Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Triumphant Church, Part 6

I’ve been asked before, “What has been your most frustrating experience in over twenty-five years of pastoring?” I can tell you exactly what that is. There have been so many times that I felt like I needed to shake people and convince them that God wanted to bless them! God wants you to prosper  . . . to be healed . . .to be well. “God always wants me to be well?” Yes, according to His Word! You cannot give me one passage of Scripture that would convince me that God wants you to be sick. I challenge you to show me one from the Word. 

You might say, “What about Paul’s thorn?” What about his thorn? What do you think it was? I don’t have to think; it’s not left for me to guess. The Word says that the thorn in the flesh was a messenger from Satan. That’s very clear. It was some sort of spiritual, demonic attack sent to buffet him. “Buffet” means to punch or to beat him up! It doesn’t say anything about Paul being sick. 

Oftentimes what we have is bad teaching gone to seed, and it just gets propagated over and over and over, and we believe what we’re taught. We need to be careful and study the Scriptures for ourselves and not simply take for granted that everything a person teaches is accurate. I’m telling you right now, don’t believe something simply because I said it; you go home and search the Scriptures. If you think that I am wrong about it, then come and talk to me, and respectfully we’ll go to the Word of God. 

There is nothing in Scripture that will convince me that God wants us to be defeated! If I am defeated, it’s because I’ve done something on my own. The only time Joshua and his army suffered defeat was at Ai. We know that there was sin in the camp, but there was another reason. When they were going up against Ai, they immediately came up with their own plan. After they were defeated in the first confrontation, the Bible says that Joshua then consulted the Lord. Possibly if he would have done that the first time . . . I’m just saying! I’m not judging. Maybe if we consulted the Lord before we acted, we could get His mind, strategy, and plan and do it the way He wants from the very beginning. Then we would not spend so much time spinning our wheels, getting beat up, becoming frustrated, and losing sleep. 

We’ll continue looking at the Triumphant Church in the next blog. Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Grace and peace,
Pastor Emory

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Triumphant Church, Part 5

Let’s look at Romans 8 beginning with verse 31. Paul says, “What then shall we say to these things, if God is for us, who can be against us?” This is the first thing you need to determine. Is God for you or against you? Here are a couple more things to consider. Are you for or against God? Are you working with or against Him and His will for your life? Every decision you make is in agreement with either your adversary or your friend.

Your enemy, the devil, roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. You’re either aligning yourself with your adversary, or you’re lining yourself up with your very best friend, Jesus Christ. In order to be in right alignment with Him, you have to be in agreement with God’s Word. In order to be in agreement with His Word, it is necessary to know what it says! Therefore, you must study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). 

If you don’t know whether you’re walking in agreement with God, find out. How? Discover what His Word says! Come into agreement and align your life with what He has spoken.  

The Psalmist said that God showed His works to Israel but revealed His ways to Moses. What are we most focused on? What are we most interested in? Simply seeing the works of God (which are great and glorious and thank God for them), or are we intent on learning His ways? Will we allow His ways to become our ways? Many in the Church have this mindset, “Well, you know, God’s ways are higher than my ways. I can’t think like God thinks.”

Once you get your mind renewed and understand that you have the mind of Christ, you can think the way He thinks! I’m not saying that God’s thoughts still aren’t higher than ours or that His ways are not beyond our comprehension at times. What I am saying is that in any given situation, you can know the mind of God for your life. It is necessary to have knowledge of God and His Word!

Too many Christians are spending too little time in the Word of God, and then they can’t understand what’s going on in their lives; therefore, they become weak. This causes them to be defeated, live to a great extent “purposeless lives,” walk and run in circles, and never really accomplish that which God has created them to do. God has called you to be victorious! It is imperative that we get this truth established in our hearts and minds so we can live a triumphant life.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Emory

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Triumphant Church, Part 4

We’ve been talking about the Triumphant Church and the fact that God has called us to be just that. The Church has been and always will be eternal. You can read passages of Scripture such as Revelation 19 regarding Christ who is faithful and true coming down from heaven and being followed by a great army riding white horses. Those are folks just like us. God has always had a Church, and He has always sought a people through whom He could work that would bring victory in the earth and bring glory to His name as a result.

Here’s the essence of what I’m conveying today, my friend. God has called you to always triumph! God has not called you to be defeated. Christ is not returning for a defeated, weak, or sickly bride. He is returning for a glorious Church, a radiant bride, and a victorious army. The triumph begins now! We don’t have to wait until we die, go to heaven, and follow Jesus on a white horse. God has called us to triumph and be victorious now.

I shared with some men recently something that I had learned years ago from reading a friend’s book. He said, “Here, read this; it will help you.” One of the things that has always stuck with me from that book is the Champion’s Formula. It is: I + M = R. You can turn the equation around, and it will work as well. The formula is: Intent + Mechanism = Results. Your results are equal to your intention plus the mechanism. God will always supply the mechanism for you to succeed if you intend to succeed. It’s amazing to me how many Christians don’t even intend on succeeding! They are fixed on defeat! They’re intent on being weak, sickly, and confused. If they intended to be otherwise, then they would have moved in that direction. 

God will always supply a mechanism. In fact, usually we have the mechanism within arm’s reach, but we don’t always see it or recognize it as such.

In Romans 8, Paul gives us a real word of encouragement. Now, this is the same Paul who had been shipwrecked on various occasions, beaten several times, abandoned, betrayed, and experienced lack and famine. Yet through all of that he says things like, “But thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph.” That needs to be our attitude today! Thanks be to God who always causes me to triumph!

Grace and peace,
Pastor Emory

Friday, April 5, 2013

Encourage Yourself!

