“What does it look like to Resist the Devil?”

Date: 11-09-14

Text: — James 4:7-10 — Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea:  “But with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

My Thoughts: 

The battle belongs to the Lord, and the human spirit is very willing to let Him have this battle, but the flesh is miserably weak to put up a fight.(Remember the sleepy apostles?) We softly drift into a deep slumbering sleep as the evil one whispers worldly lullabies that numb our souls to the war he is waging against us…. Sounds pretty grim, especially when I put it in such terms, but is this how we resist the devil?

Lifestyle worshipers, whether we resolve never to fall to a particular temptation or determine never to do “that” again, our flesh cannot stand against the wiles of the wicked one. Sounds hopeless? Not really, because “… greater is He that is in [us] than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4b KJV). For we “are from God and have overcome them” (1 John 4:4a NIV84). We do not stand in our strength, but in His. We do not stand in our armor, but His. We do not stand by our cunning but by His Grace. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13 ESV).  Did you catch that? “The Way of Escape”!

Brothers & Sisters, no matter how we describe what it looks like to resist the devil, one thing is very certain: We must flee to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Way of Escape from any temptation that has “overtaken” us.  So, what does it look like to resist the devil? What does it look like to flee to the Lord Jesus Christ? Care to share?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

— Matthew 26:41 (NIV)

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

—Ephesians 4:25-27 (NIV84)

 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

—2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (NKJV)

Lord Jesus Christ, I put You on as my Heavenly Armor: my Helmet of Salvation, my Breastplate of Righteousness, my Belt of Truth, my Shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of Peace, my Shield of Faith, my Sword Wielder and my Breath of Prayer. As You empower me to flee the evil desires of my youth, continue transforming me into Your likeness with ever increasing glory. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“When Do You Praise?”

Date: 10-31-14

Text: — James 5:13 —  Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: When we are filled with cheer, happiness, delight, we are to sing.

My Thoughts: 

Throughout this week’s devotions, I’ve been asking more questions than making statements about our walk with Jesus. I think I am following James’ lead in this week’s passage as He opens up with some questions, and because James spends the bulk of this passage on the praying, I find it interesting that we may run by this little phrase in v. 13 above: “Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.”

Lifestyle worshipers, do you? Do I? Do we sing songs of praise when we are happy? Ok, many of you know I do not like this word, “happy”, and I have my reasons, but I do understand the Word teaches this: When we are filled with cheer, happiness, delight, we are to sing…. And we are not just to sing any songs, but indeed we are to sing songs of praise.

Avoiding any triteness or pietistic theology, do we sing our praise to the Lord? “Come on everybody, stand up and sing one more ‘hallelujah’!” Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.— Ephesians 5:1820 (NASB95)

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.—John 4:23-24 (NIV84)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.—Colossians 3:16-17 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, I shout for joy. You have been merciful to me and I praise Your Holy Name.

Pastor Mike

“Gets the Facts First”

Date: 10-21-14

Text: — James 4:11-12 — 11Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?  [NIV]

The Big Idea: Leave the judging to the Lord.

My Thoughts: 

In this morning’s Heartwork Devotion, we are told the story of the Jr. & Sr. high school students from Third Church in Pella, Iowa who got together with Heartwork to raise money for an orphanage in Uganda. They not only met their financial goal, they apparently doubled it. We cheer them on for this wonderful effort in Kingdom living!

Lifestyle Worshipers, have you prejudged the youth of today? Or have you seen all the facts before making a judgment? This morning we are hearing about this sacrifice of a dedicated youth group, but if you look around, particularly in our church, the youth are very involved in living the Life Jesus designs for them. No, it may not be as far a reach as Third Church’s youth, but then, you just may be surprised at what you do see, especially when you get the facts first. …

So whether it is prejudging youth or prejudging any brother or sister in Christ (or out), don’t you think it is best to leave the judging to the Lord? I do? How about you? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame.

—  Proverbs 18:13 (NIV84)

Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.

— John 7:24 (NIV84)

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

— 1 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, may I bless and not curse what I do not know or understand. Grant me the wisdom and patience to wait for You to reveal what is needed to understand others better. In the meantime, Lord Jesus, Love them through me. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Mid Terms”

Date: 10-19-14

Text: — James 3:5-6 — 9  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: The test is designed to see not only how well we have understood the material, but if we can apply the knowledge we have obtained.

My Thoughts: 

If we go too long before we are tested, the knowledge we have obtained may slip away: The old, “Use it, or lose” Proposition. Thus, there are midterms in some of our classes. Yes, there are still daily pop quizzes, but the midterm tests how well the accumulated knowledge has be understood….

Lifestyle Worshipers, our midterms—as with the daily pop quizzes—are designed more as a practicum, much like being in a science lab or a gym glass. The test is designed to see not only how well we have understood the material, but if we can apply the knowledge we have obtained. We are now a little over half way through our annual Prayer & Fast Month. Because this year we have coupled this with the Heartwork devotions, I am curious as to how it is going. Several of you have shared with me about your fasting, and a few have talked about the Heartwork devotions. I know a couple of you who are using less technology and even walking places—and not just for health reasons!

