have something of value, the enemy will attack you. In the Old Testament we read: "When the Philistines heard… David had been anointed king… they went up in full force to search for him" (2 Samuel 5:17 NIV). Until you claim your rightful place in Christ, Satan will tell you that you deserve to be mistreated. So cover yourself in God's Word until it becomes such a part of you that you stop doubting yourself. God made you in His image, redeemed you, dwells in you, and that makes you valuable!

A man in the prairie observed an eagle fatally wounded by gunshot. He writes: "With his eyes gleaming… he slowly turned his head, giving one last… longing look towards the sky. He'd often swept those starry spaces with his wonderful wings… the sky was the home of his heart. There he'd displayed his strength a thousand times… played with the lightning and raced the wind. Now far from home, the eagle lay dying, because - just once - he forgot and flew too low… My soul is that eagle. This isn't its home. It must never lose its skyward look."

3. We are being transformed into His likeness

We… are being transformed into His likeness. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)

A man who was feeling depressed went to see a psychiatrist. After sharing his problems he expected some profound words of wisdom that would make him feel better. "Well," the psychiatrist exclaimed, "I've diagnosed your problem. It's low self-esteem - and it's very common among losers!" When you view yourself negatively you tend to gravitate toward people who talk down to you. But when you know that God loves you and "plans… to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT), your entire outlook changes. With God you can't lose. Even if you stumble and fall He'll help you to get back up, learn from the experience and move on. When you look at yourself you tend to see somebody who makes mistakes and falls short, right? But when you begin to look at yourself in the mirror of God's Word, you see someone "being transformed into His likeness" (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

Ever gone to a garage sale or an antique show looking for a bargain? To the untrained eye much of the stuff looks like rubbish; it may even have been gathering dust and mildew in somebody's attic. But the experienced eye sees treasure in disguise, items that just need to be cleaned, polished and restored in order to become valuable again.

Well, God's the expert with a trained eye. When the enemy tells you you're worthless, God looks inside you and sees hidden treasure. When you put Him on the throne of your life He'll enable you to overcome your past, resist temptation, break through your self-imposed limitations, and start accepting that in His eyes you have great worth. Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Message of the Spider

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well! I was reading some material about Spiders today online, and learned a lot. I especially enjoyed what I read from author Bob Gass, and would like to share some thoughts with you.

The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in kings' palaces. Proverbs 30:28

Everything a spider needs to survive and succeed in life, God put within it. Swipe it with a broom and before it hits the ground its fall is broken. It just reaches inside, releases another protein-filled silk-like thread, slides down, finds a safe place, then comes back stronger than ever and builds a new web.

What's the message of the spider?

1. Everything you need, God has placed within you! The Bible says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness… He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV).

What has God given us? "Everything we need." What has God made us participants in? "His divine nature." Wow! Your future is not determined by who you know and who you don't or who likes you and who doesn't. The power to fulfill your future is within you! The warfare over your life and the struggle you're in is about what you were born, called and gifted to do. So, "Stir up… the… gift of God… that is in you" (2 Timothy 1:6 AMP). In other words - start producing!

Life may have knocked you down, but it hasn't knocked you out. What's at work within you will triumph over what's at work around you. Stand on God's Word, draw on your faith, hold on, and when the smoke clears, rise up and announce, "By the grace of God, I'm back!" You say, "But I've lost so much." As long as you still have what God put within you, you can make it

When it's time to lay eggs the spider produces a particular type of silk thread and spins it into a protective sac, then deposits the eggs. When an enemy comes to steal the spider's offspring it gets trapped on the sticky fluids that line the silk. Then the spider wraps the enemy in another kind of thread and turns it into food.

What's the message of the spider?

2. The battle is over your future! Don't let the enemy have your children. Don't let him rob you of your potential. Don't let him steal your future.

When those with weak wills, weak knees and weak faith saw the giants in the Promised Land they wanted to go back to Egypt. But not Caleb. He said, "Nor fear the people of the land; for they are our bread" (Numbers 14:9). When you understand what the battle in your life is about, you actually begin to feed off the stuff the enemy throws at you and say, "Bring it on, what does not destroy me will only make me stronger."

Be like Shammah. "When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel's troops fled… But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory" (2 Samuel 23:11-12). Shammah knew what he was fighting for. That lentil patch put food on his table. It represented his family's future. It was his legacy. And when Shammah stood up to the enemy, "The Lord brought about a great victory." And He'll do the same for you!

The spider has eight eyes yet it can barely see. What makes it an avid hunter is that the hair follicles on its legs are full of sensitivity and it can discern everything that's going on around it.

What's the message of the spider?

3. Use your God-given sense of discernment! You can discern more with your Spirit than you can see with your eyes. "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things" (1 John 2:20). God will let you know things you can neither prove nor explain. Jesus said that He would show us "things to come" (John 16:13). But He won't do it so that we can ego trip, or run around acting flakey. No, "He shall glorify Me: He shall receive of Mine, and shall [show] it unto you" (John 16:14). God gives 'inside information' to those who seek to glorify Him. So stop living beneath your Spiritual privilege.

