Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Necessity of Exhortation

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another. (Hebrews 10:25)

As we saw yesterday, the word "exhorting" is a powerful little word! It's the Greek word parakaleo, a compound of the words para and kaleo. Para means alongside and kaleo means to call, to beckon, or to speak to someone. When these two words are compounded together, it depicts someone who is right alongside of a person, urging him, beseeching him, begging him to make some kind of correct decision.

As we did yesterday, I would like to share with you some thoughts on this subject from Rick Renner. I took these comments from his book, "Sparkling Gems from the Greek." My prayer is that it will challenge, encourage and bless you as much as it has me!

In the ancient Greek world, this word was often used by military leaders before they sent their troops into battle. Rather than hide from the painful reality of war, the leaders would summon their troops together and speak straightforwardly with them about the potential dangers of the battlefield. The leaders would also tell their troops about the glories of winning a major victory.

Rather than ignore the clear-cut dangers of battle, these officers came right alongside their troops and urged, exhorted, beseeched, begged, and pleaded with them to stand tall; throw their shoulders back; look the enemy straight on, eyeball to eyeball; and face their battles bravely.

Walking by faith and doing the will of God sometimes places us in the midst of spiritual battles. Sometimes these battles aren't won quickly.

If you know someone who is discouraged because his fight isn't won yet, speak to that person truthfully and in a straightforward manner the way a commanding officer would speak to his troops. Remind the person of others who have stood the test of time and won their battles. And be sure to remind him of the sweetness of victory when the battle is over. He needs to hear a passionate, heartfelt word of exhortation from you!

The word "exhort" in Hebrews 10:25 could mean:

"When you're feeling down and out — like a failure who is falling behind everyone else — that isn't the time for you to stay away from other believers, as some are in the habit of doing. That is the very time that you need to come together for the sake of encouragement so you can face your battles more bravely."

Do you know people who need some encouragement today? Instead of letting the day slip by before you know it, why not take the time right now to call those individuals and encourage them? If you can't call them, how about writing them a note that will help them focus on victory?

Think back to all those moments in your own life when someone came alongside of you to encourage you. Didn't it make a big difference in your life? Now it's your turn to return this blessing to someone else.

So determine today to be a real comrade in the Lord to another Christian soldier. Make it your aim to speak words of encouragement to those around you today. If you see someone who is discouraged, or if you know someone who has been struggling in his or her faith, go out of your way to encourage the troops!


Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The “Parakaleo” Ministry

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

God has challenged my heart the past few days on the importance of encouragement, and guarding my words.

Isaiah 50:4 (TM) says, "God, has give me a well-taught tongue."

My words are like nitroglycerine: they can either blow up bridges or heal hearts. You can tell more about somebody by what they say about others, than by what others say about them.

There are so many of God's children that are thinking about giving up because they feel alone, and uncared for. There is such a great need for The "Parakaleo Ministry." What do I mean by that? Well, I would love to use the words of one of my favorite authors to explain this…Rick Renner. I have taken the following from his book, "Sparkling Gems from the Greek."

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

If you want to fulfill God's plan for your life, there's one thing you must not do: Don't forsake the daily fellowship and encouragement of other believers! Hebrews 3:13 tells us that we need to "exhort one another daily." But what does it mean to "exhort"?

The word for "exhort" that is used in this verse comes from the Greek word parakaleo. It is a compound of the words para and kaleo. The word para means alongside, and the word kaleo means to call, to invite, to speak, or to beckon. When these two words are compounded into one, it gives the picture of someone who has come closely alongside of another person for the sake of speaking to him, consoling him, comforting him, or assisting him with instruction, counsel, or advice.

Because it is so helpful when someone comes alongside to support you in this manner, this word is often translated in the New Testament as the word encouragement. Jesus used the word paraklete, a derivative of parakaleo, to describe the Holy Spirit as the "Comforter" in John 14:16.

These verses make it abundantly clear that we need to both give and receive encouragement from other believers on a daily basis. This is such a vital principle that the tense used in the Greek language calls for continual action. In other words, we are not to just encourage one another once a week; we are to make this a matter of lifestyle. We must get into the habit of encouraging one another, doing it so often that it becomes a daily practice!

Think how encouraging it is when someone cares enough to take you to lunch, call you on the telephone, write you a note, or go out of his way at the office or church to come to you and ask how you are doing. It is especially very strengthening to know that someone really cares about you if you're going through challenging times!

But rather than fixate only on your need to be encouraged, try taking your eyes off yourself to see those around you who are also in need of strength. Think of someone you know whom you can strengthen by coming alongside him to speak words of comfort, consolation, or bravery. Maybe you can take that person to lunch; call him on the telephone; drop him a note; or go out of your way to see how he is doing. Remember, you're not the only one who needs encouragement!

We all need encouragement from brothers and sisters in the Lord who will lovingly attach themselves to us — watching us, making observations about us, and finding ways to provoke us unto love and good deeds. But we must also turn around and do the same for other believers. That's what the Body of Christ is all about!

So recognize that when you're feeling down and left out, you need fellowship with people of faith more than ever. Jesus understood this principle. When He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray the night before His crucifixion, He asked Peter, James, and John to come pray with Him. Jesus needed their fellowship and strength that night, or He wouldn't have requested it.

Recognize your need for others — and acknowledge that others need you as well. The daily exhortation and encouragement of other believers will help you stir up your faith to hold fast to your confession until it becomes a reality. And as an added side benefit, you will experience more deeply the Presence of the Lord in your life through the joy of knowing and loving other people of like faith!

What a challenge! "Lord, use me today in The Parakaleo Ministry!


Pastor Rusty L. Blann

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nurses Needed!

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

I know that you are aware that some of the people around you, even successful ones, are dying on the vine for lack of encouragement.

Solomon writes, "How delightful is a timely word." (Proverbs 15:23) Isn't that true? It's delightful to receive a timely word. The Message says, "The right word at the right time - beautiful!"