So then, let us spur one another on by sharing how this has been going. I know for me, I am amazed at how the Heartwork Devotions are dovetailing with the passages in James I am presenting. Further, my fasting is offering me opportunities to really stop and ponder what I am doing and why I am doing it. I have made some changes, but I’m sure many more are in the wings. How about you? How would you respond to such a midterm?  Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

—  Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV84)

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?

— Matthew 5:43-46 (NIV84)

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

— 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, I ask You to fill me with the Holy Spirit , the Spirit of Power, Love and a Sound Mind. May He honor the Lord Jesus Christ in everything I think, say and do. As He continues to transform my mind to be more like Jesus, may I act on His promptings and so bring glory to Your Name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Small But Big”

Date: 10-16-14

Text: — James 3:5-6 —  Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: If I whine when I get a ‘sliver,’ how will I respond when it is truly a cross?

My Thoughts: 

The tongue, James tells us, is small but big. Though it is a small part of our bodies, it sure can make big boasts–boasts so big, in fact, that it can start a huge forest on fire…

Lifestyle Worshipers, do we make big boasts of our walk with Jesus? Do we spotlight the words of our faith neglecting the needs? Are you feeling the prick of the point as I am? Weaving its threads with this devotion is today’s Heartwork Devotion on “Co-Suffering with Christ.” Yep, I was one of those who boasted that I wanted to suffer for Jesus, but then He showed me the difference between slivers and crosses.  If I whine when I get a ‘sliver,’ how will I respond when it is truly a cross? “Ouch” doesn’t quite capture it, does it? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.  — Proverbs 15:2 (NIV84)

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. — Matthew 7:21 (NIV84)

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.  — Titus 1:16 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, forgive me for promising much but delivering little; for making big boasts with little results. I ask the Great Shepherd of my soul, the Lord Jesus Christ, by His shed blood to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Create in me a pure heart so that I may walk in the Light as He is in the Light.  Empower me by Your Holy Spirit to match my talk to my walk. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Letting Go of Our Ego”

Date: 10-04-14

Text: Mark 10:43-45— 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Know you are truly a member of a Backwards Kingdom

My Thoughts: 

I’m sure we’ve never heard anyone say, “Hey, Let go of my ēgo,” but I’m sure we’ve all heard a little whine or burp, even from our own lips. Humility comes before honor and success, and when we do not humble ourselves, humiliation often follows. I’d rather do the humbling….

Lifestyle worshipers, Heartwork’s devotion focus verses this morning are the Beatitudes, you know, the “Blessed are the…” (see Matthew 5:3-11) And it is these verses that suggest  we promote (and live) what is called a “Backwards Kingdom”. Have you discovered this, too? When you want to follow Jesus on a particular path, your friends (and even sometimes your family) just don’t get it. It’s like the time when Jesus’ own family encouraged Him to go to the Feast to ‘get famous’ (my words, but their idea, see John 7:1ff), but He knew His Kingdom doesn’t work that way…. You know the way up is down?

So today, when you practice serving someone just for the Love of Jesus—getting no recognition, no credit, and even no remuneration, receive the Joy this brings and know you are truly a member of a Backwards Kingdom.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

— 1 Peter 5:6 (NIV84)

Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven

— Matthew 18:4 (NIV84)

 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

— Romans 12:10 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, I put You on as my Hat of Humility and my Gloves of Kindness as I serve You, Your People, and those to whom You lead me for Your Glory and Your Kingdom’s advancement. I pray Your will be done on earth and in me as it is done in heaven. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“He Called Him ‘Messiah’”

Date: 9-6-14

Text: James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: James uses this title with significant importance.

My Thoughts: 

Some say it is too early in the young church’s history for James to use the title of “Christ” connected to Jesus’ name. But I am convinced it is not, especially in light of James’ awkward past with Jesus. The word, “Christ,” is a transliteration of the Greek word for “Anointed One,” which is the word for Messiah, in Hebrew. And for James to use this title is of significant importance.

At first, James thought Jesus was “out of His mind” (Mk. 3:21 NIV84; “beside Himself” KJV). But now he calls Him the Messiah. This is a pretty monumental change, don’t you think?… James finally sees that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah. True, at first, He is the humble  servant of the Holy One, riding on a lowly donkey rather than a white charger, but remember, James was personally visited by the Resurrected One?

Lifestyle worshipers, have you had a truth staring you in the face, but it isn’t until much later that you see it? A passage you have memorized, can quote it without thinking, suddenly comes alive with deeper insight—and at just the right time? Or a relationship of significant importance? Then you know how James must have felt. The light bulb has come on: Flash! A brilliant light blinds our eyes. We shield them with our hand, but the brilliance penetrates right through. Slowly, but nonetheless steadily we see Him more clearly…, and He had been there the entire time…. Do you see Jesus more clearly today than yesterday? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. — John 1:4-5 (NIV84)

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. — 2 Cor 4:5-6 (NIV84)

As [Saul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” He replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.  — Acts 9:3-9 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, I put You on as my Helmet of Salvation. Continue to transform my earthly thoughts into heavenly ones as You become clearer to me every day. In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike