Friday, July 31, 2009

“I will wait on Your Name!”


Psalm 52:9 "I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly."


David wrote this while on the run from Saul. He had just gotten word from Abiathar, Ahimelech's son that Doeg had killed Ahimelech and 85 priests of the Lord. Saul was desperate to kill David because of jealousy and rage. He was on the run.


David said, "I will wait fro your name, for it is GOOD, in the presence of the godly." David didn't understand the "why" of his predicament, but he committed himself to wait on God's good name.

Sometimes I have to wiat on God's name. I have to vacate the throne of my life (be still) and be thankful while I wait, as David did. In a storm, I wait for Jehovah-Shalom (The Lord of Peace). In a financial difficulty, I wait for Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord my provider). In a battle, I wait for Jehovah-Nissi (The Lord my banner). In sickness I wait for Jehovah-Rapha (The Lord my Healer). In times of failure, I wait for Jehovah-Tsidkenu (The Lord my righteousness).

While I wait…I fill my heart and mouth with thanksgiving to my good God, and I surround myself with godly influences.


"Lord, like David I run in fear at times. I must never outrun thanks and praise to you. I need to get off the throne of my life, and allow you to be in charge. Even in difficult and trying times, I wait for your GOOD name! In Jesus' name, amen!"

Friday, July 24, 2009

“Lord, please landscape me with Your Word!”


James 1:19-21 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. (20) God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. (21) So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.


When we talk too much and listen too little, we communicate to others that we think our ideas are much more important than theirs. James wisely advises us to reverse this process. Put a mental stopwatch on your conversations, and keep track of how much you talk and how much you listen. When people talk with you, do they feel that their viewpoints and ideas have value? These verses speak of anger that erupts when our ego is bruised: "I am hurt;" "My opinions are not being heard." When injustice and sin occur, we should become angry because others are being hurt. But we should not become angry when we fail to win an argument or when we feel offended or neglected. Selfish anger never helps anybody.


I want to be known as someone who listens before I speak. I want this in my marriage, with my children, in my office, in dealing with problems, gossip I hear, bad news on someone. I could go on and on, but I MUST post at all the intersections of my life to "lead with my ears". I am leading and teaching by how much I listen compared to how much I talk. When I listen first, talk second, then anger will "straggle along in the rear." I want to remember daily that "God's righteousness doesn't grown from human anger." When I allow myself to become angry because I haven't listened properly, then I am allowing God's righteousness to become stunted in my life. I want, and need, the righteousness of God. So...I must "throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage." This takes a daily decision to die to sin and temptations in my life. Every single day, I must ask myself, "what have I died to today?" I need to daily take out the "spiritual" garbage of my life. If I don't, then I am allowing my life to become a "dump" that will do nothing but continue to pile up with garbage.

After i take out the garbage, I need to let my "Gardner", which is God, to landscape me with the Word. According to what I found on the web, the following shows what the responsibility of a landscaper is:

  • Plan, create and maintain landscaped environments, which may include flowers, plants, trees, lawns, fences, decks, patios or water features.

I am so thankful that God has a plan for my life. He wants to bless my life with beauty. If I will allow Him to, He will create joy, fruit, growth, boundaries into my life. This starts by daily spending time in His Word.

  • Prepare and spray chemical mixtures using various types of equipment.

As the landscaper of my life, He also wants to protect my life from spiritual "infections." He has given me the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth, and to guide me away from the infections (sin) that will contaminate my life. He has also given me the precious blood of Jesus to cover me and my family. There are many things that the enemy daily tries to "infect" my life with, but if I allow the master landscaper to help me, I can daily fight off infections.

  • Operate powered equipment and hand tools.

There are so many tools that God has given me: His Word, His Spirit, His Blood, His body (church), Praise and Worship, the Name of Jesus. I could go on and on. The Master Landscaper is on my side and truly wants to make a "salvation-garden" in my life.