Encouragement brings emotional healing, restores hope by putting the problem into perspective, and makes the day more bearable. Is there someone you know who needs encouragement? A prisoner trying to stay strong in a hostile environment while repaying his debt to society? A divorcee trying to rebuild his or her life? A breadwinner who's out of work, worried about their family? A widow who needs companionship? A servant of God labouring in an obscure and difficult ministry? Everyone is struggling with something - so everyone needs encouragement.

William Barclay writes, "One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement… it is easy to laugh at men's ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of such discouragers. But we have a duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word."

Paul writes: "Outside, trouble was on every hand… within us, our hearts were full of dread and fear. Then God who cheers those who are discouraged refreshed us by the arrival of Titus. Not only was his presence a joy, but also the news that he brought" (2 Corinthians 7:5-7 NLB)

Think about what Paul wrote. He was facing trouble on the outside, as well as internally. His heart was full of dread and fear, then God sent a great gift! What was the gift? Titus. The name Titus means "nurse." A Nurse is a great help and assistance to a doctor. He/she many times are the hands, words, and care of the doctor extended. The nurse represents the doctor.

My friend, I have good news today!

Mark 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Jesus is the great physician, the doctor. Every doctor needs a Nurse. God is looking for "Titus'" to step into situations and bring joy, cheer, encouragement, refreshment, and good news to those who are down trodden and feel like giving up. So many people are battling deep pits of despair, discouragement and depression. There is a great need for Titus'. There is a great need for Nurses in the kingdom of God.

The question that I asked myself after reading these verses was, "when I arrive at a place, do I bring encouragement? Do I bring joy? Good news? Do I refresh those who I come in contact with?" Or, am I messenger of bad news, discouragement, and do people avoid me because of my negativity?

I hope and pray that I am a nurse (Titus) for the great physician. God knows in my heart, that is what I desire! But desire left alone, isn't effective. I must allow it to drive me to action!

So, be a Titus - encourage someone today. Amen?


Pastor Rusty

Monday, April 27, 2009

Who Packed your Parachute?

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

That is so much more than just a "cliché" that I say at the beginning of most of my blogs. It is the written, inspired Word of God, from Psalm 118:24.

God has given us such a gift in this day. We have another opportunity to make things right with those we may have wronged. We have another opportunity to give Godly influence to those we may have overlooked. We have another opportunity to spend time with a child that we may have been too busy to enjoy. We have another opportunity to be a better employee than what we have been. We have another opportunity to be a better spouse today, than what we were yesterday. We have another opportunity to let those we greatly appreciate know it!

I am so thankful for so many people in my life. I pastor, in my opinion, the greatest church that there is. What wonderful people. They are always willing to volunteer of their time, give of their resources, and work hard to make our community a better place to live, and our church a lighthouse to the Delta region. I am indeed blessed. To all of the West Memphis First Assembly of God family…"Thank you for who you are and the love that you show to me and my family daily. You are the best!"

As I think about those words, I am reminded of something that I read from Proverbs recently. Let me share it with you:

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it. Proverbs 3:27 NIV

Now, I would like to tell you a story that I read recently. Charles Plumb was a Navy pilot in Vietnam. After 75 missions his plane was destroyed and he parachuted into enemy territory. He survived six years in a communist prison. Now he lectures on his experiences. One day a man came up to him and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!" Plumb replied, "How in the world did you know that?" Smiling, the man said, "I packed your parachute. I guess it worked!"

That night Plumb couldn't sleep. He said, "I kept wondering what that man might have looked like in uniform. How many times I'd walked past him without speaking, because I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor. I thought of the hours he'd spent in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands the fate of someone he didn't even know."

As I read that story, the question kept coming into my mind, "So, who packed your parachute? Who helped you to get to where you are? Who put their all in the line for you?"

There are so many who daily pack my parachute. My wonderful pastors and wives: Bill and Becky Harness, Clayton and Laurie Adams, Johnny Powell. They make up a wonderful pastoral team. Then my office staff is the absolute best: Shirley Cox, Beth Wilson, and Dorinda Blann. Then of course, my board of deacons…and I could go on and on! We have wonderful lay ministry in our church. I am blessed to have so many who "pack my parachute." I try to tell them regularly how much I appreciate them and their efforts.

Outside of Jesus, the one person who has impacted my life the most over the past 26 years is my beautiful wife Dorinda. She hourly packs my parachute, and makes me desire to be a better man, husband, father, Pastor, and friend. I am so thankful to God for blessing me with such an indescribable blessing into my life. We have spent 25 years together as husband and wife, and hope for another 50 plus!

How about you? Why don't you take a moment to think about who packed your parachute? Who do you owe a debt of gratitude to? Of course, we all owe so much to Jesus, but who else do you need to say "thank you " to?

Paul looks back and recalls people most of us have never heard of - like Andronicus and Junia, "Who for my sake risked their necks" (Romans 16:4).

There are no 'self-made' people. The higher you go, the more dependent you become on others. George Matthew Adams says, "Everyone who has ever done a kind deed or spoken a word of encouragement… has entered into the make-up of our character… our thoughts… our success." So, who packed your parachute? Be sure to show your appreciation by sending a card, email, text or phone call! Why not do it today?


Pastor Rusty L. Blann

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Pulpit or a Deep Pit?


Philippians 1:20 I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don't expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn't shut me up; they gave me a pulpit!


This was not Paul's final imprisonment in Rome. But he didn't know that. Awaiting trial, he knew he could either be released or executed. However, he trusted Christ to work it out for his deliverance. Paul's prayer was that when he stood trial, he would speak courageously for Christ and not be timid or ashamed. Whether he lived or died, he wanted to exalt Christ. As it turned out, he was released from this imprisonment but arrested again two or three years later. Only faith in Christ could sustain Paul in such adversity.

