Event: 1:45 p Q & A Discussion Study
Hello Orange Cove Church Family & Friends of Orange Cove,
Pastor’s Weekly Letter: December 9, 2015 – “The Tow Hitch”
Happy Wednesday, December 9, 2015. This week’s devotional is made up of the sermon notes from this past Sabbath.
This Week’s Devotional – “The Tow Hitch”
Recently I attended the Southern Union Evangelism Council for Pastors and Church Leaders. It was a highlight in my walk with God. One of the presentations was made by Mark Mittelberg, author of the books Confident Faith & The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask. Mark Mittelberg’s ministry is Apologetics, or putting logical expositions together that prove and substantiate the existence and reality of God. In his book, “Confident Faith,” he puts forward 20 arrows, or factors, that prove God is real:
- Arrow 1: Design in the universe points to an intelligent designer, p.163 – Mark shared the phenomenal discovery of what a human cell would look like if it were enlarged to be twenty miles in diameter, like the size of London or New York. He says when we enter the cell, we will see the most sophisticated factory that supersedes anything man has ever built.
- Arrow 2: Fine-tuning in the universe points to an intelligent fine-tuner, p. 167, 168 – He goes on to say how finely tuned the environment on earth is to where it can sustain life. There are about 50 dials that are so incredibly fine tuned that one micro-setting on any one of the dials, would destroy life on this planet. The tuning of the dials have to be as accurate as you would have to be to throw a dart from outer space and hit an atom on the earth.
- Arrow 3: Information coded into a DNA points to a Divine Encoder, p. 169, 170 – Another mind-boggling fact that Mark shared was that the DNA in every human cell is 6 ft long when unraveled. The coding on every DNA strand would take a person 31 years to read if they read day and night without a break. To print out the coding in regular font, would require a stack of paper the height of the Washington monument, which is 555 feet.
Conviction of Unbelief
As I sat listening to the awesome wonders of God’s ingenious ability, His unfathomable wisdom and His limitless might and power, I came under conviction about how I had been treating God: I had been treating Him like an ordinary man; I had been doubting His ability to provide for me; I had been doubting His ability to give me victory over sin; I had been doubting His ability to lead His church to victory; yes, I had been tackling all these things in my own strength, thinking that I can work them out better than God could. I came under conviction that unbelief is the subtle, underlying reason for sin:
- Satan had lured the angels into unbelief with regard to God’s character and His government in love
- Eve was lured into unbelief regarding God’s word by the serpent
- Cain acted in unbelief against God’s instruction
Unbelief is the great ‘disconnector’ between mankind and God’s power. Think about it. We can believe in the bible, we can believe in God, we can believe in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can understand and decipher prophecy, but unless we believe that God’s power works in each of our lives, we are disconnected from it ALL!!! Recently I went to get the towbar I had bought repaired. I wanted to install it on my van so I could pull a trailer. In order for the towbar to pull a trailer, it requires a ball joint onto which the coupling of the trailer attaches. The power of the towing vehicle can then pull the trailer anywhere the driver desires. We are like trailers. We don’t have power to drive ourselves anywhere. But, through our belief we connect to God’s power which works in us to overcome sin and live out the life of Christ in us. Without that ball joint, there is no connection.
Turn to Mark 9:14-19. Here is an example of how unbelief is the make-or-break in connecting to the power of God. Jesus is on the mount of transfiguration with Peter, James and John. The rest of the disciples are approached by a man with a demon possessed son who asked them to cast it out. Well, they couldn’t. When Jesus returns, he speaks to both the father and the disciples with regard to their unbelief being the reason the demon could not be cast out. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells the disciples directly it is because of their unbelief. The scripture chosen as the springboard for this message is found in Hebrews 3:12-13: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
This passage warns the reader to beware of unbelief. It is dangerous and destructive. Why would the bible call a heart evil that has unbelief? Let’s turn to Hebrews 11:1,3, 6, to find out: 1-Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 3-By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. 6 - But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Without faith (or belief) it is impossible to please God. Faith is the very heartbeat of our spirituality. God created us as spiritual beings and placed within us the capacity to see the unseen and believe in Him, an invisible God, the Creator of the universe. When we don’t believe, it’s a symptom that our spiritual lives have been compromised in one way or another.