"Lord, I am reminded today that I must lead with my ears when I am dealing with people. Too often I lead with my mouth and say things without thinking it through and asking you for your help. Please forgive me for the times I have spoken when I should have been listening. I ask you to forgive me for allowing anger to build up my life. I want to daily take out the garbage of my life, and allow You to do the landscaping in my life that I need. I make a commitment to daily spend time in Your Word, and to pray three times a day just like Daniel did. Daniel prospered in a wicked time and land because He was committed to praying to you in the morning, at noon and in the evening. I commit to develop that kind of discipline in my life. I love you Lord, and thank you for what you are bringing about in my life. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

“I do not war after the flesh!”

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I would like to share with you today some thoughts concerning one of my favorite verses, 2 Corinthians 10:3. I will also use the thoughts of one of my favorite authors Rick Renner (Sparkling Gems from the Greek).

As a child of God, it is important for you to remember that you have been delivered from Satan's power through the victorious, redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Make sure you keep that wonderful truth in mind the next time you have to deal with the devil's attack on your life. And don't try to defeat a spiritual enemy with fleshly weapons and techniques because fleshly weapons are for fighting fleshly adversaries; they were never intended to defeat a spiritual foe. Spiritual adversaries must be fought with spiritual weapons!

Paul makes this point in Second Corinthians 10:3 when he says, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh." The word "walk" in this verse is taken from the Greek word peripateo. This is a compound of the word peri, which means around, and pateo, which means to walk. When these two words are compounded together, the new word means to walk around or to habitually live and carry on in one general territory. It is the picture of a person who has walked in one general path for so long that he can now almost walk that path blindfolded. He knows that area well because he has habitually lived and functioned there.

By using the word peripateo in Second Corinthians 10:3, Paul is making a very strong statement about his humanity. He's saying, "Nearly everything I do, I do in the flesh. I eat in the flesh; I sleep in the flesh; I think in the flesh; I study in the flesh. My life is primarily lived in this earthly realm." Although he was a spiritual man, he still lived in a body made of flesh.

Paul knew that he was locked into his fleshly body and couldn't get out of it — nor could he trade it for another! I'm sure he would have taken that option if it had been available because he had been brutally beaten and terribly abused during the course of his ministry. His physical body permanently bore the scars, marks, wounds, and disfigurement of those beatings (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-25 and Galatians 6:17). Having a body free of scars and disfiguring wounds would have seemed like a terrific prospect to Paul!

In addition to the beatings he had endured, Paul was naturally a man of small stature. In fact, the name Paul means "little one." Although he was an intellectual giant who was highly educated, cultured, and even skillful in the political arena before he came to Christ, he did not have a striking physical appearance. Even historians record that he was a small and unimposing man.

It seems that the appearance of Paul's body was even an issue in the Corinthian church. Those who were against his ministry and wanted to eliminate him used his physical appearance as a reason to discredit him. In response to this, Paul wrote and said: "...In presence [I] am base among you..." (2 Corinthians 10:1). Because his adversaries were judging him according to the flesh, he asked them: "Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?." (2 Corinthians 10:7). Finally, Paul actually quoted what they were saying about him: "For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak." (2 Corinthians 10:10).

Notice that Paul never argues with them about the condition of his body. In fact, it seems that he agrees with them, even stating, "I am base among you." But whereas some may have judged him according to the flesh, Paul's confidence was not in the flesh but in the spirit. That is why he told them, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh" (2 Corinthians 10:3).

I think this message is important because we live in a day when people tend to judge themselves by the appearance of their bodies. If they are skinny, they feel good about themselves. But if they gain just a little weight, they are tempted to think that they are ugly and disgusting. Because of modern movies and advertisements, people are continually inundated with thousands of subliminal messages that say, "If you're not skinny and youthful-looking, you don't rate!"

Amazingly, even believers get caught up in judging themselves by their outward appearance. Although it's true that we should do what we can to stay in good shape physically, there are millions of people who are in great physical shape but couldn't win a spiritual battle if their lives depended on it!

You see, physical muscles make you look great in the natural, but mere flesh and blood has no effect on the devil or the spiritual realm. Spiritual battles are not to be fought or won with flesh, because the flesh is no match for spiritual foes. This disadvantage of the flesh is the reason God has supplied spiritual weapons for the believer.