To those who don't believe in God, life on earth is all there is, and so it is natural for them to strive for this world's values: money, popularity, power, pleasure, and prestige. For Paul, however, to live meant to develop eternal values and to tell others about Christ, who alone could help them see life from an eternal perspective. Paul's whole purpose in life was to speak out boldly for Christ and to become more like him. Thus, Paul could confidently say that dying would be even better than living, because in death he would be removed from worldly troubles, and he would see Christ face to face. If you're not ready to die, then you're not ready to live. Make certain of your eternal destiny; then you will be free to serve-devoting your life to what really counts, without fear of death.


Paul's words that he couldn't hardly "wait to continue my course"
is so challenging to me. He was locked up, not sure whether he was going to live or die, but he was EXCITED about the next day! He was excited about the next challenge, the next struggle, the next step...WOW! That is a man who truly puts his faith, hope, trust and confidence in God. He truly had an "anchor for his soul" (Hebrews 6:19). Then he goes on to say "On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die." He is living with an eternal purpose and perspective. He knows that this world is not his home. He is on a journey to his home, and taking as many with him as possible. Because of that perspective, he declares with confidence and, I believe, excitement:

"They didn't shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! "

His struggles and battles were not going to make him sit back in self-pity or sulking while angrily questioning God. Quite the contrary, he was using his struggles as a pulpit to declare God's goodness and faithfulness.

As I read that, the question begged of me, "are you turning your troubles into a pulpit or a deep pit?" Yes we have struggles and hard times in this life. Paul had it as bad as anyone ever has, with the exception of Christ. Yet, he refused to allow his struggles to send him into a deep pit of despair, discouragement, or depression. Instead of going into a deep pit, he turned his troubles into a pulpit to declare God's faithfulness and compassion.

I have to admit that I struggle with this at times. Whenever I enter a troubling time, I spend the first few moments or hours in a deep pit wallowing in self-pity and anger. Then, as I pray, God begins to show me that He will receive glory through this struggle, and He WILL cause this thing to be turned around and fit together for my good! It is at this point that I now have to purpose in my heart to come out of the deep pit and to step behind the pulpit! I must not allow my battles to "shut my mouth!" I choose to continue to give God praise, to serve Him, to love Him and to declare His all-seeing and all-caring attention to my life. Others that I come in contact with are watching everything I do and say during my tough time, and I can with confidence use this difficulty for a pulpit to share God's great goodness!

For years I have asked God to help my spiritual vision to be 50/20! What do I mean by that? Well, everything was seemingly falling apart for Joseph. His brothers sold him into slavery, he was lied about, falsely accused, sent to prison for many years, and forgotten. However, years after God had restored his life, family and dreams, he stands before his brothers discussing the horrible things that had happened in his life and declares:

Genesis 50:20 Don't you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now--life for many people.

That is 50/20 vision (because of where the verse is found)...understanding that things may be meant to harm you, BUT GOD will turn it around and impact many people for Christ! It all depends upon whether I stay in the deep pit or step up behind a pulpit! It truly is our choice!


"Lord, I praise your Name this morning! You alone are worthy of my praise. I come to you today declaring that I choose to use my struggles, and battles to declare your faithfulness and goodness. Too often I have found myself in a deep pit as I walk in the midst of the battle. However, today I realize that you have allowed me to face these tough times so that I can have a pulpit to declare your work in my life. I know the enemy meant this battle for harm and to destroy me, but I am looking at this thing through 50/20 vision right now and KNOW that you will turn it around for good. Your Name will be declared and glorified. I love you Jesus, and thank you for this inspiration today. In Jesus' name, amen!"


Pastor Rusty

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Twenty-One Promises for Difficult Times

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I hope you will as well. I know there are several who will read today's blog that are facing difficult times. I would like to share some promises from God's Word for you. As you go through these promises, why don't you put your name in the promise and spend a few moments praying God's Word.

There has not failed one word of all His good promise. I Kings 8:56

(1) "Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence" (Proverbs 3:25-26)
(2) "Those who know your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You" (Psalm 9:10 NIV)
(3) The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe" (Psalm 27:1, 5 NIV).
(4) "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace… In the world you have… trials and distress… but be of good cheer… For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you]" (John 16:33 AMP)
(5) "Fear not, and do not tremble… because of them. For the Lord your God is He Who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to save you" (Deuteronomy 20:3-4 AMP)
(6) "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety" (Psalm 4:8)

(7) "No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord" (Isaiah 54:17 NKJV)
(8) "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king… With him is only the arm of the flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles" (2 Chronicles 32:7-8 NIV)

(9) "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my… fortress, I will never be shaken" (Psalm 62:1-2 NIV)
(10) "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand." (Philippians 4:6-7 TLB)
(11) "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword… In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:35-39 NKJV)

(12) "Let all those who… put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name… be in high spirits" (Psalm 5:11 AMP).
(13) "Fear not, for I am with you… I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you… I will hold you up… with My [victorious] right hand" (Isaiah 41:10 AMP)
(14) "You protect them by Your presence from what people plan against them. You shelter them from evil "(Psalm 31:20 NCV)
(15) "The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength… The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom" (2 Timothy 4:17-18 NIV).
(16) "This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:21-23 NKJV)

(17) "Because you have made the Lord… even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways" (Psalm 91:9-11)
(18) "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18 NIV)
(19) "He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me… He rescued me because He delighted in me" (Psalm 18:16-19 NIV)
(20) "Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light" (Micah 7:8 NIV)
(21) "You will have courage because you will have hope. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help" (Job 11:18-19 NLT)


Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Life Jesus will be Proud of


Philippians 1:9-11 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings (10) so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: (11) bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.


Often the best way to influence someone is to pray for him or her. Paul's prayer for the Philippians was that they would be unified in love. Their love was to result in greater knowledge of Christ and deeper understanding (moral discernment). Their love was not based on feelings but on what Christ had done for them. As you grow in Christ's love, your heart and mind must grow together. Is my love and insight growing?