How can a spider walk across the sticky threads of its web and not get stuck, yet those same threads will trap every predator that enters? The secret is - oil! Its tiny suction cup shaped feet exude fresh oil with every step, so it glides through stuff others can't survive in or get bogged down in.

What's the message of the spider?

4. You need to be continually anointed with the oil of God's Spirit!

Looking back, you realize that's what kept you sane when you thought you were going to lose your mind. It's why you made it when others didn't. And it's why you need to stay filled with God's Spirit every day. The Psalmist said, "I shall be anointed with fresh oil! (Psalm 92:10).

But there are four truths in Exodus, chapter 30, concerning the anointing oil that we need to keep in mind if we're going to live an anointed life.

  • Without it, our ministry is ineffective. "You shall anoint Aaron and his sons… that they may minister to Me" (Exodus 30:30).
  • Our children need to experience it.
    "This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations" (Exodus 30:31).
  • God won't anoint our fleshly efforts and agendas. "It shall not be poured on man's flesh; nor shall you make any other like it" (Exodus 30:32).
  • We are in danger when we try to substitute it with other things. "Whoever makes any like it… must be cut off" (Exodus 30:38).

Before you leave home every morning get down on your knees and pray, "Lord, anoint me with fresh oil!"

Some spiders have so much venom in them that they can kill anything they come in contact with simply by releasing what's in their mouth.

What's the message of the spider?

5. Check what's coming out of your mouth! Paul writes, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). What are you taking in? What are you giving out? Faith or fear, hope or discouragement, joy or sadness, truth or error, love or bitterness?

The Bible says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof" (Proverbs 18:21). Notice two things in this Scripture:

  • This is a life and death issue.
  • Your words are like seeds; they always produce fruit. You can't believe God for His best if you go around expecting and expressing the worst.

When what you say consistently contradicts what God's Word says, you're sabotaging yourself. The words you speak have power - and consequences. So begin to correct yourself. Instead of saying, "I can't change," or, "I'll never get out of this mess," start saying what God's Word says.

Do what Jesus did in the wilderness: open your mouth and declare, "It is written." Jesus knew the Scriptures so well that He was able to tell Satan, "It's written that I don't have to bow to you. It's written that I don't have to come to you for what I need." And what was the result? "The Devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him" (Matthew 4:11). When you're under attack open your mouth, declare God's Word, and the forces of Heaven will come to your aid! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Monday, October 13, 2008

Not taking Daily Bread for granted

In everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. - PHILIPPIANS 4:6

One of the reasons Jesus taught us to pray "Give us today our daily bread" was because He wanted to build in us a barrier against ingratitude. It is so easy for us to take the daily blessings for granted. A good example of this would be the Children of Israel. God would every morning miraculously send them "manna" from heaven. Every day for forty years, G'od will take care of their daily needs. I'm sure they were very thankful when the manna first started. They would have died without the sustenance that the manna gave them. God miraculously provided for them daily. How did they thank Him?

Numbers 11:1-6 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. (2) When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down. (3) So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them. (4) The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! (5) We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. (6) But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"

They gripe and complain about the miracle of provision that God was giving to them. Can you imagine that? The blessing of God became something to complain about instead of something to praise about. It became just something that they got used to. They would go out every day, and there was the manna. They stopped giving God praise for it, and when the praise stopped, the complaining began. It is like that today. The moment you stop praising God for your blessings, you will be tempted to complain and belly ache about your blessings, or lack thereof. We need to take a close look at our attitude. Is it an attitude of gratitude, or complaining?

Do you pray daily for your physical needs? Do you ask God daily for things like food, shelter, and the other physical necessities of life? I must confess that when I asked myself this question, I had to admit that I did not. Now I have made a decision to apply myself to this part of the Lord' s Prayer with greater sincerity.

Of course some people argue that because Jesus said: "Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him" (Mt 6:8), then it is pointless to inform God of our physical needs because He knows them already. But the central value of prayer is that prayer is not something by which we inform God of our needs and thus influence Him to give things to us.

Prayer is designed to influence us; it is we who are in need of this kind of prayer, not God. Of course God knows what we are in need of, but He also knows that unless we come face to face daily with the fact that we are creatures of need, then we can soon develop a spirit of independence and withdraw ourselves from close contact with Him. Also, James 4:2 tells us that "you do not have because you do not ask."

Prayer, then, is something we need. God may not need to be told, but we need to tell Him. That's the point. And unless we grasp it, we can miss one of the primary purposes of prayer. And when we stop asking God for our "daily needs" we start taking them for granted, and we stop praising Him for them. Then…the complaining can move it.

Daily Prayer

O Father, thank You for showing me that prayer is not begging for blessings. It is becoming a blessing - to myself. I pray, not to change Your attitude towards me, but to change my attitude towards You. I ask you today to give me my daily bread, and I thank you so much for the daily blessings that you give me. Please forgive me for taking them for granted. Thank You, Father. Amen.