Paul was aware of the weakness and futility of his flesh. He knew that when it came to dealing with the devil, he had to turn his attention to the realm of the Spirit where supernatural assistance was available and spiritual weapons existed for him to use against the devil. He knew his greatest weapons did not lie in his mind, his talents, or his flesh, but in spiritual weapons that exist in the realm of God's Spirit.

In Acts 19, a group of exorcists, whom the Bible identifies as the seven sons of a man named Sceva, attempted to cast an evil spirit out of a demon-possessed man. But when they commanded the evil spirit to come out of that man, the spirit answered them: ".Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?" (Acts 19:14,15).

Think of it! That evil spirit knew who Jesus was and who Paul was! Even though Paul lived in a small body that had been mercilessly beaten and abused, he was so powerful in the spiritual realm that hell knew his name! Perhaps the limitations of Paul's flesh turned out to be to his advantage! Because he couldn't lean on his flesh, he had to learn how to function in the realm of the Spirit — and that's the reason the evil spirits knew who he was!

That's exactly what you need to do as well. Yes, you may live in a fleshly body that has all kinds of limitations, but you can go forth with spiritual weapons to do warfare in the Spirit! Regardless of what you look like in the natural realm, you can be a holy terror to the devil in the spiritual realm. So reach out and take the loin belt of truth, the shoes of peace, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. When you're clothed in the whole armor of God, you can win the victory over the kingdom of darkness every time! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Habitual sin

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I hope you will as well! Because of vacation and kids camp, I took a week or so break from my blog. It was a needed break. I am back and excited about some things that God has spoken into my spirit man. Today, I want to share something with you that I read in Rick Renner's "Sparkling Gems from the Greek." This is a very challenging and tough look at habitual sin. There are some things in the article that you may not agree with, but please read the following and allow it to "spur you on" in your pursuit of godliness!

A true child of God cannot continue to habitually live a lifestyle of sin! It is impossible! In fact, if someone claims to be a child of God but continues in a life of sin, it is more than likely that he was never genuinely born again in the first place. You see, the Bible makes it clear that it is simply impossible for a bona fide child of God to continue in a life of sin! Today I want to tell you the reason why this is impossible.

First John 3:6 says, "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him." Do you see the word "sinneth" used two times in this verse? In both cases, the Greek tense indicates continuous action, which means the verse could be more accurately translated, "He who abides in him does not go on continually, habitually sinning as a way of life; he who continually goes on routinely sinning as a way of life has not seen him, neither known him."

I realize this is a very strong statement, but this is precisely what John said to us in this verse. According to this verse, anyone who continues to live in habitual sin does not know Jesus. It could be that this individual has come close to the Kingdom of God and has even tasted the powers of it. But the fact that he has continued uninterrupted in the practice of sin shows that he has never become a real child of God. The fact that his life never changed demonstrates that his nature was never changed. This is exactly what John wrote in First John 3:6.

John then goes on to tell us, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (1 John 3:9). The tense of the word translated "commit" again indicates continuing action, which means the verse could be translated, "Whosoever is born of God simply cannot go on continually sinning." And then John tells us why! John writes, "for his [God's] seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." The word "seed" is the Greek word sperma — and yes, it is where we get the word sperm.

According to this phenomenal verse, God injected His own seed into you the day you gave your life to Christ! Just as the sperm of a human father carries the DNA of that father, God's seed — the Word of God — carries the life and nature of God within it. When that divine seed was implanted on the inside of you, it imparted the very nature of God Himself to your spirit.

Peter referred to this miraculous event when he wrote that you are "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1 Peter 1:23). This means the day you got saved, that divine seed came rushing into your spirit, carrying the life and nature of God within it to give you a new nature. Just as a human seed produces a human life, God's divine seed immediately began to produce the life of God inside you.