Paul prayed that the Philippian believers would have the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, good and bad, vital and trivial. We ought to pray for moral discernment so we can maintain our Christian morals and values. Hebrews 5:14 emphasizes the need for discernment.

"Bountiful fruits from the soul" includes all of the character traits flowing from a right relationship with God. There is no other way for us to gain this fruit of righteousness than through Christ.


As I read these verses this morning, I am challenged to look at my life and the love that I exhibit. Too often I do not love "much" or "well". I must learn to love unconditionally. I truly want the love that I show others to be sincere, genuine...not some "sentimental gush" as Paul calls it.

One phrase really jumped off the page and grabbed me this morning: "a life that Jesus will be proud of." How desperate am I to live a life that Jesus is proud of? I want to hear at the end of my life Jesus say, "well done, my good and faithful servant." However, I also want to hear Him say at the end of this day, "well done, my good and faithful servant." To live a circumspect life means to "be watchful on all sides, examining carefully every detail" and this is what I must do right now to live a life that Jesus is pleased with TODAY.

To live an "exemplary" life means that my life is "worthy of imitation". Wow! As I look at my life, is it truly worthy of imitation? It can be TODAY as I carefully watch guard over it. I want to please Jesus with every decision, every thought, every word, every attitude, basically everything that I do every moment of this day. The only way to do that, is to start it off by giving my life once again to Him. I must die today to my fleshly desires and ways. I must consciously think through every thought and decision that I make. When the sun goes down tonight, and I slow down enough to fall into bed, then I can know that this was a day that Jesus was proud of my life!


"Dear Lord, I want to live a life that pleases you. But to be more accurate, I want to please you TODAY. I ask you to forgive me of my careless living at times. I want to be blameless with the truth, and a true witness of a life that you change. Today, I will examine my words more thoroughly before I speak them. I will check my attitude hourly. I will once again make a covenant with my eyes to not look lustfully at a woman (Job 31:1). I will set my affections on things above and not here below, and I will be more sensitive to the nudge of the Holy Spirit. I love you Lord, and desperately want to please you TODAY. In Jesus' name, amen"


Pastor Rusty L. Blann

Tuesday, April 21, 2009



Philippians 1:2-6 We greet you with the grace and peace that comes from God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ. (3) Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. (4) Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. (5) I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God's Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. (6) There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.


In verse 4 is is the first of many times Paul used the word joy ("glad heart" in The Message) in this letter. The Philippians were remembered with joy and thanksgiving whenever Paul prayed. By helping Paul, they were helping Christ's cause. The Philippians were willing to be used by God for whatever he wanted them to do. When others think about me, what comes to their minds? Am I remembered with joy by them? Do my acts of kindness lift up others?

The Philippians first heard the Good News about 10 years earlier when Paul and his companions visited Philippi (during Paul's second missionary journey) and founded the church there.


This passage is so challenging to me, from the very first sentence, "we greet you with grace and peace that comes from God our Father, and our Master, Jesus Christ." Grace and peace just flowed out of Paul. This man who was under constant scrutiny, criticism, pain, battle after battle along with false accusations yet he me everyone with grace AND peace! That is amazing. I'm not very sure that I would be that gracious or peaceful. But here's the key... "that comes from God our Father and our Master Jesus Christ." The more time he spent in fellowship with the Father through his relationship with Jesus, the more grace and peace he was able to pass on.

He even goes on to say that every time he thinks of his brothers and sisters in the Lord, that he breaks out in thanksgiving to God for them, and then each thanksgiving is a trigger to prayer. And he found himself praying with a glad heart.

Wow! What a word from God for me today. Too often, when I think of someone, it isn't grace and peace I am offering them. Nor do I break out in thanksgiving for them. And the trigger that I pull is not prayer, but complaining and criticizing about them. If I'm not careful, I can even slip off into "spiritual" gossip. Where I say things like, "please pray with me about ___________, you know they are running their mouth again." Well...what am I doing? Running my mouth! I need to change in this!


"Lord, I praise you and adore you. You are worthy of so much more praise than I can give you. Thank you for your Word. It gives life and direction. As I read this passage today, my heart was stirred to change. I want to offer grace and peace to everyone I meet, everyone I think about. When they come to my mind, I choose to give them unmerited favor and blessing, and speak Your peace over them. I ask that you help me, through Your Holy Spirit, to give thanks first of all for every person that comes to my mind. Then, that thanksgiving will be a trigger to pray for them. I thank you for bringing this powerful truth to my mind. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Monday, April 20, 2009

He did it all for me!

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

I just finished reading a devotion by Max Lucado that absolutely ministered to my spirit man. I feel like I would be selfish if I kept it to myself. I believe you will be blessed as much as I was. I am so thankful that Jesus suffered and died, just for me…and for you!

When God entered time and became a man, he who was boundless became bound. Imprisoned in flesh. Restricted by weary-prone muscles and eyelids. For more than three decades, his once limitless reach would be limited to the stretch of an arm, his speed checked to the pace of human feet.

I wonder, was he ever tempted to reclaim his boundlessness? In the middle of a long trip, did he ever consider transporting himself to the next city? When the rain chilled his bones, was he tempted to change the weather? When the heat parched his lips, did he give thought to popping over to the Caribbean for some refreshment?

If ever he entertained such thoughts, he never gave in to them. Not once. Stop and think about this. Not once did Christ use his supernatural powers for personal comfort. With one word he could've transformed the hard earth into a soft bed, but he didn't. With a wave of his hand, he could've boomeranged the spit of his accusers back into their faces, but he didn't. With an arch of his brow, he could've paralyzed the hand of the soldier as he braided the crown of thorns. But he didn't.

Want to know the coolest thing about the coming?