Notice how the apostle Paul outlines the condition of experiencing God’s power in Ephesians 1:15-21 – “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”
Yes, God’s power is accessible to those who believe. Our belief that God is who He said His is, our belief in God’s ability to keep His promises and our belief in God as the supreme monarch of the universe is the ‘ball-joint’ that connects us with God’s power. The enemy of our souls wishes to steal that ball-joint and disconnect our trailer from the powerful tow-vehicle, leaving us helpless and unable to complete our life’s journey. He doesn’t mind if we attend church, he doesn’t mind if we read our bibles, he doesn’t mind if we pay our tithe, or feed the homeless, or hold a church office. As long as he can lure us into unbelief, he is content. He knows that all the religious rites and rituals, all the good deeds and all the spiritual disciplines are worthless without a solid belief in God.
How Do We Get Rid of Unbelief?
So, I’m sure you are a little concerned about your level of unbelief right now, right? Well, I’d like to reassure you that it is not a complicated matter to get rid of unbelief. You see, Romans 12:3 tells us that we all have been given a measure of faith: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” So, rather than trying to find faith that we think isn’t there, we need to hold on to the faith God has given us and refuse to let the enemy steal it away.
Here are some of the practice steps to get rid of unbelief:
1. Acknowledge the Danger of Unbelief – We have to realize how dangerous and destructive unbelief is to ‘disconnect’ us from eternal salvation. It’s Satan’s ploy to blind us from unbelief and get us to ignore it. Remember what Hebrews 3:12 says . . . “Beware” . . . its an urgent matter and unless we recognize it, we will be part of the religious lost.
2. Confess Your Unbelief - Like the father of the demon-possessed boy, he cried out, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” Ask for forgiveness, condemn, rebuke it.
3. Ask – The next step is to ask for our faith to be strengthened. Matthew 7:7-11 - “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
4. Keep Strengthening Your Faith – Firstly, each one of us has a part to play in strengthening each other’s faith. Hebrews 3:13 says, “but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” When the enemy tries to lure us into unbelief, we should have a spiritual mentor who will redirect our thinking (exhort us) and reaffirm God’s promises and the truth about who He is and what He is capable of doing. Secondly, just as I came under conviction regarding my unbelief when I listened to Mark Mittelberg describing God’s ingenious and unfathomable creation, so every believer is given the gift of the 24 hour window, called the Sabbath, to refocus on God’s awesome creation. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” God’s awesome creation strengthens our understanding of God’s unbelievable power and majesty. As a result, our faith strengthens. Thirdly, as we spend time alone with God in prayer and in the study of His Word, His Spirit reveals God’s might and limitless power.
Committing to Combating Unbelief
Unbelief is a part of our human nature. The first thought that always comes into our minds is doubt. Nevertheless, with the measure of faith God has given us, through the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, we are able to grow our faith and dispel unbelief. By following the simple steps above, we can protect ourselves from the danger of unbelief and stand strong in the measure of faith God has given to us. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the faith that Abraham had as mentioned in Romans 4:19-21? “And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” As a result, Abraham and Sarah received their son of promise at the ripe old age of a hundred years old.
What are you in need of today? Have you asked God for help and it seems like He hasn’t heard? Are you doubting or believing as to whether He is able to answer you? Remember, God has a thousand answers with which to deal with the questions or needs your have today. In love and mercy, He waits for the very best time to act in your best interest.
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Hello Orange Cove Church Family & Friends of Orange Cove,
Happy Tuesday, December 1, 2015.
As we enter yet another week, Juliet’s and my thoughts and prayers are with you.