In Genesis 1, God declared a spiritual law — that every living thing produces after its own kind (vv. 21,24,25): Humans produce humans; horses produce horses; plants produce plants, and so on. This principle is also true in the spiritual realm. The day that God's divine seed was planted in you, that seed transported the very nature of God Himself into your spirit, with the full expectation that His very life and nature would be reproduced on the inside of you. This is why your desires suddenly changed after you were born again. This is also why you felt so badly about sin that previously didn't bother you at all and why you became so driven to possess a holy life. You weren't the same anymore, because you had a new nature. The nature of God Himself had been planted in you!

This is the reason a genuinely born-again person cannot continue habitually in his past sinful patterns. His new nature will drive him to be different, to be holy, to be like God. His born-again spirit will grieve and sorrow if sins are committed, because such actions violate the new nature that has been implanted in his spirit. If a person continues in sin as though nothing happened inside him, then nothing is probably exactly what did happen! More than likely, he was never really born again, for if he had been born again, that new nature of God within him would not permit him to continue living habitually in sin.

What does this mean for you and me? If a person who claims to be born again continues uninterrupted in habitual sin, we can take it as a strong indicator that he has probably never really been born again. This person may have come close to the Kingdom of God; he may have even learned the lingo of the saints. But the fact that his actions are unchanged indicates that his nature has never been changed. If he had really been infused with the divine seed of God, that life- giving seed would have so changed him that he wouldn't be able to continue living as he had lived in the past.

This is why I say that people who claim to know the Lord but whose lives never reflect a change should question if they have ever really been born again. The great preacher, Charles Finney, once remarked that most people who attend church are probably not born again. When asked why he believed this, Finney remarked that it was impossible for true children of God to live in blatant sin as many believers do. Finney made this statement over 100 years ago. As I contemplate the amount of sin that is so prevalent in the Church today, it makes me wonder, How many people who attend church in our own day are not genuinely born again?

  • Could it be that many who claim to know the Lord really aren't born again but instead have only been "enlightened" by coming closer to the Kingdom of God?

  • If someone is really born of God, could he continue to blatantly live in sin, completely unchanged in his actions or attitudes?

  • Doesn't John tell us that it is impossible for a person to continue in habitual sin if God's nature genuinely resides in his heart?

  • Don't you think it is tragic that many people who come to church week after week, assuming they are saved, may not really be saved at all?

First John 3:9 plainly declares that an authentic child of God cannot routinely commit and live in uninterrupted sin. Because he has been "born of God," he is so inwardly changed that it affects him outwardly. He acts differently because he is different. Now God's seed resides in his spirit, and that seed is producing the life of God in him; therefore, he thinks, behaves, and acts like God's child.

On the other hand, if a person's life does not emulate God, perhaps it is an indication that he has never really received God's divine seed into his spirit. If he had been implanted with God's seed, that seed would have caused clear and visible changes in his life.You must remember that in regard to the works of the flesh, Paul said, "They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:21). The word "do" is the Greek word prasso, which means to practice. The Greek expresses the idea of a person who performs these things as a matter of routine. These actions are his ritual, his norm, his pattern of life. It means the verse could be translated, "Those who put these things into practice and who do these things routinely shall not inherit the Kingdom of God."

  • Does your life reveal that your nature has been changed?

  • Or have you continued uninterrupted in your old attitudes and sinful actions since the time you thought you were saved?

  • Does your daily life demonstrate clear evidence of your salvation, or have you just learned the lingo of Christians and how to behave among believers?


Pastor Rusty

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Word of God will make a difference in your life!

Chuck Colson, in one of his books, was talking about the fact that so many of us have Bibles, and yet the Bible doesn't change us. 81% of the people surveyed in a recent poll said that they were evangelical; and yet only 42% of them knew that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount; and 48% of them could name the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Out of the 1382 people that were surveyed, less than 1% of them said that their lives were
directed and truly changed by what the Word of God said. In other words, many of us read it; but it doesn't always change us. Many are not really reading it and meditating on it.