Not that he, in an instant, went from needing nothing to needing air, food, a tub of hot water and salts for his tired feet, and, more than anything, needing somebody—anybody—who was more concerned about where he would spend eternity than where he would spend Friday's paycheck.

Not that he kept his cool while the dozen best friends he ever had felt the heat and got out of the kitchen. Or that he gave no command to the angels who begged, "Just give the nod, Lord. One word and these demons will be deviled eggs."

Not that he refused to defend himself when blamed for every sin since Adam. Or that he stood silent as a million guilty verdicts echoed in the tribunal of heaven and the giver of light was left in the chill of a sinner's night.

Not even that after three days in a dark hole he stepped into the Easter sunrise with a smile and a swagger and a question for lowly Lucifer—"Is that your best punch?"

That was cool, incredibly cool.

But want to know the coolest thing about the One who gave up the crown of heaven for a crown of thorns?

He did it for you. Just for you.

My heart is full of thanksgiving for the unconditional love of God! Amen?


Pastor Rusty

Friday, April 17, 2009

Life is not defined by what you have

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

During my morning devotion I began to think about what defines life. What determines success? Can you BUY happiness? I would like to share with you today a truth from God's Word that helps answer these three questions.

Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot. Luke 12:15

Money can't buy happiness! Regardless of how much you have, it's never enough. Fear will always whisper, "unless you get more, you won't be secure." If money brought happiness, wouldn't the rich be happier than everybody else? Yet studies consistently show their happiness levels are only slightly above average, and in many cases, far below it. Despite what you've been conditioned to think, happy people don't follow money - they follow their passion - for that's what gives their lives meaning. Often I read about a sports star that makes millions of dollars a year being unhappy with his salary, his playing time, his coach, his team, etc. He is just an overall miserable person. I have also read about some of these same millionaires being addicted to drugs or alcohol to help cover the pain that is in their life. I believe it is very apparent that "life is not defined by what you have" but by "who you are becoming."

The Bible says, "Don't be obsessed with getting more material things"
(Hebrews 13:5). Wealth-based happiness is a weakness indulged by insecure people who are afraid to look inside and face their real fears. It's a mistake to think that wealth buys a life of freedom, status or worldly power. Take freedom for example: the rich usually become wealthy by sacrificing their freedom and leisure time. And status? That's a slippery slope too, because no matter how far you climb there's always somebody ahead of you. And worldly power? Well, when that increases, you generally lose control of your life because of all the people you have to please and obligations you have to fulfil.

When you pursue your God-given purpose, money is secondary. Your real status symbols are salvation, spiritual growth, a happy home, treasured friends and the incredible joy of doing what God's called you to do.


Pastor Rusty

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Seven Ups

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

I read a lot of devotions, and I run across one occasionally that I like to share with those who read my blog. Today is one of those days. I just finished reading a devotion by Bob Gass entitled, "Seven Ups." It blessed me and believe it will you as well.

I will lift up mine eyes… my help cometh from the Lord. Psalm 121:1-2

Wake up. Life's not a dress rehearsal. Live each day as though you won't be around tomorrow - for you might not be.

Dress up. When you get up each morning don't forget to put on a good attitude; it'll determine the rest of your day! Life's like a piano; everything depends on how you play it. Only 10% is about what happens to you; the other 90% is about how you respond to it.

Shut up. You're not learning while you're talking! Listen: "He who guards his lips guards his [soul]" (Proverbs 13:3). You'll save yourself untold heartache, and impress others by listening, observing, and speaking only after you've thought things through.

Stand up. Establish your values and your vision according to God's Word - nothing else! Not everybody will agree, nonetheless: "Stand firm. Let nothing move you" (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV).

Reach up. Paul says, "I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me" (Philippians 3:14). Focus on your goals! Refuse to settle for less than God's highest and best.

Lift up. Max Lucado says, "Worship is a 'thank you' that refuses to be silenced; an act of gratitude offered by the saved to the Saviour, the healed to the Healer, and the blessed to the Blesser." So lift up your voice in praise today!

Look up. David said, "I will lift up mine eyes… my help cometh from the Lord." Know what? When you're at your weakest, God's at His strongest!


Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Don’t be like a Wildebeest

Addressing the student body at Virginia Tech after a shooting rampage that left 33 people dead and dozens more wounded, Philip Yancey said: "Peter once said to Jesus… 'Lord, to whom can we go?'… You've heard, 'Things will get better. You'll get past this.'… Those who offer such comfort mean well, and it's true what you feel now you won't always feel. Yet… you're a different person because of that day… When three of my friends died I came across these lines: 'Grief melts away like snow in May, as if there were no such thing as cold.' I clung to that hope, even as grief smothered me like an avalanche. It did melt away, but like snow it came back in fierce, unexpected ways, triggered by a sound, a smell, a fragment of memory."

Yancey continued, "Pain is a sign of life and love. I'm wearing a neck brace because I broke my neck in an accident. Initially medical workers refused to give me medication because they needed my response. The doctor kept asking, 'Does this hurt? Can you feel that?' The answer he desperately wanted was, 'Yes, it hurts, I can feel it,' proof that my spinal cord hadn't been severed. Pain offers proof of life, of connection. In deep wounds two kinds of tissue must heal: connective tissue, plus the outer protective tissue. If the outer protective tissue heals too quickly the inner connective tissue won't heal properly, leading to complications later."

There are some reading today's blog that desperately need healing. You need restoration. You need peace in your emotions and mind. You need hope that things are going to get better, that this thing "came to pass." You are looking for answers, for any sign of relief, but so far you haven't found any.

My friend, Don't attempt healing alone. Real healing takes time. It takes place where God's presence, God's peace, and God's people are. The enemy of your soul always tries to remove you from godly influences. He has no problem with you being around folks that will tell you to "just curse God and die" like Job's wife told him. Job lost everything in his life except for the one person that would tell him to curse God. Again, satan tries very hard to separate you from the things that will encourage you. That is why so many people in America just quit going to church. They are so easily offended anyway because they are hurting, and the enemy exacerbates the offense even more. His purpose…to divide and conquer.

Just like the Wildebeest that you see on the Discovery channel. The lion goes after the animal that separates himself from the pack. He doesn't often go into the pack, because there is strength in numbers. But he will prowl, and wait for separation to take place. That is exactly how satan goes around… "as a roaring lion" seeking whom he may devour. He is seeking the one who separates himself from his friends, church and family because of a misunderstanding.

Are you hurting today? Turn to God. His promise to you is "I will… heal your wounds" (Jeremiah 30:17 NIV).

Let's pray together: "Dear Lord, you know the pain of my life. You know the thing(s) that I am struggling with. I am very much aware that the enemy goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I believe that he has his sights on me. I have been so tempted to separate myself from the ones that I love and that I know love me, as well as to remove from my life the positive, godly influences. I make a decision right now Lord to ask you to heal my wounds. I also make a choice to allow you to heal my wounds. I thank you for my church family, for my godly friends, and my godly family members. With Your help, and theirs, I will be healed. I REFUSE to be like the Wildabeest. In Jesus' name, amen!"

I love you guys, and I pray you have a blessed day!

Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jesus standing at the door and knocking

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

Yesterday we discussed the pain that we experience at times in our lives and the importance of allowing Jesus to bring healing into our lives before we can be effective in ministry. Why is this so important? Let's talk about it.

Revelation 3:20-22 Here I am! (Jesus said) I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (21) To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Then, on the sixth day, God created man and woman. He created them to fellowship with Him. Adam and Eve had everything that you could imagine to make them content, and satisfied. There was no sin, no sickness, no death, no growing old...Why would they want anything else?

It is human nature to want what you do not have. God told them the only thing that was off-limits to them was a tree in the middle of the garden called the "Tree of the knowledge of good and evil." The only thing they couldn't have. They had no problems with that for a while, they had too many blessings to worry about that one tree.

However, one day can change eternity. One day… because you see one day when Eve was out in the garden of Eden the Bible tells us that Satan appeared to Eve and tempted her to eat of the one tree that they were to avoid. Satan tempted Eve with what he has been tempting every human being with since that day…

"God doesn't care…if He really cared, why would He keep the blessing of this tree from you? He just doesn't care for you! If He cared, then why would He be withholding this blessing from my life?"

Eve fell for it and took of the fruit because she was convinced to believe that God didn't really care. She then took the fruit to Adam who ate of it as well. When Adam and Eve sinned, they LOCKED GOD out of their lives. Basically, put Him in the closet, removed His influence from their lives.

They destroyed the intimate personal relationship with God that they were created to have. God removed them from the garden.

Now…man struggled in his relationship with God. He turned to religion…ceremonies, rituals…he would now have to sacrifice bulls and goats for the removal of sin. But it just wasn't the same. They had locked God out of their lives. With no hope, seemingly, of that relationship ever being restored.

However, one day can change eternity. One day… because you see one day when man was about to give up hope…Jesus Christ the son of God, came on the scene

He came to seek and to save the lost. He came to renew mans relationship with God the Father. He came to put God back into man's life. He unlocked the door of man's heart and gave man the opportunity to be reunited with God the Father. He was the mediator or bridge back to God the Father. However, Satan is still at work, and he still works in the area of Good and evil. We live in a world where bad things happen to good, godly people. When we can't understand it, we question whether God is good, or even if He exists. The enemy is hard at work, to put God back in the closet, to remove Jesus' influence from our lives. That is His ultimate goal. And it happens so often in peoples lives.

In a ministers meeting this past week I listened to a powerful message from a missionary to El Salvador. The missionary told about how one day he went to visit a lady who had cancer. She didn't come to his church, but she was a relative of someone who did. This particular lady had an idol in her home that she prayed to. The missionary asked how she was doing, and she said "I have been told that I don't have very long to live. I am very discouraged. In fact, I have been praying to my god for me to be healed, and he hasn't healed me yet, so I have placed Him in the closet."

There are some of you today, who have placed Jesus in the closet of your lives because of hurt and not understanding how a Good God could allow some of the things that you have gone through.

Satan is still at work today, to place God in the closet, and that is why in Revelation 3:20 Jesus is standing at the door knocking, trying to gain entrance back into the lives of His people. For many years I believed that the focus was that Jesus was knocking but this verse doesn't say that "when you hear the knock open up", it says "when you hear my voice, open up." Jesus told His disciples on day, "My sheep know my voice." So as He stands there knocking, because you have allowed pain to lock Him out of your life, why don't you listen to His voice today. He really does love you, cares deeply for you, and He is a good God!

Even though Jesus died and then conquered the grave, there are some that still lock Him out of their lives because of pain and things they just don't understand.

How can a loving God allow such pain? These are questions that we may not ever have the answer to on this side of heaven. But my friends, as we celebrated two days ago, Jesus conquered the closet of the tomb, He refused to allow satan to lock him out…The Holy Spirit was sent to that tomb to bring life back into Jesus…It was the Holy Spirit that opened the closet of the tomb for Jesus.

What about you? Jesus conquered death…but it is up to you whether He will help you conquer the pain in your life that has locked Him out of your life. It really is YOUR CHOICE. The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and unlocked the closest of the tomb is trying to unlock Jesus from the closet of your wound in your life right now. He is the one you hear and feel tugging at your heart.

I am glad to tell you, that there is healing for you TODAY! One day can change eternity…THIS DAY can change your life forever…

Don't leave Him outside knocking. He wants to fellowship with you again!


Pastor Rusty

Monday, April 13, 2009

“Physician, heal yourself!”

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

What a wonderful Resurrection Sunday weekend that we had. The folks that helped with our Illustrated Sermon did a remarkable job. I am so glad that we serve a Risen Savior! But I am also glad that the power of the Risen Savior is in each of us that have made Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Listen to what the Word of God says:

Romans 8:11 (AMP) And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, [then] He Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore to life your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you.