"David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God" (1 Samuel 30:6, Amplified).

I felt prompted to give a word of encouragement to our friends and family. In the Scripture above, we read one of the keys to continued success in business and ministry.  It is evident that many are feeling the pressures that come with an active life. Family, work, relationships, finances, and a myriad of other challenges can bring us to a place of distress and heaviness at times. David was considered a great leader. In fact, to this day many regard him as one of the most outstanding leaders of all time. Yet, even David, the great man of God, was acquainted with feelings of distress and despondency.

David knew how to deal with the feeling of defeat. He knew where to turn in moments of confusion and despair.

It is interesting that David finds himself in this state of mind soon after experiencing success. It was declared that Saul had slain thousands, but David had slain tens of thousands. He was riding high on emotion. However, upon returning from the battle, David was informed that the enemy had come in and taken his wives captive. In fact, though none were slain, the wives and children of all his warriors had been taken! His followers threatened to stone the great leader. No wonder David was “greatly distressed.”

The example of David's story holds an important life-lesson to which each of us must give attention. The Scripture states, “But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”

As ministers, missionaries, managers, and leaders of varying degrees, we would do well to learn where to turn when we seem to be overwhelmed. David turned to God. He encouraged himself and found strength in the presence of the Lord. He most likely reminded himself of all that God had brought him through in times past. He may have spoken the promises of Jehovah. He lifted his voice in worship to his Creator.

We must follow this example as we continue in the fight. Life is full of challenges, and at times we may feel like giving up, giving in, throwing in the towel and shouting, “No mas!” God is calling us forward, never backward. If things need to be set in order, then we must do what needs to be done. However, we must remind ourselves that God’s goodness, grace, and glory are everlasting.

So never, never give up! Give no place to the enemy! Get into God’s presence and allow the anointing to bring strength and healing; then get up and go again, for God has called you to recover what the enemy has stolen. You can do ALL things through Christ who gives you strength!

Grace & Peace

Pastor Emory

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Triumphant Church, Part 3

I’d like to talk about growing in grace. It makes me think of a group of women who recently went on an Encounter Retreat with my wife, Vickie, leading the way. That Encounter Retreat was simply an opportunity for the participants to grow in grace. Peter said that we should grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord. How do we go about doing that?

Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” The preceding verses tell us how we can do that. It speaks of Jesus Christ as being our Mediator and our High Priest, the One who was tempted in every way such as common to us, but He was found without sin. He becomes our qualification. Through faith, we are made ready to go before Him, and nothing that we do in and of ourselves qualifies us to do so. In fact, as we all know, if we go before the throne of God unworthily, that makes us eligible for death. You have to meet the requirements to go before the throne of a king.

You’ve seen movies where some crackpot goes before the king unworthily, and what happens to him? His head is cut off! He’s either thrown into a dungeon, set on fire, or some other equally terrible outcome. Nobody just walks in boldly before a king, no less the King of the Universe! I mean we’re talking about God, the Creator of everything that we see, right? He’s the ultimate King! We dare not approach His throne in an unworthy manner. So the writer of Hebrews gives us the qualification: only through Christ. Can you imagine? We have the privilege and honor of coming before God’s throne! He says not only can we enter boldly, but once we get there . . . BOOM . . . what happens? Two key things take place.

  • We obtain mercy. That’s automatic! Mercy is waiting for you at the throne. Why? Because without it, you’d be zapped! In and of yourself you don’t qualify. So without mercy, the moment you step before the throne, you would turn into a pile of ash! Praise God, mercy is there just waiting to be obtained. 
  • The Scripture says that we find grace. We don’t just obtain it; it’s not automatic. We find it! There is a biblical principle connected to “finding.” Jesus teaches the following lesson. Knock and the door will be opened; ask and you shall receive; seek and you will find! What is it that we seek? We are seeking grace. What is grace? Grace is the divine influence on the heart and the reflection seen in the life.

What have you been seeking? When you ask God for grace, what are you asking for? Many Christians don’t even know. They simply ask, “Oh God, give us grace, give us grace, give us grace.” What is grace? I’ve become a bit more calculated in this. Do I really want to ask for grace? Because when I ask for grace, I’m asking for God to divinely influence my heart. “God, I need grace in this relationship; I’ve been offended by a brother. Give me grace.” Do I know what I’m asking for? Literally, what I’m saying is, “God, I need Your divine influence on my heart and the reflection of that influence to be seen in this relationship.” “Oh, oh, oh, I thought maybe I was asking God to change the other person, God would dump some mercy on them, or that God would just move and do something!” What I’m asking is that God would change my heart and the evidence of that transformation to be seen in my life. That’s what grace is! Do we understand that? We might be a bit more careful asking for grace after we’ve grasped this. No, we need to ask for more grace. We need a greater grace. Why? Because many times our hearts are not right.

The good news, no, the really great news is that we can come boldly before the throne of grace, obtain mercy (which is right there waiting for us), and we find divine influence for our heart. We know that the reflection of that influence can be seen in our lives.

Now what does this have to do with the triumphant Church? Next week we’ll pick up with the topic of being an overcomer. God is trying to show us that this is the way for us to live a victorious life! This is how we succeed! We’re going to read how Paul goes through so much in his life, yet he says, “Thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph!” He says things like, “In all these things we are more than conquerors.”

God hasn’t called us to simply conquer; He’s called us to do more than that. We’re going to do it by the grace that God provides every time we go to Him and ask for divine influence. It’s through the work He does in our hearts, my friends. It’s not through our own strength, ability, good looks, or just because we think we’re all that. Without Christ we are nothing, but through Christ we can do all things, which means we are more than conquerors through the grace of God that is working through us! 
~ pg