I read a story about an inner city preacher was reading his Bible and preaching out of it. It was a New Testament. There was a drug addict who noticed the nice, thin paper of the Bible, thought how good it would be to roll up marijuana cigarettes, and asked the preacher for the Bible, "I would like to use the paper to smoke marijuana with." The preacher told him, "I will let you have the Bible if you promise to read it before you smoke it." The addict agreed. Sometime later, the evangelist was preaching a meeting, after the meeting a man came up to him and said, "I am the man who you gave the bible to" The evangelist remembered. "How are you doing?" The Evangelist asked. The man said, "Well I took the Bible I read Matthew then I smoked it, I read Mark then I smoked it, I read Luke then I smoked it, I read John, and it smoked me" THE WORD OF GOD WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE, IF YOU TRULY READ IT and MEDIDATE upon it!

I was reading recently about a guest lecturer at a university. The only thing they asked him before he made the lecture was not to talk about the Word of God, the Bible. He noted how strange it was to speak at the university and be asked not to talk about the Bible. Especially when that evening, he went to do prison ministry and the first words from the warden were, "As you talk to the prisoners, could you talk to them about biblical principles?"

That seems to me like the cart's before the horse. We're not supposed to share God's Word at the universities; but when we speak to prisoners, who've already messed their lives all up, then we can talk about it. It seems to me like we're building the hospital down at the bottom of the cliff instead of putting fences at the top. Seems to me that we don't really understand what the Word of God will do and how it can change our life.

The Bible was written over a 1600-year span. It was written by 40 generations, by over 40 authors from every walk of life including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, and scholars. It was written in different places, including out in the wilderness, in dungeons, in palaces, inside prison walls, while traveling, on lonely islands, in the midst of war. It was written at different times, sometimes in peace, sometimes in battle. It was written during different moods, some writing from the heights of joy while others wrote from the very depths of sorrow. It was written in three continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe. And it was written in three languages -- Hebrew, Arabic, and Greek. It covered subject matters including hundreds of controversial subjects, yet with harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation, there is one unfolding story, and the story is the redemption of man through Jesus Christ.

Ezra tells us in Ezra 7:10, four ways to take God's Word and apply it. Let me just read the passage. "For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it and to teach its statutes and ordinances to Israel."

1. Ezra prepared his heart to approach God's Word. Ezra literally prepared himself in the way that he approached God's Word. He wanted to make sure that he entered into the presence of God's Word in an appropriate manner.

2. Ezra prepared his heart to study God's Word. As Ezra read it, he allowed his heart to be tender and open to the voice of the Spirit.

3. Ezra prepared to practice what he learned. Ezra not only read it; but as soon as he read it, he practiced it. He began to apply it to his life.

4. Ezra prepared to share what he learned. Ezra not only learned it in his own life and practiced and applied it, but he took it immediately and he shared it with others, so they could apply it to their lives.

There are three simple things you have to do when you come to the Word."

Three key phrases:

1. Learn It.

It can't change you until you know it. "Learn it, and that deals with your head." Memorize scripture, that's the thing.

2. Love It.

You've got to begin to embrace the Word and let it embrace you.

3. Live It.

You've got to let the Word of God that comes into your heart go out through your hands, and you've got to apply it to others.

Question: What convictions should I have concerning the Bible?

Answer: I have learned to: learn , love, and live God's Word. No wonder the psalmist said, "Your Word I have hid in my heart so that I might not sin against you." Now what happens is, when we take the Word of God and learn it and love it and live it, we begin to develop biblical convictions. And there are three convictions about the Word of God that I want to make sure that we have today.

1. Even when I don't understand it, I'll trust what God said.

"It's not the parts of the Bible I don't understand that bother me," wrote Mark Twain. "It's the parts I do understand that give me fits."

Even when I don't understand it, I will take what God has said at face value. I will place my trust not in my understanding, but in God's Word. Naaman did that, remember? Naaman, the captain of the Syrian army, had leprosy, and his little servant girl suggested that he go to her country and see a prophet who could heal him. So off Naaman went to Elijah's house. He arrives in front of the house in his chariot, and Elijah doesn't even come out -- he just sends a servant out. And the servant tells Naaman that the prophet says for him to go down to the Jordan River and dip seven times in it. This ticks Naaman off. In fact, he says, "If I just needed to dip in the water seven times, I could go back to my own swimming pool in Syria. At least, the water's cleaner there." And off he goes. But then remember, his colleagues talks him into going down to the Jordan and dipping seven times, and when he comes out, his flesh is like a newborn baby's.