Thank God that "Resurrection Power" is living inside of me. I don't have to wait until Easter comes around to experience His power, right now, the day after Easter, God's power is at work within me. Thank God for that! His power can bring about healing, restoration of relationships, restoration of my soul, salvation and so many other things.

Did you know that in the Old Testament a priest could not serve in God's house if he had a scab, which is an unhealed wound or a bleeding sore? (Leviticus 21:20.) Why? Because when you have a scab you're not up to par. You can't get close to others in case they bump into you and knock the protective cover off it. You're not at your best because the pain-drain is sapping your strength. You're afraid to talk about your scab in case people reject you, so you wear a mask, live on two levels and become insecure and controlling. Worst of all, you're so busy working for God and taking care of others that you don't think you have time to stop and take care of yourself. The Bible says: "Physician, heal yourself!" (Luke 4:23 NKJV).

Does this mean people with 'issues' can't work for God? No, quite the opposite. It's the broken who become masters at mending. But first you must take time to be healed. Jesus said that when the blind lead the blind they both fall into a ditch (Matthew 15:14). It's hard to talk about victory to others when you yourself are living in defeat. It's hard to bring emotional healing to others when you're still battling the unresolved issues of your past. When you are still bleeding, you can't treat people's problems with the same kind of aggressive faith you'd have if you'd already worked through the problem.

Is it wrong to have a wounded heart? No, but it's wrong not to deal with it. So, spend time with God and let Him make you whole so that He can use you to minister more effectively to others. If you don't take the time to heal, then you will find Revelation 3:20 taking place in your life very soon. We will talk about that tomorrow!


Pastor Rusty

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Cry of Victory

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

As I type this blog, I am sitting outside listening to the birds sing, and the wind blow. It is cloudy, and a little bit chilly. As I sat for a few moments and just listened to the sounds, my mind went back to what the day was like over 2000 years ago when Jesus paid the debt for my sins. Today is "Good Friday" and the great love and sacrifice that Jesus paid for mankind is indeed very good, however, the pain, agony, and torture that Jesus went through was severe. He willingly gave up His life for me…and you.

As I was thinking along those lines, I began to think about a devotion that I read from Max Lucado this past week entitled, "A Cry of Victory." I would like to share the devotional with you on today's blog.

"It is finished."

Stop and listen. Can you imagine the cry from the cross? The sky is dark. The other two victims are moaning. The jeering mouths are silent. Perhaps there is thunder. Perhaps there is weeping. Perhaps there is silence. Then Jesus draws in a deep breath, pushes his feet down on that Roman nail, and cries, "It is finished!"

What was finished?

The history-long plan of redeeming man was finished. The message of God to man was finished. The works done by Jesus as a man on earth were finished. The task of selecting and training ambassadors was finished. The job was finished. The song had been sung. The blood had been poured. The sacrifice had been made. The sting of death had been removed. It was over.

A cry of defeat? Hardly. Had his hands not been fastened down I dare say that a triumphant fist would have punched the dark sky. No, this is no cry of despair. It is a cry of completion. A cry of victory. A cry of fulfillment. Yes, even a cry of relief.

It's over.

An angel sighs. A star wipes away a tear.

"Take me home."

Yes, take him home.

Take this prince to his king.

Take this son to his father.

Take this pilgrim to his home.

(He deserves a rest.)

"Take me home."

Come ten thousand angels!

Come and take this wounded troubadour to the cradle of his Father's arms!

Farewell manger's infant.
Bless You holy ambassador.
Go Home death slayer.
Rest well sweet soldier.

The battle is over.

Thank God, that Jesus paid the price and gave the cry of victory! It is finished! It is "Good Friday" but victorious Sunday is coming!


Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dwelling in the Land of Strife


Exodus 2:11-16 Time passed. Moses grew up. One day he went and saw his brothers, saw all that hard labor. Then he saw an Egyptian hit a Hebrew--one of his relatives! (12) He looked this way and then that; when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. (13) The next day he went out there again. Two Hebrew men were fighting. He spoke to the man who started it: "Why are you hitting your neighbor?" (14) The man shot back: "Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?" Then Moses panicked: "Word's gotten out--people know about this." (15) Pharaoh heard about it and tried to kill Moses, but Moses got away to the land of Midian. He sat down by a well. (16) The priest of Midian had seven daughters.


As I read this passage, I made several observations. I would like to divide these observations into ten statements:

#1 One day he went and saw how bad his Hebrew brothers and relatives were being treated.

#2 Then he saw an Egyptian hit a Hebrew, one of his relatives

#3 He looked this way and that, and when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand

#4 The next day he went out there again, and two Hebrew men were fighting once again

#5 Moses spoke to the man who started it and the man said, "Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?

#6 Moses panicked and said to himself, "Word's gotten out--people know about this.

#7 Pharaoh heard about it and tried to kill Moses

#8 Moses got away to the land of Midian (Strife).

#9 He sat down by a well

#10 The priest of Midian had seven daughters.


How do these statements apply to me? Let's look at each of them.

Moses had been living a life of luxury as Pharaoh's grandson. He had everything monetarily that he could possibly want. Then one day he went out to place where his Hebrew friends and family were working. He then saw how difficult of a time that his relatives were having. Then he saw an Egyptian hit a Hebrews, one of his relatives. When he saw this, something inside of him apparently snapped. In one day he went from a life of luxury to a life on the run. One day changed everything for him. I never know what this day holds for me, but I do know WHO holds the day and walks with me through it. I am reminded that "this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Moses did something that should be a warning for all of us. He "looked this way and that" and when he didn't think anyone was looking, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. Looking "this way and that" should be a warning sign for me. "Why am I concerned about who sees me do this?" And even if NO PERSON sees me, God sees everything I do, as well as my thoughts and motives of the heart. So, the next time I am tempted to look around to see who is going to see what I am about to do, maybe I should pause and pray and ask God whether I should do it or not.