When Jesus said in John 10:9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture,’” what did he mean? How can He be the door? Where does every fallen creature ultimately need to enter into? What caused every fallen creature to be on the outside of the door? What happens when a person walks from the outside, through the door to the inside? All these questions seem very complicated, but really and truly, Jesus gave a very simple analogy of how to come to His Father. His Father is the provider of the fold where the sheep find safe shelter. Jesus is the good shepherd who leads and protects the sheep. He also is the door through which the sheep enter into the fold.
How can Jesus be the door? In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” This scripture puts Jesus’ analogy of Him being the door in context—If no one can come to the Father except through Him, then we understand His role in the plan of Salvation. Jesus was sent down to the earth to open up a way for mankind to be able to reenter the presence of God. Due to having fallen into sin, mankind was literally ‘shut-out,’ from garden of Eden and from the presence of God. Sin separated mankind from God. It put mankind on the outside. Now, through Jesus’ entrance into the world, through His birth, His life, His death and His resurrection, the way has been opened for mankind to reenter God’s presence.
Sin could not stand in God’s presence. The brilliance and majesty of God’s presence would literally vaporize anyone with a taint of sin on them. Jesus was sent to the earth to take on the sin of the world on Himself. He absorbed the sin from mankind so that mankind could be sinless and reenter into God’s presence. When Jesus said that mankind could come to the Father through Him, could He possibly be implying that He takes all the sin from those who entered through Him? In other words, as we enter through Jesus ‘the door,’ He strips us of our sin and takes it all onto Himself. Almost like a dirty car going through the cleaning rollers of a car wash---it enters filthy and emerges on the other side, sparkling clean.
In the same way, Jesus came to absorb sin from us onto Himself. He took the sin of the world onto Himself causing separation from His Father, both of which killed Him. The door that shut Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden was replaced by Jesus and opened up for mankind to reenter into God’s presence. The very thing that prevented mankind from being in God’s presence, Jesus took onto Himself so that mankind could be restored back the place they were before they fell into sin. When a member of the human race responds God’s call to be reconciled, their sin is removed by the ‘sin-absorbing door,’ and they can come boldly to God’s throne, unafraid, unashamed and unwavering.
What is the alternative to entering into God’s presence through the door? Well, climbing over the wall, right? Those who refuse to admit their helplessness in overcoming their sin, will make attempts to come into God’s presence through their own efforts. They see God as a taskmaster with a checklist of good or bad deeds which determine whether or not they are given permission to enter into His presence or not. In contrast, those who realize their absolute inability to do even one good deed or think one good thought in their own strength, humbly surrender to entering, by faith in their Savior, through Jesus Christ and His merits. The following quote from the book, ‘Desire of Ages,’ by Ellen G. White, p.473, summarizes this thought perfectly:
“Christ is the door to the fold of God. Through this door all His children, from the earliest times, have found entrance. In Jesus, as shown in types, as shadowed in symbols, as manifested in the revelation of the prophets, as unveiled in the lessons given to His disciples, and in the miracles wrought for the sons of men, they have beheld “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), and through Him they are brought within the fold of His grace. Many have come presenting other objects for the faith of the world; ceremonies and systems have been devised by which men hope to receive justification and peace with God, and thus find entrance to His fold. But the only door is Christ, and all who have interposed something to take the place of Christ, all who have tried to enter the fold in some other way, are thieves and robbers.”
Is it easy or is it difficult to enter into God’s presence through this door? My friend, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. Just walk though by faith. God has already called you to walk through. All you have to do is answer, “yes Lord, by faith I am accepting your invitation and here I come, by the blood of Jesus, into Your presence.” Many will say, “well, I have to first give up my swearing, or my smoking, or my immoral life.” The bible says that that is not the case. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5. No, by faith, the worst sinner, rapist, murderer, drug dealer, or child molester can walk boldly through that door into God’s presence.
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