Now, what's interesting about this is how Naaman responded. He said, "I had thought the prophet would come out and wave his hand, and I would be healed (he had preconceived how God would answer his prayer)." But now, after his healing, he said, "Now I know that there's a God of Israel." Now isn't this interesting? Haven't we all done the same thing Naaman did? Haven't we come to God with a prayer request and told him how to answer it? We have this preconceived idea of how he's going to answer it, and we're just ready for it to be step one, two, three, four. Now, the first conviction is that the Word of God is very important. And that is, even when I don't understand it, I'm going to trust what God has said.

2. Although it seems illogical, I'll obey what God has said.

I will obey what God has said, even if it doesn't make sense. Remember Mary? In John 2, at the wedding in Cana of Galilee? They run out of wine, and Mary looks at the servants, and says, "Whatever he says to you, do it."

3. While human opinions vary, God's Word is right on every subject.

While human opinions vary, while others will have all sorts of answers, God's Word is right. One more conviction that'll change your life. I need the Word of God as much as I need food. And when I realize that the Word of God, which is the bread of life, is my spiritual staple that allows me to grow in my walk with him, it begins to change my life. And it begins to build convictions that help me to stand. I have five for you.

Convictions come into our lives when...

1. We have learned what the Word says on a given subject.

2. We choose to apply and obey the Word in daily life contexts.

3. We have exposed ourselves to a need in that area.

4. We have decided what is worth living and dying for.

5. We have settled the issue before we are forced to.

I am so thankful for the Word of God. Too many people say, "I prayed, BUT, I DIDN'T READ THE BIBLE" You cannot and will not be the victorious man or woman of God that you can be without daily spending time with God's Word. If you have a hard time reading, then listen to the Bible online. I was listening to the Bible just this morning. Here is a website that will allow you to do this:

Or, you can get the Word of God on CD or cassette tape. Just make a commitment to spend daily time with the Word of God. You WILL be changed for eternity!

I love you guys, and pray that you have a faith-filled, peace-filled, and hope-filled day! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Friday, July 3, 2009

God's Independence Day

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 on the "home stretch" of our two week vacation, and we have had a blast. I am so thankful for the great family time that we are having. God is good!

We have seen a lot of neat things on this trip, but yesterday was my favorite! We went to Presidents Park in Williamsburg. When I was a teenager, one of my hobbies was reading autobiographies (or biographies, whatever the case may have been for that individual President) and I learned to greatly appreciate the office of President of the United States of America. One of my favorites is George Washington. In the picture above, I am standing in front of a "bust" or sculpture of the first President of the USA. The park has a monument of every president, with information about his presidency. It was awesome.

As I walked through the park, I was so thankful for our great country and the freedom that we have. I had to pause several times to give God thanks for the great USA.

This morning I read a devotion by Beth Patch, on, that I wanted to share with you. I believe it will minister to you!

I don’t know an American who hasn’t celebrated Independence Day in their lifetime. The smell of burgers and hot dogs sizzling on the grill outside and the bursting of fireworks in the sky become familiar on July 4th. We eat, maybe the Star Spangled Banner is played and then everyone watches fireworks and goes home. It’s a national holiday, so most people take the day off and go back to work the next day. I’ve rarely ever been in the midst of a July 4th party where much seriousness was given to the reason for the festivity.

I do know of an Independence Day celebration that’s coming up that will impress the whole world. I can’t tell you the date, and you shouldn’t believe anyone who tells you they can. But, no one on earth or in heaven will miss its importance, and it will mark a day of freedom from the greatest oppressor ever.

It is the day of the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! It is the beginning of real freedom, like no one has ever had before (except Adam and Eve before they sinned). Those who have believed in Christ’s atoning blood for their sins and have trusted and believed in Him, might have what an old preacher of mine used to call ‘a Hallelujah breakdown!’