The next day, Moses went out to the Hebrews again, and two Hebrews were fighting. These Hebrews were an angry, oppressed group. It is easy to allow your circumstances to dictate to you how you will act and treat others. Regardless of the oppression I may be facing, I still need to choose to treat people the way I would like to be treated, and not the way they deserve to be treated.

As Moses saw the two Hebrews fighting, Moses spoke to the one that started the fight and the man said something that slapped Moses in the face, and effected him for the next forty years. The man said, "Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?" Those words stayed with Moses because we see him forty years later at the burning bush, arguing with God that the Hebrew people "will not listen to me" and will wonder "why am I telling them what to do." Too often, I find myself hindered by the words spoken over me in anger many, many years ago. It is time, like Moses had to do, to get victory over those harmful, hurtful words. At the burning bush, God spoke words of hope and encouragement into Moses' life, and He wants to do the same thing to me...if I will slow down and listen.

On top of the hurtful words, now Pharaoh heard about Moses killing a man, and now Pharaoh was seeking to kill Moses. So Moses runs for his life, and he ends up in Midian, the land of strife. Moses sat down by a well, and ended up staying in the land of strife for forty years. Too often, after we are hurt and treated badly we end up in Midian, and we stay there for a long time. is appealing to our flesh. "Midian had seven daughters..." No wonder Moses settled down there. As a single man, that was very appealing to him. Seven daughters! Strife is just as appealing to some folks. They are the happiest when they are stirring up trouble.

That is not the way that God wants His children to live, and it is time to move! Moses did, we will look at how he got of Midian tomorrow.


"Lord, I have ended up in the land of strife because of hurtful words and actions from my past. I recognize that now, and I ask you to forgive me for hanging out so long in Midian. When I do that, you are not pleased. Jesus, you tell me to "live at peace with all men, if possible" and it is possible because all things are possible with you. I want to live a joy filled, peace filled, Word filled, love filled, victory filled life. I just can't do it in Midian. I must not be content to dwell there anymore. I choose to listen to You today as I read the story of Moses one more time. I am so thankful that he was able to leave Midian, and I am as well...with your help. In Jesus' name, amen."


Pastor Rusty

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Midian: The Land of Habitual Strife


Exodus 2:11-15 Time passed. Moses grew up. One day he went and saw his brothers, saw all that hard labor. Then he saw an Egyptian hit a Hebrew--one of his relatives! (12) He looked this way and then that; when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. (13) The next day he went out there again. Two Hebrew men were fighting. He spoke to the man who started it: "Why are you hitting your neighbor?" (14) The man shot back: "Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?" Then Moses panicked: "Word's gotten out--people know about this." (15) Pharaoh heard about it and tried to kill Moses, but Moses got away to the land of Midian. He sat down by a well.


Midian means strife, and is the fourth son of Abraham by Keturah, the father of the Midianites (Genesis 25:2; I Chronicles 1:32). It also means: judgment; covering; habit.

To escape punishment for killing the Egyptian, Moses ran away to Midian. He became a stranger in a strange land, separated from his home and family. It took many years after this incident for Moses to be ready to serve God. But he trusted God instead of fearing the king (Hebrews 11:27). We may feel abandoned or isolated because of something we have done. But though we feel afraid and separated, we should not give up. Moses didn't. He trusted God to deliver him, no matter how dark his past or bleak his future.


It is so easy to end up in the land of strife! And, as Midian means, to form a habit of strife. There are times that I just find myself agitated, aggravated, frustrated, irritated...any "ted" you can think of, and I don't really know why. When I am like this, nothing or no one can make me happy. When I am hanging out in Midian, I don't really want to spend time in God's Word, nor do I desire to pray. I have to be disciplined enough to push through my "lack of desire" if I expect to leave Midian victoriously.

Sometimes, instead of pushing through, I linger in Midian longer than I should. This happened to me recently. I was mad at a situation, and it bled over into my relationships with my family. I seemed to be unhappy with my children and my precious wife. I couldn't understand it until my son-in-law mentioned this past Sunday morning in a sermon he was preaching about "Midian meaning strife." As he continued to preach, I continued to meditate on that one phrase. I have spent several hours this week studying the word Midian. In fact, I plan to preach a message this Sunday night entitled, "Leaving the land of Strife."

We must leave the land of strife if we expect God to use us, bless us, or prosper us. If I find myself getting mad very easily, or if I develop a tendency to become offended easily, or have a tougher time than usual to control my tongue, there is a good chance that I am hanging out in "Midian, the land of strife."

It is time God's people stop living and dwelling in disunity and strife. That is not pleasing to God, nor does it help build God's church. In fact, quite the contrary. It tears down His church. I am either a part of the construction team or the demolition team when it comes to building Christ's church. How about you? Are you building up or tearing down? How about at home? Do your kids respect or not respect someone because of your lack of self-control? Are you leading your kids to the Land of strife by your words and actions?

I have seen it happen too many times. Kids develop a dislike, or distrust of the church because parents would not leave the land of strife. In fact, Sunday night I will show through the word that the land of strife is very appealing and attractive to the flesh. Many are content to dwell there. But I must make up my mind to leave this land, if I ever want to be anything for God.


"Lord, I ask you to help me today to leave the land of strife. But before I make a decision to leave Midian, I have to recognize that I am dwelling there. I have been frustrated, irritated, aggravated, agitated for too long. I have become offended too easily. I have pointed my finger at others in contempt but turned a deaf ear to your Holy Spirit as you try to show me that the problem isn't always someone else, but it is me. I need your help today. I need your guidance today. I make the choice to leave the land of strife. I thank you that as I do that, you will give me the strength to make wiser decisions than I am right now. I love you Lord, and thank you for this Word. In Jesus name, amen!"


Pastor Rusty