Pastor Rusty

Friday, October 10, 2008

Take a “Leaf-Raking Break”

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the importance of fighting "negativity" in my life and relationships. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that "life and death is in the power of the tongue…" We either appreciate or depreciate our spouse, children and other relationships by the words that we speak. As I was thinking along those lines, I read a devotion from "The peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Conflict" by Ken Sande. Please allow me to share a story that Mr. Sande shared. I hope it will speak to you the way it did to me.

If you look for something bad in another person, you will usually be able to find it. On the other hand, if you look for what is good, you are likely to find that too--and then more and more that is good.

As you regain a more balanced view of the other person, you will often find it easier to overlook minor offenses.

Ken Sande says, "I have experienced this process many times in my marriage. One day Corlette said something that really hurt me. I don't remember what she said, but I remember going out into the back yard a few minutes later to rake leaves. The more I dwelt on her words, the more deeply I slid into self-pity and resentment. I was steadily building up steam to go back into the house and let her know how wrong she was. But then God brought Philippians 4:8 to my mind.

Ha! I thought. There's nothing noble, right, or lovely about the way she's treating me! But the Holy Spirit wouldn't give up. The verse would not go away; it kept echoing in my mind. Finally, to get God off my back, I grudgingly conceded that Corlette is a good cook. This small concession opened the door to a stream of thoughts about my wife's good qualities. I recalled that she keeps a beautiful home and practices wonderful hospitality. She has always been kind toward my family, and she never missed an opportunity to share the gospel with my father (who eventually put his trust in Christ just two hours before he died). I realized that Corlette has always been pure and faithful, and I remembered how much she supports me through difficult times in my work. Every chance she gets, she attends the seminars I teach and sits smiling and supportive through hours of the same material (always saying she has learned something new). She is a marvelous counselor and has helped hundreds of children. And she even took up backpacking because she knew I loved it! I realized that the list of her virtues could go on and on.

Within minutes my attitude toward her was turned upside down. I saw her offensive comment for what it was--a momentary and insignificant flaw in an otherwise wonderful person. I dropped my rake and went inside, but not to unload a storm of resentment and criticism. To her surprise, I walked in, gave her a big hug, and told her how glad I was to be married to her. The conversation that followed led quickly to a warm reconciliation.

Food for Thought

Fall is here, and many of us will find ourselves busy raking leaves in the coming weeks. Have you ever had a leaf-raking experience like the one Ken describes above? Keep in mind that even without a rake in your hand, you can take a "leaf-raking break" and apply Philippians 4:8 to your relationships.

Pause to call to mind the MOST strained, cool, or distant relationship in your life today--even if it's only a minor spat. Then work to develop a list of at least three characteristics about the other person in the conflict that are noble, right, or lovely. Now, as the Apostle Paul counsels in Philippians 4:8, take a "leaf-raking break" from your regular routine to "think on these things." How might your approach to the present conflict change by putting the apostle's advice into action? It is something to think about isn't it? Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Message of the Locust

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I hope you will as well! I was reading some material about locust today online, and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands. Proverbs 30:27 AMP

In Bible days, people feared a cloud of locusts more than all the armies of their enemies combined. Locusts could literally black out the light of the sun, devour everything in sight and bring down a kingdom. They were unstoppable!

What's the message of the locust?

(1) Don't quit, your victory is assured! The locust is not big, but he's bold! If he can't get through the door, he'll come in through the window. If he can't get in through the window, he'll climb down the gutter and come up under the porch. But he never gives up. So keep praying, keep believing, keep fighting; your victory is assured. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). Pastor, a hundred locusts will do more to win your community to Christ than a thousand bench warmers.

(2) Alone you can't, but together we can! The locusts operate in 'bands'. Some of us have issues when it comes to letting people into our life. Because of fear, insecurity or pride, we don't want to talk to anybody, or open up and admit to anybody that we need anything. To reach your potential you must surround yourself with the right people. You can't run with weak, satisfied, laid-back, mediocre people. No, you need people with an appetite for life and a hunger for God. In God's Kingdom the mathematics are different: "One can face a thousand, but two can chase ten thousand" (Deuteronomy 32:30). "If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in Heaven" (Matthew 18:19 NIV).

Locusts can't really fly; their wings are too narrow. But they can jump 200 times their own height. And timing is everything! The locust waits till the wind blows, then he jumps and the wind carries him to his destination.

(3) When God moves, be sure you move! A locust cannot navigate where he goes, or fly against the wind, or chart his own course, or change direction. No, he's totally dependent on the wind. Thank God for self-help books and leadership seminars, etc. But there comes a moment when you have to trust God, recognize His timing, take a leap of faith and let the wind of His Spirit take you where you need to go. All your flapping around and wearing yourself out won't get the job done.

(4) Stay sensitive to the wind. Remember that wind is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. God, not you, determines your life's purpose. He's the One who schedules your seasons of opportunity. But Spiritual lethargy can dull your senses and cause you to miss your time. "Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's Word all over again" (Hebrews 5:12 NIV). Perhaps, instead of flying, your life is falling apart because you let the fire of God in your heart go out. Well, it's not too late! The wind will blow again.

So start praying, "Lord, I may have missed my time before, but not this time. I don't want to end up wishing I'd done something I didn't get to do, not because You weren't ready but because I wasn't." Blessings!

Pastor Rusty