This Independence Day will release Christians from the many sins that keep them entangled. Imagine, no more sickness, no more addictions, no more gossip, no more unkindness, no more anything that does not reflect the positive attributes of the love of our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Currently, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, to strengthen us, to comfort us, and to give us power through Christ’s death and resurrection. But, many Christians are still bound by one sin or another. When Jesus comes, all our negative baggage goes away. I can’t think of a better freedom than that.

Actually, the whole scene of Jesus’ return sounds so incredible that I don’t know if there are words that describe the immense emotional, spiritual, and physical response that people will have.

The Bible tells us that Jesus will return to earth just like He left, through the clouds (Acts 1: 11b), with his angels (Matt 16: 27), with the trumpet call of God and a loud command (1 Thess 4: 16). Scripture says we will be changed in a twinkling of an eye and Jesus will destroy all dominion, authority and power (1 Cor 15: 52).

Our earthly minds are limited in their comprehension of this miraculous time. It’s a God thing, and try as we may, we can’t peg down the details on how God will accomplish the return of Jesus Christ and the destruction of evil.

Picture in your mind the sky filled with God’s mighty angels, the sound of God’s trumpet, which has to be the most beautiful and loudest sounding instrument, and our Lord Jesus shining radiantly as He leads His mighty angelic troop in the earth’s sky.

Personally, I picture myself laid out flat on my face crying tears of joy and relief with my hands raised in praise because the promised day has finally come.

Picture Jesus shouting with a sound that our souls will recognize as the call of our Master as He draws us to Himself in the sky. Anticipate the warm feeling of peace and acceptance overcoming us as the presence of the Lord is before us, and we go to be with the Lord for eternity.
Envision getting to see the victory as Christ and his angels capture Satan and his demons and justice is completed. It will be more graphic and stirring than any riveting movie that Hollywood could ever think of producing.

They’ve been trying to depict the story of good versus evil for mankind and one fabulous day, God will show us the real thing on this Independence Day.

What do you picture? Are you excited about this day? How do you see yourself reacting?
Many theologians have studied the return of Christ and not all have agreed about the order of when things happen or exactly how they happen. These varied opinions on the return of Christ and the disappearance of believers from the earth have created divisions among believers who desperately want to cling to one decided order of the end times.

My response to such division is that it won’t matter how we interpret end times scriptures when God’s day of Independence comes. We won’t be divided on that day – we will all celebrate!
There may be those who are reading this who are stirred in excitement thinking about this holy Independence Day. There also may be those who aren’t sure they believe they will be part of the group that Jesus Christ will call to join Him.

My heart hurts for those of the latter group. I want you to know that you can know for sure whether you will be spending eternity with God. The Bible says we can know for sure.
1 John 5: 13 reads, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (NIV)

Believing goes beyond an intellectual acceptance of the historical facts and beyond just looking to Christ in times of tragedy or need. Believing involves a heartfelt acceptance that you are a sinner, and that Christ truly was sinless and gave His life in place of yours as payment for your sins. He rose from death after the third day, and ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of God until the day of His return.

It is the beginning of a love so deep that you want to know more and more about Christ and the Bible. It places a desire in your heart to change from a person seeking to please yourself to a person seeking to please God.

The down side of God’s Independence Day is that those who have not believed in Christ’s sacrifice for our lives, and have not chosen to devote their lives to loving Him will not be joining the celebration. They will be fearful and hopeless. The Bible says that condemnation and separation from God forever awaits those who refused the Messiah, Jesus Christ (John 3:18).

May we all be mindful that God promised this day will come, and it will be a day of division and completion. Pray for those who do not know our Savior and tell everyone you can about the salvation and love that comes from Christ.

The Independence Day of our God will come when we least expect it and we are instructed to be ready as if it were the next moment. So, in case it happens to be today, Happy Independence Day!


Pastor Rusty

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 11 of our vacation "Homesick"

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

Well, we are beginning day 11 of our vacation. We are having a blast. We are in Williamsburg, VA. What a beautiful place, and we are enjoying every moment of our time in Virginia. Our experience with the state of Virginia is that it is a full of very friendly people. I have been impressed.
Today's agenda is: Going to Presidents Park, Water Country USA, then end the day back at Busch Gardens with their fireworks display.

Dorinda and I were talking a moment ago about how we are ready to come home. Mackenzie and Taylor yesterday said that they were "homesick." That got me thinking about our eternal home and the fact of Jesus' soon return.

Let me share with you some thoughts concerning this from Rick Renner, "Sparkling Gems from Greek."

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him. — 2 Thessalonians 2:1

When Paul wrote his second letter to the church of Thessalonica, he was exceedingly excited at the thought of Jesus' soon return. In fact, he was so thrilled about the prospect of Jesus' coming again that he devoted the entire second chapter of Second Thessalonians to the events that would occur in the last days. As Paul wrote this famous chapter about the events of the last days, he began by declaring, "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him."

Notice that Paul uses the word "beseech" in this verse. Normally the word "beseech" would be the Greek word parakaleo, but in this verse, Paul uses the word erotao rather than the word parakaleo. The word erotao means to ask or to make a strong request. This word calls upon the listener to cautiously listen to what is being said and to respond in a fitting manner to what has been heard. Because Paul is speaking of the coming of the Lord and uses the word erotao to appeal to his listeners, he clearly means for them to take his words seriously and to let these words make a strong impact in their lives.When we think about the coming of the Lord, it should make a strong impact in our lives. It should affect the way we live, the way we think, the way we carry on in our relationships, and the way we invest our money into the Kingdom of God.

It is simply a fact that Jesus is coming for His Church, and we should constantly live in the light of His coming. When we live with the awareness that Jesus is coming again, it changes our conduct and behavior. By using the word erotao ("beseech"), Paul is communicating to his readers that they have a responsibility to respond to his message about Jesus' soon return. They are to live in a godly, upright, and holy manner as they wait for "the coming of our Lord."

Then he begins to speak to them about the "coming of our Lord." The word "coming" is from the Greek word parousia. This word always places special emphasis on the Presence of the Lord — especially the Presence of God that can be tangibly felt among His people. Here it is used to describe the strong Presence of God that will be felt when Jesus returns to gather His people to Himself. The word implies that the Church will feel a phenomenal divine Presence when it is time for Jesus to gather His people to Himself at the end of the age.

This means that as we come closer to the return of Jesus, the parousia— the strong Presence of the Lord — will be strongly sensed among believers. In fact, the ever-growing, strong Presence of the Lord in the midst of the Church will be one of the signals that Jesus' return is close at hand. As His Presence gets stronger and stronger, we will know it is time for Him to return to "gather" us to Himself.

When Paul speaks about "our gathering together unto Him," the phrase "gathering together" comes from the Greek word episunagoge. This word is used perfectly in the apocryphal book of Second Maccabees 2:7, where it refers to that moment in the future when God will finally gather His people together to Himself. This is exactly how Paul uses it in Second Thessalonians 2:1 as he talks about that moment when God will finally gather His people together to Himself at the coming of Jesus.

In Second Thessalonians 2:1, Paul uses the word episunagoge ("gathering together") to describe that future moment when the Lord will quickly gather or collect His people together to Himself at the end of the age. At that divine moment, all of God's people will be quickly gathered together and collected in a common assembly to meet the Lord in the air. What a meeting that will be!

Considering the Greek words that Paul used in Second Thessalonians 2:1, this verse could be interpreted the following way:

"Brothers, I make this urgent, heartfelt request to you today, earnestly and sincerely pleading with you from the bottom of my heart to hear what I'm telling you and to do exactly as I say. The appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ is very near. In fact, it is so close that we can almost feel His Presence as if He were already here among us. The moment we have all longed for and waited for is almost upon us! I'm talking about that moment when Jesus will finally gather us together to Himself."

Jesus is certainly coming back for His people very soon. It makes me "homesick" how about you? Blessings!

Pastor Rusty